Archive for the 'Travel' Category

On the Road to Cave City

Happy Memorial Day! Now break down the tent and get in the car! We’re going to Mammoth Cave National Park! And you know what’s awesome about this particularly National Park? The star attractions are underground and impervious to rain! This is important because it is insanely rainy this week.

After getting the obligatory park stamps, patch, pin and other goodies, Chad and I thought we may as well get a little hike in before checking into our cabin. The sky looked slightly sketchy, but we figured we’d be fine. After all, most of the trail was under tree cover and we were only doing a two-mile loop.

Which is to say, we’re idiots, as usual. Especially since our rain jackets were in the car. About 1/3 of the way into our little stroll, the rain started. Did we stop and turn around? Of course not. It was just a little rain. Until it wasn’t. Until it was a downpour. By the time we made it to the car, we were soaked. If you sense a theme, you are right!

Our little cabin at Rock Cave Cabins is adorable. It’s just the right side and is adorably 1920’s sweet (although very recently renovated).

 

 

chris on May 28th 2018 in Travel

Geowoodstock Day 2 – wherein it is insanely hot still

Our plans for Sunday were simple. Obligatory early wake up, thanks to the transparency nature of our tent, grab a snack and head to our kayak put in of choice – labeled as a Public Access site on the map.  We’d drop Keith’s Jeep there and then head to the put in up river, saving ourselves the livery costs for the trip.

Except…while the Public Access spot did indeed lead to the river, it wasn’t exactly watercraft friendly. Not even for our kayaks!  Or to be more accurate, you could probably ride a kayak down the mud flume trail right into the river, but you’d be hard pressed to get yourself, let alone yourself and your kayak out!

Therefore, Plan A was a no go. On to Plan B.  Go back past the campground to a public access boat ramp on East Fork Lake in the WMA section of the park. Then take a long rambling drive to another boat ramp to put in. It was then 11:00 am and insanely hot & humid. Needless to say, by the time we finished paddling, we were hot, grubby, tired and hungry.  

 

It was a quiet afternoon in the campground. Mostly it involved sitting and sweating. So much sweating. And possibly falling asleep in chairs.

 

chris on May 27th 2018 in Blogroll, Geocaching, Travel

Geowoodstock 2018 Cincinnati, Ohio

The Day

Chad and I lit out for Cincinnati and the experience that is Geowoodstock after work on Friday. It was a slog of a trip after work, but even with a food stop, Chad managed to beat Google’s predicted time of arrive.  We rolled into the campground at 10:47 pm to find the greeting committee awaiting our arrive, and the tent and air mattress ready for a good night of sleep!

We were up bright and early since the birds and sun left us little choice. It worked out for the best, because instead of Geowoodstock starting at  10:00 am as originally planned, it was bumped up to 9:00 am. A fact we learned when all the phones started beeping amid the stunned pre-coffee silence.

Geowoodstock was HOT. Insanely hot, even at that early hour. The good news was Cooney Island had plenty of pavilions to provide shade. However, we felt compelled to walk around getting the Lab Caches. Which meant we were mostly covered in a layer of sunblock, then bug spray, then sweat, then whatever dirt had stuck to the sweat.

After a delicious BBQ lunch, our merry group split up – the Bumps seeking relief from the heat back at the campground, which Chad, Kris, Marlene, Keith & I decided to go caching, despite the ominous clouds heading our way. We picked what appeared to be a nice little park with a loop trail and a variety of caches and headed off. Before we even got to the trailhead, Kris had found a rather nice walking stick with a carved wooden raccoon head.

So….the trails on Google Maps did not exactly match up with reality. And the Garmin maps showed no trails. Which left us flailing at certain points and finally, on the final push to finish up and get the hell out of the park before the impending storm hit, off on some game trail that was leading back to one of the trails we’d started on. While that was great to get to the cars, it was not so good for the caches that ended up eluding us.

The Night

There were three night caches to tackle within miles (but not within minutes) of our campsite. There were two traditionals, with half the coordinates to a third in each. So we headed out to the parking – located by an RC field, where we impatiently waited for the flyers to finish up. After all, the sign stated that the field closed at dusk. Which was now, right? Like 8:30? Clearly it had to be dusk already. 

Headlights bobbled down the road, as our debate about the definition of dusk was heating up. We had still not come to a satisfying conclusion about the time of dusk, since there were so many types. (Astronomical Dusk will be the name of my band, fyi.) We were soon joined by three cachers from Puerto Rico who’d had the same caches in their sights. When you’re a cacher, it’s not that insane to trundle off in the dark into the woods with complete strangers.

Off we marched through the sloppy wooded terrain, the start of the trail being immediately up, slightly dicey bit of footing. Then once on top, cross a ditch that mostly required going INTO the ditch, before scrambling up and hoping you weren’t covered in mud when you emerged. The fire tacks were well placed and easy to track. The terrain? Ah yes. Downed trees, poison ivy, mud, hills, pointy things. The usual. And on we went, crossing ditches, going up only to come back down. Rinse and repeat.

At long last we hit the last set of fire tacks and then had to do the hocus pocus magic of projecting a waypoint to the final location. So picture it, eight people searching in the dark by flashlights, trampling through the woods, tripping over tree debris, looking for….we did not know! Until finally, “GOT IT!”  One down.

Now from there, it was a matter of going down the hill, back across the flying field, and up a different hill. Of course. We could see flashlights bobbing around in the woods, as we approached the start of the cache. Clearly we weren’t the only ones who thought tonight was a great night for night caching!

Cache #2 was more of the same, but worse. More mud, more slipping, more up and down on trails that were dicey, at best. So basically, fun. At the super weird tree, we ran into the cachers we’d been following. They seemed somewhat flummoxed. Eventually they headed out. We waited until they were well on their way, before projecting a waypoint and trying to figure out what in the hell we were supposed to do.

As we made the final push up the hill to what should be the final, the aforementioned cachers passed us on their way back, saying, “Thank you for letting us have this experience.” Ok, then. We weren’t actively trying to be that nice. We were just trying to not overwhelm them with our group of eight.

It was not easy to find the final. Not. Easy. The deal was we found a smilie face made from fire tacks and the instructions said the cache was within 30 feet of this tree. In the dark. In a forest. It was not a quick search. Fortunately Aquacache came up with the final, to the entire group’s great relief.

Log signed, we trooped back down the hill to the cars, taking the most direct route. Because that is what you do when you’ve been hiking through the woods in the dark for hours.   

After a brief discussion – “What? It’s 11 already?” – we decided that the final was best left for the next night. Which of course we never managed to pull off!  

chris on May 26th 2018 in Geocaching, Travel

Nevermind the Car, where’s the Parking Garage?

Late for a meeting, I duck into the first parking garage I see with vacancies. Downtown is wretched for parking and I didn’t want to waste valuable time hunting for a spot closer to my destination.

Snapped a pic of the location pillar closest to Roo (my car), another at the elevator, and yet another of the sign about the floors of the garage.

When I finally reached the surface – underground parking is not my favorite thing and I had failed to comprehend that I hadn’t taken the elevator to the ground floor of the building – I took in my surroundings, made a mental note of the unattractive building I spotted as I emerged into daylight from the subway, and high-tailed it to my meeting several blocks away; the parking stub safely zipped in my bag.

Meeting over, I retraced my steps towards the parking garage, spotted the subway station entrance and headed unground. It took about 15 seconds to notice that nothing looked quite right.  I’d had a hell of a time finding my way from the elevator to the outdoors in the first place having not chosen my floor of exit very well.

I decided to follow the signs leading to the Garage & Elevator, assuming that would eventually get me where I needed to be. I ended up in a lobby. That totally was not right. But I did spy a pay kiosk which I took to be a good sign. Until it rejected my parking stub, twice. Feeling a little desperate, and tired, and hungry, I took the elevator down to Parking Level A. It was clearly NOT the right garage. The floor was color coded baby blue, instead of navy.

Back to the surface and outside to try again. I walked up and around and still was finding the right identifiers outside, but once underground it was all wrong. Fed up and not caring if I came across as an incompetent idiot, I located the concierge in the lobby and said wearily, as sweat rolled down my face, “I’m a complete idiot and am completely bloody turned around and can’t find the garage.”

One of the young men at the desk took pity on me and indicated to his colleagues that he would lead me to the garage. Having more than a sneaking suspicion that I was indeed in the wrong damn building, I showed him my parking ticket and sure enough, my original interpretation of the situation was correct. I was in the wrong building. Fortunately, the nice young man took pity on me and walked me through the underground connector between the not-right-building and the very-right-building, depositing me in front of the elevator to the garage. I thanked him profusely and said, “Well at least you’ve got a good story to tell about the idiot from WV who lost an entire parking garage.”

chris on August 21st 2017 in Blogroll, Travel