I am a proud

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!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Bear Country and Geocaching

Bears in a tree!
Not far from our home is a business park that is well organized with lots of greenway walking areas, picnic areas, schools for the employee's children and woods. Naturally, there are also a number of geocaches in these woods and fields. One of the caches that grabbed my attention was Rock the Cazz Beah (GC4Q8TX). The cache was simple and fairly easy to find. What I liked the most was the location and the art work. Two bears were climbing a tree to get to the beehive and the honey.

There is a series in the area related to New England bridges. One of our geocachers is a transplanted New Englander and has placed a series of caches named after bridges up North. One of those is in this business park. I trekked to the GZ and began my search. All the office buildings surrounding the area provided a fishbowl experience for me. I was the fish and the employees at the water cooler were sure to have been wondering what the strange man was doing crawling around under the bridge.
Lost mind bridge
Has he lost his mind?

The iced over water made for a beautiful morning. I searched and searched, thus proving that I'd lost something. Fortunately it was too cold for folks to come out and ask me if I was all right. Finally I gave up. I'll have to come back when I am dressed appropriately and ready to fall into the water in order to get this one.

Another cache that eluded me was near a pond. I love the look of this area. As I tracked down the hill I realized that the cache was on the opposite side of the small spillway. The water flowing over the spillway was only an inch deep so I decided to cross it. I was fortunate not to fall when I lost my footing. I made it to the other side and purposed to go all the way around to get back to the car. I searched and searched but came up empty handed. That was all right thought. The hunt in a beautiful place is the real prize.

Waiting on an idea
My final cache in the business park was Waiting on an Idea (GC4PWFV). The title is a combination of thoughts as one clue. I parked nearby and walked to the GZ. It was a covered bus stop in the business park. I looked down and the "idea" that I was waiting for was right before me. I twisted it out of the ground, opened the light and found what I was looking for. I signed the log and was on my way.

Ok, so I called this "bear country". I guess the title is a little misleading. But the caches will be worth your while if you ever get down this way.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Geocaching the Grandover

Grandover Golf Course
One of the more exclusive residential areas around here is Grandover. It is a large golf complex with expensive housing and a large hotel for visitors. Thankfully some really nice caches have been scattered throughout the area. Most of the caches are part of a series called, "Geo-liter". While the name isn't all that appealing, these are often well done and well hidden caches. I sat out one morning to grab a few by myself. Most were fairly straight forward caches. There were a few that were more of a challenge than I was up to. For instance, climbing a tree is no longer a possibility for me now that I'm on blood thinners. I guess I'll have to bring my grandson along on a mopping up cache run to get to those that are out of my reach.

Great cache
Winter time along the golf course is pretty. I found several that were placed in beautiful locations. On one street there were some one million dollar homes being built. Across the street from one I found one cache in a fallen tree. One cache required me to work my way through the woods to avoid the briers that populated the open hillside. It was an unseasonably warm winter day so I'd decided to find a few caches on the way to the YMCA. So, here I was in shorts and paying the price as my legs got a little scratched up. Being on blood thinners the slightest scratch looks ten times worse than it really is. I came back from this hunt looking worse for the wear.

Tied off
Probably my favorite cache was entitled Geo-liter 21 (GC47CH1). I
parked along the road near the golf course, trekked a short way into the woods and started my search at ground zero. It took me a few minutes to realize that I should look at the clue. "what happens to a kid who draws a picture of a gun at school", was the clue. I'd searched the ground around a log so now it was time to look up. I extended my search area out and happened upon some fishing line taunt across my path. I followed it down to the lower end to find it tied off. Then I let it down and found the "suspended" cache. I signed the log, snapped a few pictures and then hoisted the cache back into place. I like this kind of cache!

Stone walling
Further down the road I found another interesting cache. It was part of the Geo-liter series but
required that I climb into a culvert a little ways. Fortunately this was a larger culvert and I could sit upright. I got out my headlamp and soon had the large bison tube in hand. I had to wait out the passing cars so that I wouldn't raise too much suspicion from them as I came up out off the creek bed. I like this cache too!

Finally this caching excursion took me to some wall caches. There were several like this that were located in the stone walls that decorated
the entrances to the tunnels used by golfers in their golf carts as they traveled beneath the main road to get from one green to the next. These were pretty quick finds.

I really enjoyed the caching at the Grandover. If you get the opportunity to visit our part of the country, check these out.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Year Night Caching to get to # 2500

We had a great New Year's Eve but were undecided on what to do on New Year's Day. We slept in, had breakfast and all. But I could tell my wife was homesick to see some of her mom's relatives about an two hours south of here. I recommended a day trip and she was in for it. This was the fastest I saw her get ready for anything. We were out the door and driving south in no time. We drove straight through to make it in time for lunch with the her aunt and a cousin. I don't know what your New Year's
thanks to beardenb
traditions are but her family was big into eating a lunch of collard greens, black-eyed peas, cornbread and hog jowls. Now I've been in a number of countries and have seen some interesting, even strange New Year's traditions. See a previous blog from January 2, 2011 entitled, "The Old Ecuadorian New Year's Tradition" to learn more. Even though I was raised in the southeastern US and had heard of folks eating this special meal on New Year's Day, my family didn't prepare this meal. Let's just say it was good to visit the extended family.

Play. Station
When we finished up there we had less than an hour of daylight left. I had the goal of getting 15 geocaches on the way home in order to reach #2500 this day. We drove from the North Carolina town of Wadesboro to the east to the town of Rockingham to start our search. There were several urban and suburban caches there that I hoped to get before dark. Also, most of these were small and bigger. I'm used to micros in an urban setting like High Point (where we live) so this was a nice touch. We visited a Veteran's Memorial and a dead end road to find some fairly standard caches. My first favorite cache was entitled, Play. Station (GC1N1BM). It was an old train station in downtown Rockingham. We worked our way around the side of the building to begin our search for this regular-size cache. At first the signal bounce was a problem but finally I had the cache in hand. It had lots of trade items and was in good shape. We signed the log and moved on. We moved up the hill to the county courthouse. Being New Year's Day there were very few people out. We grabbed a virtual at the courthouse before heading over to the site of the Cole Murder. The cache of the same name (GC3XKEN) was hidden in a bush right on the street and below the front window of an administrative office in the "manufacturing building", as it was called. Read the story in the cache page. Yes, someone was killed here in the early part of the last century. I suspect that the cache owner has the cache outside of his workplace window so he can watch cachers beat the bushes. It was a nice ammo can on a major downtown street. We DNFed a few caches downtown. They just seemed to be gone! With the sun going down, we headed north out of Rockingham on the Interstate.

 We took a side road at one point to look for Off the Beath Path (GC1CJ21). It caused us to stop on the side of a country road right in the middle of two homes to walk 70 feet into a field to find a large cache under a big white bucket that was situated about 30 feet from someone's bedroom window. By this time the sun was basically gone and I was using my twilight vision. It felt kind of awkward, like I was on someone's property. I guess I was. The cache page said "permission from owner to hide" but it still felt wrong. I signed and got out of there, even as the neighbor was giving me the eye.

sumajhuarmi @ Kiln Cache Virtual
Soon we were in the Pottery Producing Area of Central North Carolina. We tracked into the small town of Seagrove, NC in the dark. We drove to a virtual cache at The North Carolina Pottery Center. This was an old cache, one that predates the "no photo" requirement. Here we had to log along with a photo with the gpsr next to the sign. These photos were night photos so the light is low. Kiln Cache (GCHTNM) was fun. It would have been more fun if we could have toured this place. We'll have to come back when it is open.

From here we hit the Interstate and head about 15 miles further north to the town of Ashboro, NC. We were now getting back into our geocaching territory where we recognized the cache owners by name. There were a few caches in the 100 series that seemed like pretty easy roadside caches. I had my headlamp and was ready to search for these. We stopped in and around the Randolph County Community College to find a couple and to DNF a couple. We stopped to eat at a Bojangles and DNFed the last of these easy ones just as I got to #2499. What to do? It was time to head home and I am not connected with a smart phone and have no additional caches up my sleeve to find. How will I make my #2500 tonight.

Thanks to sauvageone
We headed home with a plan. It took another 30 minutes or so to get there. We ran in the house, found a cache list I had made up for the previous day that had cache information for a nearby premium cache called, Tube Try Out! (GC3D5CW), and then headed out to wrap up the evening with #2500 in the dark. This cache was only a few minutes away. We pulled into a good parking area and saw that it required a trip into the woods. No muggles were around but sumajhuarmi wasn't crazy about traipsing around in the woods. I went with my headlamp. I tracked right to the GZ and started cautiously shining my light around. I didn't know if night watchmen might be around or not. Soon I saw the cache in the tree. I signed the log and with celebration replaced it and headed to the car. I was thankful to have made my goal. I'm also thankful that sumajhuarmi put up with my need to get to this goal tonight.