Tag Archives: field trip

Field Trip Wrap Up

I had just a few  notes to add regarding my most recent field trip and and as miserable as it is outside today, this is a good time to reflect on nicer days!  We have gone from summer directly into late fall up here and I’m not really ready for it.

On the recent field trip I had and opportunity to use one of the Blackjack knives and was pleased with its overall performance.  I also did a little more experimenting with the Baddest Bee Fire Fuses.

Don’t get the idea that the Fire Fuses are strictly for the prepper or regular camper crowd.  If you have a wood burning fireplace or just enjoy a fire in a backyard fire ring the Fire Fuse is a handy and effective fire starting aid.  They’re particularly handy when combined with some fatwood.

Before I went on the last field trip I took a couple of the fatwood sticks and drilled a 3/8″ hole in side of the stick.  When I was ready to light a fire, I shaved a rooster tail on the fatwood and inserted about a 1″ length of Fire fuse.

Fire Fuse
Fire Fuse and Fatwood Stick

A brief note, if you drill a hole try to save the shavings from the drilling and save them in a small zip lock.  Those shavings make great fire starting aids.

Baddest Bee Fire Fuse Field Test
Fire Fuse inserted in Drilled Hole

The whole purpose of drilling the hole rather then just wedging the Fuse into the rooster tail was to make for a more secure ‘attachment’.  I light the Fire Fuse with a Fire Steel on a solid surface and then move it under my kindling.  This is much easier then placing the fatwood stick and then trying to ignite the fire fuse.

Fire Fuse and Fatwood Stick
Light the Fire Fuse on a solid surface
Fire Fuse and Fatwood Stick
Place the light Fatwood stick under the kindling.

The Fatwood and Fire Fuse combo will burn for 3-4 minutes which will usually get your kindling ignited even if you don’t split it particularly fine.  This combination is really effective if you’re in damp conditions.

Field Trip Campfire
And you’re ready to get the frying pan on the fire!

Over the years we’ve gotten pretty good at cooking over an open fire and have worked up a few recipes that are quick, easy, filling and taste good.  Now, before you choke and gag at the following picture, let me tell you this is one of our favorites AND it tastes a whole lot better then it looks.

It’s a combination of cooked hamburger/onions and Cream of Chicken Soup.  Simmer it for a few minutes and mix or serve over cooked long grain and wild rice.  Add a little salt and pepper and enjoy.  If you really want to get efficient, prepare your hamburger/onion/cream of chicken soup mixture at home and freeze it in a zip lock.  I use Uncle Ben’s minute rice so that’s easily cooked in camp.  You can warm up the hamburger in the zip lock bag in a pan of boiling water then serve it over the cooked rice.  That’s about as easy as it gets.

On an entirely different note, I’m glad we went on the field trip a week ago as we hit the leaf colors at their peak.

Field Trip Leaf tour
Leaf Color was at it’s peak.

Just a few weeks earlier we were starting to see the leaves starting to change, the blueberries were finishing up and the Choke Cherries were at their peak.

Picking Choke Cherries
Blue Berries
Ripe Choke Cherries

We ate the blueberries as we picked them but if you’re familiar with Choke Cherries, you don’t eat them without some prep.  Personally, the best way to serve the Choke Cherries is in the form of Jelly or Syrup over pancakes.  Both the Jelly and Syrup are easy to make and bBelieve me, it’s well worth the effort.

Choke Cherry Jelly

So that’s how we finished up the trips north.  Good eats while we were there and when we got home.  Not a bad way to end the season.

The boats are out of the lake and we’re wrapping things up for winter.  Next weekend I have a gun show in Fergus Falls, MN and the following week we go to North Dakota pheasant hunting for a few days.  Then in another month I can start bitching about the cold weather.  It’s been a good year so far.

Another Field Trip No Shipping Next Week

I won’t be shipping any orders until late next week as I’ve got one more window of opportunity to make a late season field trip up North.  Fall is coming on and it’s a great time of the year to get out camping and enjoy the leaf color and maybe get a chance to see some wildlife.

A couple of years ago we had the opportunity to see 5 moose and a couple of timber wolves.  The number of summer visitors is down and the woodland critters seem more willing to come out in the open.  It’s just a great time of year to be outdoors.

On my earlier field trip, I had the opportunity to try out a few new and old products.  One knife I didn’t get a chance to put to use is the Blackjack Model 125 and this time around I’ll give it a try.  I think its really important to be able to talk about the knives I’m selling from first hand experience.  The all look great in the display case, but do they actually work.

Blackjack 125 field trip test
Blackjack 125 Stag

As in the past, the store will be open and orders accepted, but they will NOT ship until next Friday or Saturday.  Depends on how much fun I’m having!!!

Family Weekend, Mule Team Demise & Field Trip

I’m still in recovery mode from last weekend.  That was our annual family get together and fortunately, we won the ‘weather’ lottery.  Rain prediction was 80% for Saturday and it turned out sunny and warm the whole weekend.  Thank you weather gods.  There were around 14 of us and having three boys that are like lit sticks of dynamite tearing through the house all weekend was an intimidating possibility.

Yeah, my great uncle is an incredible guide…..

The only one happier then him is me!

The big guy is my nephew that used to spend summers with us when he was a youngster.  The little guy is his nephew,  my great nephew.

Time for a little recovery and regrouping.

I didn’t have the camera handy but I passed out pocket knives Sunday before everyone went home and they all left with smiling faces.  The whole weekend is a lot of work but worth every minute.  Nothing I hate worse then seeing these kids grow up.

And a caveat to all who don’t spend much time in a boat around ropes.  Do NOT put your foot on a pile of rope when on board.  Even letting the rope out dragging an empty tube can result in a broken ankle bone.

Major Rope Burn and broken ankle bone

A couple weeks ago I got a message from our old friend Dave down in Arizona that Spyderco was discontinuing their Mule Team Project.  What a disappointment.  I quickly jumped onto the Spyderco site and picked up one more blade in the PMA 11 steel.  I’ve got the Maxamet, CPM 4V and one or two others.

Spyderco Mule Team CPM 4V With a Dave Taylor Custom Sheath

From Spyderco’s website:  “By definition, a “mule” is a sample knife used for in-house performance testing. “  Dave tipped me off about the program a few years ago and I really appreciate the heads up.  The blades Spyderco offered were a huge factor influencing my love affair with the ‘high tech’ steels.  I slid away from 1095 and 440C and have never looked back.

Whether discontinuing the program was financially motivated, fewer steels to experiment with or just a lack of customer participation, it’s sad to see it end.  Spyderco deserves a ton of credit for making some fantastic steels available for steel geeks like Dave and I to sample at a really reasonable cost.

I had an invoice come through from GEC for the Bone Northfields so I anticipate seeing them arrive around the first of the week.  As soon as I have them in hand, invoices will go out to all of you that place an early order.  I ask for payment within 3 days or risk losing your deposit.  The second warning is next weekend I head out on my annual field testing trip and I want to ship your reserved knives ASAP.  Yahoo!!!!

This annual trip is the high point (one of many) every summer for me.  I have a number of new items I carry in the store that need field testing and this is the opportunity to do it!  One item in particular is the Hess Bird & Trout.  While it’s not a ‘new’ item per se, I’ve carried them for years but have never taken the time to put one to the test in the field.

Hess Bird & Trout

And there’s the Fenix U35 V2.0 and the “Baddest Bee” fire fuses.  I’ve used both items but never in real field conditions.

Fenix UC35 V2.0 and Baddest Bee Fire Fuse

So for now, back to trying to get more of the new knives listed I picked up.  It’s been a slow process with everything that’s going on but I’ll try to stay it!

 

Weekly Update 8.27.17 Field Trip

Great week last week even if it was too short!!!  Actually, my field trip lasted 5 days in the North Woods and that’s the longest we’ve gotten away from the office in many years.  Gonna have to do that more often.  The weather was great with a few showers thrown in but nothing of any consequence.

I didn’t get a chance to play any golf but we did some roaming around.   All in all, not a bad week. In fact, we met some really incredibly friendly folks this trip and spent a fair amount of time just visiting with people from around the country.

One of the highlights was a group from Canada coming through with their Rat Rods on the way to a show.  Wish I would have shot more pix.  The ingenuity the builders of the Rat Rods have just never ceases to amaze me.  I’m kind of a fan of the Steam Punk art and the Rube Goldberg machines so I guess my interest in Rat Rods would be natural.

Rat Rod

And it’s always good to meet up with an old friend, Tyson Cronberg, owner of the famous Beaver House tackle shop in Grand Marais.  I’ve know Tyson before he could see over the counter top and it’s always great to catch up with each other.  In fact, if you travel to Grand Marais, Ty is carrying the Trestle Pine knives so stop by and check them out.

m Tyson Cronberg, Proprietor  of The Beaver House

And of course everyday was started out with ….

On a couple of mornings we also ventured into town to have a breakfast from the World’s Best Donuts.  If you’ve never been to Grand Marais, WBD’s is known literally worldwide for their incredible donuts and rolls.  The line will form early in the morning and extend into the street.  This day they had a traveling minstrel entertaining the crowd as they waited in line.

And of course there was time set aside for a little….

And for sure, some good eats….  For the uninitiated, Poutine is probably the most effective method I’ve come across for increasing your cholesterol 10-15 points at a sitting.  French Fries smothered in Cheese Curds and Brown Gravy. ….OMG!!!

Burger on a Bagel Bun and Poutine

The one thing I specifically made time for was trying out the new Topper and a couple of old standbys.

So many choices in life…

A chore I find makes for a great comparison of blades is fire starting.  I use the Fallkniven A1 in the picture above for splitting kindling but the true test comes in the detail work.

Trestle Pine Buddy

The Trestle Pine Buddy is the perfect choice for a little coarser ‘shaving’ of my kindling.  It’s also my go to knife when it comes to kitchen work or other ‘medium’ sized camp chores.  What I was really interested in was the difference between the new Trestle Pine Topper with the Saber Ground Clip blade and the Prototype with the Wharncliffe blade.

Trestle Pine Topper

It’s a little difficult to see but the Wharncliffe was great for cutting thin shavings while the Saber/Clip was a bit more aggressive.  While I wasn’t surprised it was interesting to work with the two side by side in the same medium.  The slightly thicker clip blade acts a bit as a ‘wedge’ resulting in a thicker slice.  The slimmer profile of the Wharncliffe allows for delicate, slim shavings to be created.

The Wharncliffe is a 154 blade and the Clip is an S30V.  I didn’t use either of them enough to make a fair comparison as to which held an edge better.  All I can say is that both of them were used and neither show any sign of losing their edge.  I’ve had several customers tell me they prefer the CPM steels over the S30V primarily due to the feeling the CPM is a bit more user friendly when it comes time to touch up the blade and I’ll probably take that into consideration on the next knife.

Personally, I really like the Gunstock pattern the Topper is based on.  It rides comfortably in the pocket, provides plenty of handle to grip and is a comfortable size for general use.  If you feel the corners on the screwdriver are a bit to sharp in the hand, use a file to knock the corners off.  This knife is meant to be used so don’t be afraid to personalize it a bit.

The last day of the field trip we stopped at a home East of Grand Marais on the main highway.  Last year I posted a couple of roadside pix but this year we got out of the truck and spent some time wandering through this ‘creation’.  It is nothing short of amazing.

This individual has spent years hauling, piling and arranging rocks in some interesting patterns. Then, they enhanced them with little details to make you stop and look and look and the more you look the more you see.  Very cool.

And now, it’s back to reality.  Queen is releasing a couple of orders that will be arriving next week.  I’ll also be filling in some empty spots in the Hess inventory as well as uploading some more Trestle Pine’s.  By the way, there’s a new Trestle Pine in the works for later this Fall.

Notes from the 2016 Field Trip

I apologize I haven’t shared a bit about the recent field trip I took this summer.  Still recovering and catching up I guess!!

The annual field trip is the chance I get to take some products into the outdoors and actually spend a little time using them as they’re intended.  Pretty hard to evaluate a nice field blade puttering around the house.  This year I had several knives I really wanted to try out and see how they performed.

As you might expect, the first one was the Grand Portage.  I’ve really gotten attached to it.  All the years I carried a pocket knife until I started carrying the Fallkniven’s, I’d never had anything other then a 440C or 1095 blade.  They worked great but under heavy use cleaning fish, etc, the blades always required some maintenance during the trip.  The CPM154 is a different animal.  I used it for everything from cutting cord, doing some whittling and trimming my stogie.  If you’re a cigar smoker you know that anything less then a razor sharp blade can destroy a good cigar.

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The other feature I really appreciated was the screwdriver.  I use a firesteel for my fire starting and the bottom edge of the screwdriver is the perfect striker.  The bottom edge of the screwdriver has a fairly sharp edge that works better then the striker that comes with the firesteels.  AND, the knife handle gives you plenty to hang onto when you’re striking a spark.

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We had company during the trip and I was really happy to see his choice of a belt knife was one of the original Trestle Pine Buddy’s.

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The other two knives I was anxious to try were the pair of Spyderco Mule Team knives I acquired.  My friend Dave have given me a blade with the CPM 4V blade and I recently picked up the latest Maxamet blade.  These are unique blades which can only be purchased directly from Spyderco at what I feel are really reasonable prices.  They come without handles or a sheath, but both are readily available.  You can end up with a high quality, nicely finished knife in the $100-150 range depending on your choice of blade steel.

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These are two of the finest blades I’ve had the pleasure to use.  The CPM 4V I put just a notch above the Fallkniven 3G steel but the Maxamet is in a class all it’s own.  The Maxamet comes in with a reported Rockwell hardness somewhere in the 70+ range.  Of course when you approach that kind of hardness the big concern is chipping.  Not to worry.

I hacked away at a piece of split birch until I had chopped a notch just over a inch deep and roughly and inch and a half wide.  The CPM 4V had the edge ever so slightly rolled over and quickly straightened out with a few swipes on the strop.  The Maxamet came away still hair shaving sharp.  I’m dead serious.  You wouldn’t have known you’d cut anything other then air with it.

While I’m not saying this was any sort of scientific evaluation, it impressed the hell out of me.  The same type of chopping with 1095 would have had you reaching for a stone to touch things back up.  I used the Maxamet for the rest of the weekend for all sorts of chores and it came home still scary sharp.

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I’m so impressed with these newer high tech steels and wish I would have discovered them years ago.  There was always that lingering question, why should I spend more then necessary for a decent knife.  It’d would be hard to go back now.

All in all, we had a great weekend, albeit a short one.  The highlight was a short cruise on Lake Superior on a sailboat.  It was a 50′ two masted boat that was an absolute ball to ride on.  Highly recommend it to any that hasn’t sailed before.  I put a short video up on the Facebook page. 

And have you ever had one of those things you’ve driven by a hundred times but never really paid any attention to what you were driving by?  Well, about 9 miles East of Grand Marais on hwy 61 is a house with a front yard full of drift wood and neatly piled rocks.

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On closer examination, the rock and drift wood are artistically arranged and you start noticing all sorts of critters and stuff tucked in as well.

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And when you get closer, the detail is even greater.

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This isn’t just a randomly tossed together pile of sticks and stones.  It’s just hard to explain if you haven’t seen it.

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I have no idea who this person is but they’re incredibly artistic and obviously have a whole lot more free time then the average person.  Next year I’ll have to make a point to stop and see if I can get some more details.  Very cool.

And it’s never a complete trip without stopping in to visit an old friend at a Grand Marais landmark.

The Beaver House, Grand Marais, MN
The Beaver House, Grand Marais, MN

The Beaver house is owned and operated by Tyson Cronberg and was originally opened by his dad back in 1964.  When we started going to Grand Marais in the early 1970’s Tyson was too small to see over the counter.  As I said, it’s truly a landmark and Ty is a great guy to stop and visit with.   They hadn’t finished painting the building when we were there but it’s quite a sight.  (and yes, the walleye on the roof talks!)

By the way, if you’re in the area, you can check out the Trestle Pine knives he now has in stock.  His season is coming to an end for the summer but next spring we’ll be putting more knives in.

All in all, a great trip and I’m already anxious to go again.