Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mind Over MS and I Feel Like I Won!

I just got back yesterday from four days of self-imposed, risk-taking, thumbing-my-nose-at-MS, outdoors-in-the-unbearable-heat-of-East-Texas-in-the-summer FUN. My brother from another state came to town and we went to the deer lease; a place that provides great release for me. We were on a mission to build a deer blind and not just any blind. See, as you have most likely guessed, I am a hunter and outdoorsman...although, in reality, I prefer to call myself a wild game manager, because I spend more time making sure that the game that I hunt is well-fed and happy with their surroundings. I do this on leased property that belongs to one of the great big paper companies. Hunting and the outdoors is practically a life-style here in Texas. I am one of many that partake in this form of recreation. So, the end purpose of all this is to hunt the game and in Texas you have to do it from a blind. I had plans for a REAL blind. Read on.

Anyways, the three of us (can't forget DD the dog) started out at the airport and we were on the road for our two hour trip to the big thicket. Five hours later, after stops at two sporting goods stores, the gas station, the local BBQ and the grocery store, we rolled in to the camp...a 1950's era rundown trailer with about 4 coats of paint, which by the way, is painted camouflage. Why, I don't know. We don't hunt from the trailer. So, we quickly unpack and put the food up where the mice won't reach it, rolled out our sleeping bags and laid on top of them for some shuteye. Well, we weren't gonna crawl inside them, because the trailer has no A/C, or electricity, or running water and it was still in the neighborhood of 85 degrees at midnight. My brother was sawing wood within minutes as I stacked it.

Morning came soon enough and we were up eating our healthy cereal with soy milk breakfast and OJ. Now, the plan was ahead of us. We were there for one thing only and that was to build a new deer blind. We needed lumber, so off to town we went. We got there and to my surprise, Lowes had something special that they probably only sell in Texas; OSB sheathing with a pre-finished camouflage pattern! How could I resist and it would save a lot of time not to paint it. We loaded the trailer up and off we went.

Back at camp, we painted all the 2x4 lumber and the backside of the sheathing. Then we took the NEW chainsaw that I picked up at Lowes, hehehe, and went out to the blind site to do some clearing. We wore our asses out, I tell you. And, I have to say, I held up better than I thought I would. Plenty of water was the key. We went through almost a whole case of water between the two of us on the first day. Dinner that night was chicken drumsticks roasted over charcoal. That was followed by a shower from a 5 gallon water jug hung in our home-made shower station. Did I tell you we were roughing it just a bit? Sleep came quickly that night.

Day two, and a big country breakfast with home-fried potatoes, venison sausage, eggs over easy and OJ. We always eat good up there! First thing, we loaded most of the lumber on the trailer and hooked it on the back of the ATV. Our trail to the blind site was rough going; too rugged for the pickup truck and actually, I had my doubts about towing a trailer with the ATV, but we had to try it. I don't know how, but we did it. We made it in right up to where we could unload the lumber and build. We built the floor and the legs, upside down and then flipped it into place. That is all we accomplished this day. I left out a few details, but believe me, it was 98, humid, sweat was pouring off of us, and what we accomplished was a lot.

Meanwhile, back at camp, we had a small wild hog roasting on an open fire, slow-cooking, Texas-style!!! It was on the fire by 2:30 PM and we took it off around 8:00 PM; and, if I told you the meat was tender, falling of the bone, succulent and sweet then I wouldn't be exaggerating one bit. I'm telling you, there is nothing better! I mentioned that we always eat good up there, didn't I?

Another shower that night and another hot night lying on top of the sleeping bag praying for a cool breeze. No such luck!

Day three, the first country breakfast was so good we had to do it again...a great way to start out a day when you're going to be out in the hot sun, burning the back of your neck, pounding nails. We went to town this day and built all four walls. We were also able to get all the walls up onto the 8' high floor and tack them in. We now had a square box and it was looking like a blind; actually it was looking better, more like a small luxury, redneck condo in the woods!

Back at camp, we dined on a smorgasbord of venison sausage, cheese and crackers, left over chicken drumsticks, and cookies. In three days of the hot East Texas sun we had managed to down almost three cases of water between the two of us, well three, if you count DD, who was holding up pretty good. DD loves to patrol for mice at night, but after the first day, we were wearing her ass out too, and she was the first one on the sleeping bag each night. That dog!!!

Day four! This was our last day, and just a half one at that. Bro had to get back to the airport by 4 PM and he wanted a REAL shower before he got on it, so we had to get going, so cereal it was for time to be a country gourmet this morning.

At the blind, we took turns swinging the hammer, nailing the corners up on the blind. Then we set to assembling the roof. I don't think I mentioned it, but I have a style of production that involves building all the wall and roof modules on the ground and then lifting them up and assembling them in place. The roof was going to be the heaviest and most difficult lift, because it involved three metal panels fastened together and it was oversized and cumbersome. After a few setbacks, we got it put together and worked out a plan to get it up. We were going to lift it up and lean it onto the side of the blind. Then I was going to climb up the ladder, while my brother held it in a "clean" position (if you are familiar with weightlifting, this is holding it up right under his chin). Anyways, I climb up and stand on the windows and reach over the top of the walls down to the roof panels. My brother then jerks (another weightlifting term) the panel up and I grab it and using momentum, I try to keep it going and swing it up onto the roof area. Well, it was heavy and my strength was not with me, but I'm hanging onto it and yelling, "Come up and help me, I got it, I got it, I'm losing it, I'm losing it!!!" My brother made it up just in time as I was about to let go. He grabbed it and with the two of us on it, we were able to pull it up...what an accomplishment!

We got the roof on. The blind is done...except for a few nails that I have to complete on the corners where the sheathing from one wall overlaps the stud from the other wall, but I can get that later. Four days, three and one-half cases of water, one hammered finger, a tired pooch and the hell with MS later and the blind was done. Photo included above!

We made it to the airport on-time, and all showered! Thanks Bro! The help was great but the time spent together was what really meant the most to me. And to hell with the MS. It was mind over MS!

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