Sunday, July 31, 2011

Beavers' Playgrounds, Whale Rocks, and Others

Night-Ranger, MarkCase, Keegrepus, Damned Old Flying Reptile Dude, and
Ranger Fox at Beavers' Playground.

Caching excursions frequently take me to fascinating places, and yesterday's outing to the Raleigh/Wake County area was no exception. Got up before the ass crack of dawn, met up with fellow cachers Mark Case, Rich "Night-Ranger" Colter, and Christopher "Ranger Fox" Hall, and hit the road, our primary goal being the oldest cache in Wake County, "Beavers' Playground" (GC17B). Once we got to the trail, we hooked up with local cachers Greg "Keegrepus" and Linda "Pink Dolphin." We trekked over hill and dale and ended up in an ocean of various species of tall grasses, much of which rose above our heads. Getting through it proved rather harrowing, for we could hear strange stirrings around us, and every now and then we sensed a distinctly evil presence—which I came to realize was almost certainly a herd of those legendary carnivorous bigfoot beavers that populate the backwoods of Wake County. We were lucky to get out of there with our lives. At least we did pause our panicked flight long enough to sign the cache log.

From there, we made our way to several other caches, eventually ending up at one called "Whale Rocks" (GC1HM37), so named because ground zero is one whale of a rock. Ranger Fox stomped on it. Poor whale rock. We also found a most interesting cliff along a remote roadside that is covered with garnet crystals. There were a couple of young rockhounds on the scene collecting samples, and being that Mr. Case is a teacher of environmental sciences, he got downright excited and pitched in to help the young 'uns in their quest. I brought home a nice little sample of my own. It's quite pretty, and it's also big and heavy enough to chuck at a bigfoot beaver should one decide to chase after me.

Last night, Ms. B. and I gathered with several friends at ye House of Albanese for dinner (homemade tacos) and a spot of wine....well, perhaps more than a spot. It was a fine ending to an exhausting but most satisfying day of physical activity.

Keegrepus and Night-Ranger emerging from the beavers' lair. Note the expressions;
yes, they are fleeing in desperate panic from a herd of carnivorous bigfoot beavers.

Survival story: "We lived to tell the tale." MarkCase, Keegrepus, and Night-Ranger

Ranger Fox stomping on the whale's head

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Feral Kittens Are Much Cuter

Spider is clearly expecting young 'uns. Either that or it ate the feral kittens that have been periodically coming around the backyard.

She certainly wasn't so big the other day (Monday, July 18, 2011: Bad Kharma)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Another Not-Quite-a-G-Fest Day

Every few months, it is necessary to get together with my old friend Bill Mann and watch Godzilla movies, particularly when one or both of us couldn't make it to the annual G-Fest in Chicago. Today's selection...

Our comrade-in-kaiju, Wayne Miller, was hoping to join us, but sadly couldn't make it today. Alas, poor Wayne. No monster mayhem for you, old man. Clearly, the world would be a better, healthier place if more people were into cities being laid waste by giant, radioactively mutated prehistoric monsters.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Bad Kharma

Four close calls with paper wasp and yellowjacket nests this past week (see "Friends, Fortune, and Flying Critters" for a couple of them) without a single sting—including one today, when my friend Paul and I, while out caching, pretty much walked right into a yellowjacket nest without mishap. Not to let such kharma persist unchecked, when we stopped at a McDonald's for lunch shortly thereafter, as soon as I opened the door, a yellowjacket zoomed in and stung me on the thumb. Fortunately, I'm not allergic to the little bastards. Now it just itches.

Among the other critters seen out and about today...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

From Buckhorn to the Dick & Willie

Open the door, get on the floor, everybody ride the dinosaur.

A very active and very pleasant weekend so far—and a long one for me, as I took yesterday off work. The pace at the office has been quite grueling these past few weeks, and I've been suffering from a severe flare-up of tendonitis, so the break is most welcome. No doubt, it'll prove too short to be particularly recuperative, alas....

Thursday night, it was off with Ms. B., Ms. Chapman, and Mr. Cox to the midnight showing of Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows at the Palladium Theater in High Point (after grabbing a nearby cache that had proven elusive on two previous occasions). Enjoyed the movie, but not as much as I had hoped, having become a big ol' Potter geek over the past year or so. Still, it was kind of moving in its way, being it's the last of a major landmark series and all.

Yesterday morning, got together with Mr. Rob "Robgso" Isenhour, Terry "Tadabailey" Bailey, Rob "Maingray" Maile, and Diana Hartmann (half of team David & Diana) for some serious hiking and caching at the Buckhorn Gamelands in Orange County. Picked up five nice trail caches, including one that, quite literally, had me up a tree. A very decent day for it, with a wee bit of respite from the intense heat of the past week, though after three to four miles of hiking in some rugged terrain, at least some of us worked up a fair sweat. I did manage to leave a distressing amount of flesh from my arm stuck to some bark on said tree, but it was all in the line of duty. The log was signed.

Last night, since Ms. B. and I had a discount voucher for Fleming's Steakhouse, we bit the bullet and treated ourselves to some of the best dining we've ever experienced. Spicy fried oysters; carpaccio with mustard sauce, capers, and red onions; roasted mushroom ravioli; New York cheesecake; crème brulée; and a bottle of light cabernet was just torture. Unfortunately, it could be all too easy to get accustomed to such torture. Discipline, old man, and all that.

Afterward, we popped up to Martinsville and, this morning, headed over to the Dick & Willie Trail, grabbed a couple of bicycles for free (which is a service here you just can't beat), and put in nine miles, riding end to end on the trail (it's not a rugged ride to say the least; even we old men can manage it). After that, we packed a very economical picnic lunch and headed over to Jaycee Park in Collinsville, where we encountered the most boisterous church group having a cookout of their own. But there was a cache there, so we persevered and, again, I signed the log. Anyway, I'm pretty sure that bunch was hollering so loud because they had these huge freaking plates of barbecue, and my lord, that stuff looked good. I'm sure God likes cooked-up dead pig too.

At that point, for some people, it was naptime. For others...well...we blogged.

Click on any of ye images to enlarge.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Friends, Fortune, and Flying Critters

A couple of mighty fortunate, if freaky experiences with flying critters this week. Thursday morning, I went out to take the big can of recyclables up to the street for the city truck to pick up, and no sooner had I started hauling the thing than I found myself standing amid a dense cloud of swarming, circling, buzzing things. For several seconds, I didn't even comprehend what I was seeing. When I realized it was a couple dozen wasps, and they were pretty much all over me, I turned around and walked away without so much as a single sting. Thus emboldened, I went in to get the can of Raid, came back out, gave some of the flying little bastards direct hits to force them back, then opened the bin, where I found a big old nest hiding under the lid. Hosed it down with poison, then hauled the can up to the street.

One of those close calls that could have ended much worse.

So today, I'm hiking on the Blue Heron Trail, a few miles up the way, looking for a site to place a new geocache. I find a good one, hide the container, and then start taking coordinates on the GPS. After going back and forth around the area number of times to get a good reading, I realize I'm standing amid a dense cloud of swarming, circling, buzzing things. This time it's yellowjackets, and I've apparently trodden right upon their nest. Now, the local paper wasps are not by nature aggressive, but the yellowjackets certainly are. Still, somehow, I manage to back away from the swarm without a single sting, though a fair number of them keep after me to make sure I get the message. After a while, they calm down, so I go back, retrieve my gear, and call the remaining critters rude names. I don't know whether this actually pisses them off (it's certainly less insulting than spraying them with Raid), but at least none of them chase me as I beat an honorable retreat down the trail.

Yesterday, I involved myself with no stinging critters, but I did spend a most enjoyable afternoon geocaching with my next-door neighbors, the Workmans—a.k.a. TravelinFarmFam (and TravelinWoofDog). We picked up twenty-some caches and sweated off a few pounds on a trip to the Cane Creek Reservoir in Orange County. Then, at home, Ms. B. made us an excellent Thai dinner, and we watched the 1969 True Grit with John Wayne, Glen Campbell, and Kim Darby. I've always loved that movie, though I actually prefer the newer Coen Brothers version.

Tonight...sushi at Bonsai. Yummy, little barely dead things!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Geocaches, Gimghouls, and Other Goings-On

Ms. B. and I spent a very fine, scalding hot day yesterday in Chapel Hill, dining, hiking, shopping, and otherwise doing our part to stimulate the economy. Snagged a baker's dozen caches, including several in Battle Park, near the UNC campus. Beautiful woods, these, and the hunt for one of the caches led us to Gimghoul Castle, which was built in 1924, the meeting place of the "Order of Gimghoul," a secret society for certain privileged UNC alumni. As one might expect, the castle is reportedly haunted—by the ghost of one Peter Dromgoole, who was, by some accounts, killed by his best friend in a duel (over a young woman, of course), his body hidden under a rock near the site where the castle was built. (Other tellings of the legend say that Dromgoole survived the duel and then fled to Europe, never to be heard from again.) In any event, we didn't encounter any ghosts—probably because it was broad daylight, and you know how ghosts dislike these hot summer days—but we did find the cache, and thus was Damned Rodan made very happy.

Afterward, Ms. B. and I partook of some excellent vittles we had picked up at Trader Joe's, had a couple of drinks, and watched the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, which I'd not seen in a quite a while. I seem to recollect from last night bits and pieces of dreams about ghostly goings-on in some dark place, but I can't remember them clearly because I was asleep at the time.