I am a proud

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Chair City Caching Experience

The Chair City
Big 105
A simple LPC????
The cache
the reverse side
It slipped right off
I got all dressed up to attend the funeral service of the father of a new friend and member of our congregation. As I left home I threw my swag bag in the car in case the opportunity was there to find a cache or two. After the funeral, which gave me the chance to be in an area where I've not done any caching, I plugged in the coordinates for the first cache. I pulled into a parking space near the GZ and started walking down the sidewalk. Here I am dressed in a suit and tie walking down the street past the bandstand and the old railroad car in Thomasville, NC. Everyone is looking at me. I came to one of the biggest chairs I've ever seen. It commemorates the furniture industry and its impact on the town of Thomasville. I got a picture of the chair and then started my search. Wouldn't you know it. It took me back behind the large chair to a picnic table near where two muggles were sitting. I couldn't afford to slide into the picnic table benches and get my clothes messed up so I had to pass on Have a Seat (GCXW10).  I got back in the car and headed to the next one. It also turned out to be more demanding than my apparel would support. Back in the car again. Number 3 worked in my favor. It was a P&G on a busy street. From there I went out to a small town park and started my search for Big 105 (GC1D6DH). Sure enough, it was a Howitzer canon and would have required some climbing up under it to make the find. I grabbed a photo and moved on. I'll have to get back here another day. The last cache on my list turned out to be one of my favorites. It was entitled, Caching Around Town #3 (GC1TN2B). I pulled in and headed around behind a car wash. No one was around so I had some privacy. I headed right to the lamp post certain that this was an easy one. I lifted the skirt and found the magnetic container. Instead of a log sheet I found taped in the container a message encouraging me to keep looking as this wouldn't be as easy as an LPC. I took a photo and chuckled. I replaced the decoy cache and started looking. I looked all along a fence, checking out all the knot holes. This was listed as size not chosen so it could be anything. I looked behind a hanging sign, I pulled the car up and looked in the concrete below where I'd been parked, I tracked out and in again but always came right back to the same lamp post. Then I felt of the electrical cover on the side of the poll. It began to twist off as I pressed. There it was! A small electrical cover fixed to the poll with magnets. I signed the log, snapped some pictures and replaced it. This cache owner gets a "favorite" for his creativity! Time was up and I had to head back home. I only got the two caches but know for sure I'll be back to Thomasville to find some more caches!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Moravian Village of Peace at Christmas Time

Dead Man's Cave
Flower Labyrinth with sumajhuarmi
Second, third, fourth house and so on
sumajhuarmi at the Coffee Pot
We are from the Piedmont region of North Carolina and have never made a thorough visit to Old Salem until now. It is our 37th wedding anniversary so I typically plan a mystery get-away for sumajhuarmi and myself. It's usually a surprise for Paula and this was no exception. I had clues for her to use to get us to the Old Salem via several geocaches in the city of Winston-Salem,Dead Man's Cave (GCA6E4). I immediately began my search of the area while sumajhuarmi attended to a phone call. The cave was really no more than a rock over-cropping with a jumble of large stones underneath. I was down on my hands and knees trying not to get my cloths dirty while shining a small flashlight into
Behind the Single Brother's House
The Zeverly Inn where we stayed
the nooks and carnies of the little cave. sumajhuarmi
walked back and forth talking on the phone and then without as much as an inflection in her voice said, "It's right here" and kept on with her telephone conversations. It took me nearly 20 seconds to back out of the mouth of the cave and see the cache hidden right there in plain sight at the opening of the cave. Too easy! We signed the log and were on our way. No dead men here.
NC. We headed out on Friday afternoon
Refuse from the rain -- on the Bridge of Death
after she got off work. I was already a free man. We drove the short distance from
High Point to Winston-Salem to get to our first cache. I only had a few caches planned as the main event was to be our stay in Old Salem. The first cache was situated in a hilly park in south Winston. We started down a step embankment to find the GZ for

From Dead Man's Cave we headed east to find one I'd already logged. I wanted sumajhuarmi to see Flower Labyrinth (GCB79B). I'd been here four years ago and on a sunny day in the early fall. Today was a cold, winter day in December. Add to it that some vandals have broken several of the wooden benches surrounding the labyrinth. sumajhuarmi made her way to the center of the labyrinth and I got her picture. She gathered the necessary information for this virtual cache and we were on our way.

God's Acre
The next cache totally deceived me. On paper it looked Gateway Natural Center: Monarch Butterfly (GC4KNNX) and out of the car I jumped to track it down. sumajhuarmi was dressed too nicely to make the trek into the briers and all so she guarded the car. I tracked in several times to try to fix the GZ. I was getting a little bounce but more than anything my GPSr was taking me to an improbable place. I combed the area but no regular cache was to be found. I gave up after a fair amount of time and we moved on down the road. The next clue took us to our destination and we were on a timetable. Later when I revisited the cache page I discovered that the last finder had recommended much better coordinates for the find. Bad coordinates!!!
like it was at a nature center. It turned out to be a creek side winter field. We pulled into within 100 feet of the GZ for

Within minutes we were parking and beginning our search for Monty Python Series: #2 - The Bridge of Death (GC2CT4B). This took us to a wall at the base of one of the supports for the bridge between the Visitor's Center and another museum at the Old Salem Moravian Village. We started a systematic search of the wall. Soon we had the cache in hand, signed the log and were on our way.

Rainy day Christmas music at the Salem square
The next cache was just a few blocks up the street and at the heart of Old Salem. It was when sumajhuarmi found this cache that I was going to tell her that we were staying at the Bed & Breakfast just a block away. We pulled into a parking space and set out for a 60 ft walk to the GZ. Old Salem (GZ4JDN9). We searched and searched thoroughly but found no cache. Since there was another hour and a half of sunshine left, we quickly checked into our bed & breakfast and headed out to get some photos of Old Salem's buildings before the gloomy day of cold rain promised for the next day.

Sunshine or rain, Old Salem proved to be worth every cent. We loved the Zeverly Inn right on Main Street of Old Salem. The breakfast was great! Old Salem was full of beauty, particularly at this festive Christmas time. I was most interested with the history of this Moravian community. The choir system -- nothing to do with singing -- in which Moravians are classified by their marital status into young girls, older girls, girls ready to be married, married and widows while the boys are also similarly classified. At age 14 the children moved into either the Single Men's House or the Single Women's House where they lived, learned a trade and awaited the day that they might marry. While it speaks to commitment, the thought of a parent giving up their children to an extra-familiar institution which would train them seemed a little too communal for me. It also seemed a bit more than Scripture demands of the family. While I respect the Moravians, on this count I don't agree with them. Of course, this was the expectation years ago, not today.

The most impressive event during the holidays was the Candle Tea. We waited in the rain and cold for 50 minutes to get in. We were shown how to make festive wax candles, sang Christmas carols with our Moravian hosts, ate sugar cake and drank hot coffee (so good on a cold, rainy day) and toured all the historic buildings in the town. The reenactors (they preferred to be called interpreters) were dressed in authentic 18th century clothing and stayed true to their roles as they talked with us. There were several there to guide us in every building.

We walked through a portion of God's Acre, the Moravian Cemetery on the north side of town. All the headstones were the same and laid down on the ground, not erect as in most cemeteries. What struck me most has to do with the previous paragraph. Although choirs do not regiment the lives of Moravians today, in death it does. They are buried not as family units but by their choirs. Most interesting.

I hope you'll get the chance to visit this historic and picturesque location. What the Moravians of Salem accomplished is admirable. There's so much to see and more than a few geocaches nearby in Winston-Salem.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Jamestown Christmas Parade Caching

One of the pleasures of being back in the USA comes at Christmas. We missed it last year but not this year. I'm talking about the small town parade. We were speaking in a small Baptist Church about 10 miles east of Jamestown, NC. When we finished our lunch engagement after church, off we went, cutting across country, grabbing a few geocaches and timing everything so that we made it to Jamestown before the parade began. We grabbed three easy caches and made it. We parked in the parking lot of the local Methodist Church and rushed to find our place along the parade route.

It was an unseasonably warm day. Some folks were in short sleeves and comfortably so. As we stood on the corner we saw all the local organizations and high school floats go by... and then came Santa Claus. Every float, marching band and show car that passed was the source of more candy than kids get on Halloween. The streets were littered with candy. At times the kids were darting out in between the floats to grab the candy. The drivers stopped and waited while they got their haul of candy.

Nearby there were two caches that needed our attention. Don't go postal!!! (GC4HA1B) about made me go postal. I searched and searched and had to give up because of muggles. Then I went Garden of Statues (GC4H7KZ) and also came up empty. They've been found recently so I'm not giving up. I'll go back for these two.

Later in the evening we went back to our church, Friendly
Avenue Baptist Church of Greensboro. We hung the greens in the worship center. Check out the pictures of our Living Christmas Tree presentation. Yes, those are choir members in the tree like ornaments. The music and the message was great!

I hope you are having a Merry Christmas season! God bless!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

I watched a Black Snake eat a white mouse....

Nothing like a trail in the woods!
I took off this afternoon with the goal of finding two caches. Oh well, I only found one. Since my good friends blessed me with a gift premium membership today, I had to go! With my new job and its demands I have gotten tied down and not done enough geocaching. I've basically reserved geocaching for when I'm making a trip somewhere. This gives me new zeal to get out and find more caches. Thanks chanak80 and chickenlvr413!

Plastic or metal?

I pulled into the Piedmont Environmental Center on this beautiful, unseasonably warm day, parked the car and punched in the coordinates for the first cache. There are trails all over the place here. Nonetheless, with the leaves off the trees and good visibility, I preferred to take a straight line to the cache through the woods. As I approached the GZ for RPStew's 55th Birthday Bash Cache (GC4TBKZ) I had to wait out a muggle walking his dog on one of the trails. Once he was no longer a factor I quickly recovered the cache. I'd not seen this kind of cache before. I guess these are new. It looked like an ammo can but was plastic. I signed the log, made my trade and headed on to the next cache.

Again I cut across the land and through the woods disregarding the trails. Soon I was at the GZ. The cache for Weathered Smooth (GC3CB7K) page said it was pretty straight forward. I tracked into the GZ from three or four angles to get a good intersect. It usually put me right by a dead cedar. The tree trunk, still standing, was white and weathered smooth. It had to be this. I looked in every crevice I could find. No obvious (as the cache page stated) cache. I spent half an hour searching and then expanding my search. In the end I had to give up and log this one as a DNF. I later read that the last finder several months back had found it laying out and left it where it was. It is gone now.

I returned to the visitor's center. I'd never been inside so I took advantage of the opportunity.
In case you forgot your tent
Inside I found a few Indian arrowheads and ax heads in a display. The most interesting thing were the snake exhibits. There were about eight glass front window cages, most with snakes. Among them were rattlesnakes and copperheads as well as your garden variety black snake. While I was watching the manager told me he hoped I wasn't squeamish as he opened the back of the cage and tossed in a little white mouse. The mouse had no idea what was coming. The snake, obviously accustomed to food when the door opened, was on alert. He began to track the mouse. The mouse had not a clue. It wondered around until the first strike attempt by the snake. I watched as the mouse then scurried off, crossing over the snake's long body. As the mouse crossed over the snake the snake struck, biting itself. I realized that the snake was operating of movement more than visual acuity. After a few more strikes the snake had his prey. He balled up around it and continued to press his teeth into the mouse. The manager feeds the snakes once every ten days in winter. Imagine waiting another ten days to eat. Maybe that is why he took his time. I decided I'd seen enough and left him to enjoy his meal. To pick my spirits up, after the demise of the mouse, I visited the tee pee structure on the grounds. I wouldn't want to be in there tonight unless I had a good sleeping bag liner and a good fire.

Even though it was a short geocaching outing, it was fun. I wish tomorrow would cooperate. They are forecasting a 50 degree drop in temps as the Canadian cold air mass hits North Carolina along with rain.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving Day Caching Outing in Forsyth County

We had a great Thanksgiving Day with our family in North Carolina! This year the same crowd gathered at the home of our niece in the northern part of Winston-Salem for our meal. It was great to see everyone again, particularly those we don't see except for at celebrations like this. As usual I had planned a little geocaching in our return trip. We cut through the country on some lesser-used roads instead of taking the Interstate highway coming back home. We had one of our daughters and her husband with me and sumajhuarmi so it gave us eight pairs of eyes as we searched out geocaches along the way.

Table decorations
Time to Reflect
Our first cache along the road to Walkertown was Time to Reflect (GC4KCPG). We found an easy pull off and started our search. We looked in the most obvious places before sumajhuarmi found the cache in the last obvious place to look. In other words, we
sumajhuarmi making all the finds!
were off. We signed the log and headed on down the road. Being Thanksgiving all the businesses were closed near the caches we looked for so we had little or no muggle activity around us.

Well camouflaged
The next cache was Walkertown Mountain View (GC3WTDB), a pretty easy roadside cache. We pulled off on a gravel road and started our search in the cedar tree. This cache was well camouflaged and evaded us for a time. Finally sumajhuarmi came up with the cache. She liked it best of all the ones we found today.

Another cache that took up too much of our time was Botanical Cache (GC2RN30). It was in downtown Kernersville. We stopped into the public parking space in this beautiful Botanical Garden. There
rubialoca and her husband
was no one around, the sun was shining and it was a gorgeous, cool afternoon. We tracked to the GZ and began our search for this nano on a black wrought iron fence. There were vines growing on the fence. Even though we felt we were in the right place, we couldn't find the cache. It was one of those searches where you are almost sure it is there and that the problem isn't with the hide but with the finders. We simply couldn't find it.

Going, going, gone (GC44BTH) brought us to the Triad park in Colfax. There are some great caches in the woods of this park. I've already found them so it was nice to duck in and find a newer one in the ball field area. We weaved our way back into the corner of the abandoned parking lot closest to the GZ and then set out on foot. Again, sumajhuarmi spotted the cache first. It was a nice small cache hidden in a piece of woods near the ball field.

There were several more caches, one being a cache on a sign to another Baseball Complex, which proved to be a challenge to us. We searched and searched but couldn't come up with it. Some of the park maintenance people came along and thought we were having problems. I explained what we were doing. The blank facial expression made it clear that they'd never heard of geocaching. They were kind and wished us well in the search. It was getting dark and getting time to get on home so we left this one for a more thorough search another day and came on home.

Thanksgiving and caching, food and fun! I hope that you had a great Thanksgiving 2013!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Jamestown Rifle Makers and geocaching

Levin Stack Cabin circa 1800
I grew up on the East Fork of Deep River, part of the region where, between the late 1790's and 1900, a number of long rifle makers lived and worked. A plaque names about 80 men who were known to have their own rifle-making businesses along Deep River from Jamestown headed northwest. Today if you visit Gibson Park, located along the East Fork of Deep River, you can see an old plank house, built around 1800. The original house was a log cabin. It is supposed to have been built by Levin Stack, one of the rifle makers in the area. It is the only remaining house from that era.  Another renowned gunsmith was James Sampson. He lived further north along
Long Rifle makers
the river and the paralleling Mill Road. When I first moved to this area as a young boy the main road paralleling the river was called Sampson Road (now Tarrant).

The greenway runs along the west side of the river and is great for biking and hiking. Throughout this area there are old foundations to homes that dotted the landscape prior to the Civil War. There were a number of mills along the river for grinding grain but some were for turning lathes and were associated with the rifle-making industry. I've looked for at least one geocache near on of these foundations. Rifle production was big until after Civil War. It began to decline rapidly and the numerous mills and homes along the East Fork began to decline.

There are several ways to get at the many geocaches in this area. You can park in Gibson Park and work your way south along the west bank of the East Fork of Deep River until you reach the Jamestown Golf Course. One of Music Pirate (GC1VGYT). It's been out a while but it was a fun one. It took me two tries to find it but when I did, it was well worth the hunt. Another fun hunt is Gigawatt (GC18K3J), one of the older geocaches in the area. It is located near where high tension power lines come through, thus the name.
Batter Up!
my favorite caches is

The rest of the park is populated with picnic shelters, baseball and soccer fields. One of the geocaches I found is called Batter Up! (GC4JA6B). I found it in spite of the muggle animal control officer sitting in his truck taking what seemed like a very long break.

Be sure to bring your bike when you come. The greenway is great and the caches are many.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Quaker side of the lake

The Quaker side of the Lake
My work schedule allows me some flexibility. I worked some long hours this week so I was able to take off early today. I plotted out a few caches on the way home via a workout at the YMCA. The weather was a crisp cool typical of fall and the sun was low in the western sky when I began to explore the south side of the lake. I call it the "Quaker side" because the site of my caching was close to the home of early founder of Jamestown, NC, Richard Mendenhall. This historical site is populated with both brick and wood structures from early Quaker farming days. In those days there was no lake here. The lake is the result of a dam backing up both the west and east forks of Deep River. I was raised on the east fork of Deep River and these were my old stomping grounds. I pulled into the park across from the Mendenhall Plantation and found a parking spot. The sign said I had about half an hour to get in and out. I took off following the needle of my GPSr to Providence Viaduct Bridge (GC4HB6R). The walk was
The dam
pleasant through the fallen leaves. As I approached the dam that holds back Deep River I spotted the likely spot where the cache would be. I nailed it. There was no one around so I had no trouble getting the cache, signing it and replacing it. There are many caches around the lake, particularly on the west side of the lake. Be sure to check out Castor Canadensis (GC3C6XC) and Sciurus Carolinensis (GC3C6X1), two Quaker side caches well-hidden along the lake's edge. These two promote the North American Beaver and the Eastern Gray Squirrel, both of which live along the lake. While you see the squirrel, more frequently we come across the work of beavers and not the beavers themselves.

Quaker Meeting House

        As I walked back to the car I detoured into another section of the park to look at an old Quaker building. I was surprised that it is a church, or more likely a Quaker meeting place. It is over 190 years old. The beautiful brick structure looked like a house from the outside. Another blog entry about the Mendenhall Plantation is in order later.

As the sun was setting to the west the lake looked so peaceful. Geese and other water fowl were the only movement on the lake. I took a few
pictures of the fall leaves and the lake before heading on home. Our area has lots of Quaker history. There are several Friends Meeting Places spread across the area. My 5th great grandfather was married in one such community about 8 miles north of this site back in 1754. There's nothing like mixing history and geocaching and the beauty of the great outdoors in the fall!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Resistance is futile! Earthcaching on a beautiful fall day

Greensboro skyline by wwritter
My pastoral duties include visiting our members when they are hospitalized. While there are several regional hospitals that I frequent, one takes me into the downtown area of Greensboro, NC. I love the parks that surround the hospital area. On this day I had the pleasure of sitting with an elderly husband as we waited on his wife to come out of hip replacement surgery. We talked about everything we could think of during the course of the waiting room wait. I even told him about geocaching. He'd never heard of such. I told him when we finished up I was going to take advantage of a few caches close by the hospital. I had actually arrived at the hospital early and had already found several caches. These were interspersed between medical buildings just off
Resistance is Futile
the hospital campus where all the specialty doctors have their offices. I was able to park at the hospital and walk my route. It was a nice, crisp, clear winter day. The leaves were almost gone from the trees. I picked up several fairly easy caches before heading into the hospital to wait for my friends. After the hospital visit I headed out the north end of the hospital to find earthcache Agents of Change:Resistance is Futile (GC385GX). I wondered what people thought of this guy with a hospital clergy badge wearing jeans headed out with a strange looking swag bag and a device in his hand. I tracked from the exit down the hill and across a small bridge leading to a long stretch of
Ground/water zero
Lindley Park. It parallels a major road, sitting between it and a creek that winds through a small meadow. There's a nice bike path through this open area and lots of green grass. I began to trek through the grass along the bank. To get to ground zero took me into the woods and down to the stream. There it was! Sure enough, there were some rock outcroppings and some tiny waterfalls. I set about gathering the answer to the required questions. I learned about the two principle agents of change. One is weathering caused by the mechanics of water flowing over rock or freezing causing the rock to expand or contract, thus cracking. The other is chemical,
where erosion of some parts of the rock leave pools, holes and channels. The cache write-up taught me all this. In order to get credit for the find I had to determine which of these agents of change were at work and how in the rocks I was standing on. I snapped some pictures and was soon on my way. What a nice place. To think that water has been wearing down and smoothing away these outcroppings for thousands of years. The cache owner is a local high school science teacher. He has several earthcaches in our area. Each teaches an insightful lesson
in geology. Thanks go out to MarkCase for his geocaches. I look forward to finding more of his earthcaches in the area. As for this earthcache, I guess resistance is futile, the rocks will wear away and the course of the stream will change over time.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Geocaching and the Fall Leaves on the Blue Ridge Parkway

sumajhuarmi points out the cache
sumajhuarmi and I set out early in the morning on our 2-hour drive from Greensboro, NC to the high country and the fall colors. We drove up to North Wilkesboro where we took a back road up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. I think next week will be peak color for the trees in this area. Nonetheless, we saw some brilliant color and beautiful views along the parkway. Our first stop was to find Southern Sun (GC4FV83), a cache just off the parkway. We turned in a small
The narrows
access road that curved sharply and became a one-lane road traveling away from the parkway. This was a nice cache, even with the difficulty we found in getting the cache down. It was suspended up in the air by fishing line that had gotten hung up. With the help of some old branches I was able to bat it down. No damage to the cache. Unfortunately there was no way to get the thing back up so I left it suspended but hanging out of view behind a small tree.

We headed north along the parkway admiring the beauty all about us. The next cache was just off
the highway in a small community. I apologize but I've forgotten the name of the town. What stood out was their motorcycle motel, catering to bikers and the little think that said it was a jail and wedding chapel. Jailbreak (GC37JGV) was a nice cache but the jail/wedding chapel wasn't much to behold. Hey, who can complain on a beautiful, cloudless day like this!

Doughton Park, thanks to Photomat28
Back to the parkway and headed north to Only the Narrow Shall Pass/Echo Cache (GC46CKF). It was a simple cache. The joy of it was the narrows you had to pass to get there. We drive a Ford Focus Hatchback so getting through the underpass was easy for us. Many wouldn't make it through.

As we traveled north to Sparta we came through the Doughton Park area. What beauty! We made Sparta our lunch stop before heading north and then turning south on highway 221.

Virginia Creeper mural
We pushed on towards Jefferson, NC. Our goal was to get the cache called Virginia Creeper (GCK89Z). While I looked for the cache sumajhuarmi took a photo of the wall mural of this famous train from days gone past. Then she joined me in our failed attempt to find this micro.

West Jefferson is a nice little town! We headed out along the river, coming to an area called Fleetwood. I looked for a cache nearby with no measure of success. This was one of the most beautiful valleys I've been in. The view up and down the river bottom was gorgeous. We even found a picked over pumpkin patch along the way.

So many caches to find, so little time! We had a great time on the parkway and in the area of West Jefferson. We can't wait for next fall to visit more of these caches.

Appreciate to Photomat28 for assistance with one photo. For rights see