TGGEQ Update No. 6 – Collect All Four

Plans change.

I had all intentions of heading down to southwest Georgia to log several of the TGGEQ caches more or less located along the state line between Georgia and Alabama.  However, weather forecasts, up to and including Saturday morning, were predicting heavy rain and possibly severe weather for Saturday night and most of the day Sunday (today).  Now while I don’t mind camping in the rain all that much, cleaning but drying wet gear afterward is a pain and something I’d rather not have to deal with if I don’t absolutely have to.  With the forecast in mind I decided to switch gears and fortunately I had a back-up plan.  I knew there was a group of five caches that I needed to log down around Warm Springs and Pine Mountain, Georgia, about an hour or so from home.  I also knew that that group of caches included at least one of each of the four types of caches that make up TGGEQ and this would be one of only a handful of opportunities to log at least one of each type in one trip, much less in one day.

With my back-up plan in mind I left the house Saturday morning and headed toward Warm Springs.  I knew there was one of the Downtown/Main Street USA series caches (Downtown/Main Street USA: Greenville, GA, GC1MBAH) right along my route in Greenville, Georgia so decided to make a quick stop to hunt it up.  My Geocaching app brought me to an interesting old building which I learned was the old Meriwether County Jail.

I later learned that the jail was built in 1896 and used up until the middle 1980s when it was finally ordered closed.  The jail building was a prominent feature in “Murder in Coweta County”, Margaret Ann Barnes’ novel, and subsequent movie adaptation, which told the true life story of the murder of Wilson Turner by a corrupt Coweta County sheriff in 1948.  After the jail closed the building was purchased and renovated to be a residence and museum.  After posting a picture on Facebook a friend told me that the building is currently for sale for $325,000…just peanuts really.  Unfortunately I don’t have any peanuts to spare.

On to Warm Springs…

My first TGGEQ cache of the day was an Earthcache, Warm Springs (GC1JY3P), at the historic Warm Springs Treatment Pools.

Warm Springs, Georgia came into being as a resort town in the middle 1800s and is named for the warm water springs that flow from the lower flanks of Pine Mountain.  From the middle 1800s until the turn of the twentieth century, Warm Springs was ‘the place to be’.  Wealthy tourists came by rail and by stagecoach to enjoy the resort life which included swimming in pools created at the springs which were long known for their therapeutic properties.  By the early 1900s the railroads had expanded to reach other ‘exotic’ locales and interest in the resorts in Warm Springs began to decline.  Things changed in 1924 when future U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had been stricken with polio learned of the springs and began coming to visit the pools in hopes that the he would find relief from his condition.

Onward to Roosevelt’s Little White House (GC80HPA), a Georgia History Tour cache.  The Little White House is a vacation cottage built by F.D.R in 1934 as a place to stay during his trips to Warm Springs for polio therapy until his death there in April 1945.

As I entered the museum I was met by this rather creepy likeness of F.D.R.

Among the items on display in the museum was his 1938 Ford convertible.

The car had been fitted with hand controls so that onlookers could not easily tell that he was unable to use his leg to control the car.

Leaving the Little White House I headed over to Dowdell’s Knob in FDR State Park for a pair of virtual caches including F.D.R.s Pine Mt. Valley Vista (GC5690) and This War is Over, I’m Coming Home (GC7B66Q).  It’s very easy to see why Dowdell’s Knob was F.D.R.’s favorite picnic spot.  Views for days…

A short walk down the Pine Mountain Trail took me to another historic spot along the trail…

I think I’ve mentioned it in a previous entry but the Pine Mountain Trail is one of the best marked and best maintained trails that I know of thanks to the Pine Mountain Trail Association.

With my Earthcache, History Tour cache, and virtual cache out of the way I headed toward F.D. Roosevelt State Park (GC26FJZ), the State Park cache that I needed to round out my collection.  I parked at the park office then took another little walk along the Pine Mountain Trail to the GZ located at Buzzards Roost Overlook.

Spring was definitely beginning to pop along the trail…

Once at the GZ I was glad I had my trusty old GPSr with me as cell service was down to one bar…

Even the Garmin was a bit bouncy below the overlook but I still managed to find a well hidden cache, stamp my State Parks Geotour passport and complete my TGGEQ efforts for the day.

As I walked back toward the truck I began to feel rather smug that I hadn’t tripped or taken a spill on the trail.  Yes, I’m one of those folks that can trip all over a flat surface, much less an irregular rocky, rooty surface like a trail through the woods.  Needless to say it didn’t last as I hung the tow of my shoe on one of the steps leading up to the office lawn and practically face-planted up about half of the remainder of the steps.  Fortunately only my pride was damaged and when I’d gathered my wits I found myself laughing so hard I was crying.  I’d loved to have known what the little girl that was walking down the other side of the steps with her dad and brother was thinking after she stopped to ask me if I was ok.

With my task for the day complete I headed home.  Of course I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to hunt for a couple more nearby caches my way.  I’d DNF’d Callaway Gardens: Country Store (GC1KBW2) late one evening after dark during previous trip to the area.

After working my way down to its hiding spot I decided that I was glad that I waited.

Last cache stop of the day was in Pine Mountain to hunt for Where’s the Train? (GCCT219).  Unfortunately it’s either gone missing or I didn’t look for the right thing in the right place so I had to log a DNF.  Was a pretty neat place to visit though.

With my caching day done I headed back toward the house, making one last stop for a Mountain Dew Slurpee.

Note, as I was writing this entry I happened to notice that a new Earthcache was posted just last week at Dowdell’s Knob (Mechanical Weathering at Dowdell’s Knob, GC84E11).  WHAT?!  Fortunately I’d had enough of a look around to answer the questions and claim the find.  Make that six TGGEQ caches for the day!

So how’s the TGGEQ cache map looking?  Slowly but surely turning more and more yellow.  Check it out…

BTW, remember all that rain that was forecast?  Yeah, didn’t happen.

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Posted in Day Hike, Day Trip, Dowdell's Knob, Earth Cache, Earthcache, FDR State Park, Franklin Delano Roosevelt State Park, Geocaching, GeoQuest, Georgia State Parks, Geotour, Little White House, Meriwether County, Meriwether County Georgia, Pine Mountain, Pine Mountain Trail, Virtual Cache | 2 Comments

Hammock Camping on a Budget Revisited: OK, What’s Next?

Back in June 2013 I posted an entry to this blog titled Hammock Camping on a Budget in which I described a few ways to assemble a ‘starter set’ of hammock camping gear without breaking the bank.  To my surprise, that post has received nearly 9,500 views to date (March 4, 2019).  Hopefully it’s helped a few folks jump into the world of hammock camping and saved them a few sheckels in the process.

I’ve re-read that entry several times lately and I remembered that the post leaned heavily toward ‘make-your-own’ or ‘do-it-yourself’ gear.  That’s not a problem for some but let’s face it, not everyone has the time or resources for DIY.  BTW, no, I’m deliberately not including ‘ability’ here.  I think that most anyone without some significant physical impediment can learn to run a relatively straight line of stitches and a backstitch on a sewing machine with just a little practice.

Also, each time I re-read the entry I found myself wondering “OK, what next?”  I realized that since I wrote that post, my own set-up has evolved and has been upgraded and I’ve dropped a bit more coin on a few items but I’ve still managed to make nice upgrades and I’ve made those upgrades by purchasing from reputable cottage vendors without spending stupid amounts money.

Rather than giving a bunch of links to specific products which might come and go or change over time, I’m going to describe a few of the strategies I’ve used to find good quality gear at good prices and then give a few links to the home pages of vendors that I’ve used or have been recommended to me.  Keep in mind, in this entry I assume that you, the reader, have at least a little hammock camping experience and have a pretty good idea of what pieces of your set-up that you may be looking to change or upgrade.  You don’t have any hammock camping experience?  No worries, you can benefit from what I have to say too…

Here we go:

1) Know your needs. I recently found myself in need of a new tarp and had a couple of specific requirements.  I wanted a silpoly winter tarp (a tarp with ‘doors’ that could be pulled closed on the ends), I needed an 11-foot ridgeline and I wasn’t all that concerned about color.  Knowing exactly what I needed enabled me to narrow my search to a few reputable vendors fairly quickly then it was a matter of comparing specs and prices.

2) Do your research. I could easily call this 1A.  As soon as you start thinking about purchasing a new piece of gear, do some research, both on-line and by visiting your local outdoor outfitter.  Find out what variations and options are available.  Remember, ordering from a cottage vender isn’t like ordering from REI or Outdoors.com.  There are often options that can be customized to suit your specific needs.

3) Be patient! Just like large retail store, nearly all of the cottage vendors that I buy from run some sort of sale periodically.  Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Independence Day, Black Friday…even Valentine’s Day.  You know the drill.  Heck, sometimes some of the small cottage vendors will run a flash sale for the heck of it on a random day.

4) Get plugged in. Tip number 3 doesn’t help much if you don’t know when these sales are going to be or if you don’t have the vendor code that you need in order to take advantage of it, does it?  Follow the vendors on social media.  Every cottage vendor I can think of has Facebook and Instagram accounts and you can bet that they post the information you need there.  Want to get ahead of the social media followers?  Go to the vendor’s website and sign up for their newsletter.  OK, yes, you will have more email in your in-box…but that’s mail you actually wanted, right?    More often than not that email will hit your inbox a full day or sometimes two before the rest of the world knows about a sale or whatever special the vendor is offering.  One more thing, occasionally one of the cottage vendors will offer an item thats been sitting on their shelves for an extended period of time at a pretty good discount.  Why has it been sitting on the shelf?  Could be one of a number of reasons but its still top quality gear.  If you’re not picky about colors this can be a great way to go.  I picked up a Hammock Gear Incubator 20 underquilt for about 75 clams less than it would have cost if I had had one made to my specs.

5) Lastly, take advantage of those times when someone might have a need to buy you a gift and you might have some input as to what that gift might be…you know, a birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah, an anniversary, Father’s/Mother’s Day, etc. Not surprisingly, the vendors’ sales often correspond with such events.  I don’t know about your spouse or significant other, but when given a choice, my wife would much prefer buying me a new piece of outdoor gear than say, a new pipe or a box of cigars.

So now you have my favorite strategies to save some of your hard earned cash when purchasing outdoor gear.  Hope they work as well for you as they have for me.  Now about those links I promised…

DutchWare

Hammock Gear

Dream Hammock

Jacks R Better

Arrowhead Equipment

2QZQ Hammock Specialties

Loco Libre Gear

UGQ Outdoor Equipment

Warbonnet Outdoors

Simply Light Designs (Recommended by Hammock Forums member rweb82)

Don’t see your favorite cottage vendor in my list?  Shoot me a comment with their name.  I’ll check ‘em out and if they have a good reputation and I like what I see, I’ll add them to the list.  Have your own tip that you’d like to share?  Send me a comment and if I like it I’ll update the entry and drop it in.

Hammock Forums member GillyGilligan had a couple of good tips to share:

Try before you buy.  While it may not be practical for everyone, if possible get yourself to a ‘hang’.  Basically, a ‘hang’ is a gathering of hammock hangers.  They’re a great opportunity see and even try out many different pieces of hammock camping gear.  More often than not, one or more of the cottage vendors will be attending and might have some of their wares for sale.  Don’t know where to find a hang?  Check out thye Hangouts, Campouts and Trip Planning section of Hammock Forums.

GillyGilligan Tip No. 2:  Don’t be afraid to trade.  Have a piece of gear that you’re not crazy about?  Offer it up for trade.  Sure, it  can be hit or miss but when it does work out its pretty sweet.  Check out the ‘For Trade’ section of Hammock Forums.  You have to be a Hammock Forums member to trade.  BE SURE TO READ AND UNDERSTAND THE ‘FOR TRADE’ FORUM RULES BEFORE YOU ATTEMPT TO TRADE.

Gunner 76 of Hammock Forums reminded me of something that I forgot this in my original post:  Check out the ‘For Sale’ section of Hammock Forums.  Once again,  You have to be a Hammock Forums member to buy and sell.  BE SURE TO READ AND UNDERSTAND THE ‘FOR TRADE’ FORUM RULES BEFORE YOU ATTEMPT TO BUY OR SELL.

If you like this entry or if it was helpful to you, please give me a like.  Also, please feel free to share it with others who might find it useful.

That’s it folks, see y’all in the trees…

Posted in bug net, bugnet, Camping, Dutchware, DutchWare Gear, Hammock, Hammock Camping, Hammock Forums, Hammock Gear, Hammock Gear Incubator, Hammock Gear The Journey, Hammock Gear Underquilt, Top Quilt | 1 Comment

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together…

I’ve been trying to get this entry going for a week or so.  I’ve started and stopped three or four times but never really got going quite in the direction that I wanted.  I think I’ve got it now.

You may remember reading my First Impressions entries about the Tensa Outdoors’ Tensa4 hammock stand and Hammock Gear’s ‘The Journey’ winter tarp…well, a week or so ago I finally had a chance to use them together as intended.  In this entry I’ll tell about a few of the tweaks I had to make so that all of the bits and pieces would work harmoniously together.

First let’s talk about my hammocks and the Tensa4 stand.  I use 11-foot hammocks most of the time.  The first couple of times I set up one of my hammocks on the stand, I simply slipped the open ends of the continuous loops at the ends of the hammocks over the ends of the stand poles.  The height of the hammock was about right so I didn’t worry too much about it at the time.

So far, so good…  Now let’s add the tarp to the equation.

I knew that the tarp, even at 11 feet end to end, would be a little too long for to use with the stand with the hammock attached directly to the stand via the continuous loops so I had to add in some sort of suspension.  My normal hammock suspension consists of polyester straps, along with cinch buckles and Dutch biners so I knew it should work fine.  As I mentioned in my First Impressions entry for the tarp, my tarp suspension (ridgeline) consists of Dutchware Stingers and Reflectit.

Once I had the hammock connected to the stand via my regular suspension, had the tarp connected to the stand via the Reflectit and Stingers and had the sides of the tarp staked out I noticed that something was amiss.  My hammock seemed awfully low, and when I sat down then stretched out in the hammock, I quickly realized that it was not just a little too low, it was a lot too low…my butt was on the ground.  Time to rethink this just a bit.

I knew from reading posts on the Hammock Forums bulletin board and comment on the Tensa Outdoors website that the stand, an 11-foot hammock and a tarp with an 11-foot ridgeline were compatible.  When I took a step back to look at the situation I realized that the Stingers/Reflectit ridgeline combination was too long.  The geometry just didn’t work.  The question became how could I shorten the tarp ridgeline, thereby reducing the interior angle of the hammock stand which would allow me to shorten the hammock suspension to pull the hammock further up off the ground.

The solution to the problem eluded me for the rest of the day and for that evening but stopped me dead in my tracks while I was making coffee at 6:30 the next morning.  OK, don’t ask me why I was up at 6:30 on a Saturday morning when I didn’t need to be.  I just was.  The solution…simple…tie a loop that was just big enough to larks-head to the D-ring at the corner of the tarp and slip over the end of one of the stand’s poles in a piece of Reflectit.  I wish I could say that I ran out to the back yard before daylight to give it try. But no, I waited until I finished my coffee and the sun had come up to go.

Once installed, the Reflectit loops shortened the overall length of the distance needed between the ends of the hammock stand to accommodate the tarp by 5 to 6 inches and closed the interior angle of the stand enough to allow the suspension to be shortened and pull the hammock up off the ground several inches to a comfortable height.

A night in the hammock afterward convinced me that the setup was going to work pretty well for my purposes.  Oh, and for what it’s worth, the tarp got its first little weather test the next morning when a brief rain shower rolled through shortly after my morning walk to go mark my territory and the patter of rain on the tarp sang me back to sleep for a little while.

Posted in Camping, Dutchware, DutchWare Gear, Hammock, Hammock Camping, Hammock Forums, Hammock Gear, Hammock Gear The Journey, Hammock Stand, Hex Tarp, Tensa Outdoor, Tensa4, Tensa4 Hammock Stand | Leave a comment

First Impressions – Hammock Gear ‘The Journey’ Winter Tarp

Ready for another First Impressions entry?

After trying out the Tensa 4 hammock stand that I received as my anniversary present from ConnieLou for our 30th Anniversary last year, I realized that my 12-foot Wilderness Logics Big Daddy tarp was going to be a bit too long to use with the stand.  I knew Christmas was coming up so, of course I did what most anyone in that situation would do…I put a new tarp on my Christmas Wish List and began to look at options for shorter tarps.

I’ve been happy with my Wilderness Logics tarp so initially I began looking at an 11-foot version of the Big Daddy tarp.  But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that if I was going to shell out the bucks for a new tarp, I didn’t want to just buy a smaller version of a tarp that I already have.  There really needed to be something about it that set it apart from the Big Daddy.  Enter the ‘winter tarp’.  What’s a winter tarp you ask?  Simply said, it’s a tarp with extra material, i.e. ‘doors’, at each end that can be closed off to provide additional protection from the elements.

As with nearly all things hammock related, there are quite a few options to choose from and I spent a fair amount of time researching options from a number of cottage vendors including Wilderness Logics, Dutchware, Hammock Gear, Warbonnet Outdoors and others.  I had almost convinced myself that I wanted an Old Man Winter tarp from Wilderness Logics when I learned that Marty Gallimore, the owner of Wilderness Logics, had passed away and they were closing down.  The search continued.  Ultimately I narrowed my search down to two vendors, Hammock Gear and Dutchware.  One thing to keep in mind here, by narrowing my search to these two vendors is in no way saying anything against any of the other cottage vendors of hammock camping gear.  I just happen to have other pieces of gear from both and have been pleased with the quality and price point.  What made me decide on Hammock Gear over Dutchware?  Honestly, it came down to Hammock Gear having a better Black Friday offer.

So what tarp did I ultimately decide on?

I went with the 11-foot version of Hammock Gear’s ‘The Journey’ winter tarp.  I went with the 11-foot version to meet my length requirements and opted for coyote brown over olive green.  How did I rig it out?  To keep things simple, I decided to rig the tarp pretty much the same way that I have my Bid Daddy tarp rigged.  The more familiar, the better, right?

Here’s the low-down… For a ridgeline I went with a pair of Dutchware Stingers with 12 feet of orange Reflectit spliced to each, Dutchware Tarpworms with orange Reflectit and 3/32-inch shock cord for tie outs, orange reflective guy line for panel pulls, a one-piece mesh tarp sleeve and 3/32-inch reflective shock cord with 3/8-inch side release buckles for the door pulls.

Unfortunately the tarp and rigging weren’t waiting for me under the tree on Christmas morning…but that’s OK, we knew ahead of time that it wouldn’t be.  Hammock Gear typically has a two to three week lead time for made-to-order gear but add in the Black Friday special and the run-up to Christmas and the lead time stretched to nearly six weeks…as was expected.

Finally, with all of the pieces in place, I was able to get outside this afternoon, get the tarp rigged and hung for the first time.  Ready for a few photos?  Check ‘em out…

First the Goodie Box with all of the bits and pieces…

Like I mentioned earlier, with the exception of the side panel pulls and the door pulls, the set-up is identical to my Big Daddy tarp…Dutchware Stingers and Reflectit for the ridge tie-outs and Dutchware Tarpworms and and Reflectit for guy lines at the corners…

While there are a myriad of options to rig the tarp doors, I decided to go with a method utilizing shock cord and side release buckles that I’d seen on a YouTube video and in a related blog entry by Alan Dixon.

Views from the side and the end with the doors open and closed…

I’m not sure how much I’ll use the side panel pull-outs but they do add a good bit of room to the interior when they’re used.

Compare the amount of room beneath the tarp with the side panel pull-outs in use versus without.  Keep in mind that it’s pitched fairly low…

And finally the tarp skin wrapping the whole thing up…

It took a little tweaking to get the shock cord door pulls set just right but that shouldn’t be a problem down the road.  The tarp is a foot shorter than my Big Daddy and isn’t quite as wide the increase in coverage and protection from wind as well as rain should make the difference insignificant.

I’ll add a few more photos down the road after I have a chance to spend a few nights under it between the trees and in the Tensa 4 stand.

All in all I’m quite pleased.  If I just had to find fault with something it would be the stuff sack.  Yeah, you read that right, the stuff sack.  The tarp fits just fine without the cordage and tarp skin but once everything is added, not so much.  Increase the diameter of the sack by an inch or make it a couple of inches longer and it would be perfect.

Want more First Impressions?  Check out my other First Impressions entries for these products:

Tensa Outdoors’ Tensa4 Hammock Stand

Dutchware Chameleon Hammock and Chameleon Accessories

Solo Stove Lite and

Hammock Gear Incubator 20-degree Underquilt

Posted in Dutchware, DutchWare Gear, Hammock, Hammock Camping, Hammock Forums, Hammock Gear, Hammock Gear The Journey, Hammock Stand, Tensa Outdoor, Tensa4, Tensa4 Hammock Stand, Uncategorized, Winter Tarp | 8 Comments

Three O’clock In The Morning Is An Uncivilized Hour…

Three o’clock in the morning is an uncivilized hour.

Even for getting up to get dressed and ready for a day trip to The City that Never Sleeps, 3:00 is an uncivilized hour.  Yet that’s what we were doing.  We were out the door by 3:45 and were through security and at our gate at the airport in Atlanta by 5:00 for a 6:00 flight.

OK, here’s the deal.  The Harry Potter, A History of Magic exhibit has been at the New York Historical Society Museum since early October after its run at the British Library in London.

Being Potter fans, naturally we wanted to go.  We had hoped to make a trip before now but with the girls’ school schedules, my work schedule and holidays thrown in we just haven’t had the chance.  Jenna was due to head back to school this weekend and the exhibit closes in a couple of weeks so she finally convinced me to take a day off from work and go so we could see it before the exhibit closed.  It didn’t take a lot of convincing really.  Unfortunately Ashley wasn’t able to go with us.  Hopefully the exhibit will move to another city and Ashley will have a chance to go.  Honestly I wouldn’t mind seeing it again myself.

Mother Nature treated us to a spectacular sunrise during our flight…

Of course our pictures didn’t come close to doing it justice…

Once we were back on the ground we made our way to the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  Riding the buses and subways in New York is an adventure by itself.

We made it to the museum a couple of hours before our ticket time so we had some time to kill.  It probably shouldn’t be much of a surprise that we decided to log a few nearby caches.  Poppy Evolution (GC72DFM), a traditional cache, was a quick easy find outside the American Museum Of Natural History, located just across West 77th Street from the Historical Society Museum.

Resolve (GC15JBT), a Mystery Cache and Cleopatra’s Needle (GC59BR5), an Earthcache, took us into Central Park…

With a few caches under our belt we stopped for a cup of coffee and then headed to the museum to see the exhibit…

Photography wasn’t allowed inside the exhibit but someone who must not be named took a few pictures anyway.  I won’t say who she was but she solemnly swore that she was up to no good.

I’ve got to say that the exhibit exceeded all of my expectations.  Learning about the historical background on which J.K. Rowling based part of the Harry Potter book series made the series even more fascinating…and fun.

After our time at the museum we grabbed a bite of lunch then began to make our way back to the airport for our flight home.  We discovered that the subway station at the corner of West 79th Street and Central Park West also held a treat for us in the form of tile mosaics on the station walls…

Friday afternoon rush hour traffic and construction at LaGuardia Airport made getting back to the airport and to the correct terminal a challenge.  We’d left earlier to get back to the airport than we originally planned but we still missed our intended flight home.  No matter, there was another flight to Atlanta scheduled to leave 30 minutes later (which ended up leaving an hour later…hey, airlines get caught up in traffic too sometimes) and then three more flights after that.

And then we were home.  Mischief Managed…

Posted in Central Park, Day Trip, Earth Cache, Earthcache, Geocaching, Harry Potter, Harry Potter A History of Magic, New York, New York City, New York Historical Society, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter | Leave a comment

Testing, Testing, One, Two, Testing, Testing…

I’ve decided it time (OK, way past time) to try a new photo size rather  than my usual 450 x 338 pixels so I thought I’d post a few samples to see how they worked with the template borders…

First up:  550 x 375

Next: 600 x 450

Finally: 700 x 525

Got an opinion?  Please leave me a comment!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Great Georgia Earthcache Quest – Update No. 5 – And In With The New

We didn’t get out to go caching on New Year’s Day.  I spent the morning tending some ribs on the grill and we all spent the afternoon piddling around and taking advantage of our last chance to be lazy before going back to work and getting back to the regular grind.

I knew that I had to make my monthly work trip out to Greensboro, Georgia and there were a few virtual caches not too far away in Athens that I wanted to do so I asked Jenna if she wanted to go.  I knew that she would probably want to go just to go caching but I decided to sweeten my offer with a lunch stop for sushi.  I wasn’t disappointed.

Friday morning found us driving east in heavy rain.  It rained on us all the way to Greensboro but the forecast called for the rain to taper off by lunchtime and just be cloudy the rest of the day.  Fortunately, forecast was right.  I did what I had to do for work and by late morning we were heading to Athens.  As we were leaving my jobsite we noticed a couple of deer by the side of the road.  We had just passed them when I noticed a buck behind some bushes.

Jenna wasn’t too sure what to think when I jammed on the brakes and threw the gearshift into reverse and hit the gas. She finally saw the buck I had seen and then we both saw the other.  We watched the deer for a few minutes before heading on to Athens for lunch at Inoko.

Our first cache stop for the day took us to a (sometimes) quiet corner of the University of Georgia campus to log ‘Break on Bridge’ (GC7088) where we found yet another buck.  This time, instead of a whitetail deer, the buck we found was made of metal.  The sculpture, known as “The Vigil” was constructed by two UGA art students in 2014.

From Break on Bridge we made our way to ‘Icon of Athens, Georgia’ (GC7B9PC), the metal Arch located at the north end of the UGA campus at Broad Street.  Friday afternoon traffic was heavy in downtown Athens and parking was scarce so we elected to do a drive-by to get the photo we needed…

After Icon of Athens we headed a short distance down the street to “Your Vision” (GC708A) to check out the mural…

We weren’t in a huge hurry to get home so we decided to make a little detour from our route home to log an Earthcache.  ‘ROCKDALE’ (GC61QH5) is situated on a patch of granite outcrop on the edge of Black Shoals Park in Rockdale County between Loganville and Conyers.  On the way to ROCKDALE we passed through the Haralson Mill Historic District where we saw the recently built (1997) Haralson Mill Covered Bridge…

Along with the Haralson Mill House…

And a former general store building…

We followed the Black Shoals Nature Trail a short distance to the GZ where we found a nice patch of granite with obvious signs of past quarrying.

We called it a day and headed home after adding another four yellow smilies to the map.

Posted in Athens, Athens Georgia, Black Shoals Park, Geocaching, GeoQuest, Geotour, Haralson Historic District, Haralson Mill Covered Bridge | 2 Comments

The Great Georgia Earthcache Quest – Update No. 4 – Out With the Old…

…the old year that is.  Goodbye 2018 and begone!  While 2018 wasn’t all that bad for me personally, I have too many friends and family members that have experienced losses, challenges and hardships and are ready to put 2018 in their rearview mirrors.

I spent New Year’s Eve afternoon caching with my oldest daughter, Ashley, who was home for one of the few breaks that she gets during her last year in vet school at UGA.  The weather was dry and somewhat sunny for a change so we took it as an opportunity to get out of the house for a little while, log a couple of caches, and learn a bit of Georgia history in the process.  There were a couple of virtual caches down in West Point and LaGrange, Georgia that I needed for my Quest so we decided to tackle those.

Normally I’d drive but sometimes it’s nice to just navigate instead…

Our first cache of the day would be ‘The Last General to Die’ (GC5F72) in West Point.  The multi-stage virtual cache first took us to a cemetery where 76 Confederate and Union soldiers, including two generals, who fought and died in the battle at Fort Tyler located nearby on the other side of the Chattahoochee River above the town of West Point, were buried.

Eventually we ended up at Fort Tyler itself where, ironically, the battle at Fort Tyler was fought on April 16, 1865…seven days after Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia.

The second virtual cache of the day took us back up to LaGrange for ‘A Master of the Trade’ (GC774E), another multi-stage cache.  Our first stop was at the Callaway Memorial Tower.  There was some repair work being done on the tower so we were unable to get the information we needed to get to the next stage from the markers at the tower but Google helped us take care of that little problem.

We visited the Lafayette Fountain in the heart of LaGrange where we found another bit of information to help us make our way to the final stage.

Finally, we ended up at yet another Civil War cemetery…but a soldier’s grave was not our goal.

Instead we were taken to the grave of Horace King, a former slave who became an architect and engineer and eventually one of the most respected bridge designers and builders in the Deep South.  King gained his freedom in 1846, continued to build bridges and went on to serve as a legislator in the Alabama House of Representatives.

We wrapped the afternoon up with a stop for a Coca-Cola and Moon Pie…yes, I know one is supposed to drink RC Cola with a Moon Pie but I like Coca-Cola better, don’t hate.

So how’s The Great Georgia Earthcache Quest coming along?  Well, little by little the cache symbols are being replaced by yellow smilies.

Want to know about other Quest caches that don’t make the blog?  Follow me at @mrbream in Instagram.

Posted in Earth Cache, Earthcache, Fort Tyler, Geocaching, GeoQuest, Georgia, Geotour, Virtual Cache | 9 Comments

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’.

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.

Want more First Impressions?  Check out my other First Impressions entries for these products:

Hammock Gear ‘The Journey’ Winter Tarp

Dutchware Chameleon Hammock and Chameleon Accessories

Solo Stove Lite and

Hammock Gear Incubator 20-degree Underquilt

Posted in Camping, Hammock, Hammock Camping, Hammock Forums, Hammock Stand, Tensa Outdoor, Tensa4, Tensa4 Hammock Stand | 7 Comments