Slow on the Line
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Well I know it has been quite a while since I tended to the blog, but a lot has happened in the Thompson household since last I wrote. To name just a few of the important ones, we had quite a medical scare with my wife back in Feb of 2011, thank God it all worked out and she is fine, then the Military decided they didn’t need as many ATC now that we are winding down the wars so we parted ways. Then the trip to Alaska fell through because the military took so long. So we moved home to Michigan, I am now attending Lake Superior State University.  We are still going to Alaska this summer though, we just had to back up our plans by a year.  And last but not least, we bought land and were going to build until we ran out of time and had to move to Sault Ste Marie for school. Soooo here we are, a full year since my last post and those are but a few of the major events that have changed our lives. So needless to say I have not spent a ton of time in the Backcountry this last year hence nothing to post about.

BUT, now I am back in Michigan and here in the Soo. A veritable playground for the outdoorsman/woman. I had a small trapline out this fall and have not connected with much. I attribute it to not being able to scout the ground before snowfall. But I have collected a few red fox which are prime and simply beautiful. I will be setting out a water line and I am hoping to bring in a good catch of Mink, Muskrat, Coon, Beaver, and Otter. We shall see, good Lord willing, and the river don’t rise.  I have attached the few pictures I have from this trapping season, I have a few of my trapping grounds and a couple of one of the last fox that I got.

 

Until next time,

Stay Frosty,

USMCPatriot

 

Winter Vacation 1
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Around this time of the year there are many things to be thankful for; family, friends, and the time we all get to spend together. For those of us who believe in a god we thank him in multitudes for the amazing opportunities the year behind brought us and we pray for continued health and prosperity in the future. As we near our lord’s celebration I specifically thank him and praise him for the love of my wife and children, for the blessings of a great mother, father and two awesome brothers. I also am so thankful that we can spend these days together here in Grayling. We will all be getting together for the New Year. Because of work obligations and the normal family give and take, my brothers could not get here for Christmas. Last year we had an amazing time for New Years; it was a typical Thompson get together. There was a lot of gas burnt in the sleds, and by the end of the night we were all gathered around a Bonfire. There was no wind, the temperature hit -5°F but it didn’t phase us. As the sleds were put away out came the New Years libations, there was a little Ginger Brandy, a little Gentleman Jack, a slew of different kinds of Barley Pops, and the ladies had some wine. We enjoyed a few fine cigars, and good conversation, kept warm by the blaze, and brought in the New Year together surrounded by god’s creation.

This year we hope to do the same thing, the conditions are almost the same, except this year there is about 18” less snow. As of right now we only have about 6”-8” of old crusty snow. Last year we had 2 feet of fresh powder to ride the sleds on, and a lot more time with which to play. We will make the best of it though, as we always do. We have some new plans this year too. We have always taken a few days to take advantage of the late season for Whitetail in Michigan, but this year we are adding a day or two for some varmint hunting, and a morning or two for some ice fishing on the local lakes. I don’t hold out a lot of hope for the deer hunting this year. The Michigan government has been almost criminal in its neglect of the Whitetail herd in this part of Michigan, but that is for another post, this one is to be all positive!

The ice I am told is about 9 inches thick on nearby Lake Margrethe and about the same or a little thicker on Manistee Lake. We may have a little trouble though as there is a warm spell in the forecast. So that may prohibit the ice fishing a little, but we will see. If it does warm up I will probably use those days to shoot some coyote. Also a little update on the RV situation, we have placed our deposit and signed the contract on the RV I pictured in an earlier post so it is officially ours. We will be picking it up at the end of January or beginning of February so stand by for that. I will post again soon with updates on the results of our forays this week.

Until next time,

Stay Frosty
USMCPatriot

Alaskan Expedition #2
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OK so here we go, the planning process has begun and we have a ton to do and what should be a fair amount of time to do it in. I will get out of the Marine Corps on July 23rd of 2011 at 0800, yet as I said before I will still get paid until Sept 1st. My wife and I have decided that we are going to take a two month trip to Alaska. That being said we realized that the kids school will start in late August so we have decided that we are going to be home schooling them starting next year. We do not have all the kinks worked out of this plan yet so there will be more to come on that in the future. We rationalized that considering we both have education beyond High School, and our oldest would be in 5th grade that we can handle the teaching aspect. Both of our boys are on the honor roll with straight A’s so I am confident they will be able to handle the transition. Also, as a plus, we will be able to interject into their curriculum the religion that I feel has been so absent mindedly left out of modern education, without the exorbitant cost of Christian School. We will be giving them hands on education, which leads me into our second big decision…

We are buying an RV…not a trailer, not a pop-up camper, not a tent, a full blown Class A Motorhome. HOW, might you ask? Simple, we have saved a bit of money here and there, and having had the advantage of a steady job over the last couple years when many others have lost theirs we kept our debts low. When I walk out the door of the Marine Corps for the last time in July I will have absolutely no debt. All car payments will have been paid off, all credit cards paid off, no house payment yet, and no college bills because the Marine Corps has covered them all so far. So we will have no obligations tying us to anywhere, for the first time in our lives we have a little money and the time to spend it. We have already found the prospective RV, and keep in mind I said we have a little money. It is a 1989 Winnebago Chieftain, and it is awesome.

Don’t let the age fool you, this RV has been babied by its current owner, it has always been kept indoors, and only has 46,000 miles on it. It has all the 1989 bells and whistles hahaha, but some have been upgraded including the Microwave, Fridge/Freezer, and AC/Heater units. It has new tires, and everything else works too. The current, and only, owner took it on a few trips to Florida and back and has just bought a new one to upgrade. So how much are we getting this gem for you ask….$5000.00 that’s right only 5K.

The Big Winne

So a little more about the RV, this little beauty has yet to be named but she actually isn’t very little. At 33’ long and almost 9 feet wide this behemoth is a sight to behold. She does not look like a product of the 80’s, there are no ridiculous colors or ugly brown tweed, nor are there any mullets or insta-perms to be found! It has a queen bed in a rear room, a central dinette, and a couch with two captains chairs opposite. We will be taking out the old tv and replacing it with a new 47” flat screen, and turning the storage cabinets around the old TV mount into DVD, Blueray, and Wii storage. It is wired for indoor and outdoor speakers which we will be upgrading and linking into a new radio tuner with Sirius, which also connects to the TV. I am considering how to get satellite TV right now, haven’t figured that part out yet. There will be a TV mount added to the exterior, and it has a new full length awning with a screen surround. Talk about a nice place to watch Mystery Alaska, while sitting beside a lake somewhere. More pictures of the RV can been seen below:

Winne's Interior

So there you go, to make this trip we will drive our RV from North Carolina to Michigan, dropping off our little yorky with my parents so he doesn’t become a Grizzly Snack, and heading to Alaska. Up next in the Planning process….THE ROUTE! So stay tuned because it will be up soon.

Until next time

Stay Frosty
USMCPatriot

Our Alaskan Expedition
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When you start planning a vacation most people start with questions like, “how many days will we be gone?” “What can we afford?” or “will that work with the kid’s school?” After 8 years in the Marine Corps my wife and I decided it was time to take a vacation other than going to my parents on leave for 2 weeks. We had been hoping and dreaming of Alaska for years because although we got married during my second year in the Corps, I got out for 4 years and worked various jobs before responding to the Commandant’s Call to Arms in 2007, and reenlisting. So since about 2002 we have been planning trips to Alaska and cancelling them for one reason or another, usually money or too little time. We have planned all sorts of excursions, week long trips, hikes, etc, etc. They all started one of two ways though, either with a flight, which if we were lucky, we could get round trip tickets from where we were for about 3000.00 for the whole family, or a cruise which would have been the same or more but with a lot less time on the ground seeing what we actually wanted to see. We eventually gave up trying.

Then came a paradigm shift in my professional life, I chose not to be an Air Traffic Controller or Marine any longer. I started off in 1998 as a normal Grunt; I worked my way through Squad Leaders Course, Corporals Course, Mountain Survival and Winter Mountain survival courses, Scout Sniper School, and multiple others before ending my first enlistment and the subsequent reserve time. Then, as I stated before, I felt the itch again in 2007. I went to the recruiter and inquired about a lateral move. Basically what a lateral move is is a request with the military to change job specialties. The only way I could justify coming back in with a wife and two children was to move to something a little safer. So after 4 deployments in my first enlistment, one to Iraq and one to Afghanistan and two MEU(SOC)¹, I looked for a job where I knew I would get an employable skill and not have as many deployments. I found that in Air Traffic Control but, as fate would have it, I hate the job. The things I liked most about being a grunt, leadership, team work, creative solutions, did not exist in my new job. So I found a new career in the civilian world, as a Police Officer.

In making my decision to move on from the Marine Corps I created a few enemies and my work environment has deteriorated to the point where I hate going into work. So a few days ago I came home and told my wife we need a vacation, in my mind though I was still thinking just a little week or two week vacation either home to Grayling, or my other favorite, to the Appalachian Trail in the Smoky Mountain National Park. She, on the other hand, had bigger plans and she threw them at me. “What about a trip to Alaska,” she asked. I thought about it for half a second and dismissed it, it would cost too much and we don’t have enough leave saved. After listening to me for about half a second she cut me off, “you don’t get it, we leave on the trip the day you get out of the Marine Corps.” For those of you who don’t know, the military has a process called Terminal Leave². If you have leave saved near the end of your contract you can go home early, and still be paid. You use your leave up before your contract is up but for all intents and purposes you are out. I will have 30 days of leave to use up.

It all started to click for me, it will be the end of July the kids are out of school, we have a good bit saved, and I will technically be without a job, although I will be a certified Police Officer and there are quite a few departments hiring around here in North Carolina. So I won’t have to worry about taking too many days from work, I just won’t start till I get back. Plus as a bonus I will still be getting paid by the Corps. But, then my pessimist side kicks in, those plane tickets, the hotel rooms, food, the bill was getting huge, and we would have to be back in time for the kids to get in school. My wife and I mulled it over for a few days and realized we could make this happen and not only were we going to make the trip but we are going to go all out.

So here it is I decided I am going to blog about the whole process from inception through planning and implementation to conclusion. We have solidified past the inception phase (can you tell I have a military mind I’m about to break out a BAMCIS³ or OSMEAC) and are entering the planning phase. So there will be more to come and soon, because the ideas are flowing out and we are going to make this a trip of a lifetime. There are a lot of surprises coming, we may not go the “traditional” route, and we have a ton of events planned and sights on our list to see so check back soon to see how we get there and where we go.

Key to terms:
1. Leave – Military equivalent of Paid Time Off
2. MEU(SOC) – Marine Expeditionary Unit Special Operations, this is when we deploy aboard Navy ships to float as a 911 force for world events.
3. BAMCIS – Acronym for military planning meaning:
B – Begin the Planning
A – Assign Reconaissance
M – Make Reconaissance
C – Complete the Planning
I – Issue the Orders
S – Supervise the execution
4.OSMEAC – Another acronym for the way orders are written meaning:
O – Orientation
S – Situation
M – Mission
E – Execution
A – Admin and Logistical Matters
C – Command and Control Issues

Until next time
Stay Frosty!
USMCPatriot

Book Review – One Man’s Wilderness
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In 1968 Dick Proenneke wandered into the Backcountry of Alaska, determined to test himself, to see if he had what it takes to live in the bush. After spending one summer on Twin Lakes in 1967, cutting timber for a cabin, he left and went back to the Lower 48 to square away his affairs. In the spring of ’68 he returned, that is where his book “One Man’s Wilderness” begins.

I have to say right up front that this is one of my all time favorites. I have read it 4 times now and I own the DVD collection that his friend and publisher Bob Swerer, sell as a set. This book is not just a memoir but a compilation of his daily diary. From the beginning of the book the author’s style captured me, he sets the scene perfectly. There have been a lot of books written about Alaskan Bush life but this one beats them all.

Dick’s story is unique in that he didn’t just go test himself for 2 or 3 years and then leave. Dick Proenneke lived at his homestead on Twin Lakes from 1968 to 1999, at which time he left due to his health at the age of 82 after 30 years in the bush.

This book takes you through his whole first year from his return in the spring to a pile of checked logs, to the end of his first winter and the breakup. You will accompany him while he makes his cabin from spruce logs that he chopped by hand. He worked only with hand tools and made everything he needed. You will see the care that he took making sure his cabin was as good as he could make it.

Wander with him along the trails picking berries and making jam, and then walk the edges of Twin Lakes with him while he catches everything from Salmon to Grayling. By the middle chapters of the book you will have the itch to go to Alaska yourself and experience its wonders.

This book is not a survival story per se because he paid so much attention to detail that he never had to “survive.” He made a comfortable life for himself albeit one of constant “chores.” He did not go into the bush with a backpack and try to live off the land, he went in on a float plane with some supplies and made himself at home.

You can pick this book up either through Amazon or other such websites but I prefer to pay the guy who wrote the book and put in the work. You can get it from Bob Swerer at his webpage DickProenneke.com

Till next time,

Stay Frosty

Infolinks 2013