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Archive for August, 2014

This past weekend was supposed to be a quick mini vacation to our Arizona river place.  Jeff has been overworked for the past several weeks and really needed a break.  So he was really looking forward to several days of relaxation.  Unfortunately this mini vacation didn’t turn out as we had planned.

We decided to leave on Thursday evening after work and head towards Yuma Arizona.  I was driving with boat in tow across the desert at 12:00pm at night.  At the Gordon’s Wells exit I started to pass a semi-truck and just as I passed the semi-truck I notice sparks shooting out from our boat trailer’s right wheel well.  I woke Jeff up saying I think we have a problem.  I pulled off onto the shoulder and we assess the damage.

The front tire of the trailer had exploded and shrapnel from the front tire damaged the rear tire on our tandem axel boat trailer.  Thankfully the tire didn’t really damage the wheel well, however parts of the exploded tire wrapped around the axel and actually stopped the wheel from rotating.  The sparks that I saw was the rim dragging on the pavement at 65 MPG.  Funny thing is even though we lost two tires on the right side I didn’t feel anything amiss while driving.  The only reason I knew we had a problem was seeing the sparks of the rim. 

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We don’t carry two spare tires so we had no choice but to remove the front tire from the left side of the trailer and use it on the rear of the right side.  So our tandem axel trailer rode on only two tires on each side.  In order to keep the front axle from dragging on the ground, I drove at 40 MPH all the way to Yuma Arizona.  By the time we got to Yuma it was 2:00am.  We didn’t want to chance driving to our river place so we decided to stay in Yuma.  Unfortunately because we have Bogie with us and lots of tools and stuff in the back of the truck we didn’t feel comfortable staying at a hotel and leaving our stuff in the back.  So instead we located the nearest Discount Tire Company and spent the night sleeping in the truck in the Discount Tire Parking lot.  Between Bogie farting and Jeff was snoring, I decided to get out of the truck and sleep in the boat.  So I took a blanket and nestled on the floor between the driver and passenger seats.  It’s hard enough to sleep on the floor of a boat as it is, but add in the fact that its 96 degrees at 3:00 in the morning, just makes even harder to fall asleep.  Thankfully I did eventually fall asleep, that is until a trash truck woke me up around 4:00am.   

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We all woke up around 6:00am and had two hours to wait until Discount Tire Opened up.  At 7:30 am the Discount Tire employees started arriving at work.  Finally two hours later, we had four brand new trailer tires, one new rim, and a $400 credit card charge.

Unfortunately our bad luck didn’t end with the trailer… This river trip we decided to use our jeep instead of the truck to pull the boat in and out of the water.  Putting the boat into the water wasn’t a problem because Jeff didn’t need to leave the jeep for me to launch.  Unfortunately we found out that the jeep doesn’t have working parking brakes and as I drove the boat onto the trailer at the end of the day, the boat almost pulled the jeep down the boat ramp and into the water.  Jeff had leave the jeep in gear and then had to wedge a rock behind the tire in order to keep the jeep from rolling back into the water.  Then when we finally got the boat somewhat on the trailer the jeep refused to go into four wheel drive.  The boat ramp is dirt and the weight of the boat left the jeep spinning the tires and throwing dirt and rocks INTO the boat.  Eventually we pulled the boat out of the water but unfortunately the trailer was too deep in the water and the boat floated out of place and rested sideways on the left pileon.  Jeff didn’t want to attempt to fix it on the dirt ramp so we drive over to the paved ramp and attempt to fix the boat.  There’s a line at the boat ramp and we’re getting all kinds of strange looks as people gawk at our boat that’s sitting cockeyed on the trailer.  Thankfully after three attempts we get the boat back into its normal position on the trailer and strangely enough the jeep finally decides that now is a good time to go into four wheel drive and we slowly pull up the boat ramp.  We’re very lucky that we didn’t punch a hole in the boat by it resting on the pileon.  So in October we’ll be taking the Jeep home to San Diego to fix all the many issues it has.  Definitely not the relaxing weekend that we had intended but it was an adventure for sure!

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A week ago J and I took a small vacation to Pahrump Nevada.  Pahrump Nevada?  Why the hell would anyone want to take a vacation to Pahrump Nevada?  Because Pahrump is the home of Front Sight Firearms Training center where we usually take our shooting classes.  However for this vacation no guns were needed.  J and I decided to take an open handed combat and edged weapons class.

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So what is open handed combat and edged weapons class and why did we take it?  Open handed combat is learning how to defend yourself against an attacker using his fists (no weapons) and learning how to deflect any blows or kicks directed towards your body.  Edged weapons class was learning how to use a knife and how to defend yourself against a knife attack.  So why did J and I take these classes?  1. Because I think it’s always good to be prepared. 2. Since I always carry a knife with me anyways I think it’s best to know how to properly use it to defend myself.

So we arrive to class and they tell us to pair up with someone of similar size so there’s a middle aged woman a little smaller than me that I’m paired up with.  J is paired up with her husband who coincidentally is his size as well.  So class begins with learning how to effectively throw a series of punches and kicks.  Since I’ve taken kickboxing before I was familiar with how to both punch and kick but since I haven’t punched anything in some time, after about ten minutes of punching a practice pad with my bare hands my knuckles were black and blue.  Thankfully my knuckles got a break after lunch as we transferred to learning about elbow punches and kicks.  My partner was very timid and whenever she kicks or hits me, it’s like a little rabbit is poking me.  There’s no power behind her punches and her kicks are like she accidentally bumped me.  From my kickboxing days, I would come home with black and blue abs and obliques from my partner’s kicks and punches even through a practice pad.  One of the instructors sees that she’s really not inflicting any damage on me and pulls her aside to tell her she needs to back up those punches and kicks with power.  She needs to try and at least move me from my braced position.  This unfortunately starts the waterworks.  She breaks down crying saying that she doesn’t want to hurt anyone.  After some time the instructors calm her down and we resume sparring.  Although her punches really never do increase in power.

They warned us at the beginning of these classes that we would get some bruises from various blocking and wrist hold techniques.   Some is an understatement.  As class completed on the first day and I surveyed my arms and legs, I’m covered in bruises.  My forearms look like those of a serious drug pusher from all the small dark bruises from blocking punches.  Even now a week later, I still have bruises in various stages of healing.  The ones on my legs are now greenish yellow and the ones on my arms are yellow brown.

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On day three the edged weapons class begins.  We are given practice knives and we’re taught the proper fighting stance for when you have a knife in your hand.  So whenever the instructors say “FIGHT” you need to drop whatever you’re doing and get in your fighting stance with knife deployed.  From a folded knife in your pocket, to knife out and ready needs to happen in less than one second.  The first couple of quick draw practices has several people in the class accidentally losing control of their knives and they go flying with the flick of their wrist.  As the day progresses whenever a student drops a knife an instructor races towards it to take it away from the student.  We learn that if we drop that knife we better get it back in our hands ASAP.

For the next two days we’re taught how to effectively fight with fist and knife at the same time, and how to handle any knife attacks and how to disarm the opponent through a series of arm bars, kimura arm bars and various wrist locks.  This unfortunately creates even more bruises on my arms and I walk away from class at the end of the day looking like a domestic abuse victim.  The bruises are so obvious that when I ordered dinner at the Mad Greek, the guy at the counter asked me about them.  I explained that I was taking a combat class at Front Sight but I’m not sure he believed me.

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The best part about the class is you have to put all your newly learning skills to a series of real world tests.  The five instructors are the aggressors and you need to survive their assault.  You would think that the instructors would take it easy on students, but NOPE.  They are very aggressive and attack quickly.  They attack you from a standing position and you need to defend yourself and deploy your knife as soon as possible. Sometimes they push you to the ground and you need to get back to your feet while they are trying to assault you.  That is much harder to do than you think.  As soon as you get to your feet you need to get to your knife, however the entire time the instructor is trying to get the knife from you or prevent you from deploying the knife.  On one of my scenarios the instructor grabs my wrist and prevents me from getting my knife, but with my other hand I eventually get the knife while we’re wrestling and I’m stabbing him in his groin with my other hand.  You need to fight against each instructor three times and by the time I’ve fought each instructor three times, I’m exhausted.  The adrenaline is flowing and you walk away from each session shaking from the adrenaline but excited to try again.

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By the end of the last day, all my muscles are sore, I’m covered in bruises and I’m physically and mentally exhausted.  Although my vacation wasn’t a relaxing one, it did give me a new perspective on protecting myself.  While I’m not going to look to get into any fights, I’m sure if I was provoked to protect myself I wouldn’t be a typical victim who doesn’t know what to do.  The confidence that you get by your new skills is very empowering.  The knife that I usually carry, an old Spyderco knife wasn’t a quick deploy and even after greasing it I couldn’t flick it open quickly without using two hands.  So as a present to myself for completing the class I purchased a new SOG and it has a lightning fast deploy with just a quick easy wrist flick.  It’s awesome and only leaves my hip when I go to bed or have to travel.  I’m definitely going to take both these classes again in the near future just because the skills they taught were so valuable.  I really hope I never actually need to use these skills, but I’m glad I have the knowledge just in case I do need to protect myself.

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