I Wasn’t Prepared…

As I began to write this entry I was planning to write a tear jerker, a piece that would not just tug at the heartstrings but would stretch them to the breaking point. Well, as you will see, that didn’t quite happen…but I figured out why. Everyone has a coping mechanism of some sort, an instinctive reflex that helps them keep going when the going gets tough. During ConnieLou’s bout with cancer this past spring, I realized that my coping mechanism is laughter. Finding things to make us laugh helped with the stress of the situation. Now that doesn’t mean that I became a stand-up comedian and told jokes endlessly. Instead it usually came in the form of a ‘one-liner’ poking fun at a particular situation. I guess that makes sense as I have a bit of a sarcastic streak and I’ve been accused of being a smartass more than once. With that said, as I began to write and the words began to flow my coping mechanism began to kick in and the idea of a tear jerker sort of went out the window. Oh well. So…you can probably put the KleenEx and Sham-Wows away. Well, maybe keep one KleenEx or a sleeve handy since ConnieLou tells me there are still a couple of emotional moments to be had. Read on…

I wasn’t prepared…

I thought I was, but it turns out I wasn’t.

For those expecting a tale of one of my normal outdoor or cooking misadventures, you may be disappointed because that’s what this entry isn’t. Instead, it’s a dad’s reflection on moving his youngest daughter into her dorm, uh, OK, ‘residence hall’ for her first year in college.

ConnieLou and I have always known the day would come that the girls would leave the nest and head out on their own. They’re both in school so technically they haven’t completely left home yet, but for nine months out of the year, they’ll both be away and doing their own thing.

When we moved Ashley into her room at Young Harris College there was excitement and, of course, there were some tears…but it seemed to be more of the beginning of a new adventure and less of the end of an era since Jenna was still at home to keep us company and to keep us amused and aggravated…both of which she relishes in doing. But we knew the day would come that Jenna would head off to school and they would both be out of the house…and that day sneaks up on you.

We started doing all the normal college prep stuff with Jenna over a year ago. She took the SAT and ACT exams, looked up colleges on the internet, requested literature, went for college visits, submitted admissions applications, got accepted, picked a college (Flagler College, BTW…Go Saints!…well, except when they play my Mountain Lions), paid the deposit, paid the tuition, paid room and board, ordered textbooks and bought all the cool stuff for her dorm room…basically we did all the normal stuff with all the normal excitement. And in the backs of our minds we knew that move-in day, the start of her first semester and our first long stretch in an empty house was rapidly sneaking up on us…and I wasn’t prepared.

Sure, I was physically prepared. We’d bought all the stuff, sorted all the stuff, condensed all the stuff, packed and repacked all the stuff, loaded up all the stuff, drove all the stuff and the owner of the stuff to St. Augustine, unloaded all the stuff and arranged all the stuff in said stuff owner’s dorm room. We even made a run to the store to buy a little more stuff.

What I wasn’t prepared for were the mental things, like backing out of the driveway and realizing that two cars were leaving but only one would come home. I wasn’t prepared for that first ‘this is it’ moment when you open the door to an empty dorm room and look inside. I wasn’t prepared for the wave of emotions that I unsuccessfully try to hide as we turned to leave after that last goodbye hug before heading to the car to leave. Nor was I prepared for the long, quiet ride home…well, quiet except for the occasional sniffles and boo-hoos from the passenger seat…I had a pretty good idea those would be coming.

While Jenna’s leaving home and going off to school is, in a sense, the end of an era, in reality, like it was with Ashley, it’s the beginning of her own adventure, first college and then life. And…it’s even the beginning of a new adventure for me and ConnieLou as we chart a new course in life without kids in the house and learn to be a couple again while the girls are away..

Oh, and for what it’s worth…I already have a pretty good idea that part of my course in life is to amuse and aggravate ConnieLou…both of which I relish in doing.

Flagler Bound

Posted in College, Flagler College | 2 Comments

On the Grid, June – August, 2016, And Then There Was One

One cache left to complete my 366 Grid.

Only one.

More about that later.

OK, so I haven’t made an On the Grid post in a while. I’ve been cachin’ but I haven’t posted about it. I got slack and I blame it on the weather. Its summer and its hot and its humid. I’m hot-natured and I’m NOT a hot weather fan. I’ve said many times I like hot weather when it involves sand, saltwater and a bucket of beer. Of course a cool mountain stream would work equally well. I turn into a slug when it gets hot and unless I can get in the water somewhere I’m content to enjoy the AC. There’s no need to worry though, I’ll perk up again around mid-September when we start getting the first real hints of fall.

Needless to say, summertime is probably my least favorite time to get out cachin’ and I had over two dozen caches to find between June 1 and August 4. Ugh! I’d love to say I knocked off a bunch of hard to reach, hard to find caches but for the most part, I took the path of least resistance. Although most of my finds in June, July and the first few days of August were largely convenient park and grabs, there were a few highlights worthy of mention.

I found the cache that qualified as both my farthest from home and farthest west (Its Whats For Dinner, GC28ZBJ) in Sacramento, California. I also found my highest elevation cache (Granite and Ice, GC5BG8N) at Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite Glacier Point

There was a cache in Hornitos, California, a gold rush ghost town (Bienvenido a la inglesia de Hornitos, GC695J7).

Hornitos ChurchHornitos Cache

There were even a couple of caches at Disneyland (Happiest Cache on Earth, GC3FQ4 and WD’s Original, GC4B24).

Now there is one cache left to find to finish my 366 Grid. If you read my March 13 entry titled “The Best-Laid Plans of Mice and Men”, you may remember that things got a little tense following ConnieLou’s cancer surgery on March 11 and I didn’t make it out to find a cache that day. To follow up on that entry, ConnieLou’s surgery was successful and we found out a week later that her pathology lab results were good and that chemo and radiation would not be necessary…a major relief!

So…I have one more cache to find on March 11, 2017 and since that day will mark one year of ConnieLou being cancer-free, I’ve picked out a cache in a location very special to both of us to find to mark the occasion. I’m not going to say which cache just yet but I will when the time is right and we might just turn it into a celebration.

Posted in Disneyland, Geocaching, Hornitos California, Yosemite, Yosemite National Park, Yosemite NP | 1 Comment

A Reblog from Couch2Trail

Interested in hammock camping?  Here’s a good piece by fellow hammock camper John Spenn about why he and his wife Cathy hammock camp.  Check it out!

Earlier this year, I asked Cathy about the possibility of starting to camp out, and somewhat to my surprise she said “yes”. Previously she had never shown any interest in camping out, and in fact seemed somewhat closed off to the idea of sleeping outside without any facilities and amenities available. However, since we started […]

via From the Couch to the Hammock: Why Do We Hammock? — Couch2Trail

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Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Who remembers third grade? If I remember correctly, third grade was the first year that, on the first day of school, the teacher gave out that dreaded assignment of writing a paper about what we did during the summer…and it had to be a page long, a whole page…and it had to be written on standard-ruled paper, not that weird first grade paper that we learned to print on. Fortunately that assignment has become easier over the years, or I’ve just become a bit long winded. Whichever the case may be, here’s a little tale of Jenna’s post-graduation summer adventure.

The planning started earlier this year when we asked Jenna what she would like to do for her ‘Senior Trip’ after her high school graduation. I liked her initial idea of visiting all of the National Parks…all 59 of them. Since neither ConnieLou nor I had at least three months that we could take off from work, we decided the idea wasn’t exactly practical. There were also a few things to be done before we could send Jenna off to college at the end of August. Just a few little things. I suggested a trip to Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks but south Florida during the heat of summer wasn’t exactly a popular option. The idea of a trip to Yosemite National Park in east-central California was tossed out and that idea morphed into a trip to Yosemite with a side trip to Disneyland in Anaheim. Hey, if you’re gonna play tourist, you might as well do it up right, right?

With a general plan in mind, ConnieLou began to work her magic arranging flights to and from Atlanta, accommodations, rental cars and even reservations for brunch at Disneyland. The resulting plan looked something like this:

Day 1 (Monday) – Travel – fly Atlanta to Sacramento, drive Sacramento to Mariposa.
Day 2 (Tuesday) – Yosemite
Day 3 (Wednesday) – Yosemite
Day 4 (Thursday) – Travel – drive Mariposa to Anaheim
Day 5 (Friday) – Disneyland
Day 6 (Saturday) – Travel – fly Anaheim to Atlanta
Day 7 (Sunday) – Collapse/sleep

Keep in mind that ConnieLou works for one of the airlines so we fly stand-by…essentially, if there are seats available we get on the plane. If not, we try again later or even consider rerouting and connecting through a different airport. As it turned out our planned flight out of Atlanta to Sacramento didn’t look too promising so we opted to fly out a day early and spend the night in Sacramento. The moral to this story…try to keep a flexible schedule and be prepared to adjust.

Our flight out of Atlanta was generally uneventful and we chased the setting sun most of the way to Sacramento.

Plane 1

We caught a shuttle to the hotel, checked in and caught some Zs before catching a shuttle back to the airport to pick up our rental car the next morning. Since the drive to Mariposa was only supposed to be about three hours we weren’t in a big hurry so we took our time getting moving and I took a bit of time to find a cache (It’s Whats for Dinner, GC28ZBJ) that was hidden a couple hundred yards from our hotel, my first California cache and farthest west to date.

We took an opportunity to try out an In-N-Out Burger, a burger chain we heard a lot about but don’t have at home…

In and Out

Since we arrived in California a day early, we found ourselves trying to come up with things to see or do along our route to Mariposa. During the trip out, the couple sitting next to ConnieLou on the plane had told her about the town of Hornitos, a ghost town close to Mariposa that we might want to visit. We decided to give it a look.

According to the information for the town or Hornitos on the Ghosttowns.com website, Hornitos was founded by Mexicans who were run out of the nearby town of Quartzburg just for being Mexican. During the Gold Rush, other ‘undesirables’ who were pushed out of other nearby mining camps, settled in Hornitos and the town became a pretty rough place. During its heyday, Hornitos had a reported population of approximately 10,000. Following the 2010 census, the population was reported to be just 75.

As we pulled into town, the first thing we saw was the St. Catherine Catholic and its cemetery up on a hill above the road.

Hornitos Church

As it turns out the church was built in 1862 and appears to still be in use. We noticed numerous tombstones in the cemetery that dated to the 1860s and 1870s.

Hornitos Cemetery Hornitos Cemetery 2

As we were walking back to the car I mentioned to Ashley and Jenna that the churchyard would be a good location for a cache. A quick check of the Geocaching app on my phone confirmed my suspicion (Bienvenido a la inglesia de Hornitos, GC695J7).

Hornitos Cache

We spent a little while checking out the town…or whats left of it anyway…

Hornitos SignHornitos Masonic LodgeHornitos Store

Finally in Mariposa, we checked into our room at the Best Western, set up base camp for the next couple of days and then set out to explore Mariposa and find some supper.

Tuesday and Wednesday were spent exploring a very small portion of Yosemite National Park. Most of our first day in the park was spent wandering the Yosemite Valley. From the valley floor we were able to see the usual tourist points of interest…the Merced River, Half Dome, El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls and the upper and lower Yosemite Falls.

Yosemite SignYosemite TouristsYosemite Tree HuggersYosemite - BridalveilYosemite El CapYosemite Half DomeYosemite Upper and Lower Falls

In the afternoon we made the drive out to Glacier Point, an overlook that sits about 3,000 feet above the valley floor to take in the sights from a different angle.

Yosemite Glacier PointYosemite Glacier Point Sun

Those that have been to Yosemite will understand when I say that you just can’t put the experience into words and pictures don’t even come close to doing it justice.

On Wednesday we ventured out beyond the Yosemite Valley to see some of the giant Sequoia trees that grow within the park. Unfortunately the Mariposa Grove, where the largest concentration of giant Sequoias is found, was closed for restoration but the Tuolumne and Merced Groves, located northwest of the Yosemite Valley were open to visitors. We decided to visit the Tuolumne Grove.

From the parking lot we made the mile trek down to the grove on a mostly paved ‘trail’. When you enter the grove, you don’t see the Sequoias at first, you just see a few very large light brown columns amidst a background of browns and greens. It takes your mind a few seconds to actually process the concept that the light brown columns are actually trees…incredibly immense trees. Again, words and pictures don’t even come close to doing the trees justice…

Sequoia GroveSequoia 1Sequoia ConesSequoia 2Sequoia Walk Through

Of course there were caches to be found in the park (Granite and Ice, GC5B68N, The Highest Leaping Waterfall in the World, GCJHJ4R and El Capitan Moraine – The Yosemite Lake Dam, GC2MM1A), Earth caches and virtual caches instead of physical caches, which aren’t allowed.

We left Yosemite and took the ‘scenic route’ back to the motel. Highway 120 took us through Groveland, Big Oak Flat to the Moccasin community where we picked up Highway 49 which took us through Coulterville, another near ghost town, and Bear Valley before returning to Mariposa.

Coulterville Hotel Coulterville

We hit up the Happy Burger Diner (for a review of the Happy Burger Diner, click the link), a local burger joint for supper and wandered around town for a bit before heading back to the motel to get ready to drive to Anaheim on Thursday.

I was up bright and early Thursday morning, grabbed a bite of breakfast from the ‘complimentary’ continental breakfast at the motel then went off to find a couple of caches (A Shrine to Justice, GC69YXX and Quiet Neighborhood, GC19CB3). Once I had my cachin’ fix for the day I headed back to the motel to pick up the girls, load the car and head south. We’d all already had breakfast but as we were about to pull out of the motel parking lot we noticed Donuts a Go-Go, a little local donut shop in the strip center across the street from the motel…and we decided we needed to pick up half a dozen assorted donuts for the road. They might not have been Krisy Kremes but they were just as good.

The drive south was more or less uneventful. We traveled Highway 99 south through California’s central valley through Fresno and Bakersfield then picked up I-5 for the rest of the trip to Anaheim…OK, for most of the rest of the trip, except where Google Maps took us on detours to try to miss traffic back-ups. The central valley was an interesting place…there were literally miles and miles and miles of cultivated fields mixed with groves of fruit and nut trees. It was a five-hour drive made a couple of hours longer by Los Angeles traffic. There’s really only one thing I can say about L.A. traffic…IT SUCKS!

We settled into our new motel, rested a few minutes then walked over to Downtown Disney to grab some supper, see what there might be to see and buy our tickets to Disneyland for Friday.

Downtown Disney DirectionsDowntown Disney Sidewalk

Of course, we had to get our ears…

Downtown Disney Ears

Friday morning we were up, dressed and standing at the Disneyland gates when they opened.

Disneyland 1

In addition to being ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’, Disneyland is also one of the busiest places on earth. ConnieLou had made us reservations for Breakfast with Minnie & Friends at one of the park restaurants so our first stop in the park was at the Plaza Inn. Now I’m sure someone will scoff and ask “Aren’t y’all too old for breakfast with the Disney characters? Isn’t that for little kids?” The simple answer is no, you’re never too old, and, given that the adults in the restaurant outnumbered the kids by a fairly wide margin, it seems like a lot of other folks feel the same way. So there…

Disneyland Breakfast 2Disneyland Breakfast 3Disneyland Breakfast 4Disneyland Breakfast 1Disneyland Breakfast 5

With the number of people that visit the park each day there’s really no way to see and do everything that one might want to see and do in a single day so you have to pick and choose a bit. Fortunately we were able to ride most of the rides we wanted to ride, see the parades, see most of the fireworks and even find a cache or two Happiest Cache on Earth, GC3FQY7 and WD’s Original, GC4B24).

Disneyland Castle 2Disneyland MainstreetDisneyland TrainDisneyland TeacuppersDisneyland Parade MinnieDisneyland Parade MickeyDisneyland Castle Last Call

After the Paint the Night parade we had enough time for one or two more quick rides. The King Arthur Carousel and Peter Pan’s Flight were close by and fit the ticket. To the Hobbit/LOTR fans that might be reading, beware of Peter Pan’s Flight…there’s orcs in there. I wasn’t aware of this little detail until the ride was almost over and I noticed that Peter Pan’s dagger was glowing blue in one of the scenes. How Peter Pan got his hands on an Elven blade I don’t know…but be careful. Orcs.

Our flight out Saturday wasn’t until after noon so we slept in. Well, we slept in as much we could with our internal clocks still pretty much set three time zones east. We took our time getting packed up and ready to go and for the last time during our trip, enjoyed a motel’s continental breakfast (or at least what they claimed was a continental breakfast).

We dropped off the rental car, ate a leisurely airport restaurant lunch and shortly after noon we took our seats on the plane for our flight home.

Heading Home

And that’s what we did on our summer vacation.

Posted in Coulterville California, Disneyland, Downtown Disney, Hornitos California, Mariposa California, Yosemite, Yosemite National Park, Yosemite NP | 3 Comments

Crotch Guard by Derma-Tect – Review — The Ultimate Hang

Crotch Guard Chaffing isn’t something I like to talk about, but it is a reality for me and many people who hike, backpack, or even bicycle long distances. I was given an opportunity to test Derma-Tect’s Crotch Guard this summer and provide this review. Product Description Crotch Guard was originally developed for cyclists to “reduce…

via Crotch Guard by Derma-Tect – Review — The Ultimate Hang

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Words and Phrases

Time for a little detour from my regular topics.

I need to vent a little.

Let me say that this entry is not directed at any particular person or persons.  There’s a pretty fair chance this is going to aggravate some folks.  I might even piss off a few people.  Maybe you use some of the words and phrases I’m about to talk about and I’ll have ruffled your feathers.  Well…I hate it for ya.  All I can tell you is to suck it up and move on.  This is solely my opinion and, as Mr. Brian Levine, an acquaintance of mine would say “This is my opinion and I am the leading expert on my opinion.”  You’ll be OK tomorrow.  If not, you obviously have issues that you should probably see a professional about or at least rinse off your Binky and pop it back in your mouth.

Here goes…

There are certain words and phrases in use these days that just drive me nuts.  I’m really not sure why these words and phrases get under my skin the way they do.  Heck, on occasion I’ll even catch myself using one of them.  Maybe it’s just my inner curmudgeon trying to come out or maybe I’m just on my way to becoming a cranky old fart.  Regardless, I cringe just about every time I hear or read one of them.

Want a few examples?  Here are a few that came to mind quickly this morning…

Epic – Abused and overused.  The view from the top of the mountain was epic.  The party was epic.  The fishing trip was epic.  Was it really ‘epic’?  Can we not come up with a better adjective?  In my mind epic is usually associated with certain novels and movies.  Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey” are great examples.  Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” and Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind” both come to mind.  FWIW, if the view from the top of the mountain was from the summit of Everest, K2, Annapurna, Kilimanjaro, Mt. Fuji or even Denali…OK, I’d make exceptions for those and maybe a few more.  But for Clingman’s Dome or Brasstown Bald…sorry, no.

Badass – Another abused and overused adjective.  Now I don’t have any huge problem with the profanity itself (maybe I should) but ‘badass’ has become a term use to describe just about anything that might be overly cool.  That knife is badass.  The view from the top of the mountain was badass…you get the picture.  I always thought a badass was someone like a Marine that’s seen his share of intense combat, lived through it and has a few scars because of it.  Or the term would be used to describe the ancient generals/leaders who led their armies into battle, say like Genghis Khan or Alexander the Great…yeah, they were badasses.  Is your custom made combat knife made by XYZ knifemaker, badass…sorry, no.

My Bad – Slang for ‘my mistake’.  OK, I’ll confess, I’m guilty of using this one now and then…but it still gets under my skin and I kick myself every time I use it.  Is it really that difficult to say something like “I’m sorry, my mistake.”  It is?  Really?  Sorry, no.

Po-Po and Cray-Cray – Slang for ‘the police’ and ‘crazy’.  Do I really need to elaborate further?  No.

OK, I’m finished venting…for now.  Do I feel better?  Dang right I do!

Now think about what you’re saying and how you say it and…Have a nice day!

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

A Night of Fresh Air

Ready to read about something other than geocaching?

I usually spend at least one night most weekends sleeping outside in my hammock out back behind our house. More often than not Jenna will hang up her hammock and tarp and join me. Opportunities for Ashley to hang with us have been rare since she’s been away at school but we still usually able to manage at least a few weekends a year that all three of us can hang out. This year…not so much. The first few months of this year have been a little different, to say the least, and we haven’t spent many nights out. Sometimes life got in the way, sometimes we didn’t want to deal with crappy weather and sometimes we were just lazy.

The stars, planets and weather aligned this weekend and we had an opportunity for the three of us hang out. I got a head start on things by hanging my hammock up early in the afternoon. I hung up my hammock and tarp but since there was a strong breeze blowing, I left the tarp in its skins…

Hammock

Of course I had to test it to make sure everything was secure…

Test Drive

Ashley and Jenna hung their gear up later. Ashley decided to hang up her tarp. Jenna decided to go tarpless. Ultimately I did too.

We turned in around midnight. I had a nice view of the moon between the leaves but I don’t recall enjoying the view too long. Unfortunately Mother Nature began calling way too early but I climbed back in my hammock to doze for a little longer…well, at least until our neighbors’ cat, Jesse, came and hopped up on the hammock with me. He enjoyed a few minutes of scratching and petting before he lay down, got comfortable and snoozed for a little while too.

Jesse

When I finally got up to go inside and make the coffee I discovered that Ashley had gone in sometime earlier.

Ashley

Jenna was still curled up in her hammock.

Jenna

That’s about it this time around. No exciting adventure, no tale of daring deeds, and no geocaching…just a night out in the fresh air.

Posted in Cape San Blas, Hammock, Hammock Camping | 5 Comments

Blades

Its been years since I bought a new pocket knife.

Yesterday I bought three.

Its not like a pocket knife is a disposable item that is intended to be replaced often. In fact, a good quality pocket knife is just the opposite. They’re designed and made to last for years, maybe a lifetime, with proper care. Over the years I’ve accumulated quite a few pocket knives of various brands and models. Of those, I only purchased three or four and was fortunate enough to receive the rest as gifts from my parents, grandparents or one or more of my uncles.

Last week Ashley was told by Dr. Hanson, the equine vet that she works with during the summer, that she needs a good pocket knife. When Ashley told me this it occurred to me that I’ve been somewhat neglectful of my ‘Dad Duties’. I’ve had pocket knives since before my age reached double digits. Ashley and Jenna are now 22 and 18, respectively, and up till now, have not had a proper pocket knife. Contrary to the beliefs of many these days, every good Southern girl should have a proper pocket knife (OK, and a proper firearm or two, but that’s another story).

ConnieLou and I were in Blue Ridge, Georgia yesterday afternoon, on the way south from Young Harris and killing time before a YHC alumni event in Marietta, when I noticed a knife shop. I told ConnieLou that we should stop in and see if they might have a knife that would suite Ashley’s needs at work. As we looked around we decided that it was time for both of the girls to have a proper pocket knife.

We described what we were looking for to the proprietor and mentioned a few brands that I’m partial to and he gave us his suggestions. For both girls I wanted a locking blade to lessen the chances of having a blade close up on their fingers during use. Exactly how a blade manages to do that I don’t know but it happens. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. For Ashley I wanted something that she could easily open with one hand if she needed to and for Jenna I simply wanted a basic pocket knife that’s light, mainly to take camping and backpacking. Having grips in an easy to see color would be a bonus.

Jenna’s was the easiest to decide on. We picked out a Buck Bantam BLW, a basic lock-blade folder with a drop point blade and orange camo grips. It fit my hand nicely and since her hands are a little smaller than mine, it would be perfect for her. The Buck also comes with thumb studs to allow one handed opening if needed.

For Ashley we selected a Kershaw 1980ST. The Kershaw is also a lock-blade folder but with a tanto shape blade that’s partially serrated. The main decision point for the Kershaw was the ease of one-handed opening via their ‘speedsafe’ opening mechanism and ‘flipper’ on the spine or thumb studs on the blade. The Kershaw also comes with a pocket clip that allows the user to keep the knife accessible at the top of their pocket instead of buried down in the bottom of the pocket with their keys and pocket change.

Fortunately the two knives were only about $35 each so they didn’t break the bank…and that’s probably a good thing since I took a shine to the Kershaw and had to have one for myself. Like I really need another pocket knife…but I do, really…

Knives

Posted in Backpacking, Buck Knives, Camping, Hiking, Kershaw Knives, Knives, Pocket Knife, Pocket Knives | Leave a comment

On the Grid – May 2016 – The Best of Both Worlds

To keep boredom from setting in, I’m taking this On the Grid entry in a slightly different direction than past entries.

Jenna wanted to go hiking.

I wanted to go caching. OK, so I wanted to go hiking too.

I had a cache in mind that I thought might satisfy us both.

Farm Ruins Cache (GC5T1D5) is located on the Serenbe property near Palmetto, Georgia. The cache itself is located at the site of the Condor family farm. According to information contained on a sign board near the GZ, John Condor purchased the land in 1840 and established a farm on the property along with his first wife Emily and their children. Today, all that remain of the farm are the ruins of the dairy house and several stone piles which are the remnants of other out buildings.

Our first challenge was to find the trailhead for the trail that would lead us back to the old Condor place and the GZ. I got some help from a few other cachers that had found Farm Ruins Cache prior to our visit, but even with the help, finding the trailhead wasn’t easy. We parked off of one of the roads in an undeveloped portion of the Serenbe property at a location that the GPSr said was about half a mile from the cache. Had I payed close attention to the cache description, I would have noted that the walking time to the cache was typically about 45 minutes and, at an average pace, translates to about a mile and a half.

Fortunately we found the trailhead fairly easily and we were on our way.

Trailhead

Apparently they don’t take too kindly to trespassers. I didn’t see any fine print indicating that there was an exception for geocachers but we pressed on anyway.

Serenbe Sign

We had to make a decision, find the cache or check out the ancient Indian grounds. We decided to find the cache but will be back to visit the Indian grounds. FWIW, after we got back home I noticed that there is a cache at the Indian grounds too…even more reason to go back.

Decisions - Jenna

A short distance down the trail we came across an arch made of vines and a walkway that led to a clearing with a couple of wooden benches and low, flagstone walls. Folding chairs were also noted off to one side of the area. I wondered if it might be used for the summer camps for kids that the Serenbe community hosts. Jenna suggested that it was a place used for cult rituals. Where does she get this stuff?!

Arch

Just beyond the arch and the cult camp we noticed a green electrical transformer box and a water well casing sticking out of the ground. I couldn’t help myself and blurted out “Well, well, well, look, a well! Isn’t that swell?” Jenna rolls her eyes and deadpans it saying “Daddy, don’t dwell…” She’s definitely my daughter.

Well

We finally came across a sign that gave us an idea of our route to the cache. Yep, we were definitely going to be walking more than half a mile.

Serenbe Map

When we finally reached the spur trail to the ruins of the Condor farm, we found ourselves at the Condor family cemetery where John and Emily Condor along with one of their children who died as an infant are buried.

Condor Graves 1

Condor Graves 2

Beyond the Condor cemetery we finally reached the ruins of the dairy house. The remnants were impressive. I would love to have been able to see it back in its day…

Jenna Barn

We found the cache, signed the log and then headed back toward the car. The trail to and from the cache took us through a creek bottom that I suspect at one time was cleared and either cultivated or used for pasture.

Creekbottom Path

We were surprised not to encounter any deer or wild turkeys or even a snake. In fact, the only wildlife we encountered beyond birds and squirrels was a lone turtle.

Box Turtle

Once back to the car my GPS tracking app on my phone told me that we had traveled three miles instead just a mile. Jenna suggested that we stop at the Blue Eyed Daisy, an eatery within the Serenbe community and pick up a cupcake for ConnieLou. And that we should also get one for each of us as a reward for our efforts. Who am I to argue with cupcakes?

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On the Grid – April 2016

April is done.

Another month in the books.

Three full months and a handful of days left to go.

At the risk of sounding whiney, I’m glad this little challenge is getting close to being finished. Sure, it’s been fun and it’s caused me to get out of the house or out of the office and go caching more often but it’s also become a bit of a chore. I’ve found, these days, that when I tell ConnieLou that “today is a cache day”, it sounds more like I’m heading off to work rather than heading out to go do something fun. Also, there have been too many times lately that, while reading cache descriptions that I’ve heard myself utter the phrase “OK, this one looks quick/easy.” instead of “Oh, this one looks fun!”

Enough of that.

So what about the April caches? Fortunately there were a few caches in April that stuck out for one reason or another.

March of the Penguins in Palmetto (GC6E3TC) wasn’t in the prettiest of locations but it did present a challenge. It definitely wasn’t what I thought I would be looking for and I passed it by several times before I had that ‘Ah HA! ‘ moment. Turns out you have to think about the guy that hid the cache.

Ice

A Thrifty Cache (GC4D85Y) isn’t in the prettiest of locations either. However, it’s a nemesis cache for me as I’ve hunted for unsuccessfully several times in the past. I finally happened to look in just the right spot from just the right angle. I’m not too sure the owners of the shopping center could have found a brighter paint color…and the photo is toned down a bit because it was overcast…

Yellow

It’s possible to find surprisingly pretty places near my office. This stretch of the North Fork of Peachtree Creek is located near North Fork Screw Loose (GC5MRWC).

Creek 1

 

Unfortunately the banks of the creek adjacent to the road had not fared so well. Would be a good place for a CITO.

Creek 2

The watcher on the road sign didn’t seem too thrilled with the trash either.

Watcher

It’s usually hard to find a more peaceful place then a cemetery and most are pretty in their own way. Forty-Five Confederate Soldiers (GC17A2Y) in Greensboro, Georgia was dedicated to the forty-five unknown Boys in Gray buried in the cemetery.

Stars and Bars

Onward…

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