The blog of the adventures (or mis-adventures) of an active mountain woman.
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(I really don’t) “Feel it in my Bones”

The Wilson Cabin in all her glory.

Okay, so I acknowledge that the “feel it in my bones” sentiment is more due to barometric pressure changes than temperature fluctuations, but the greater point I’m trying to make is that I’m out of synch with mother nature. Let me explain.

This may have something to do with flying from Hopkins Village, Belize to Casper, Wyoming USA in one long afternoon. I’ve tested the tropics-to-mountains theory several times, and I can confidently say that our species has not evolved enough in the last 50 years of frequent air travel to make it a comfortable process. There is nothing natural in going from sand between your toes to 10° before windchill in a twelve-hour window. The next day dawned with a high of 10°, which I discovered by checking my phone. Oddly, this is exactly my issue.

Yes, technology like insulation and weather reports on my cell phone can be a wonderful thing. But I honestly had no clue that it was below 0° when I woke up. Why would I? I have a well-insulated house with central heating (and air-conditioning, I might add). We keep it at a conservative 65° in the winter, which lately seems both too cold and too warm.

Before moving in with my now-husband, I lived in a 1920’s log cabin in Wilson, Wyoming (7 miles outside of Jackson). It was about 700 sq. ft., had authentic paned windows and was generally a little slice of heaven. The main room was heated with a propane fireplace with an on/off switch in the back and there were a few rarely-used baseboard heaters in the siderooms (but only the bathroom had an actual door).

The on/off switch on the fireplace is significant. There was no thermostat. This means when the temperature dipped below zero, you could see your breath inside sometimes in the morning. Waking up involved a epic battle of wills that usually went something like this:

Alarm goes off. Oh god it’s cold. My nose is freezing. Better hit snooze. Alarm goes off. (potentially repeat up to 3-9 times). Grab long underwear in mad dash and dive back in bed with clothes under covers with me to preheat. Put on said clothes under the covers. Jump out of bed and turn on fireplace and teapot. Add more clothes, potentially a hat. Feed Wendell, let him outside (it takes a lot to make a Lab cold). Crazy dog.

So why on earth would I miss that? Because I was constantly aware of what was going on with the natural world. High winds whistled under the front door. When the paned glass started to glaze over on the inside, I knew I would be wearing expedition level mittens teaching ski school. And when my dog only went outside for two minutes at a time, I knew there would be no significant new snow until it warmed up*.

So are these nostalgic ramblings with the rose-colored glasses that the passage of times grants us optimistic humans? Maybe. Does this have something to do with copious amounts of time indoors due to lack of outdoor recreation options and lack of outdoor employment? Most likely. But I can’t help but think that some small primal part of me feels locked up from the natural world here in my insulated house with daily leashed dog walks.

Put-on-the-winter-fat-recipe-of-the-day: one pan dark chocolate chunk skillet cookie

* Subzero cold is almost always due to very high pressure and very dry air, making difficult conditions for snow.

 

Regulation & Wendell

Beartrap Meadow County Park as seen on Google

My poor lovable pup has two strikes against him in the weight-management category: 1) His background as a Mexican street dog means he eats whenever and wherever he can get food. 2) He is primarily a Labrador and thus has no portion control. This also means he Hoovers rather than chews.

But now, I’ve added a third: 3) I, his owner and primary playmate, work out in a gym more often than outside.

These three factors add up to one thing: Wendell is chunky.

I didn’t want to believe it. Sure, he seemed a little bigger but it wasn’t until a friend visited last week and commented that I really accepted his growing waistline. So with summer quickly fading, I’ve been neglecting my gym membership in favor hiking around the woods while my dog unknowingly gets his heart rate up with me. However, these woods are new to me and on Saturday our hike became an interesting introspection on regulation.

I parked at the top of Casper mountain at the Beartrap Meadow trail head, and the first thing that struck me is how odd it is to drive up the entire mountain. Nevertheless, I started out on the Nordic trails eager to spend some time in tall trees. But then I got sick of going in circles.

Don’t get me wrong- I love loop hikes. But the 26 miles of Nordic Trails present themselves in a variety of small loops, and I wanted to hike in one direction for at least an hour. Roughly picking my way though various trails, I found myself confronted with “PRIVATE PROPERTY” signs just under an hour into the hike. While Wendell merrily trotted past the signs, I recognized my gun-loving county for what it is and turned towards technology for an explanation. The Google satellite with my GPS location pinpointed showed that I had l hiked to the far end of the park had nowhere to go but back. Sigh. And which way was back, exactly? Luckily, the magical arrow on my phone pointed in the right direction and I started choosing random, unsigned single track trails that would hopefully lead me towards the car.

Glimpses of fall on Casper Mountain

I know someone who is ‘building trails’ for biking on Casper mountain. I’m not sure if this is entirely legal (my guess is not), but the county doesn’t exactly swarm this park with enforcement agents. Add in a healthy red-neck population who will squeeze a 4-wheel-drive vehicle any place said vehicle can fit, and the trails in this park have more variations than a Mexican climbing route. While I enjoy being able to bring my dog with me (something not allowed in National Parks), I resented the lack of clear trails and complete lack of signage. In Jackson, the National Parks in my backyard offered hiking for eight hours plus in one direction without encountering a road (dirt or paved) and only a few well-signed junctions. I loved that I couldn’t get too lost inside my head before a stunning vista or bear would jolt me back to the now. Now, my ‘now’ has too many marks of civilization, which is what happens when a place doesn’t have the supreme protection status of “National Park”. But having a National Park in your backyard is the exception, not the rule. And I’m no longer an exception. With ‘wild’ places such as this, it’s no wonder that life spans are shortening and obesity is on the rise.

Sewing how-to of the day: Make your own Pin Tucked Duvet Cover

 

No Fish were Harmed

Dogs Like Fishing

In what appears to be an annual attempt at fishing, I stacked the odds in my favor by going to the holy grail of fly-fishing: Grey Reef.

Located only about 30 minutes from my home in Casper, Wyoming and four hours from Denver, Grey Reef is renowned for lots and lots of fish. In researching this blog, I came across a blog posting from Grey Reef Anglers and Wingshooting reporting that on 9/8/2011, “one of our guides Tyler broke in his brand new boat today in style, 45 fish to the net and 4 fish over 20inches.”. American Angler Magazine also named the Grey Reef section of the North Platte River the #1 big fish destination in the world. Let’s just say Tyler and American Angler all have distinctly different experiences than Michelle.

I should start by explaining that we didn’t start our day at Grey Reef- we started in much faster water with this incredible sticky mud bottom. Since a large part of my fly fishing experience is looking at the pretty rocks in the river, this was not ideal. We loaded up the wet, happy dogs and headed upstream. After some very nice help from a guy at The Reef Fly Shop, we waded into the river again with a new and improved nymphing setup. Apparently, I shouldn’t have been dry fly fishing at all. The reason I resisted nymphing initially is a simple math equation: with one (dry) fly, there is less to get tangled than with nymphing, where there are two flies (although one of mine was a ‘purple worm’- what?) PLUS weights PLUS an indicator (small plastic ball thingy). Part of this setup is supposed to be underwater and part above. That’s a lot to get tangled. And it did.

The only nibbling that happened was not by the fish... but at least we fish in style. Homemade Cherry Pie.

But first, I lost my shoe. Even though Grey Reef did have my required quota of pretty rocks, there was one sticky section as I waded upstream. The velcro on my fly fishing sandals (yes, I have special sandals as they need to be extra-big to fit the neoprene booties of my waders) got seaweed in it and wasn’t functioning at 100%. I tried to slap the strap down under the water but eventually, the sandal was barely hanging on and in immediate danger of floating downstream. I reached down and picked up my sandal with my right hand while I began to wade towards shore with my rod in my left hand and my sandal in my right. And that’s when I saw him.

He was a monster fish. Definitely over 20 inches. And he was 3′ in front of me and swimming slowly upstream as I bumbled towards shore. Frantically, I looked for a place to set my sandal. But I was still in the middle of a river and there was none. Egad! I finally shoved the shoe in the top of my waders and hurriedly readied my rod for a cast. It was a terrible cast and I think I saw bubbles from the now out-of-sight monster fish laughing, “Hey lady the jig is up. Do you think I got this big by being dumb?”. I fished for another 20 minutes before tangling my setup beyond all recognition and having some (more) delicious snacks back at the truck. Maybe next year, but for now I have the consolation of being part of the age-old story about “the one that got away”.

 

 

Transitioning Lifestyle: The Gym Debate

Yoga at Prana

Last fall I left my beloved Tetons in the name of love and moved to Casper, Wyoming. Just five hours from the valley of Jackson Hole, Casper seems a world apart. Of course, Jackson is a world apart from any town that doesn’t wear the ubiquitous title of ‘ski town’. But the part of Jackson I miss most are my recreation options.

Let’s say I worked on the computer for the morning and early afternoon and wanted to get out with my dog for some quick exercise before the evening (or another job) began. From my home in Wilson (7 miles down the road from the town of Jackson), I could jump in the car and in 5 minutes be at the trailhead to hike old pass road to Crater Lake. The road hasn’t been used since the new highway went in over Teton Pass in the 70’s. Paved on the ascent, the hike is a great loop with a calf-burning up and meandering single-track down. The top of the trail has a small blue lake perfect for thirsty or swimming dogs (mine would be thirsty type only). And if I was really ambitious, I could even ride up to the trailhead safely on a sweet bike path. If I was in the mood for a longer hike, I could opt for picturesque Ski Lake (which I have blogged about before here). Or maybe I was after great single-track biking. Just a few miles higher reside a number of trails like Blacks Canyon, Jimmy’s Mom or the Ridge Trail.

If I was more into a pavement-pounding mood, I could run on Wilson bike path with striking Teton views and horses braying in the neighboring fields. And there was always a chance to see some Wilson flair, like the resident I spotted walking her goat on a rope. What, you don’t have a goat on a rope?

But maybe I didn’t want to get all sweaty but spend some outside time with a girlfriend catching up while our dogs ran themselves silly – then I would go (again, in less than 5 minutes) and walk on the Snake River dyke. And I haven’t even gotten to town.

Seven miles down the road in the town of Jackson another world is waiting and in it another blog, but suffice to say Cache Creek along has a weeks worth of single track. But enough about Jackson – what are my options in Casper?

In Casper, I can hike Rotary Park with Garden Falls and the 4.5 mile Bridle Trail. There are also a number of hiking and biking trails on top of the 8,130 tall Casper Mountain. None of the trails have posted signs for directions or mileage. I’ve heard there are a number of bike trails on Muddy Mountain, but by that point we’re into an hour drive from home and that’s tipping the scale towards more car time than recreating time, which is definitely not MountainKidd style. So what do I do? I’ve been hitting the gym.

Less than 10 minutes from my new Casper home is a great fitness studio called Prana Fitness. I’ve been enjoying classes like Bootcamp, Pylo-Kick, Kettlebells and Yoga Sculpt with some pleasant surprises. In just 45 minutes, I can get my heart-rate up in a major way and work on enough muscles that my reduced mountain-biking schedule doesn’t mean reduced strength. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that even though I’m not riding often, I can ride as hard as I did when I rode four+ days a week. And another advantage? At the gym, you can go HARD. There is no slowing down to listen for bear or moose or terrain evaluation to avoid avalanches. It’s just you and your body – and the guy running the class who missed an illustrious career as a drill Sargent. And while I will always miss my breathtaking Teton views, I suspect this adaptation is the key to lifelong fitness and the happiness that comes with it.

Interesting list of the day: Money Magazine’s 100 Best Places to Live.

Brrrtooth Highway

Note the white box with 'enlarged switchbacks'

So yes, it’s really “Beartooth Highway” and it’s beautiful. It’s also only open to car traffic in summer, and as the snow flying outside my window would attest, the Rockies are still a longs way from dog days. The solution? Head up on two wheels.

This is easier said than done. Beartooth highway straddles the Wyoming/Montana border and has an impressive 20 peaks reaching over 12,000 feet in elevation. It is also the highest elevation highway in Wyoming (10,947 feet), Montana (10,350 feet) and the entire Northern Rockies region. All these stats add up to one inarguable fact: cold, thin air.

That morning, we loaded up the car in pleasant 55° weather in Billings, Montana. Folks cautioned us that Red Lodge, about an hour away, would be about 10° cooler. Down to 45° in Red Lodge, we began climbing up the open portion of Beartooth highway as the temperature settled to somewhere around freezing. As we lifted the bikes off the roof of the car, I mentally chastised myself for bringing bike shorts and no tights, but reasoned that it wasn’t that cold – until I saw him.

He was the owner of the other car parked at the gate and he was covered– as in the only skin visible was from his eyes to his nose. His ragged bike tights revealed an additional layer of long underwear and I stared as his big winter mitts enviously while I thought, “oh shit”. Regrouping, I decided that I could adapt my clothes to be bike friendly. I pulled my comfy yoga pants on over my bike shorts and found a rubberband to cinch the pants around one ankle and a few hair ties for the other. I also rummaged through my emergency winter stash (which is really a year-round stash in Wyoming) by the spare tire in my car and pulled out my own pair of fluffy mittens. My favorite cute and function Lululemon jacket has a rad collar that zips up to my nose with (and this is the genius part) a hood completely independent of the collar. My ratcheting bike helmet allowed a quick resize to accommodate the raised hood while the chinstrap slipped under the high collar without interfering with the heat-saving hood. I’ve always thought the zipperpull on this jacket was another place to shout “LULULEMON!”, but the bulky three-disk design proved genius when I could grab it through bike gloves layered with bulky mittens on top.

Unfortunately, my winter stash had nothing for my partner. While the ride up was peaceful and surprisingly not-SO-steep (bear in mind my comparative point is Teton Pass), the way down was brutal. We had pedaled high enough for the air to get cooler and while we enjoyed the wind at our back on the way up, it was full-on in our face on the way down. So full-on that we actually had to pedal while careening down the mountain. We stopped more than once to warm my partners hands while I furiously wiggled my cold toes.

By the time we arrived back at the car, my toes lacked any and all circulation. My core temperature had also dropped and I hurriedly leaned the bike against the car and broke into a fast succession of jumping jacks. There were some overweight tourists in an SUV pointing and laughing. Soon enough, the car was pumping out heat and we were enjoying a delicious dinner in Red Lodge. But adventure always make dinner taste better.

Hairy Yoga

The GiGi wax warmer- friend or foe?

Disclaimer: If you’re male, you may not want to read this post – but the ladies sure will.

Hair depletion and I haven’t always gotten along so well. Like much of my life, I’ve taken a shotgun approach to the issue. One blade irritates my underarms just as much as four. Electric razors are too harsh. And then there was the one waxing incident involving the microwavable wax. To make a long story short, I touched the wax container in the microwave and said wax exploded all over kitchen and a large area of skin. Burnt skin continued to worsen under a layer of tacky wax and the on-duty RN at the local ER (consulted via phone, thank you) was initially at a loss advice on a non-candle type of wax (hint: cold shower and use oil to remove. Take pain pills). This incident spurred the purchase of my own mini at-home waxing kit.

While somewhat barbaric, good ‘ole waxing is incredibly effective. In my mind, its biggest drawback is the simple fact that the wax needs something to grab onto. For underarms, this means a vicious cycle of careful planning to estimate the exact date when the hair is long enough to be pulled but not so long one is left waiting for the appointed day feeling like Sasquatch. Pull a week too early and an awkward stubble is left. And too late? Read on, my hairy friend.

I’m pretty sure that the wax pot at a salon gets plugged in when they open for the day. Not so at home. The wax kit must be brought out from under the counter and plugged in for at least 30 minutes to get the wax nice and gooey. I had plugged the wax in, but got distracted by email, phone, work and life in general. Before I knew it, it was almost time to go to yoga class and I wanted to wear a cap-sleeve shirt (as most full-coverage yoga shirts were hiding at the moment).

Reasoning that I had just enough time to do a quick underarm wax,  I began with gusto only to realize halfway through that if I was going to be on time (and you should not ever be late for yoga- just skip it), I had to go NOW. So, with one underarm pink and hair-free and one wax-ready hairy, I jumped in the car with a plan.

The plan was to go in the back corner. I began walking to my space when a woman in the second row asked me a question and we started chatting. A few new faces entered the studio, and that was the beginning of the end. Helping out the newbies, the instructor came up with two mats and asked the chatty woman and I if we would mind moving to the front of the class (‘so others can watch’, she mouthed). Fan-tastic. Watch away.

I have no idea if anyone objected to my one hairy armpit. In my mind, they did and were appropriately horrified/curious. In reality, they probably didn’t notice. If anyone has looked into laser hair removal for the underarms, I’d be interested in finding out more.

Funny-ha-ha-of-the-day: Graphic help for “Can I skip class today?

 

 

Junkshow Backcountry Weekend

A typical day on Teton Pass- not a space to spare.

A long January weekend in Jackson has a relatively narrow list of outdoor activities and most involve skis of one sort or another. Fully prepared for this reality, I armed myself with the full backcountry arsenal of an avalanche transceiver, probe, shovel, AT gear and snacks and headed out to Teton Pass.

But Teton Pass was a junkshow. I was punished for the none-too-early nine a.m. start with a ridiculous parking lot scene. The already limited parking on the pass has recently been reduced, resulting in a number of cars lingering in the lot waiting like vultures for earlier skiers to vacate a spot. On this particular day there was an extra bright spot- a large RV parked sideways across the middle of the lot. Staring at the RV with disgust, I was rewarded with the gratifying scene of a state trooper knocking on the RV door and a rag-tag ski kid poking his head out with a quickly evaporating smile as he eyed the man in uniform.

Eventually the troopers (there were two at this point) got the RV parked properly and four of the five circling cars were rewarded with spots. I was in car number five.

With a cursing companion, we backtracked to a midway parking lot with milder terrain and thus, less people. The small drop in elevation got us out of the cloud cover and into full, beautiful sunshine. The mild terrain was exponentially safer and while I had no regrets, I couldn’t help but wonder if I had played into “their” plan.

“They”, meaning the Wyoming Department of  Transportation (WYDOT), “considered not plowing the parking lots during storm cycles to decrease the number of skiers and snowboarders heading into the backcountry on days when the avalanche danger is high.” (according to Jackson Hole News & Guide on Dec. 3, 2010) While this obviously didn’t happened, the discussion did result in a reduction of the number of total spaces plowed. But how do they make sure only the smart kids park in the remaining spots?

When I took an avalanche safety course with the epically qualified American Avalanche Institute, there was some blame placed on the extreme sport film company TGR for exciting the uneducated (in terms of backcountry safety) masses to head out on Teton Pass and start hucking themselves off cornices and snowy cliffs. This is where I depart from the US government court rulings over the last 50 years and become a bit more Darwinistic in my thinking.

If people want to throw all logic to the wind and chug that just-poured cup of coffee or ski that dangerous slope, is it our job to stop them? I like the modern interpretation of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. quote, “Your rights end where mine begin” (his exact words were “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.”). I had heard the above WYDOT quote in casual conversation around the valley but realized that many failed to consider the rest of the story – which was that “WYDOT has become concerned with motorist safety on Highway 22 over the pass due to the potential of human-triggered avalanches reaching the road.”

Your rights to be stupid skiing in avalanche terrain end when your avalanche buries my car. The pass remains plowed, but if catastrophe strikes, access could be compromised. Be smart- check the avalanche report before you go out, dig snow pits and make wise terrain decisions.

Cool house of the day: It really is a Stone House (in Portugal!)

Hogadon – better than Michigan!

I recently found myself with a whole weekend in Casper. While I do live here, the trips to Denver and Jackson have been plentiful with few ‘home’ weekends. I evaluated the situation and decided to see what Casper has to offer in terms of skiing- that would be Hogadon.

Located on the summit of Casper mountain, Wyoming’s tourism website calls Hogadon, “an intimate resort”. I’ve played this game before- “intimate” means “small”.  But I knew that going in. After all, I have a certain intimacy with small resorts afforded by growing up skiing ski resorts in Michigan. I was curious how Hogadon would stack up in comparison to Michigan. But I haven’t skiied in Michigan in over 10 years now and I didn’t want poor memory to contribute to belittling Michigan skiing.

While my initial feeling was that Hogadon was more fun due to more vertical and more varied terrain, I decided to put my feelings to the numbers test.

I used Crystal Mountain Ski Resort as my Michigan indicator as it was the #1 designation for my family. The resort was also voted the #1 ski resort in the Midwest by SKI Magazine in 2005, making it a fairly good representative of Michigan skiing. So here are the numbers (and you know what they say about the numbers):

The numbers don’t lie- Hogadon is officially ‘more fun’!

Really cute dog pics of the day (I especially like the ‘big dog’ shadow): Puppy Love

Dear Columbia – Welcome to Cool.

Checking my avalanche transceiver before heading up the mountain in the background. If you look closely at my right hand, you can see the inner cuff with thumb-loop on the jacket- which I LOVED for situations like this.

While gear testing wasn’t a stated goal when I started this blog, a cool thing happened. Columbia Sportswear Company stumbled across little ole’ MountainKidd.com and decided that I’m the kind of person that could test their new techy gear. After a three-second contemplation, I decided they were absolutely right and received a pretty sweet jacket system in the mail last week. In exchange, they wanted my honest feedback. While they didn’t stipulate that I blog about it, I actually had a great time putting it through the rigors with some pleasant surprises.

In my book, Columbia didn’t rate as anything approaching ‘technical’. Would it do the job? Kinda. Are there much better options? Absolutely. However, it would appear that they are sinking some serious dollars into R&D these days. The $270 Black Diamond Dash Parka™ I received was actually comprised of two pieces: a black, insulated layer and a waterproof/breathable shell. On first inspection, I was impressed. Actually, I thought, “THAT’S a Columbia??”. It has taped waterproof zippers, a beefy and functional powder skirt, and a ridiculously soft and cozy high collar with a functional freestyle fit. I had no idea that Columbia was so with it. But I still had to take it outside.

If you find yourself on a skin trail at this angle, consider setting an alternate, more sane trail.

Sacrificing hugely, I concluded that a true test would involve driving  over to Jackson to do some backcountry skiing. In the backcountry, the skier huffs and puffs up a mountain, sweating all the way, then virtually flies down all that hard-earned terrain in no time at all. Reasoning that this would be fairly rigorous conditions for a gear test, I set off to experience Jackson’s record-breaking early season snow in the name of work. Right.

On the drive over, the snow on Togwotee Pass was too good to pass up. Temps were in the teens with a breeze but the insulated layer with their much-touted omni-heat technology seemed to do its job. You’ve probably seen the advertisements for the “tiny silver dots that keep you 20% warmer”. I personally don’t think 20% sounds like a huge number to brag about, but whatever the silver dots were doing, I stayed plenty warm and appreciated the full pit zips in an insulated under layer (not that common).

The great thing about skiing on Togwotee is that not many people ski there. The horrible thing about skiing on Togwotee is that not many people ski there, which means you’re pretty much always breaking your own skin trail. With little pride in my early season ski fitness, I let the fiancee set the skin trail. I had no idea that he would set it so steep. Really, really stupid steep (see picture at above left).

Oh right, this is why I climbed up the moutainside...

The trail was so steep that the dogs actually spun-out and buried their hind legs. Twice. Like a rear-wheel drive pickup in soft snow, they tried to run faster and faster to get up past the steep corner of the skin trail. This only succeeded in digging their hole deeper and deeper. The 40-pound dog could be easily assisted, but my 60-pound Lab was another story. After the second time I made him ‘stay’ (demonstrating the value of a well-trained dog) to pass him and pack down the snow so he could leap onto an area that wouldn’t give way, I offered some helpful tips to the man setting the skin trail. They may not have been said in a helpful tone.

Soon, all was forgiven as we reaped the rewards of our labors- the sweet, sweet down. The snow could be lighter and fluffier, but it wasn’t bad. I zipped my shell over the insulated layer and had a happy ski down. See the snow piling up around my downhill knee? That’s a beautiful thing- no ‘cheese’ for the camera required. And I’ve concluded that Columbia makes some pretty cool gear- sure, the insulated piece could use a few improvements (like a zipper garage and a zippered pocket on the inside where a velcro one now lives) but the shell is pretty close to perfect and I didn’t freeze or get too hot and sweaty (quite a feat). Overall, the system passed my test with flying colors. And flying downhill is quite the place to be tested.

Life-Saving Avalanche Shoveling Technique: Make your friends watch it too… because it’s hard to shovel yourself out.

Don’t Look the Turkey in the Eye

Michelle is learning that a small head may not directly correlate to small brain size.

Anyone that knows me would not question my motives for hunting. I believe it is the ultimate sustainable, organic and free-range meat. Assuming that populations are healthy and it is done responsibly, I am absolutely in favor of shooting a wild turkey versus buying an animal that was bred with too-big breasts to walk and lived a short miserable life inside a dark box. However, with hunting, you have to be able to shoot the turkey first.

I blame the calendar. My friend swore that the turkeys that frequented his property would amicably wander around next to the barn and their cars while they conducted their daily lives. He said we could literally shoot from a rocking chair on the porch. However, I am convinced that someone slipped the turkeys a Blackberry or, at the least, a pocket calendar, because the turkeys had issued a red-alert for the day we went on their property.

Dressed for a 10 minute expedition, three not-so-mighty hunters snuck around the corner of the barn with all the stealth of an elephant. The flock activated the alarm and set off at a brisk run. But one turkey had a badly injured leg and hobbled in the back. Reasoning that he couldn’t make it through the winter injured, I took aim while the fiancee shouted a none too helpful, “take the shot, take the shot!”. Is this turkey sniper or what? He had also given me a helpful pep-talk on the ride over about not looking the turkey in the eye before I pulled the trigger. Flustered, I pulled the trigger and missed. By a lot, which is better than injuring but not killing the turkey. I tried to chamber another round but the shell jammed in the gun on ejection. Fantastic. By the time I nudged the shell out with my finger, the turkey had flown away.

Have you ever tried to chase a flying object? As a land-bound mammal, we are at a distinct disadvantage. The turkey crossed a ravine while the bipeds had to walk all the way around the ravine to get to the other side. By the time the bipeds were on the other side, the turkey just flew back to the original side. This was frustrating. So frustrating that us bidpeds decided to put our oversized brains into action. If one of us circled around the flock from the high side and pushed them towards the other two, we could probably have another try. I was lucky enough to be in the group waiting for the turkeys to come to me, which we did in enviable style.

It started with wanting a break from the wind. We walked around to the other side of the barn and somehow ended up sitting on a bench on a covered porch with hot chocolate in hand, thanks to Gina. This helped soften the blow that Gina delivered. She said that about 10 minutes after she heard the shot fired, the entire flock passed right in front of her living room window, “and the one with the bad leg was leading the pack!”. She expected to see us chasing after it, but we were probably crossing the ravine (again). Thanks Gina.

Turkeys: 1. Bipeds: 0. And I ate lamb for Thanksgiving.

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