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
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!
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
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
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 geocaching.com 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
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!