Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war. -- Billy Beck

Monday, October 09, 2006

Returned from the Rendezvous!

Next time I think I'm going to have to buy a digital camera and a laptop. Being disconnected from the interweb for several days is annoying, and not being able to take pictures is, too.

What a great time! (The 28+ hours on the road left a bit to be desired, but the blogmeet was terrific!) I just wish more of us had gone. Here's a list of the people I got to meet:

Mr. Completely, and his better half, KeeWee.
Rivrdog and his wife
Conservative UAW Guy and spouse
John of Argghhh! and SWWBO
Fodder from Ride Fast & Shoot Straight and his wife the Commandress
Og the Neanderpundit
US Citizen from Traction Control
Joe Huffman from The View from North Central Idaho, and Boomershoot fame
Dave Duringer of the relatively new World Examiner blog
Cam Edwards of NRAnews fame
Chris Byrne, his wife Melody, and their friend John from Anarchangel, who I'd met previously at a Nation of Riflemen shoot in Phoenix
Chris Barrett and his wife Jill, often commenters on several blogs also came.

Last, but not least, I got to meet Dan McKown, the speaker at the dinner Saturday who's a pretty damned funny guy in a situation that would make most people think of anything but humor.

The trip, both up and back, was uneventful, but I wish someone had told me that the freeway through Las Vegas is road construction from end to end. Plus there's road construction at the Hoover Dam (2003 through 2008!) while they build a new bridge just downstream from the dam itself. Can't have a Jihadist detonate a tanker truck on the top of the dam now, can we? I tried to figure another way home, but the only real option was to traverse The People's Republic of Kalifornistan, and with all the weapons and leftover ammo I was transporting that just didn't seem to me to be a good idea. In addition to the four firearms I brought, I had Chris, Melody, and John's (redacted) handguns with me, too. They didn't want to go to the hassle of trying to fly with them, so I provided UPS delivery service. I won't say how many or anything, but with the 1,000 rounds of ammo, the range bag weighed about 70 lbs.

I arrived in Reno Thursday afternoon about 4:00 PM and, per the hotel's request, spent about 45 minutes checking the arsenal in with security. That was a surprisingly not-unpleasant experience. The room was perfectly adequate with the exception of the fact that Circus Circus Reno does not carry the SciFi channel so I was unable to watch Friday's season opener of Battlestar Galactica (yes, I'm a nerd.) I had dinner solo, and then went to the hospitality room provided by the hotel. I was the first one there that evening, but I was shortly joined by Mr. Completely, Rivrdog and their spouses and then others trickled in and out. Conservative UAW Guy related his travel horror story of delayed flights and missed connections and the fact that the airline had lost all of his luggage - including his guns. (Everything showed up Friday morning about 1:00AM though.) Interesting conversations were had, but about midnight we packed it in, with plans to meet for breakfast Friday morning.

We had a great buffet breakfast Friday, but SayUncle had plans to compete in a poker tournament and was unable to join us. Then we split up and went our separate ways. Being the INTJ personality that I am, I cruised around the (remarkably small) area of Reno/Sparks looking for a book store. I should have used the Yellow Pages. Apparently people don't read much in Reno. I did find a rather empty mall (no bookstore) where I decided to catch a movie - The Guardian. (Not bad, but wait until it comes out on DVD. Not worth $8.50, but a good discount matinee.)

Friday evening many of us met up at the hospitality room, and then adjourned for dinner. We got back to the room after dinner, and the stragglers began showing up. Knowing we had to get up fairly early to make it to the range Saturday, we called it a night about 1:00AM.

I set my alarm for 7:30 so that I would be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the 8:30 gathering in preparation for the trip to Denny's and then the range, but I still managed to oversleep. I dragged my tired butt out of bed at 8:00, soaked my head, shaved, dressed, and stumbled down to the hospitality room. After a little bit of Chinese fire drill, I got all the guns out of hock, got the truck loaded, and off the caravan went to Denny's for breakfast.

I have to give major kudos to that Denny's. Fourteen people descended on an already crowded restaurant, and they not only got us seated, they got our orders taken and food delivered in remarkably good time.

After that, things didn't go so well, at least for me. With cursory directions to the range, the convoy headed out. And I promptly lost them. Not only that, old Wrong-Way Feldman managed to miss the exit for Nevada 445, and proceeded down I-80 East for about, oh, 22 miles before I was absolutely certain that I'd screwed up. I bailed off at an exit that looked promising for a convenience mart, and bought a map of Nevada. Yeah, I'd missed the exit, all right. About 20 miles back. So, back on the freeway I went, and there it was, right where the map said it was! By this time, though, I'd burned about an hour. So I started driving down 445 looking for the rifle range that was "right off the highway," not realizing just how far I had to go to get to it. I stopped, turned around, and found someone on the side of the road to ask. He had no clue, but the next guy did, so finally about 11:45 I got to the range.

It's a very nice facility, and well run. And well attended, too. We took up pretty much a quarter of it, and I let several people blast away with both the Garand and my "Designated Marksman's" AR15. I got the AR dialed in on the 400 yard steel swinger, and even with a fairly stiff crosswind we were ringing it with regularity. Finally we got around to trying it with my iron-sighted Garand, and believe it or not we hit it a few times with that as well, shooting 147 grain Korean milsurp. John Donovan ran a full bandoleer through the Garand. I think he liked it! I did a little (very little) pistol shooting, and never did take the Mountain Gun out of its case.

Finally, about 4:00 many of us decided that we'd had enough blasty goodness to keep us for a while and headed back to the hotel. I finally got my shower, and a little rest before the banquet. I shared my table with Rivrdog, Conservative UAW guy, Ride Fast & Shoot Straight and their wives. (I wish mine could have come, but I think she'd have been bored to tears.) Joe Huffman gave a good speech on what he believes we as a group need to do with regards to those who wish to take away our rights. A synopsis is available at his blog, and while I agree with Joe on the specifics of his ideas, I also agree with SayUncle's recommendation. Dan McKown related the story of the Tacoma Mall shooting in detail that you won't hear from the MSM, complete with funny anecdotes about paper towel compresses and torso tourniquets. (And I'm not being facetious - he made jokes about having been shot. He made jokes immediately after being shot. And pretty good ones, at that.) He is still recovering and may possibly regain the ability to walk, but being hit in the torso three times with 7.62x39 ammo is Not Good, and he still suffers considerably from it. My hat's off to him for being willing to go to the sound of gunfire, and being stalwart in the face of the outcome. But hey, he's a Scot! What else could he do?

After dinner Mr. Completely presented Dan with a check from the proceeds of the Rendezvous, with a promise of more to come once the final accounting was finished, then the door prizes were handed out. I don't recall who Neanderpundit won the $50 Natchez gift certificate, SayUncle won the leather range bag, and Rivrdog won the Hi-Point pistol, which he then graciously presented to Dan, since Dan was probably the least-armed among the crowd in attendance.

At this point I'd like to make an observation.

I'm a big guy - 6 feet tall and over 285. I'm firmly in the middle of the pack physically for the guys that showed up for the Rendezvous. I don't know whether I should feel good about that, or appalled. I'm not much for stereotypes, but obviously we tend to the hefty side. As one person commented at the dinner, all those T-shirts were donated by MidwayUSA, and they wouldn't fit most of us. (I wear XL, so I did OK. I'm wearing it right now, as a matter of fact. But if it shrinks much in the wash, I'm in trouble.)

Physical types ran the normal gamut - Dave Duringer is on the small end of the spectrum, and Joe Huffman is quite tall, but several of us are seriously big dudes. And as SayUncle put it, he's apparently the youngest gunblogger alive. It was interesting putting faces to the bloggers.

After dinner was complete, we returned to the hospitality room and talked until about 1:30AM. Not much was left of the beverages so graciously supplied by Rivrdog when we finally called it a night.

I had breakfast with Joe Huffman Sunday morning. I'm going to have to make a concentrated effort to get my 6.5x55 1896 Swede target rifle functional in time for a Boomershoot. SayUncle was supposed to join us, but somehow that fell through. I headed out of Reno around 10:45 and made it to Kingman by 8:00PM. Finally got back to Tucson about 2:45 this afternoon. I'm tired, but it was a great trip, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Hopefully I'll be able to do it next year, and meet many more of you.

And I'll have a laptop. And a camera.

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