Sorry that I didn’t post a blog last week, I actually had the opportunity to spend a little bit of time in the great outdoors that I spend so much time raving about. Ma Nature gave us all she had, skeeters the size of hummingbirds, a day of rain and hail that would drown a fish, and heat that would make a lizard sweat… Yes I Loved every minute of it, and if I had enough money banked up, you would have to read this blog on smoke signal, you bet your last nickles. But that isn’t the case… For now. And before I go any farther I would love to wish you all a happy Independence, The 4th of July is a day, there are 365 of them, Yes the 4th of July is the day that we adopted the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Damn neat stuff if you ask me, but we should celebrate our Independence everyday, if you need a day to be a patriot, then maybe you should reevaluate your life choices. If you see a vet wearing a service hat, or a license plate that proudly shows someones service to our freedom and independence, tip your hat, and if you feeling real froggy, jump at the opportunity to shake a hand and thank them for what they have done for you, and for all of us. They offered there life to protect your independence, would it really be that hard to be humble and give a simple thank you? The red white and blue is staying strong because of our brothers in arms, and I feel that I speak for all of us by saying… Thank you
So I went camping last weekend (like I already stated) and between ducking the rain, skirting the heat, and trying to find a donor to transfuse me after the hummingbird-skeeters drew my last few ounces of life nectar, I started thinking about where my life is and where it all came from. Man, I must be getting nostalgic in my old age (all 33 years of it), but I long for what I remember back then. So if you care to voyage with me down the road of yesteryear, we will knock the dust off our childhoods and revisit what was…
Remember when summer was what made the whole school year worth doing. We all longed for hot days where all we had to do was waste the day swimming, or hiking or just doing general useless crap. I don’t know about you, but my boss doesn’t give me 3 months of free time for working for 7 out of 9 months. As much as we all have our opinions about school, we all loved summer. Now I hate summer, its just that crappy lull between spring bear and turkey hunting, and fall bear, turkey, elk and deer hunting. Yeah there is some fishing to be had, but I start feeling bad when I haul a fish out of the water just so it can deal with the heat on my level, its like “here I coaxed you out of your hiding spot in hopes of a meal, but what I really wanted to do is bring you up to my personal hell, starve you for breath, make you get hot, then throw you back” don’t get me wrong, I love to fish (and if I’m going out, I want to catch every damn fish in the lake) but even I feel bad for making a fish experience 98 degrees (Yes the temperature, and the band).
Remember when riding bikes was an awesome activity? If you had a bike, and an idea, it was probably going to happen. Ride to the lake? Sure. Ride to a friends house? Ill be there in a minute. Lets be real honest here, if you see a grown ass man riding a bicycle, and he isn’t wearing a spandex iron-man outfit with a helmet shaped like a tear drop, he probably got a DUI. That is what we have been conditioned to. I guess we lost the lust for peddling when we learned to run the clutch on a motorcycle.
Remember when you would see animals in the woods, and you didn’t instantly start counting points or trying to score them on the Boone and Crocket system. I am horrible about this one. When you were younger you would be sitting in camp and a deer would walk by, you would get all excited and say “wow that’s a deer, that’s really cool!”, Now a deer walks by camp and instantly you go into full blown Tim Wells Slock’ Em’ mode. You say things like, “decent looking deer, if he makes it another three years he may progress to a 140 class buck, you know someone should plant a food plot out here. Let me check the range finder… Yep just what I thought, 117 yards exactly. That’s a chip shot with any rifle that I own.” blah, blah, blah,blah, blah, blah, In all reality if it were deer season, that buck would be no where in the county, and if he did somehow get drugged, and tied to a tree that was exactly 117 yards from your shooting position, the buck fever would probably be enough to make your knees knock, and you may even upchuck that Nature valley granola bar that you had for breakfast. Would you make the shot? We would all hope so. Maybe animals were just more fun, when we weren’t all experts on them.
Remember when a perfect meal was anything that Dad cooked on the barbecue, or anything that came with fries? Life was so simple, and yet we were still fulfilled. Dad’s barbecuing burgers, and mom is making some jo-jo’s in the oven? You felt like you had just won the lottery, you may even brag to the neighbor kid across the fence, “Oh your having tuna casserole huh? Yeah were having hamburgers and fries. How does it feel to know that your parents don’t love you?” Lets face it, we all still love barbecue, but as we have grown older if not wiser, we try to complicate things in order to sophisticate them, and leave childish things behind us. I feel the need to throw my own topspin and twist onto everything that I cook, if I’m making burgers its always some off the wall concoction of seasonings added into the meat, and some cheese that I have a hard time pronouncing on the top. Oh yes we will have fries, but once again I cant leave good enough alone. This situation come up quite a bit. I try to invite my parents over for dinner once a week, and they almost always accept with one stipulation “Don’t go to a ton of trouble, Just make something easy.” To which I will reply “Oh sure, nothing fancy at all. Ill just toss some burgers on the grill.” Yeah right, Maybe I got dropped on my head as a child, or spent too much time in the paint booth when my dad worked in the body shops, but my brain won’t allow me to keep it simple. By the time that my parents get to my house, I have usually spent 5 hours in the kitchen, and $80 at the grocery store. “Yep just, Throwing some burgers together, but I wanted to do a half sausage-half burger slider. No one in town had any raw andouille, then I was going to go with chorizo, but none of the sausage looked decent at all.. So I just picked up some pork and a couple spices and made my own sausage. Since I had to get the grinder out anyways, I decided to grind my burger too, you guys like london broil right? That’s what I thought, Since I added some spice to my sausage, I wanted a decently hearty bun, but no one makes a slider bun that has any life to it. So I threw together some pretzel buns with home smoked chipotle peppers… No it wasn’t any trouble what so ever. I made a bechamel cheese sauce with Havarti and smoked provolone. For fries I used only fingerling potatoes, that were hand harvested by people who don’t have thumbs…” I think you get the point. Are the meals good? You bet. Would we have enjoyed dinner and the company just as much if I had used regular 80/20 burger with salt and pepper, Franz burger buns and western family crinkle cut fries? In all reality, yes. Maybe I will take my own advise, and learn my lesson… Probably not.
Remember when you use to be able to go shooting? You would load up the family, pack up the arsenal, and head out to the woods and shoot until your little heart’s were content, and your thumbs were wore out from loading mags. In fact you would shoot until you had no ammo left, because you knew that you could stop at just about any sporting goods, or hardware store and buy any ammo that you needed. Every gun that we had was pretty standard, custom calibers were out there, but not as common as they are today. In so you could find all the usual suspects everywhere. O and do you guys remember bricks of .22lr ammo (yes all 500 rounds per box), that you could purchase for around $10 a copy for the good stuff. Go to one gun show and take a look at what those bottom feeders are charging for a brick. If I’m paying $60 for a brick of .22 lr., You can bet I will be bringing back any misfire for a refund!
Remember when phones had to plug into the wall of your home? Most family’s had a phone that plugged into a wall, and in most cases, it had a cord attached to it. How awesome was that? You heard the phone ring, hoped up and ran over to it, and picked the phone up without even having a clue who was calling (no caller idea), or who they were calling to talk too. What excitement. And to cap it off, the phone calls weren’t usually even for you, they were always for your Mom. So you would hand her the phone where she was sitting (Moms never sit by the phone, they always find the point that is the farthest away that the cord would still reach.) and then you got to play limbo, and high-jump with the cord for the next 45 minutes. It was awesome, and we all loved it. Now we all have cell phones, that tie us directly to everyone else no matter where we go. We know who’s calling us, and we know who they are calling for because we all have our own phones. There is no excitement to that. Our phones have voice mail, but that isn’t half as cool as getting home from someplace and getting to check the answering machine… Remember when those little tapes would start to get worn out and stretched, so sometimes when people would leave a message it sounded a bit like a satanic speak & spell on LSD, and you had to guess who had left the message? Or my personal favorite was when you had run in from outside, and pick up phone.It always took you 3 rings to get to the phone, you would pick up the phone and start talking to your friend about all kinds of dumb kid crap, forgetting that the answering machine had started recording. Next thing you know, your Mom now not only knows all your business, but she has a tape recording to use as blackmail. Watergate didn’t have anything on my Mom. Boy those were the days.
Modern convenience has changed our lives drastically, and even though I poke a lot of fun at how “soft” we have become, I am very thankful for being able to know both sides of the coin. Yes I can get into and out of the woods just fine on my own with a map and compass, but I love my Garmin GPS. And anytime that my Wife is taking the kiddo to go see her mom, I find comfort in the fact that she has a working cell phone, and if something comes up I can be there in a minute. But I do think its important to not forget all the happiness that it took for us to get to where we are now, how a simplified life, was an easier life, and in a lot of cases a more fulfilling life. Turn your phone off every once in a while (just not before you check out our website and blogs), and make your kids do the same thing. Throw some hot dogs on the grill and just eat them with ketchup and mustard (even though I know its tempting to wrap them in prosciutto, roll them in panko and deep fry them with a side of kimchi …) Most importantly, make time to get your family away from all the craziness of the modern world, just get away for an afternoon, no twitter, no snapchat, just family time together. Go fishing, or go fling a little lead. Shoot some bottle-rockets for petes sake. This is America after all, and you deserve it. Happy 4th of July.
-Grant Willoughby 07/03/2016-