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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.
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