Feb 15, 2014

Appalachian Brewing Company

Nice day today.  Snowy.  Cold.  Scenic.  Rife with adventure.  Debbie and I took a drive up north, past Gettysburg, to Chambersburg, PA.  I needed to pop in to Gander Mountain to pick up something I had on lay-away (More on that at a later date) and we wanted to just drive around and see the sites while everything was so beautifully covered in snow.  I threw my growler in the truck, because I like to stop by Appalachian Brewing Company whenever we pass through Gettysburg.  We ended up grabbing lunch at the brewery and filling the growler with their Hoppy Trails IPA (so tasty!).  In addition to great beer, they also make fantastic food there.  I do not know why I always order the honey habanero wings.  They hurt soooo good.  After lunch we pushed on north through Michaux State Forest and into Chambersburg, checking out the sites and popping in to antique stores to look around.  It was a great day.  


I've been meaning to post about this great little "truck stop diner" that I love to stop at when I make the trip to visit my folks back home in upstate NY. It's called the D&H Penn-Can Restaurant, located on Route 81 in Harford, PA about an hour south of Binhamton, NY. You can't miss the giant "EAT" sign as you make your way through the mountains. I always read the sign and think: good idea. I typically stop in and order the same thing: a simple burger; cooked rare with one tomato and a little mayonnaise. It's cheap, good food and the atmosphere alone, is worth the stop. The interior is quite retro. Oranges and dark browns are the main color scheme surrounding wooden beams and drop ceiling tiles. Showers and payphones are located in the back room. And at each booth there is a phone jack from the days when land-lines were the primary means of phoning anyone. In addition to their quality cheap eats they've got an impressive selection of beef jerky; the huge rectangular pieces that look like as if they were made by squeezing ground meat out of a tube and running it over with a tractor trailer: The good stuff.

Update on the Winchester Model 63

I have been working on the old Winchester, .22 that I picked up a while ago; the Model 63 made in 1939. Though I did put quite a bit of work into removing the rust from the receiver and barrel using four-ought steel wool, a flattened brass shell casing, and that wonderful smelling Hoppes No. 9, there were other parts of the gun that needed replacement. The front sight for instance, was badly bent. My father helped me to replace this sight with a proper Lyman sight of the correct dimensions and vintage (thanks dad!). Also in need of replacement was the rusty old butt plate. Perhaps this gun stood on end in a damp basement or garage for some time. Whatever the cause, the butt plate was so heavily rusted that removing the rust from it would thin the material too much. Turning to Ebay, I was able to find a beat up stock, containing the butt plate I needed, and in much better condition to boot.  Still, the new butt plate will require a bit of work to remove the light rust on both sides of it.  I'm just glad it has some of the original bluing left on it.  Looks a lot better already.  

The last piece of the puzzle was the elevator for the rear sight. When I bought the rifle, this elevator was missing. I didn’t want to just throw any old elevator in there. And I certainly wasn't going to follow the advice of the gentleman I bought the rifle from:  "Throw a dime in there!"  (Yeah, thanks buddy)  I wanted it to be correct for the rifle. A Winchester factory original is what I was looking for. Again, turning to Ebay I was able to find an entire set of correct sights for my 63.  At any rate, I am having fun restoring this rifle as best I can.  I am eager to get it to the range and sight it in and think it will be a lot of fun for squirrel hunting next season.

Feb 14, 2014

Plowing forth

Yesterday was fun.  Lots of snow.   Lots of shoveling.  Lots of looking out the window, wondering if it was ever going to stop.  We ended the day with two feet of snow.  This morning, we woke up to another five inches (Mother nature’s valentine’s gift to me?).  Seeing as how the roads out in the boonies where we live were so bad, I decided to drop Debbie off at work on my way down to DC.  It’s a good thing I did.  Her Honda CRV handles great in the snow, but there is no way it would have made it through some of the un-plowed roads that she takes to work.  That snow really did a number on the roads and dropped a whole bunch of “beautiful” everywhere.  We stopped several times to snap pictures out the windows of the Tacoma this morning and had a good time doing so.  They way that bright red sun punched through the plum colored morning sky was really quite striking.  

Feb 13, 2014

Westminster gets 2' of snow

Well.  Based on yesterday’s post, some of you may be saying “Be careful what you wish for”.  I say, “My wish came true!”  I woke to a foot of snow outside.  Another foot fell this morning.  So we've got two feet of the white stuff surrounding phattire headquarters today.  Unfortunately, the weather is quite warm and our precipitation has now changed to sleet and rain.  Pity.  As such, it’s a damned good thing Debbie and I put the shovels to work early this morning before this nasty stuff fell and made it a hell of a lot harder.  Our driveway is clear and lined with nice tall banks of snow.  I love how it looks.

As usual, when we get nasty snow and ice I like to take the Tacoma out and see how bad things are.  After shoveling, and a bagel & coffee, we hopped in the Taco and explored.  The roads in our neck of the woods (the boonies) were not plowed but the truck pushed right through it in 4WD.  I’m so glad I put mud tires on this truck.  At one point we were blasting through 3’ of drift snow, common on our roads that meander through open fields.  I’m glad to know that even in this snow; the truck will still get us where we need to go, if we need to go.  

Oh, I almost forgot; work was cancelled today.  “Snow day!”  So I got some more reading in.  I really love this Kenneth Roberts book:  Arundel.    Though, most schools have already closed, I’m sure I will be back to work tomorrow.  

Feb 12, 2014

More winter please

I have really been enjoying this winter.  I just don't mind the cold and really enjoy getting all the snow we've been getting.  It makes the woods a lot prettier and sure keeps me busy maintaining the wood stove.  I heat the entire house with the wood stove in the basement and, so far, have burned through five cords of wood. Yes, I am enjoying the winter weather.  Aside from the hunting, I also tend to tinker with my rifles, and read a lot more during the winter months.  Another part of the winter months that I enjoy is keeping the birds fed.  I've bought three or four 35lb sacks of  bird feed this winter, and enjoy watching the birds eat it.  Especially the Juncos which migrate down from Canada for the winter months.  Hell, I eat better too.  Debbie has made some really fantastic meals this season.  Her lasagna, chicken pot pies and corned beef are amazing.  I drink a the more heavily hopped and darker beers in the wintertime as well; your IPAs, porters and stouts.

Feb 9, 2014

Knife; handed down

I have always liked sheath knives. Well made sheath knives, with handles made of stacked leather, stag, or wood. I attribute this interest to the knives my father carried while raising me and teaching me the ways of the woods (hunting, fishing & camping). One of the knives he carried was quite large and was known by us kids as "the watermelon knife" because it was routinely used, on camping trips, to slice up juicy melon for the small army of children, that are my siblings; all nine of us.  The knife bore no markings from any manufacturers.   This is because it is truly a one-off piece, made by one of the workers at Savage Arms in Utica, NY during World War II.  During this time, workers made these knives from scrap materials in the plant and sent them to friends and relatives fighting the war overseas.  The blade is made from a scrap power hack-saw blade material.  The stacked bands in the handle are the same that were used in the .50 caliber machine gun handles that Savage Arms made at that time.  My father's uncle, Bill, worked for many years at Savage Arms and gave this knife to my father, some forty years ago.  Last weekend, my father handed it down to me.  I'm honored to have it.

Feb 8, 2014

Squirrel hunting - Patuxent River State Park

With only three more weekends left to hunt before the small game season ends on February 28th, I took a trip down to Patuxent River State Park to try and bag a couple more squirrels.  I've been switching scopes around from gun to gun and didn't have a scoped .22 that was zeroed, so I took my Marlin .17 caliber.  Some say that .17 caliber rifles are ideal for squirrel hunting.  But, I believe a rifle in .22 caliber is best fitted for hunting squirrels.  My experience has taught me that the .17 caliber round, even when firing the lighter 17 grain bullets, is a little too hot for these little guys.  Unless, of course, you hit them directly in the head.  I always aim for the head, but more often than not, my bullet lands in the shoulder or neck area.  As a result, the shoulder meat is usually wasted due to the destructive nature of the fast and small round.

Well, I was in the woods by 9:00am and except for woodpeckers and chickadees, I didn't see any activity. It as 27 degrees out and virtually no wind.  I did find the remains of a deer that the animals have picked clean.  I tried to determine if it had been shot, but there was no way of telling, that I could see.  I also found an old dump area, which held some neat old bottles and other interesting junk.  I found an old glass two-liter Pepsi bottle, with an aluminum cap which broke when I tried to free it from the frozen earth.  I had never seen one of them before.  Among the old garbage were various bottles, cans, childrens' toys and random household items.

Feb 5, 2014

Ice storm

Maryland and the surrounding states got pummeled by a significant ice storm last night. I woke this morning to nearly 3/8" of ice on everything and several downed limbs. There was, of course, no electric power which I found mildly exciting. Mildly because I would not be showering this morning (we're on a well) but still excited because I got to use some "old timey" methods of getting comfortable. I made up a pot of coffee by heating the water on the wood stove and using my old reliable drip coffee maker. I haven't used this coffee maker since I lived in Manhattan; I missed it! I also fired up my little oil lamp and started a great new book my father leant to me last weekend. I started reading Kenneth Roberts' Arundel by the light of my lamp, sipping coffee while limbs cracked and fell to the ground; a sound similar to lightening cracking. All in all we lost a few limbs from our sycamore, peach and maple trees. The maple getting the worst of it; a 10" diameter branch cracked and hangs vertically. I used my camp saw to make quick work of the broken limbs on the other trees and will have to tackle the maple this weekend. Though destructive, the ice did make for an unexpected day off from work and some nice photos.  This blog is brought to you today by means of my iPad; operating in my mobile blogging configuration.