I am a proud

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Holocaust Museum of Virginia along the James River, Richmond, Virginia

Best Pizza
One of the prison box cars brought from Germany

We got to the Colonial Heights Baptist Church at 8 a.m. in order to board our church bus to go up to Richmond. Our plan was to visit the Virginia Holocaust Museum. The day promised snow but our morning trip was only cold and overcast. When we got to the museum an administrator greeted our group of 26, ushered us to their theater and showed us a short introductory video. The video was a quick overview of the life of Mr Jay Ipson, Richmond's youngest holocaust survivor. He was about five years old in Konvo, Lithuania when the German Army invaded. He and his family were forced into the Kosno Ghetto until the Nazis ordered a number of them, including Mr. Ipsom, deported to another concentration camp. At the last minute a Lithuania guard who knew Jay's father directed them to a different line and they were returned to the camp. All those destined to the other camp were in reality being separated out for execution. After the video a holocaust refugee, a 67-year old gentleman came to guide us through the tour. He was the best tour guide I've ever walked with. He explained in great detail life as a prisoner in a concentration camp. He was born nine days before their camp was liberated but was telling the story as his partisan parents had told it to him. The museum is well worth every cent. Our fee was paid by the church and I don't know what the individual price is. We were so wrapped up in the tour that we lost track of time. Before we knew it had been there for three hours. I sent my wife to the bookstore along with others from my group with the instructions to call me when the group got ready to leave. My GPSr indicated that I was less than .1 miles from the Virginia Capital Trail Richmond Edition. I wrapped up good in my heavy winter coat with a hood and headed out. The track took me down to the Riverwalk Greenway. The railroad trestle traveled over the greenway for a stretch and the GPSr indicated it was in an area with rocks and several upright steel supports. When I got there several city road maintenance men were hanging around in their trucks very nearby. I made a quick search and came up with nothing. I knew the group was likely to be finishing up so I abandoned my search and wrote this one off. I didn't know if I'd get back to it ever again. I hustled back to the museum and joined the rest of the folks on the bus. Off we went. The drive took us to Bottoms Up Pizza along the James River riverfront. Talk about great pizza! I've never had better. Even better was the fact that the restaurant was just three blocks from the cache I wanted to get. This was one of those leisurely hour and a half buffet meals so I saw the opportunity I was looking for. I just happened to be sitting across from the bus driver. I told him about geocaching. He'd never heard of it. I told him I was going to walk back up to find the cache and not to leave without me. I needed ten minutes to find the cache. He assured me I had plenty of time. Of I went up the greenway. The GZ at first had me looking at a large rock and one of the upright supports. I searched the area and discovered nothing. I walked away and tracked back in and found I was at a different area along the greenway. I started my search and this time came up with the cache. It only took five minutes of searching. I got the log out of its micro container, signed it, replaced it and put the cache back in its cozy location. I headed back to the restaurant with plenty of time. The bus driver was now intrigued with this sport he'd never heard of. I showed him the photo I had taken just so I could explain it to him better. If you get the chance to come to Richmond I highly recommend the Holocaust Museum. While you are at it be sure to grab this cache. I didn't have time on this trip to get any others but maybe you will.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

King's Mountain Virtual: History with a cache!

Entering the park
History with a cache! For me it can't get much better than that. Our daughter was returning from her Christmas visit to Mexico City so it was our job to pick her and her fiancee up at the Charlotte-Douglas Airport near Charlotte, NC. We planned enough time so that we could visit the Kings Mountain Military Park just across the South Carolina line before making the airport run.

Col. Isaac Shelby's Sullivan County (TN) men came up here
U.S. Monument
Centennial Monument
Ferguson's grave

There's just one cache there and it is a virtual called Ferguson's Folly (GCD80). We approached Kings Mountain along the state road leading from the Interstate. Soon we left North Carolina and crossed into South Carolina. A few historical markers told us that this was the route Major Patrick Ferguson's Tory forces took as he retreated from Gilbert Town, NC to hold up on Kings Mountain and wait for reinforcements. They never came and the battle that followed on 7 October 1780 turned out to be a decisive battle in that it strengthened the resolve of the Patriot forces in the colonies to push on to eventual victory over the British. We entered the park following the windy park road several miles to get to the vistors center where we acquired a trail map. This virtual cache takes you to seven points of interest along the paved battlefield trail. At each you have to gather some piece of information which you later report to the cache owner. A relatively new feature were the recorded messages that you can access by calling a local telephone number on your cell phone. These recordings provided a lot of additional information concerning what took place at key points on the battlefield. The 1.5 mile trail started along the base of the mountain ridge where the patriot forces formed to begin their uphill attack. Formed up on top of the ridge were approximately 1000 Loyalist (Tory) men under the command of the only British participant, Major Patrick Ferguson. This meant that American faced American in battle. Surrounding the mountain 910 patriots from North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and what became Tennessee, formed up. While the majority were men from North Carolina, the Over-the-Mountain-Men who traveled from southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee to fight have become the most famous. These men were particularly invested in the battle after Ferguson had threatened to cross over the mountains, hang their leaders and destroy their homes "with fire and sword." The battle began on the southwest side as the Tennessee and Virginia men began their push up to the highest ground. These men were repulsed several times with volleys of musket fire and then bayonet charges. Finally they succeeded in taking the highest ground on the mountain. While the remaining Patriot forces moved up the mountain the Patriots on the high ground began to move down the ridge line, forcing Ferguson's Tories to regroup in a small defensive circle at the lower end of the ridge line. These mountain men moved from tree to rock firing in Indian fashion against the Tories who employed European battle formation tactics. Military tactics typically calls for the attackers to have three times the fighting force as the defenders. This is because the defenders, being on the high ground, have the advantage of firing downhill against a force that is struggling to come uphill. It is astounding to see the ground where a force of fewer men making the attack fought and overcame the odds to win over a larger force in a defensive position. I was particularly interested in the ground where 120 Sullivan County, TN (then NC) men came up the hill. This was because my Great-Great-Great-Great-Great Grandfather Martin Luther Roler was one of these men. It intrigued me to walk the ground where he fought. The battle took place in the late afternoon. Of the Loyalist forces about 1/4 were killed. Patriot forces lost many less. The trail took us up on to the high ground and then back to the northeast along the ridge line. Several monuments honor the patriots who fought and died here. The trail then brings you to the northeastern descent from the mountain and to the place where Major Ferguson was killed attempting to rally his troops for a last stand. His body was buried the following day just down the hill from where he fell. The trail ends back where it started at the visitors center. Be sure to visit the museum and bookstore where you can learn even more about the battle. This virtual cache takes about 1.5 hours to do if you stop to take in the history. I hope you'll come enjoy this battlefield soon.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

St. Luke's: The Oldest Standing Church of England Building in America

St. Luke's

Another view
During a recent trip to the Virginia penninsula we took advantage of the opportunity to travel back to North Carolina via the historic town of Smithfield, Virginia. We picked up geocaches along the way. As we approached Smithfield we stopped to see St. Luke's Church. This building is the oldest church of England church building in the New World. It is also the oldest example of Gothic architecture in America. It was built in 1632 and was previously called "The Old Brick Church" until taking on its current name in 1820. It served as the meeting location in County Isle of Wight for the General Court of the Colony. Contemporary to the settlements around Smithfield and the Old Brick Church was the historic Jamestown settlement. People like Captain John Smith, Pocahontas, John Rolfe and Powhatan would have been well-known to the settlers who met at the church.

We got to the church before the historical society that maintains it was open. We walked around the grounds and snapped pictures of the church. We also met the requirements for the virtual cache located on the grounds. Be sure to check out Smithfield's Other Claim to Fame (GCH51T). When the gift shop opened we made a quick visit. We didn't have time nor did we wish to spend the money to tour the inside of the church. While there we were able to cross a small earthen dam a nearby graveyard (St Luke's Memorial Park) just across the pond. There's another geocache there. Check out J6 - GCHR Battleship. Have fun in Smithfield!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Little Old Man of Ecuador - Happy New Year!!!

Mini Old Man Package

Mini Old Man ready to burn
One of the best benefits of geocaching is friendship. Along the way we make meaningful friends who stick with us through the years. Several years ago while living in Ecuador a new geocacher popped up on the scene and began to find some of my caches and to hide his own which I would find. We lived in Quito, the capitol, while he lived in Riobamba, a beautiful mountain city a three-hour drive to the south. On one of his trips to Quito we were able to get together to go geocaching. I blogged about our day of geocaching in an earlier blog (21 Nov 2010). Not long after we had the opportunity to visit his area and find some more caches. Jimnet2005 became our tour guide as we traveled out of Riobamba east down into the jungle. He has a number of caches in the high jungle, a beautiful area to visit. Since those days we have moved twice. We left our beloved Ecuador in early 2011 to set up in the jungle of Peru. All through this time Jimnet2005 has kept in touch. Although we have missed the opportunity to geocache together, we have maintained email contact. Several months ago we decided to return to the USA indefinitely. We've been settling in here to our home and making all the adjustments one makes after living for 24 years overseas. In the midst of all this a few weeks before Christmas a package arrived in the mail. It was posted in Ecuador! It was from my good friend Jimnet2005!! I quickly tore the package open and to my surprise was a miniature Ecuadorian Old Man. In a previous blog (2 January 2011) I tell about the Ecuadorian tradition of making a life-size stuffed man using old clothes and cloth stuffing. These are set out in front of homes and often displayed for several days before the New Year. Masks are sold on almost every corner. After placing the mask (often of a political figure) on the stuffed man he is displayed in a make shift house on the sidewalk. Come midnight as one year ends and a new one begins the Old Man is set on fire. Some old men have firecrackers in them. In Ecuador the first hour of the new year is a pretty smoky one as hundreds of thousands of families burn their old man. What's it about? Saying good-bye to the old year and its problems and welcoming a new year along with its hopes. Now here I am in the USA, at home with my extended family and my friend has sent me a wonderful piece of Ecuadorian tradition.

K.K, sumajman & MasterYoda1 burning the old man

Good bye 2012 and welcome to 2013
The miniature Old Man set in a small aluminum foil tray. The little doll was pre-soaked in gasoline. I was surprised that it came through the mail. It has a little paper pad where you can write down your aspirations for the coming year.

On New Year's Eve Day I took off to hide a New Years cache for the community to enjoy. Be sure to check out Ring it in 2013 (GC43JG7). I used a specially decorated container my daughter gave me for Christmas. I had a little trouble placing it at first. I missed the fact that I was too close to a member's only cache and had to move mine. I finally got it located and resubmitted. Finding places for park & grab type caches is increasingly difficult with the high density of these types of caches in our area. Later in the evening we got together with two of our daughters and their families. Daughter #3 is away on vacation in Mexico City, where she got engaged. We had party food and played charades that the kids worked up. Even 2 year old Ryan got into the charades. Just before midnight we went out to the fire pit to burn the little old man. As we were burning the old man here in North America we remembered our friends in Ecuador who most certainly were burning their "old men". How we miss them!  At midnight we were watching Rocking New Year's Eve on TV and seeing the Time Square Ball drop as 2013 began. May their new year and your new year be a prosperous and blessed one!