I am a proud

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The U.S. Army Aviation Museum and a geocache


UH-1 Huey


AH-1S Cobra

AH-1S Cobra

AH-64 Apache

AH-64 Apache 

While we were in southern Alabama we took advantage of a free day to drive over to Fort Rucker. I was stationed there during the 1970's and again in the 1980's so I was interested in seeing what had changed on post. To say the least, everything looked different after so many years. We picked up a friend we hadn't seen in many years in order to visit the U.S. Army Aviation Museum there. I enjoyed reviewing the history of Army Aviation and having the opportunity to see some of the aircraft I flew. First was the old TH-55 trainers used to teach us to fly. Then there was the UH-1, the Huey, that was part of my flight school experience. After flight school the majority of my hours were in the Kiowa OH-58 observation helicopter and the AH-1S Modernized Cobra helicopter. Visiting here brought back memories of our time not only at Rucker but our time in Germany in the early 1980's. Flying and gunnery was fun with the Cobra.

On our way over we had the opportunity to grab a cache at one of the stage fields. A stage field is a small airport built in a field out in the country away from Ft. Rucker. It will have five to six parallel runways where numerous helicopters can practice approaches for take offs, landings, emergency procedures. While finding the cache we watched student pilots learning and practicing approaches for landing and take offs. The cache was First Time for Everything (GC34PMK). The name of the cache refers to this being his the first stage field this pilot ever flew into for training. 

The museum was free and there were tour guides available to inform you. It's well worth the time and effort to see.

I added a couple of photos of the AH-64 Apache, which replaced the AH-1S just as I was leaving the service. This is a beautiful helicopter!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Southern Alabaman geocaching: a bug and a rail car hide

It was a pleasure to visit southern Alabama after so many years. While in the Army I was stationed at Fort Rucker, AL two times. We made lots of friends in the area and had a great church family at Macedonia Baptist Church in Enterprise, AL. While visiting recently we had the opportunity to go after a few caches. One was close by and the other was further west in Evergreen, AL.

The first one would be a big spoiler so I'm not going to list the cache information. We'd visited the U.S. Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker and were returning to Evergreen when we stopped off in the center of one of the towns along the way. This cache has been around for a long time. I remember visiting this downtown area 26 years ago. It's still an interesting place. I also saw an interesting monument while there. People in these parts say that the folks here were pretty dependent on cotton as their major crop. After all, Cotton was King in the south! As times changed it became a less productive crop. What were folks to do? One town raised this monument to thank the Boll weevil bug for wiping out the cotton crop and forcing the people to look for a better crop. That better crop was and continues to be peanuts. As we walked through downtown we paused to take a picture of the statue. 

We continued our trip westward, passing through Opp, Alabama. Opp is famous for its annual Rattlesnake Rodeo. Imagine messing with snakes. We didn't stop. sumajhuarmi wanted no part of snakes.

sumajhuarmi and sumajman
As we entered the town of Evergreen we decided to stop in for cache L & N 39 (GC268VZ). Like many southern towns this town has a railroad caboose parked in a small public park. We had a muggle friend with us at the time and he helped us. We examined every part of the railroad caboose that we could see and thought we'd looked everywhere. We started another search of the same areas when suddenly I felt something. There it was. A magnetic keyholder sticking in one of those little hiding places. I know folks in the little town of Evergreen thought we were crazy crawling around underneath the caboose.

My only real complaint about caching in this part of the state is that there aren't as many geocaches in this area. I hope that local cachers can build up the sport. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Glen Hilton Park: Geocaching in Hickory, NC

Most of the time when I travel I'll plot out a geocache every hour so I can stop and stretch my legs. I got tired of that on this trip so I searched the area around my route to see if there were any parks with geocaches. A park with four or five caches hidden in the woods and within walking distance is better than eight guardrail caches. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the quick and easy caches. There are times that is all I have time for. But when I want the real thrill of the hunt, this is what is necessary.

We were traveling from Asheville, NC to High Point, NC along Interstate 40. That's what caused us to stop at Glen Hilton Park in Hickory, NC. I've never visited the town of Hickory. Truthfully I guess I still need to visit downtown Hickory. The route from the Interstate to the Park took us around the center of town and left us in this riverside park. We ate our picnic at a park picnic table before setting out on our adventure.

Disassemble required
We headed to the first cache, a tree cache located near part of the disc golf course that cuts and weaves itself through the park. We tried to be discrete but that can't be done when the supposed muggles playing disc golf are really lapsed geocachers. "Hey, did you find the cache?", sort of shocked me out of my complacency. We talked a while and then off we went for the next one. This time we were looking for something well hidden. We were looking for Evil cache 2 "The Park" (GC39JFN). We got to the coordinates and found ourselves at a gazebo. We looked and looked before finally deciding to disassemble an object that looked like it belonged but didn't. This was one of the most complex caches I've found. It required that we reel the prize in without breaking the fishing line. We did it but I don't know how long this one will survive. Survive it has thought.

We crossed a small footbridge across a creek and up into the woods to look for the majority of the caches left to be
found. It was starting to get hot and muggy. We made our way through the trails and the disc golf "greens" finding several caches on the way. There weren't too many muggles out this day so we had the place to ourselves. It gave us the opportunity to talk as we walked through the beautiful pine woods so common to the Carolinas. After having lived so many years in Latin America it's good to be back in the old North State. I understand James Taylor just a touch better now.

"The mother of all bison tubes"
Next came Glen Hilton Camo (GC391C1). Along with sumajhuarmi we made our way down the well trodden trails to ground zero. It was amazing to me that something so big as "the mother of all bison tubes" could veil itself from my vision but it did. Suddenly, as I was standing next to it, sumajhuarmi called the siting. It could have bit me if it were anything with teeth.

sumajhuarmi found this "monkey"
Further down the trail we came up on Fun as a Barrel of Monkeys (GC44PB6). After reading the cache description we were surprised what we found. It was a barrel but there were no monkeys there.

We had a great time in Glen Hilton Park. I think I'll do this again. Of course when traveling stopping for a couple of hours of caching in the heat makes you less than presentable at the Cracker Barrell. Keep that in mind. I sure enjoyed the caching thought.Wherever you are, keep on caching!


Boardwalk over the swamp...and to a cache

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Multi-caching with my grandson at Pilot Mountain

Beth, Jeremy and Littleman2010

From the Pilot looking south

Pilot Mountain


The easier trail

At the final stage of the cache
On the Andy Griffith Show they called in Mount Pilot. Here near the home home town of Andy, it is the town of Pilot Mountain. The big attraction isn't the town, its the mountain itself. Pilot Mountain is beautiful seen from any direction but especially coming north on Highway 52 from Winston-Salem.

I received a text from my second daughter on Wednesday night late. It invited me to go with her and her family to hike up on Pilot Mountain. Their three-year old son, already a new geocacher by the name of Littleman2010, want to go walking in the woods. Anytime he wants to walk in the woods it usually means he asks to go look for a geocache. He still thinks geocaches are everywhere, not understanding the use of the GPSr. My wife and youngest daughter were schedule for a lot of wedding planning and preparation so I agreed early the next morning.

We set off from their house in their car. As we approached Pilot Mountain from the south it was totally obscured by the rain and the clouds. Although the weather report had indicated only a 20% chance of rain, I wondered if that meant it would rain 20% of the time (specifically the 20% when we wanted to be out and about). We could barely make out the exit sign indicating we had arrived at the Pilot Mountain State Park. We made our way up the mountain in their little Toyota. Dry draws on the mountain were now raging little streams dumping their overflow onto the pavement as we ascended. This created numerous tiny waterfalls which thrilled Littleman2010. We reached the parking lot at the top of the mountain where the observation points for the real Pilot Mountain summit are. We waited for another ten minutes and then the skies cleared and a hot sun producing a steamy morning came out. We headed for the observation points and the opportunity to hike. While at the main observation point we took in great views of the valley below and the summit in front of us. Littleman2010 thought the ponds below, with their rain swollen brown/red color, were like chocolate milk. While at the observation point we began to gather the necessary information for a multicache called Little Pinnacle Cache (GCKYE5). It was straight forward with no deception. The second and final stage was somewhere some distance from where we were standing. Knowing North Carolina's state park's outlook on geocaching I knew that it had to be "off the reservation" as caches are prohibited here.

We continued our fun by selecting an easy trail to hike. Littleman2010 gets tired and wants to be carried after a while so we didn't want to be stranded two miles in with a tired little boy. We took off on the Sassafras Trail, a .5 mile distance forming a loop and of a moderate challenge. It was just right for the little feet. He was most amazed at the burned out land. I recall that last fall I seem to remember traveling by Pilot Mountain on highway 52 and seeing the forest fire on the side of the mountain burning. We were now in the area where it had burned a number of acres. Littleman2010 would stop and stand on large rocks and would marvel at the large logs that were burned black.

We capped off the hike with a stop in the picnic area in the shade of some tall trees. Picnics with Littleman2010 are always fun and interesting. He is learning to love the outdoors and has a "why" question for everything.

We headed down the mountain for the highway while tracking to our 2nd stage of the Pinnacle cache. Just off the reservation and on the large wooded strip of land that makes up the median between the north and southbound lanes of highway 52 we stopped on the access ramp. The cache was 400 plus feet away. With my daughter holding Littleman's hand we traversed the steep embankment to arrive at a relatively flat forest floor. The undergrowth was insignificant and there appeared to be no poison ivy. Littleman2010 could walk. We got to the GZ and started looking around. Finally I spotted the place of hiding. I then maneuvered Littleman2010 to where he would be the one to find the regular-sized cache. He was thrilled at the find. I had left my swag bag in the car so made the trip back to get the trade item we needed as he had found a toy camera he wanted. On the way there I found a small terrapin I brought to show to Littleman2010. He never would come out with us around. We left him near the cache and headed on our way.

On the way home we grabbed a couple of easy roadside caches and then called it a day. It was a nice, though humid day. We headed home to get ready for the 4th of July cookout with the entire family and the fireworks to follow. Happy Birthday America!