Sunday, June 07, 2009

Weekend at Bernie's

SWMBO (Sandie) has 4 sisters, and one of them is named Nancy. Nancy's husband is named Bernie. They have a cabin in the woods ... actually, more sagebrush than trees ... just out of Sister's Oregon.

Nancy has been one of SWMBO's most constant supporters since SWMBO came down with lung cancer. She has taken SWMBO on overnight trips to see a nationally recognized Oncologist in Seattle; she has taken her to, or driven her home from local doctor appointments and chemotherapy treatments. Nancy has also called SWMBO at least once a day to check on her, gone shopping for her, and one time last year Nancy and Bernie completely replanted SWMBO's annuals garden with new plants while SWMBO was at a 4-hour Chemo session.

And this weekend, Nancy and Bernie offered the weekend use of their cabin in Sisters for SWMBO and me to 'retreat' for a quiet 2-day holiday in the mountains.

Of course we took them on their generous offer, and we had a wonderful 48-hour "down-time" vacation. Very romantic, except that while we were shopping in Bend on Saturday she found a Dan Brown novel and I found Lee Child's latest Jack Reacher novel "Gone Tomorrow", so perhaps you can understand that we spent much of the rest of the weekend reading. That doesn't make it any less a Romantic Getaway; we both love to read, and reading on the front porch of a cabin in the wilderness is one of the best ways to be together. (No, not the very BEST way, but part of "being alone together" that helps a serious long-term relationship grow.)

SWMBO went there with a plan.

About 5 years ago we went to the cabin as part of our participation in the 2003 USPSA Nationals match. We both served as Range Officers for this and the subsequent Nationals at the same COSSA range venue. During those matches, we invited several of our friends ... many of whom were also serving as Staff Match, and some who had chosen to only participate as competitors.

One year we served Geek-Hot Spaghetti, and the other year we had a barbeque.

This time, SWMBO decided that the ageing BBQ grill (Propane, one grill) had about completed its expected tour of duty and it was time to retire it in favor of a new, much more versitile and useful BBQ grill.

Accordingly, we set out this Saturday morning to the Home Depot, located 11 miles away in Bend.

There we found a very nice (and not terribly expensive) 4-burner propane BBQ grill with an extra warming-oven compartment. The best part about it was that it fits neatly in the back of my Ford Exploder.

We got it home, called Nancy's daughter Tanya begging for help unloading the grill onto the front porch of the cabin. Tanya, SO Jeff, and Jeff's father Dave showed up a couple of hours later (after Jeff and Dave finished a day's fishing ... they offered us some trout to initiate the BBQ but we declined) and with very little help from us the pulled the 42" high grill out of the back of the Exploder and toted it up the six steps to the front porch. There's no way that SWMBO and I could have carried that massive grill up the stairs by ourselves without dropping and denting it several times by ourselves.

When we left the cabin the next day, we had wheeled the BBQ, under it's grey plastic cover into the house to a temporary resting place against the breakfast counter by the kitchen island. SWMBO left a note explaining that this was a gift meant to express our mutual gratitude for Nancy and Bernie's continuing support during the past year.

We can't wait for them to come up to the cabin from Albany next weekend, and discover the surprise gift.


Here's the part which relates to the Shooting Sports:

While we were in Bend, we stopped off at the Sportsman's Warehouse in Bend. SWMBO wanted to get replacement sunglasses (hers had deteriorated ... the finish on the bows were painted on, and had chipped off), and I was looking for primers, and additions to my Emergency and Medical kits to carry in the Exploder.

We went to the counterman in the Hunting and Fishing counter and asked him if he had any primers for sale. (We had made a cursory visit to the appropriate aisles and found the cupboards nearly bare.)

The counterman spent ten minutes explaining that "Primers are the hardest to find reloading component in the world just now".

He went on to illustrate that even loaded ammunition was hard to find and dear at any price. He recounted high-end .22 ammunition selling at $20 per box of 50. They got some 9mm 'defensive' ammunition in a couple of weeks before ... only two cases ... and they were sold out by noon. The shipment had arrived in the morning, there was no advertising except word-of-mouth, and they were priced much higher than the .22 ammunition. Still, they lasted less than three hours. Once customer was reported as having bought two boxes of the .22 ammunition "to shoot at woods rats". Certainly the lowest quality ammunition would have served his purpose, but he couldn't find them at all, let alone at a lower price.

And when ammunition, or components ARE available, the retailers are 'rationing' them. They won't sell more than two boxes of loaded ammunition (for example) to a single customer.

Again: they don't advertise. They don't have to. They can't meet the public demand for ammunition or components, anyway.


They didn't have them, for rifle or for pistol. Large, small or magnum; it made no difference. They didn't have any in stock, they had them on order, and they had no idea when the manufactureres could reasonably expect to fill outstanding orders.

He said he had "a reasonable stock of bullets". I found nothing but high-end small boxes of bullets. I did fine one 500-round box of .45-70 bullets from Laser-Cast on the shelves, but nothing for ordinary pistol calibers. (I was unwilling to check the price of these hard-cast bullets. I was afraid it would be too discouraging.)

Bottom line:

BBQ grills are available, in stock NOW, and selling for not much more than a case of .38 Super bullets from Montana Gold.

But you can't get .38 Super bullets. Or loaded pistol ammunition. Or the kind of rifle ammunition which is used in competition. Or their components, except (again) high-grade at premium prices.

I suspect that this is a trend. It has to do with the huge demand for military ammunition (which is the primary customer of ALL ammunition manufacturers). Our counterman friend explained that companys which once made "millions of rounds" of ammunition during a given period are now being asked the make "billions of rounds" in the same period ... and they are unable to meet the needs of the military, let alone set aside product for the general public.

No comments: