I am a proud

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Smith River Fieldale Trail

Smith River Fieldale Trail near Martinsville, Virginia
Just a week ago today I was riding the trails at the Bear Cabin, the subject of my previous post. Yesterday and today I had the opportunity to do it again. The pastors of our church gathered at the Bear Cabin for a short retreat and for a time of looking to the future. Add to this some time on the ATVs out on the trails. It was fun. We wrapped up today in order to head back to North Carolina. One of the pastors came with me in order to see what geocaching is. We headed over to the Smith River Fieldale Trails, hosting a collection of riverside geocaches of various sizes.

On the Smith River Fieldale Trail
We parked at the first parking lot (not the recommended area) so as to work the caches from west to east and then return. The trail runs along the Smith River for 2.4 miles. We found 7 out of the 8 caches on the trail. As we walked I answered all my friend's question about geocaching, how it was started and where, how it works and I demonstrated how to find a cache using the GPSr. From there it was his job to make the finds. Several caches were good enough for me to give them a favorite status. These were Snow Bank (GC23XVP) and Cachefishing (GC1PA13), both by the same cache owner. The first took us up a steep embankment. Because of signal bounce I ended up going
Learning about caching
above the cache and then being surprised to find it down the hill about 50 feet. That was 50 feet of huffing and puffing I didn't need to do. It was a large ammo can with lots of swag. We almost tumbled down the hill to move on to the next cache. It was the other favorite cache mentioned above. I knew it had to have something to do with fishing by the title. Sure enough it did. I found the tell tale sign that it was and followed that to the cache. After signing these logs we were off to further adventure, sweat and dirt as we worked our way to the last cache on the trail. It was a great caching afternoon with my muggle friend. He got to see the different types of caches and to experience a terrain 4 cache at the same time.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Hermit Story

Along the Basin Trail

Boardwalk along the Basin Trail
We love our summer beach vacation. This year because several family members are taking a Christmas vacation out of the country and needed to save up vacation, we cut our beach trip down to three days instead of a week. We found a nice condo at Carolina Beach, NC within half a block of the Sea Ranch Motel, where my wife always stayed with her family growing up. It was like old times for her. We enjoyed the sun and the surf for several days.

I broke away from the family for a short while one day to go down to the end of the peninsula to visit a series of geocaches called the Hermit's Hangout Series. It was located along the Basin Trail in the Fort Fisher Recreation Area. I parked at the designated parking, just 100 meters from the trail head and the first cache. It was 5 p.m. in the afternoon, sun shining and a nice sea breeze blowing. The trail began in the tall shrubbery and trees that grow in the sand along the coast. It then broke out into the open and followed a sandy road for a while, then darted into the marsh grass. At two points I was traveling on a raised wooden boardwalk over swamp but out in the open sun. The trail ended at the inlet. Along the trail there were several geocaches. I'll post one that was typical of them all. For instance, Hermit's Hangout Series: "End of the Trail" (GC4P01A). The caches were mostly micros and there was nothing particularly special about them. What was special was the walk, the wildlife (I saw several bucks), the hermit crabs, and the Hermit Hang Out. When I first started out on the hike I thought that the series was named after the numerous hermit crabs that scurried along the path as you approached. Not the case. There is a story here.

Back in 1973 some teenagers found Robert Harrill's body in his makeshift home. Robert had become famous, even known as the state's #2 tourist attraction for a time. He had moved from the hills of western North Carolina at age 62 back in 1955 to get away from it all. For the next 17 years he lived a hermit's life, at least in the sense of leaving behind a job, a home ownership, a vehicle, and other normal responsibilities. He found an old World War II bunker and turned it into a home on the North Carolina coast. He lived off what he caught and what was given to him by visitors. One of the caches dropped me off right close to the bunker. At the bunker there was a plaque left by the Hermit Society and a large information sign telling about Harrill's life. Check out the following link for more of Robert Harrill's history. When I got back to the condo and told my wife about the experience she said she remembered as a child hearing about the hermit. This is just another example of how geocaching takes you places you don't expect to go to but are blessed to learn about!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Bear Cabin

August, just before school starts back, is a great time to get away. Most of our family broke away from routine to visit a cabin in south central Virginia. We call it the Bear Cabin as the dominant animal in the cabin and in the mountains around the cabin is the wild Black Bear. We departed home in High Point, NC on our journey stopping periodically to grab a few caches along our route. I stuck with simple Park and Grab caches. The area we went to was so far back in the countryside that there were no caches anywhere close by. Most of the land is private and mountainous. We stayed at a beautiful cabin big enough for our extended family. The main activity for the vacation was something we'd never done before: All Terrain Vehicles and mountain trails. We hit the trails and spent hours riding them. It was great! We saw deer, wild turkey and most impressive, one wild black bear. The owner puts out corn for the deer. Bears go for the corn too. Fortunately bears are as afraid of us as we are of them. He took off as soon as our jeep came into sight. He could really run!

Running low on fuel for the ATVs gave me an excuse to get back out to civilization and hide a couple of simple caches nearby. I was glad to see that several people found the first one published quickly. My coordinates were off so thankfully the second finder provided a better set of coordinates from which I made changes. There's nothing special about these two caches, just that they are in a an area that is beautiful and will remind me of our wonderful stay there every time someone finds them.. I hope we can go back again.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Chimney Rock, North Carolina

I've been off the blog way too long. I'll try to ease back in so the blog will be short on words and bigger on photos. Chimney Rock State Park was a great visit. We found the several geocaches at the park, climbed the rock and walked to the waterfalls. Afterwards we followed our daughter's advice to go to Hershey's Ice Cream down in town. That was a treat. Check out the caches at this park if you get the opportunity. They are: Chimney Rock Park Geology (GC1H7EB), Chimney Rock (GCG0PP) and Hickory Nut Falls Earthcache (GC2AWG2)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sportsmen's Banquet

Paige Patterson
Two weeks ago we held our first every Sportsmen's Banquet for men in our church and community. We filled our Multi-Purpose Room with about 375 men from all over. We came together to first of all enjoy a nice wild  game dinner. Second, we enjoyed some good Blue Grass music from a local band. Third, we had prize drawings and gave away some really nice gifts. The grand prize was a three-day Family Get Away to the Bear Cabin near Martinsville, Virginia. This cabin, located on 600 plus acres of land affords our winner the opportunity to get out on the trails on the two ATVs and in the jeep at this large cabin in the mountains. We also listened to Dr. Paige Patterson talk about his Safari experience in Africa. Later he also shared how men can be the kind of Fathers that God wants. Thanks to the men in our church for both the financing and the muscle to put this together. Fun was had by all.

I posted last week that I was breaking a geocaching slump. This banquet was the chief reason that I was busy and unable to cache any.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Breaking up a slump

The last time I went caching before this past Saturday was the 1st of January 2014. With all the work I have it became almost an impossibility for me. I've cached most of the area around where I live so driving distances for a few caches seemed too much.

Yesterday I offered to take my wife out to buy some silverware to replace some she had lost in the many moves we have made over the years. We drove from the west side of Greensboro to a store along the Interstate that specializes in replacing silverware. When we pulled up I was unpleasantly surprised to see the cultural/social/political statements the management is obviously making about distorting marriage. They were represented by a flag flying in their back parking lot and a symbol on their door. I simply had to turn around and go somewhere else. I value marriage too much. Some would tell me my little protest (not shopping there) does not mean anything nor does it make a difference. For me it does. Others would ask me what skin is it off of my nose if two men or two women marry each other. I do have a stake in it. They are called my children and grandchildren and those who come after them. What kind of world they live in matters to me.

Scripture is informative. Genesis teaches that we are made in God's image. Romans 1 teaches that when we show irreverence to God, either by turning to idols or by making the God described in Scripture into something He is not (this is something we do in our minds) then we subject ourselves to character distortion too. What these people are advocating for is not natural; not the way God intends us to live. Yet, in Romans 1 Paul tells us that this type of distortion of human character (some find it politically correct to call it an "orientation" today) is simply the distortion that comes to us as a result of our having distorted who God is. It stands to reason that we would not be unscathed. When men want a God after their own liking (some say "in their own image") then they get a "god" who never requires anything of them that they don't want to do. They are free to explore the depths of every type of variation on life that their minds can fancy. Without any "right" and "wrong" boundaries in life, we fallible humans go far astray from that which God created us to be. Paul writes in Romans 1:22-27:

22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and [o]crawling creatures.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for [p]lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed [q]forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is [r]unnatural,27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing [s]indecent acts and receiving in[t]their own persons the due penalty of their error.

Forget replacing the missing pieces. Not if it means shopping at a place that seeks to turn from what is so clearly stated in Scripture and in nature. We went on down the street to another location. Instead of replacing a few pieces, we replaced the whole set. We probably came out better because of the sale at Belk's. On top of that, we stood by our convictions.

Now before someone becomes intolerant of my right to believe that Scripture is true and that there are some rules to be followed in life, let me say that while I do not support the movement to recognize two men or two women as a legitimate marriage, I have gay friends. I visit with them and talk with them on a weekly basis. Some of them have been in my house. I care for them because I care about truth. I care for them because Jesus cares for them. I want them to know that Jesus died for them as much as He died for me. Because I care I want them to know that what they are doing is not pleasing to God and that, like all else the Bible calls sin, their sin can be forgiven through repentance and trust in Jesus. Whether they change or not will not cause me to "un-friend" them. But I cannot approve what they are demanding. This radical, foolish shift from a Scriptural understanding of marriage to an unnatural (take a look at nature) understanding is a cancer that will bring great sorrow to those who participate in it and approve of it.

Just before our little buying spree we stopped to grab a few caches. The first one proved to be easy and fairly nondescript. The second one was interesting. Had we not had an ice storm last week bent and broke many trees in the area, this cache would not have been more important than the last one. But due to the ice storm, it gets a special mention here.

Hard to see but this is the base of the sign
sumajhuarmi and I pulled off the road near the GC. The small North Carolina pines along the opposite side of the road were still bent over towards the road from the recent weight of 1/2 inch of ice. They'll likely straighten up in a few more weeks. For now, it looks like they are bowing down to some unseen deity. The cache is CACHE ISLAND (GC2DCQW). As I crossed the country road I saw just off the road skid marks where a vehicle had run off the road. It had taken out a traffic sign. The sign was laying on the ground face down. At first the signal bounce took me into the woods a ways. Then it brought me back. I turned the sign over to find that it said "Traffic Island Ahead". I looked at the base of the sign. It had been severed about 8 inches from where the metal pole entered the ground. After a quick search I found the base still in the ground but badly damaged. It was split in two piece lengthwise and bent. Taking care not to get cut by the sharp metal protruding from the ground I fished around at the mangled base and came up with the cache. Too soggy to sign I replaced it. When I got home I logged the find. I was the second person to find the cache since the accident. Apparently during the ice storm someone lost control on that road, took out the sign and ended up on the shoulder. There wasn't much of a ditch so they probably got out ok once the ice was no longer an obstacle.

We went for one more cache but came up empty handed. From there we made our way to Belk's to find a great deal on a nice set of everyday silverware to replace the old. All in all, we had a great day. It's good to be back in the swing of caching. Maybe I can pick it up again.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Unmaintained caches .... sometimes the better of two evils

Ecuador doesn't have much geocaching going on. At least not compared to the movement that takes place in North America and Europe. There are a few cachers there but the majority of
Metro Park SE
caching done there is by tourist visiting the country. While there one of my favorite activities was placing tourist-friendly caches. By this I mean caches that are easily accessible to tourist who have a limited amount of time to get to a cache between one of their tours and going to the airport to head to the Galapagos Islands or on to Peru.

The best place I found to place geocaches that tourist could easily find was in Parque Metropolitano. We placed the second one in the park but the longest standing cache there to date back in 2007. It is Metro Park SE (GC15JCC). This cache has proven difficult for many for many because it is well-hidden and because, if you don't have much time, like many tourist, it is a good walk to the far end of the park and takes some time. The elevation doesn't help as you huff and puff to get there in the thin air.

The next long-lasting cache I placed is one called Reforestation (GC168M3). When I placed it the area was cut back and had just a few bushes in ankle high grass. Dispersed throughout the area were small saplings that were recently planted to replace Eucalyptus trees that had previously been cut down. Now, as you can see from the photo, it's a jungle out there.

Karen's Caper Travel Bug Hotel (GC182AC) and Brandon's TB Boarding House (GC1K4MD) are two of the tourist-friendliest TB hotel caches in the country. They are both placed very near the entrance to the park so that the tourist can get out of their taxi right at the entrance gate and make a short one-minute trek into the woods to claim their prize, drop
Looking up while at Karen's Caper
their trackables and still get back to what they have waiting for them.

What makes these, plus a number of others we have placed, so special to us is that we no longer live in Ecuador but have been able to leave a gifts that keep on giving. The choice that obviously faced us upon departing from Ecuador was whether to archive these caches or simply leave them for folks to find and then archive them when they finally play out. With no one to call on to maintain them (there were no active geocachers nearby who were able to maintain them) we knew that they would deteriorate over time. We left them. They have proven to be gifts that have truly kept on giving, both to those who come to Ecuador and geocache as well as to me. I have been joyfully watching the messages come in as tourist and a few Ecuadorians alike, have continued to find them. We've had some go missing, requiring that we archive them.

It's been almost three years since we left our beloved Ecuador behind. We feel just a little bit closer to our home-away-from-home when we revisit the caches there on!