Category Archives: Travel

Comments and observations on the traveling life.

A Tramp Abroad I – Ireland

Take a guess where we went.

Before we begin, thanks to The Other McCain, Pirate’s Cove and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links, and make sure to catch the last in my Thirty-Something Rifle Cartridges series over at Glibertarians.

This long weekend just passed, Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. made a whirlwind trip to bonny old Eire.  We took a red-eye flight Thursday night, arriving rather the worse for wear early Friday morning.  After picking up our rental car, I had a journey of discovery in which I 1) had to learn to drive on the wrong side of the road and the wrong side of the car, and b) navigate Dublin’s rush hour traffic to find our hotel.  Continue reading A Tramp Abroad I – Ireland

Rule Five 2019 Reflections Friday

It’s hard to believe that 2019 is only a few days from being over.  It seems like we just got here.

The year began on a sad note with the loss of my Mom, only a few months after Dad left us the previous spring.  But my siblings and I chose, instead of mourning, to reflect on and feel good about the long, long, happy lives our parents had together in their seventy-one years of marriage.

And as if to show that the wheel always keeps turning, in October we welcomed a new grandson to the family.  This makes five grandchildren Mrs. Animal and I have to spoil, with the oldest graduating high school in a year and a half.  Grandparenting is, as they say, the revenge we get for having been parents; but I think it’s a lot more than that.  Being Grandpa is one of the more satisfying things I’ve ever done, along with being a Dad; fortunately I learned about both things from the very best.

A few things about 2019 were frustrating.  We spent too much of the year in the leftist’s paradise of New Jersey, although I have to admit I’m kind of fond of Raritan, where are temporary lodgings are located; if only it wasn’t in New Jersey it would be a nice little town.  As a result of this, I wasn’t able to spend as much time at the gun club as I would have liked, and the trips I did get to make out there to the trap stands tell me that my shooting has slipped a little.  I should have more time in 2020 to get back in that groove.

Because of that, there are probably a few high-country trout that lived to swim another day rather than ending up in my stream-side frying pan.  Let’s hope that changes in 2020 as well.

Mrs. Animal have started taking advantage of our empty-nester status to check some boxes off on our travel bucket list.  March saw us in Tokyo for a week; it’s odd that while I’m an unrepentant country boy with very little love for cities, there are a few big cities I have always enjoyed.  Boston is one.  Tokyo is another.  Fortunately Mrs. Animal is competent in conversational Japanese, which makes things a great deal easier.

In July we took advantage of the east coast location and drove up north of Montreal to the little town of Ste. Agnes du Mont in Quebec, up in the Laurentides.  While the fishing was disappointing, the folks were very friendly, the food and beer was great, and the country was beautiful.  Mrs. Animal got to practice her high-school French.  It was fun.  We’d like to go back.

So, looking ahead to this year:  2020 promises to be interesting.

We have some more travel plans laid on; details will follow, so look forward to some insights and stories from some interesting places.  Hint:  Our travelogues will probably include discussions of food and beer.

Loyal sidekick Rat and I are planning a black-powder elk/deer hunt down in southern Colorado this year, somewhere down along the New Mexico border; after last year we decided that a change of scenery was in order, and the September black-powder season comes along with some pretty nice shirt-sleeve weather.

The current project I’m on is going to last a while.  I’m expecting it to last at least through December of 2021, but our current lease on the temporary New Jersey digs ends in May.  We’re hoping that at this time we’ll be able to pull out of there and return home more or less full-time, with me spending maybe a week a month on site.  But I’m a long-time consultant, and one of the reasons I’ve been successful is that I will always do what’s best for the project, rather than what suits my own druthers; so, we’ll see.

In summary:  2019 was pretty good.  2020 promises to be better still.  Mrs. Animal and I both sure hope that every one of you True Believers will have a great 2020; and I do appreciate, very much, all of you.  Thanks for reading (even if you just came for the pretty girls and stuck around to read my ramblings) and thanks for sticking around.  We’ll try to keep up to snuff in 2020 and points beyond.

Happy New Year!

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

Mrs. A and I have to head for the airport in a little while, to head home to Denver; on Friday morning, loyal sidekick Rat and I answer the call of the bloodwind once more, as we set forth in pursuit of deer and elk.  But in the meantime:  Time for the links!

Number One for today’s links:  Feds have hurriedly dropped a case against a black-market gun builder because of a tentative judicial ruling that may have overturned much of the 1968 Gun Control Act.  No shit.  Go read, and try to ignore CNN’s pearl-clutching.

This scientist thinks we may already have found strong evidence of life on Mars.  I’m not so sure, but my biology credentials are a few years out of date; I have tried to, as they say, keep current, but that’s a long ways from working in the field day to day.

Joe Biden may actually be senile.

Liz Peek thinks the 2020 election is still President Trump’s to lose.  The history of incumbents seeking re-election bolsters her argument.

Guess what?  Our schools suck.  Welcome to 1977.  The answer?  Get government out of education.

Californians may be going collectively insane.

This might be interesting.

Well, that escalated quickly.

These three countries tried socialism and rejected it.  It sure would be nice if some American pols would learn from their example, but as my dear departed Grandpa was fond of saying, “you can teach ’em, but you can’t learn ’em.”

The Washington Examiner’s Adam Brandon points out that the Constitution is what is keeping us from Hong Kong’s fate.  I’d feel better about that assertion if it weren’t for the fact that the Imperial government has been wiping their asses with the Constitution since about 1860.

U of WA professor Holly M. Barker is an idiot.

Adam Schiff is an idiot.

Princess Spreading Bull Warren is an idiot.

Have a read about the eccentric wonder that was Thomas Edison.  One of my favorite quotes is from Edison:  “People frequently don’t recognize opportunity when it arrives, because it usually shows up in overalls and looks like work.”

A Deep State bureaucrat cashes in.

Bill Maher finds another acorn.

On that nutty note, we return you to your Wednesday, already in progress.

Rule Five Schadenfreudalicious Friday

It was with some slight regret that Mrs. Animal and I have returned from Japan, especially since we return not to our own increasingly-loony but still beloved Colorado but instead to my temporary work site of (ugh) New Jersey.

That slight sadness is, of course, attenuated by last week’s long-awaited release of the Mueller report and the accompanying meltdown by the political Left and their accomplices in the legacy media.  Some samples follow:

No collusion; no surprise.

Flashback:  Media predicts indictments, prison times, treason charges, RHEEEEEE!

Apologies to President Trump? From The Hill?  This one deserves an excerpt:

We in the media allowed unproven charges and false accusations to dominate the news landscape for more than two years, in a way that was wildly unbalanced and disproportionate to the evidence.

We did a poor job of tracking down leaks of false information. We failed to reasonably weigh the motives of anonymous sources and those claiming to have secret, special evidence of Trump’s “treason.”

As such, we reported a tremendous amount of false information, always to Trump’s detriment.

And when we corrected our mistakes, we often doubled down more than we apologized. We may have been technically wrong on that tiny point, we would acknowledge. But, in the same breath, we would insist that Trump was so obviously guilty of being Russian President Vladimir Putin’s puppet that the technical details hardly mattered.

So, a round of apologies seem in order.

Wow.  A moment of clarity.  Didn’t see that coming.

The collapse of Hillary’s Big Lie.  Well, one of them, anyway.

Trump:  Told you so.

Now, there’s going to be a lot of backbiting, and a lot of whining, and a lot of RRHEEEEE about further investigations which will almost certainly also come to naught.  Someone might advise the Democrats “do you want more Trump?  Because this is how you get more Trump.”  You’d think they would learn from the Bill Clinton impeachment episode in the 1990s, when what was widely viewed as an unfair persecution of a sitting President actually helped him win re-election (aided, of course, by the GOP’s unerring selection of the worst candidate in the 1996 field.)

And, of course, Lindsey Graham 2.0, who I have to admit I really like, is calling for the shoe to be placed on the other foot.  Excerpt:

Now that Robert Mueller’s investigation is over, Graham said he plans to “get answers” about how the Russia probe was started and whether it was used as an excuse to spy on Trump’s presidential campaign. He urged Attorney General William Barr to appoint a new special counsel to examine the issue.

“Was it a ruse to get into the Trump campaign?” Graham, a Trump ally, said at a news conference Monday morning. “I don’t know but I’m going to try to find out.”

Good luck to him.  One thing, at least; the ultimate target (let’s say it softly) of this probe, Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I, Dowager Empress of Chappaqua, is no longer the primary leader and rallying point of the Democratic Party.  That role seems to have been taken by the young nutbar Left like Alexandria Occasional Cortex, and while they are succeeding in dragging the Overton Window a little to the left, they aren’t going to win national elections with a platform that includes universal income for people unwilling to work, abolishing air travel, and doing away with cattle.  Hillary in the crosshairs wouldn’t bother them much; most of them are already wishing that Her Imperial Majesty would shut up and go away.

It’s still a long time until November 2020.  But things sure look like they’re breaking Trump’s way right now.

Animal’s Daily Tales of Two Cities News

There’s a lot to like about Japan.

Be sure to check out the latest in my History of Lever Guns series over at Glibertarians!

Unless you just haven’t been paying attention recently, you’ll know that Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. have been enjoying a semi-working vacation in Tokyo these last few days.

If you’ve been reading these virtual pages for a while, you’ll also know that we spent 2017 in the ever-more-loony San Francisco Bay area.

So, with that being the case, I can’t help but to draw some comparisons between the two cities.

I’m generally not a fan of big cities.  I grew up in rural and small town environments, and the hustle and bustle of big metropolitan areas has never appealed to me.  But even so, I love Japan, and I love Tokyo.  I like being out in the countryside and in the small towns in Japan more than being in Tokyo, of course, but on this particular trip we stayed in the Tokyo metro area the entire time, and had a ball.  But I can’t abide most major American cities (although I’m rather fond of Boston), I really can’t abide the nutbar Bay Area, and in that year in the area I came to downright loathe San Francisco.

So what’s the difference in these two cities?  Why is San Francisco now a literal shithole, littered with human feces, used needles, and derelicts sleeping in doorways?  Why is Tokyo a clean, prosperous city that young people from all over Japan want to come live and work in?

An apartment high-rise in Kinshicho.

A big part of it is housing.  The suburb we are staying in, Kinshicho, like many of Tokyo’s neighborhoods has a pretty fair number of high-rise apartment buildings.  In our travels around Tokyo and indeed other places in Japan, we’ve seen a lot of these and more going up.  In other words, Japan deals with a population density and housing cost issue that America cities can’t imagine by vertical filing.

Why can’t American cities do this?  Why can’t the Bay Area, a place notorious for horrifying housing prices, build some similar high-rise developments to provide affordable housing?  “Affordable Housing” is a shibboleth of the political Left, which has a hammerlock on this city; why then do they insist on restrictive land-use and building codes that make this almost impossible?

“But Animal,” some of these same left-leaning folks might say, “we shouldn’t force people to live in massive high-rises!”  Well, sure, I quite agree.  But why not open up the possibilities for developers to build some of these efficient, small-apartment high-rises and see if people might choose to live in them?

You know – like a free country might?

Tokyo isn’t a perfect place.  The cost of housing is still high; you’re starting to see little acts of hooliganism like graffiti, which you never saw a few years ago.  But Tokyo also houses several orders of magnitude more human beings than live in the Bay Area, and manages to find ways that young folks starting out can afford to live.  And Tokyo is a clean city.  You rarely see discarded trash in the streets, much less spent needles and human shit.

We could learn a thing or two from Japan.

Goodbye Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to The Other McCain and Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!

Mrs. Animal and myself have been roundly enjoying our brief trip to Japan.  I’ve done a fair amount of business here, but this is the first time we’ve come over just for fun (amending that; it’s the first time I’ve come over just for fun, Mrs. Animal is hoping to transact some business in Jimbocho, Tokyo’s publishing district.)  There’s just something we love about this place.

Sunday we visited the Imperial gardens.  It’s a bit early in the year to catch them at their best, but we did see some early sakura blooming and some other great scenery.  Photos follow. Continue reading Goodbye Blue Monday

Animal’s Daily Air Travel News

Friendly Skies.

According to the Wall Street Journal, frequent fliers (like yr. obdt.) are finding an old friend on some recent flights:  Empty seats.  Excerpt:

U.S. airlines are adding larger jets to their fleets and more rows to existing aircraft. The result is more open seats on many flights even as demand for air travel grows.

That is good news for fliers who have grown accustomed to vying for desirable seats and bag space. It’s also a concern for airline investors who believe the industry might not trim capacity enough to protect a record run of profitability.

Shares in the sector have fallen over the past year while traffic has boomed. Delta Air Lines Inc. earlier this month reported tempered revenue expectations for the first quarter in part because of the partial government shutdown. American Airlines Group Inc. also this month cut its earnings expectations for 2018. United Continental Holdings Group Inc., which recently passed Delta as the No. 2 U.S. carrier by traffic behind American, said recently that it plans to expand capacity by up to 6% this year.

“Right now there’s a lot of capacity out there, and I think they’re kind of struggling to fill it,” Bill S. Swelbar, at consulting firm Delta Airport Partners Inc., said of carriers.

Last December, on an evening flight from Newark to San Diego, Mrs. A and I took the aisle and middle seats in our row and were fortunate enough to find the window seat unoccupied, allowing us a comfortable flight.  Better still, I once took the 13-hour Osaka-San Francisco flight on the aisle seat of the five-seat middle row, and was the only person in the row; I actually stretched out and slept most of the flight.

But that’s the exception to the rule, and one that brings up another question:  Why should it be such a relief to find an empty seat next to yours?  The answer is simple:  Because normal Economy seats are so cramped as to make flying, especially for those over 5’6″ or so, miserable.

Granted I’m 6’1″, with the normal girth of a late-middle-aged guy.  I can nevertheless fit within the confines of my own airline seat – barely.  But I was once seated next to a 400+ pound behemoth who spilled into my seat by a considerable margin, and had to demand reseating; to my fortune I was moved into a bulkhead row, into one of the aforementioned empty seats that, to my good fortune, was available on that flight.

The airlines could do a lot to make the desirability of empty seats unnecessary.  Two things come immediately to mind:  First, increase the pitch between seats back to pre-2000 levels.  Second, demand passengers of extraordinary girth pay for two seats.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to The Other McCain and Pirate’s Cove for the Rule Five links!  Also, be sure to check out my latest article over at Glibertarians, this one the first part of a multi-part series on the history of the sixgun.  I think you’ll enjoy it.

Mrs. A and I spent Friday and Saturday last week in San Diego, which was… interesting.  It’s a pretty place though, and the harbor tour was fun; some photos follow.  Enjoy!

Continue reading Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove For the Rule Five links!

Our deer hunt in the Bosque del Oso State Wildlife Area was a success from the meat standpoint, as two fat bucks were taken, but neither of them were quite trophies – but then, antlers aren’t so good to eat no matter how long you stew them, so there’s that.  I have promised the full hunt report to my friends at Glibertarians, so I’ll post a link to that when it is published.  In the meantime, yesterday saw Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. on a flight back to our temporary New Jersey (ugh) digs, so, I suppose, we’ll make the best of it.  The best of it may include a couple of trips up into Pennsylvania looking for ruffed grouse, so stay tuned for news of that.

The Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus) makes for quite a challenging hunt.  While Colorado lacks them, having only the dusky mountain grouse that we regularly shoot from trees with .22 pistols, the woods around my childhood home in Allamakee County, Iowa had good populations of these fast-flying forest birds.  They are evasive flyers and make for some of the most challenging wing-shooting I’ve ever experienced.  In his day the Old Man was something of an expert at making a shot charge arrive at the exact location of a fleeing grouse, but I’m not the shotgunner he was, sadly.  Still, I’ve managed to bring a few of these birds to bag in my time, and hopefully will be able to do the same again.

When I was a kid, the sounds of grouse drumming was one of the sure-fire signs of spring.

They’re great eating, too.

As Colorado turns increasingly blue, Mrs. Animal are moving ahead with our plans to move up to the Great Land.   That state has plenty of grouse, not only ruffies but sharp-tailed, duskies and spruce grouse, along with three kinds of ptarmigan.   The bird hunting is great in that northern state; that’s something to look forward to.  But in the meantime, I’ll settle for some Pennsylvania ruffies.