Saturday, December 13, 2008

Happy Days

I am back in Corvallis after a 2 week road trip down through Colorado with a quick sprint up to Missoula on the way back. I have some pictures and some amazing stories to tell about it but first, i wrote this e-mail to a friend and laughed so hard writing it and remembering the times that i wanted to put it up here. It covers many years, many friends and many laughs and the one uniting tie between it all is a Potato Gun. There are no pictures and i got kind of tired of writing in some parts but its all there...mostly...

The only evidence of me with a Potato Gun that exists...and even min its not even, its a friends in New Zealand

I dont rememeber if i ever told you about my potato gun story, so i am going to give you the very brief and abbreviated version of all three "incidents" that i had with them. It all started in 10th grade with my chemistry teacher taking us out to the local park and showing us his potato gun. Dude was like "PV = nrT" right? you rememeber that shit? hilarious. So anyways he thought that shooting a potato at 300 miles per hour out of a huge chunk of PVC was not going to overly persuade any of his impressionable students to design and build their own guns with the intentions of NOT studying PVnrT but instead with the intentions of deliberate and premeditated destruction of anything a potato could destroy:

OK so i just remembered that i actually have 4 potato gun incidents:
1. 1st potato gun i ever owned. I had no idea about the specifics of the glue you have to use, I didn't know that PVC glue actually melts and rebonds the pieces together, effectively making it one giant piece with no glue line - didn't seem overly important to me at the time and i figured that some nasty-strong 2 ton epoxy would be a good glue to use. Dammmmm i was wrong. So the gun did actually function for a while and i did the general "destroy anything i can" with it and had lots of fun. Then i hung it up for a whle and didn't actually use it for a few months. These would be the months of Fall - when the world of NH starts to get cold. So i go outside sometime around christmas and see the gun sitting in the garage and i'm like - OH YA! i forgot about you my little beauty - let's go play! And so i took her out, loaded her up and stood in my driveway ready to take out some trees or something. What i failed to realize is that while the gun sat in the garage and went through all the cold and warm cycles of nights and days the epoxy had become brittle and was more or less useless. So - in my ignorant ways - i loaded loaded her up, aimed and FIRED! BAAAAAAAAABOOOOOOOM. OF COURSE - the style in which i held the gun was completely rediculous and i was actually cradling the back of the gun in my arms. This ended up being a nasty nasty idea. So the entire back cap of the gun (not just the screw part but the screw part AND the part the screw part screws into) came flying off backwards (potato still in the barrel cause the explosion went backwards and not forwards) and blew into my forearm (what i was cradling he gun with) tore open my arm, the fire ball that engulfed me burned my shirt, singed most of my eyebrows off and the sonic boom caused me to go temporarily deaf for 20 minutes or so. I ran inside cupping my hands over my ears, blood pouring down my arm and dripping off my elbow and started screaming at my parents (screaming only cause i had to yell to hear myself not cause i was in any panic or anything) needless to say the potato gunning was stopped for a long long time. OK phew that was incident numeral uno

SOOOOO the next summer i was bored and decided to build a second one: Long story short i used the correct glue and had tons and tons of fun...but again this time i left the pot-gun to sit in the garage waiting to be used again, and their it sat for the entire winter: My theory for this one is that the warm cold cycle of the days, along with the chemicals in the hair spray we used as propellant, started to eat away at the plastic. so when i pulled it out the next summer and shot it the damn thing blew up in my arms again. this time it shattered though and shrapnel went everywhere - i got seriously lucky and didn't actually get hit by anything, but again, another lesson learned

OK OK ...i just took a 6 hour break from writing this e-mail. Time to get back to the goods cause this is where the story picks up!!!

I'll be quick with the 3rd incident. Basically we built the most massive, powerful, ridiculously crazy potato gun you could imagine in college.
We calculated ratios for the barrel to chamber volumes to maximize power. We purchased, from the internet, a PVC barrel that was rifled (the length of the inside of the barrel has spire groves it in that spin the potato so it shoots straighter and faster!!! We also installed two ignition points so that more gas was combusted at the same time when the trigger was pulled, again maximizing if you get the picture so far we had the most bad ass potato gun in the world.
First incident with it was somewhat harmless...i took it home with me for christmas and went out shooting with 8 or 10 other buddies at the end of my driveway (an old new england dead end road) and we were hitting a street sign and denting and bending the crap out of it. Neighbors called the cops. cops came and i had thrown the PG in the woods and no one knew how to talk our way out of this one. The cops came out firing questions at us and i simply stepped up, told them we were lighting fireworks off and just having some fun and they let us off Scott Free!!!! Epic! I dont know how we got away with it but it has happened with this group before too.

side story... We got pulled over on New Years eve with 10 christmas trees tied to the top of a friends mini-van and 8 more trees tied in a bundle behind it that were getting dragged by a length of rope tied to the bumper . The trooper walked up very calmly, asked us what in the hell we were doing and and we just told him we were gathering them for a massive bonfire at a buddies house and the cop was like...SWEET - have fun! and we were like .HOLY SHIT - they let us go scott free. So ya, thats a story and a half for another time.

The 4th potato gun incident occured at Virginia tech with that very same gun. After Christmas i brought it back down there and we had our ski team semi-formals one night. I was living in a typical college student apartment complex and we had the apartment on the top floor which had a deck that looked out onto another exactly identical apartment building about 60 feet away (lovely place i swear). So anyways, me and 2 of my roommates were all on the ski team and were getting ready ( getting dressed up a bit and doing some pre-gaming) I was dressed - slacks, shoes (maybe) and a nice shirt and tie and i was just waiting for everyone else when all of a sudden BAM, the lilght bulb came on and i was like...hmmm i'll play with the potato gun while i wait.

SOOOOO...i get the potato gun out of the broom closet, find the hairspray, get the potatoes and raming rod and load the gun up...i go out onto the porch and its about 10pm so its dark and i just shoot it into the woods/suburbia - not overly responsible since i was "pretty sure" the potatoes cleared all the houses and landed in the woods - but i never did actually verify that! But anyways, after 2 or 3 shots into the darkness i grew board of it...there's a big boom when the gun fires but then such a let down as the potato disappears and you dont get the satisfaction of it hitting i loaded it up again and looked for something obvious to hit...
AHHHHH HAH! found it! Sure enough the wall facing me on the next apartment building over was without it was this giant 3 story tall 40 ft wide dark target!, Perfect right? no windows to accidentally break, no way to miss it - just like hitting the broad side of a barn, so all in all it was perfect!

So there i go, loaded gun aimed at the wall and i pull the trigger!! in the famous words of my good friend shaun McCracken "KABLAMOO"

it doesn't take long to realize something has gone significantly wrong...error signs seem to be popping up everywhere "Abort mission" seems to be a common thought running through my head.

In complete and utter disbelief i stared at the no longer windowless wall only to realize that i had just shot a potato through the exterior wall of this apartment building into someones bedroom, and their bedroom light was on, and it was shining a giant spotlight out of the bowling ball sized hole i just created.......FUUUUUUUUUCK! but Fuck in a holyshit this is bad but holy shit thats rediculously amazing kind of way.

I ran inside, pulled the blinds, hid the potato gun, ran back to the blinds, peeked out and realized that my neighbors were standing on their porch, looking at the hole in the side of their house and then looking back at me peeking through the blinds...I watched as one of the guys walked back in his place, down the stairs, across the courtyard, into my building, up to my door and knocked...

Right...McGyver time...No problem, i'm on my way over to fix it, i tell him. So i go over - clean his walls of potato, Vinyl siding, insulation and sheet rock, cut a piece of siding out of MY building from behind a bit of landscaping then Insert it through the wall from the inside of the kids bedroom and patch the outside hole in the vinyl. Then I get some mud and tape and plaster the inside hole in the sheet rock and pray the owners of the apartment complex never find out.

They dont of course (since i did such a damn amazing job at fixing the hole) but my neighbors enact revenge one day and shoot our sliding glass deck door with a BB gun and shatter it and then have their house searched by the owners of the complex and get fined $150 for having the BB gun!!!!! epic...hilarious!!!! and the luckiest part about the whole thing is that 2 of the people that lived there we're in the same program as me so we knew eachother so the entire time it was just a hilarious set of events (Once i threw a 3 pound cow liver onto the low angle roof right above their sat there for weeks and rotted and dripped bits onto their deck each time it rained...they threw expired sour yogurt containers back at us....hahahaha)

ahhh the good memories...

Happy days

Ah Hah! i just remembered a 5th incident with a potato gun. In New York at a friends uncles house back when i was in high school i donned my baseball glove and ran 2 or 3 hundred feet out into a field and asked the uncle to shoot the potato gun at me...not a pop fly...right at me...i was ready...I WAS NOT READY !!!!!- the potato went by the side of my head before my eyes could pick it up and before i could even lift my glove....FLAG IT! BAD IDEA! Again, i got lucky...but i did ask for some pop ups and chasing down a potato from 4 or 5 hundred feet in the air is awesome!

We also once tried to shoot our friend on his scooter and that was funny cause that was the actual game "see if you can make it down the driveway with out getting hit" ONCE AGAIN NOT BRILLIANT

And one other time we just decided to shoot the gun straight up into the night sky and everyone got 3 seconds to run like hell then had to hold still and wait silently until the potato fell somewhere - those were some tense seconds wondering if you were gonna get french-fried!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Augh Hau Hau...Yes, seriously, i can speak french

So its about damn time i write something up here and i just chugged a cup of coffee walked over to the Fort Collins public Library and sat down with jittering fingers and lots of shit to jabber about...Last I left the blog i was still in the interior BC and working our way to the ROcky mountains from there i will pick up.

Fearless and intrepid we were well worn from our travels thus far in the great providence of British Columbia...Our street smarts were honed and we were up for our greatest challenge yet:
Find the top of this, the highest peak in the Canadian rockies. Dominating the skyline, Mt. Robson is something not to be reckoned with, i do reckon we were out for a serious fight but with fists up we went head long in our next adventure. Team X, a bunch of GCC's, we're going to dominate...

First things first though: We had to make Italian stallion jokes over our 3ft long, 7 pound hunk of meat stick we bought for a mere 9 canadian dollars...You coudln't make it for that much! This thing lasted us 3 weeks nearly; we fried it, boiled it, ate it straight, put it in soup, sauteed it, had it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and we even ate it for Thanksgiving since one of its ingredients was Turkey, along with other mechanically separated meats such as pork, chicken, beef and baby seals. Thats the goods right there: 3 feet of goodness!

Ok, once we got past the obvious distractions we donned our packs, took a picture of the map (sorta) and we were off until we stopped and took a picture before we actually started.

Off to Berg lake, thousands and thousands of feet up up and away, but really it wasn't too bad - 22k's or something of the sort

Impervious to the weather, we walked through plenty of it. The sky's were cloudy and spitting some sort of precip depending on our elevation: rain to start, freezing rain and then finally the glorious snow we were looking for!

We pushed on and were pleased when Shaun busted out his tickets: tickets to the gun show that is. We tried to sell these bad boys to some passing hikers but they weren't too impressed.

Once we realized they weren't going to buy our gun show tickets jacqui tried to distract them by dancing like a castrated turkey while i went looking through their backpack for cheese...random, i know, but seriously, true story.

We didnt find any cheese, but we were stoked when we found this big kick ass glacier...Claimed, that shit is ours and belongs now to the sovereign nation of Team Xtreme.

Along with glaciers we also claimed some of these really cool waterfalls:
And this one too...ours

We also heard that if you drink from the waterfalls then you get to claim them too, so shaun took one for the team and went for the cold shower with the intention of filling his water bottle...what a Gary, there was ice everywhere and we all nearly caned ourselves.

Ok, enough of that jibber jabber, getting back to the actual story: We busted the hike out in record time and when we initially started we were expecting to be tenting out up here next to the lake but we found this amazing cabin with walls (we passed some wall-less shelters on the way in and so seeing walls on this one was particularly exciting) and a wood stove and we busted our way in...

Only to find that the cabin was already being occupied by some like-minded individuals: They already had the stove going and it was warm warm warm: Lovely, i'd have to say. If i can remember right they were all Canadians and one of them was a Quebec-Qua - We called her Frenchy. THis is Frenchy in a picture.
So we were having a deep conversation about the civil disarrest in Guantanamo when Mr. McCracken announced proudly, that he could speak french.
Frenchy was like, oh ya?
What do can you say? and the challenge was presented
Without missing a beat shaun filled his lungs and proudly, loudly claimed in his best french accent:
"Augh Hau Hau!" (dirty mans french laugh)
I was sitting next to him and was instantly put in stitches. nearly falling off my seat i too was proud at my good mates best attempt to speak french by laughing in a french accent!
Frency on the other hand: Stone faced. She musta though we were pulling the wool over her eyes or something cause she very coldly replied:
"You didn't say anything! you just laughed with an accent"
And proudly shaun said. YEP, French! and did one of those "Did you see what i just did there gestures"
Classic! I love your work bro.

We didnt' earn many more points with Frenchy's group after that, infact frenchy lived up to her French Canadian Stigma: Rude rather unfriendly! No worries though, we didn't care, this was our view from our front porch and no rude french canadian could ruin it!

So the next day we did a massive side hike and tried to get up to a pass next to Mt. Robson. We didn't make it all the way but we did cover some good distance and saw some kick ass things. Such as:

These winter ptarmigans

Which we somehow spotted amid the blizzard we were in. There are 4 of these birds in this picture, see how many you can find.

We hiked up above the valley floor

Found stone figures to imitate

Made it to the meadows just below the pass

And then the sun came out and we celebrated

Then it got snowy again and we turned around - another 20k's of hiking in under our belts!
Shaun and Jaqs are in this picture way way in the back.

Here's me, proud, happy, pelvic thrusting!

We took a visit to the terminal face of the glacier and got a feel for how small we really were. Awesome blue ice everywhere.

A bit of exposure in some nasty weather!

We got back from the hike and i decided that if you look at a lake too long you just have to go swimming in it. So there i went. Cold.

I tried to make it to the other side to go play with the icebergs falling off the face of the glacier but i decided that was pretty bold and since i coudln't feel much of my body i turned around.

So we spent one more night in this magical place and finally decided we should pack up and move on, not to mention the mice were eating our food each night and leaving us nothing but pooh in return. But we did feel we dominated so before we left we took this dominating picture

And, just like any place you stay for a while, we took a lot of other nice pretty pictures: For example:

Moon Rise!

We had Bluebird on our way out which was awesome since we didn't see anything on our way in cause of clouds. What a treat.

Once we got out from our amazing trip to Mt. Robson we traveled down the spine of the Canadian rockies looking for work for the winter. We found Leroy here and tried to convince him to join team extreme but he just wanted to eat some shrubage - I dont blame the guy, it woulda been a tight fit in the van with a rack like that!

Blue water

Big Mountains

Monday, December 1, 2008

O2 Sensors Kick Ass

Or Kick my ass, whichever you prefer. This isn't actually a post. i'm posting a thread at a toyota forum about some truck issues i'm having (random misfire in cylinder 2 and a faulty 02 sensor) and to post a picture on their forum you need a url for the pic - hence i post the pic here and use that url.

I'm still sitting on a few stories, sorry about not updating recently - i'm in Colorado Mtn biking at the moment and will be heading aroud the west for a bit dropping by your front door to sleep on your sofa. See you all soon. and i'll put some actual posts up soon enough!

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Land of Fiords and Rain

Prepare yourself - This is going to be a long one, but it will be worth your while.

So we got off the ferry in Prince Rupert after 24 hours of riding and found a nice spot to camp just outside of town. The next day we explored a bit and looked into stories we had heard about the "Butze Rapids" These were rapids caused by reversing tides in one of the near by inlets. Sure enough it was true and we just happened to be there during one of the years highest tidal differences - a wopping 22ft between high and low tide. We sussed things out a bit, drove to the end of the "industrial park" got in our boats and made our way out there...

...and this is what we found!!!!!!! NOTHING - well we just timed the tides wrong and went out as they were changing so the inlet was full and no water was moving, we docked on an island and waited for a while in the sun. Notice not even a polypro top on - it was N.I.C.E nice out!

Once the waters started draining we got some of the goods...glassy waves so clear you could see the bottom as you surfed.

It was small first and we moved around to different spots between different islands making different features - some were good, some weren't some you just had to stick a finger in and see how they went...

Then it got big, like if you found a bear cub and started playing with it and thought it was the cutest thing ever and then its enormous pissed off mother came by and decided to eat you for dinner.

If you enlarge this you can just make me out in the far top right of the picture, all the water between me and the camera was moving at about 25mph and was angry...not too much play, but tons of fun trying some hairy ferry's

This wave doesn't look big but thats cause you cant see the 8 foot deep trough that its curling into...i dropped into this a few times, the ride was amazing, the eddy line and whirlpools of death behind it were not amazing...

We called it a day after my few attempts to ride this beast and i left the Butze rapids very much enthralled, so much so that i cracked a beer and dig a jig in my underwear.

In the end we left the rapids feeling like we missed something, like the "goods" never really developed and we just chalked it up to it being our first time being there. A little further investigation revealed that we went at the wrong tide change, apparently you dont want it at ebb tide (the tide going out) you want it when its going in, and apparently no one goes out when its ebb tide cause its useless and the whirlpools are heinous... either way...if you go look at me dancing in my underwear again you can see we weren't overly phased.

Oh, and this is the dead skinned bear head that someone tossed out during high tide that was uncovered during low tide, and a shopping cart just for good measure...

So after the surfing mission we decided to keep the kayaks out and head along for a full day mission exploring one of the inlets along the coast. We whipped out our (un)trusty map and flipped the pages, closed our eyes, dropped a finger down and checked where it landed...there it is, right there, thats where we'll off we went.
We parked the van and immediately we knew it was gonna be a sweet one. This day ended up being one of the more incredible days of random events i've experienced.

I thought i was back in California from the view at the put in. Bald granite domes rising up thousands of feet, this time they came out of the ocean though. Amazing place.

Then all of a sudden we got buzzed by a helicopter and landed right next to us... Perfect view, just with a heli in the middle now...

Apparently they were doing some heli logging down another inlet and we're looking for their mechanic? Odd.

So our map showed that up the inlet behind the helicopter was a "pinch" and then a "lagoon" and then a tiny stretch of river, then a lake, then another longer section of river, then a bigger lake..we brought food for the day and the mission to explore was off.

We made it to the lagoon and the mountains just seemed to get steeper and steeper. We had arrived at the lagoon in time to catch the tide coming in which created a nice little rapid to introduce us to the place. 4 seals also followed along with us and played around for 30 minutes or so.

We got to the end of the lagoon and scouted up the river by foot. To our enjoyment it was only a 5 minute walk with boats up the river to get to the lake, so off we were to continue the day...

The inlet was carved out in the typical U shape as many glacial carved valleys are. It was beautiful. The first lake was pretty small and the entire way across it salmon were leaping out of the water catching some sort of insect, they put on a pretty good show for us.

We got to the end of the lake and ditched the boats. we knew this hike would take a while longer and carrying boats through this shit wasn't going to happen. We found a small little trail though and spent 45 minutes going up, over and around dead logs, through patches of devils club and past many cascading waterfalls as the river from the lake above us drained to the one below.

We finally broke out of the bush and this is what greeted us.

An amazing lake with an amazing view. We had started about 3 hours earlier and just sat on some moss covered logs and enjoyed the view for a while.

So as we sat and looked out towards the mountains i noticed something...there was a waterfall coming into the other side of the lake and something near it was reflecting..odd i thought. What could it be? If you look at the peak of the mountain in this picture, go straight down to the waterline and then move a tiny tiny bit to the left, thats what i was looking at.

So i pulled out the camera, zoomed in as far as it went and KABLAMO...we had ourselves a cabin.

Now i was a bit bummed at finding this cabin. It looked amazing, it was one of those places you just had to go explore, see what kinda stories it told. It was nestled so deep up this inlet it had to be amazing, BUT, there was no way to get to it. The right side of the lake was flanked out by cliffs and it woulda been hours of bush-whacking on the left side and all we had were kayaking cloths and flip-flops on. Out of the question.

I sat for a while, a bit saddened by the thought of not seeing the cabin up close, but the more i thought the more i wondered: Now, if i had a cabin on the otherside of the lake, how the hell would i get to it? id have to use a boat, but i wouldn't bring a boat up here everytime i came in, id stash it in the woods...You see where this is hunt for a boat in the woods. And thats what we did. We took 10 steps from where we sat and we found signs... old torn up dock among the driftwood we sat on..

And then we found it...stashed in the woods and in pristine condition...shaun hauled this little beauty to the water picked me and jacqui up from the dock.

Fuck ya...thats all we could say, we were on our way, the adventure continued...we got to check the cabin out, Fuck ya here we come!

So we made it to the out on their nice big dock and had ourselves an explore.
This place was amazing. As it turned out it was on an island of its own, they float-planed in most of the time. a waterfall/slide came in right behind it that would be slide down into the lake and the view was spectacular.
This thing was 25ft tall and all you would need is a therma-rest to slide on and you've be in for the ride of your life! I'm going back!
So it gets better...We got into the cabin and looked aorund and checked it out and they had fishing gear everywhere, so we thought, hey, while in Rome...might as well give it a nudge.

And you know what...5th cast out for Mr. McCracken and KABLAMO - DINNER was served!
Fuck ya..thats all we could say!

Then we caught another, and then i caught was like these fish were begging for the hook. We only kept 1 but man o man, it was good.

As we made our way back home we couldn't help but laugh at the chain of events that had to happen to be heading to the van with a fish in our hand for dinner...It was just unbelievably amazing.

We ate rainbow trout curry that night (which was delicious), watched the sky get dark to this amazing view

Drank goon all night and decided that we wanted to dedicate all of this to one of our buddies back in NZ who we wished was with us on the road. So this one's for you crusty! We're sticking a finger in it!

The next day we drove on heading east towards the rockies. We were to explore on our way there and decided to take a side road up to "Shame ski hill" to check it out. Turned out to be amaznig. We got above the nasty clouds and the mountains rolled back in endless fashion.

We decided to toss in a quick hike to the top of the mountain and were quickly thwarted by the efforts of this black bear. I decided that the black bear was happy and fat from eat the endless berries that the shrub covered ski slopes provided and most likely wanted nothing of us. The kiwi's weren't convinced and watched in doubt as i scared the bear off with some whopping and hollaring..might have to click to see the bear on the right side, halfway up the picture.

We got to the top and took some pictures, enjoyed the amazing views and just reveled in the moment.
THEN...ALL OF A SUDDEN. the bear came charging back on this giant barge and nearly took us out...Really, it didn't happen like that at all. We just hiked off the mountain.

BUT i couldn't help but notice the name of this ski run as we walked away...I mean really, honestly, who does that? do they think they're kidding anyone? And a blue square, of all things, i'd give it at least a black diamond, if not a double black.

We finished up at Shames ski hill and headed off to Terrace for another day hike up Thorne mountain. Since i am getting completely sick of typing and i'm actually sitting in the rockies and not anywhere near Terrace now, i am going to dump the rest of the pictures and call it a night. One last thing though - we were kayaking topless a week ago, last night i slept in winter socks, leggings, a union suit, fleece pants, 3 layers of polypro, a fleece jacket, a down jacket, a winter hat, insulated leather gloves, inside of my sleeping bag, which was inside shauns sleeping bag, inside my bivy which was inside my tent. It was got winter quick round here. But we did have a big adventure around the Candian Rockies highest peak just the other day and i'll report on that soon enough if i havn't frozen yet.
Enjoy the last few picks and think warm thoughts for me.

Thornhill Nipple shot...jacqui was not impressed.

The mountains directly outside of Terrace B.C. and a quick thanks goes out to Corey Boux for taking us in for the was sweet to get out of the nasty rainy weather.

Same but looking the other direction