2018-10-27 – The Great Georgia EarthCache Quest – Update No. 3 – Hotlanta

Or maybe that should be Coollanta, fall has finally arrived.  Hopefully it will stay a few weeks.

Normally, going into Atlanta is something I generally try to avoid on the weekends.  I have to pass through town most every weekday to go to work and I’m generally not too excited when I have go into town during the weekend.  I’d much rather to poke around in the woods or go fishing on a pond or stream somewhere.  But…there was an EarthCache in the heart of downtown and two virtual caches in the Centennial Olympic Park area that I need to log for the Quest.  Soooo, I decided to head into town.

Since the EarthCache (Gneiss Cavern at Peachtree Center, GC374V4) is located inside the Peachtree Center MARTA station, I decided to drive to the College Park MARTA station and take the train into town then walk over to Centennial Olympic Park to work on the two virtual caches which definitely beats driving into town then having to find and pay for nearby parking.  Even though I’m not crazy about going into town, it’s always and adventure when I do.  There’s always something interesting to see, hear or even smell and getting there can be half the adventure, especially when riding MARTA.

The Peachtree Center station might just be the most interesting of the MARTA stations on the North-South line.  The station itself is carved into the gneiss bedrock about 120 feet below street level.  Instead of covering up the rock surface, it was left exposed in the station walls.

With Gneiss Cavern at Peachtree Center taken care of I headed upstairs to street level.  An interesting side note, if one rides the escalators or walks the stairs at the Peachtree Center station, you’ll get to see panels of a beautiful, black fossiliferous limestone.

Once at street level and outside the station, I could hear something that sounded like a helicopter hovering between the buildings that drowned out the rest of normal Saturday afternoon traffic noise along Peachtree Street.  Naturally, I had to check it out.    As it turns out, my suspicions were almost correct, a contractor was utilizing a helicopter to lift large pieces of scaffolding into place on the side of one of the downtown office towers.

With my curiosity about the noise satisfied, I headed on over to the park to find Olympic Virtual Relay:  Leg 1 – Fire & Water (GC7B9NK)…

and Olympic Virtual Relay Leg 2 – Spark & Flame (GC7B8XR)…

BILLY

It’s been quite a few years since we’ve been to Centennial Olympic Park.  ConnieLou and I went a couple of times during the 1996 Olympic Games, one of those times being the night before Olympic Park bombing.  The park has changed a bit since then and seems like it’s almost always evolving…

I decided to check and see if the commemorative bricks we’d bought back in 1996 were still there.  Yep, they were.

While I was in the park Visitor’s Center looking up the location of our bricks, I decided to slip into the restroom for a quick pit stop but decided to make a quick exit when my nose told me that the guy in the stall next door wasn’t taking care of business but lighting up a joint instead.  Can you say awkward?

Want to see additional photos from my TGGEQ adventures and life in general? Follow me on Instagram.  Search for ‘mrbream’.

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Posted in Centennial Olympic Park, Earth Cache, Earthcache, Geocaching, Virtual Cache | Leave a comment

First Impressions – Tensa Outdoors’ Tensa4 Hammock Stand

Time for another First Impressions entry…keep in mind that these entries are just my first impressions of a piece of gear based on one or two uses.  They’re NOT full blown reviews based on extensive use over time.

OK, yeah, I got a new piece of gear and had to play with it and show it off…kind of like the kid with a new toy on the playground but my playground is a blog.

I’ve been wanting a hammock stand of some sort for a while now.  We do a fair amount of camping in established campgrounds and it’s not unusual for the managing entity to not allow “camping units” off of the designated camping area.  If you can find a pair of trees that happen to straddle the designated camping area and are more or less the right distance apart you’re in great shape.  If not, you might be out of luck.  Now, with me setting out on The Great Georgia Earthcache Quest, it looks like I’ll be doing a good bit of solo campground camping over the next few years;  a hammock stand seemed to be the logical solution to the problem.

There are plenty of hammock stand options out there, both store-bought and do-it-yourself.   The store-bought options are usually geared toward the ‘Pawley’s Island’ style hammocks and don’t generally break down small to travel and often don’t work too well with most camping hammocks (gathered-end or bridge hammocks).  Most of the DIY options seem to involve long poles and while they might transport well in the back of a pickup truck or on a roof rack, they typically don’t travel as well by other means.

I’d been watching a thread on the Hammock Forums bulletin board about a different type of hammock stand called a tensahedron stand that essentially is a tetrahedron.  Basically, a tetrahedron is a polyhedron composed of four triangular faces, six straight edges, and four vertex corners.  OK, I know, that’s a geometric mouthful, right?  Stick with me.

Enter the Tensa4 hammock stand.

Somewhere along the way I saw someone mention the Tensa4 hammock stand.  As it turns out, a couple of Hammock Forums members came up with a way of making and marketing a tensahedron stand that breaks down small for easy transport and have formed a small cottage business, Tensa Outdoor, to do just that.  I checked out their website, watched their videos, and was pretty intrigued.  Not too long after, Sean “Shug” Emery, another Hammock Forums member uploaded a video to YouTube in which he demonstrated the Tensa 4 stand.  Now I’m even more intrigued but, at $300, it was a little more coin than I wanted to drop ‘just because’.

A month or so ago, with our 30th wedding anniversary coming up, ConnieLou asked me what I would like for an anniversary present.  I had to think on it a bit and ran through a few possibilities before the obvious answer came to me…why not ask for a Tensa4 stand?!

So I did.

Just before we left town for a short anniversary trip to Niagara Falls, a box from Tensa Outdoors appeared on our front porch.  ConnieLou let me open it early to see what was inside but unfortunately I really didn’t have a chance to take it out back, set it up and try it out for a few days.  Yesterday, after cutting the grass and running a few errands, I finally had my chance.

The Tensa4 stand came packed in a heavy duty carry bag along with the cordage for the ridgeline, the baseline, one guyline and the head tether and two Orange Screw anchors.

Basically, the eight stand sections are extended and connected to form four complete poles…

The poles are then connected in the tetrahedral configuration with the baseline and ridgeline and anchored with the guyline and head tether.

With everything connected and anchored, the hammock is attached to the upper apexes.  I was lucky and after a bit of adjusting I was able to slip the ends of the continuous loops at the ends of my hammock directly to the ends of the stand without needing additional cordage or straps.

Since there was no rain in the forecast, I decided to forego adding a tarp this time around in order to give myself a chance to begin to get used to the stand without anything extra to deal with.  In the same train of thought, I opted to set it up with my simple DIY tablecloth hammock rather than my Chameleon with its integrated bug net.

While a little play was expected, I was pleasantly surprised at how sturdy the stand felt without a load on it and when I climbed in it felt rock solid. Once I got into my sweet spot, neither feet nor my shoulders bumped into the stand.  Getting out is slightly more tricky than normal because you have to get out and put your feet on the ground on the side of the baseline closest to the head end of the hammock to avoid ‘mousetrapping’.  I came back out later in the evening to give it a good overnight test and, again, was quite pleased.

All in all I think I’m going to get along well with the Tensa4 and really can’t think of anything I would change or modify.  My only concern is that my tarp with its 12-foot ridgeline might be a little too long.  We’ll find out about that soon enough.  In the event it is too long, maybe Santa might bring me an 11-foot tarp.  Hey Santa, just I case you’re listening, a Wilderness Logics 11-foot Big Daddy and a couple of Dutchware Stingers would be just the ticket.  Hint, hint…

That’s it folks.  As always, your mileage may vary.

Disclaimer:  We have no affiliation with Tensa Outdoors.  The Tensa4 stand was purchased by us and we’ve received no compensation, monetarily or otherwise, for this post.

Posted in Camping, Hammock, Hammock Camping, Hammock Forums, Hammock Stand, Tensa Outdoor, Tensa4, Tensa4 Hammock Stand | 1 Comment

Niagara Falls…Slowwwly I Turned…

Niagara Falls…Slowwwly I turned, step by step, inch by inch… 

Who else remembers the ‘Slowly I Turned’ routine from The Three Stooges?  The general gist of the routine is that Moe is telling Curly the story about how Larry stole Moe’s girl and then lead Moe on a cross country chase until Moe finally caught up to them in Niagara Falls.  I remember it from after school TV on TBS, our local Turner network station and I’ve seen the routine so many times that when ConnieLou first suggested taking a trip to Niagara Falls for our 30th anniversary, it immediately popped into my head.

Fast forward about eleven months…

We booked a hotel through my friend Brian Levine, who is starting a new career in the travel business (more about that later), packed our bags, boarded the pups and then boarded a plane bound for Buffalo, New York.  Flying can be an adventure for us by itself.  ConnieLou work for one of the airlines and, while we fly for free, we also fly standby.  Sometimes we get on a flight, sometimes we don’t.  This time around all went smoothly and by 10:30 Friday morning we were waiting for our Uber at the Buffalo airport.  By 11:30 we were checked into our room at the Doubletree, munching on Doubletree chocolate chip cookies and trying to decide what to do next.

We decided to go grab some lunch then walk over to the falls area which was about half a mile away.  We’d noticed a tour desk down in the lobby, so we decided to stop by and see what they had to offer.  One of the tours they offered was a tour of the area from the Canadian side.  Since we’d thought to bring our passports and had not rented a car, we decided that this would be the best option to see things from the Canadian side.

The tour van wasn’t supposed to pick us up until 4:30 so we headed out for lunch and then to the American falls.  We stopped at the Anchor Bar for lunch.  You may have heard of Anchor Bar in Buffalo…you know, the place where Buffalo wings were invented?  Same folks.  They now have a local chain with a location in Niagara Falls.

By now I’m sure some of my regular readers are wondering whether there would be any geocaching on this trip.  Fear not, there was, and I logged the first virtual cache shortly after we reached the falls.  OK, I’m not going to go into a lot of detail about caching around Niagara Falls other than to say I managed to log four EarthCaches and a traditional cache on the U.S. side of the border and an EarthCache and an Earthcache on the Canadian side while we were there.

That first glimpse of the falls is a bit difficult to describe.  We’ve all seen photos and videos but, needless to say, they don’t come close to the real thing.  In reality, we first started to experience the falls when walked out the front door of the hotel as a dull roar in the background, much like a freight train passing on a distant set of tracks.  As we walked closer the volume grew until we were at the overlook and almost had to shout to be heard.  The amount of water pouring over the 180-plus foot drop is almost mind boggling…and then one learns that only about 10 percent of the water in the Niagara River flows over the American and Bridal Veil Falls and the other 90 percent flows over the Canadian or ‘horseshoe’ falls.

We’d just walked back into our hotel room, kicked our shoes off and plopped down on the sofa when we received a call from the guy at the tour desk letting us know that the van had arrived early, and we could head out whenever we were ready.  We pulled our shoes back on, headed downstairs and climbed into the tour van (OK, it was really a mini-bus).  We picked up a few more folks at other nearby hotels then headed for the border.  Once we’d cleared Canadian customs we headed upriver to pick up a few more folks on the Canadian side and began the tour.

During the course of the tour we saw the falls from the top…

From the side…

From behind…

And even from above from the observation deck on the Skylon Tower later that evening…

Below the falls we got to see a large whirlpool caused by the erosion of silt from an ancient glacial scour…

And the Niagara Escarpment where the edge of the falls originally stood some 12,300 years ago.  We lucked up and got back into the U.S. just in time to park and see the fireworks over the falls before being dropped off at our hotel.

We slept in Saturday morning (hey, we can sleep in on an anniversary trip if we want to…) then headed back over to the park at the American falls where we met up with Connie’s niece Julie, her hubs Dan and their kids Noah and Abby to take a ride on the Maid of the Mist.  Dan is a Buffalo native and they recently moved up to Buffalo where he works.  He went to college just up the road and we were all surprised when he told us that he had never ridden the Maid of the Mist or the other tour boat at the falls.

If describing the falls as viewed from the top is difficult, describing them as viewed from the bottom is nearly impossible.  Try to wrap your head around this:  at the horseshoe falls, over half a million gallons of water falls over a 2,500-foot-long cliff every second.  That’s right, over half a million gallons every SECOND.  And…that cliff is 175 feet above the river level at the base of the falls.  Words and pictures simply don’t do it justice.

After our ride on the Maid of the Mist we decided to grab some supper with Dan, Julie and the kids.  Dan grabbed my attention when he said he knew of a good barbeque place called The Brickyard Pub and BBQ a few miles up the road in Lewiston.  He sealed the deal when he mentioned that they also served several really good craft beers brewed in-house.

Sunday was a slower day.  We spent the day exploring Goat Island where we could see both falls from a couple of additional angles and then did a little souvenir shopping before heading to the Red Coach Inn for a late lunch/early supper and then on back to the hotel to rest some very tired feet.

Monday morning found us up early to check out and grab an Uber back to the airport in Buffalo.  Since we hadn’t had a chance yet, we grabbed some coffee and donuts at the Tim Hortons (think Dunkin’ Donuts) at the airport before getting on the plane to head back to Atlanta…

Fortunately I had the in-flight progress map to keep me entertained on the way home.  Yes, I’m a nerd.

Finally some familiar landmarks appeared…

Remember me mentioning my friend Brian Levine near the beginning of this tale?  Time to circle back.  Brian is one of those folks that I’ve ‘known’ for several years but we’ve not yet met face to face.  Brian is the host of the Pipes Magazine Radio Show, a podcast about all things pipes and pipe tobacco.  Brian’s show, along with a few others, have helped to make my daily commute to and from work tolerable for the last five or six years and we’ve corresponded a bit over that time.  He’s also the guy that’s caused to me be a bit disappointed when I hear the into to Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train on the radio and I realize that it’s not the intro music to the show.

For the past twenty-plus years Brian worked in the premium tobacco industry and has travelled all over but recently decided it was time for a career change.  With his extensive travel experience and a desire to help folks, the travel industry seemed to be a logical place to land and he landed with MEI-Travel.  While Brian can do something as simple as book a hotel room, like he did for us, he specializes in cruises, international travel packages and in travel to the theme parks like Disney and Universal.  What’s the best part?  His work is at no cost to you.  Want to get out of town for a few days, give him a shout at brian.levine@mei-travel.com.  Just for the record, neither Brian nor MEI-Travel requested that I include this plug and I’m receiving nothing in return.  I’m just doing something nice for a friend.

Want to see a few couple more photos of the falls?  Sure, why not…

Posted in Earth Cache, Earthcache, Geocaching, MEI-Travel, Mouse Fan Travel, New York, Niagara Falls, Niagara Falls New Youk, Niagara Falls Ontario, Niagara Galls Canada, Virtual Cache | 3 Comments

The Great Georgia EarthCache Quest – Update No. 2 – Maybe I Need to Rethink This Just a Bit

Maybe I should rethink this quest just a bit.

No, I’m not going to scale it back and no, I’m not quitting…definitely not quitting, well, barring some catastrophic event anyway.  Even then, if I can find a way, I’ll get it done.

No, I need to rethink how I’m going to go about getting this done.

Here’s what got me to thinkin’…  Last Friday I had a great day caching.  I had a meeting to attend up at Young Harris College in the afternoon so I’d planned to try to log a couple of Quest caches on the way up and a couple on the way home.  As I looked at the maps of my Quest cache lists on Geocaching.com and realized that if I drove up through Gainesville and Cleveland, Georgia, I could log as many as six during my trip…and I did…two virtuals, 2 EarthCaches and 2 State Park Caches.  Sounds great, right?  Right!

But something was bothering me.  Saturday morning I figured out what it was while I was enjoying my Saturday morning pipe and coffee out on my deck.

Friday was a whirlwind sort of day and I didn’t take time to really enjoy it.  I didn’t take time to read the informative signs, to really enjoy the short hikes, to learn a little something or to just really enjoy what I was doing.  Fortunately, I had been to all but one of the locations that I visited before so there wasn’t a lot that was new to experience.

Once I’d had that realization I knew that I needed to rethink some of the plotting and planning that I mentioned in my last update.  Rather than trying to squeeze as many caches into a day as I can I realized that I needed to slow down and enjoy the experience.  Instead of rushing from cache to cache I need to enjoy driving the backroads and seeing my home state.  Instead of just finding the tidbit of information at a cache that I need in order to log it I need to take time to read the interpretive signs and have a good look around instead of just looking ahead. I need to camp out on overnight trips and build a campfire instead of staying in a motel.  I need to make time to eat at the local barbeque joints and ‘meat & threes’ and to check out nearby hardware and antique shops.   So what if I have to go to some area twice or even three times and so what if the Quest takes longer to finish?

So I’m rethinking things just a bit so I can enjoy the process a bit more.

Now maybe you’re curious about the six caches I logged on Friday.  Well, here’s the rundown:  Click the links to learn more about each cache location.

EarthCaches:

Track Rock Petroglyphs and Soapstone (GC3TXMB)

Desoto Falls (GC5G8GY)

Virtuals:

The Worm And The Rooster (GC87B1)

Appalachian Trail at Walasi-Yi (GC7B7KC)

State Park Caches:

Don Carter State Park (GC49W26)

Vogel State Park (GC27C2C)

Posted in Camping, Day Hike, Day Trip, Don Carter State Park, Earth Cache, Earthcache, Geocaching, GeoQuest, Georgia, Georgia State Parks, Geotour, Virtual Cache, Vogel State Park, Walasi-Yi, Young Harris, Young Harris College | 2 Comments

The Great Georgia EarthCache Quest – Update No. 1 – Plotting, Planning and a Few Random Caches

(Logo Creds:  Jenna Davenport)

As much as I enjoy adventures whose general plan is ‘let’s wing it and see what happens’, I also like adventures that take a bit of planning.  I like the pouring over maps to seeing where I’m going and figuring out how to get there.  I like reading about what I might see when I get there and I like the deciding of what gear that I need to take and the packing and sometimes repacking.  It’s all part of the fun

The past several days have been a lot more about planning than actually caching.  Sure, I’ve logged a few caches but I’ve also spent a lot more time staring at a computer monitor, looking at maps of caches, cruising the Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites website, checking distances and drive times on Google Maps and trying to decide where I can camp or otherwise stay overnight somewhere when necessary.  I also try to think about how weather and other conditions that might come into play.  South Georgia caches will definitely be done during cooler months.  Caches near springs, marshes and swamps will also be tackled during cooler months when the skeeter population is a bit lower.  Higher elevation caches will typically be done during the warmer months.  I’ve printed copies of cache pages to keep in a notebook in my daypack and have downloaded pocket queries, imported the info into GSAK (Geocaching Swiss Army Knife) on my laptop and then uploaded the waypoints to my handheld GPS receiver.

OK, yeah, I’m *that* nerd.

So far I’ve been able to come up with several groups or clusters of caches that should be able to be done in a day or weekend trip.  Since most of them are close to home or farther south, they’re going to have to wait a few weeks until I have time to hit the road.

In the mean time I’ve managed to find a few random caches on my lists, along with a few other traditional caches that aren’t part of the Quest but happened to be convenient.  Check these out…

Ghetto Stonehenge (GCC12B) took me to a ‘minimalist structure’ art installation by Sol LeWitt in Atlanta’s historic Old Fourth Ward.

The installation consists of a series of concrete block columns ranging in height from 10 to 20 feet, and is said to represent a city skyline when viewed from a distance.

The next stop was Red Tom Mountain Iron Mine Earthcache (GC6010W) in Red Top Mountain State Park near Acworth.

The stop at Red Top Mountain State Park was a dual purchase stop that gave me a chance to purchase a Georgia State Park Pass that will hopefully become the key to several of the State Park caches over the next year.

The EarthCache the site of an 1800’s iron mine in the Bartow County portion of Georgia’s “Iron Belt” which occurs mainly in Polk, Floyd and Bartow counties.  The EarthCache location is accessed by a short half-mile walk down the Iron Hill Trail from the parking lot at the trailhead.

I found a couple of muscadine vined loaded with ripe muscadines along the trail so I picked up a handful to enjoy as I walked.

There were several other areas where iron ore had been mined along the trail but the EarthCache location was the most prominent.

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to hunt the State Park cache that was hidden in another portion of the park before I had to leave.  Guess that means I’ll just have to go back another day…or darn…

The last stop for this update: Chattahoochee Bend State Park to find, you guessed it, Chattahoochee Bend State Park (GC2YV2R).

The cache is located about 2 miles up the River Trail from the day use area parking lot.  I actually found this cache back in July 2011 but didn’t collect the stamp on the ‘passport’ at the time.  Soooo, guess who got to make the hike back to the cache to get the stamp?  Yeah, that’s right, me.  No problem.  I like a nice walk in the woods.

Sirius, my pup, also likes a good walk in the woods so I decided to take him with me for his first geocaching trip.

It was one heck of an adventure thanks to Hurricane Florence.  We endured howling winds, torrential rain  and unprecedented flooding.  OK, maybe not.  There was a nice breeze blowing.  There were a few sprinkles but mostly it was just gawdawfully humid and the flooding?  Well, there was one small puddle on the trail…if you can even call that a puddle.

Sirius was on his best behavior this morning and didn’t even bother to bark at the young deer we encountered, much less try to chase it.  Most likely he was being good so Pops would take him hiking and caching again.

We relocated the cache, stamped my passport and made our way back to my truck.

We took our time heading back to the truck so that we could just enjoy being in the woods.  We enjoyed the views of the river…

Avoided a hornet nest…

And noticed what might have been a trail tree many years ago…

Once back at the truck we both had a drink of water then headed home.  After 4 ½ miles on the trail on a super humid morning, I think Sirius was pooped.

By now I’m sure that some of you are wondering if I’m going to write something about every Quest cache that I find of log?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I’m just going to wing it and see what happens…

 

Posted in Chattahoochee Bend, Chattahoochee Bend State Park, Day Hike, Earth Cache, Earthcache, Geocaching, GeoQuest, Georgia, Georgia State Parks, Red, Red Top Mountain State Park | 5 Comments

The Great Georgia Earth Cache Quest

(Logo creds:  Jenna Davenport)

At least it started out as The Great Georgia Earthcache Quest…it evolved just a little.

OK, here’s the deal.  Last week I started looking at my geocaching stats and noticed that out of the 93 Earth Caches in Georgia, I’ve only logged five.  Pretty slack for a geologist, right?  One would think that they would be near the top of my list to visit and log.  Apparently not, at least until now.  I decided that I want to concentrate on logging the remaining 88 Earth Caches in Georgia…and any new ones that come along, of course.  Sounded like a nice quest, right?  Right!

As I stared at my computer screen and pondered the locations of the 88 Earth Caches on a filtered version of Geocaching.com’s cache map it occurred to me that many of the 88 Earth Caches are close to one of Georgia’s State Parks.  About the same time, I remembered that the Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites folks have established the Georgia State Parks GeoTour, a series of 47 caches hidden in 44 of Georgia’s State Parks.

The State Parks and Historic Site’s folks have added a little encouragement for cachers to do the GeoTour by offering up a commemorative geocoin to cachers who find a certain number of the tour caches.  Fifteen caches earn the bronze coin, 30 caches gets a silver coin and 40 gets gold.  To claim your coins, one must stamp a ‘passport’ with a special stamp contained in the cache container.

OK, so now I’m up to 140 caches to find across the state…no problem.

As I was reading about the Georgia State Parks GeoTour I noticed that there is also a Georgia History GeoTour which consists of 14 caches located at historic sites across Georgia.  OK, let’s get those too…make it 154 caches to find across the state…no problem.

I could have stopped there but I remembered that there are 105 Virtual Caches scattered across Georgia.  To date I’ve logged seven.  Since I’m going to be driving all over the place anyway, lets add another 97 caches just for grins.

Now I have 246 caches to find to cover all the current Earth Caches and Virtual Caches in Georgia along with two GeoTours.  Good thing I don’t have to do all of these in one trip or by any specific date.  If I can get them done in a year, great.  If not, that’s cool too but at least I have a specific goal…OK, goals.

So, as I play this out in my head, I’m envisioning a long series of day and overnight trips, many, with family and friends along to enjoy the fun.  This does sound fun, right?  Right!

I’ve known about it for quite some time but there is an Earth Cache (Peachtree Creek, GC1WHCY) located just a couple of miles from my office.  Why not make a quick lunchtime run to visit the cache location, get the info I need to log the cache, take a couple of photos and maybe even find another nearby traditional cache (A Buckhead Break, GC5Q4FH) in a little park a few hundred feet away.

And so it begins…

Posted in Earth Cache, Earthcache, Geocaching, Georgia, Georgia State Parks, Geotour, Virtual Cache | 3 Comments

I Went Down to the Pond Today…

I went down to the pond today.

The past couple of weeks have been a little rough and I’ve needed a little time to slow down and decompress.   I’ve needed a little time to turn the world off and to focus on something else.   I’ve known for a long time that getting lost in the slow rhythm of a flyrod on a small pond would give me that opportunity…and this pond seemed like the right place to be.

You see, this particular pond is owned by my sister-in-law Brenda and her late husband Harry.  We lost Harry a couple of weeks ago to unexpected illness.  Harry may be gone but one can still feel his presence here.

Fish were caught, tears were shed, memories live on…

Posted in Fly Fishing, Flyfishing | 1 Comment

Dutchware Chameleon Revisited…And A Few Additions

Last October I posted my first impressions with Dutchware’s new Chameleon Hammock. At the time I’d spent only two nights in my Chameleon. Now I’ve spent over a dozen and we’re well on the way to becoming fast friends. That’s not to say that we haven’t had disagreements as friends sometimes do and I’ve had to make a few changes to my former netless hammocking ways to solidify that friendship. On the flip-side, I’ve also added a few accessories for my own enjoyment. Call it compromise.

In my previous entry I mentioned that I liked to get in my hammock on one side and out on the other. I quickly found out that getting in and out the same side works much better with the asymmetrical bugnet. And, since I’ve added a ground cloth to stand on when I kick off my shoes, getting in and out on the same side is much more convenient. I’m not sure that getting in and out gracefully will ever happen but I’ll be happy to take any improvements, even if they come just a little at a time.

So what have I added? For starters Santa brought me a vented top cover.

It’s probably safe to say every hammocker likes to add any little bit of warmth they can get to their set-up in the colder months. I’ve read that top covers and winter socks create a microclimate inside. It didn’t take me long to discover that my microclimate is called ‘rain forest’. Apparently my breath is quite moist. As we all should know, when warm moist air encounters a cool or cold surface, condensation is going to occur. I was expecting some condensation but wasn’t prepared for the amount that actually accumulated on the inside of my top cover. The first night I noticed the condensation, the temperature was below freezing. The next morning when I turned on my head lamp and started to get out of my hammock to go mark my territory, I bumped the top cover and had a small snowstorm inside my hammock. My next condensation encounter was in above freezing temperatures and I got rained on.

After those two incidents I wasn’t completely sure whether I wanted to keep the top cover but, as many of my friends and family know, I’m not one to give up on an idea easily. I traded emails with Thom Ressler, aka ‘Dutch’ of Dutchware and he gave me a few suggestions to try to help reduce the amount of condensation in my top cover. Little did I know at the time that the wheels in Dutch’s head were turning to come up with something that could be done to help vent moisture out but keep the bit of additional warmth in.

Enter the Dutchware Breathalizer.

It wasn’t too long after our ‘conversation’ that I noticed a new video by Dutch on YouTube for the Breathalizer. I was intrigued and fired off an email to Dutch asking if he’s had a chance to field test it and what the results might be. What I didn’t expect was for Dutch to reply saying that I would be a good test asking me what color Breathalizer that I would like. A few days later it arrived and, of course, I couldn’t wait to give it a try. Only catch…overnight lows were in the 50s and 60s instead of the 20s and 30s. No problem, with the temperature of my breath being around 98 degrees and the outside air 30 to 40 degrees cooler, there should still be some condensation. I hooked in the Breathalizer per Dutch’s video and opened the head end of the top cover per his suggestions and…

No condensation! Fast forward a week to cooler weather. Overnight lows back down in the mid 30s. Better conditions for a good Breathalizer test…or two. With no changes in set-up but much lower temperatures I ended up with just a tiny amount of condensation on the Breathalyzer and none in the foot end of my hammock. That my thermometers told me that there was a 5-degree difference in the temperature inside the top cover versus outside was just icing on the cake. I should get a few more nights to test the Breathalyzer and top cover before its time to switch it out for the bugnet but as first impressions go, I’m quite pleased.

So what else did I add? ConnieLou ordered a peak shelf for me for my birthday. Installation per Dutch’s YouTube video was a piece of cake and now I have a place to put my pillow so it doesn’t end up under the middle of my back when I get in my hammock and a place to toss my cell phone and headlamp overnight. Definitely like this addition. For those that might be interested, Dutch has come out with a version that can be used with any netless hammock that has a ridgeline.

One last addition… Those that read my previous entry about my first impressions about the Chameleon may recall that I was considering adding a piece or cord to one of the zipper pulls at the foot end of the top cover/bugnet to allow me to pull it closed without the late-night aerobics required to reach down and grab the pull itself. I did…and it worked beautifully. It’s amazing how happy a 5-foot long piece of braded mason’s twine with a loop at one end can make a person.

Thank you everybody…

Posted in Backpack Pillow, Backpacking, bug net, bugnet, Camping, Dutchware, Dutchware Chameleon, Hammock, Hammock Camping, Peak Shelf, Therm-a-Rest Down Pillow, Top Cover, Vented Top Cover | 4 Comments

Yer a Wizard Daddy!

Back in October ConnieLou informed me that I needed to plan on taking off work after Christmas.  The conversation went something like this:

ConnieLou:  Hey, you need to plan on taking off work Christmas week and clear your calendar.

Me:  OK.  Why?  What’s up?

ConnieLou:  Jenna wants us all to go somewhere…but I can’t tell you where.

Me:  Ummmm, OK…

ConnieLou:  We might fly but we will probably drive.  That’s all I can tell you.  It’s a surprise.

I knew better than to try to ask any more questions but my mind had kicked into high gear.  Now where could we go that Jenna would be suggesting that would be within a reasonable day’s drive?  Hmmmmmm.  Of course I had my ideas about where our destination might be but I kept them to myself because I didn’t want to spoil the surprise.

Christmas morning finally rolled around and we all headed downstairs to see what Santa had left.  ConnieLou and I usually let the girls open their presents first then we open ours.  This year was no exception.  As the girls handed me and ConnieLou our presents, Jenna told me that I would have to find mine.  I noticed Jenna do something with her phone and thought she had started playing Hedwig’s Theme by accident on one of her apps…but then I noticed that the music wasn’t coming from her phone but from somewhere over near our Christmas tree.  I looked at her funny and she said “Follow the music.”  Safer than following spiders, I guess.  I started to look in the branches of the tree but quickly realized that the music wasn’t coming from the tree.  It didn’t take long to find a package behind the curtains in the front window in our den.

I opened the package to find an owl with an envelope tucked into a bed of red and yellow tissue paper.  Of course the tissue paper was red and yellow, I’m a Gryffindor after all!  It was at this point that I began to realize just how much effort she had put into her Christmas plans for all of us.  The paper and envelope had been stained to look like parchment, the Hogwarts crest was hand-drawn, the text written in green ink and it was addressed to me in “The Largest Bedroom”.

My Hogwarts letter had finally come!  I guess the owl had gotten lost somewhere but somehow made its way to Jenna.  It was forty-one years late but it finally made it and I finally knew where we were going…to Universal Studios in Orlando for a visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

OK, I’ll admit it, in addition to being an outdoor nut I’m a bit of a geek.  I’m happy to say that Ashley and Jenna have grown up to be geeks like their dad.  Over the years they’ve learned to enjoy my fandoms including Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Pirates of the Caribbean and they’ve introduced me to some of theirs, namely The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.  ConnieLou claims not to be a geek and says she has no interest in the most of those movies but we catch her peeking up and watching every now and then while we’re watching one of them on TV.  As one might expect, conversations around our house are often peppered with quips and quotes from one or more of the books or movies.

We packed up Christmas evening and the next morning we loaded up the car.  Unfortunately we had luggage and had to take the dogs to the kennel so traveling by broom was a bit impractical and no one had arranged a portkey so we were traveling by car…a non-flying car at that.  With the pups dropped off, we finally got on the road to Orlando.

 

Long road trips always mean a couple of potty stops, a stop to eat, and a stop for gas and if there happens to be a convenient geocache nearby…

We were up bright and early Wednesday morning to head to the parks. We made a quick stop at the Will Call booth to pick up our tickets and headed on in…

Once in Diagon Alley, we looked around a bit then stopped in Ollivanders to get our wands…

(OK, so that was a photo of Ollivanders’ Hogsmeade location, don’t critique, just go with it.)

Of course we had to try casting spells with our wands at the ‘interactive locations’ scattered around Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade…

We saw Gringotts’ dragon. By the expressions on the faces of many of the folks in Diagon Alley, one would think they had never seen a dragon before…

And then we visited Gringotts…

Lunch was at the Leaky Cauldron.  Fish and chips for ConnieLou and the girls, bangers and mash for me…

Of course there was butterbeer…

By late afternoon it was time to head to King’s Cross Station to take the Hogwarts Express over to Hogsmeade to visit Hogwarts and see the light show…

 

ConnieLou and I took a break while the girls waited in line to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.  Anyone missing an owl?

As darkness fell, Hogwarts castle lit up…

We wrapped up the day watching the muggle parade…

Thursday morning we returned to the Wizarding World for a little while then explored some of the rest of the parks.  As we were walking in I discovered that I had been doodled by my buddy John Trotter, aka The Paintmonkey, who claimed that I caused a bit of a scene…

Strangely, none of us seemed quite as energetic as we were the day before.  The girls rode a couple more rides and we met a velociraptor before taking one last trip on the Hogwarts Express back over to Diagon Alley then leaving to go pick up a pizza and call it a night.

Friday morning found us heading back home with a stop to pick the pups up from the kennel.  I think they were happy to be home…

(Photo Creds: Jenna Davenport)

Posted in Butterbeer, Harry Potter, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios Orlando | 4 Comments

Phoenix Rises from the Ashes

I haven’t found a cache in a while. I had a few minutes before dark after finishing up some work at a new jobsite the other day so I popped on the Geocaching.com app on my phone and discovered that there was a cache (Phoenix, GC578RB) at another of my recent jobsites, the Atlanta BeltLine’s Westside Trail at its Allene Avenue crossing just a short distance away. I really don’t know how I haven’t noticed this cache before. Oh well, better late than never, right?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment