April Adventures

     Gotta start writing it down so’s I don’t forget it, being as so much has been happening over the past week. Santa Barbara from Thursday to Tuesday, then cannon shooting this past Saturday!
     SB in two words: Barnacles and Bowling
     Cannon shooting in two words: Kaboom! and Yeehaw!
     One of the bigger reasons why I left SB: most of my productive pals were already living in the Bay Area. I had a minority of sedntary pals in SB and most of us managed to get together at the good ol’ Bay Café one night I was down that way. SB is such a little slice of paradise, in terms of city size and weather that people go there and then never want to leave. Hence: barnacles. Of those eight or so individuals at the dinner table only one of them has, in ten years, ever come to visit me, or anyone else, I expect, who lives away from SB.
     As for Bowling our proximity to the Southland meant Judy’s youngest daughter Serena, her hubby Jerry (curiously we have 3 with that name in the two branches of the family) and their two kids Jazmine (we’ve got two of them too!) and JJ could come hang out with us for a few days. It was a wild time and we enjoyed it from beginning to end. Many fun moments but the one that sticks in my mind was being dragged kicking and screaming out to the local bowling alley. I hadn’t been bowling in 45 years but there I was, wearing those silly slippery oversized clown shoes, sliding around with the best of them. Fortunately the kiddy barriers were up for the wee ones or we would have been in real trouble! I think just about every one of us made a ‘bank shot’ or two, to great effect. In all I fell down twice (shoes radically oversize), got two spares (one a bank shot!) and two strikes so I broke 100, woohoo!
One more adventure was purely culinary: a total pig-out at Woody’s BBQ, nummy nums! Much gooiness and the best BBQ sauce in SB.
     Absent from the list of interesting things was my reason for going: WESTEC, which was a total bust. Absent from the play card were many of the ‘regulars’ including Bridgeport, all of the pretty girls handing out stuff, stuff to hand out: NO zero zip nada free samples! My biggest score was after the event at Harbor Freight in Camarillo where I was able to pick up a tubing ring roller that I’d been unable to obtain from their local store or from their webpage, for six months of increasingly frustrated dealings.
     And then we come to Kaboom! This Saturday April 4 was the occasion of Bruce Heppler’s annual April Fools Cannon Shoot. It’s a real trek for most folks; 2-1/2 hours of driving, including 26 miles of windy road from 101 to Round Valley and the town of Covelo, CA.
     It was my third trek to this event and the first one where I was able to get the whole experience. That is to say that like several fellow diehards I arrived the previous evening and was treated to their most excellent hospitality which began with a dinner featuring a home-grown home-cooked ham that tasted sooooo much better than any hormone- and water-injected beast you’d find at the market. Got to sleep in a real bed so sleeping bag not required and I even wound up with a ‘heater cat’ who purred the night away; very pleasant. Didja ever sleep so deep that you wake up drooling?
     Next day bright and early I staggered to consciousness only to find Bruce had been up long enough to stoke the fire (his design: very efficient woodstove) and he’d started to get together all of the tackle we’d need for a successful outing. I staggered out to find Janet had heaped plates with pancakes and sausage; so much for the diet, hehe. Janet hobbled around the kitchen cooking up a storm; said hobbling induced a few days back by a ram who was a bit ornery; it’s a tough life they lead. Bruce is machinist, weldor and lately artist. Janet’s a shepherd for a huge flock of sheep, goats and other fauna.
     We loaded up and drove the 15 miles to the shootin’ range, a road that gets progressively worse and very innnteresting from the standpoint of a guy without 4-wheel drive! Finally we arrived at the site and it was perfect. Just enough moisture left in the soil and plenty of greenery so we wouldn’t start any uncontrollable fires. Learned a few interesting facts while I was there. Didja know that people are racing 3/4 scale stagecoaches and that all of the spoked wheels seem to be made by one blacksmith in Chico? Didja know that, in a pinch, you could mash up Cheetos and add ‘em to scrambled eggs to make them more cheesy? Another guy, a volunteer fireman (there were several in our mob) noted that Cheetos burn in a very peculiar way, too (gotta try that one!). And that set the tone for the day: totally crazy and a whole lotta fun. In all there were 8 ‘field pieces’ ranging from .50 cal to 90 mm bore, plus an undetermined number of blackpowder firearms ranging from .50 to .75 cal. I’d say throughout the day we got off more than a hundred shots with the big guns and probably the same with the handheld artillery. I had one powder bag glitch but it still fired every time I lit the fuze, which is more than I can say for some others. There were three or four hang-fire episodes but they were all handled with the utmost caution and with the kind of experts in our midst there were no ‘incidents’, heh. There was one instance worth noting: a mortar had been affixed to a beautiful, beefy oak cradle but one of the major components had been designed with the grain running the wrong way. Sure enough, on maybe his 5th or 6th shot the cradle split down the middle in a quite spectacular display, all captured on video!
There were many really excellent marksmen in our midst but I wasn’t one of them! It wasn’t until my 5th shot that I actually witnessed the projectile hitting the hillside in the distance and that was my first chance to adjust my sights. Looks like it got more than a little jostled in the past year: I was off about 40 clicks in azimuth and elevation! Made an adjustment or three (one in the wrong direction I suspect; I was a little rusty, heh) and it was several more shots before I realized the problem when I succeeded in trimming a *very* hefty branch from a tree in the distance! We ended the day with a fantastic volley and I would have captured it all on video except for the doofus who stood in front of the camera; oh well, there’s always next year. Yeehaw!
     Current work, postponed for these events and becoming urgent: my old wooden-frame outfeed table for tablesaw has been falling apart due to heavy loads and conversion to an erzats welding table; gotta make me a real one out of steel, with a 1/4” thick slab of steel on top. All else is on hold ‘til that’s done. Once done it’s back onto the calliope, which has been approved for exhibition at Makers Faire, woohoo!
More stuff happening not to be missed:
April 26: Pacific Coast Dream Machine Show
May 29-30: Makers Faire at San Mateo County Fairgrounds
May ?? Fire Arts Festival at The Crucible
?? Open Day at the Penngrove Power and Implement Museum
August 15-16: Pacific Coast Air Museum Air Show
Aug/Sept Burning Man
Late Sept Great Delta Steamboat Meet
?? ???
Yes a fun Spring and Summer, woohoo!

Comments (1)

JenniferApril 6th, 2009 at 10:24 am

Just an FYI – The Crucible’s Fire Arts Festival will be July 15-18, 2009 and tickets will go on sale very soon!

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