I am a proud

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Alamanace Battleground, North Carolina

Alamance Battle Monument
Today I went to a special event. It was the 243th anniversary of the battle of Alamance. Here the forces of the British colonial government engaged in battle the of local farmers in what is called the Regulator rebellion. In 1771, just a few years before the Revolution began, the first shots for independence were fired here in this battle involving about 3000 men. The British forces won. Yet, many of those who fought on the British colonial side would join the American revolutionary forces six years later.

Today hundreds of school children from all over the county were here for reenactments and demonstrations in colonial handcrafts.

There was one cache just off the state property. It is called Just Hanging Around #8 (GCMECZ). it was located in a tree near parked school buses. I know the drivers were wondering  what I was looking for. I finally found the cache and was on my way.

The Battleground

One of the executed Regulators

50th Anniversary cache/cake

Wedding Chapel

Alamance Monument
Driving back to High Point through the country I found more caches. My favorite was 50th Wedding Anniversary (GC4AGMX). It was hidden pretty open and in view behind the wedding chapel. I couldn't have asked for a better day off weather-wise.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Rattlesnake Summit

Rattlesnake Mountain Trail (shown in red)
One of our favorite get away places is Ridgecrest Center in Ridgecrest, NC. It sits right at the continental divide. As you climb up the mountain along I-40 West bound you crest the ridge and there it is over to the right side of the Interstate. We took a trip to Tennessee a few weeks back but planned to stop off at Ridgecrest for a night on our way back. We cached our way up to Ridgecrest, checked in and then took a few minutes to consider whether the weather was going to hold or not. The last 30 minutes of our drive put us in a steady drizzle. It had been my plan to climb Rattlesnake Summit to find three geocaches on the ridge connecting to the summit but with the weather looking menacing, I was reconsidering. Fortunately the weather looked like it might clear
The Cross thanks to Jessica
up so off we went. We drove up to the tennis courts, cutting half a mile off of our hike. From there we grabbed the trail head. The hike consisted of a gentle climb along a well prepared trail. I got a little turned around on the trails at the lake. Once I got straightened out there (don't always trust the signage) we were again on our way towards the first cache. As we climbed we were ever cognizant of the threat of bears. Just that morning there were reports of bears rummaging around the retreat center after garbage. We made noise and talked loudly in hopes that any bear in the area would hear us coming and leave before we ever saw it.

We climbed to the ridge line where the trail took a sharp 90 degree turn to left allowing for a more gradual ascent towards the summit. The closest cache was just above us some 60 feet so I couldn't resist climbing up to look for it. sumajhuarmi stayed on the trail and kept checking on me. I was just beyond her view. I couldn't find the cache but found another trail above the cache. I gave up, came down to where sumajhuarmi was and we continued up the trail. The summit was only about 600 feet up the trail. The last couple hundred feet was rock outcropping but it was easy. We made it to the top but couldn't see anything for the clouds. We set out to find. Rattlesnake Mountain Summit (GC4ERVJ). We searched the area until finally sumajhuarmi pointed out a reference that might help us. Sure enough, it was there. Just as I was kneeling down to sign the log sheet I heard from maybe 15 feet above me at the summit (also beyond some bushes) a loud hop like a wild animal. At first it startled me, then I realized it was another climb. I hollered back, probably surprising her as much as she'd surprised me. It was one of the camp counselors at the girls camp below. She'd taken off on her own to climb the summit and thought she was alone on the summit. Surprise! I managed to hide the cache without her being any the wiser. We talked a few minutes, then headed back down the trail. We thought we'd look for the cache I had not found. As we walked down we found the intersecting trail that passed just above the missing cache. Within no time sumajhuarmi had My Left Foot (GC4J3XR) in hand. We pushed on up the trail a short distance more to look for the other shoe. That's right. The next cache was Get Off on the Right Foot (GC4J1K9), placed by the same cacher. Again, sumajhuarmi came up with the cache looking through the rhododendron. All done. The sun broke out and we started down the mountain back to Ridgecrest.
Laural Bluff Lodging at Ridgecrest thanks to Jessica

Ridgecrest from I-40 thanks to Zepfanman
When we got back to the room I logged my finds and out of curiosity checked to see how far we were from some previous caches we had found on this mountain. I posted that adventure on April 7th 2013 entitled Geocaching the Lookout Mountain Trail, Montreat, NC. I was so surprised to find that I was practically at one of the key caches in that March 2013 climb. The climb from the Montreat side was significantly harder (and provided some vistas making it well worth the climb) than the Ridgecrest climb. I also noticed that some fellow cachers have populated the area with some new caches. Anyone wishing to find these caches should contact the Ridgecrest Retreat Center to climb from their side. They might let you. I don't know. For no questions asked, check out the April 7th post and go from the Montreat side. It's all public entry from that side and gets you to the same area. Happy caching!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Fort Fisher, some history and a geocache

Fort Fisher, thanks to Suess
Carolina Beach is one of our favorite beaches in North Carolina. My wife was raised going there every summer for two weeks with her family. We continued the tradition for a while but now kind of hop around to different beaches when family can arrange to go and rent a house. This year we made it back to Carolina Beach and all the fun that goes with it. We hit Big Daddy's Seafood at Kure Beach, the boardwalk at Carolina Beach and Fort Fisher.

Fort Fisher is a place that has always captured my attention because family tradition is that my great-great-great grandfather Henry Stephen King was a Confederate soldier there. In a history produced by Sampson County, NC the family of Henry Stephen King is featured. Apparently family members claimed that he was there for the fall of the fort in January 1865.

Fort Fisher thanks to Suess
My research over the years does indicate that he enlisted in the Confederate Army in Company C, 5th Cavalry of the 63rd Regiment of Confederate NC Troops. Muster rolls say that he was discharged due to a disability within a few months. This was actually before the unit finished its boot training and was officially organized and deployed. I can't just ignore family tradition so I continue to believe that he could be among men conscripted or who volunteered late in the war to fill vacancies. I don't know.

Fort Fisher still stands with its sand dune defenses. Some are washing away into the sea through erosion. There is a nice museum worth your time. For more information on this battle click here.

I pushed on from the museum area up to the end of the peninsula, out to Battery Buchanan. This was the artillery battery located close to the mouth of the Cape Fear River, positioned to defend that river against invading Union ships. I found Fort Fisher Cache (GC37C) placed in 2001. You can tell from the short number that it is an early cache. I sat out from the public parking at the end of the peninsula and tracked right out to the cache with no muggle interference at all. The find was straight forward and easy, just a little poking around in the prickly bushes. It was an easy find on top of the overlook and behind the gun positions. What a view of the scene of some pretty serious fighting so long ago. Thanks to the cache owner for bringing me here.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Smith River Fieldale Trail

Smith River Fieldale Trail near Martinsville, Virginia
Just a week ago today I was riding the trails at the Bear Cabin, the subject of my previous post. Yesterday and today I had the opportunity to do it again. The pastors of our church gathered at the Bear Cabin for a short retreat and for a time of looking to the future. Add to this some time on the ATVs out on the trails. It was fun. We wrapped up today in order to head back to North Carolina. One of the pastors came with me in order to see what geocaching is. We headed over to the Smith River Fieldale Trails, hosting a collection of riverside geocaches of various sizes.

On the Smith River Fieldale Trail
We parked at the first parking lot (not the recommended area) so as to work the caches from west to east and then return. The trail runs along the Smith River for 2.4 miles. We found 7 out of the 8 caches on the trail. As we walked I answered all my friend's question about geocaching, how it was started and where, how it works and I demonstrated how to find a cache using the GPSr. From there it was his job to make the finds. Several caches were good enough for me to give them a favorite status. These were Snow Bank (GC23XVP) and Cachefishing (GC1PA13), both by the same cache owner. The first took us up a steep embankment. Because of signal bounce I ended up going
Learning about caching
above the cache and then being surprised to find it down the hill about 50 feet. That was 50 feet of huffing and puffing I didn't need to do. It was a large ammo can with lots of swag. We almost tumbled down the hill to move on to the next cache. It was the other favorite cache mentioned above. I knew it had to have something to do with fishing by the title. Sure enough it did. I found the tell tale sign that it was and followed that to the cache. After signing these logs we were off to further adventure, sweat and dirt as we worked our way to the last cache on the trail. It was a great caching afternoon with my muggle friend. He got to see the different types of caches and to experience a terrain 4 cache at the same time.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Hermit Story

Along the Basin Trail

Boardwalk along the Basin Trail
We love our summer beach vacation. This year because several family members are taking a Christmas vacation out of the country and needed to save up vacation, we cut our beach trip down to three days instead of a week. We found a nice condo at Carolina Beach, NC within half a block of the Sea Ranch Motel, where my wife always stayed with her family growing up. It was like old times for her. We enjoyed the sun and the surf for several days.

I broke away from the family for a short while one day to go down to the end of the peninsula to visit a series of geocaches called the Hermit's Hangout Series. It was located along the Basin Trail in the Fort Fisher Recreation Area. I parked at the designated parking, just 100 meters from the trail head and the first cache. It was 5 p.m. in the afternoon, sun shining and a nice sea breeze blowing. The trail began in the tall shrubbery and trees that grow in the sand along the coast. It then broke out into the open and followed a sandy road for a while, then darted into the marsh grass. At two points I was traveling on a raised wooden boardwalk over swamp but out in the open sun. The trail ended at the inlet. Along the trail there were several geocaches. I'll post one that was typical of them all. For instance, Hermit's Hangout Series: "End of the Trail" (GC4P01A). The caches were mostly micros and there was nothing particularly special about them. What was special was the walk, the wildlife (I saw several bucks), the hermit crabs, and the Hermit Hang Out. When I first started out on the hike I thought that the series was named after the numerous hermit crabs that scurried along the path as you approached. Not the case. There is a story here.

Back in 1973 some teenagers found Robert Harrill's body in his makeshift home. Robert had become famous, even known as the state's #2 tourist attraction for a time. He had moved from the hills of western North Carolina at age 62 back in 1955 to get away from it all. For the next 17 years he lived a hermit's life, at least in the sense of leaving behind a job, a home ownership, a vehicle, and other normal responsibilities. He found an old World War II bunker and turned it into a home on the North Carolina coast. He lived off what he caught and what was given to him by visitors. One of the caches dropped me off right close to the bunker. At the bunker there was a plaque left by the Hermit Society and a large information sign telling about Harrill's life. Check out the following link for more of Robert Harrill's history. When I got back to the condo and told my wife about the experience she said she remembered as a child hearing about the hermit. This is just another example of how geocaching takes you places you don't expect to go to but are blessed to learn about!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Bear Cabin

August, just before school starts back, is a great time to get away. Most of our family broke away from routine to visit a cabin in south central Virginia. We call it the Bear Cabin as the dominant animal in the cabin and in the mountains around the cabin is the wild Black Bear. We departed home in High Point, NC on our journey stopping periodically to grab a few caches along our route. I stuck with simple Park and Grab caches. The area we went to was so far back in the countryside that there were no caches anywhere close by. Most of the land is private and mountainous. We stayed at a beautiful cabin big enough for our extended family. The main activity for the vacation was something we'd never done before: All Terrain Vehicles and mountain trails. We hit the trails and spent hours riding them. It was great! We saw deer, wild turkey and most impressive, one wild black bear. The owner puts out corn for the deer. Bears go for the corn too. Fortunately bears are as afraid of us as we are of them. He took off as soon as our jeep came into sight. He could really run!

Running low on fuel for the ATVs gave me an excuse to get back out to civilization and hide a couple of simple caches nearby. I was glad to see that several people found the first one published quickly. My coordinates were off so thankfully the second finder provided a better set of coordinates from which I made changes. There's nothing special about these two caches, just that they are in a an area that is beautiful and will remind me of our wonderful stay there every time someone finds them.. I hope we can go back again.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Chimney Rock, North Carolina

I've been off the blog way too long. I'll try to ease back in so the blog will be short on words and bigger on photos. Chimney Rock State Park was a great visit. We found the several geocaches at the park, climbed the rock and walked to the waterfalls. Afterwards we followed our daughter's advice to go to Hershey's Ice Cream down in town. That was a treat. Check out the caches at this park if you get the opportunity. They are: Chimney Rock Park Geology (GC1H7EB), Chimney Rock (GCG0PP) and Hickory Nut Falls Earthcache (GC2AWG2)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sportsmen's Banquet

Paige Patterson
Two weeks ago we held our first every Sportsmen's Banquet for men in our church and community. We filled our Multi-Purpose Room with about 375 men from all over. We came together to first of all enjoy a nice wild  game dinner. Second, we enjoyed some good Blue Grass music from a local band. Third, we had prize drawings and gave away some really nice gifts. The grand prize was a three-day Family Get Away to the Bear Cabin near Martinsville, Virginia. This cabin, located on 600 plus acres of land affords our winner the opportunity to get out on the trails on the two ATVs and in the jeep at this large cabin in the mountains. We also listened to Dr. Paige Patterson talk about his Safari experience in Africa. Later he also shared how men can be the kind of Fathers that God wants. Thanks to the men in our church for both the financing and the muscle to put this together. Fun was had by all.

I posted last week that I was breaking a geocaching slump. This banquet was the chief reason that I was busy and unable to cache any.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Breaking up a slump

The last time I went caching before this past Saturday was the 1st of January 2014. With all the work I have it became almost an impossibility for me. I've cached most of the area around where I live so driving distances for a few caches seemed too much.

Yesterday I offered to take my wife out to buy some silverware to replace some she had lost in the many moves we have made over the years. We drove from the west side of Greensboro to a store along the Interstate that specializes in replacing silverware. When we pulled up I was unpleasantly surprised to see the cultural/social/political statements the management is obviously making about distorting marriage. They were represented by a flag flying in their back parking lot and a symbol on their door. I simply had to turn around and go somewhere else. I value marriage too much. Some would tell me my little protest (not shopping there) does not mean anything nor does it make a difference. For me it does. Others would ask me what skin is it off of my nose if two men or two women marry each other. I do have a stake in it. They are called my children and grandchildren and those who come after them. What kind of world they live in matters to me.

Scripture is informative. Genesis teaches that we are made in God's image. Romans 1 teaches that when we show irreverence to God, either by turning to idols or by making the God described in Scripture into something He is not (this is something we do in our minds) then we subject ourselves to character distortion too. What these people are advocating for is not natural; not the way God intends us to live. Yet, in Romans 1 Paul tells us that this type of distortion of human character (some find it politically correct to call it an "orientation" today) is simply the distortion that comes to us as a result of our having distorted who God is. It stands to reason that we would not be unscathed. When men want a God after their own liking (some say "in their own image") then they get a "god" who never requires anything of them that they don't want to do. They are free to explore the depths of every type of variation on life that their minds can fancy. Without any "right" and "wrong" boundaries in life, we fallible humans go far astray from that which God created us to be. Paul writes in Romans 1:22-27:

22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and [o]crawling creatures.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for [p]lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed [q]forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is [r]unnatural,27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing [s]indecent acts and receiving in[t]their own persons the due penalty of their error.

Forget replacing the missing pieces. Not if it means shopping at a place that seeks to turn from what is so clearly stated in Scripture and in nature. We went on down the street to another location. Instead of replacing a few pieces, we replaced the whole set. We probably came out better because of the sale at Belk's. On top of that, we stood by our convictions.

Now before someone becomes intolerant of my right to believe that Scripture is true and that there are some rules to be followed in life, let me say that while I do not support the movement to recognize two men or two women as a legitimate marriage, I have gay friends. I visit with them and talk with them on a weekly basis. Some of them have been in my house. I care for them because I care about truth. I care for them because Jesus cares for them. I want them to know that Jesus died for them as much as He died for me. Because I care I want them to know that what they are doing is not pleasing to God and that, like all else the Bible calls sin, their sin can be forgiven through repentance and trust in Jesus. Whether they change or not will not cause me to "un-friend" them. But I cannot approve what they are demanding. This radical, foolish shift from a Scriptural understanding of marriage to an unnatural (take a look at nature) understanding is a cancer that will bring great sorrow to those who participate in it and approve of it.

Just before our little buying spree we stopped to grab a few caches. The first one proved to be easy and fairly nondescript. The second one was interesting. Had we not had an ice storm last week bent and broke many trees in the area, this cache would not have been more important than the last one. But due to the ice storm, it gets a special mention here.

Hard to see but this is the base of the sign
sumajhuarmi and I pulled off the road near the GC. The small North Carolina pines along the opposite side of the road were still bent over towards the road from the recent weight of 1/2 inch of ice. They'll likely straighten up in a few more weeks. For now, it looks like they are bowing down to some unseen deity. The cache is CACHE ISLAND (GC2DCQW). As I crossed the country road I saw just off the road skid marks where a vehicle had run off the road. It had taken out a traffic sign. The sign was laying on the ground face down. At first the signal bounce took me into the woods a ways. Then it brought me back. I turned the sign over to find that it said "Traffic Island Ahead". I looked at the base of the sign. It had been severed about 8 inches from where the metal pole entered the ground. After a quick search I found the base still in the ground but badly damaged. It was split in two piece lengthwise and bent. Taking care not to get cut by the sharp metal protruding from the ground I fished around at the mangled base and came up with the cache. Too soggy to sign I replaced it. When I got home I logged the find. I was the second person to find the cache since the accident. Apparently during the ice storm someone lost control on that road, took out the sign and ended up on the shoulder. There wasn't much of a ditch so they probably got out ok once the ice was no longer an obstacle.

We went for one more cache but came up empty handed. From there we made our way to Belk's to find a great deal on a nice set of everyday silverware to replace the old. All in all, we had a great day. It's good to be back in the swing of caching. Maybe I can pick it up again.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Unmaintained caches .... sometimes the better of two evils

Ecuador doesn't have much geocaching going on. At least not compared to the movement that takes place in North America and Europe. There are a few cachers there but the majority of
Metro Park SE
caching done there is by tourist visiting the country. While there one of my favorite activities was placing tourist-friendly caches. By this I mean caches that are easily accessible to tourist who have a limited amount of time to get to a cache between one of their tours and going to the airport to head to the Galapagos Islands or on to Peru.

The best place I found to place geocaches that tourist could easily find was in Parque Metropolitano. We placed the second one in the park but the longest standing cache there to date back in 2007. It is Metro Park SE (GC15JCC). This cache has proven difficult for many for many because it is well-hidden and because, if you don't have much time, like many tourist, it is a good walk to the far end of the park and takes some time. The elevation doesn't help as you huff and puff to get there in the thin air.

The next long-lasting cache I placed is one called Reforestation (GC168M3). When I placed it the area was cut back and had just a few bushes in ankle high grass. Dispersed throughout the area were small saplings that were recently planted to replace Eucalyptus trees that had previously been cut down. Now, as you can see from the photo, it's a jungle out there.

Karen's Caper Travel Bug Hotel (GC182AC) and Brandon's TB Boarding House (GC1K4MD) are two of the tourist-friendliest TB hotel caches in the country. They are both placed very near the entrance to the park so that the tourist can get out of their taxi right at the entrance gate and make a short one-minute trek into the woods to claim their prize, drop
Looking up while at Karen's Caper
their trackables and still get back to what they have waiting for them.

What makes these, plus a number of others we have placed, so special to us is that we no longer live in Ecuador but have been able to leave a gifts that keep on giving. The choice that obviously faced us upon departing from Ecuador was whether to archive these caches or simply leave them for folks to find and then archive them when they finally play out. With no one to call on to maintain them (there were no active geocachers nearby who were able to maintain them) we knew that they would deteriorate over time. We left them. They have proven to be gifts that have truly kept on giving, both to those who come to Ecuador and geocache as well as to me. I have been joyfully watching the messages come in as tourist and a few Ecuadorians alike, have continued to find them. We've had some go missing, requiring that we archive them.

It's been almost three years since we left our beloved Ecuador behind. We feel just a little bit closer to our home-away-from-home when we revisit the caches there on!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Check out these interesting caches!!!!

Here's a few interesting caches I've come across in my travels. I won't say where so as not to create a real soiler.

Gate intercom cache

This one had us looking. We drove up to a gated area with a garden all around. There was a large rock on each side. The GPSr pointed to one of the rocks. That's where we began our search. We looked and looked. We had a time schedule and were getting in the car when I decided that maybe that wasn't a real doorbell/intercom box. Sure enough, it was the cache.

Another cache that caught us by surprise was one of those electrical-type caches. I've seen them before but just wasn't thinking along those lines the day I looked for this one. I was the driver so three others were already at the GZ looking all around the sign. I came up and joined the search, looking in all the obvious places they had looked before it dawned on me that I ought to look at the fake box. There it was!

Some of the caches we find are nothing more than attractions to some strange art. This one seems to represent an angel of some kind. It's located at Guilford Technical Community College near Jamestown, NC. We had to spend a while dodging muggles and turning over stones to find the "one" stone we'd have to turn over to find the cache.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Great Christmas Gift from some special friends!

One of the nicest gifts I received for Christmas, right there along side my Kuerig Coffee Maker, was my one-year membership as a Premium Member of Two really good friends, Chickenlvr413 and Chanak80, were so kind to give this to me as a Christmas gift. It has opened up more caches right close to home!

My new job is keeping me in the office and hard at work. I'd really like to get out and hit the trails to find some caches but am held back right now. I'm hoping that this kind gift will motivate me to get out and find some more caches!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Granny Codine and her neice Modean

Geocaching puts you in touch with lots of nice folks. Here's a case to prove my point. After learning about geocaching I had the pleasure of introducing it to a special friend. She just has to be my most favorite geocaching friend for 2013! Her name is Granny Codine. She's a character to say the least. She gets around to visit the folks in the nursing home and is sometimes invite to help friends roast other friends. Granny Codine is right funny to listen to. For that reason I thought it appropriate to place a cache in honor of this friend. It turns out that Granny Codine has a neice or something. She's a dental technician and goes by the name Modean.

While out in the country near where Granny Codine goes to find her roadkill, I placed a micro in her honor sometime back. It goes by her name and is GC445AX. Several folks have ventured out to find it.  So far none of them have seen Granny. Thank goodness! As I understand it she dresses up like a normal person and goes geocaching on those double days like January 1st (1/1), February 2nd, (2/2), March 3rd (3/3) and so forth. So be on your lookout when out in the woods south of Greensboro, NC.

 When our church has the wild game dinner, even though it's just for men, I'm going to invite Granny for sure. She'll probably provide most of the take.

Recently Granny was so kind. For Christmas she gave me a premium subscription to I appreciate her and wish her a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I went out and placed a another geocache in her honor, only to have it disapproved by my reviewer. He felt it was too close to a major highway and that geocachers would park along this Interstate to get to the cache. I've seen thousands of caches just like mine but its not worth the time to argue it. I went back to move the cache to another nearby location and hope it gets approved. 
Granny Codine

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Moses H. Cone Mansion along the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC

The Mansion thanks to Larry
One of my favorite places to travel and cache is the Blue Ridge Parkway. There is so much to see along the parkway, which runs from southern North Carolina to northern Virginia. Every chance we get we head up to the parkway. During winter months you have to check ahead to see which portions are open as winter weather closes stretches at higher elevations.

Twice during the last year I had the chance to visit the Moses H. Cone Mansion along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Moses Cone became famous in the late 1800's as he and his brothers, all wealthy men, invested in the textile industry and providing means of employment for thousands of North Carolina residence. As a summer get away he built the mansion, known as Flat Top Manor, along what is now the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Walking the trails thanks to Christina Dulude

From the lake thanks to T.Cowart
On our first trip during cold weather we found the part of the parkway near Blowing Rock, NC open. We had driven up from Greensboro, NC along highway 421 to intersect with the Blue Ridge Parkway just east of Boone, NC. We were able to travel southwest along the parkway, stopping to pick up geocaches along the way. Since geocaches cannot be placed on parkway land, most caches are just off the parkway. As we traveled along we found ourselves stopping to take in the marvelous views from the many overlooks along the route. What beauty!

One of my favorite caches was THE Blowing Rock Rest Area Cache (GC3R7RK), which is the closest cache to the mansion. The first time I came to the mansion I was with sumajhuarmi. The rest area was closed so I had to pull off the road and walk into the rest area. The cache was back in the rhododendron in an area free of muggles. It was an easy regular-size cache.  I walked a little further to catch a glimpse of the mansion from a distance but went no further. I knew then I wanted to come back to see the mansion when it was opened. We continued on our trip and spent the day in Blowing Rock.

Later in the year, during the warmer months, I came with three colleagues on a pastor's retreat to the Valle Crucis area. We stopped at the mansion on our way and spent about an hour. The mansion now houses the Parkway Craft Center. There are all kinds of wood and weaved crafts and much more to browse through and purchase. While I didn't get to tour the mansion (I don't know when that is possible) it was fun to walk around the grounds and take in the view. There is a beautiful lake at the bottom of the mountain the mansion overlooks. At times during the year there are carriage rides through the area. There is a walking trail that cuts underneath the Blue Ridge Parkway that's worth a walk and a little exercise while you are here.

The Parkway has some nice caches. If you have the time you'll want to cruise the parkway and grab these while taking in the beauty of the place. Stop in at the mansion too!