Driving back and forth to Spiritwood a couple of times a week over a decade meant that I went through a lot of bad weather and really dangerous driving conditions. While I had some extra clothes and a some basic car equipment with me, if we had hit the ditch in a bad spot, it could have been hours before anyone would have stopped and in the Canadian winter, it would not have been pleasant.
Like I wrote before, Wendy bought me Survive! for Christmas and I have enjoyed the section on survival kits. He listed some essentials for what everyone should have before heading out on the road and with it getting really, really cold in Saskatchewan, I thought I would post it over at Jordon Cooper Outfitters. I am not one of those â€œlive in a compoundâ€ survivalists but I have had to walk for miles more than once to get help when stranded at the side of the road (hit a deer twice, avoided hitting a deer once, icy roads).
Looking back at it, because I didnâ€™t feel comfortable riding out the occasional storm, I took risks that I never should have (once while driving home, I had to get out of the car to figure out where the road was and where I was on said highway).
Stroud has a more complete survival pack list that Iâ€™ll post this weekend (it took an hour or so putting this one together).
If you have never tried a pair of noise cancelling headphones, I found a pair that will let you experience what you have been missing and not break the bank. I am a big fan of them and if you have never used them, you donâ€™t know what you are missing while travelling.
Earlier this week I linked to what is probably the greatest duffle bag that I have ever seen. If you purchase one of these, you may have to upgrade your travel plans just so they donâ€™t look out of place.
7:10 a.m. :: Lineup at Tim Hortonâ€™s was too long so I skipped that place and went straight to work. Stopped by the kitchen for breakfast with Mark. Then to the Front Desk to shoot the breeze with the night staff.
7:20 a.m. :: Got some bad news from the Front Desk and had to ask Mark to leave the room. So much for a stress free holiday. There is always something dumb that happens over Christmas and I am hoping that is it.
7:40 a.m. :: Mark is drinking his first cup of coffee ever. Black. Never even made a face. I have a feeling I will be in trouble when Wendy finds out about this.
8:00 a.m. :: Sitting in Sharonâ€™s office (one of our budget management workers) trying to figure out why I am at work this morning.
8:30 a.m. :: Laurie asked Mark and I to process last minute hamper requests. Three years ago on Christmas Eve I filled 14 hampers for people who had nothing on Christmas Eve. I left work feeling really good about what we did. On Boxing Day I found out that we had been ripped off by all 14 people. All of them had gotten hampers. I didnâ€™t feel that bad about it. I wasnâ€™t the one lying and plus, itâ€™s Christmas and I will never live it down. I guess that is why Laurie asked Mark to help me out. She knows that I wonâ€™t say no to anyone unless I have a good reason.
9:11 a.m. :: Answering back the 25 or so e-mails of people wanting to volunteer down at the Centre on Christmas Day.
10:20 a.m. :: Tim Hortonâ€™s run. The Giant Tiger parking lot is packed. Mark is drinking his second cup of coffee, this time a double/double on the recommendation of Debbie, one of our cooks.
10:40 a.m. :: I filled a couple of hampers. The people appreciated it. Not sure if they were telling the truth or not but I didnâ€™t really care. Itâ€™s Christmas Eve.
11:00 a.m. :: Laurie cut off hampers. The Emergency After Hours staff has a bunch made up if anyone comes in on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
11:30 a.m. :: Mark is having his third cup of coffee and is talking loudly. He also has five dollars as he was helping in the kitchen. He is now carrying 81 Christmas gifts to the chapel where they will be put under a tree for the guys tomorrow. Thanks to my awesome wife Wendy for helping wrap them.
12:00 p.m. :: The office is closed. Only the kitchen and Front Desk staff remain. Some other staff are tearing down the Christmas warehouse and bringing things back to the Centre. Also, some officers are picking up Christmas kettles and bringing them to a place so they can counted in time for the bank to close.
1:00 p.m. :: So much for leaving early. I am heading back home. Safeway looks crazy. I feel sorry for Wendy.
1:10 p.m. :: Our snow shovel is broken, someone has been in the house and there is a very large box in my living room. Since there a) is no blood from being attacked from the dog b) there is a PSP Go on the table, I assume Lee was here. It doesnâ€™t explain the broken snow shovel. Mark totally missed the five foot wide box in the living room and notices the PSP Go. Observant kid I have.
2:00 p.m. :: Lee is here. He broke our shovel and brought over a new ergonomic shovel. He is pretty quiet about the large box though.
3:15 p.m. :: Lee suggests we go to Future Shop and get the new Family Guy movie. I remind him that it is Christmas Eve and it will be crazy. He goes, â€œthat explains the time off and the giftsâ€.
4:20 p.m. :: I went by Safeway and it was absolutely nuts Wendy canâ€™t explain it as Safeway is always quiet after 2:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve. I buy some groceries and double check Wendy has bought turnips. She still canâ€™t understand how I eat them.
6:00 p.m. :: We order pizza from Papa Johnâ€™s Pizza. Itâ€™s the best pizza in Saskatoon. Itâ€™s an hour wait which is fine as Wendy will be home in 30 minutes.
6:40 p.m. :: Wendy is home and said that Safeway was crazy from opening to 6:00 p.m. She wasnâ€™t impressed but was happy to get home.
6:41 p.m. :: Wendy, Lee, and Mark are all demanding we open gifts. Oliver is more preoccupied with a box of Swiss Cheese Crackers.
6:45 p.m. :: Stockings are open. Wendy and I both got LED lanterns, Mark got a small dart board, all of us got the usual candies and toiletries.
7:15 p.m. :: Pizza is here, gifts are opened, the house is a big mess. Here is the summary of gifts.
A play M1 Abrams Tank Set and a Campaigns of World WWII Day by Day by Chris Bishop from me. I had wanted to get him a book explaining what happened in WWII and this did a pretty good job brining history to his reading level.
A PSP 3000 from Lee :: Lee bought himself a PSPGo a couple of months ago and gave him his old PSP 3000 with a plethora of games and movies. Mark was thrilled, mostly because he can watch a couple of seasons of Family Guy anytime he wants. He also found out he can use Twitter on it as well.
Wendy got her Nintendo DS from all of us. She was pretty excited and we tossed in a couple of games, Sim City Creator, Trackmania, Brain Age (while the Reimers got her Brain Age 2 for her birthday and would not let her open it until Christmas Day), and Namco Museum. Mark also gave her his old game carry case sometime during the night and we tossed in a starter kit.
Mark and Oliver gave her a tennis bracelet that says Mom on it.
A Chicago Bears jacket. I feel better about the gift now that the Bears now that Jay Cutler and the Bears are brutal this year. If the Kyle Orton trade hadnâ€™t have worked out for Denver the way it did, I would have had to take it back. I like the Bears but I love the Broncos.
Airsoft Sig Sauer pistol. We had one up at the cabin and we used it for target practice at the dump all summer long. Technically it is a toy and itâ€™s velocity is low enough (combined with the soft ammunition) that it isnâ€™t going to be lethal, even on a small animal. Mark and I did a test and the ammunition wonâ€™t penetrate a piece of paper at 5 feet. It does however make a satisfying ping when you hit your target at the dump.
We were shocked. Lee just said that we helped him out during a tough time and he wanted to get this for us. It is quite a gift.
Actually it looks more like this.
After all was said and done, we had to come to grips that we are a family of giant nerds. Multiple game platforms now call our house home and it seems to be getting worse. Most can be linked back to Lee. Actually all of them except for Wendyâ€™s Nintendo DS can be traced back to Lee. So maybe Lee is the big nerd.
9:00 p.m. :: Lee and I get the old television out of the way and the new TV set up. The Wii is installed and Mark is playing some Wii Sports.
10:00 p.m. :: The pizza is all gone, Lee has gone home, Mark and Oliver are in bed (Oliver spent the entire night trying to get to the Swiss Cheese Crackers, treating the pizza, his gifts, and the entire Christmas celebration as a plot to keep him away from his true love, that cracker box. I watched a bit of the AlohaHawaii Bowl but SMU was running away with it.
This is Wendy and this is what happens when Jordon doesnâ€™t log out of his weblog and leaves me unattended.Â Since Jordon handles most of our Christmas shopping, I donâ€™t have to spend as much time thinking about Christmas gifts as Jordon does.Â By far the hardest person to shop for on our Christmas list is my brother in law Lee.Â Since he is an important part of our family and our Christmas, a great uncle to the boys, and the only family we have, we donâ€™t just go through the motions.Â So in honor of Lee, here is a list of Christmas gifts for those that are hard to shop for and my contribution to this siteâ€™s Christmas Gift Ideas.
Here is Leeâ€™s profile.
He has a PSP Go, PlayStation 3, and a Wii which in some ways gives one some variety in shopping for him for Christmas.
He has an apartment that looks like it should be in Apartment Therapy.Â Itâ€™s almost intimidating buying anything for his apartment.Â Itâ€™s actually intimidating to hang out in his apartment.Â Of course living in an apartment means that he doesnâ€™t have a lot of storage.
He drives an Acura sports car that is worth 20 times more than my car.
He works hard at Case New Holland in the city which means that he doesnâ€™t have a lot of time for hobbies.
He is Jordonâ€™s brother and an uncle to the boys which means that Lee is an expert shopper himself.Â He is also a single male so he does things like single males do, when Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare came out, he bought it that day so I guess it means that we arenâ€™t getting that for him.
Star Wars The Clone Wars: The Complete Season One :: The Clone Wars movie was horrible but the series is actually pretty good.Â Like a lot of animated movies, the series seems to be getting better with the second season but Season One of the Clone Wars is pretty good all by itself.
Air Hogs Dualing Helicopters :: Okay letâ€™s do the math.Â Remote control + Helicopters + a rather competitive family + the ability to shoot each other down + a big open field at the cabin = a pretty good Christmas gift.
Survive! by Les Stroud :: Since he a) often forgets his cell phone b) often has Mark and Oliver with him, knowledge of some basic survival skills would be quite useful.Â If he wasnâ€™t over watching the DVDs here, you could give him all three seasons of Survivorman on DVD.Â You can order them from the Les Stroud Productions store.Â Season 1 | Season 2 | Season 3.Â We have all three DVDs and they are a lot of fun to watch.Â You can also order them from Amazon as well.Â Season 1 |Season 2 | Season 3.Â In case you just want to see how Les Stroud survives in the American wilderness, you can order this DVD as well.
Bushnell BackTrack GPS :: Lee will never get lost again with the easiest to use personal location finder for around $50. Just mark the location and BackTrack will help him get back. He can use it at the mall and stadium parking lots, at the festival, the park, for travel or your next outdoor adventure.Â Wired has a quick real world review and it looks like Cabelaâ€™s is one of the few places you can get it in Canada.
The War: An Intimate History by Ken Burns.Â Jordon read this book this summer and thought it was amazing.Â He spend hours reading the book but then went back and just soaked in the photos.Â I don’t think there is such a thing as a good war. There are sometimes necessary wars. And I think one might say, “just” wars. I never questioned the necessity of that war. And I still do not question it. It was something that had to be done.Â You can also give your favorite in-law the mini series on DVD as well
I canâ€™t see Lee joining the competitive BBQ sub culture but in case he does, here are secrets for success as a professional griller.Â Whether itâ€™s chicken, ribs, butts or brisket, this cookbook has recipes, directives, insights and guidance on how to slow cook competition-quality meats. Better than any restaurant, these competition and backyard secrets will have beginning barbeque aficionados slow-cooking masterpieces in no time at all.Â Even if he doesnâ€™t turn pro, he will make life better for everyone this summer at the cabin.Â There is also Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ Book: Recipes and Secrets from a Legendary Barbecue Joint.Â Â Winners of the World Championship BBQ Cook-Off for six years in a row and with hundreds of other contest ribbons as well, nobody does barbecue better than Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Alabama. Chris Lilly, executive chef of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q and great-grandson-in-law of Big Bob himself, now passes on the family secrets in this quintessential guide to barbecue.
Apple iPod Touch :: I have been pining for one since I started to play around with Jordonâ€™s and it would make a great gift for Lee as well.Â While Mr. Rider fan is at it, the first thing he can do is go and download the new Rider App for the iPod Touch.
Well the truth is that we are done our Christmas shopping for Lee so my list is all speculation but I thought I would post it to contribute to Jordonâ€™s Christmas Gift Guides and also to help some of you find a fun gift for the hard to shop for in your life.Â If you have any thoughts, leave a comment below, e-mail me at email@example.com or check out my weblog.
If I missed anything or if my suggestions made you think I was absolutely crazy, let me know in the comments. You can access the current edition and previous years list ofÂ Christmas gift guidesÂ here.
In case you are shopping for the great outdoorsman, here are a list of suggestions for those who often prefer to outdoors rather than inside.Â Â Check out the Christmas gift ideas category if you are looking for other Christmas Gift Guides.
Straight from the Leftorium, the MEC Left Handed Slingpack.Â Wendy has had a slingpack for years and just about jumped for joy when I told her that there was a left handed version available.Â She may have actually wept a tear of joy.
Pelican 1050 waterproof case :: These are great camera/GPS/iPod cases.Â They are water proof, padded, floatable, and strong enough to take a lot of abuse in the back of your trunk or any backpack.Â They are pretty much indestructible which means that of all of the things you have to worry about, this isnâ€™t one of them.
Leatherman Wave Multitool with Leather Sheath :: The most popular full-size Leatherman tool has been upgraded with larger knives, stronger pliers, longer wire cutters and all-locking blades. The pliers have been redesigned to withstand more than double the previous squeezing load.Â For about $20, you can get a Leatherman Kick.
Cammenga Lensatic Compass :: This is the Rolls Royce of compasses.Â It has been used by U.S. troops, foreign militaries, law enforcement, and special forces for years. A total of seven Tritium light sources provide readability in total darkness for 10 years without external power or the need to “recharge” using a flashlight.
Bushnell BackTrack GPS :: The Bushnell Backtrack- Never Get Lost Again with the easiest to use personal location finder for around $50. Just mark the location and BackTrack will help you get back. Use it at the mall and stadium parking lots, at the festival, the park, for travel or your next outdoor adventure.Â Wired has a quick real world review and it looks like Cabelaâ€™s is one of the few places you can get it in Canada.
The Jetboil Personal Cooking System :: Everything you need is stacked and stored inside the 1.0 liter cooking cup. The system lights with the click of a button and within two minutes provides two cups of boiling water for cocoa, coffee, instant soup or a gourmet freeze-dried meal. The newly designed burner secures the igniter, protecting it from bumps along the road. Flash is designed to be one of the safest cooking solutions out there. The cooking cup clips onto the burner, preventing accidental spills, and the fuel canister tripod ensures overall stability. The insulating cozy has a color-changing heat indicator that signals when contents are hot.
Double Nest Hammock :: The DoubleNest allows room for one, two, three, or however you decide to pack 400lbs. The DoubleNest seats more than one person comfortably and is essential for family adventures. The DoubleNest still packs down to the size of a grapefruit, so there is no excuse to be without your ENO hammock.
If I missed anything or if my suggestion made you think I was absolutely crazy, let me know in the comments. You can access the current edition and previous years list ofÂ Christmas gift guidesÂ here.