Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Blue Ridge Weekend

There are few places on earth that I like more than the Blue Ridge Mountains. This weekend I spent two half days exploring those very mountains.

The first time was Saturday Morning.  I took Zeke up with me, and we did some geocaching.

There is an age old (if anything in geocaching can be "age old") axiom that you never know what will happen when you go geocaching.  This is doubly true when you go caching with toddlers.

The first cache was at a rest stop along highway 221.  The cache was just a few hundred feet away from where we parked, so I just grabbed Zeke, handed him my spare GPSr, and headed towards GZ.

The cache was just inside the treeline, in a big rhododendron bush. As we pushed our way through the branches I commented to Zeke that we should have grabbed our walking sticks as they would have been useful to push back branches.

He enthusiastically agreed, and despite being 5ft from the cache,  he turned around on the spot and headed back to the car, completely determined to grab his walking stick.

I convinced him that we should probably stop and sign the log first. He reluctantly agreed, then he made a bee line for the car and retrieved his walking stick.

Successfully armed with his walking stick (and insisting I take mine) he started exploring the rest of the area, checking out every rock and stick, with the intensity that only a toddler can muster.  Exhausting all there was to see, we piled into the car and moved on down to the next cache.

We had a 300 ft walk through a nicely mowed field before we got to GZ, which was tucked just inside the woods behind a bandstand.

Once we slipped behind the band stand,  I noticed the GPSr was pointing at some rocks.  I moved towards the rocks. I pointed at the rocks. I said "Zeke! the cache is in the rocks!" But alas, Zeke was not ready to rock.

Zeke was much more intent on the path that lead back deeper into the woods.  He kept going... and going... and going.  I figured I could live with an impromptu hike, and I want to foster a spirit of exploration in the boy, so I followed him down the trail.

It lead to a creek.  Zeke started tossing in stones.  So did I.  He then jumped into the water (he never could resist a puddle, and this was just a giant flowing one to him), and starting climbing over the rocks, completely soaking his shoes (but this rarely stops a cacher - he's training is well in hand).

Eventually time was getting short and we had to head back, so I coaxed him out of the water with the promise of McDonalds for lunch, and we trudged back soggily to GZ.  We retrieved the cache, signed the log, traded for some swag, and headed home.

We had had a completely unexpected but completely awesome adventure together.

The next day after church I headed up the mountains to grab some more caches.  Most of these caches can be summed up by the description "Fun drive down windy mountain roads - amazing views!", so I will spare you the details.

The notable exception was a cache that is part of a series that highlights picturesque silos on mountain farms.

The cache was along a wooden fence.  The other side of the fence was a couple cows, just hanging out, chewing things, and being cows.  As I approached the fence one cow spotted me, and trotted over to check me out.  Her buddy soon joined us.

They stood just a foot away from me, and stared and huffed. Kinda like puppies (but way more delicious).  I got a little nervous until I remembered they are cows (I checked - udders all around), so they were probably fairly docile, and I had a wooden fence lined with barbed wire between me and them. I still refrained from making "steak" jokes  - it's not polite to remind food of how they will look on a grill.

I did some hunting for the cache, and when I looked back at the cows I noticed that the crowd had grown.  Pretty soon I had a whole herd of cows checking me out.  I never felt so popular while caching.
I figured the cache location's secret was safe with the cows, so I kept on hunting, and found the cache beside a fence post.

Finally I said good bye to my newfound caching herd, and moved on down the windy roads to some more majestic mountain views, peaceful waterfalls, and ammo cans.

I'll leave you with some more pictures from my day.