Sunday, October 25, 2009
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
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!
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
What a day! Beth, our second daughter works at the NC Eye Bank in Winston-Salem. She does a 12-hour shift starting at 7 a.m. I went with her and then set out on an all day caching marathon. It was great. I divided the part of the city between business and regular Interstate 40 and a section leading down Stratford Road to where Beth works into four sections. The day was overcast until the last 30 minutes when the evening sunset broke through the clouds. That was pretty. The absence of sunshine throughout the day didn't mean it was cold. The humidity was high all day and I was caching through several showers. Winston-Salem has several nice parks that have some great regular size caches. One of my favorite areas was around Old Salem. The 18th and 19th century preserved section of town with its Moravian style of homes was beautiful. Unfortunately the letterbox cache and the century plus old bridge cache I went for completely eluded me. I started the day as it started getting light out. Since the Hanes Mall was one of my sections I started there in order to beat the majority of the muggle traffic. That worked well except for one instance where a lady in an old pick up truck decided to park at one extreme of the mall parking area just as I was preparing to return a cache to a tree. There was no way to return it without her seeing. I pocketed the bison tube and continued my trek on foot. Several hours later I walked back through and she was still there, sitting in the truck. Another couple of hours later I drove by and she had left the truck and gone off. I replaced the log and cache and was on my way. My first cache of the morning required my head lamp as it was still pretty dark. I was caching behind a hotel and did not want to disturb sleeping vacationers. Found it! In the course of the day I found 26 caches while caching solo. Some of my favorites were: Granville Park Cache (GC10TZK) due to the unique way it is hidden. It had me scratching my head out in the open. I'm amazed that this one is dry considering where it is. The Ghost of Brookstown Inn (GC1MME5) was a challenge. The previous cacher couldn't come up with it. I had to crawl through some bramble to get a vantage point to see it. That resulted in more crawling. I logged the find and then made sure no one was watching as I came busting out of the bramble into a lawyer office parking lot. Sometimes there is no graceful way to come out of the woods. I really liked Stairway to Nowhere (GC1M89Z). It was a simple downtown cache. I've added a photo. Far Side (GC16K1C) was fun. It is located in a city park along with several other caches. I cut straight through the woods from one cache to another. Sorry for startling the couple sitting in the shelter. They seemed pretty interested in each other so I don't think they continued to watch me as I triangulated to find the cache. This one was a nice hide. Finally, in the late afternoon sunshine I found a nice urban cache at the local Costco. It was Receiving Cache 2 (GC1XRER). I really liked the view from up high. Come visit Winston-Salem. Be sure to leave enough time to visit Old Salem!