Spent Labor Day week in on the Big Island of Hawaii. As we’d just been a couple years ago, we didn’t plan to do much. Mostly we just wanted to hang out and enjoy the beach. Took a couple of snorkel trips which were enjoyable though we didn’t see quite the variety of fish that we did on the previous trip. Did get to see some big eels though snorkeling off the beach at Mauna Loa resort.

One of the highlights was a trip up Mauna Kea to see the telescopes and do some stargazing. We’d tried to do this on the last trip but had got clouded out – glad we were able to do it this trip.

Great weather, great food and an overall wonderful trip!


Tamahagane Class – continued

Had the first workshop class on Tuesday night – very cool. Mesa Arts Center has a pretty cool setup for the welding/blacksmithing lab – with a workshop and a balcony area for the forges, etc. Had a couple forges setup and pretty much got right to it. Used the black sand, some borax glass and graphite crucibles – loaded them up in the forge and gave them about an hour.

Interesting to see how the different forge designs affect the crucibles differently. One of the forges had the burner aimed right at the top of the crucible and just ate through the tops in short order. The other one had the burner toward the back of the forge and seemed to be a lot easier on the crucibles, as well as generating more heat.

Each of the six students in the class managed to get through one button. We’ll have a 3rd forge next week and hope to get through a couple per student so that we can start building a paddle during the following class.

Tamahagane Class

Mesa Arts Center here in the Phoenix area has a 8 week course running this summer that aims to cover making steel from black sand that you see in the desert washes around the area. Sounded like fun and something I have a bit of interst in, so Isigned up.

We’ll be covering two techniques – primarily a crucible technique where we’ll doing 9 ‘buttons’ each, which we’ll forge into a billet. Also will be a day at the instructors workshop doing a tatara pit.

First class was this past Saturday – gathered early, at 5am, to head out into the desert to collect some black sand, then back to the workspace to do some cleaning on it. For our purposes we’re just cleaning with small prospecting magnets – not doing a wash.

2010’s Whitetail back from the taxidermist

Got my 2010 Whitetail back from the taxidermist this past week. Just had a simple European mount done, which turned out pretty good. Not a monster deer, but kind of an unusual rack which makes for a nice looking mount.

Pinnacle Nissan – Why People Hate Car Dealers

What the hell is up with car salesmen? Do the stereotypical bullshit agressive sales tactics they employ really work on people?

Walked in to Pinnacle Nissan today to look at a 350Z they had advertised. At first they claimed it was sold but they had another one – which turned out to be an 07 Base model. I tell them I need an Enthusiast trim or better – the sales guy tells me the Enthusiast trim is the Base trim. If your job is to sell cars, shouldn’t you know what the hell you’re talking about?

Sales manager finally tracks the down the car in the ad. Their ad turned out to be wrong – instead of an 08 Touring with 54k miles, they had a 08 Enthusiast with 24k miles. Sticker on it was $8k over the advertised price – strange, but whatever. Sales manager says the internet price is the price so I decide to take it for a test drive. Nice car, drove great – I decide I’m going to buy it. Hell, I’d have even paid the asking price without arguing.

Come back into to pull the carfax, which is good. The sales guy starts talking to me about dealer add-ons – figure they’ll try to hit me up for a few hundred bucks. I have a few more questions I want to ask anyway – particularly in regards to the warranty (sticker says as-is, but shouldn’t a 3 year old vehicle with less than 30k miles carry some of the original warranty?).

Sales manager comes back with a contract – simply says ‘sign here’ in a tone of voice that lets me know I wont be buying a car from this assclown, now or ever. Add to which there is $2k of dealer add-ons…. on a used car, seriously guys?

I tell him we’re done here and get up and walk out. He comes after me, commanding me to sit back down and ‘negotiate like a man’. Yeah like hurling insults at me is a great way to get my business. He continued to pursue me out to my car in a fashion agressive enough I contemplated calling the cops, pepper spraying him or both.

Seriously, I don’t get it. If I know more about your product then you do, is treating me like some fucking rube the best way to close a deal?

May you be first against the wall when the revolution comes – you fucking dolts.

Attic House Ruins

Took an overnight trip into Prescott National Forest with some folks from Expeditional Portal to visit Attic House Ruins – a well preserved Sinaguan ruin dating to approximately 1280 AD. Met up with the group in Chino Valley. The trip leaders were fantastic guides – very knowledgeable about the area, history and wildlife. After traversing about 40 miles of relatively tame forest service road, we hiked a short distance to the ruins which are spectacular and very well preserved.

We ended up camping overnight and sharing dinner with the trip leaders and some other folks on the run who were great people to hang out with. The following morning we packed up and worked our way back to the Perkinsville Road and then into Jerome – which was  a very pretty drive – for lunch and margaritas at Quince.

Tip Top Mine

Took a run with the AZLCA to Tip Top Mine. The initial thought had been to work up to Milk Ranch to do a little gold panning and metal detecting. We just weren’t moving that fast though – had to rescue a stranded 4Runner, change a flat on Kim’s 4Runner and had some fuel pump issues with a truck in the group. Sadly, while all the Toyotas had issues, none of the three, very cool, classic Broncos on the trip had any trouble. That said, it was a good trip – got to visit Tip Top Mine, see several structures along the way and enjoy some great scenery.

Snow Run, Cherry to Jerome

Headed up north for a short run with some friends. Tried to go from Cherry, AZ to Jerome, AZ over the Goat Peak and Mingus Mountain Loop trails. Unfortunately with all the snow and mud the mild all-terrain tires on the 4Runner just couldn’t get the traction. Had to turn back after 5-6 miles and drop down into Cottonwood instead, which turned out to be a nice drive as well. Finished up on pavement into Jerome for a nice lunch at Quince, followed by a trip down to Cottonwood to visit the Arizona Stronghold Wines tasting room.

Overland Expo, 2011

Traveled to Amado, AZ for a long weekend attending the Overland Expo. It was a good show, marred by some abnormaly hot conditions, when combined with blowing wind and dust made it a bit unpleasant at time.

The classes themselves though were generally pretty good. The hands-on classes including recovery skills, tire repair and real world driving in particular were highlights.

Tons of cool vehicles and vendors about as well.

AZLCA Box & Telegraph Canyons Run

Went out on a nice club run with the AZLCA through Box Canyon, hooking up with the Telegraph Canyon trail and making our way out to Superior. Beautiful weather for the run – sunny, mid-70s and not too windy.

Some minor carnage on the waterfall headed out of Box Canyon in the form of a mangled tailpipe on an FJ Cruiser. Lots of traffic on the Box Canyon area, and then nothing on the Telegraph Canyon side once we passed Ajax Mine.