Archive for May, 2010

the coal fields

The thing about West Virginia is that while it’s not very large (only 24,231 square miles) it is incredibly mountainous (we are The Mountain State). And those mountains make getting around here, especially in the southern coal fields, a bit of an adventure.  Keep that in mind. It’ll be important later.

Leaving sidekick at home to dig a hole in our back yard (which I seriously hope he was telling the truth about when he said it was to expand the fish pond and not to, oh say, hide a body) I packed up and headed to Beckley for a weekend caching adventure. 

The Coal Heritage GeoTrail kick off event was scheduled to start pretty darn early, but for a change, Knight Who Says Ni & I were on time. Which, as you will see shortly, worked out poorly for me. Fortunately we were not the only cachers eager to have a shot at 16 new caches. I was delighted to run into CTeam and Big Cat and we began to discuss Snake Hill and a certain series of caches called The Good, The Bad & The Ugly. At which point I said, “Hey! You gotta see this great new water proof topo map for Snake Hill & Coopers Rock that I got. Lemme go get it!” And so I trotted off (effectively separating myself from the pack) to the car. I was no sooner clearly alone than the news reporter (we’d spotted him earlier and warily kept our distance) pounced. Obviously I was a cacher, I was wearing my trusty Garmin 60CSx around my neck on a lanyard that had GEOCACHING printed in giant letters, had on my MAGPI shirt (yep – the back has a big ol’ compass on it) and had been making the rounds inside talking to most of the cachers.

So there I was, all alone and defenseless, when the news reporter made his move, “You look like you do a lot of geocaching, would you mind if we  interviewed you?” Aw man. I KNEW I should not have let myself get separated from the pack. Just knew it. This is what being enthusiastic will do for you (that and 4 cups of high test coffee right off). Figuring that my only recourse was a partial committal (and hoping that 89SC was indeed on his way because he’s crazy extremely enthusiastic and would be a much better interview candidate) I indicated that there was someone who’d be a way better victim interviewee than me, but if I couldn’t convince him, yes I would be (un)willing to do the interview. [No surprise I could not convince him to do the interview and so I had to do my best to not be a complete dork – shut up Deanna.]

But back to the Trail, in my mind, the Coal Heritage Trail (on which the geocaches were to be placed) was going to be similar to the Allegheny Highlands Trail, which was a rail trail. So I – along with most everyone else there – was imagining a day of walking on nicely graded rail beds and maybe moving the car a few times if laziness overcame us.  I was soon to find out that I was slightly confused dead wrong on that assumption.

When the 16 new cache coordinates were handed out around 11:30 and I started putting them in DeLorme Street Atlas, I was somewhat extremely stunned to see that eight were south (way, Way, WAY South) of Beckley and either were north. Seriously? You want us to drive where now? And be back by 4:30 to get our sweet t-shirts? Alrighty then. We need a plan. A cunning plan would be best, but any plan would suffice.

KWSN & I had already agreed to team up with 89SC for the event (even though he’d left me out to dry with the news reporter…thanks man. Yeah you can follow me in your low-to-the-ground MR2….I’ll be extra careful when choosing our route. Extra careful). Trying to cache smarter, our little band decided the most efficient way to tackle these caches was to head to the furthest cache south and work back to Beckley for the closing of the event at 4:30. It was a plan. It seemed to be a decent plan.  Let’s go!

Stop 1: A lovely park in Beckley. Oh sure my navigator said bear straight-ish and there was a gate in the way, but we found parking nearby. And after I climbed INSIDE an arbor vitae, 89SC found the ammo can in a place we’d all three not even bothered to look since it was too easy. (Foreshadowing. Or Karma. Either way, it was going to come back and bite us in the arse.)

Stop 2: Bramwell-ish – What’s this? A dilapidated building? Great, we’re gonna lose 89SC on this for certain. And only our second stop. Hurry! Just get the cache and get in the car!

(Brief Sidetrack): We HAD to stop and get the Leaky Water Tower on Rt. 52. A huge wooden water tank, still cobbled together with electricity run to it. Seriously, how could we pass it up? And it got BETTER! The pump kicked on while we were there so not only was water coming out of the leak, it was pouring out from under the roof. Yes, it was nice and refreshing as a matter of fact. Thanks for asking.

Stop 3: Ashland  – Oh look, a lovely country store. And I’m zero’ing out at a bench. Sure let me get down on my hands and knees on the concrete while this old and very fat dauchshund stares at me. But nothing. No cache. hmmm, how’s that? Oh wait, you mean the lovely folks who work here found this unexplained piece of green tupperware-ish stuff and took it in. Well yes, yes we are looking for a green plastic container, thank YOU very much.

Stop 4: Welch  –  A nano? In lovely downtown Welch? I’m so ON it. I was so good (or lucky, your choice) that I saw it as I was approaching the bench it happened to be on. So while KWSN was headed toward another bench and beginning her “I’m not doing anything out of the ordinary” routine, I had the nano in hand.

Stop 5: Davy – So we’re driving and since I’m in the lead thanks to having the tablet with DeLorme I look up to see what I firmly declare is NOT A TUNNEL. I don’t give a rip what the map says, I don’t give a rip what my navigator says, that is most certainly NOT a tunnel. NO FREAKIN WAY.  Ok. So it turns out that it was a “tunnel” if by “tunnel” you mean the folks on the other side got tired of having to drive over the mountain, got out their pick axe and slowly chipped away. Seriously people. 

Anyway, upon getting to what we thought was the trail, it turned out we were walking on the road and had to cross a bit of a swamp and maybe a tiny little spit of water. and then go up. But then we saw an old mine portal and some other additional coolness before heading back to what we assumed would be a trail head to our car. Yeah, not so much. Mountain goat it downhill to the cars.  Then we had to backtrack because we were out in the middle of nowhere. Seriously, NO WHERE. And backtracking meant going again through that thing that some might refer to as a tunnel but which I stubbornly refuse to acknowledge as such. (as a post script, upon comparing notes, the other choice was a goat path across the mountain. I think our “tunnel” won out.)

Stop 6: Pineville – Whereupon I was AMAZED to see Castle Rock. Just sort of there. Tucked away off an alley and fenced off. No big deal. Seriously? It was amazing. And that was some of the softest, happiest moss I’ve ever seen in my life. I so wanted to just curl up on it and fall alseep. But KWSN & 89SC told me I wasn’t allowed. Darn.

Stop 7:  Mullens, our nemesis.  Ground zero was in a tangled mess of pointy things, bamboo and poison ivy. On the river bank. We looked. We walked around. We reconvened and reviewed the map. Up until that moment the coords had been dead on and the hides pretty easily found. But now we were coming up empty. There was nary an ammo can to be found in that pile of mess. We expanded our search. Still nothing. Demoralized and tired, we moved on, hoping that we’d at least have cell service at the next cache, since we had no idea what we were looking for, what the terrain was or if anyone else had found it.  

Stop 8:  Helen – At last! A rail trail. I think. Oh sure, there were four-wheelers on it. But it was wide and flat and looked very similar to other rail trails I’d seen. I was happy. Until I walked right into the thorns…because I’m an idiot. And I was tired and I was still trying to figure out how we’d DNF’s the previous cache.  After finding this one (sweet relief) we headed back to the Mighty Ion and hoped we had cell service. Three phones with three different carriers and we barely had service. My two blackberries seemed to work best if layed on top of the Ion. It gave them just enough boost to get a text through to CLCombat & Aquacache. KWSN walked around with her blackberry held high until she managed to send off a text to pbump. The consensus, no one had yet logged the cache; the clue nor the description was of help and we were failures. Pathetic failures. Sad, tired, hungry, dirty, sweaty, pathetic failures. Yes. That would be us. Oh, and it was WAY past 4:30.

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chris on May 13th 2010 in Geocaching

Happy Birthday Geocaching!

The first weekend of May geocachers around the world held events to celebrate 10 years of caching.

wvangler put together 10 Years! Ripley, WV (GC26KCZ) which went off without a hitch, even with the amazing storm mother nature threw our way.



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chris on May 4th 2010 in Geocaching

Celebrate – with garbage

Chad and I went to a CITO event up in Pennsylvania.

It just happened to be on April 24. No big deal. Except that’s our annivesary.

Because nothing says Happy Anniversary like picking up trash.

And then we had dinner at Apple Annie’s in Point Marion.

Do we know how to live it up or what?

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chris on May 3rd 2010 in Family, Geocaching

Valley Falls

After a long week I had a chance to go (back out) to 27′ Falls at Valley Falls State Park.

This time I wasn’t in a hurry and I had my camera.

It’s a gorgeous spot.

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chris on May 3rd 2010 in Galleries