Planes, Trains and Automobiles

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plane 1

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

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

In and Out

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

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

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

Hornitos Church

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

Hornitos Cemetery Hornitos Cemetery 2

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

Hornitos Cache

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

Hornitos SignHornitos Masonic LodgeHornitos Store

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

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

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

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

Yosemite Glacier PointYosemite Glacier Point Sun

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

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

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

Sequoia GroveSequoia 1Sequoia ConesSequoia 2Sequoia Walk Through

Of course there were caches to be found in the park (Granite and Ice, GC5B68N, The Highest Leaping Waterfall in the World, GCJHJ4Ran and El Capitan Moraine – The Yosemite Lake Dam, GC2MM1A), Earth caches and virtual caches instead of physical caches, which aren’t allowed.

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

Coulterville Hotel Coulterville

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

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

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

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

Downtown Disney DirectionsDowntown Disney Sidewalk

Of course, we had to get our ears…

Downtown Disney Ears

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

Disneyland 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heading Home

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

Posted in Coulterville California, Disneyland, Downtown Disney, Hornitos California, Mariposa California, Yosemite, Yosemite National Park, Yosemite NP | 2 Comments

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

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

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

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Words and Phrases

Time for a little detour from my regular topics.

I need to vent a little.

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

Here goes…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

A Night of Fresh Air

Ready to read about something other than geocaching?

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

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

Hammock

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

Test Drive

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

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

Jesse

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

Ashley

Jenna was still curled up in her hammock.

Jenna

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

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

Blades

Its been years since I bought a new pocket knife.

Yesterday I bought three.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knives

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

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

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

Jenna wanted to go hiking.

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

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

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

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

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

Trailhead

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

Serenbe Sign

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

Decisions - Jenna

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

Arch

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

Well

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

Serenbe Map

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

Condor Graves 1

Condor Graves 2

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

Jenna Barn

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

Creekbottom Path

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

Box Turtle

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

Posted in Day Hike, Day Trip, Geocaching, Hiking | Leave a comment

On the Grid – April 2016

April is done.

Another month in the books.

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

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

Enough of that.

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

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

Ice

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

Yellow

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

Creek 1

 

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

Creek 2

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

Watcher

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

Stars and Bars

Onward…

Posted in Geocaching | 1 Comment

Market Days on the Square

If you follow my blogs or follow me on Facebook, you probably already know the last month has been just a little crazy. ConnieLou has been recovering nicely from her surgery and has been feeling like getting out of the house more and more. The other day she reminded me about Market Day on the Square in downtown Newnan and we both thought it would be a great opportunity to get outside for a little while to walk around and enjoy some sunshine.

For folks that aren’t familiar, Market Days in Newnan are essentially a monthly artisans market on the Court Square that occurs on the first Saturday of each month from April through December. Imagine a much smaller scale, monthly version of the Yellow Daisy Festival at Stone Mountain or the Old Power’s Crossroads Festival near Newnan. All of the vendors are situated on the interior of the Square around the courthouse.

Courthouse

Tents and People

Art and Tents

There were many sorts of locally made products for sale. One could find jewelry…

Jewelry

Wood products and furniture…

Woodworkers

Pottery…

Pottery

There was also handmade soaps (I never realized that artisan soaps were ‘a thing’ these days), essential oils, paintings, cloth products, jellies, honey and barbeque sauces. If you were feeling hungry there were fresh made doughnuts…

Doughnuts

As well as boiled peanuts, caramel corn and kettle corn.

Of course there was entertainment…from a street corner performer trying to pay his way through college to a regular group of pickers on one of the courthouse patios.

Corner Musician

Patio Pickers

We made a couple of laps around the Square before heading off to find some lunch. We didn’t make any major purchases other than a bag of kettle corn, some boiled peanuts and a bottle of barbeque sauce but we got out of the house for a little while and had some fun…and since some of the vendors change each month, we might just have to do it a couple more times before the end of the year.

Posted in Main Street Newnan, Market Days, Market Days on the Square, Newnan | 3 Comments

On the Grid – March 2016

March.

It was a crazy month in our house.

The lead-up to ConnieLou’s surgery, the surgery day itself, and recovery following. It’s definitely been busy but I was able to find time to find a cache on each of the days I needed to fill the blank spots on 366 Grid for this month. Well, all but one anyway. March 11, ConnieLou’s surgery date, will remain blank for another year.

But that’s OK.

That blank day will be a reminder of the day she became cancer-free again. And when March 11 rolls around next year I have a multi cache picked out that starts in a location that’s very special to both of us to commemorate the occasion. Sorry, no hints. You have to wait to find out where. Anticipation can be a good thing.

So what about March 2015? Were there memorable caches beyond the non-cache of March 11? Sure there were! Let me tell you about a few of them.

First up: Treasure Your Teeth (GC5VQ14). If you guessed that this cache might be located near a dentist’s office, you would be correct. Treasure your Teeth is actually mounted on the side of the building in which the dentist’s office is located. I didn’t take a picture of this one but because it’s pretty darn obvious when you get there.

Next: Corny Joke Series: The Fence (GC6E610). So what’s the corny joke? You’ll have to check out the cache description to find out. This is one of the best executed hides I’ve seen in a while. I’m glad I found it early on because this one is only going to become more and more difficult as time passes. It’s also a cache that will remind one that caching in shorts isn’t always a good idea. Dang briars!

See the hint in the picture? No? Darn…

Fence

And wrapping up March: Tool Town (GCAMZ5). As I read the cache description I suspected that this would be a very run-of-the-mill hide on the edge of the parking lot outside our local cheap tool store…and I was right up until I picked up the container. I don’t think I’ve seen one quite like this before but it was pretty appropriate for the location.

Tool Time.

That’s it for March 2016. April is off to a good start.

Onward.

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The Best-Laid Plans of Mice and Men…

Be forewarned, this is a public service announcement as well as a blog entry. There are lessons to be learned. Now pay attention.

Wellllll, I’m not going to finish my 366 Grid this year and that’s OK. I had a feeling I might miss a day on ConnieLou’s surgery day…and I did.

But it didn’t go down quite the way I anticipated. We had to be at the hospital at 6:30 Friday morning so they could prep ConnieLou for a 7:30-7:45 start. I toyed with the idea of stopping to grab a cache on the way but we were cutting it close so I decided to wait until later in the day after her surgery was over…no problem. Or so I thought.

For the most part everything went according to plan until late afternoon. They took ConnieLou back to the O.R. at 7:45. Her surgeons came to visit with us as each finished to give us updates on how things were going. By noon the surgery was finished and she was in recovery and around 1:00 we met back up with her in a hospital room and found her awake and in good spirits. Her pain meds were doing their job. By mid-afternoon, with ConnieLou doing well, I was beginning to contemplate what I wanted to do for supper and figured that I’d simply grab a nearby cache while I was out. How does the phrase go? “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Yeah, that’s it.

By late afternoon the anesthesia was finally wearing off and with friends and family in the room, it was starting to get to be pretty warm…not a good combination. A nurse happened to be in the room doing her thing and ConnieLou asked for a barf bag. You can probably guess what happened next. Yeah, she hurled. Thankfully the barf bag did its job. At first we all thought “OK, she hurled, got it out of her system and things will be fine”. Nope. Before long she started having some pain and we began noticing some swelling. She also began to notice a warm sensation on her side which was found to be some leakage from her incision. The nurse was called back and she began to work on ConnieLou. She called in an assistant and when they began to talk in hushed tones and go out into the hall to answer phone calls we knew dealing with something a bit more serious. When the on-call surgeon came in we knew things weren’t getting any better. In fact, by then the swelling was significant and her drains weren’t draining (my apologies to the queasy). The on-call surgeon called her plastic surgeon and the decision was made to go back in and find out what was causing the problem. Fortunately the plastic surgeon was nearby.

By 7:30 she was back in surgery…and the cache was pretty much forgotten.

By 10:30 she was out of surgery, back in her room and all was well again. Turns out a blood vessel had ruptured, most likely when she threw up, and her incision had begun to fill with blood and was swelling. At one point, as she was being prepped to return to surgery, her blood pressure had dropped dangerously low. I think the phrase used by the anesthesiologist was “we nearly lost her”. It’s probably a good thing that the rest of us didn’t learn that little detail until she was back out of surgery, awake and again in good spirits.

I did happen to think of the cache one more time during the evening…but at that point my response to the thought was “Nope, not that important, I’ll get it next year.”

Up to now I’ve kept quiet about the nature of ConnieLou’s ailment, at least as this blog is concerned.

It was cancer. The C-word. Breast cancer to be specific. Few things strike fear and dread in the heart or mind of a man or woman like a cancer diagnosis.

Allow me to give you the back story…

ConnieLou began having some issues late last summer. She mentioned them to her gynecologist during her annual visit but he wasn’t too concerned. In fact, he pretty much blew it off and just told her to make sure that she had her annual mammogram when it was time. Fast forward to late January. Things didn’t get any better and when it was mammogram time, she mentioned her issues to the radiologist…and alarms started going off. They did a diagnostic mammogram instead of the standard version and it was no real surprise that it came back abnormal. Her GYN referred us to a breast health specialist for a biopsy which, as you’ve already guessed, came back cancerous. The fact that it was a lesser form of cancer was sort if irrelevant at that point.

We never really had that fuzzy warm feeling about the doctors and staff at the practice that made the initial diagnosis. There were a lot of things said and done that steered us in a different direction. We began doing our homework and happened to get a good recommendation for a surgeon, Dr. Frank Powell, from one of my high school classmates who is a surgeon himself.

We met with Dr. Powell initially for a consultation and almost immediately felt comfortable with him, his staff and the other doctors and technicians that would become ConnieLou’s care team. Over the next three weeks there were doctor’s appointments, additional tests, the results of which led to a couple of decisions to be made. Although the type of cancer was the lesser of the possible evils, it was fairly large…but…it didn’t appear to have spread. Dr. Powell recommended a mastectomy over a lumpectomy but did give her that option, probably coupled with radiation and/or chemo…not a very good option as far as we were concerned. The next question became a single mastectomy or double. Ultimately, with a lot of careful consideration and a whole lot of prayer, ConnieLou finally decided on double. Not an easy decision by any means but probably the best decision in the long run and not just to virtually eliminate the possibility of an occurrence on the other side. Surgery was scheduled and that brings us to where we are today.

Remember those lessons to learn that I mentioned earlier? Pay close attention here.

1. Listen to your gut. Unless you’re a major hypochondriac, listen to your gut. You know what’s going on with your body better than anyone else. If you think something is out of whack, get it checked out…sooner rather than later. Yeah, it may be expensive but if it is something serious, you stand a better chance of knowing earlier and getting it taken care of.

2. Be persistent. If you’re concerned that something is out of whack and your doctor doesn’t seem interested, insist that he or she check it out. Still no interest, find another doctor.

3. Get your mammograms as soon as you’re able. Yeah, they’re uncomfortable, or so I hear, but keep the following two words in mind: early detection. Enough said.

And lastly…

4. Do the self-checks. Ladies…check your girls. Again, you have a better idea when something’s not right than anyone. Don’t know how, ask your doctor. Don’t want to ask your doctor? Well, google is your friend.

Oh, and for the guys still reading…check yours too. Think guys are immune to breast cancer? Think again. Just do it.

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