Sunday, December 1, 2013

Occoneechee Speedway, Yuggoth VI: The Twisted Grove, The Stoned Poet, and Others

A long stretch of the old speedway, now
overtaken by the forest

What a great day for finding old things... even including a Great Old One or two. It was a day for geocaching with a fun group of local folks: Debbie "Cupdaisy" Shoffner, Rob "Robgso" Isenhour, Robbin "Rtmlee" Lee, and Sarah "Sssharkie" Stevens. Our target was Hillsborough, just west of Durham, NC. It's a small, picturesque town with a surprising number of historic and unusual sites. In the past, I've passed through Hillsborough any number of times, and even found a few caches there, but it wasn't until today that I got to visit just about every corner of town, by way of our quest for caches.

The thing that drew us there in the first place was the old Occoneechee Speedway (later known as the Orange Speedway), a former NASCAR racetrack that operated from 1948 to 1968. It has since been completely overtaken over by pine, sycamore, and cedar forest, and the track itself, as well as the auxiliary roads, have been turned into hiking trails — over three miles of them, and we covered just about the lot of them. The original grandstands and several other structures still exist, almost ghostlike amid these beautiful woods. Several high-quality caches are hidden along the trail, and our group found the lot of them while enjoying the unusual scenery.
There's nothing odd happening here.
Move along.

Adjacent to the speedway — just across the Eno River — lies the sprawling Ayr Mount Plantation, which dates back to 1815. A beautiful nature trail winds around the estate, and on this trail, we found a nice cache-letterbox hybrid called Yuggoth VI: The Twisted Grove (GC22VYV), based, of course, on H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. The grove itself was, indeed, beautifully twisted, and even though we successfully ventured into it, as far as I know, none of us have been beset by anything Awful. Of course, the night is not yet over. Also at the plantation was a fun puzzle cache called The Stoned Poet (GCXYQV), which required solving a daunting puzzle to acquire coordinates to the hidden container. One of our party, whose name I won't mention (Sssharkie), came up with a novel method of actually locating the actual hide, which I'd best not reveal on pain of death (intuition and guesswork). I am rather ridiculously pleased to have played a part in turning up the hide itself. (Laugh, you.)

We also visited a graveyard where slaves from the Civil War era were buried; an old one-room schoolhouse (Hughes Academy); the outhouse of an old girl's school (Burwell School, 1837-1857); a sculpture of an ass named Jack; and a big old cedar tree that required climbing. I didn't fall out, so what a good day!

A fine day on the caching trail, and I have to give Hillsborough credit for being the most charming town I have visited in a long, long time.

Back to work tomorrow. Grrrr.
Creeple people hauling ass down the old Occoneechee Speedway
Ayr Mount Plantation House, built 1815
Rob the Younger doesn't know Jack.

1 comment:

Mari said...

I love this! I remember hearing that the speedway was being closed when I was a teen. It sounds like a fun day!!!