Monday, September 17, 2012

Ultimate Phobia Quest- Earth GC2W3ZT

We received a heads up from our good friend, obh, that there was going to be an attempt on this cache. Since it is so close to home, and a puzzle challenge, we certainly wanted to be a part of this group. Our extremely smart leader, Smarky, had solved the puzzle on where to park, so we met the group there. Also along for the adventure, is an extreme cacher from Mississippi that we had the privilege to meet for the first time, cotontop3.
We park and start setting up for the trek in to the entrance of the cache itself while we wait on obh to arrive. OCP is gearing up along with everyone else and I will stay back and be the “official” photographer. I am loaded down with camera and equipment along with several sets of keys, cell phones and backpacks. Smarky and cotontop3 had already checked out the entrance and determined it was “doable!”

Obh comes in and gets ready and as soon as he is, we take off. We come to the beginning and smarky and cotontop jump right in and take off, quickly followed by obh. OCP is waiting the necessary distance to join the others. He attempts to follow, but his “claustrophobia” has kicked in and he disengages. Oh no! We have to sign that log, or when would we get another opportunity?!  I quickly make the decision to go in! I unload as fast as I can and jump into a rain suit. Being the novice that I am, I didn’t realize that was useless! OCP keeps telling the group that I am coming and to wait on me. I plunge in and belly crawl as fast as I can to catch up to the group. I hear obh telling me I’m almost there. Finally, I reach him and stop to catch my breath! The others are patiently waiting for me and as I sit there, they point out a little night creature just above my head. I pose for a picture with him! We continue on and with cotontop in the lead, he quickly spots the cache. Wahoo! Smarky signs for all of us and we set up the camera for pictures! I had such a great time and obviously, I don’t have the 2 phobias listed on the cache page! LCP

Monday, March 12, 2012

Stratosfear - GC7BF1, Lake Guntersville State Park

Since we have purchased our kayaks, we are learning our boats on area lakes and Lake Guntersville is one of our favorite places to be.  This cache was also another reason we brought our boats here for the weekend. 

We did some area “land” caches before we put the boats in the water, hoping the day would warm up a bit first.  So, by mid-morning we were paddling towards this cache.  It was only 4 miles “as the crow flies” and we thought we had plenty of time.  Since we are new to the game, we didn’t factor in the many turns in Town Creek or the fact that there was a college BassMasters fishing tournament going on and the many boats it would bring in to the normal crowd of fishermen on the water.

We found ourselves paddling into the wind and dodging the many boats the tournament brought in.  We are also noticing all the damage from the April tornados, which detroyed so much of the beauty of the park.  We kept to the creek sides and really enjoyed the wildlife we saw.  There were turtles sunning on the many downed trees, herons fishing, eagles soaring above us, a beaver, and the many other birds we chased off by coming near.  The little black birds, that would run across the water, were hilarious to watch!

Our last mile, we poured on the extra energy to get there as soon as we could.  We found a good point to beach our kayaks and started our search.  The coords were bouncing a bit, so we resorted to the hint and found it quickly!  OCP opened the container and was surprised at the amount of water in the ammo can.  But, since it has been there undisturbed for over 3 years, it was understandable because the island looks like it keeps a fair amount of water on it at times.  We congratulate each other on surviving the first extensive water trip and rehydrate before tackling the 6 miles it will take to get BACK to the truck!  Thanks for our first kayak adventure and a tough cache to get to! We had a blast!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Strange Encounter!

This isn't a geocaching story, but I thought it was worth putting in a blog!

A Strange Encounter!                 9/14/11

We had the most unusual afternoon in our own backyard. 

As I was getting the gas grill ready to cook some burgers, I noticed our bluebird bird house had some straw poking out of the entrance hole.  I walk up to it to have a look and can see that something has chewed the opening to make it bigger.  Of course, I thought it was a squirrel trying to get in to get at eggs.  I called Jim out to come have a look.  He came out of the house and as he was looking at the bird house he said, “I cleaned that house out not too long ago.”

I said, “Really?”  He said, “I cleaned out both bird houses.”  We have two bluebird bird houses in our back yard and have always enjoyed watching the little families come and go.  I told him this was September and past time for birds to be raising babies.  So, he got a long stick from the yard and tapped on the house so see if a bird would fly out.  Nothing happened.  He tapped some more and opened the front door.  It was packed with nesting materials – all the way up to the entrance hole of the house!  Plus, ants started pour out of the nest.  We are shocked to see such building materials in the nest like string, fresh green leaves and straw!  Jim decides to poke the nest with his stick.  Then he says, “This could be a bat’s nest.”  Huh?  Bats don’t build nests, do they?  At this point, I’m starting to back up.  If this is a bat’s nest, I don’t want to be close if this thing flies out.  I said, “We should go in and Google a bat’s nest.”   Jim is still poking around with his stick and then says excitedly, “There is something in there! It’s weird!  I don’t know what it is!  It looked alien!”  Oh my gosh, something alien living in our bird house?  I’m heading for the back deck now!  He pokes the nest until it falls out of the bird house.  He was right!  There is something in that nest and it’s moving around on the ground!  Whatever it is, didn’t fly off, so I go back to get a closer look.  There are babies on the ground and moving.  All of a sudden, something bigger does jump out of the nest and lands on the tree close by!  Jim said, “It is a bat!”  I move around the tree to get a closer look and to me it looks like a squirrel or a chipmunk!  I said, “No, it has a tail!” 

At this point, I run into the house and grab a camera!  Jim is still outside keeping the dogs away from the babies on the ground.  There looks to be three or four of them and they are crawling around.

I slowly come around the tree to where the momma thing is and snap a picture.  Then she leaps to the ground and goes to one of the babies.  As she is moving around, it does look like she has wings!  But, I just don’t think it’s a bat.  Jim and I watch closely as she maneuvers the baby just right, then she jumps onto a nearby pine tree and scampers up to almost the top.  Just then, she leaps into the air and looks like she is flying!  Oh my God, it’s a flying squirrel!  We are stunned!  We have lived here for over eight years and have never seen a flying squirrel in our neighborhood, much less in our own backyard!

We are trying to keep up with where she goes, but we loose her in the tree tops.  We are also, keeping the dogs away from the remaining babies.  Now, we feel badly that we have disturbed a mother nesting on her babies!  While the mother is gone, Jim decides to try to put the nest back and put the babies back in it.  He puts some garden gloves on and puts the nest, as best he could, back into the birdhouse.  He picks up two of the babies and tries to get them back into the nest, but they won’t let go of his glove.  I’m watching out for the momma squirrel, in case she comes back and decides to attack.  You just don’t know about these things! 
Sure enough, she flies back down to the tree next to the bird house.  I warn Jim and he quickly gets away from the area.  We watch her do the same thing with the next baby.  She positions it and leaps to the same tree she skirted up the first time, goes to the top and makes a flying leap to another tree farther way.  It really does look like she is flying! 

It’s not long until she is back after another baby!  This is survival instinct at its best!  She is determined to save her family from an unexpected eviction of her home.  She has found an alternative safe place in the tree tops somewhere. 

Thinking she was gone with her family, I ask Jim to get the grill going and I go back into the house to actually think about supper again!  I get the burgers and a plate and place them on the grill.  I go back in to tend to other parts of the meal and I hear this tapping on glass.  It’s Jim on the other side of the deck, quietly trying to get my attention.  I go out the other door and he said, “She’s back!”  There was one more baby that had crawled quite a distance away from the nest.  She gets this last baby attached to her and scurries up the tree closest to the deck.  We again watch with amazement at her abilities to fly through the back yard with a baby on her tiny little body.  As she is flying from tree top to tree, there is a big scuffle in the trees!  A red tail hawk has also been interested in the movements of this little flying squirrel and decided it was supper!  We can’t make out for sure what is happening, but there is a lot of commotion, squawking and trembling limbs!  It looks like the little momma flying squirrel has gotten away from the hawk because we see her flying away to another tree and there seems to be a regular squirrel fighting off the hawk!  Wow!   We can’t believe nature’s drama in our back yard on a Wednesday evening even if we did inadvertently cause it!   

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Chewacla State Park, Auburn, AL (GC2NPKR) 4/9/11

With our work schedule, we haven’t been able to attend an event on a Saturday in a long time, but fortunately, we had this weekend free! We have wanted to get to the state park and check it out, so here was our perfect opportunity to drive down.

A few of the local cachers were holding two events at Chewacla State Park in Auburn, AL. The first one is a CITO, which you Cache In and Trash Out.  Basically, you are picking up trash while geocaching. It’s a great way to help the park and add smilies to your game. The second event is a Meet & Greet lunch.  Here is our chance to meet some of the cachers who we have come to admire for the creative cache hides!

We get everything ready the night before because we will have to leave early to be at the CITO in Auburn by 9:00 A.M. Our plan works out perfectly as we are packed and pulling the Jeep out of the driveway at 5:50 A.M.

We arrive in good time and find people already gathered at the Pavilion to start the CITO event.  We sign in and grab some gloves and trash bags.  Off we go!  We’re picking up trash as we are making our way to one of the many cache hides in the park.  We get to GZ (ground zero) and start looking.  It’s already quite warm for an early April day in Auburn.  It doesn’t take long for us to be perspiring profusely!  But as you know, Southern women don’t sweat, we glow!  The tree canopy is wrecking havoc on our GPS and the coordinates keep bouncing.  We have expanded our search and still come up with nothing.  Finally, Jim goes back to our original search and finds the cache hiding where we thought it should be.  This search took entirely too long, but glad we have it under our belt! 

CaverScott, Tazdevil and OCP

Back to walking the park and cleaning as we go.  We come up on our good caching friends, CaverScott and Tazdevil.  We stop to have a little chat and rest for a minute.  This is also a good opportunity to take a couple of pictures of the area. The park is truly a beautiful piece of property!

We see the area we are in has already been cleaned, so we decide to head back to the pavilion for some rest and water!  Unfortunately, the way back includes the steepest climb I have ever encountered without ropes and harnesses!  I’m not sure if we are on a trail or rain gully coming down the mountain, but up we slowly go! Jim keeps urging me to take my time and watch my footing; a fall here would definitely result in some broken bones for sure! As we finally reach the crest, we see we are right at the pavilion! Hallelujah brother!!!  Water, water!!  We need water!  We go straight for the Jeep and our cooler of water.  As we are drinking our fill, our area geocaching reviewer, mtn-man aka Greg Lampton makes a surprise visit to the event.  We have conversed through geocaching for the past 3 years and this was the first time to meet him.  It was so nice to meet the man who publishes our caches!

Blewlew and LCP

Lunch was delicious, the company fun and the door prizes awesome! I won a great little water tight container for your cell phone. Yes, I can see that becoming a cache container down the road! The big surprise was our hosts Woodnutt and SWSEC had hidden 53 more geocaches in the park and mtn-man was publishing as he finished lunch!  Isn’t modern technology great?!

We have the paper version of the caches, but Jim manages to get all the caches downloaded into his Oregon quickly.  We take off in search of more caches!  The race is on and we run by the Jeep to grab a water and head down a trail in our search.  We quickly find we are second behind the young couple we ate lunch with and they are on bicycles!  Oh, no fair!  Why didn’t we think of taking our bikes?! Oh well.  We decide to slow down our hunt and leisurely walk the park. 

The route we have chosen now takes us to another part of the park and we seem to be the only ones around.  We have a cache plugged in and start our search. Jim looks in the most obvious spot, but I find the cache just beyond about a foot.  It’s a big rabbit!  How cute since the cache name was Thumper! We love it!  Plus a big bonus here was we are the first to find!  Wahoo!  That puts a little spark in our step, for sure! 

The next cache we find is just as great!  Not only are we the “FTF” but another creative cache hide.  This cache was called the Legends of the Guardian (GC2QKXY) and is our favorite find so far!

We continue on finding virgin logs in the next 5 caches.  There were a couple we just could not find!  One was so sneaky, it had a decoy container, which we found, but never did find the official geocache.  Regardless of the DNFs or the FTFs, we were enjoying our day in an Alabama State Park.  We will definitely come back to enjoy the beauty and find more geocaches!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Going to Never, Never Land (GC1BPAP) Leeds, AL 11/9/08

11/2/08 - We saw this cache publish and realized no one was claiming the “First to Find” glory. We reluctantly wait for the weekend to drive out and have a look around.  Little did we realize what a rough drive in and as the cache owners states...a 4 wheel drive vehicle is definitely not a must, but could save you from a long trek. We maneuver the Jeep as best we could and were forced to park about .12 miles from the cache site due to the fact that we just recently replaced the soft top and didn't want to scratch the tinted windows...things got tight! After finally arriving and searching, we thought we had the find, but it ended up being a decoy and not the prize. Great area and we will be back to make the find soon.

11/9/08 - Here we go again on our second adventure with this cache. We called up ScooterBill to see if he wanted to attempt this cache with us and he was game! We planned to meet up at the service road entrance. We arrived first and while waiting, Leeds finest drive by and decided to have a little chat with us. We explain geocaching and he acts a little bit like he knows what we are talking about. He wants to know the coordinates to the cache and Jim shows him the GPS. He seems satisfied and said, "Have a nice day and I hope you find it." ScooterBill shows up just minutes after the police left. We both drive to the overpass bridge and we decide to take the Jeep in. We bushwhack a little section of the path that kept us from going in last time. Now, we are able to take the Jeep all the way to the cache site. Mimi makes the find and it's not long when we have the prize in hand. We share the FTF honors with SB. After this business is taken care of, we explore the area more thoroughly. Again, amazed at the beauty and the old bridge supports that still exists. We all take a few photos and leave. We'll come back and explore more of the side roads here.

6/13/09 – This awesome place keeps drawing up back here.  We decided to share this with some of our geocaching friends, so we held an event and made another trek in. The weather decided to have a little fun with us as well and rained heavily the night before and kept up a misting rain most of the day, which makes driving a bit more treacherous.

We have two Jeeps with us today as Beep~Beep aka Ray, has a monster Jeep and CaverScott with him and we take oldboyhiker in with us.  We lead the way down the slick, and even more rutted than before, path to the river. We soon get to a puddle, Jim doesn’t want to risk getting our Jeep stuck in, so we let Ray and the monster Jeep go ahead and lead the way to the water.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Alabama 67-County Challenge (GC14RJR) State of Alabama 1/8/2010

When we started caching in 2007, we would cache in areas we knew and liked, which mostly seemed to be northeast Alabama. Then of course, we would cache our way to the beach, so only the straight line southern counties on our trip would be hit. We soon learned from our caching friends we should attempt the 67 county challenge. So, with the help of CaverScott and oldboy hiker, we slowly chipped away at the needed counties.
The whole process to complete the challenge took a couple of years, but once we really decided to finish it, we were on the road almost every weekend!

The Auburn Eagle in Auburn, AL

Sneaky hide in Fairhope, AL

We'll go anywhere for a cache!

Unique Cache Container!

Desoto State Park

On the ferry going to Dolphin Island, AL

Tin Man North of Demopolis

Very old tree in Mobile, AL

With all of us having the necessary time off from work, we planned our final clean-up cache run for the southern Alabama counties. Caver planned out the trip with exact precision and excellent routing of caches and counties. We had a blast finding all the caches and seeing all the different counties. We also learned a lot of history and enjoyed seeing the sights of the rural south.

We thoroughly enjoyed the 67 county challenge!

Cemetery in Tuscaloosa, AL

The Roxy in Florence, AL