That Schweppes crate became the home for my 1lb powder kegs a dozen years ago. Prior to that it had a 20-some years' service as the dry-goods box for my camping trips. It dates back to my pre-hunting days when I was a caver. In those days, I was making regular runs down the fieldhouse on top of Sloan's Valley. There would be up to 30 cavers there on the weekend, and I was given a choice: either share in the cooking or share in the dishes. I don't like doing dishes, so I learned to cook. Initially I got by with two recipes-- one for cornbread and the other for pancakes. However, I branched out and soon I was cooking up a storm, and all of it was stuff that would either work over an open fire or a Coleman Stove.
Two quick stories about that box:
Back before I met wife 1.0, Satan, I was trying to impress this Austrian chick who was complaining about how nobody in her circle of friends climbed. It was the end of my normal camping season. I had just a little left in the box, but I ran home threw the stove and the Schweppes crate, some eggs and such in the trunk of my car and then drove it out to a nearby park and then went home and grabbed a quick nap. At dawn, I showed up at her apartment with climbing gear and told her we were going out to watch the sunrise. She bought into it and off we went. There's a 90 foot cliff overlooking Cincinnati, the base of which was a few blocks from her apartment. We made the ascent in less than a half-hour, watched sunrise from the park amid the peak of fall color, and then I surprised her with omelets and pancakes. Sadly I crashed and burned on the next date when I found out she was more interested in my best friend's girlfriend. I eschewed women with strong European accents after that.
The other one is tied to this story:Some Twenty Years Gone
I distinctly remember the last night I camped out hunting. It was clear back in 1985. I'd driven out to Hocking Hills, SW of Columbus Ohio, for a few days of bow hunting and then the start of Ohio's Shotgun Season. That night, the weather started getting worse, and I finally gave up the campfire and pulled inside my tent to escape the wind and sleet. I had a vestibule for my Eureka Timberline and I set the Coleman stove up on it and cooked dinner in the vestibule out of the elements. The next day, Gordon, the landowner decided that I was a nice guy and invited me in to the house. From that point on, I stayed in the house when I went hunting. As I related in "Twenty Years Gone." I was out tending a fire at camp one night in 2005 and realized that roughing it to go deer hunting ended that night. I found my 15-degree sleeping bag the other day, and it got me to thinking about that Schweppes box and that night out with the sleet bouncing off the rain fly. I learned two important lessons that night: Do not sleep on an air mattress when the weather is going well below freezing and don't camp solo in a 4-man 3-season tent and expect to be warm and toasty.
The Schweppes crate had two bottoms rot out of it before retirement. I used redwood and deck screws the last time-- that bottom will last forever. It got replaced with a rather ho-hum blue Rubbermaid container when the family grew and I now had to cook for KYHillChick, Mooseboy, Angus and Junior on our emergency camping trips. Since then the "Blue Bin" died and got replaced with a grey one, but everyone still calls it "The Blue Bin" to avoid confusion when we're loading up for a trip to the farm.
The gun rack was fairly simple to make. I made it the way you would a built-in bookshelf and then put a plywood panel across the front that hinges from the top. The "rack" part of it is sections of 1X4 screwed and glued into a T. The top of the T is what got screwed to the back wall. The end of the T got 3/8" dowel rod, cut into 3" sections glued end-on. It took me less than an hour to make both sides. I ended up with room for about 20 firearms. The gun rack part of the project took nearly a month of weekends, but most of that time was waiting for glue to set and varnish to dry. If I'd been willing to put up with the wood in the raw, and accepted deck screws everywhere, I could have had this sucker up in an afternoon.
I have to tell you Gorilla Glue is fantastic stuff. I used it extensively on the gun rack. I only used nails and screws to hold thing together until the glue dried. I'm over 300 lbs. I butt-jointed a 2X4 to an upright and used two deck screws and gorilla glue on that joint and then glued on a 45-degree 2X4 brace with drywall screws to hold it on until the glue dried. After 24 hours I was able to hang from it.
Security? Look, if I told you, I'd have to kill you. However, I've had a couple of conversations over on 24HourCampfire.com discussing the relative merits of using alligators versus crocodiles beneath the trap door. The latest suggestion was that I add an attack falcon above the pit so that you have to fight off a trained bird that goes for the eyes while you use the Franklin air pistol to fire the correct poker hand at the special target to deactivate the alarm and keep the trap door from opening. Ed, the Night Guard, does not like the idea. He's peeved he has to keep the alligators clean and now I'm talking adding a carnivorous bird to the mix. He's right. Odor may be a challenge. The alligators prefer whole raw chicken.