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VOLUMES 157 & 158 -------- JULY/AUGUST 2015

August 23, 2015

We are definitely in 'fire mode' here in the Great Northwest.  Right now Washington state has the nation's largest concentration of wildfires with Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and California vying for second place.  As I write this, the nearest fire to our little niche in the eastern Spokane County woods is about 40 miles to the west.  A quick internet search of 'washington wildfires' reveals multiple links that will bring up maps showing how numerous and widespread these fires are.

Tragically, 3 firefighters lost their lives and another is in critical condition after being overcome with flames from one of the runaway fires.  At this point officials aren't able to even give an estimate of homes and buildings lost because the fires are so widespread and volatile.

We did have a serious scare about 3 weeks ago when a fire broke out at the end of Starr Road, about a mile straight south of us.  Rick arrived here at the house with the news that he had called 911 to report the fire and was told it had already been called in.  Our volunteer fire department rallied to the scene in about 15 or 20 minutes but by then the fire had blossomed into the taller trees and crossed the road.  Rick and I went down the hill to assess the situation and decide what we should do.  A closeup view of a fireball exploding to encompass a 100 foot pine tree in seconds is a truly awesome and frightening sight!

I now regret not photographing or videoing the scene with my cell phone, but taking pictures was far from my mind at the time.  As I said, the fire was straight south of our house, there was a moderate southerly wind blowing, and nothing but bone dry timberland and one narrow county road between us and the flames!

We had previously stashed a small 'getaway' bag in the gun safe, containing things like some cash, birth certificates, and passports.  In the event of a catastrophic need to 'leave now' we figured this would have to do.  In this case we did take the bag, some other valuables, and moved our vehicles to Rick's house just in case!  Fortunately our efforts were not needed as the fire was contained within about 100 yards and closely monitored for two or three days making sure the hot spots were completely extinguished.  One or two air drops plus assistance from neighboring Hauser Lake Volunteer Fire Department and Department of Natural Resources firefighters, averted further damage and no structures were seriously threatened.  Had the winds been stronger that day, no telling how things may have turned out!

Now, with the multitude of fires and resources stretched so thin, one has to wonder if additional help would even be available in the event of another fire in the immediate vicinity.  All this has been an incentive to do some things that are advised but too often ignored.  I've always been a procrastinator, along with a number of other faults which I'll get around to enumerating some day, but current events have encouraged some activity in preparedness.

For example, I took an hour or so to take digital photographs of every corner of every room in the house in order to be better prepared for claiming insurance losses in case of catastrophic events.  The photos are now on a flash drive in Rick's gun safe.  I also built some bases for a couple of lawn sprinklers and placed them on the roof of the house.  With the turn of a faucet, the sprinklers provide a blanket of coverage for the entire roof and several feet around the structure.  Not enough volume to extinguish a house fire, but perhaps enough to squelch any embers that might land on the roof or decks.

We are on a private well so electrical power is required to keep the water running.  Moving our power lines underground a few years ago has reduced our power outages to near zero, but should one occur, our auxiliary generator will keep powering the water pump for over 8 hours even if we have to evacuate.


Lawn Sprinkler on the Roof

Closeup of west sprinkler

As this is being written we are in such a smoky atmosphere from the area fires that the air has been declared hazardous  for everyone throughout a wide area of Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and Montana!  A high pressure inversion is expected to make the foul air stay with us for several more days.

The newsletters for August have included a blurb about Jennifer's birthday for many years now.  This one is no exception.  Jennifer turned 19 on July 31st.  The celebration started with opening of gifts at Rick and Christi's house.

A little cash for one's birthday never hurts!  This is probably two months of her share of apartment rent

Next we proceeded to the Sho Gun Restaurant for hibachi meals cooked on the tabletop grill in front of the diners.  This is the 11th year that Jennifer has chosen this venue for her celebratory meal.  The ritual always concludes with a picture in geisha costume that is then projected on the waterfall wall in the restaurant.  The antics of the chef are always entertaining and elicit a laugh or two.

A fried rice heart for the birthday girl!  A tap on the handle of the spatula even made the heart beat!

Geisha Girl - Left at 19 and Right at age 9

Festivities concluded with an ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins back at Rick and Christi's house.

Put out that fire young lady

This past week saw Jennifer moving back to Pullman, Washington to begin her sophomore year at WSU.  This year she and her roommate Roanna, elected to rent an apartment rather than live in the dorm.  Rick, Christi, and boyfriend Kenny helped Jennifer move in on August 17th.  Ann and I have not seen the apartment but do plan a road trip to visit Jennifer in the next few weeks.  We'll likely wait until they have a better handle on the wildfires before leaving the house for long.

I have not fired a shot on my range for so long I may have forgotten how!  The new Sako rifle as well as the Cooper and Browning continue to languish in the safe.  Even though the likelihood of causing a fire by shooting into my dirt backstop is extremely remote, I have elected not to use the firing range until the fire danger moderates.

I did receive my order from Leupold
(www.leupold.com) for a scope and ring mounts for the Sako.  The Leupold support of Hunter Education programs is a very nice benefit for volunteer instructors.  Optics and accessories can be had with substantial price discounts on a limited basis of one optic per year.  The scope has been installed, the bore sighting with the LaserLyte completed, and a couple boxes of ammo secured, but nary a trigger pull has occurred on a live round.

Sako Model 85 LH with Leupold Vari x III 2 1/2 X 8 scope installed

Our Hunter Education classes at the Spokane Elks Lodge and Hauser Lake Gun Club are completed for the year.  Now we volunteer instructors and helpers can take a few months off to rejuvenate ourselves for next year!  Our budget, courtesy of the Northwest Sportsman's Club, has provided all the ammo and supplies for the classes with funds enough for substantial cash donations to both the Elks Lodge and Hauser Gun Club in appreciation for the use of their facilities.
  For more information about our Hunter Education activities and pictures of several years of classes, scroll to the top of the page and click on the Hunter Education link.

For many years the Spokane Elk's RV club, the Wheelin' Elks, has held a group gathering at the Wallace, Idaho Huckleberry Festival in mid August.  This year the club elected to go to Lake Christina just across the border in British Columbia that weekend.  Three of our rigs, Rick and Christi, Gene and Kathy Sink, and Ann and I elected to continue the tradition of the Huckleberry Festival.  We all traveled to Wallace on Thursday August 13th and returned home on the 16th.

On Friday morning Gene, Kathy, Ann, and I loaded up in Gene's Chevy for a run over a couple of mountain passes on the 'back way' into Thompson Falls, Montana.  We played 9 holes of golf at the Riverbend Golf Course west of town, then tried to find the Clark Fork Valley Elks Lodge.  After directions from two sources, no directions from an elderly gentleman who never heard of the Elks Lodge, and misplacing the Harvest Foods grocery store we finally stumbled into the Lodge for a cold drink.

Gene and Kathy are part time hosts at the Spokane Elk's RV campground and had become acquainted with an RV'er who is a member of the Clark Fork Valley Lodge.  She reported that the Lodge was doing well so we wanted to stop by and see what they are doing right.  They are in a small, newer building on the outskirts of town and those we spoke with were friendly and welcoming.  I bought five tickets for a raffle featuring a Remington Model 700 rifle with scope and sling.  The drawing will be in early October, so wish me luck!

After the visit to the Elks Lodge, we made a quick round trip to the little town of Trout Creek, Montana.  They also have a Huckleberry Festival that occurs the same weekend as the one in Wallace, Idaho.  We drove through a nice wooded RV park there and will do a bit more research to see if we might switch venues next year.  Trout Creek also has a fun run, and they are located on a flat valley floor.  I think that means we wouldn't need to climb the mountain like we do in Wallace.

On our return trip to Wallace we did spot a bit of wildlife.  There was a cow elk above the highway west of Thompson Falls and a cow moose and calf on the way up to Thompson Pass.

Speaking of moose, I was awakened before 6:00 AM on Friday the 21st by a whispered, "There are moose at the lick."  I got up and joined Ann staring out the north window toward the salt lick.  There were mama and baby.  I barefooted it out on the deck and tried some pictures, but it was too dark.  Fortunately they hung around for a couple of hours so I finally had enough light for a decent photo.

Mama Moose and Baby, although when baby stood up he was nearly as tall as me

The main attraction for us at the Huckleberry Festival is the 5k Fun Run/Walk. 
Jennifer and boyfriend Kenny joined us on Saturday morning for that.  This year all of us participated, and all finished in good health, except for the expected soreness for a few days afterward.  Medals are awarded for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, male and female, in each age group; Gold, Silver, Bronze.  We carted home several medals!  Well, except me, which I'll explain in a minute.  Here are the results for our group:

Jennifer Parman - Gold
Ann Parman - Silver
Kathy Sink - Bronze
Gene Sink - Bronze
Rick Parman - Silver

At the awards ceremony, it was apparent that they had switched age groups for Rick and I, as Rick was awarded the Silver medal for the 'over 70 age group'.  Rather than disrupt the proceedings, an email exchange with the race organizer a few days later confirmed the error.  Turns out that Rick's time placed him second in either the 50 - 59, or over 70 age groups, so he already had his Silver medal.  When the results were re-tabulated, I had finished 3rd in the over 70 age group so my Bronze medal should be arriving in the mail soon.

Ann with her silver medal.  The first place finisher was only a few seconds ahead so Little Heifer declared, "I'll get her next year!"

Gene, Ann, Kathy, and Rick proudly showing off their medals

I have recently been seeing advertisements for a new digital borescope from Lyman Products.
(www.Lyman Products.com) This setup includes a tiny camera that inserts into a gun barrel and transmits an image of the bore to a small viewing screen.  One is also able to capture the digital images on a standard SD Card if desired.  This interests me greatly because if it works as advertised it should make it much easier to  capture digital images than with the camera attachment for my Hawkeye Borescope.  The Hawkeye is a wonderful piece of equipment with excellent optical quality and providing nearly microscopic examination of a rifle bore.  However, attaching a digital camera, getting the exposure and lighting right, and capturing images is a real pain.  See this newsletter March 2007 for more about the Hawkeye.

I have been in touch with
Marketing Manager, Elizabeth Friedmann and have requested a sample for review when they become available.  If this thing works as advertised, I'll likely buy one.   Besides that the 'street price' is expected to be about $400 - $500 less than the Hawkeye.  We'll see.

I got an email from the National Shooting Sports Foundation a few days ago with the first mention of the 2016 SHOT SHOW in Las Vegas.  The invitations for Media members is expected to be out in early September.  Little Heifer accompanied me to Las Vegas last January while I took in the show for the first time.  What an extravaganza!  To read about that experience navigate back to the Home Page and click on the Shot Show link.  We have not had serious discussions about whether another trip to the show is in my future, but expect to explore the matter soon.  I'll let you know.

This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from something that Ann picked up from her facebook page.  Don't know about attribution:

When you're dead, you don't know you're dead.  It's the same way when you're stupid.

Well, it's time to shut down here, so. . . . .
'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!

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