Tuesday, December 31, 2013
It was a travel day back to Ohio. I started my day from Wytheville with plans to stop at Jefferson National Forest. Once I left I77, I spotted a small pull off with a cache down the trail. The trail was a great starting point. It was open and grassy, but quickly closed down to a path through some nice pines. I spotted rattlesnake plantain leaves on my walk out. Once I got to ground zero, the hunt became weird. There were discarded tools everywhere. These weren't old, discarded tools, but appeared to be new tools. There were many ratchets, sockets, adjustables lying strewn about. I looked for the cache for a few minutes with no success. All the oddly discarded tools left me concerned so I left soon. I stopped to make one find in the forest. It was disappointing. The area was okay, but it was less than a tenth of a mile from the parking and close to the road. I wasn't looking for park and grabs. I also really wanted to hunt the 2007 cache Big Bend. It is placed at an old picnic site near the top of Walker Mountain. I was a little over a mile from the cache at the road with a big climb to to the top. I also knew there was access to the picnic area from Walker Mountain Road so I passed the big climb for a chance to get more views from the ridgeline of Walker Mountain Road. Once I got to 52, it was easy to spot the turn for Walker Mountain Road. The journey back to the picnic area was a little over three miles. I knew from the logs to the page that Walker Mountain Road is in bad shape. I underestimated what that meant. I turned up the road and drove about a quarter mile down the road before the sanity check kicked in. The road was filled with craters and was too narrow to give room to navigate the holes. This was one of the few roads where I was concerned for damage to our trusty Forester Ariel. I also knew this was a through road with a big drop offs to the side and no pull offs visible. I had no idea how two vehicles fit past each other. Proving I (occasionally) have at least a small amount of common sense, I gave up the day's hunt for Big Bend and backed Ariel back to Route 52. My choices for the day hadn't been the smartest so far. Things looked up as I reached the top of 52 at Walker Mountain. I spotted a lookout tower at a parking area for a general store. The view from the edge of the parking area was super. The tower was calling me. If this were a place Ali and I were not likely to visit together, I would have climbed that tower in a moment, but I knew I wasn't that far from I77 and Ali travels with me for business occasionally. I put this and the Big Bend picnic area cache in my mental bookmark list for a future visit before stepping back in time with a visit to the Big Walker General Store. I learned long ago that the best memories are those I've shared with Ali.
Monday, December 30, 2013
I made a lot more trips to Salisbury than usual this year. I was hiring a new person for my team plus attended two management meetings and audits at the site so there were a number of long drives to North Carolina. As usual, I broke up the trip with some caching in West Virginia as I headed south. My last stop was at a rest stop overlooking a gorge. This was a different stop for me. When I arrived there was a family at the overlook and a person standing outside his pick-up. When I parked, I noticed he was glaring at me. His unhappy looks rotated between me and the family and continued the entire time I was at the overlook. I found the cache, took a few pictures, and moved on quickly.
We've figured out with the current cache density on the trails, Ali and the geodogs can stop by my office and we can walk to three caches at the nearby Cleveland Metroparks. Today we parked by Shadow Lake and walked back to the Buckeye Trail for some finds. The caches were well done and there were still stands of wildflowers. The biggest surprise was Ali spotting a fishing spider. It was really large. The Penn State extension page says it is a smaller relative of the wolf spider, but this one dwarfed any wolf spider I have seen.
Phineas needs exercise time. If he doesn't get it, the house is filled with beagle baying. We wanted a cache for the August Souvenir so we decided to take the geodogs for a walk on Geauga Parks bike trail. We were able to find a couple caches and have a nice, long walk on the trail.
Sunday, December 29, 2013
Saturday, December 28, 2013
Summer had passed time since our last visit to this game lands. The flowers of that visit had been replaced by square-stemmed monkey flower with a surprising find by Ali of some late foxglove.
There is a large trail of caches along the Laurel Mill Ski Trail in Elk so we drove over today to hike a portion of the trail. We completed about half the trail while enjoying a nice walk and a lot of cache finds.
Friday, December 27, 2013
I made a return to Summersville Lake by pure chance. I was looking for a place to walk and noticed a cache with a high terrain rating. I had a fun hike to the cache and was happy to see how attractive Summersville is. I wanted to head down to a waterfall I could hear near the cache site, but decided against interrupting the local youth with a few large boats, very few clothes, and a lot of alcohol. ;-) Instead I made my way back to the goemobile and home to Pennsylvania.
I had two missions this afternoon and evening. The first was to drive to Wytheville. The second was to find one cache for our daily souvenir. How difficult could this be? I stopped for two stream side caches and missed both. I made my way to Fancy Gap and went for a find alongside the stream with no success. These were great locations. They were places I cache to visit. All was perfect except I had zero finds for the August souvenir day. I gave up. I was so desperate, I stopped at a Wendy's on the way for an early dinner. I never eat before reaching my destination. While in the Wendy's, I made my room reservation and settled in to make a plan for that one find to gain us a souvenir. I located a cache at a senior center about ten minutes from the restaurant. When I arrived at the cache location, I was sad to find an lpc. Yes, our one find was to be a light pole cache. I did redeem myself before I reached the hotel by finding a regular one exit from the hotel. It was a nice stop since I also got to meet a couple out caching for the evening. I further recovered a bit of my caching dignity by finding a puzzle before heading to my hotel. All in all it wasn't a bad journey with wildflowers, scenic streams, and a couple of nice cache finds.
Thursday, December 26, 2013
I missed finds on a multi during a lunch-time walk and a cache in a woodpile at an old school, but I did find that Dr. Who spends some time in Salisbury. He may call England his normal home when visiting Earth, but he's in Salisbury enough that he has local trash pick-up and an account with Dish Network. The Dish must be so he can keep up with his shows on BBC America. ;-) At least both unfound caches were accompanied by decent walks. The multi sent me into woods where I found the flower below. The cache was disabled a few weeks later so hopefully I can stop by for a find on a future visit. I spent part of the evening at Horizons Unlimited. I enjoyed the walk on their nature trail, but was really frustrated hunting the cache near Setzer School. The school was built in the 1840's. I'm always cautious hunting caches around historical places because of the damage that can be done, and this is a tough hide. I probably won't go back to this one.
Cheerwine is a Salisbury, North Carolina native. The cherry soda is popular with the locals. While I prefer Cherries and Cream, it's a tasty product and something of a change. I was surprised recently to see it had made its way far north and was now being sold in the local Heinens grocery stores and the local World Market. I stopped by Linn Field this evening to find a cache. The ball fields appear to be sponsored by Cheerwine. As usual, I got to the edge of the woods and remembered I had forgotten to bring my hiking stick. I have more luck than brains when it comes to dealing with copperheads when caching in North Carolina.
I was on my way to Salisbury and stopped for some exercise and geocaching at Summersville Lake in West Virginia. It had nice hiking trails, and the caches I found were in good shape. The area is an Army Corps site. There is evidence of old residents along the trails including a quiet, old cemetery at a high point. I was about half way back to the geomobile when the rain arrived. It's a good thing I can still run. When I reached the stream, I surprised a trio of interesting ducks. They moved away quickly as I ran past.
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
It was day two alone with the dogs while Ali was taking a quick holiday. After some chores at the house, I decided to head for a trail in McKean County. We stopped at the now closed visitor area by Allegheny Reservoir to stretch and check out the water on this beautiful day before continuing our journey. For years, we've purchased gladiolus at a farm stand near Union City. It has become a summer tradition for us. This year we've not seen any for sale at the stand and weren't sure they were open any longer. Today, I spotted a farm stand on the side of the road selling glads. I did a quick u-turn and was happy to be able too surprise Ali with flowers on her return. I was even happier to see they had garlic for sale. The bulbs were a perfect variety for roasting. The trail was nice and open and a perfect place for walking two dogs including a beagle still learning to geocache. I knew Ali was driving back and wouldn't be too far from where we were. I called her and made arrangements to meet. One problem with fun plans is they don't always work. We were both in an area with questionable cell phone signals and I am terrible at providing descriptions so getting together was much harder than planned. Eventually, we were re-united and made a stop for a night cache along Route 59 before hunting a missing cache near Jake's Rocks. It was nice to end the weekend on the trail together.