Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Day in Old Lynchburg

Headed out bright and early to meet good friends Elizabeth Massie and Cortney Skinner in Lynchburg, VA, for a fine day of geocaching. It started out pretty chilly—temp right at the freezing mark—but it warmed up nicely as the day went on, and we ended up signing our monikers on quite a few log sheets. Caching always takes one to intriguing settings, and I had no idea that a warp in the space/time continuum would drop us right smack into the middle of Easter Island. See the pic with me and the big old stone dude? That's Easter Island. No shit. There was even a sign on a nearby building that said so.

We discovered a cache at a very scenic, historic graveyard—The Old City Cemetery—which consists of four museums, 20,000-some graves (including 2,200 graves of Civil War soldiers), and an arboretum. It's also the site of the first public execution by hanging in Lynchburg. The criminal in question was strung up on the gallows, and as he fell, the rope broke, thus sparing his life—at least long enough for the hangman to give him a drink of water, lead him back to the gallows, and try it again, this time with somewhat more success. They weren't quite sure he was dead, so they let him hang for an hour. Take no chances, that's what I always say.

We had a mammoth-size lunch at IHOP; fortunately, we each got in enough hiking to burn off about a half-ounce of the maple syrup on the pancakes. Good stuff. On the way home, I stopped for a couple of more caches in Alta Vista, just south of Lynchburg, and then it was back on the road. All in all, that's what I call an entertaining day.

Helluva lot better than working on taxes....

The old Stapleton Train Station, now a museum at the Old City Cemetery

You'd think Ms. Massie is pointing to something exciting and fantastic. She's not.
There's nothing up there. At all. Let's not tell her any different.
Oh, wait. Maybe she's pointing to some chap climbing a light pole.
That's something, I reckon....

Friday, February 25, 2011

Another Day on Planet Moronica

I would so dearly love to see something besides all the divisive bullshit being spread by either side on every issue. One isolated sound bite after another, repeated until it becomes gospel word for tiny minds on either side. All unions suck. Well, no they don't. All Republicans are heartless, woman-hating thugs. Well, no they're not. How about recollecting some of the lessons you should have learned in kindergarten about getting along with others and understanding that other highly intelligent individuals might not necessarily share your viewpoint. It might not be as stylish, but the results are usually better. Or is it more important just for your side to "win"? To me, that's just stupid, and while I'm not offended easily, stupidity does offend me. And I am so very weary of being offended.

Addendum: a letter to Governor Scott Walker from a Wisconsin teacher that argues points intelligently and constructively: To The Duly Elected Governor...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Loch Townsend Cacheosaurus!

Yes, there is—or was—at least one dreaded Cacheosaurus roaming the woods around the watershed trails just north of Greensboro. The remains pictured above, taken by geocachers "Three Newsomes," apparently reside near one of my caches (Threading the Needle, GC1EQD2), just off on the Reedy Fork Trail. The Newsomes were understandably taken aback, as are most people who find themselves face-to-face with a dreaded Cacheosaurus, whether it's dead or alive. At least they had the presence of mind to take a photo, and they were lucky enough for it not to be the last photo they ever took.

For of course, where there are dead dreaded Cacheosauruses, there are always live dreaded Cacheosauruses in close proximity, and this photo clearly shows that these are the remains of a baby dreaded Cacheosaurus. So be advised. If you're hiking out that way, be sure and take a llama with you, for llamas are the only things dreaded Cacheosauruses like to eat more than geocachers and other hapless hikers.

There. That's my public service message for today. Laters.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Krakens, Kaches, and Karrburritos

The back roads of Orange County, not too far from Chapel Hill, NC, seem an odd place to find a big old kraken, but sure enough, there's one out there. Actually, The Kraken is a tavern at the junction of Highway 54 and Dobson's Cross Road, and there's a neat little geocache there. Discovered this, and several other quaint little spots, on one of my regular pilgrimages to Chapel Hill with Ms. B., yesterday. As an aside, you know it's love when you pull up to the cache site, your girlfriend sees the sign, and blurts, "Release the Kraken!" That had me kraken up.

Sorry. I probably lost a few followers right there, I know. I won't do it again.

A highly satisfying lunch at Carrburritos, a reputable little pseudo-Mexican bar & grill right at the dividing line between Carrboro and Chapel Hill, and then the necessary excursions to Trader Joe's and A Southern Season to get wine, extraordinarily hot hot sauce, and a few other assorted necessities. Finally, discovered that the Chapel Hill public library, just off Estes Drive, has a very nice, mile-long hiking/biking trail through the woods around the property—and a couple of caches, of course. One of them is a big old book exchange (placed by cachers aptly known as The Whomping Willows, for you Harry Potter fans out there). In it, I left an autographed copy of Other Gods, which I trust will end up scaring the bejezus out of some lucky...or perhaps unlucky...finder. Now, surely, that's motivation enough to get out there and do some hiking, right? C'mon, it'll be good for you....

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Legends and Hungry Spirits

It's been a decent week for receiving author copies of my latest releases. Earlier this week, I received advance copies of the trade paperback edition of The Gaki & Other Hungry Spirits, my new collection of short fiction from Dark Regions; it should be available for purchase any day now, for $17.99. (The signed/lettered and signed/numbered hardback editions are available right now, here, but quantities are limited. Collectors take note.)

Today, I received my author copies of the new trade paperback edition of Legends of the Night from Wildside Books. It's an older collection of short fiction, previously only available as a hardback, containing some of my best work from the 1990s through early 2000s, including my WWII novelette, "Children of Burma," and my homage to H. G. Wells's War of the Worlds, "Before the Red Star Falls." It's readily available from, Barnes & Noble, Wildside Books online, and other vendors. Click on the book cover or here for a link to the book page at

Give it a try and see if it doesn't scare the dickens out of you. If it doesn't, I shall happily hunt down your dickens and say, "What the hell is wrong with you?" All righty, then.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Caches, Chocolate, and Hot Chilis

I've never been particularly fond of Valentine's Day. As a kid, I had a textbook case of the Charlie Brown syndrome, and nothing could have reinforced it better than Valentine's Day. In later years, it has seemed little more than a poor excuse for a holiday just so Hallmark could make some money.

I might be feeling a little more generous these days.

Spent a very pleasant weekend in Virginia with my S.O., Kim B., which included a fair bit of caching—which, really, is what Valentine's Day is all about, isn't it? Spent a major part of the day yesterday out on the Fieldale-Smith River Trail, where there were a few new caches waiting to be found, as well as a few of my own, a couple of which needed some maintenance. It was a beautiful afternoon, and the hiking was much needed, since there were also calories aplenty accumulated over the weekend....

See the picture of that chocolate bar up yonder? Yep, that sumbitch is infused with hot chilis, and Ms. B. gave me one for an early Valentine's Day gift. Man, that thing is good. Very smooth and mild dark chocolate, but then a growing—though still modest—burn as the pepper sets in. One of the most interesting and actually enticing combinations of flavors I think I've ever experienced. It is to smile.

An enjoyable Valentine's dinner at Rania's last night, lunch at the Dutch Inn today with Mum, and a first-to-find on a very creative cache hide, courtesy of "Indian Giver," at a new trail in Martinsville this afternoon. Then, on the way back to Mum's, I happened to spy a couple of folks at one of my nearby caches, so I went over and introduced myself. Always fun to encounter other cachers out in the field, as most are among the most cordial folks in the world. Very nice meet to Mr. Bighead12 and his young 'un.

All-in-all, this turned out to be an invigorating and unrelentingly calorie-filled pre-Valentine's Day weekend. I can't help but approve.

"Under Construction" by Indian Giver

Martinsville's Big-Ass Chair, where one of my caches is located (Chair City, The Other)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Okay, I Forgive Gibsonville

Back before Christmas, I'd been caching around Gibsonville, just east of Greensboro, and gotten hung up in their friggin' Christmas parade, which made me all kinds of ornery ("Everyone Loves a Parade"). I figured I might never forgive Gibsonville because, I mean, really, it was bad. However, last night, my friend Ms. B. and I had reason to be out that way, and I gotta tell you, I'm suddenly feeling far more kindly disposed toward Gibsonville and environs.

The first place I must recommend is The Grove Winery, a small but impressive enterprise out in the sticks of Guilford County, just west of the Alamance County line. Ms. B. and I had picked up a Groupon for a wine tasting at The Grove, which we've been to a few times and enjoyed, and we enjoyed it again, very much. Since we were so close to Gibsonville, we decided to see what kind of dining options it might offer. We chose Kimbers Restaurant, an unassuming little establishment on the corner of Main and Route 61. As it turned out, we discovered a wonderful little place. Kimbers has a fine menu, is reasonably priced, and the manager and staff are quite cordial and prompt. The wine list isn't extensive, but we found a decent California Cabernet Sauvignon, which actually went quite well after an extensive sampling of The Grove's wines; I had chopped bison steak with baked potato, and Ms. B. ordered sauteed shrimp with a sweet potato. The restaurant was almost full at 6:30 p.m., and most folks were very casual, though the atmosphere was a bit more toward the fine-dining side.

I must admit, Gibsonville has at least a few hidden treasures—and some of them are not geocaches. Of course, it has those, too.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I Am Not a Number...

I've been a fan of The Prisoner, the Patrick McGoohan surreal espionage/science-fiction/thriller series, since its original broadcast in the 1960s, but it's been many years since I've given it a look. Thankfully, Netflix and other such services make it fairly easy to view a lot of older shows without having to resort to buying them (which, in the case of The Prisoner, is a blessing since the entire series is not inexpensive), and I've finally gotten around to availing myself to this one again. It's easy to see why the show remains in the public consciousness after so many years; it's relevant, nostalgic, colorful, puzzling, classy, thought-provoking, and outright addictive in ways that few television series can claim. Patrick McGoohan—star, writer, and director—as #6 possesses magnetic charm; he's a dedicated individualist thrust into a world of outward conformity, beneath which lies inscrutable mystery and deadly danger. While the Cold War certainly served as the backdrop for the show in its day, the show's theme of human individuality and self-worth is just as relevant, just as engaging now as it ever was.

I'm about halfway through the series' run and just about impatient to get on with the rest of it. For the moment, though, it's back to the grindstone with "The Demons of Ice Valley," my novella that's currently in the works.

Be seeing you.