Sunday, May 29, 2011

Great Blue Heron Nursery

It was up and out fairly early today to hunt up some new trail caches not far from here. They're in an area of woods I've only entered at night, so it was interesting, to say the least, to view the area in daylight. It's very primitive, more so than most of the woods in the Greensboro watersheds—very marshy and dense, and it was rather surprising to find an actual trail, and well-maintained at that. I managed first-to-finds on the caches, but most impressive was discovering what the cache owner called "The Great Blue Heron Nursery." Never seen so many herons in one place. Really beautiful, and thanks to Mr. Isenhour and Ms. Stevens to placing the new caches. This is the reason I started geocaching in the first place.

Click on the pics below to enlarge.

Carpet of ferns on the way to "The Trail Dawgs Mark Their Territory" (GC2VR9A)

A surprisingly well-maintained trail through the wilderness

Lots of blue herons nesting in the trees

More herons on high

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Old Man on the Hunt

Kicked off the long Memorial Day weekend with a bunch of caching. Yeah, shock of shocks, right? Last night, I headed up to Danville; went after a few relatively new hides, including an excellent, four-stage multi called River Overlook (GC2NM75); and then stopped off for sushi at the Tokyo Grill, which I had tried once before and was suitably impressed (their spicy tuna roll is awesome). Then it was on to Mum's in Martinsville for the night, and this morning, I ventured out to Fairystone Park to hit the trails and find the last few caches out there that I hadn't already claimed. It was only about three miles total distance on the trails, but it's some serious terrain with major altitude changes—especially when one veers off the trail and goes bushwhacking. In the end, I was successful on the hunt, and claimed those last four caches I needed. Well, there are three more in that area, actually, but they're on islands, and one needs a boat—or to be a good swimmer—to get to them.

Last week, we had Employee Appreciation Day at the office, and I won a gift card to Fleming's Restaurant, so tonight, Ms. B. and I availed ourselves to some mighty fine dining. I gotta tell you, that carpaccio (raw dead cow) of theirs just can't be beat, and the white chocolate bread pudding for dessert was one of the best things I've ever tasted. Fleming's is one of those places I'd need to take out a second mortgage to go on my own dime; but the food is about the best in town, and the servers treat you like royalty. I tell you, I really could stand to frequent this place, but I'd have to write a best-seller every night.

A few new trail caches here in Greensboro were published over the weekend, so I've got some new ones to go after tomorrow. I'm already getting antsy to hit the woods. After tonight's dinner, I've got most of a cow to work off.

Twin bridges over the Dan River in Danville

View of the Dan River from the River Walk trail

View of Fairystone Lake beach from Stuart's Knob trail

Entrance to one of the old iron mines off the Stuart's Knob trail

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Caching Post-Apocalypse

Salem Lake is looking more like Salem Plain these days.

To celebrate surviving yesterday's obviously devastating apocalypse, I set my mind on some trail caching today—which, to hunt any I haven't already found, required going a little distance. Thus I headed over to Salem Lake, near Winston-Salem, put in about four miles, and then another mile or so around the town of Kernersville. Quite hot out there, and the old man is now pooped.

One of the few downsides of geocaching is when individuals don't get permission to hide their caches on someone else's private property. The rules of clearly state that caches may be placed on private property only with permission of the property owner. Alas, too few cachers pay sufficient mind to that little stipulation. I ran into that situation today for the umpteenth time; fortunately, the property owner who confronted me was civil and reasonable. Others have been far less so when they discover something has been hidden on their property without their knowing it, and that people are coming around with some frequency to find it. I confess there were times in the past when I was guilty of being lax in securing permission for some of my hides, but I have long since learned better. Nowadays, as more people are geocaching, it's imperative to follow the rules—this one in particular—or individuals, businesses, and communities that are currently open to geocaching won't stay that way. So hey, you cachers out there: get permission.

I did spend a most enjoyable day of rapture yesterday. Got in a bit of hiking, and then Ms. Brugger and I headed up to Eden to the drive-in theater to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, which I enjoyed a lot, and I Am Number Four, which was no great shakes but still highly enjoyable...because, hey, it's the drive-in theater. The cheeseburger, fries, big honking cookie, and Woodford Reserve really hit the spot.


Friday, May 20, 2011


And it's an okay review. I smile.

"This outstanding collection brings together some of Mr. Rainey’s previously published works and six new tales. These stories are varied, dark, frightening and very well written. The myriad styles and scope of these tales covers everything you could want in a horror fiction collection, I don’t think there is a weak story in the book." (Peter Schwotzer)

Check out the entire thing here: Famous Monsters of Filmland Reviews The Gaki by Stephen Mark Rainey

The Gaki is now available in trade paperback from Dark Regions; I believe a few numbered copies remain; the lettered edition is sold out.

"Strange shapes hiding in the shadows cast by the moonlight. Eerie noises drifting out of the forest and rising into the night. The sound of inhuman footsteps approaching from somewhere in the darkness. A pair of gleaming eyes peering in through your window at midnight....

This is the nightmarish, haunted world you will enter in this new collection of 17 tales—including six never before published—by Stephen Mark Rainey, longtime editor of Deathrealm magazine and author of such acclaimed works as Balak, The Lebo Coven, Blue Devil Island, The Last Trumpet, and Other Gods. Enter willingly…and prepare yourself for a chilling journey through some of the most frightening literary landscapes you have ever experienced."

More info on The Gaki here.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

BLUE DEVIL ISLAND Paperback Now Available!

Hooray for Marietta Publishing, who has released my novel, Blue Devil Island (originally published in hardback by Thomson Gale/Five Star, 2007), as a trade paperback. With gorgeous cover art by M. Wayne Miller, neat interior graphics (including insignia for the Navy and Marine units in the novel—a nice touch I did not know about), and a reasonable price ($15.99, but many vendors offer discounts), this has got to be one of my favorite book releases ever. It's in stock (online) at, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, and other vendors; may be available at select brick-and-mortar stores.

Here's a synopsis:

Autumn 1943: the beginning of the American offensive against the Japanese in the South Pacific. Just west of the Solomons lies a remote desert island called Conquest, where the U.S. Navy stations a new fighting squadron, led by Lieutenant Commander Drew McLachlan, an ace pilot and veteran of the Battle of the Coral Sea. The Blue Devils soar into combat against their enemies—both known and unknown. The squadron's island home may not be secure, for in nearby volcanic caves, McLachlan finds evidence of habitation by unknown natives—natives that resemble no known living race. As the Solomon campaign enters into its final skirmishes, the Japanese at last turn their attention to Conquest Island. Now the Blue Devils find themselves the target of an overwhelming assault by the desperate Imperial Japanese forces—and a mysterious, predatory force that leaves mutilated victims as the only evidence of its presence.

More info is available at my website: Blue Devil Island at The Realm of Stephen Mark Rainey

If you enjoy any or all of the following, this one is for you: historical fiction, scary stuff, action-adventure, engaging characters, a bit of blood and guts, monsters, perhaps a hint of social commentary, not even a whiff of fluffy friggin' romance. Do check it out — you can order it from here.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Decree Received

Le temps de bonheur, 1986

I keep this blog as much as for me as for any interested readers, and today, I'm writing one primarily for me. I received the official court decree in today's mail, which means the divorce between Mrs. Death—my wife for 23 years—is indeed final. I figured I'd post a few pics and reminiscences from years gone by to reflect upon.

Peg acquired the name "Mrs. Death" back in the 1990s, when I was editing Deathrealm. I received mail addressed to Deathrealm all the time, but one day, a Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes envelope arrived addressed to "Mrs. Deathrealm." Needless to say, this drew a few chuckles—it would have been interesting to claim that prize! Anyway, the name stuck, and over time, it got shortened to Mrs. Death, and even now, Peg still uses the moniker for semi-official purposes.

Apart from our wedding, which really was the happiest day of my life, one of our best times together was going on a cruise to the Caribbean in 2002 with our friends Wayne and Sharon Euliss. We celebrated Halloween on the high seas, went snorkeling in Key West, smoked Cuban cigars in Mexico, ate quantities of excellent food like we'd never eaten before, and drank damned Bloody Marys like a bunch of famished vampires.

Things were rough in 2008, both between us and in various other ways, but early in the year, we discovered geocaching, and for a couple of years, it was a wonderful, fun way for us to bond and forget about some of the troubles that had overtaken us. If you've popped onto this blog even once, you've no doubt surmised that I'm still an avid cacher, and I will go so far as to say it's been the most vital, energizing activity I've known in my entire adult life. Mrs. Death isn't able to get out and do it the way she used to, but I cherish the memories of the good times we had out on the hunt. There were quite a few of them.

Perhaps the greatest legacy of our time together is our daughter, Allison, who has grown up and is living out her own dream in New York City. Allison is Peg's natural daughter, but I adopted her when she was a just a wee young 'un, and for all intents and purposes I'm her dad as surely as if the relationship were biological. Way back when, particularly right after the wedding, it was very difficult for both Allison and me—I'm not exactly known for my overwhelming paternal instincts, and I had become an instant husband and father; to say I was ill-equipped for this role is a gross understatement. But over time, Allison and I became close, and somewhere along the line, I believe she managed to forgive me for my mistakes and my sometimes outright wrong-headedness. I'm glad that Peg and I were together as she developed from a strange little child to a far stranger adult; I'm quite certain that, today, despite the emotional storms we had to weather, she's better off for us all having been together as a family during her formative years.

Peg and I have both made our share of grave mistakes, and whatever pain we caused each other, particularly during those past couple of years together, I hope we both can move past it all and be happy as life takes us where it will. For my part, in my heart, I've forgiven her for what I perceive as the wrongs she committed, and I hope she can find it in hers to forgive me for mine.

"When love is young and love is fine, it's like a gem when first it's new,
But love grows old and waxes cold, and fades away like the morning dew."
—The Water Is Wide

Click on the images to enlarge.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Gods of Moab

If you've been following ye olde author's escapades here and on Facebook, you're probably achingly aware that I've been working on a new novella for the past couple of months. Well, the damned thing is finally finished and has been tweaked, busted up, duct-taped, polished, and sent to the editor. Early on, I had slapped the working title "The Demon of Ice Valley" onto it, but now that it's done, its honest-to-god given name is "The Gods of Moab." The story quite overtly ties into both my novel, Balak, and several of the tales in my short-fiction collection, Other Gods. When I know its status, I will post a corresponding status report. Rest assured, my poor dear readers, it will be inflicted upon you.

There has geocaching in the bargain as if you couldn't have guessed. The pic above was taken yesterday from the Lake Brandt Greenway, shortly before dark, as mist moved in over the lake. I must say, it was pleasantly eerie out there. Managed a few first-to-finds over the past several days, including one this afternoon. Not too shabby for Friday the 13th, but then I usually have very lucky Friday the 13ths. Unclean living, don't you know.

Just for giggles, I've been on a Hammer Dracula bender the past couple of weeks, thanks to Netflix. Tonight, it was Taste the Blood Dracula, which I saw as a teenager, but my recollection of it was very hazy. Turns out, it's one of the better ones in the series, despite a weak ending. Apart from his portrayal in Jess Franco's Count Dracula, I always thought Christopher Lee was wasted as Dracula, since he mostly just hisses and looks wild-eyed, but in this film, he actually has a few lines, and the story holds up remarkably well. Next week, I look forward to Dracula AD 1972, another one I haven't seen since my slightly addled teenage years.

Oh, and yes...there is a cache in that tree.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Orange Jacket!

A fun evening in Burlington, finding a few caches and attending Geoputt (GC2QDVH)—yes indeed, a geocaching Putt-Putt event! In my younger days, I used to play real golf regularly, but I haven't even picked up a club in a couple of years, and it's been at least 25 years since I tried my hand at Putt-Putt. Apparently, it's kind of like riding a bicycle, only a lot different.

The afternoon had been fairly beautiful until I arrived at the event, and then the bottom fell out. Quite a storm! A bunch of us hung out under cover at the pro shop until the rain let up. Then it was out to the links with teammates Bridget "Suntigres" Langley, Christopher "Ranger Fox" Hall, and event organizer Mr. Robbin "RTMLee" Lee his own self. Fortunately for the rest of us, Mr. Rob entered the tee box first and made it his business to show us how it's done. Following his lead, I managed to sink a few holes-in-one (which actually became known as "Pulling a Rob," since he dropped a few spectacular putts) and even save a few utterly disastrous first shots. At the end of it all, our most benevolent hosts awarded me the orange jacket, and I have to tell you, I am humbled, honored, excited, and...kind of hungry, now that I think about it.

Unfortunately,, which has always been about most user-friendly site one could imagine, has undergone a major overhaul, and it is an unmitigated disaster. They're still addressing issues with the site since the update, and thus I'd like to reserve judgment, but this is an absolutely frustrating case of a bunch of evidently bored programmers deciding to fix something that was never broken—to the point of nearly destroying it. There had gotten to be some real performance issues with the site, but those could have been addressed without Groundspeak taking the place apart and putting it back together with duct tape. What a freaking waste of time, energy, and money. Last I heard, updates were supposed to ultimately improve a site, and given what it's going to take just to fix what was mucked up, actual improvements look to be a long way off. Big sigh.

A few pics from Geoputt....

RTMLee about to "pull a Rob."

Ranger Fox about to knock one out of the ballpark.

Suntigres lining up for a stunning double-bogey putt.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Unrest in the Planet of the Apes

It's kind of cool to have Osama Bin Laden dead for my birthday, but my satisfaction is tempered by a certainty that there will now be much unrest in the Planet of the Apes, and the pissed-off among them will deal us some unpleasantness as a result. Still, all things considered, it's a better world without that particular creature breathing on it.

On another note: I have discovered that other people have the same birthday as me. WTF?

Spent a very nice day off doing some geocaching, which netted me three miles of hiking, four caches, and a rattlesnake. Since the rattlesnake—which was quite small, probably only a few days old—was far more interested in getting away from the big dude than messing with me, I call that a good day. Made great progress on the novella-in-the-works as well. The end is near....

Sunday, May 1, 2011

My Not-Yet-My-Birthday Party

 Okay, not so much a party as a hike. Well, a pair of hikes, actually. Just as much fun as a party—unless you count those parties where people throw money at you, but since that never happens to me, just never you mind. My birthday isn't till tomorrow, but since birthdays and Mondays are essentially incompatible, the weekend has been properly utilized for the celebratory functions. I must admit, for the most part, I'd just as soon forget about these silly landmarks, since, in the end, the only thing they mean is that the old man is another day closer to the crematorium. Then again, since I'm not there yet...what the hey...on with the celebration.

Headed out pretty early today to hunt a handful of geocaches on two different trails—Lake Kammack and Haw River, in Alamance County—as well as hide a new cache of my own in the bargain. Trails with caches I haven't yet found are few and far between in this area, so it's necessary to venture farther afield to get to them. The downside of this is that I have to save up for weeks to afford the gas anymore. The upside of it is that I always find some really beautiful places and add to my total cache finds. The Haw River, I swear, is one of the most appealing settings in the southeast. Every time I find a new place to hike along the Haw, I'm utterly taken with its primal beauty. Even when there are plenty of signs of human habitation along its banks, there's something about it that seems ancient and serene. To be sure, much of the south's history is exemplified in this locale—a few miles north of Burlington, NC—and in my old age, I find such areas fascinating. Not to mention that, corresponding to this sense of antiquity, there's a subtle, inherent eeriness that stimulates and appeals to my imagination as a writer of scary things. A couple of times out there today, alone, the rush of the river and the stillness that otherwise prevailed in the woods made me feel as if I were walking into the setting of a Lovecraft story. What a deep and frightful pleasure!

Last night, Ms. B. took me out for an evening of old-age revelry, which included going to the theater to watch Insidious—which I thought was a hoot; kind of the Fright Night of poltergeist films—then drinks at Vintage 301 and dinner at Zen Sushi on Elm Street in downtown Greensboro. The transformation of Elm Street in recent years from a dying commercial district to a small nighttime entertainment mecca is both surprising and appealing; in some respects, it reminds me of Rush Street in Chicago, back in the 80s. I dont' spend much time down there—being that I'm all old and everything—but it definitely has its allure. Particularly because...yes, you guessed it...there are caches.

Enjoy my birthday, if you please. (Click the pics to enlarge.)
A bridge too far. Yep, caches nearby....

There were lots of these little doods hopping around.
A feeder, of sorts — or some kind of alien construct, perhaps.