Friday, May 25, 2018

Ambulate ad vive

So lots of things have kept me far from the blog for a number of days. Sometimes it seems I'm living crisis-to-crisis, but it's not that bad. Just life stuff.

Me about to get out of bed this morning:

"Firetruck this, I ain't training today. My neck hurts, my back hurts, my hip hurts, my legs hurt. I'm sore and stiff. I've done enough this week. I can take a day off."

Me after I got moving a bit:

"Well, I'll do my weight room stuff. Then we'll see."

As you may recall, I have a certain fascination with and appreciation -- perhaps even love -- for jumping spiders. I watched this one stalk and catch a housefly in my garage yesterday.

"Get yer own, Bub!"

Which has little if anything to do with Ambulate ad vive, or Walk to Live. I got the idea for the title of this post from the old foot soldier's axiom; "take care of your feet, and your feet will take care of you."

The reason I was thinking about feet -- my feet in particular -- and about taking care of feet, is because it's time for new shoes. Unless I get hit by a bus I'll have logged well over 200 miles for the month of May, and my shoes are wearing out.

I've been wearing sneakers when walking in and around town, and those are kinda-sorta okay, but I really need serious hiking shoes if I'm going to be able to keep piling up the miles. Sneakers don't have the kind of support I need, and old fat guys need well designed shoes to keep the foots fit as well as the leg joints and spine.

When hiking the prairie I've been wearing Danner hiking boots and shoes. Danner makes great boots, even if they're chinesium in the present century. But they are heavy (3.5 and 2.7 lbs./pair, respectively), and they are old school when it comes to design, so I figured there was likely something better out there.

And oh boy is there! Just get on your computer or phone and gargle up "lightweight all terrain hiking shoes" and try to figure out which ones to buy!

Fortunately, I got a 30-percent-off e-coupon in the email and out of the blue from Arc'teryx the other day. Reviews and description had put several of their shoes on my rather long short list, so I decided to jump on a pair. The ones I settled on were the Norvan VT shoes. They arrived today.

These shoes weigh only 1.6 lbs. for the pair, which is great. They also fit well, have excellent orthotic support, and have an advanced all terrain sole which is good on the asphalt or gravel as well as the shortgrass prairie. So far today I've done 8.25 miles (that's 13.277 kilometers outside the U.S.) in them and it's almost like having new feet. We'll have to see how they hold up, but so far they seem to be a winner. A steal at only $170!

The shoes did well and felt good on the road as well as on the prairie. And you never know what you'll find when clambering around in prairie canyons, especially when you're wearing great shoes.

Bideo, too...

Buenos adidas! 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Some ride

It's not that I haven't been writing here, it's just that I haven't been posting here. I've produced a double handful of drafts over the last 10 days but they keep falling apart. I suppose I should just press on and post something.

I've been really hitting it with physical training since April 30. Basic weight training, cardio, and hiking. This is a different approach for me. Over the last couple of decades I've been relying on physical labor and pleasurable hiking to keep fit, and that's worked pretty well. But I am getting older and it seems a good idea to increase my level of overall fitness while I still can, and I think daily training is a good habit for me to get into.

Over the last couple of weeks I've shed a lot of fat and rebuilt a good bit of muscle mass. I'm nowhere close to being actually fit, but I'm heading in the right direction I think. I've been telling myself over the last couple of years that I'm "more fit than most of the folks I know in my age cohort," and that's true, but "more fit than them" is not the same as actually fit. If I was actually fit I'd be 60 lbs lighter, for instance.

It's a process. Along the way there have been no few aches and pains and I'm sure they will continue, but I can live with those. So far I've not had any injuries, and I'm being pretty careful, but I'm sure there will be a few along the path. On the upside I feel much better in general and I'm sleeping better.

So why all this sudden bullshit about fitness? Couple of things, I guess.

I've been watching a close family member struggle with liver disease for many months now. The problem stems from a condition called fatty liver, which happens when the liver has a problem with handling fat. It's rather complex, but the liver begins to store triglycerides in liver cells and eventually the sheer quantity of stored lipid kills the cell. The cell then becomes scar tissue, or to use the medical term, cirrhotic. When enough cells are affected the liver loses two things -- working liver cells and the vascular pathway through those cells.

When enough cells are lost the liver can no longer do a proper job of filtering blood and doing the metabolic magic that pretty much every other part of the body relies on.

When the intrahepatic vascular pathways are affected, other bad things happen. All of the blood that passes through the gut flows directly into the liver through the portal vein. If bloodflow through the liver is constricted, the blood pressure in the liver goes up, as does the pressure throughout the gut. This is called portal hypertension. Increased pressure in the liver soon begins to squeeze still-healthy cells until they, too, begin to die and become cirrhotic. In many ways it's a spiral of death. There are treatments that can help, and they are helping in this case. But it's a battle. The near term outcome depends on whether the still-healthy liver cells can heal themselves. Under ideal circumstances a person can survive with as little as 25 percent of the liver functioning. How will this particular case play out? It's too soon to tell. There are positive signs and negative signs.

What's the connection to fitness?

Well, in the first world fatty liver is the fastest growing segment of the death industry. Shouldn't be surprising, really. People in the first world tend to overeat and under-exercise. Excess calories get stored as fat, and first-worlders are the fattest group of humans there have ever been. There are limits to the amount of fat the body can make, store, and use; when the sheer quantity of incoming nutrients overwhelms fat production/storage/use capacity some of that fat begins to pile up in the liver cells. Sound familiar?

Yeah, not a good disease to have. It's entirely preventable though, at least as far as I understand. The key to that prevention is to not be fat, or if fat, to get un-fat. I'm fat, so the path for me if I want to avoid fatty liver and all the bad stuff that goes with it probably isn't to lay back in the recliner and shove twinkies down my neck for a few decades.

As I think I've mentioned before, I've been blessed with robust good health. Therefore getting un-fat is as simple as addition and subtraction. More output than intake until the fat goes, then a proper and healthy balance of intake and output. The most sensible way forward appears to be diet restriction and daily physical training.

What else about fitness?

Interestingly, there's actually a solid correlation between leg strength and head trauma in the aging population. Like it or not, I fall into that population. The correlation looks like this; those with stronger legs have both the strength and agility to avoid falling and/or to catch themselves and regain balance is they begin to fall. Those with weaker legs, not so much. Falling carries a high incidence of head trauma which itself carries a high incidence of bad outcomes. So strong legs are a real plus, and the only way to maintain strong legs is to exercise those legs. And unless you've got a bike built into the recliner, watching Oprah and popping bon-bons probably isn't the appropriate approach.

Also, here's an interesting study I blundered across. It looks very much as if -- in general and in the population as a whole -- Americans could add more than a decade of useful longevity to their lives by following five simple lifestyle guidelines. Don't smoke. Don't be fat. Don't drink alcohol excessively. Do at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise daily. Eat a properly balanced and appropriate diet.

If you think about it, the normally healthy body does all kinds of cool shit to keep itself healthy and functioning at a remarkable level. To maintain that into the advancing years, all you gotta do is stay out of the recliner, don't poison yourself, and keep a little bit active. But you gotta do it of course. Makes sense, right?

So if it's so simple, why do only six percent of Americans follow the recipe? Why do 94 percent of Americans, including myself, do only a couple (or none) of those things? Who was it who said, "common sense is the most uncommon of virtues"?

It's a good question. At the end of the day...

Holy shit! I went full Yoda! SMH.

Hope I'm not coming over all evangelical. I don't mean to lecture anyone but myself. In a lot of ways this post is pointed only at me. Just thinking at the keyboard.

"When you sleep in, you skip your workout, all of a sudden the donuts are starting to look pretty good, and then the next thing you know it's pizza and when you get home at night you're just watching tv, and that can continue on for days. Days turn into weeks and the next thing you know... you're fat and out of shape." Jocko Willink

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Rainy days and Wednesdays

The crafting (gag) of this post has proceeded in fits and starts. It is now Saturday afternoon. When I began, it was Wednesday afternoon...

I was talkin' to myself and feelin' old.

And it was raining.

But it was Wednesday, I didn't want to quit, and I had better things to do than frown.

It's a great line though, that "rainy days and Mondays." A lovely old Carpenters song with a lyric and melody that tend to play in my head on rainy spring mornings. Who needs bluetooth when you've got rockhead?

I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind...

No, no, that ain't the Carpenters!. though I really dig this cover, and a bunch of my brane synapses are conspiring to recall moments from times long past.

Um, where was I?

I remember. I remember a rainy day many years ago. I was in Junior High, probably seventh grade. It was springtime, and the memory of that day is infused with "last couple of weeks of school" flavor. Anyway, I walked out in the rain that day. It was probably lunch time and I suspect I'd spurned school lunch in favor of taking my grownup seventh grade self down to the malt shop, which was a leisurely stroll of six or eight blocks. I doubt it was raining when I set out, but it was certainly raining when I headed back to the ol' school yard. It was a warm rain, a very springtime rain, and I remember how good it feltto be walking in a warm rain in the middle of a world coming alive after a long winter sleep. Walking in rain without being bothered by the wet or by my soaking clothes. For some reason that memory has stayed with me and it's a delightful one.

I also remember becoming chilled later in class, and shivering miserably in my sodden clothes. That's a good memory too, though not quite as delightful. Kind of a yin and yang thing I guess, an early realization that life is complex with complicated rules and unanticipated twists and turns. A good way to learn about the no free lunch thing; that the price of walking in a delightful rain storm is often paid in time spent shivering.
Ninth Grade, but close enough for gubmint work.

Think this yearbook ad would fly in 2018? Oh the victimization!

Butt I digress.

Wednesday morning I was indeed talkin' to myself and feelin' old. Feeling stiff and sore and creaky anyway. I did some serious exercise walking on Monday and Tuesday, and though I'd kept myself somewhat active and on my feet over the winter, I didn't do any regular walking or hiking. So Wednesday morning I was stiff and sore and creaky.

And it was raining.

Despite the pain of my age-induced infirmities I wanted to get out and get in some road work. But it was raining. Should I skip it and take a day off? It was an attractive proposal.

Getting in a good hard hike was more attractive, so that's what I did, spurred in part by the memory of a springtime walk in the rain many years ago.

The first mile was miserable. My ankles were sore and stiff and made me feel awkward. It was hard to get a flowing stride going. And as always when getting my legs back into walking shape, my anterior tibialis muscles burned like fire. The Tibialis Anteior is the big muscle on the front of the lower leg that lies alongside and outboard of the shinbone. It's the one that gives a great deal of power to your stride, the one that you use to push off with. The deep, aching, burning pain that came with each step was anything but enjoyable.

Not my first rodeo though, and I know that powering through the pain is the key to success. It's easy to give in to the pain and quit, and doing so isn't the end of the world, but it does delay the goal of getting back in hiking shape.
Cows didn't offer to get me a wheelchair.

Puddles are always nice to see in this country.

'Zackly 15 miles north of the Colorado line.

Just in case.


There's a Longhorn hiding in there.

Smokebong hill, good for what ails ya.

Brewer's blackbirds and a black-throated sparrow.

Keeping the rain out.

So I pressed on, and as usual, muscle pain began to dissipate after the first mile as tightness eased and blood flowed. I ended up taking a route that went a couple of miles south of Kimball along Highway 71. It was damp and cool and the rain wasn't the warm rain of my memory, but I kept plenty warm as I strode along. The route was mostly uphill going out and downhill coming back, so it was a good workout. As usual when I walk along roads with traffic though, people kept stopping to give me a ride. A couple of them actually wanted to argue with me when I declined their offer and explained that I was exercising. Which raises the question, were they actually offering assistance to a fellow human being? Or was their mission to manipulate and control an object that they don't really regard as a fellow human being?

Good workout.

Thursday it rained again, and Thursday I hiked again.

I split the hike to stop by the hospital while Dad was getting a paracentesis done.

Yesterday it was fixing fence and pasture hiking. Also four runs of a 1,000-yard two-gun course. Two-gun is like golf, only more kinetic. Players are required to have two balls, even the girls. And speaking of golf, more people are murdered annually in this country by golf clubs and other bludgeoning instruments than by rifles and shotguns combined. Funny how the media can't report that.

Today I didn't want to go at all. Not a lot of energy on standby. But that's the way it's supposed to be actually. It takes time and effort to switch the ol' metabolism from winter storage mode to non-winter active mode. You gotta deplete the ready stores of energy (blood glucose and muscle glycogen) and make the body start freeing up energy stored as lipids. Slow and easy over an extended time works, but so does fast (relatively) and hard (relatively) over a shorter time-frame. The danger of going fast and hard is twofold; the possibility of injury increases somewhat, and so does the possibility of giving up because it's too hard. So far so good. We'll see if I pussy out or not.

Five charges (ahem) up smokebong hill today. East of smokebong hill is drug deal road, you see...

Drug deal road is where even prominent local businesspersonages go to get the stuff they need to survive. Poor bastards (and bastardettes!).

 Beautiful day out there today...

Monday, April 30, 2018

A short survey of a rather long list

After I got off work this morning (last week of the p/t winter job, yay!) I was feeling particularly lethargic. Not tired, really, but kinda blah. Not much energy or enthusiasm. Yes, I'd been up all night, on my feet, cleaning and retailing. But I slept good yesterday, I didn't work very hard at all last night, and there's usually a lot more juice in the tank come 7 a.m.

What was the problem? I don't know, but I suspect a lot of it was in my mind. Part of the problem, I suspect, is that I was feeling a bit resentful at my winter job for keeping me from enjoying the lovely spring weather -- and in particular -- from getting in the kind of workout I've been hungering for.

There's some pretty muddled thinking there, but there always is when it comes to resentment. "I need to get some rest so I can be up for working tonight, therefore I can't fix any fence or get in a hike today because that's not rest." The first part of that equation is sound, but the second part is not. You just don't need (and I can't even pull off) 16 hours of uninterrupted sleep in order to pull an eight-hour overnight shift. Is it even possible to fit something I want to do into those non-sleeping hours? The world wonders...

So why was I thinking my job was a big poopy-head meanie keeping me from doing anything fun and enjoyable?

Shit, I don't know. Sometimes I'm surprised I can dress myself.

One of the things (from the rather long list) that I take for granted is my Liberty. I am a grown-ass man, and I get to make my own choices. That's due in small part to things I have done to put myself in a situation where I have a lot of viable choices. But it's mostly due to the fact that I chose (ha!) to be born in a place where the First Principle was the first principle published by our nascent nation; where I am officially equal to all other human beings and where Liberty is codified as my unalienable right, granted not by the government or by my fellow humans but by my creator.

Yeah, I take that one for granted all the time.

So there I was this morning, all lethargic and whiny, but also suddenly and unexpectedly aware that I had choices to make because I bloody well have the unalienable natural right to make choices. Yeah! Firetruckin'-A! Choices! 'Merika!

So Nona the Wonder Dog and I went for a three-mile (2.81) walk. It wasn't an exercise walk, more of a leisurely amble with plenty of ball throwing on my part and ball retrieving on Nona's part. Took about an hour.

It did reveal through sore and tired muscles that I'm not in very good hiking shape at all. Doing the cornvenience store shuffle over the winter was better than sitting on my ass eating bon-bons and watching Oprah, but it wasn't anything like keeping in shape.

I weighed myself after the walk and the scale groaned and revealed that I'd gained 45 lbs over the winter. Yikes! Of course that's 65 lbs less than I weighed after the previous winter's bout with bone infection and surgery. That's a plus, but I really need to get off the dime, lose some lard, and get back in proper shape.

Which brings us to the second thing I take for granted -- my good health. Because of the overall excellent health the Lord has seen fit to bestow upon me, I have no doubt whatsoever that I can shed pounds and regain a level of fitness that stands well above that of most people in my age cohort. I take my good health so much for granted that I think nothing (or very little) of larding it up over the winter. There are countless people who would give or do anything to have good health like mine, because they have poor health and no possibility of ever attaining what I routinely take for granted. Kinda shameful, no?

After the three-mile (2.81) walk Nona and I went out to the ranch so she could caper and gambol and so I could treat Jeter and Red for ticks. I took a big North American Dog Tick nymph off of Jeter last evening.

That was just before I spent a few delightful minutes watching a PT-19 doing pattern work as sunset approached.

When I got home after treating for ticks it was still too early to hit the rack. I felt pleasantly tired after the morning walk, but I also had a hankering to go back out, enjoy the lovely weather, and get in some actual exercise. So I did. I went 4.1 miles in an hour, so my pace was 25 percent faster.

I also charged a steep hill five consecutive times. It's only 0.2 miles up the hill but it's got a progressive slope that starts at about 5 degrees and ends at about 40 degrees, so it's a good one for making the ol' ticker pound and the ol' lungs move lots of air.
Five times!

As I cooled down over the last half-mile I happened to notice a couple of people who do not enjoy robust good health. Good food for thought. Now it's off to bed, followed by a night of cornvenience store delight.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Range running

Really pretty day today and the first really nice weather of the season.

I took the opportunity to go for a bloody hard prairie hike and finish up with some range work.

It's been a long winter, and despite the fact that I spent 40 hours/week on my feet at the cornvenience store, mostly cleaning like a firetrucking white (yes, I are a racist and all the other ists too) tornado, I also spent too much time on by backside and enjoyed too many fine meals. So while my muscles remain strong my wind and endurance are sadly lacking.

Four-and-a-half miles with rifle, chest rig, and 240 rounds in eight mags was a very very hard task. The good thing, I guess, was that as hard as I pushed I only got my heart rate up to 160. I could have pushed a lot harder and really given the old ticker a bloody good gallop, but I didn't want to make myself miserable or even crap out before the finish line. So, you know, pretty good first workout of the season, at least for an old fat guy.

At the end of the hike I did some shooting; 200 and 400 yards, prone, sandbag rest. It's a good challenge to shoot when physically stressed. You really have to concentrate on fundamentals if you want to shoot with accuracy, and when you're tired and sore and breathing heavily and your heart is tripping along at 150-160, tiny little fundamental details are the only difference between hitting and making expensive noise.

The rifle I was shooting is my shorty AR in 5.56x45 NATO. Technically it's a pistol with a 10" barrel and an arm brace, but for all practical purposes it's a short carbine. It's a good shooter and I was running some very good ammo. The combination of rifle and ammo will shoot 2 MOA (2 inches at 100 yards, 4 inches at 200 yards, etc.) easily and I've proven that from the bench. So today, with a properly zeroed optic, I could expect 4 inch groups at 200 and 8 inch groups at 400. As long as I could do my marksman imitation properly!

To help me with that whole human interface part, I set up the camera and shot some video. It's a good technique to help you spot little (or big!) flaws in shooting technique. At 200 yards I managed 5.5 inch groups. Not bad, but there's plenty of room for improvement.

At 400 yards I was 15 inches high and 10 inches right. The group itself wasn't terrible, about 10 inches, but why the firetruck was it shooting way the hell and gone high and right? A real head-scratcher. Until I looked at the video.

And that, boys and girls, is why we train. Who can spot the problem? Free one-year subscription to the blog to the first five correct callers.

Being smart enough to realize that you're really pretty rock-headed stupid can be a real advantage.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Because they don't make a forty-six

"Please Br'er Fat Boy, don't throw me in them briar patch!"

Winter is trying to hold on, but spring is winning out.

Fringed Sagewort

Snow melting from decaying yucca

There's an old funny in shooting circles, and this is the way I heard it first.

"Why do you carry a forty-five?"

"Because they don't make a forty-six."

There's a lot of Fudd-lore and common-nonsense out there when it comes to the "best" handgun caliber. I suspect the argument began with the Chinese more than 2,000 years ago. It's a stupid argument because there are too many variables to narrow down an answer to a single caliber. It depends on what you intend to use the gun for. Under what circumstances and conditions. On how well you can shoot it. On weight and bulk and price and personal preference.

The hoary old story of the forty-five goes back to the 1890's and early 1900's, when U.S. soldiers found that they weren't getting close-range stops against Moro tribesmen in the Philippines with their issue .38 S&W revolvers. They could shoot a Moro six times with the .38, which would cause mortal wounds, but the fellow would not expire before he could close with and fatally stab the American soldier. The U.S. Army brought some old Colt .45's out of retirement and the hogleg had enough pop and terminal performance to get those close-range, one or two shot stops.

According to the theory which followed from the Philippine experience, the bigger the caliber the more effective the stop. There's some truth to that, but there are a lot of factors to consider, and as it turns out there's a lot more to it than bullet diameter.

I'm not going to go into any more detail, because I'm not even writing about a handgun today. Personally, I carry and rely on the .40 S&W, but that's fodder for a different day.

Today I'm talking about the .458 SOCOM. I have an AR-15 chambered for that round and it's fun (albeit expensive) to shoot.

The .458 SOCOM came out of a U.S. Special Operations Command (therefore SOCOM) project intended to get, you guessed it, more reliable one-shot stops. An analysis of combat in Mogadishu showed that U.S. M-16's chambered in 5.56 NATO weren't getting reliable stops. SOCOM wanted a large caliber, relatively high velocity cartridge pushing a heavy bullet, and they wanted it to fit into the basic AR (Nee M-16/M-4) platform. One of the results was the .458 SOCOM.

When it comes to close-range, one-shot stopping power, the .458 SOCOM is superior to the 5.56 NATO. The .458 pushes a 300 grain bullet to about 1,900 fps and generates about 2,400 ft/lb of energy. The 5.56 pushes a 62 grain bullet to about 2,800 fps and generates about 1,300 ft/lb of energy. Clearly, the .458 puts a lot more wallop into the target per shot.

So why haven't we gone whole hog and converted to the .458 SOCOM? There are a lot of reasons, actually. The .458 is harder to shoot accurately because it has a rainbow trajectory. The 5.56 will hit within 6 inches of point of aim out to 300 yards, while the .458 drops roughly 3 feet (36 inches) at 300 yards. The .458 ammo is heavier, so you can't carry as much, and bulkier, so you can't load as many rounds per magazine. Also, you can put an equal quantity of energy int the target by firing two 5.56 rounds, so in some sense you can achieve the same goal by adjusting training and doctrine rather than by introducing a new cartridge and teaching everyone how to shoot it out past 100 yards. Furthermore, new and better 5.56 bullets continue to be developed.

There are other reasons, but I've touched on the main ones. There's nothing wrong with the .458 SOCOM, it's just that it doesn't bring enough advantages to the table over the 5.56 to be widely issued.

In this part of the world, where the horizons are far and the trees are few, the .458 with its rainbow trajectory is far from ideal. That said, estimating ranges and aim-off to get hits is a challenge and very enjoyable. The big pop of that cartridge and the unusually heavy recoil (compared to the 5.56) is fun, too, and if you can figure out how to hit with it there's no denying the massive wallop you can put on a target. So it's not ideal but it's fun and challenging, so I like to take it out and shoot it.

Today I put a cheap Barska 4-power carry handle scope on the .458 and sighted it in. I was pleased with the way it shot.
100 yards, sandbag rest on pickup hood.

And the way it handles enemy melons.

300gr copper solid (extreme penetrator)

300gr jhp

Nebraska won today, 49-9. On the other hand, they lost, too, 9-49. Spring game sellout.

Friday, April 20, 2018

The loneliest rifle

After last week's storm had passed and the state department of roads democratic socialist workers union secured triple-doubletime pay ensured conditions were safe enough for crews to plow light snow on a warming and sunny blue-sky spring day...

I fired up the Lincoln and headed northwest for Guernsey, Wyoming.

I suspect I'll write about why last weekend and why Guernsey, but this is not that.

Guernsey is hard by the North Platte River, not far downstream from Guernsey Dam, which itself isn't far from the headwaters of the river.

The river is low in the winter and early spring before snow pack begins to melt.

The UP Railroad follows right along the old Oregon Trail.

Pretty country, no?

Precipitation -- largely in the form of snow pack -- flows off of the east side of the Rockies to form the North Platte. The water flows downhill to join the South Platte and become simply the Platte River, which flows across Nebraska and into the Missouri River, which flows into the Mississippi, and, eventually, into the Gulf of Mexico.

The Guernsey area was an important stop along the various trails pioneers took moving west, chiefly the Oregon Trail.

The Pony Express had a route station there, too.

A favorite stopping/camping place was Sand Point/Register Cliff.

When I was a lad of 16, and to my everlasting shame, I carved my initials in that cliff. Today it looks like my initials have been obliterated by the work of a later generation of dickheads. It's now a crime to mar the cliff, and the practice seems to have stopped.

In 1932 the people of Guernsey commemorated the pioneers by erecting a number of monuments, at the city park in town and out by Sand Point and Register Cliff. This one is in town, close to the visitor's center/museum.
To all pioneers who passed this way to win and hold the West, Trail and Register Cliff one mile south, erected by the people of Guernsey 1932.

Oregon Trail

Pony Express

I've no idea.
A saber and the outline of what might have been a rifle.
Which brings us to the title of this post and the curiosity I've decided to call The Loneliest Rifle. For on the other side of this plinth...

Fortunately, the serial number was legible.
Waffenfabrik Bern 121249

When I chased that down (yay, internet!) I found that the rifle is quite likely a Swiss Vetterli 1869/71. These rifles are pretty interesting. Fascinating, actually. They were really the first breech-loading, magazine-fed, bolt-action, metallic cartridge military rifles.

How exactly the rifle came to be in Guernsey and become affixed to the plinth I do not know. The museum wasn't open, and the few folks I asked had no idea. America is a nation of Immigrants, though, so it shouldn't be terribly surprising that such a rifle would find it's way to Wyoming.

Part of me cringes to see the rifle in this condition. It's not my place to judge, however, what the people of Guernsey did in 1932, nor what they have done in the intervening 88 years. And I do have to thank them for providing me with a mystery, even though I defaced their cliff back in the day, which has been quite enjoyable to explore.