Friday, April 18, 2014

Speedin' ...

     Howdy do!  Any of y'all out there got a lead foot?  I'm guilty.  I try my hardest to obey every letter of the law, but I just cain't seem to ease off that skinny little pedal on the right side of my floorboard.  Now, I ain't one of them idiots that do a buck-twenty just for the Hell of it, but I definitely drive speed limit (or just a hair above) the majority of the time.  My motto is; slower, lower life-forms keep right.  Period.  The left lane is for passin' only, and I ain't one of them people that feel the need to hog the left lane.  If you happen to come flyin' up my ass, I'll move over.  But if you're doin' slower than the flow of traffic in the left lane, you're not only pissin' me off but you're breakin' the law!
     I've had my share of speedin' tickets over the years, but I've mellowed in my old age.  I ain't one to try to beat the ambulance to the wreck, so to speak ... but I am guilty of speedin'.  However, the last 3 tickets I've had have all been warnin's, and all 3 of those were from DPS. That's right ... the Texas Department of Public Safety.  Now, don't get me wrong; I ain't braggin' 'cause they were warnin's.  Why, you may ask?  Probably 'cause I show some respect and some snap, and let these guys do their jobs.  Seriously, y'all ... if you get lit-up, it's for a good reason.  These folks are just doin' their jobs, so if you show 'em some respect and make it easy for 'em they just might cut you some slack.  And the state trooper that we encountered on our last road trip actually gave us a bonus ...

NAWAC Investigator Andy Stewart had never been to Uncertain, Texas or Fouke, Arkansas ... so off we went!
     A buddy of mine and fellow North American Wood Ape Conservancy member Andy Stewart were headin' to the NAWAC trainin' camp outside of Gilmer, Texas a few weeks back.  I had taken the day off, and had some business to take care of in Uncertain, Texas.  Andy had never been to Uncertain or to Caddo Lake, so I felt obliged to show him around.  Come to find out ... Andy had never been to Fouke, Arkansas either.  Really?  Well, Fouke was only an hour or so north of Uncertain, so off we went.  I took him through Doddridge and to Jonesville, where the original "monster" sightin's were first recorded in the 1930's & 40's.  After toolin' around on some backroads, I took him into Fouke.
     The Monster Mart has had one Hell of a facelift since the last time I was there (about 25-years ago) so I felt obliged to do the tourist-thing and have a look-see.  We walked around, took some pictures outside and then headed back to Texas towards Gilmer.  We were on a little one-lane comin', one-lane goin' hilly stretch of road in Cass County and I was lookin' at my directions.  Yeah, I got a Tom-Tom but I don't trust it ... and that woman's voice drives me friggin' nuts!  And yeah, I'm a techno-tard and would rather trust a map that ain't digital.  I had just topped a hill when I saw the state trooper on the left shoulder as he lit my hapless-ass up!
     I immediately put my right blinker on and pulled over ... put my hazards on, rolled my windows down, turned my vehicle off and put my hands on the wheel.  The trooper approached and immediately asked me for my driver license.  I replied, "For your protection as well as mine, I've got a loaded Beretta in my front right pocket, and a loaded .40 cal. in the center console.  Now ... I'm goin' to very slowly and carefully reach into my back right pocket ... in which there is also a pocket-knife, and slowly hand you my license."  Well ... after that ice-breaker, I handed him my concealed handgun license holder which also contains my driver license.
     The trooper held the black leather bi-fold with the gold-finished NRA medallion on the front and asked, "What's this?"  I replied, "It's my CHL holder ... open it; it contains both my driver license and my CHL in the same holder."  He opened it and said, "Cool ... this is neat! I've never seen one of these."  I explained that he could get one off of the NRA Web site for around twenty bucks.  He said, "Mr. Landrum, the reason I pulled you over is because you were speedin'."  I replied, "The speed limit is 60 mph." and then quickly asked him, "How fast was I goin'? 65?"  He said, "No sir, you were goin' a bit faster than that. Where y'all headed?"  I explained to him that I had left League City well before sun-up, picked up Andy in Porter and then we had stopped in Uncertain for a bit, went to check-out Fouke and were now headed to Gilmer to camp on some private property with friends.
     The trooper could plainly see all of our gear in the back of the cab, and said, "I'll be right back." and walked around to the back of the truck and started writin'.  I frowned at Andy and in my best Scooby-Doo impression cried, "Ruh-roh, Raggy! This trip just got expensive. Looks like I'm fixin' to get me a ticket!"  Andy tried to assure me I wasn't goin' that fast, but I was payin' more attention to my directions as well as the road ... and not my speedometer.  The trooper came back after a few minutes and said, "Mr. Landrum, I'm just goin' to give you a warnin', but you need to slow it down. And I just have to ask ... what's a guy from League City, Texas doin' goin' Uncertain, Texas, then goin' to Fouke, Arkansas and then goin' to Gilmer, Texas all in one day?  Are y'all some kind of Bigfoot investigators?"
     There was an immediate awkward silence ... but I kept my composure and replied, "Well, not in the respect you may be thinkin' of; and, definitely not as in the sorts of people you might've seen on TV ... runnin' around through the woods at night screamin' and bangin' on trees!" He chuckled as I immediately assured him that we were both just very interested in this animal, and were very curious as to what kind of critter it might be.  His demeanor went from smilin' to serious, and he then dropped a friggin' bomb on us.
     He said, "Mr. Landrum ... let me tell y'all what; I was trainin' a young huntin' dog one night in the Sulphur River Bottoms, and somethin' was followin' me through them woods. I would walk and it would walk; I would stop and it would stop. I would pick-up the pace and it would keep up with me. The dog was freakin'-out and it got to the point that I was trippin' over it, so I ended up pickin' it up and carryin' it.  I found a huntin' blind and sat in there 'til the sun come up.  Now, let me tell y'all what; I will go into a house or a trailer where I know a man has a gun ... but I will not go back in them bottoms. Period."
     The hair on my arms as well as the back of my neck was stickin' straight-up.  I looked at Andy, whose jaw had pretty-much well dropped, and then back at the trooper.  After an awkward silence, I thanked him for sharin' that with us, as well as the warnin'.  Actually, it wasn't awkward ... I pretty-much well felt kinda justified!  I shook the man's hand and then we departed.  As he walked away, I started-up the truck, put my blinker on and proceeded to Gilmer.  As the trooper disappeared after toppin' the next hill, I looked at Andy and said, "Holy shit! You just can't make that kinda stuff up!"  And immediately Andy replied, "That guy just validated the whole reason that we are headed to Gilmer!"  Kinda makes you think, don't it?  Could he have just been funnin' us?  I seriously doubt it, 'cause he was dead friggin' serious.  I'm just as serious tellin' about Our Encounter, 'cause there's definitely somethin' runnin' 'round out there in them woods!  Now ... y'all just think about that ... and, y'all come back now, you hear?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Wrappin' ...

The finished product; new Mossy Oak Obsession camo wrap with matchin' seats ... it's camo on the bayou!
     Howdy, y'all; sorry that it's been a while, but life happens!  Health issues and projects have kept me from postin' lately, so I thought I'd better get back at it with the completion of my Camo boat wrappin' project.  What started out as wrappin' my engine cowlin turned into several days of very tedious work.  I'm goin' to warn y'all; if ya ain't just a 'lil crafty and really friggin' patient, do not attempt this ... especially alone!  Had it not been for help from my son and my very patient, older & calmer first cousin from Jigger, I might have had a mini-man melt-down!

     First, I had to remove all of the decals, registration sticker & identification numbers from the hull.  Next, I had to remove the guide-ons and fender-wells from my trailer.  And finally, I had to remove any decal residue with acetone, scrub the entire exterior of my boat & engine with Dawn, rinse & dry it thoroughly and then degrease everything with denatured alcohol.  I ain't goin' to lie to y'all ... between all the acetone & alcohol scrubin' in the heat in our driveway, I got pretty-dang high from the fumes, so y'all be sure to wear a mask.

     I took the first couple of days of 70° weather to start actually wrappin' my boat.  Due to all of the through-hulls on the transom, I was smart enough to make a template out of poster board before I cut any vinyl.  I had to prep all of the surfaces with 3M 94 Primer, and then apply the vinyl with a squeegee & heat gun.  Even though there are how-to videos on the Mossy Oak Graphics Web site that made this look fairly simple, I had one Hell of a time gettin' the wrap applied without some minor wrinklin'.  The boat that was wrapped on their video only had one rib runnin' down each side ... and my boat has two; so, when you factor-in that the sides contour, I could not for the life of me apply the wrap without some wrinkles.

     What I thought would be the hardest part of the job was actually the easiest ... wrappin' the engine down to the lower unit.  After I finally applied all of the vinyl, I had to pop any bubbles with my trusty X-ACTO knife, heat and re-squeegee everything.  And after trimmin' all of the edges, I had to go back and apply 3M Edge Sealer to keep the vinyl from peelin'.  I then applied the new hull identification numbers, the registration stickers and the boat's name, "Sloughstalker".  The last things to do were to reattach both depth-finder transducers and the guide-ons and fender-wells on the trailer.

     I pre-fished a bass tournament last weekend in Brazoria County and got quite a few comments on my boat.  "Hey, man ... what kind of boat is that?" or "Where'd you buy your boat?" were the main questions.  I had to explain that this was a 10 year-old Alumacraft that I (not so) simply wrapped, and then gave them the Mossy Oak Graphics address.  One guy even offered to pay me to wrap his boat, but I all too quickly and graciously declined.  I think I'd rather spend my time sloughstalkin' or fishin' than wrappin' any day!  Plus, I think I really owe my first cousin a trip.  Until next time, y'all take care ...