Carrying the load

Occasionally our free-spirited, at-a-whim approach to life results in comedy. Yesterday, Black Friday, we decided to drop by the truck-accessories shop for advice on improving Mercy’s lighting — closed. We drove across town to say hello to the proprietor of the tire-and-batteries place that had helped us with Ernie in July — closed.

Then we thought we’d investigate an odd-lots outlet that just opened on the south end of Harrison (located, coincidentally enough, in the building where most of Ernie’s furniture was manufactured). That turned into a complete bust — picked-over piles of what looked like nasty Amazon returns, nothing worth either our time or our money.

A stop by a furniture store in an intriguing old industrial building, stocked with home decor in a log-cabin theme, proved mildly entertaining. (Ernie’s bedroom is decked out in just such a motif.) After that it was time for lunch, and we chose the only Mex place in Harrison we hadn’t tried.

Our meal was, in a word, awful — what little flavor the food had was (for lack of a better word) troubling. We won’t be going back, and that’s something we haven’t said very often of the restaurants we’ve patronized while on the road.

So we drove back to the campground. Sometimes the magic works; other times, not so much.


Deb and I expect to spend a fair amount of time on The Mountain in the coming months, as advertised, traipsing through the woods. The walks we’ve undertaken so far have been quite the education, showing us what works and what doesn’t.

Frankly, lots of those lessons have to do with our physical capabilities. We’re by no means weak or incapable of meeting physical challenges, but at this age we’re learning to stay within a new set of limits.

When my ego tries to convince me that I’m still 25, telling me to “send it,” my brain has to pull rank and remind my body that I’m 65.

Woodswalking, especially the sort of bushwhacking we’re doing, tests our gear, too. And we’ve made some good choices — walking sticks, footwear, deerskin gloves, machete — but we’ve also exposed a few gaps we need to fill. Unfortunately, because we’re living in a bus with limited storage, we left a whole a bunch of stuff back at Second Chance Ranch that we sure could use right now.

Our preparedness mindset dictates that we carry gear that lets us deal with the unexpected, which is even more important when venturing off the beaten path. Boo-boo kit. C-A-T one-handed tourniquet and QuikClot trauma pack. Snake-bite kit. Mylar blankets. Bandanna. LifeStraw. Paracord. A fixed-blade knife and a ferro rod.

We need a way to bring all that with us into the woods, of course, plus any tools required to complete the day’s tasks. The cheap daypacks we’d bought for our journey were fine for tourist stuff but just weren’t up to off-trail duty. We had to look for something better.

I’ve long been a fan of Eberlestock. I have the Bandit and Cherry Bomb packs (back at the house), and in my opinion Don Eberle’s Idaho company offers the best and most innovative gear for the money, arguably the best packs regardless of price.

The right tool for this job, I determined, would be the Eberlestock F5 Switchblade — 1,500 cubic inches of capacity, good interior organization and plenty of pockets, a concealed-handgun compartment (which I’m not sure I’d use) and a spot for a hydration bladder. Presented with 11 color choices I picked the Doppel:Ganger:Skye pattern, my all-time-favorite camo. For what it’s worth, Skye also mimics closely the vegetation and terrain up on The Mountain.

I’ve had the Switchblade out only once but I like everything about it. So does Deb, apparently, ’cause yesterday she took advantage of a Black Friday deal and ordered one for herself. She went with Doppel:Ganger:Mountain camo.

I’m sure you’ll see (and read about) these packs and our other gear in future posts.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon