Sunday, August 28, 2011

Geocaching Adventures: The Day Of Rest

Saturday is known as the Sabbath.  The day of rest for practicing jews around the world.  It is a time to renew strength and spend time with their creator.

I, however, am not Jewish.  So what is a non-jew supposed to do on the Sabbath?

Whatever he wants.

This gentile decided to spend his day up in the mountains.  So I packed up the family into the "Van Of Destiny" and took a right hand turn into the Blue Ridge Mountains for some geocaching adventures.

We turned our eyes northeast on this trip and explored the North Carolina counties of Watuga, Ashe, and Wilkes with a list of geocaches as our guide. As always we were not disappointed

We were treated to some spectacular views of mountain scapes, rolling high meadows, meandering mountain streams, cows, horses, craftsman, mountain folk, Christmas tree nurseries, and a series of old silos

 Time for the Intermission: I present to you a one act play featuring Yours Truly and the Tonka Tyke, with special guest star, Bailey The Wonder Puppy.

=== ACT 1 Scene 1 ===

The scene:  A tree nursery overlooking a wonderful mountain vista in North Carolina.
"Where is the cache, Daddy?"

"I think its over there..."

"Come on, Daddy! Lets go get it!"

=== THE END ===

Our morning was going so well that we actually had time to fit in a few more caches than we had originally planned on, so we got to act out this scene a whole heck of a lot.

We slowly worked our way down to Wilkesboro NC where we checked out the remains of an old NASCAR track.  We have seen signs for the track ever since we moved to the area 3 years ago, and even saw it featured on Top Gear (UK) (as an side, if you are babysitting a toddler and don't want to watch Yo Gabba Gabba over and over, and want to murder Elmo in his sleep - Top Gear (UK) is a great show to watch with kids).  It was nice to finally get around to checking out the track, at least the outside of it.

We then went from old to new and checked out
the brand new rest stop just of highway 421 (it even has that new Rest Stop smell!).

The rest stop is actually kinda cool and well worth resting at (there I go, tying in the "Day Of Rest" theme - see how clever that was?).   They have engineered the surrounding landscape to be eco-friendly. One example of which is designing the landscape so water run-off flows into a series of low lands containing plants that filter the water before allowing it to flow into the local water ways.   Interesting stuff.

It also features a really nice nature walk (and a really nice blue ammo can - wink wink) that would be awesome if one needed to stretch their legs after a long drive.

We had lunch at Chick-Fil-A in Wilkesboro and found a few more caches on the way back home.  Zeke enjoyed playing in one of the parks I cached at.  We then finally started the 30 minute drive home in time for Zeke's nap (more resting!).  It sounded like a great idea so I took a nap myself (oops, I did it again!).

After we awokened we went to a local park for a church picnic, and ended the day on a date with the wife to see Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes.

We came home exhausted. Which is the exactly what one expects to do on a day of rest, right? :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

International Geocaching Day in the Blue Ridge Mountains

August 20th, 2011 was designated as  International Geocaching day.   When faced with such a thing, what is a cacher to do?  hrm...  there are some mountains over there... hrm...

We already had a full schedule planned that day, so I woke up early and hit the road.  My destination?  The Blue Ridge Mountains, part of the Appalachians,  20 minutes over and 2500ft up from my front door.

Let me tell ya, it was a great day to be up in the mountains.  The morning are was crisp and cool,  the cloudy sky had the promise of blue skies peaking through.  Perfection.

I only had a few hours to cache but I made the most of it.  I started with a series of caches on Blackberry Road, a really windy road that works its way up the mountain.  Once I hit the parkway it was time to drive one of the best driving roads I have been on: The Blue Ridge Parkway.  Along the way I managed to do a small series of caches displaying some of the more picturesque and interesting silos in the area.

After that it was time to start heading back down to home to pick up the wife and Tonka Tyke for a late breakfast and start our planned adventures for the day... but before I left I stopped by an overlook to take in some mountain view goodness.

It turned out to be a great way to celebrate International Geocaching Day.


Monday, August 01, 2011

Geocaching Adventures: Ebey Bluffs

Today is my last day in the Pacific Norhwest and I need to get 200 miles south to Portland to catch my flight tomorrow morning.  Just going south is too easy, so I took a trip an hour north to Whidbey Island to check out the bluffs at Ebey's Landing State Park first.

The bluffs overlook Pugent Sound, the Olympic Mountains, the Straits of Juan de Fuca, and on a clear day, Victoria BC.  The bluffs are also home to several geocaches.

To get to the caches on the bluff one has to walk a very narrow path that snakes along the edge of the bluffs.   In places the bluffs are 200-300 ft high.  It is definitely not a trail for the timid, or the acrophobic.  I actually know a cacher who is acrophobic who did the cache at the top of the bluffs - it took her a while, and she's sworn to never do it again, but she did it.  After hiking this trail I can see why it would cause some concern.  At spots there is only a few feet of grass between you and certain death.

It is a 2.5 mile round trip hike to the Ebey Bluffs cache, and two others along the way.  Once I grabbed those I hiked an additional 1.4 miles along the beach at the base of the cliff to grab the Hula Cache, where one is supposed to post pictures of the finder doing a hula dance.  I did a little hula, but I didn't have anyone to take my picture so I can't prove it.  I did confuse a flock of sea gulls tho.

After the bluffs I drove the 4 hours to Portland and checked into my hotel.  When I did I found out that there was a power trail  (a long series of caches placed as close together as the guidelines allow - in this case 32 caches were placed) that was recently released along a walking trail by the river running beside the airport.  I needed to kill some time and wanted to go for a walk, so I finished my day by doing 11 caches along the trail.   Along the way I was treated to a nice view of Mount Hood.

The flight path for PDX goes right along the river so I also snapped some pics of some planes close up in the air:

To finish off this blog, I leave you with this photo I took of my footprints on the Ebey Bluffs trail.  It seemed the most appropriate way to sum up the unofficial theme of this trip:  Life is a journey, not a destination.

Farewell from the Pacific Northwest. See you on the trails in North Carolina!