Friday, November 30, 2007

Evil Knievel - R.I.P.

Photocredit: Page300 blog.

I just saw the news that Evel Knievel has died, a result not of all of his motorcycle crash injuries, but of breathing problems related to diabetes and pulmonary fibrosis. Evel was one of a very few Americans who were truly bigger than life. He not only talked the talk, but he also climbed on the Harley and showed us he could fly a motorcycle like no other mortal.


..... A Little Philosophy For You!

1. The purpose of fighting is to win. There is no possible victory in defense. The sword is more important than the shield and skill is more important than either. The final weapon is the brain. All else is supplemental.

2. Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he is to old to fight, he'll just kill you.

3. If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck.

4. I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.

5. America is not at war. The U.S. Military is at war. America is at the Mall.

6. When seconds count, the cops are just minutes away.

7. A reporter did a human interest piece on the Texas Rangers. The reporter recognize the Colt Model 1911 the Ranger was carrying and asked him "Why do carry a .45?". The Ranger responded with, "Because they don't make a .46."

8. An armed man will kill an unarmed man with monotonous regularity.

9. The old sheriff was attending an awards dinner when a lady commented on his wearing his sidearm. "Sheriff, I see you have your pistol. Are you expecting trouble?" "NO Ma'am. If I were expecting trouble, I would have brought my rifle."

10. Beware the man who only has one gun, he probably knows how to use it.

Thanks and a hat tip to Dave Smock and his blog!

e-Postal Match Reminder - Ends Sunday Night!

I've been so involved with other stuff that I almost forgot about the current e-Postal match still going on! US Citizen at Traction Control is this month's host. It's a challenging match with classes for just about any kind of handgun you might want to use. There's even three different tees (distances), the lady's tees, the men's tee's, and the pro tees.

The match closes this Sunday night, and this is the last match until Spring, so this weekend is your last chance to print out some targets, shoot the match, and email in your entries.

For all the match information and to download the targets, CLICK HERE.

I'm predicting good scores from JimmyB, Manfred, Ahab, and some of the rest of you out there, so grab some targets and go for it!




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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Walmart Diet Cola is Gone?

What's going on at the soda department at Walmart? A few years ago I tried out the Walmart house brand of diet cola and found I liked it even better than Diet Pepsi. I always buy it in the two liter bottles, and 67 cents a bottle compared to a buck twenty nine is a consideration, being thrifty by nature. Unfortunately the local Walmart has been out of stock on the two liter bottles for two or three months! It was bad enough that they were out of stock on Winchester Dynapoint .22 ammo for six months, and now no Sam's Diet Cola? Sure, I don't mind their Dr. Pepper clone as a substitute, but not as a permanent replacement. Every time I swing through Walmart (usually buying ammo) I check the shelves and the spot is always bare where the diet Sam's should be.

Anybody have any idea what's going on?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Dave Smock's Puppies

If you like pictures of cute puppies, check out Dave Smock's blog for the latest. Click on this link to go to his blog. He's got a number of posts on the Smock family's new puppies, so just scroll down to find them all.

What a face!

Dave is located in Anacortes, WA. and his blog has lots of excellent pictures of the area. A few posts down you'll find a spectacular picture of Mt. Baker, and lots more.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Keystone - Pt. Townsend Ferry - What You Didn't See in the news


In late 2003 the Washington State Department of Transportation, specifically the Washington State Ferries department, held a public meeting in Coupeville, Washington to "Take Public Input" regarding the relocation of the Keystone (Whidbey Island) ferry terminal. It was clear to me at that meeting that this meeting had nothing to do with public input. It was intended to tell us what they were going to do, regardless of what we said, a "Dog and Pony Show" at best, but actually an insult to the members of the community in attendance.

The basics are as follows: The hulls and engines of car ferries currently in use on this run are nearly eighty years old. The ferry harbor is shallow enough that the ferries cannot dock at extremely low tides. The ferries have difficulties handling the side currents across the mouth of the ferry harbor as the ferries do not have bow and stern thrusters. The ferries are also quite slow, making it a time consuming crossing limiting the amount of cars per hour that can be transported.

Since the carrying capacity is limited by the old ferries, the parking/holding area is not large enough to hold the traffic as it stacks up waiting for the next ferry to arrive.

The state's solution was to relocate the ferry dock a mile or so to the South on an unprotected and unsheltered section of beach and on the adjacent wetlands. The proposed location would wipe out one of the better and one of very few public fishing areas for late Summer and Fall salmon fishing. With a new ferry dock at the cost of many tens of millions of dollars, then larger ferries as used on other runs could be used. The larger ferries need deeper water, however, and by the state's own data, a good number of runs every year would have to be canceled due to low tides.

At the time of that meeting I was a member of the Federally created Island County Marine Resources Committee. A number of members from that committee and I attended the meeting. Here are excerpts from two emails I sent out regarding the state's proposal presented at that meeting:

It sounds like they have already made their minds up, but after talking to some folks that know a lot about ferries and similar craft, they could solve all of their problems with a more modern ferry design, possibly a catamaran type hull. It could be faster, provide a more stable ride in rough water, draw less water, and carry more cars. It would probably be more fuel efficient, and could easily handle the currents with the use of bow and stern thrusters. The boat could even be built right here in Island county. No rocket science required, just proven stuff. I'm sure they don't want to hear about it, however.
And this:

Prior to the last meeting last Fall (2003) in Coupeville put on by WSF/WSDOT regarding the relocation of the Keystone ferry terminal, I contacted Matt Nichols, head of Nichols Brothers Boats in Freeland. Here's what I found out:

It is possible using existing technology to built a car ferry that could carry more cars, be more fuel efficient, travel faster, and draw less water than the current vessels used on the Keystone run, easily handle the currents at the entrance to the lagoon with bow and stern thrusters, and use the EXISTING dock.

When I presented this information at their meeting, their only response was to suggest that Nichols Brothers didn't know anything about building ferries that size. They did not refute the facts regarding the ferry design.

Why not put the ferry requirements out to bid and see what the bidding boat yards come up with, prior to pounding millions of dollars into the sand?
I sent this information to some of the local congress-critters, and they also realized that we don't need a new ferry terminal, we just need a few new boats. In fact, a catamaran design would probably be just the right solution, shallow draft, good rough water capabilities, and fuel efficient. The proposal to build the new terminal was shelved, but no action was taken on replacing the old ferries.

In my opinion, the people of Whidbey Island are now being deliberately punished since we didn't support the ferry dock boondoggle the state had proposed. I suspect they figure if it gets bad enough, eventually we will cave in and support the unnecessary new terminal.

Since 2003, an offer was made by a local shipyard to design, build, and lease new ferries to the state to solve the problem. Their offer was turned down. The current ferries have had major refurbishing, and only the engines and the hull itself remain from the original construction. Everything else is much newer and still in good condition. It was suggested that a new hull and power plants could be put under the current superstructure at a huge savings over building a completely new boat from scratch. That idea was also turned down.

The best solution would have been to draw up some specifications and put it out for bid to find out what it would cost, and if it was possible to build new boats to solve the problem. That also was not done.

The state clearly did not want to solve the problem, they wanted a new ferry terminal, and if they couldn't have what they wanted, they'd pack up their marbles and go home.

Now the ferry transportation is shut down indefinitely between Whidbey Island and Port Townsend. Next week they plan to start up passenger only ferry service on that run, using, guess what, a catamaran passenger ferry built by Nichols Brothers Boat Builders right here on Whidbey Island.

In the current controversy I haven't heard anything so far about the new terminal they wanted, but just wait, I bet it gets brought up soon.

An I upset over this? You bet I am! I use that ferry regularly to get to clients, camping, fishing, and shooting matches. This problem could have, and SHOULD have been resolved years ago.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Good News!


KEEWEE GETS BACK FROM NEW ZEALAND 25 MINUTES PAST MIDNIGHT TONIGHT.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Where Have I Been Lately?

As both of my regular readers have mentioned, I haven't been blogging for the last several days. There's a pretty good reason for that. No, I haven't been in jail, or hung over from heavy partying while KeeWee is out of town visiting family in New Zealand.

The true story is that in addition to keeping caught up on my regular job, I have been heavily involved in court and legal stuff over a property line and easement lawsuit with my neighbor. To cut to the chase, he has roughly ten acres next to me and he gets to his property and house by a multi-user private road, then across one edge of my property by easement. The easement is fifteen feet wide, which is more than enough according to county regs for accessing up to two houses. He wants to sub-divide his property and build more houses. That's the business he's in, a building contractor. To put up more houses he needs a wider easement. Rather than doing the honorable thing and talking to the neighbors and seeing is he can purchase an easement across someone's property, he has chosen to sue me to get the court to give him the easement for free.

The easement he is asking for would wipe out all of the plum and spruce trees next to my house, my well and well house, and much of my barn. Without going into all the details, it has been a very long and insanely expensive process.

It's also been very tiring and stressful, and I haven't had the time or energy to keep up on the blogging. There were several things I wanted to blog about, but just didn't manage to get the posts written. I haven't even had time to keep up on reading the blogs I regularly read. Normally I read all of the "Daily Reads" and "Gun Blogger Rendezvous Survivors" every day, and sometimes twice a day. The rest of the blogroll usually gets read every two or three days, sometimes more often.

Anyhow, I'm still here, still fighting the good fight, and trying to force the court system to behave as it is supposed to do, even though it is, at least at the county level, clearly broken......

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Gaia Prunes a Spruce Tree

Yesterday around noon I had to go out on a service call and was gone for two or three hours. When I returned, I found that the high winds had broken off the top of a fairly good sized spruce tree and dropped it in the driveway. Had I not been out on the call, or had I taken a different vehicle, my mini-van would have had it's top crushed, as that's exactly where I've been parking it while KeeWee is out of town. The tree top fell about ten feet from KeeWee's car, too, so we got double lucky.


That's the taillight of KeeWee's car in the lower left, and my Ford van on the right edge of the picture.

The section of tree fell in the only spot it could have fallen without doing any damage. It missed the flowerbeds, and both cars, landing right in the driveway. It did manage to break off a large limb from my plum tree, though.


You can see that had it gone a different direction it could have hit the house.

In this area, the wind storms always blow either North or South, yet this tree was blown almost due East. Unusual, but if it was going to happen, it couldn't have landed in a better place. Unfortunately, it also means that I have one more task added to today's workload.

I hope Wayne has parked the backhoe here today, as that will make short work of moving it out of the driveway.........

Monday, November 12, 2007

CWSA Falling Plates and Some Cowboy Fast Draw

Just wrapped up a pretty good weekend, although KeeWee being in New Zealand is kind of a drag. I talked to her on the phone last night and it sounds like she's having a grand time of it. She's been taking lots of pictures and will have a bunch of posts up when she gets back next week.

Friday afternoon Damiphino, my college buddy from Billings came over to Whidbey for the weekend. We got in a little .22 shooting out in the barn, had a good dinner at the local restaurant, played some guitar, and had a good evening exchanging stories and BS. Saturday we went to Coupeville for the last CWSA rimfire falling plate match of the year. Pistol matches at CWSA are over for the year, and won't start back up until late February. Bummer!

The falling plate match was fast and furious, and Evil Al was pretty much unbeatable. I think he only lost two runs all day, I got him once, and Tony got him for one, I think. Other than that, a perfect score! We had something happen that has never happened all year. With just about all the shooting finished, we had a two way tie for second place, and I was three back of the second place tie, but I still had three runs to go so if I got all three of my last runs, it would be a three way tie for second. That's exactly what happened. I got the final three runs, and we had a three way tie. Usually we only shoot one on one in the match, but we have four plate racks, so we decided to shoot all three of us at the same time, two out of three, to settle second place. Tony on lane two, Rainy on lane three, and yours truly on lane four. The horn blew, and Tony shot a near perfect run, I was right behind him, and Rainy right on my tail. All very close. A win for Tony on round two would give him second place.

The start horn blew again, and I shot another run like my first one, but Tony and Rainy had a little trouble, and I took that round. Now a win for either Tony or me would settle it. On the third run everyone got a little bit "over-adrenalined" and everyone missed one or more plates, but I picked up the missed plate slightly ahead of Tony and Rainy to secure second place. What a wild and woolly way to end the season. Too bad it wasn't a three way tie for first place, but Al was having none of that!

We packed away the plate racks and gear and swept the area to clean up all of the .22 brass. Then we set up the cowboy fast draw targets that Damiphino had brought all the way from Billings for us to try. In addition to the targets and timer and related equipment, he also brought along four 1873 replica single action revolvers in .45 Long Colt and a bunch of holsters for cowboy fast draw.

video
Quick Cal showing how it's done.
This was taken several months ago in Piru, California.

Cowboy fast draw is quite a bit different from world fast draw, in that the pistols are required to be stock in appearance and nothing much beyond just smoothing then up inside is permitted. The holsters are also very close to old time cowboy holsters, with the only main difference being the deflector shield at the bottom in case you fire off a round with the gun still holstered. The deflector will cause the wax bullet to break up into a bunch of little tiny pieces.

There are two targets, 24" in diameter, and 15 feet away. In the center each target is a small clear plastic window with a yellow light behind it. The rules are simple. Start position "Lawman Ready", your hand on the grip of the gun with your trigger finger outside of the trigger guard and alongside of the holster. When the light comes on you draw, cock, and fire at the target. The light will blink on and off for the winning shooter. It's amazing how easy it is to miss the target completely when drawing quickly and shooting from the hip! We all caught on to the basics fairly quickly, and just about everyone got some times in the half second range. There were also a lot of misses! We shot head to head for the rest of the afternoon, having a great deal of fun, and laughing our heads off at times as to just how wild we were at times. There's a lot to be said for wax bullets!

Who knows, if I can figure out a way to put together a set of cowboy fast draw targets and a timer, we might just give this a try after the first of the year and the weather starts warming up.

After we had shot up just about all of Damiphino's ammo, we loaded the cowboy fast draw stuff back up in the truck and headed off for something to eat. We stopped at the Holmes Harbor Rod & Gun Club's restaurant for some fish and chips and more tall tales, then back home to get Damiphino packed up for his trip home.

It had been a fun weekend.

For more information on Cowboy Fast Draw check out Cowboy Fast Draw Association's website.



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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Proper Mac & Cheese

Well, KeeWee has been gone for a few days, and won't be back for another eight or ten days as she's visiting family in New Zealand, where she's originally from. (Hence the nickname 'KeeWee') That leaves Castle Completely completely under the guidance and control of our cat 'Rocket' and myself. We're doing fine. I realized that there may be some of you guys out there that don't have the years of experience I do, so I decided I should share some of my knowledge with you all.

One of the most important things is to establish a healthy and nutritious diet. (Rocket prefers Purina products, so he's easy to feed.) Anyway, when it comes to nutritious meals you can't beat mac and cheese. It has all the basic nutritional groups all in one package. Since the elbow shaped thingies are made from flour, that counts as your vegetables. There's milk and cheese to give you strong bones, and salt to make sure you drink enough water so you don't dehydrate. There's also plenty of chemicals in there to guarantee you a long life. Don't forget, in the time of the Roman empire, foods had no chemicals at all, and life expectancy was maybe twenty or thirty years at best, and that was if you were lucky! Now with all the chemicals in our foods we live almost three times longer. Who knows how long we might live when they finally find the right combination of chemicals!

Anyhow, back to the food. As you have noticed, there are a lot of different brands of mac and cheese dinners. They are not all the same, by a long ways. Go for the Kraft. You can't go wrong. Stick to the basic one, though, as they also have some more expensive versions, but save your money. Mission brand isn't too bad, and most house brands aren't all that great. Personally I attribute that to them using cheaper chemicals to keep the cost down.

Yes, you can create your own from scratch, but why bother when it's all in the box for you. You can customize it a bit, if you like, and I'll get into that in a bit. But for now, lets whip up a batch of mac & cheese. BTW: If you don't like mac & cheese, go eat some tofu or boiled okra or something, you are at the wrong place. Not liking mac & Cheese is Un-American. You probably don't like apple pie or hot dogs, either. Go away.........

Where was I? Oh, right, we're making a mac & cheese. First, you need hot water. (Do not read the directions - what's the matter with you, are you still here?) Right, hot water. Put an average sized sauce pan under the place where the hot water comes out on your coffee maker. If you have your act together it's a Bunn coffee maker that already has hot water in it. Pour several cups of water into the coffee maker and let the hot water fill the pan about half way. Don't bother measuring the water amount, it's not critical. (Are you still here reading directions? SHEEESHHH!)

As the hot water is filling the pan, pour in the elbow macaroni thingies. Give them a quick stir once or twice so they don't glue themselves together. That's not a good thing right now, but no big deal later. If your stove is electric find the biggest burner on your stove and turn it all the way up so it heats up good.

By now you should have plenty of hot water in the pan, so put the pan on the hot burner. If your stove is gas, turn it all the way up. Let it get to a good boil. Put a lima bean sized chunk of butter, margarine, or anything else kinda oily you have handy into the water. It changes the surface tension of the water and makes it harder to boil it over. (If you don't know what size a lima bean is, ask 'Tofu Boy' over there, he probably likes 'em.)

If it starts to boil over, blow on the foam as it starts to rise out of the pan. It will go right back down. Not everyone will be too happy to see you blowing on their food, so if you are going to share with others, you might want to skip this step. At least move the pan off the burner and turn the heat down some.

After it's boiled a while, fish out a piece or so and bite into it. If it's still crunchy it needs more boiling. If there are no pieces left and they have all dissolved, just pour in another package and add a little more water. It'll be fine!

When it's just about the right consistency, put a pan lid over the pan and drain off the water into the sink. Do this carefully as a slip and you pour the whole works down the drain. Those screen basket drainer deals are for sissies, anyway.

Once drained, toss in a chunk of butter, margarine, or whatever you've got handy and stir it around until it's melted. Remember, you need to have a little grease in your diet every day to keep your arteries lubricated so stuff won't stick inside them. If you want to go deluxe you might toss in a chunk of Velveeta, or sprinkle in some parmesan, maybe a little cheddar. You're in charge, use what ever you like!

Rip open the package of special cheesy stuff that came in the package and mix that in too. If it starts to set up on you like some Bondo that you've waited too long on, pour in a little milk, or water, or cream, even. If you use cream you can then call it "Mac & Cheese Alfredo".

Grab the mixing spoon and have at it. Remember, if you eat it right out of the pan, you have one less dish to wash!

Glad to help, and as Red Green says "If she doesn't find you handsome, at least she'll find you handy!"

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Charter Arms Pathfinder With 4" Barrel

I just got this press release, and thought I'd pass it along:

DAYTON, OHIO­­—Charter Arms introduces the new 4” barrel, 6-shot Pathfinder to their extensive line of quality revolvers. Available in .22 Long Rifle or .22 Magnum, the new Pathfinder features a stainless finish and full-sized grips. Built on the same frame as the popular 2” barrel model, the new pathfinder is an excellent choice for shooters who are looking for a lighter caliber revolver for target shooting and maintaining proficiency.

Charles Brown of MKS Supply, the exclusive marketer for Charter Arms said, “The new 4” barrel Pathfinder has the look and feel of a larger caliber revolver but offers the economy and comfort of the popular .22 LR and .22 Magnum calibers. Its front target sight and square-notch rear sight provide a crisp clean sight picture for improving accuracy. Whether you like punching the center out of targets or popping tin cans on a Saturday afternoon, the 4” barrel Pathfinder will be an accurate and affordable addition to your collection.”

Charter Arms—setting the American standard in affordable personal protection. For more than 40 years, Charter Arms has maintained the tradition of craftsmanship found in Connecticut’s Gun Valley. High quality American-made and assembled, Charter Arms revolvers are available from reputable firearms distributors nationwide and carry an unconditional lifetime warranty. For more information contact Charter Arms at 866-769-4867 or on the web at www.charterfirearms.com.
– END –

It looks like it might be a fun plinker, although I'd like to see a 6" barrel on it, myself........

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Nichols Brothers Closing - Followup

Empress of the North - Built By Nichols Brothers

From what further information I have been able to gather, one of the primary reasons for the shutting down of Nichols Brothers Boat Builders is a pending lawsuit by a company called Hornbeck Offshore Services, Inc. Rumor has it, and I don't have documentation so it is so far only rumor, that Nichols Brothers built a boat for Hornbeck, and it was delivered much later than was originally promised. I do not know the reasons for the delayed delivery. I suspect it's not a simple explanation. As I get more information I will keep you updated.

There is an email being circulated asking folks to email Hornbeck Offshore Services and ask them to drop their lawsuit and work out some sort of settlement that would allow Nichols Brothers to continue in business, particularly considering the major hardship to the local community.

The person to email is Todd Hornbeck and his e-mail address is:

todd.hornbeck@hornbeckoffshore.com

It might not make any difference, but it couldn't hurt, either.......


Monday, November 05, 2007

Hollywood Writers Strike - World Will End !!

Oh No! Whatever will I do? If the Hollywood writers strike I won't be able to watch my favorite television shows....

Like........

Uh?

Hmmmm, I don't HAVE any favorite Television shows. In fact, I don't even watch television. Haven't for years.

OK, shut 'er down!

Won't miss it at all...........

Oh, the writers? Maybe they should consider getting a REAL job.

Ya think?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

CWSA Hanging Plate Match - 11/04/2007

When we got up this morning, the weather certainly didn't look very good. Although it wasn't raining, the clouds were low and looked like they could start raining any minute. As we drove North towards Coupeville and the CWSA range, the skies looked better and better, and by the time we pulled into the range it was only partly cloudy with a little sunshine peeking through. That meant that today we would be shooting a rimfire hanging plate match since it wasn't raining.

John and his wife Jeanette were there when we arrived, and we all helped finish getting set up for the match. John had brought along his favorite Ruger with a red dot sight, and I loaned him an iron sighted Browning Buckmark that I had "tuned" a bit.


"Evil Al" shooting his Model 41 with Rainy running the timer.

The basic format of a hanging plate match is you shoot six shots in six seconds at six round steel plates. You do this three times at each of four distances, 10, 15, 20, and 25 yards. as the distance is increased, larger plates plates are used, 4" plates at 10 yards, and ending up at 25 yards with 7" plates. Total shots taken is 72, and your score is the number of plates hit. We shoot two rimfire classes, "Iron Sight" and "Optical Sight"


KeeWee scoring, Rainy timing, and John shooting.

The turnout was fairly small, but typical for matches this late in the season. It didn't take us long to shoot the required number of shots and we were done before noon. John, from The Kitsap Rifle and Revolver club shot very well considering it was his first try at a hanging plate match. Shooting my Buckmark in the iron sight class he came within one plate of winning the class, and he was third in the Optic Sight class.


Here's John again, this time with his Ruger.


After we finished the match we all helped to load up the equipment and haul it back to the shed for storage. After everything was put away,John, Jeanette, KeeWee and I went over to the bowling pin range to let John have a try at pin shooting. Of course ,we all had to shoot a few pins too! We even ran a few head to head matches just for the fun of it.

By now it was getting towards afternoon and John and Jeanette had a ferry boat to catch to get off of Whidbey and to head home, so we packed up the toys and went our separate directions.

It had been a great day, lots of shooting, plenty of stories, and a good time had by all.

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Plates - Hanging -- or -- Falling?

KeeWee and I had a great dinner and lots of good conversation last night at our favorite Mexican restaurant in Oak Harbor, WA. John and Jeanette D. from the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver club came over to Whidbey yesterday afternoon and made reservations to stay the night at a motel in Coupeville, only a couple of miles from the CWSA range. Rainy and "Evil Al" joined us, and it was a good time, for sure. After dinner we stopped by Wallyworld to pick up some more ammo and some more batteries for the red dot sights.

This morning we're all off to the CWSA range for either a Hanging Plate or a Falling Plate rimfire match. If it's raining we will shoot the falling plates on the bowling pin range where we have shelter from the rain. If it's not raining, then we'll be at the 75 yard range for a Hanging plate match. Either way, it's going to be fun!

Stay tuned, I'll try to get a report up this evening.......

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Faster Than a Speeding Bullet?

Blogging has been a bit light lately as I've been out on the road working on site for some clients. The business I'm in is rather unpredictable as it can be slow for months and then go nuts for a while and then slow back down again without notice. Since I got back from the Gun Blogger Rendezvous in Reno it's been the busiest it's ever been. Of course I'm not complaining as it allows me to pay the bills!

One of the towns I visited is Hoquiam, Washington, on Gray's Harbor. Hoquiam was founded over one hundred years ago as a logging and saw mill town, and remained so up until some tree-huggers discovered the spotted owl. The logging restrictions imposed to protect the spotted owl in the '80's turned Hoquiam, and nearby Aberdeen, into nearly ghost towns as all the lumber related jobs disappeared. The downtowns were filled with vacant buildings with plywood covering the windows.

Hoquiam river from the edge of town.

Hoquiam sat in limbo for a few years, and then started showing some signs of life. I suspect the beauty of the area, combined with low real estate prices started bringing new people into the area.


The downtown of Hoquiam is to the left.

The Hoquiam river flows through town, and is close enough to the ocean that it rises and falls with the ocean tides. As you can see, the tide was out when I was taking pictures.


Fall colors reflected in the river at sunset.

On my way back out of town I spotted a sign that said "Mike's Guns". I made a hasty "go round the block" and parked near the shop. It was a nicely set up small gun shop with a number of nice things on display. The proprietor and a customer were looking at and discussing a replica Winchester rifle like Custer had used at the Battle of the Big Horn. It was an interesting conversation discussing the rifle, the lever action rifles used by the Indians, the tactics, the battlefield, and a lot more. The discussion continued to other battle rifle match ups where one side was seriously out-gunned by the other. The 30-40 Krag and the Mauser were mentioned as another example. I mentioned that a few weeks back I had fired a 30-40 Krag (Dirtcrashr's at GBR-II)and I described the somewhat unusual magazine it had. Mike reached back to the rifle rack behind him and lifted down one identical to Dirtcrashr's . Then he lifted down an earlier rifle that was the predecessor, and then he showed me the rifle that replaced to 30-40 he had been holding. When was the last time you got treated that well in a gun shop, or in any kind of a store, for that matter?

If you happen to be anywhere near Aberdeen or Hoquiam and you have a few minutes to spare, you might stop by and give his place a look. I don't know anything about the quality of his gunsmithing, but if he's as good with guns as he is at making you feel welcome in his store, I suspect he does pretty good work!

Nichols Brothers Closes Doors

The Sea Fighter - Built at Nichol's Brother's Boat Builders on Whidbey Island, Washington.

Excerpt from the Everett (Washington) Herald Published: Saturday, November 3, 2007:

Shipbuilder calls it quits

Citing financial woes, Nichols Bros. of Whidbey Island closed on Friday, idling 250 workers.

By Michelle Dunlop - Herald Writer

FREELAND -- One of Whidbey Island's largest private employers, Nichols Bros. Boat Builders Inc. abruptly laid off its employees and closed its doors Friday, citing financial problems and a pending lawsuit.

The company, which has employed about 250 people in recent years at facilities in Freeland and Langley, had operated on Whidbey Island

"NBBBI has faced significant financial challenges in recent years and has sought additional capital to assist in restructuring the company," officials said in a news release. "Those efforts have been unsuccessful, due in part to pending litigation and cash-flow challenges ultimately forced NBBBI to make the difficult decision to close its doors."

Company Chief Executive Matt Nichols declined comment about closing the business he's led since 1972. Nichols is the third-largest employer on the island and has operated for 43 years.

Click here for the full story in the Everett Herald.

Over the last year or so I have written several stories about the Nichol's Brothers, the history of their boat yard, and how they contribute to our community. Here's three of the posts:

Nichol's Brothers and Sea Fighter Post #1
Nichol's Brothers and Sea Fighter Post #2
Nichol's Brothers and Sea Fighter Post #3

I know the Nichol's family and all the Nichols brothers well, as I grew up with most of them here on Whidbey Island. I hope some way is devised to get their boat yard back running, as they have always been a positive contributor to our community, both in providing jobs, and supporting local activities.

Losing Nichols Brothers Boat Works is a huge loss to our community.

Let's hope this isn't permanent...........................

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