Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Of Wheels and Targets

Here's a gratuitous Jeep shot, just because it's been a while and I like this one. Took it on the highest level of the parking garage at the apartment, before we left.

So, Alan and I have been going shooting recently. Some guys from his work, Larry and Neil, go regularly and have been getting us to go too. We have mostly been going to an indoor target range on the southern edge of town which is pretty cool. The guys have been very generous in letting us use their equipment and we have been able to sample a good variety of things. Here's the results of a typical session:

The last couple of weekends, we have gone to try some clay pigeon shooting at a different place across the other side of town. This clay centre is great, they have plenty of space. And it's right next to a model aircraft field, so there's the occasional extra target ;-)
(We are told it has happened, too!)

We had never done clay shooting before so Larry explained it all to us thus:

Skeet shooting is where you have a tower on the left and the right, out of which come two clays, one from each side. These are called high house and low house. The trajectory of the clays is always the same. You stand somewhere on a semicircle in front of this. If you're in the middle then you're shooting 90 degrees onto the clay trajectory. If you stand elsewhere then you get more edge-on to it so you can vary how you shoot them.

Trap shooting is where the clay is released away from you so it starts in the same place but can vary the angle it is flying at, so you stand in the same place but are aiming in different directions to follow it. (I think this is meant to be like pheasants)

Sporting clays is where you wander around a course of shooting positions, each of which contains two clays and they are set up in all sorts of ways. They change them each week too so you get different things each time you go. It's a bit like golf with shotguns, only you get to play different courses in the same place.

So we ended up doing sporting clays last week, which is the hardest discipline but the skeet ranges were taken already. Alan was really very good at it. I was less good but I did hit a few; one exploded in a big starburst which was most satisfying :-)

This week there was a competition on the sporting clays circuit so we did some skeet instead. Larry was very kind and spent the whole time instructing Alan and me. He'd also brought his 28 gauge as well as his 12 gauge so I used the 28 which is smaller and lighter but also shoots the shot in a smaller pattern, so it's harder to hit things than with the 12 gauge.

Alan was very good (again) and I remained less good... Did manage to hit a few things. I seem to have trouble getting ahead of the target and I'm often a bit low too. I wonder if years of tracking a target with a camera is putting me off. Although I am OK at moving the shotgun, whereas Alan seems to find that harder; he often stops midway. I guess we all have our pitfalls.

Note to those who might be wondering: This is target shooting we're doing, both indoors and out. We have no desire to be shooting live things. There, it's said.

Anyway, we both enjoy the shotguns for sure, and we will be doing more of it, I have no doubt.

And finally, I have a new toy:

This is a Trikke. And actually, it's not a toy; no child's plaything, this, no sir. This thing is actually pretty big, those wheels are eight inches in diameter and it's built for adults. (You can get smaller ones for kids too.) You ride this with a foot on each plate. All three wheels remain on the ground so it's as stable as it gets.

The propulsion comes from turning it. You have to kind of tip it into a turn and then it's like skiing; you slalom left and right to make it go. It's the falling into each turn that gives it forward motion. It does need to be on the flat or downhill; hills are Bloody Hard Work verging on Almost Impossible, although this will be improved with time, practise and strength.

It's a workout machine on wheels. I rode it for an hour yesterday and had rubber legs at the end of it. Luckily, the roads around the house are very flat with only a slight hilliness, which is great for riding this thing. If we didn't live with such roads nearby I probably wouldn't have bought the machine. It does fold up so it will go in a car if needs be, too.

It's good fun. Although I think I've had my monthly quota of funny looks in the space of two days! This is not a machine for the shy ;-)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A hummingbird

Here's a lady Ruby-throated Hummingbird on our new window-mounted feeder. She seems to visit pretty often now.

At least it was sunny when I took that shot. We've had 1.86 inches of rain today and counting...

Still, we reclaimed some of our garden from the jungle this weekend so there's a bit of progress!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A long weekend

In the last post I said the time was up for our apartment. We have now given back the keys, so we are now several dollars a month better off but we've also lost our handy town-centre crash pad. Never mind.

Here's a couple of pictures by way of a farewell.

Remember the parking garage? They're still building around it! All the retail units and more apartments (I'm guessing) are being finished now. It seems to have taken forever to get this stuff built. We do at least have a coffee shop and a sandwich shop open now, in the already-existing retail units. And the farmers' market is there on Wednesday afternoons now which is actually pretty good. Damn shame these things didn't start up a bit sooner but there you go.

One last look at the kitchen. See how lovely and clean it is!

The guy that inspected the apartment was visibly amazed at the fact it was clean and intact. We have heard horror stories of people punching holes in walls and kicking doors down, so when he saw clean carpets and unmarked walls he was ecstatic. Which doesn't say a lot for the rest of the tenants.

Ah well, we're out of there now. Now all I have to do is tidy the mountain of boxes in our new house...

It was a long weekend due to Labor Day so Alan took the Thursday and Tuesday off last week and we had a nice loooong weekend. We were vaguely planning on maybe going somewhere but that didn't happen in the end.

Saturday was good though. I'd heard of a fly-in within driving distance - let's go!

Off we set to La Grange, about an hour and a half's drive east of us. There we found a very friendly airfield with plenty of visiting aircraft, whose pilots had all come for the monthly barbeque lunch. We naturally partook of this and found it to be some of the best Texas barbeque we've had yet; it was really very good. And then Alan won the raffle, so we came home with a huge brisket which will be feeding us for the next week.

(gratuitous aeroplane pic - more from La Grange here)

The weekend continued on with us doing a few things we'd been putting off, like getting our road tax and other boring things.

Then Mark and Jessica had a barbeque to which they invited us and some other friends, so off we went. We spent a very pleasant afternoon. As we arrived at Mark's house, we were greeted by his local deer population:

There's thirteen of them in that picture. Mark is way out in the country and his deer are a lot less scared than the ones by us. They certainly didn't seem bothered by humans too much anyway.

They also have a window-mounted hummingbird feeder, so I was able to grab a few shots of those. This little guy is a ruby-throated hummingbird, only about 3 inches long:

The next day, we went straight round to Lowe's to buy one of these feeders. We have been getting hummingbirds at our other feeder but this kind brings them right close. Expect more photos in due course...