I am not the best at doing trip reviews and such because I am lazy, but when you get the opportunity to spend time with Ethan Becker, the post deserves more than a few pictures. Last week was "one of those weeks" when demands pile up and everyone senses the palpable energy that is overwhelming at times. My house was a whirlwind of chaos with meetings, school projects, equipment repairs, and the usual stuff that is taxing anyway. I had promised Murph that I would bring Todd's new bolo to the Beckerhead Gathering so we could do some collective testing. As Thursday loomed, I could see that the tunnel was getting more dim and had decided to overnight the knife to Ethan's place. I called a DJ family meeting and explained that I was beaten, broken, tired, and needed a hug. The wife echoed the same concerns. My son, who still wreaked of chicken poop and rotting mulch after cleaning the pen, changed the dynamic with his input. " We keep our word." My wife and I wanted to beat him with a stick and were proud at the same time. Granted, kids are master manipulators and he could spend a month hanging out with Ethan, Todd, and Murph but this was genuine. He knew about the time constraints, our schedules, and the fact that going meant burning the midnight oil. Once the wife and I started thinking about Ethan's cooking, the agreement was solidified. The first step of the journey was a visit to Sloan's store for provisions before heading into the Becker Frontier. My "situationally aware" son kept asking what we were laughing at as the pic was taken: [/URL][/IMG] As we approached the wagon trail at the homestead, the sound of hammers meeting steal echoed through the valley. We detoured past the house and straight to the shop where Erik was forging some creations. Erik is one of those people who always has a hammer in one hand and a blade in the other. He immediately grabbed the TM Hunt Bolo for some chopping. The ground shook each time the blade sunk into the target: Then my Winkler Camp: My son couldn't resist trying out Erik's hatchet made from an old wrench: Then it was back to Ethan's shop where our eyes were immediately drawn to the TM Hunts on the table. My son directly asked Allen if he could look at what appeared to be a larger version of the Tradewater, his favorite of the trio: I finally pried it out of his hands and told Allen that the scales were a bit too small. He looked at me with a bit of a sly smirk and said "but perfect for a young man." I was glad that the knife, affectionately nicknamed "The Chief," was not for sale but was excited that we were holding the #1 model. Todd's usual work is phenomenal but the scales were perfection and the sheath...amazing. Someone said that Allen had worked on the sheath all night to get it ready for the gathering and it did not disappoint. Two tones with overlap, flaring, relief cuts to protect the knife and sheath and a nifty new Tech Lock looking design that is much simpler to manipulate. Did I mention that the sheath matches the scales? For the majority of the evening I couldn't get a word in edgewise due to my wife and son yammering about that knife. Finally, I asked Todd if we could look at it again and he just happened to have it on him at the time. Concurrently, Ethan took a well deserved break from the flames to chew the cud and hand out a few gifts. Anyone who knows me personally either wants to whack my head with something or would walk through Hell and back with me. There is really not a middle ground. Maybe it is because I grew up as a poor, southern dirt farmer with too much pride or because of the mark of the beast. I have no idea but my circle of trust is about 1/16 MOA. A few things I am not is a liar, a sycophant, or a moocher. I believe that we should work for what we get and not ride the coattails of others. I was raised that way and dogonnit I am raising my son that way! About the only time I am not a straight talker is when I am around someone trying to sell me something. You know, the guy with the survival 3 day bag. Why Jimmy I think your plan to mix that ammonia and bleach inside your tent for a mosquito repellant is brilliant along with the 12 volt car battery... and the Big Lots tag on the backpack is a nice touch...gray man all the way! Back to Ethan...well he had a bag of goodies for the knife nuts and when I told him my son was GTG he looked at me like he was going to do some edge retention tests on my flesh. Needless to say, I accepted the gift. Todd overheard the conversation and looked at Murph and laughed. [ Now that I was an official moocher, I could finally do what I came for...eat! Ethan is a chef of the highest caliber. The sparks from teeth gnawing on the smorgasbord of gluttony lit the blood moon sky as the smoke engulfed the horde like a spell from the Book of the Dead. Then the next big kick in the teeth. I was pulled to the side by Todd, who informed me that he needed to make a presentation: Remember the knife that my son had been drooling over and my comment about the smaller scales not fitting my hand? Apparently Todd, Murph, and Allen had worked their fingers to the bone to make this knife for my son and presented it to him along with some mighty fine words that would make Josey Wales cry. He looked at me like he didn't know what to do and I regained my balance and told him it was fine. As he shook everyone's hand, I followed behind to remind them that my son usually doesn't cry at gatherings.