Vicki got me a Thermarest self-inflating sleeping pad for lightweight low-bulk camping, and a happy Buddah from Signals, which is pretty cool. She said it makes her laugh. It does. It's kind of infectious.
We went out to Buckinghams BBQ for dinner with Brian & Kristin & Angela (Kevin was in St. Louis in training) and Ryan and Kristie. Sam came by, too and bought a round.
Thursday we went to the celebrity basketball game -- the Q106.1 All Stars vs the Gentry Middle School teachers starring my favorite daughter-in-law (she's awesome). After a basket she scored, as she came running back down the court she pointed at Brian with a "that was for you" kind of look on her face. She's a funny girl. Afterwards we all headed out to Murry's and had a nice time with the crowd -- Sam & Deb, and Ken, along with the rest of us.
Yesterday we went out to Mom & Dads (finally) for our Christmas get-together. Had sweedish pot roast (for those of you who don't know what that is you're really missing out). Jeff brought dad a new computer that is acutally capable of running Windows XP -- so that got all set up. We opened presents. Joel & Dawn got me a nice Pelican Case for carrying cameras into dangerous environs, and got Vicki a nice fluffy blanket. I tried re-repairing the pot-handles on Mom's old stainless steel pans using JB Weld and a nut, and did some adjustments on their pepper grinder. We met our "adopted sister Keri"'s fiance -- Dan -- who tried on her pink cowboy hat (from Mom & Dad) for style (man card still intact, of course). I will say Keri looks much better in it, but not nearly as funny.
Today Ryan and I went on Walkabout in the cold morning. It was something like 10 degrees when we left and maybe 16 or 17 when we came back. Hiked about a mile in to Cedar Creek Wildlife Area ... but couldn't cross Cedar Creek (it was too high for a winter crossing, and where it was frozen across I wasn't about to test the ice with that water and current with today's temperatures). We ended up finding a spot and making fire with a magnifying glass and sunlight. First time we've successfully started one that way -- so that's progress. We each did it twice, so we're pretty sure what to do and what to expect.
You need to get at least a racketball to tennis ball size ball of fibrous material with lots of fine, stringy strands, and pack a little bit of it tight -- leave the rest of it loose. Then you focus your light beam on a spot. As SOON as it starts smoking, start blowing on it, but keep the light beam focused. It'll get smokier and smokier -- that's a good sign. Don't give up, keep blowing as steady as you can and pretty soon -- poof! Flame. Third time I tried it today I had flames in under a minute -- so I think I know how to do it. Not saying I could do that every TIME, but I think I understand what's going on and why you have to do what, when, and for how long.
DON'T SCRIMP on your tinder.
We had Brian & Kristin and Kevin & Angela over for dinner tonight and had a nice chat with all of them. I did nip of to Sam's Club -- Ryan found a nice Swisstech hiker tent there for $35 -- so I can retire the kids tent for solo hiking. It's 3.3 lbs and packs down nice and small. Probably not any lighter or smaller than the kids tent, but it's actually going to be long enough to hold me at my height. The kids tent was a bit of a tight fit in the diagonal -- you really don't want to be touching the tent walls and my feet were. So this will be much better. When it gets warmer, of course.