On the Grid – August 2015

I started a new geocaching challenge this month. OK, maybe it’s more like I started a geocaching challenge this month…given that I haven’t started a geocaching challenge previously unless you count hunting and finding a cache or two now and then when the urge hits.

While listening to ‘The Podcache Show’, a geocaching podcast based out of the U.K., I heard numerous references to the hosts and listeners filling in their 365 and 366 Grids. I thought it might be fun to take on the challenge myself.

Soooo, just what are 365 and 366 Grids? Simply, they’re calendar grids, 365 days on a grid for a regular year and 366 days for leap year.

Blank Grid

The goal…to find a cache on every calendar day, thus filling in a day on the grid with each cache found. One can try to find all 365 or 366 caches on consecutive days in a calendar year or, if the person has been cashing for a while, plot the dates on which they’ve already found caches and fill in the gaps. I chose the latter. I’ve been caching since 2009 and when I stated the challenge had just over 700 finds but still had around 150 open days on my grid…mostly a day or two or maybe three here and there, but also a few strings of four and five days.

Sounds easy, right? It can be…but it also takes some planning and a bit of strategy. It also takes more than just finding a bunch of super easy caches to keep it from being boring. Sure, sometimes one needs a quick lamp post skirt or guard rail cache to fill in a day here or there, but it really pays to mix in some interesting locations or types of caches to keep the interest up.

By now some of you are thinking ‘This is all great but exactly where are you going with all of this?’

OK, here’s the deal. I thought it would add to the fun to be able to share the adventure. As I thought about how to make it happen and how to present it in a blog form I decided that the best approach might be to do a monthly post with the highlights (and maybe even lowlights) from the previous month and toss in a few pictures from some of the more interesting locations

All that said, let’s dive in to August 2015

Unfortunately I didn’t think to start this little adventure on August 1 so I still have three days to complete in the first week of August next year. Unless I miss a day somewhere in the next 11 months I should finish up on August 4, 2016… so put that date on your calendars.

I got things going with a walk in the woods in northwest Atlanta along the Whetstone Creek Trail, a PATH Foundation trail, to find Path7 (GC41VR9). To get to the cache I took a walk on the boardwalk over Atlanta’s only remaining bog…


The cache itself wasn’t overly remarkable but finding a rocketship in the woods on the way back to the truck was. It might not have been a real rocketship that took men to space but I’m sure it took the imaginations of quite a few kids to space over the years.


I was afraid my quest had come to an early end when I DNF’d Path4 (GC3BWDM), another cache along the Whetstone Creek Trail, the next day…but fortunately I found a backup cache on the way home.

College campuses are usually good places to find a cache or two and the University of West Georgia campus in Newnan, Georgia is no exception.


Jenna and I found Book Worm II (GC5XJ3H), one of two on-campus caches following a quick search after dark.

It pays to use days working out of town to your advantage and save easy caches near home for those days when you need a quick cache nearby to fill in another day on the grid. Fact or Fiction (GC3Y4BK) in Greensboro, Georgia worked just fine.


By the end of the month, my grid looked like this…


Ain’t that a pretty solid line most of the way across August? I think it is…

Onward to September!

Posted in Geocaching | 1 Comment

A Different PATH

Some of my blog entries are planned in advance and some just happen. This morning when I left for work I had no real intention of doing or seeing something that would be blog worthy. All I planned to do was spend the morning at a jobsite doing some preparation for some work that’s supposed to start tomorrow, hopefully finding a quick cache to fill up an empty space on my 366-day grid, then head to the office for the rest of the afternoon. It was the ‘finding a quick cache’ part that surprised me.

Earlier this week I took a look at the Geocaching.com website to see if there were any caches close to my jobsite. As luck would have it there was a series of seven along a walking path close by. According to the cache page, the path is known as the Whetstone Trail, which is one of several trails in the Atlanta area developed by the PATH Foundation.

I’ve heard many times that Atlanta still has a lot of trees for a city it’s size, and not just in parks and around residences but also in undeveloped patches of woodlands scattered in and around the city. I’m always sort of surprised when I step into one of those little patches and momentarily forget that I’m inside the city limits. As I stepped onto the boardwalk that carries the Whetstone Trail over a creek and through one such patch of woods I found myself surrounded by a lush green forest, probably no more than 100 to 150 yards wide…but wide and dense enough to hide the commercial and residential buildings on either side in places.


At first I hurried on toward the cache but as I walked I found myself slowing down to enjoy my surroundings…the bamboo patch, the writing spiders in the grass, leaves with the last of the morning dew still clinging to them. After I found the cache and signed the log I turned around to head back to the car…but this time I was in no particular hurry. As I reached the end of the boardwalk another feature caught my eye.


It’s not every day one finds a rocket in the woods. It was obviously part of an old playground but I couldn’t tell if it was part of a former park or just a forgotten fixture in someone’s back yard. If nothing else it was the inspiration for this blog entry. It usually pays to take a different PATH…

Posted in Day Hike, Day Trip, Geocaching, PATH, PATH Foundation, Whetstone Trail | 7 Comments

Yet More Wings…The Third Time’s the Charm!

If you’ve read my other two wings posts over the past few weeks, you’ve probably noticed that our quest to find a new or different marinade or sauce recipe for wings hasn’t exactly met with resounding success. The recipes we’ve tried haven’t been ‘bad’, so to speak but they haven’t been anything to get excited about either. A few days ago I was reading Jason Griffin’s latest entry on his “Griffin’s Grub” blog about his attempt at making Alabama White Wings based on a recipe that his wife found in a recent issue of Southern Living magazine and found new inspiration.

I’ve heard of white sauces in conjunction with Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ restaurants in Decatur, Alabama and, like Jason, I have no experience with white barbeque sauces. So I spent a little time Googling up white sauce recipes and discovered that, in general, most consisted of a mix of mayo, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, black and cayenne pepper and salt. Some recipes also included onion, garlic, prepared horseradish, sugar, corn syrup or some other ingredient. I decided to try one particular recipe for Alabama White Barbeque Sauce that I found on About.com just because it was simple and used mostly ingredients that I already had on hand. The only thing I had to pick up was some ground black pepper.

Mixing up the sauce was a snap…measure the listed amount of each ingredient into a bowl, whisk, done. I gave the wings a sprinkle of Bad Byron’s Butt Rub and put ‘em on the Egg which was heated to about 400 degrees and set up for an indirect cook. Once on the grill, I gave the top side of the wings a coat of the sauce.


After about 20 minutes I gave ‘em a flip, painted the other side and let them go another 30 to 40 minutes. Rather than basting ‘em yet again I simply put a small bowl of the sauce on the table…just in case someone decided that the sauce wasn’t for them.

So how did they turn out?


Let’s call this one a home run…maybe not an ‘outta the park grand slam’…but a home run nonetheless. There was a good bit of the sauce left over so now that we know that we like it, it’ll get used at other times when we’re in the mood for a something different than a more traditional barbeque sauce. Many thanks to Jason for his post and inspiration!

Posted in Alabama White Sauce, Big Bob Gibsons White Barbeque Sauce, Buffalo Wings, Chicken Wings, White Barbeque Sauce, Wings | 4 Comments

A Different Sort of Adventure…

The MacMillan (on-line) Dictionary defines an adventure as “an exciting, unusual, and sometimes dangerous experience”. I’ve never been to a wine tasting so this was definitely an ‘unusual’ experience for me…and it was a bit ‘exciting’ to do something different and somewhat out of my comfort zone. As for dangerous…well, sometimes just getting out of bed in the morning these days can be dangerous so we’ll claim it for good measure.

Each year Main Street Newnan hosts more than a dozen different events in downtown Newnan, all aimed at getting area residents to visit Newnan’s Court Square and the immediately surrounding area.


Some events are annual events, some occur a couple of times a year and others are monthly or weekly. To tell the truth, we haven’t been very good about enjoying any of the downtown events since we’ve lived in the Newnan area. Like many folks these days, we’ve had a lot going on and sometimes we only realized something was happening in town when we read about it afterward in the local paper. Here lately, something has sparked an urge to get out and do something different…something unusual, for us anyway. Wait…did I say unusual? Maybe for…an adventure?

A week or so ago I overheard Ashley and ConnieLou talking about the Summer Wined-up, the annual wine tasting in downtown Newnan. Ashley’s friend Austin from YHC was coming into town for a few days and she mentioned to him that it might be fun to go. OK, I have to go off on a bit of a tangent here. It’s sort of a weird feeling when you realize that your first born is 21 and is now of legal drinking age…and is interested in going to a wine tasting. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that one. Anyway… the next morning, ConnieLou sends me a text asking me if I wanted to go. I responded that I thought it would be fun and the next thing I knew I received another text letting me know she had bought tickets for us. It was a good thing that we bought our tickets early as the event completely sold out prior to the day of the event.

Fast forward to Friday night…

After a really fun hour and forty-five minute ride home from work, we changed clothes, piled in the car and headed to town. We checked in at the registration table and got our ‘Over 21’ wrist bands…

Over 21

And our commemorative glasses…


And our program and map…


One of Newnan’s Finest was on hand to check our IDs to make sure we were legal. I couldn’t help but be a little bit amused as I don’t exactly look like I’m anywhere near 21 anymore, much less under 21. I haven’t been carded in years. Yeah I know, they were just obeying the law and checking everyone…but it was still amusing.

We checked out the program and map, decided which way to go first and then we were off…



Twenty-nine downtown businesses stayed open late to host the event. More than 30 different wines ranging from typical reds and whites to specialty blends and even mimosas were available for tasting. It was easy to tell that this was somewhat of a high-brow event as there wasn’t a bottle of MD 20/20 or Boone’s Farm to be found anywhere.


Most of the host businesses provided hors d’oeuvres to accompany the wines. The hors d’oeuvres generally consisted of cheese cubes and crackers and chips and dips but there were a couple of notable standouts. Meat ‘n Greet, a specialty burger restaurant just off the Square served up pimiento cheese sliders, The Alamo, a bar on the Square served pizza squares from Fabiano’s, located next door and Let them Eat Toffee, a specialty candy shop on the Square served samples of their candies.


Wines and munchies weren’t the only things on the agenda. There was a free jazz concert in the nearby Wadsworth Auditorium as well as the “Horses, Trains and Pick-Up Trucks, All Roads Lead to Newnan” art installation on the Square.

Art - Horse

Art - Truck

Art - Train

I kinda liked this particular train…

It took us about two hours to make a complete circuit then we wound up at Fabiano’s for supper. During our little adventure I learned a few things. First, I still don’t like red wines. I haven’t found one that agrees with my palette yet. Chardonnays…too dry. Moscatos…mostly too sweet. Pinot Grigio…these I like, not too sweet, not too dry. The mimosas…a fun switch! And the jalapeño-infused muscadine wine, well, let’s just say it was interesting, it wasn’t bad, but it’s certainly not something I’d want very often. All in all, I’m still not much of a wine guy. Craft beers are more my speed…and Oktoberfest on the Square is just a few short months away!

For more information about the Summer Wined-up and other Main Street Newnan events, check out their website at http://www.mainstreetnewnan.com/

Posted in Main Street Newnan, Newnan, Summer Wined-up | 2 Comments

A Quick History of Walasi-Yi


So how many of you have driven up Hwy 129 from Cleveland, GA, to Blairsville and noticed the old stone building on the right at Neel Gap? Back in the mid 80s when I was a student at Young Harris College I passed by on trips to home and back. I knew the building housed a small hiker store but never knew much else about it until just a few years ago. The folks at Mountain Crossings have given us a little lesson in its history. Check it out!

Originally posted on Mountain Crossings at Neel Gap:

Here at Mountain Crossings we answer a lot of customer questions about the history behind our shop. Its just the kind of place that seeps interesting tales and makes you wonder. For all those of you who are history buffs, this ones for you!

The building that stands nestled in Neel Gap is iconic in the state of Georgia and has a very colorful history to it that goes back long before white settlers came into the area. The Cherokee Indians were the first to settle the area. A small village formed just south of the gap, which they called Walasi-Yi, meaning home of the great frog. In 1883, the Cherokee inhabitants were forcibly removed during the tragic Trail of Tears and nothing remains of the village besides the name Frogtown Gap.

sites_vogel A tiny picture of Augustus Vogel and Fred Vogel Jr. who donated the land.

Several decade later, the parcel of land…

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Posted in Appalachian Trail, AT, Backpacking, Hiking, Mountain Crossing, Walasi-Yi | Leave a comment

Goodbye YHC…

I guarantee a few folks just had a “Wait, what?” moment when they read the title. They’re wondering if I’ve gone mad and have decided to forsake my alma mater. No, I haven’t, but I thought it might be fun to make a few folks wonder…

OK, so what’s this entry really about? Well, it’s about new traditions and a day walking in the woods. Here’s the deal, over the last 3 or 4 years, a couple of new traditions have been started at Young Harris College. In short, at the beginning of each school year, members of the incoming freshman class hike the old wagon road from Brasstown Bald Mountain down to the YHC campus, a trip of about 7 1/2 miles. The hike to campus symbolizes their entrance into the Brasstown Valley and “the beginning of their YHC experience.” Conversely, in the spring during commencement week, members of the senior class hike from the campus up the old wagon road to Brasstown and gather for a picnic and Vespers Service in the parking lot below the mountain’s peak. The hike up the mountain symbolizes their leaving YHC to go on to further studies, to pursue careers or to otherwise chase their dreams.


This past year was Ashley’s senior year at YHC. Back around Christmas we were talking about graduation and such and Ashley asked me if I was going to hike the mountain with her. Of course, I told her that I would. I’ve hiked the mountain before, once up and twice down and I remembered down being much worse than up. Of course, the last time I hiked up was over 30 years ago when I had younger legs and a slightly less, ummm, let’s just say ‘robust’ physique.

Fast forward about five months to Thursday during commencement week in May. The hike up the mountain was set to start at 2:30 but a small group of us, made up mostly of faculty and students from the Biology Department, decided to start an hour early…and in the end, it was a good thing we did. The pace we set wasn’t overly fast but considering that nearly half of the elevation gain for the hike is in the first mile and a half, we were moving along pretty good…and building up a good dose of lactic acid in the legs as we went along.



The old wagon road enters the Brasstown Wilderness a mile or so up the trail from campus. We stopped at the wilderness sign for a photo op and a drink of water.

Wilderness Sign

Sign 2

One of Ashley’s bio professors, Dr. Schroeder, and Rev. Moore, the campus minister, caught up to us as we rested, Once we were moving again it became apparent that Dr. Schroeder and I hike at a very similar pace and Ashley and her classmate Hana hung with us as those with faster legs moved on ahead. At this point our little group was made up of three biologists and a geologist.

The Group

Needless to say, we made plenty of stops to look at plants, rocks and wild flowers in addition to rest stops, water breaks and stops at scenic overlooks. Though Dr. Arnold had moved on ahead, Ashley and Hana would have made Dr. Arnold proud as they pointed out almost every plant they knew the name of along the way.

Lady Slippers


Things were going along fine through the first four miles or so until I felt a twinge in my right calf, a twinge that steadily grew into a full-fledged cramp despite my efforts to stretch or rub it out. To make matters worse, it wasn’t long before both legs were cramping. Lactic acid is hateful that way. Now just to be honest, I had not prepared for this little adventure other than to eat a good breakfast and lunch before we left. I hadn’t hydrated during the week before the hike, nor had I done any hiking or walking other than the walking I do normally on any given day. Add in the early pace and I had pretty much set myself up for cramps. Fortunately stubbornness and determination took over and with a lot of starts and stops, water and a bottle of PowerAde, I made it through the next couple of miles. Once the cramps let up it was fairly smooth sailin’ the rest of the way up the trail with just a few stops to rest a bit and enjoy the views.

View 1

Destination 2


About a mile out I sent Ashley and Hana on ahead so they wouldn’t miss any of the Vespers service.

When I finally stepped into the parking lot I was met by ConnieLou and Jenna who were practically in tears. They were glad to see me…not so much because hiking the mountain was some major accomplish but more out of relief. Apparently someone had told them that early in the hike I was hiking with great difficulty and stopping a lot and was practically dead on the trail which, of course, conjured up visions of rescue teams and medevac helicopters and such…basically creating an unneeded panic when, in reality, I was fine.

We caught the end of the of the Vespers service and nibbled at a little bit of what was left of the picnic before enjoying a ride down off the mountain and enjoying a soak in a steaming hot Jacuzzi tub at the hotel.  THANK YOU Holiday Inn Express Hiawassee!!

Two days later the students that had gathered at the top of the mountain received their diplomas. Some said their goodbyes to YHC and others, like ConnieLou and I did 30 years ago, simply said “see ya soon” and began thinking of excuses to come back to visit.

Hana(Sorry Hana…Ashley made me do it!)



Posted in Brasstown Bald, Day Hike, Hiking, Old Wagon Road, Young Harris, Young Harris College | 2 Comments

7 Waterfalls Near Mountain Crossings


Like waterfalls? The folks at Mountain Crossings at Neel Gap have put together a list of seven waterfalls near their location that are worth checking out. Some are easy to get to, some not so much but are worth the drive and hike. I’ve been to 3 of the 7…now I need to go see the rest…

Originally posted on Mountain Crossings at Neel Gap:

North Georgia is famous for its waterfalls. The Cherokee Indians who first settled this area called it the “Land of a Thousand Waterfalls”. Out of Georgia’s more than 200 falls, we can boast the 3rd, 4th, and 5th tallest falls in the eastern half of the United States. Even within a short proximity of Mountain Crossings, there are several great waterfalls to check out.

1) Upper Desoto Falls

How far from MTX: 4 min, 2 miles
Height of Falls: 200 ft.
Trail Length: 2.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderate

Upper Desoto Falls is the tallest of the three falls at Desoto Falls Recreation Area. The Middle and Lower falls are on a separate trail.

Desoto Click to enlarge

2) Helton Creek Falls

How far from MTX: 9 min, 3.8 miles
Height of Falls: 80 ft.
Trail Length: .25 miles
Difficulty: Easy

Helton Creek Falls is barely a hike…

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Wings Again?!

Yep…again. Wasabi Honey Teriyaki Grilled Chicken Wings to be more specific. I noticed a recipe for the marinade/glaze last week on the Big Green Egg Facebook page. According to the recipe it was intended for chicken thighs but as I read through the recipe it occurred to me that would work just as well for wings.

The recipe called for prepared horseradish and wasabi powder, both of which can kick up the heat level in a recipe so I decided I better save this one to try when I could just cook a few for myself. As luck would have it, ConnieLou and Jenna are in Colorado visiting with her niece Julie and her little boy, Noah and her baby girl, Abigail and Ashley was off this evening to have dinner with one of her friends. Needless to say, it was wings night for me.

Last night I set a package of wings out to thaw and mixed up the marinade. I stuck mostly to the recipe but substituted Mirin, a Japanese rice wing for cooking, for the sake that the recipe called for. The thawed wings went into the marinade this morning and then on the Egg this evening to cook. As usual when I grill wings, the Egg was set up with a plate setter for indirect cooking with the temperature stabilized a little over 350. I flipped the wings after about 30 minutes and painted ‘em with some of the marinade that I had reserved after 40 and sprinkled on some sesame seeds.

Wingz 1

After another flip, baste and sprinkle of seeds the wings were done and ready for the table…

Winz 2

How did they turn out? Pretty darn good if I do say so myself. Imagine the braised chicken wings that you get at a Chinese restaurant but with a a smokier flavor from the charcoal. The horseradish and wasabi weren’t even noticeable and added no heat at all…a bit disappointing for me but they’ll go over well with ConnieLou and the girls.

Ashley had asked me to save her one or two if they were good. I hate to have to tell her this but there were no survivors.

Posted in Big Green Egg, Chicken Wings, Grilled Chicken, Grilled Wings, Marinade | 1 Comment

The Same But Different…

Like most of the rest of the country, we found some time to fire up the grill this Memorial Day weekend and it was time for some wings. I asked ConnieLou and the girls if they wanted the same Buffalo-style wings we make most of the time or if they wanted something different. While I was waiting for an answer I noticed an advertisement on Facebook that contained a recipe for Sweet Dijon Barbeque marinade…


I forwarded a copy on to ConnieLou and the girls. I wasn’t too sure what sort of reception it would get but the general consensus was ‘It’s something different, but it sounds good…let’s give ‘em a try.

We picked up a package of wings and the two or three ingredients that we didn’t already have. I set some wings out to thaw and made up a batch of the marinade. Once thawed I tossed the wings and marinade in a Ziploc bag (ummm, soooo it was a faux Ziploc bag…y’all don’t tell the Ziploc folks, OK), flipped ‘em over a few times to spread the marinade around and put them in the fridge for a couple of hours…


As supper time approached, I fired up the Egg, got it stabilized around 400 and set it up with a plate setter for a raised, indirect cook. The wings went on for about an hour. At the half way point the wings got a flip and a pan of tots went into the oven.


Once done, the wings looked pretty enough…


But how did they taste? In general they went over well. There was no spice to speak of but that’s not unexpected. Personally I was a little underwhelmed. Next time I’ll reserve a bit of the marinade so I can give them a splash just before they’re done. Also, it didn’t help that I got them a little over done. Of course that just means I need to cook wings more often…got to practice and keep those skills sharp, right?

Posted in Big Green Egg, Grilled Chicken, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

GET OUT!! And Explore Georgia’s State Parks!

Saw this link to an Atlanta Magazine article this evening and through I’d share it here.  Now GET OUT!! and explore Georgia’s State Parks!


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