I am a proud

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Lynchburg to Danville, VA geocaching run

Our daughter just finished her first semester at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. Paula and I made a trip up to help her move back home for the Christmas and New Year Holidays. It is great to have her with us now. We took her to her new favorite restaurant, Panera, to celebrate. She and her mom took off heading home in Rubi's car and I drove home in our car so I could hit a number of geocaches along the way. On several trips to Liberty University I've passed by a cache that is on a trail near a wayside park area. This time I stopped and found J.P. Phillips Wayside (GC4D65). The weather was crisp and cool in the afternoon hours when I hiked up the hill to find this one. It was hidden in a tall stump from a fallen tree. I stopped in Altavista to pick up several other caches. One was 3P Micro (GCF611), located just off Highway 29. I'd stopped the night we drove back from taking Rubi to start school at Liberty University in August and couldn't find it. It was night that first time. My daughter Beth and I got mixed signals on the GPSr and went fumbling around in the dark, only able to light up the guardrail where we thought the cache was hidden with cell phone screen lights. We kept getting signal indicating that it was near and then it would shift to a couple of hundred feet away. With all the night traffic whizzing by we gave up and headed home that summer night. This time it was broad daylight and obvious the mistake I had made the first time I looked. I swung up on the exit off of the highway, turned right and found a small road to the right which wound back down to an area near the highway guardrail. The cache was hidden in a site not too far from the originally searched guardrail but on a different road and a different guardrail a stones throw away. It was an easy daylight find for me. Others might have done better at night than me. As the sun was beginning to set I arrived on the eastern outskirts of Danville, Virginia. I stopped in at the Dan Daniel Memorial Park. Danville has some "Dan's" to commemorate it seems. I found Danville Veterans Memorial (GC1WYDZ), a nice memorial to our fall war heroes. Just a short trot up the Turkey Trot Trail in the park took me to Turkey Trot (GC412D). There are a number of nice caches listed for this park. I wished I had more time to spend here but the sun was setting and our family had some celebrating to do tonight now that Rubi is home. I set out to make it to Greensboro, NC and family.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Blue Ridge Parkway Winter Caching - Fancy Gap to Roanoke, Virginia

To celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary Paula and I took off up the Blue Ridge Parkway for an overnight trip to Roanoke, Virginia. We got a late start after a leisurely morning and a lunch at one of our favorite restaurants. We traveled up past Pilot Mountain, NC and up through Fancy Gap, Virginia. The view of Surrey County, NC all the way back to the Pilot is incredible from Fancy Gap. We picked up a few caches along the highway. At Fancy Gap we picked up the Blue Ridge Parkway north to Roanoke. It was overcast and cold but with no precipitation. Our first cache was called Jasper (GC16B4D) hidden deep in the Rhododendron along Round Meadow Creek. We had to hike in along the trail and then bushwhack in. The problem with Rhododendron is that to get through it you either have to crawl or walk all hunched over. We had about a 100 foot bushwhack so it was a chore. As we worked our way in along a particular heading we lost satellite signal. We came back out on the original trail. Once we got some signal again we started back in and quickly lost signal. This time we tried to measure our steps for distance and hold the heading as best we could. Then Paula saw the ammo can sitting beside a Rhododendron. Nobody is going to stumble on it out here unless they come looking for it. Nice cache! From here we headed a few miles further north to Millin' and Stillin' (GCH61V), a virtual cache at the famous Mabry Mill near Meadows of Dan. This was a neat place. We learned the history of the mill and took some pictures. This is the most famous mill and photo opportunity along the parkway. We completed the requirements for the cache and headed on. Soon we arrived at Rocky Knob. The large rock formations in the fields along the road begged us to stop. We took a few pictures before heading on down the parkway. Our next stop was Grandparents Visit (GCAF9A) as we got near Roanoke. It was an easy overlook cache hidden in a traditional way. Along the way we saw 20 deer grazing in the fields, some close to where we passed. They were not afraid of us, only lumbering away as though we were bothering them. I guess we were. The parkway winds down from on high to the valley at Roanoke. As we came down the day was ending and we could see the familiar Peaks of Otter Mountain further up the parkway. We found our hotel and settled in for a comfortable evening.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Caching Day with my Grandson

There's nothing like being able to get out into the woods with my grandson. Today was a warm, sunny day during the Thanksgiving holidays. Our primary goal was to hide two ammo cans my grandchildren painted at the North Carolina Geocachers Organization Fall Fling at Murrow Mountain last month. A little later in the day we discovered that the NC Reviewer suggested we move one of our caches as it was too close to the final stage of a multi-cache. The reviewer understood that having not done the multi-cache we couldn't have known where the final stage was. We headed out on our own quest for cache finds after hiding the ammo boxes. We visited several caches placed by a local cacher named White Dragon Clan. He has some great caches in the Piedmont Environmental Center along the trails and near the lake. Brandon enjoyed the swag. As we pushed south from the center we came into the High Point City Lake Park. At the south end of the park we found an historical house that stands from the early 1800's. Across the street from it is the Mendenhall Plantation. This was a Quaker farm dating from the Revolutionary War period. One of our favorite caches was Historic Jamestown (GC1MP8B). It was hidden in a small community of shops, all decorated to reflect the appearance of the 1800's. Just off the parking lot we found the cache in a hollow in a tree about eye level. I normally cache alone. It was great to have Brandon along today!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Emerald Isle, NC geocaching run -- a warm November Sunday!

Thanks to an invitation to speak in a church in Maysville, NC we had the opportunity to head over to the coast for a short 1.5 hour visit on Sunday afternoon before driving across country to Wadesboro, NC. It was an unusually warm November Day. It was only a thirty-minute drive from Maysville to Emerald Isle. We parked at the pier and went out for a while. There were lots of fishermen on the pier. There were even a few folks in the surf it was so warm. Paula even took off her shoes and waded in the water for a while. From Emerald Isle we headed into Jacksonville, NC to stop at the monument memorializing the Marines whose lives were taken in a terrorist bombing in Beirut almost 30 years ago. We visited the memorial and looked for the geocache there. It is They came in peace (GC12ZHW). We weren't able to find it but took some time to look at the memorial and remember that some paid the high price of their lives for our freedom. We traveled through towns like Wallace, White Lake, Lumberton, Laurinburg and Rockingham to get to Wadesboro well after dark. The sun goes down at 5:30 now! We stopped along the way to pick up a number of caches, mostly park and grab types. It was a great day topped off by a visit to Wadesboro's brand new Waffle House with Paula's Aunt Claire Ann and her cousin Tammy. I slept in late the next day.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Day at the Dixie Classic Fair

My wife, college-age daughter and I met up with our second daughter and her husband and went from High Point, NC over to Winston-Salem, NC. The Dixie Classic Fair is an autumn treat in these parts of North Carolina. We got there in the early afternoon and enjoyed a day of rides, good food and fun. We met some nice people during the day! Of particular interest was a Quichua family from Otavalo, Ecuador. We started out speaking to them in Spanish and then shifted over to Quichua. Our daughters were particularly pleased to meet them and to carry on a conversation using some much missed Ecuadorian Spanish slang. The rides were great. My wife and I hit the ferris wheel from which we got a great view of the area. The younger ones hit the more violent (that's what I consider them to be) rides. You can't get me on them. The exhibition halls were full of crafts, commercial exhibits and the like. I never could spend the amount of time that my wife does looking at the decorated apples. Just when I thought that we had exhausted every category of decorated apple in existence, then we started with the decorated potatoes. There was even a first place ribbon on a bail of hay! That was real fun to watch. I really enjoyed the country village from yester-year. There was a blue grass band playing music that held my interested until they quit. They were good. Around 6 p.m. my wife looked at me and told me that I'd better go get my geocache. I had plotted out two caches in the immediate area to look for. I left the fair with the obligatory stamp on my arm so I could get back in. The first cache proved to be too difficult with all the muggle traffic coming to the fair. I headed off to the other one. It was located a little further from the muggle traffic. My GPSr took me over onto Wake Forest University property. Fortunately the overflow parking for the fair hadn't reached as far as the area I was searching. I found Loompaland (GC116XZ), signed the log and hid it without being observed. Back to the fair and back with the family in a total of 40 minutes. We stayed on at the fair to see the rest of the exhibits. Our real goal was to prolong things until time for the fireworks. We ate supper and watched a man carve wood into sculptures with a chain saw. Some would say you'd only see this in the south but this fellow was from Michigan. The fireworks were great. I've never stayed so long at the fair. By the time we departed it had been 10 hours since we arrived. We had a great time and look forward to doing it again when we are home this time of year in 2013! If you are every in Winston-Salem this time of year, don't miss out on this fair. Check out the caches close by too!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Liberty University Family Weekend

It was one of those weekends low on geocaching numbers but high on fun and family time. My wife, granddaughter and I drove from Greensboro, NC up to Lynchburg, Virginia for Family Weekend at Liberty University. Our youngest daughter is a freshman there. We drove up and were able to attend a few classes with her, visit the typical campus sites like the cafeteria, gym, ice skating rink, the indoor pool and so forth. One of the highlights of the visit was the Liberty - Presbyterian football game. We weathered the rain to see most of the game. Liberty won! The other highlight was going up on Liberty Mountain to the Snowflex facility where the girls rented tubes for snow tubing. This complex is the first built in the continental US and it is great. You can snowboard or ski or you can drink coffee from the comfort of the lodge. It is a really nice addition to the campus. Last time I was here I hit the trails around the Snowflex and found two caches. On this trip I only hit one of the "Off your rocker" caches at the Cracker Barrel. Sunday we enjoyed getting to see the folks at the Nuevo Amanecer Baptist Church, a Spanish-speaking church on campus. Lynchburg has its share of caches and is located near the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you like the adventure of the trail and can part with the urban caches a while, the surrounding area has a lot to offer the geocaching addict. Check it out!

Nathaniel Green Trail - Lake Brandt, NC

After several days of pretty steady rain I was able to hit the trails around Greensboro NC again. This time I went after seven caches along the south side of Lake Brandt on the north side of town. The fall leaves were just beautiful. The temperature was in the 60's and the sun was out. I started out about 8 a.m. and didn't see anyone on the trail until almost lunch time. The solitude was great. And there is nothing like finding those "regular" size ammo cans and lock n lock boxes. Even with the leaves covering the ground and more sky showing above I experienced lots of signal bounce in the woods. I use an Etrex Legend with no real bells and whistles so I don't know if that makes much difference in reception. I have learned a few tricks to using it though. For instance, I note that the needle lags behind first but that the increase or decrease in distance to ground zero tends to continue irrelevant of the heading shown by the needle. At times I also note that the needle will indicate a heading that is 180 degrees off. Knowing that the gz is in the direction of the tail of the needle, I have found myself tracking the tail of the needle, not the arrow itself. I can cross reference with the distance. If the distance is declining I'll continue to track the tail of the needle until it either swings around or I get to 0.0 distance. I often find that in order to fix the gz I have to track in from several angles and consider the point of intersect as ground zero. Thus far this has worked well when I get poor signal in an area. On the Townsend Lake Trails I experienced all the above but was able to find all but the most difficult caches there. Admitted, there were two that just eluded me completely. The geo-trails indicated that I was at ground zero but these were four star difficulties. My favorite cache of the day was Jose's Hat Exchange (GC1CFVT). If you go after Jose, be sure you have a ball cap to exchange. It is truly a big blue well-hidden rubber maid container!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cache #1000 on Pilot Mountain!

The day started with a speaking engagement in Shady Grove Baptist Church near Boonville, NC. We had a great time there and then Paula, Brandon (our grandson) and I headed over to Pilot Mountain. For the last few days I've been waiting for this day to complete 1000 geocaches. I picked the Pilot Mountain Earthcache (GC1195C) as number 1000 because it is such a special place. Just before leaving the church we received a phone call from two good friends who wished to join us for my 1000th find. Danny and Robin arrived just two cars ahead of us and we piled into our clunker to head up the mountain. The park rangers told us that it would likely be a 20 minute wait as they only allowed cars in as parking became available. The five of us reached the higher parking area and tracked the 130 some feet to the site of the earthcache. We gathered most of the necessary information from a park bulletin board and then took the required photo showing that we were present at the site. Then we visited two other overlooks to get a spectacular view to the south of the pilot. This rock formation, being quartzite monadnock, has withstood erosion while the rest of the mountains in the area have worn down over the eons. The Cherokee and other tribes in the area called it Jomeokee, meaning "Guide". For miles around Pilot Mountain stands out and can serve as a guide to those navigating the area. Not only the North American Indians but also the early settlers who came into the area, some of my wife's German ancestors included, used Jomeokee to help them in their navigation southward. Today the Pilot can be seen for miles. Whenever I land at the Piedmont Triad International airport in Greensboro I always watch for the Pilot and know I'm close to home. For those of you who remember the Andy Griffith Show from the 1960's you know that they always talked about going over to the town of Mount Pilot. The town of Pilot Mountain, siting at the base of the real mountain, is that town in real life. Mayberry is nearby Mount Airy, NC. After completing the requirements for the earthcache we headed back to the car and our friends, Chanak80 and Chickenlvr413 pulled out the fixings for a tailgate party right there in the parking lot. What a nice way to celebrate this milestone in geocaching. On the way home we picked up another cache. Upon arriving home we found that two of our daughters along with other friends and relatives had a surprise celebration ready for us. I'm thankful to each one of these dear friends and family for making my special day a whole lot more special! Now for 2000. Do I need a new GPSr for the next one thousand? Will Paula continue to put up with my passion for this sport? The questions and the quest never end.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

An Early Christmas Gift


Several months ago I introduced two close friends to geocaching. Wow! They really took to it and are enjoying hunting those ammo boxes and Lock n Locks out in the woods. We've gotten together on two opportunities and gone caching. It's really been fun. What do these friends and a Christmas Tree have in common? The other day I went looking for a few caches near Wendover Avenue and Interstate 40. One was called Oh Tannenbaum (GC1K1M2). I found a safe parking place along a paved road in what looked like one of those developed areas where in the future someone is planning for a business area. I got out and followed the needle of my GPSr into a field that was the size of a typical city block and covered with small pine trees. Most of the trees were 10 feet tall or higher and they were pretty thick. As soon as I entered the trees I was out of sight though I could hear the cars going by. I tracked about 150 feet and was approaching the GZ when there before me was the prize (see picture above). What a blessing! A tree decked out for Christmas right here in the middle of the field but well out of the sight of the public. No one should find this one unless they are geocaching. Right below the tree was a a Lock n Lock box with a bow! Neat twist and much appreciated! Now to our friends. chanak80 and chickenlvr413 wished me a Merry Christmas early. Recently I opened up the website and discovered that I had been upgraded to premium membership! Soon a note came from my friends telling me that this was an early Christmas present for me to enjoy and for the purpose of helping me on my quest for 1000 caches before we return to the mission field. What a thoughtful thing to do. I'm enjoying the caches and the features that go with the premium membership. Thanks to Danny and Robin for this wonderful gift!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

North Carolina Geocacher's Organization Fall Fling 2009

What a day! My wife, daughter and two grandchildren got up early on Saturday morning to battle the misty weather and headed south from Greensboro, NC to the Murrow Mountain State Park, a distance of about 70 miles south. We picked up a few caches on the way and arrived for registration about 9 a.m. I really enjoyed meeting some people with whom I've corresponded in the past but had never met. Since the kids games weren't going to start for another hour my grandson and I headed out to find the closest earthcache, Three Beautiful Old-Timers (GC1KKKM), located atop Hattaway Mountain in the park. I never dreamed that there were volcanoes in this part of the state. You learn a lot with earthcaches. This was some climb but not nearly as difficult as the high elevation climbs in Ecuador. The trip down the mountain was more difficult due to the wet leaves. We made it back and Brandon participated in the children's games. He was in the scavenger hunt, the bean bag toss, a rocket launching game, ammo can painting and helped bust the pinata. His sister got involved in some of these activities too. HeadHardHat was there with his Geosnippets promotion. He has a tutorial that teaches about geocaching on-line. He was interviewing geocachers for his program. I had the chance to share about Ecuador caching. Rain set in so our family took to the car and headed out to find some geocaches that the NCGO had set out just for the participants. We had our first North American FTF today with NCGO Road Overlook (Fall Fling GeoJig3) (GC1ZXGQ) and found a lot of other caches to boot. We came back to the Fall Fling in time for the kids to get their prizes for the scavenger hunt and for a great meal prepared by the leaders of the NCGO. There must have been about 180 people present. We had great food and fun. Just as we sat down to eat the sun came out to stay. On our way home we stopped for a few more geocaches. One had eluded me once before. After reviewing the cache logs I deduced where the cache was. Check out Can't Be a Cache, #2 (GC1NEN7). We made it back to High Point where we about had to hose down our grandson to clean him up after he played a game of tag in the mud. He had a blast! Geocaching events are great!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I am Geo-Leafer

OK, so we have a new twist on geocaching. What is geo-leafing? It is when you combine my favorite outdoor activity with "leafing", the craze for running up and down the Blue Ridge Parkway looking at the colorful fall leaves in mid to late October. They really go well together. During a recent trip to the NC Mountains we had one out of three days when it didn't rain and get cold and soggy on us. That day was gorgeous. My wife and I headed out to Asheville and from there went north on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We visited the regular sized traditional caches between there and just above Linville Falls. What a great day! The sun was out, it was cool, the leaves were beautiful and the car was running well. We hiked, climbed, traded items, picked up and dropped of Travel Bugs, visited a waterfall and found an earthcache all in one day. While the regular leafers stick to the parkway and the overlooks, geo-leafers admire the changing colors up close and personal. We hit the trail and bushwhack through the stuff! Today some of our favorites were Folk Rock (GCJ7TM) because it required a climb up over the overlook to a large flat rock affording a beautiful view of the valley beyond. Those down below only got to see the half of it. Another is The Dragon's Trail (GCH0ZJ) a virtual cache on top of Craggy Pinnacle. Although that part of the Parkway was fogged in due to the high elevation, we had a great hike up. Another was Hazlenut Gap (GC1NFHC) up on a ridge high above the parkway. We hiked from the trail head about .7 miles to find this cache among the colorful red maples and cedars. Finally, Blue Ridge (GC3E03) was a great hike deep into the woods on a sunny afternoon. In several spots the ground was carpeted with the falling large leaves from the Fraser Magnolias. What a patchwork of color! This cache was located along a mountain stream far from any other humans. We also made the one mile hike back into a valley to see the Crab Tree Falls. The hike was exhilarating. I guess I still have some Andean red blood cells working in my favor due to living so long above 10,000 feet above sea level. I was able to hike the one mile uphill return quickly. What a day! There's nothing like a long list of regular sized lock n locks and ammo cans to make one's day!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Walk down Memory Lane - Lake Lure, NC

My wife and I were blessed by Lifeway Christian Bookstores. They allowed us a four-day stay at their conference center in Ridgecrest, NC. Long before coming home we arranged to come up to Ridgecrest in the North Carolina mountains to see the bright, colorful autumn leaves. We arrived late on Sunday night and checked into the new Mountain Laurel Building. It is beautiful! After a good night’s rest we headed out the next morning to explore the Blue Ridge Parkway, visit some waterfalls and some geocaches along the way. But first we decided to visit Camp Lurecrest, located along beautiful Lake Lure, 25 miles south of Ridgecrest. This is a special place for my wife. On 9 July 1969 she was a pre-teen here when she heard, understood and responded to the gospel of Jesus. Who knew what the Lord had in mind for her? Well, He did! Today we left Ridgecrest and the rain started. The forecast was for a cold, rainy day. The forecast was correct. I had a few caches programmed in for this trip. As we approached Chimney Rock, NC we pulled off to pick up Welcome to Chimney Rock Village (GCKEDG) and Rocky Broad River Tree (GCN2RM). They were quick and easy finds along the highway and beside the Broad River. This is beautiful country! I remember coming to Chimney Rock to rappel in the 70’s. This was the last time I was in this area. We found Lake Lure but had a little trouble finding Camp Lurecrest. We knew it was active because we’d looked it up on line the night before. When all else fails stop and ask directions. We stopped at the local fire department. They put us on the right course and in no time we arrived. As we drove in my wife began to recognize the cafeteria, the cabins and most important to her, the open-air chapel where she made that all-important decision 40 years ago. We stopped in at the administrative office and asked permission to visit. When we told the staff why we wanted to look around they were most eager to allow us to visit. What a blessing! It was really special for me to visit for the first time an important piece of my wife’s journey, one that served as a stepping stone on the path that eventually brought us together and led us to the overseas mission field. God is good!