Rehabbing old properties sounds glamorous but it’s dirty business. Smacking everything apart and returning it to rights makes of mess of clothes and boots. Clothes go into the Maytag. The boots? Special care is required. Like we learn in the Army, you gotta take care of your feet. That means taking care of your boots. When the dust settles, I return my boots to factory specification. A good cleaning, then boot oil.
For cleaning, I continue a family tradition, trusting the same company my great-grandfather trusted with his farrier business. Since 1895, the Fiebing Company has been manufacturing high quality Horse Care, Shoe Care and Leather Care products in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. – Fiebing
First a strong hose to remove mud and concrete dust, blood and sweat. An old kitchen pad rubbed about in dampened Fiebing’s Saddle Soap gives me a hearty lather for sturdy scrubbing. After a good rinse and a day for the leather to dry, its time to hydrate.
Red Wing Boot Oil came with the Red Wing boots. It sat for years as earlier boots crumbled into tatters. Finally Redfern explained to me in simple terms I could remember. “You’ve got to keep the leather oiled”. My current #1 pair of Red Wings are over a decade old, factory-resoled once. The #2 pair, still almost dressy, six months.
Alternate days gets alternate boots. They both get the same care. Keep’em clean with soap and water, and when the dirt becomes embedded, Fiebing’s Saddle Soap then a good boot oil.
I’ll be back – With hopeful yet prophetic words I grudgingly exit the best taco joint west of the Mississippi almost three years ago. But back I am! Coming off weeks of backcountry camping in Yellowstone National Park, this gem was the stuff of daily cravings. Homeward bound, Más Taco is my first destination over Beartooth Pass within tiny Red Lodge, Montana. The restaurant is just as I left it.
Famous for having the finest chow outside Yellowstone Northeast Entrance miles away, Mike has not let fortune go to his head. His passion is still fly fishing. Off-river, Más Taco gets his full attention. Many of the same people help Mike turn out plate after plate of 100% fresh ingredients blended into a perfect meal. Always an artful presentation. And chaos? Seven people working full bore in a galley kitchen. It was like my recent trip under polar ice aboard Nautilus (upcoming article, of course). Except for plenty of fresh air and sunshine. On a plate. Nature at its finest.
Four harsh Pennsylvania winters have come and gone. My truck tires started to feel like I would after buried in ice and snow several months a year. Stiff & brittle. OEM tires on American trucks are not performance tires, they’re work tires. And work they did, perfectly, for four years and 50,000 miles.
I’d been researching tires for the past 18 months. With 5/16″ remaining tread and even wear, my rubber is fine on dry pavement. But the desert deluge and spring snowstorm? Anything can be encountered within our duties maintaining this American products online resource.
Narrowing the field is easier than expected. Noise and traction ratings were studied. Forums consulted. Experts queried. My truck’s OEM tire, General Tire’s Grabber HTS, is better than ever. General manufactures worldwide but my Grabbers are domestic production, Mount Vernon, Illinois. There’s even a new Grabber HTS60 manufactured in Sumter, South Carolina.
We went with OEM. Our local Continental dealer gave us great pricing on a new set, mounted and balanced. Immediately thereafter we embarked on a 6,000 mile adventure. Two-lane highways preferred. Through New Mexico deserts, a Wyoming snow and ice storm, and wind-swept plains of Montana and South Dakota. Perfect traction and quiet. Six Thumbs Up experience!
Dave Holland said, “Go ahead and fish in the (Yellowstone) River”. Fishing permit lacking. His parcel abutted the old Gardiner / Mammoth pump house, he owned the pump house, and the pump house deed ran to the middle of the river. Fish & Game could pound sand, he declared. Sounds like he was looking for a showdown. Which never happened.
Dave is hooking another worm with Curt. Time moves forward. Again I find myself along the 45th Parallel, at Mammoth Hot Springs campground. Better equipped, this time. Spoiled, even.
Spoiled with the best headlamp in the world, the Surefire variable output LED. Guaranteed forever, practically indestructible. With a bulb life of several generations, this fine bit of engineering and craftsmanship has never failed.
Elk give me more room. Coyotes run from Man With Third Eye Glowing. A vintage copy of Dostoyevsky can be enjoyed long after ‘quiet time’ is enacted. A spattering of rain, wind in the trees, the distant Gardner River, and my reliable Surefire.
It all started in March while visiting Wintergrass, the Wilmington Delaware Bluegrass Festival. A fella had a mandolin of pure line. Shapely neck and smooth body. Her voice! Golden, well articulated, clear, and rich. Sharp when required. Clearly an effort from one of the best finishing schools!
Off we went to see where she was born, meet her parents. The York Pennsylvania studio of Bluett Brothers Violins. Chris Bluett (blu•ETTE) proudly shows me around his latest, a clean F-body mandolin with intricate headstock, the violin in progress, a few guitars from earlier years there for a visit.
Chris has been making instruments his entire adult life. It takes more than skill and an understanding supportive wife. It takes dedication and respect for the craft. Born into every instrument. A tradition he proudly supports through an active apprentice program. Chris Bluett, carrying the torch.
While visiting York Pennsylvania luthier Chris Bluett (blu•ETTE), a gent comes into the luthiery with a violin in a paper bag. For sale. Chris makes and sells violins but does not buy unless made by him. The B-Team steps forward. I offer a slim stack of dollars for the shabby fiddle, and walk away a hopeful man.
Tight unblemished top grain, casual adherence to scroll symmetry above the box, and matching pegs caught my eye. As I clamp down on refurbishment, it got better and better. Decades of grime gently removed, Behlen hide glue restoring separated back and top, this gem exposed promising pedigree. Labeled without origin, the top was definitely a better tonewood.
Over a century ago with excellent materials, a craftsperson put this violin together with attention where it matters. Ready again for strings, I consult the foremost authority. With D’Addario Orchestral Strings CSR on speed dial, we come to the same conclusion. Premium strings for this promising centenarian.
D’Addario Kaplan strings are selected. They feel good in the hand, as I string the violin. Almost silky, with superior peg end windings. Stretching “break-in” was minimal. The tone? Phenomenal! After Steve Fields gets used to the slightly different scale length of my set-up, his smile is never far as he runs through his favorites. If I ever get this violin back from him, I may remove the D’Addario Kaplan Vivo set and try the D’Addario Kaplan Amo set. Can’t wait!
A gift received four years ago sat unused for months. Need finally arose over a bracing chapped winter. This balm was found to be superior. An all-natural salve with pleasant wintergreen finish restored what nature took.
Before the tin was reduced to a few smears of Badger Balm along the bottom, my restored hands had intersourced * a vendor with reasonable shipping fees. I’m BACK IN THE BALM again!
That split nail growing from a perpetually cracked cuticle? Finally, some relief after a couple months of consistent application. Sub-epidermal exposure through fingertip calluses? Stick with Badger Balm, and relief will come. A must have through the winter and all year around!
Bill, what makes it so good? Our philosophy flows from the ground up. We believe in using botanical ingredients that are grown in healthy soil and processed simply without the use of chemicals. Ingredients like these are filled with life force. They make for better products, for healthier people, and for a healthier planet. – Badger Bill Whyte, CEO & Head Badger