Sunday, May 31, 2020

From Clark Poe Road to Jordan Lake Dam

Team No Dead Weight: Keeping our heads above water
It’s been an interesting, tiring, mostly enjoyable weekend — from spending a relaxing Friday evening/Saturday morning in Martinsville, where I encountered barred owls, baby bunnies, martinis, and sushi; to spending Saturday evening with Kimberly and friends Terry & Beth in Kernersville, with all kinds of good food and wine (appropriately socially distanced, of course); to riots downtown and gunfire outside the house late last night; to geocaching in the gamelands near Pittsboro with Team No Dead Weight all day today.

This morning, friends Diefenbaker (a.k.a. Scott) and Fishdownthestair (a.k.a. Natalie) met me on Clark Poe Road, some ways southeast of Pittsboro near Jordan Lake. There were a good many caches out there in the gamelands, as well as a few near B. Everett Jordan Dam, which provided us with many miles of fairly strenuous hiking (there aren't many trails in the gamelands, and the bushwhacking is at times intense). After days and days of rain, the water level is up just about everywhere, and there are areas we hiked today where we about needed a boat.

I haven’t done any target shooting in ages, so I took my revolver along, mainly to see if the old ammo I have would still fire. It fired. So if, God forbid, there’s more shooting in the neighborhood, I should like to be able to shoot back, if needed. I don’t imagine it will come to that.

Anyhoo, an exhausting but satisfying day. At the end of our outing, my total cache count is now 11,878.
View from the end of Clark Poe Road
We suggested Natalie just swim to the cache, but she did not want to.
Fast and high water in the New Hope River
Water thunders out from below Everett B. Jordan Dam
View from atop the dam

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Nightmares in Yellow

Edited by Duane Pesice

Yep, this is going to be one big bunch of stories and poems, all set in the world of The King in Yellow, originated by Robert W. Chambers in his 1895 collection and imbued with a new life, so to speak, almost single-handedly by ye old Beast himself, Joe Pulver, who passed away a few weeks ago (R.I.P. Joe Pulver — The True King of Carcosa, April 25, 2020). Editor and founder of Oxygen Man Books, Duane Pesice, has put together this two-volume set of stories and poems of the Yellow King as a tribute to dear Joe, to be released this fall.

The books will feature the work of 70+ authors, with both new and previously published works of fiction and poetry. The antho will include my story, “Masque of the Queen,” which originally appeared in Celaeno Press’s In the Court of the Yellow King (2014), edited by Glynn Owen Barrass.

Ordering information will be available soon, which I will, of course, post here.

Here is the table of contents as it currently stands:

Four-Part Harmony — Introductions: John Linwood Grant, Edward Morris, Duane Pesice, Jeffrey Thomas
Luis G. Abbadie
— Railway to Madness
Mike Allen — The Clairvoyant, Between Dark and Dream
Rebecca J. Allred — Lambda 580
Manuel Paul Arenas – The Yellow Tale
Donald Armfield — BEing
Donald Armfield – End is Nigh
David Barker — Chamber of Shards
Adam Bolivar — The Door to Nod
Bruce Boston — Exiled to Hastur
Joseph Bouthiette Jr. — Oedipus at Carcosa
David B. Busboom — From the Dusty Mesa
Kenneth W. Cain — An Unfortunate Night at the Oakwood Theater
Frank Coffman — Warnings to the Curious
Frank Coffman — Audience With the Last King
Scott Couturier — We Are the Sacrifice
Thomas Cunningham – The Tatters of the King
Matthew R. Davis — IL Re Giallo
Mike Davis — Tales of the King in Yellow
Ashley Dioses — Even Madness Cannot Hide
Douglas Draa — Neighbors Good and Fair
Denise Dumars – The Repairer of Refutation
S. L. Edwards – The Ambassador in Yellow
John Paul Fitch – Faces
John Ghost – The Beating of Raven Wings
Maxwell Ian Gold – naigoth.carcosa.exe
John Goodrich – Pain Wears No Mask
John Linwood Grant — Mr Bubbles and the Jaundiced Stranger
Mike Griffin — No Mask to Conceal Her Voice
Jill Hand — Autumn in New York
Brian R. Hauser – The Beast of Babylon
David Hoenig — Of Kings, Queens, and Knaves
David Hoenig — Last Dance for the Ancient Gods
Shayne Keen — Yellow Work
Curtis M. Lawson — Pinocchio and the Black Pantheon
Ross E. Lockhart — Shrubberies
Paul St John Mackintosh — The Grey Queen
Mark McLaughlin & Michael Sheehan, Jr. – The Gateway to Carcosa
S. P. Miskowski – Joe
Edward Morris — Beast: A Fable For Children
Edward Morris and Joe Pulver — The Resplendent Troswoman Below
Renee Mulhare — Paper Masks
Renee Mulhare — Snapshots of the Mayor of Carcosa
Drew Nicks — Opening Night
Logan Noble – Carcosa Calling
K. A. Opperman — Cassilda Dons the Pallid Mask
Eduardo Peret — The Next Emperor
Duane Pesice — Sunshine and Scarlet
Joe Pulver – five poems
Stephen Mark Rainey — Masque of the Queen
Peter Rawlik — The Imperial Dynasty of America
Andrew Reichart — A Sign of Pure Gold
Pietro Pitt Rotelli – Carcosa Beach Party
Erica Ruppert — The Traveller
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy — Saint in Faded Demon
Sam Schreiber – The New Devonians
Kimberly Smeltzer — The Queen and the Mayor and the Day of Sorrows
John Claude Smith — The Yellow Hour
Max D. Stanton — The Dying Chorus
Anna Tambour — From the Mouth of the Tributary
Roger Taylor — Cassandra's Song—a Fragment At the End of Things
Jeffrey Thomas — The Seed
Scott Thomas — The Sea Might Yet Be Weeping
D. J. Tyrer — Beautiful Dreams (p)
Sean M. Thompson — Songs of EyEs
Sarah Walker — The Keening of a Yellow Star
Kaaron Warren — The Naked Man
Don Webb — The Fourth Man
Michael Wehunt — numbers of the bEast
Can Wiggins — The Queen in Yellow
Robert S. Wilson — Cassilda's Refrain
Richard Writhen — What You Wish For

Art by Russell Smeaton and Derek Pegritz; Design by Dan Sauer

Monday, May 25, 2020

Ghosts of Dark Mountain

Have you seen the bridge? Where's that confounded bridge?
Today’s geocaching adventure turned out to be a pretty big one — another trek down to the Uwharrie Mountains, about an hour from here, for some serious hiking and hunting of hidden thingummies in the woods. Today, Team No Dead Weight consisted of Diefenbaker (a.k.a. Scott), Tink (Scott’s faithful cache hound), Fishdownthestair (a.k.a. Natalie), and Old Rodan (a.k.a. me). Our destination was Dark Mountain, by way of the Jumping Off Rock Trailhead on Flint Hill Road, in what is surely one of the most scenic areas of the forest. The morning started out a little chilly and drizzly, but thankfully, the precipitation ended before we went far on the trail.

We had selected for our primary target a relatively old (from 2006) cache called “Ghosts of Dark Mountain” (GCF3E6) a four-stage multi that requires several miles of hiking on fairly rugged terrain. Mainly, it’s very steep mountainsides covered in slick rocks, especially after as much rain as we’ve had. Each stage of the cache relates a ghostly legend from Dark Mountain, which we all found alluring. The stories go more or less as follows:

Squashblossom: Some 300 years ago, a Cherokee Indian chief fell in love with a young woman named Squashblossom. The two of them often met on top of a high rock ledge (see photo below). The chief was called to war, and Squashblossom promised to wait for him on the rock ledge. However, the chief was killed in battle. When Squashblossom received word of his death, she climbed up to the ledge and leaped to hear own death. Legend has it that on moonlit nights, you can see her ghost standing high on Jumping Off Rock.
The lonely grave of Dania Woodell

Dania Woodell: In the very early 20th century, a preacher came to Poison Fork Creek and built a rudimentary shelter for the attendees of his regular sermons. More and more churchgoers began to gather here, and plans were made to build a church on the site. During this time, ten-year-old Dania Woodell died and was buried close to Poison Fork on the assumption that hers would be the first grave in a new church graveyard. However, for reasons unknown, the church was never built, and now young Dania's grave stands all alone in the deep woods along Poison Fork.

The Hulin Brothers: During the Civil War, brothers William, Jesse, and John Hulin lived in the Dark Mountain area. They were fierce Unionists and Abolitionists, and so refused NC Governor Vance’s order that all young men honor North Carolina by joining the Confederate Army. Thus, the brothers were considered deserters. They survived in a cave in the deep woods for some time, but three months before the war ended, a bounty killer found them and shot them dead in the cave. Their bodies were buried in nearby Lovejoy Cemetery with the epitaph “Murdered.” According to legend, the rocks of the cave where they died are indelibly stained with their blood.

The ghosts caused us no grief on our outing today. Given that the information on the cache page was minimal, we did have the occasional hiccup on our searches. When we came upon Dania Woodell’s grave, we had it in our heads that we would need to use numbers from the dates on the gravestone in a formula to determine the coordinates of the cache’s final stage. It failed to occur to us that the grave was near but not at the coordinates we procured at the preceding stage. We sought and sulked in vain for a while until old dummy here had the brilliant idea to actually hunt at said coordinates. And that is where we found what we needed to continue on our way.
This swag is just a little too familiar...

At the final stage, high up on Dark Mountain, we found the container without any problem. Much to my amusement, inside the cache were two very cheesy SF movies on DVD — The Head and Cobra vs. Komodo — which I realized I had left as swag in some other cache (almost certainly in Greensboro) at least a decade ago! Now, I have on a handful of occasions discovered swag I had left in one cache at some other cache, but never at such a distance and so many years later. These days, I almost never bother trading swag, although I do enjoy occasionally leaving a copy of one of my books for some poor, unsuspecting soul. In any event, I left the DVDs in the cache, mainly because I had dumped them off for a reason, and — who knows — perhaps I will see them again in some other distant cache one of these days.

We were all pretty exhausted by the end of the hike, but there was one other hide not too far away we wanted to go after, named “A Call to Arms” (GC1ERDX). As with many graveyard hides, in order to find the final stage, you are supposed to use numbers on the gravestone to calculate the coordinates. But at this one, there are two graves: one for Jesse Maness, and one for his arm, which he lost in a sawmill accident when he was twelve years old. Happily, Jesse himself did live for many years thereafter. At this cache, though, the cache web page gave just enough information for me to get it into my head I could find the container without actually calculating the coordinates first. And when we arrived at the graveyard, I did indeed walk right to the cache. Yay! Of course, I wasn’t about to leave without seeing the graves for both Jesse and his arm. It did remind me of a cache in Salisbury, which takes you to the graves of both a particular gentleman and his foot, which he lost in an accident.

After this day’s festivities, I have a pretty good tired going on. I sleep now.
It's a long way down to Barnes Creek. The view from Jumping Off Rock
Team No Dead Weight, appropriately distanced: An old dude, Natalie, Scott
Poison Fork, near the grave of Dania Woodell
The summit of Dark Mountain
Tink relaxes after a hard day on the trail
Burial site for the arm of Jesse Maness, who lost it at age 12

Sunday, May 24, 2020

A Different Kind of Day, Week, Month, Year...

I think it’s safe to say that, for me—and probably for about every person on the planet—every day during this pandemic period feels different from anything we have ever perceived as “normal”: it’s a little weird; sometimes frightening; always stressful, sometimes overtly, sometimes subtly. Brugger and I are fortunate that, at least for now, we are still able to work from home, so we are not facing truly desperate times, as so many of us are. This could change tomorrow, or next week, or next month, but I have become somewhat more adept at living each day for what it is rather than looking at every potential dire thingummy lurking around the next bend, which has been my typical modus operandi. So, Ms. B. and I are trying to make the best of each day, take every measure to keep ourselves free of COVID-19 cooties, and basically live for life—responsibly and with care for our neighbors. There are way, way too many people refusing to take this global situation seriously, and I am afraid they are the reason we aren’t going to see appreciably better days anytime soon.

It’s Memorial Day weekend, and some of the restrictions in the state have eased a bit (which means that a huge percentage of the population is out there gathering and celebrating as if COVID-19 is a thing of the past; damned fools). Last night, Ms. B. and I had our friends Terry and Beth over to my place, where we gathered (at a very suitable distance) under the canopy tent I had picked up a while back for this year’s Oktoberfest in Martinsville, which may or may not actually happen. We all supplied our own wine, wine glasses, appetizers, and such, and we ordered pizza out from Marco’s Pizza, which is our favorite pizza joint around here. The evening turned out to be pleasant beyond pleasant. I trust our friends had a nice time.

This morning, a couple of new geocaches came out in High Point, so I set after them and snagged FTFs (first-to-find) on both. The cats and I have been hard at work on a new short story (see “Country of the Snake,” Friday, May 22), but I’ve spent so much time editing out cat words that, this afternoon, just for shits and giggles, I set up my home office outside under the canopy. It was muggy as hell and the mosquitoes were plentiful, but the fan blowing and a good dousing of bug spray kept things tolerable out there—although I think a couple of the little bastards got through to my feetz. Damned bloodsuckers. I put the cats to work researching stuff for me. You can guess how that went.

A little while ago, I managed to get the canopy back inside just before the big thunderstorms set in (which are dumping something fierce right about now). And tomorrow, barring really nasty weather, there is Memorial Day geocaching on the docket. Here’s hoping. And please, do remember what Memorial Day is actually all about. Try asking yourself: are you conducting yourself during this bad spell in a way that honors what so many members of our armed services fought and died for? If you’re protesting wearing masks, mocking people who do, willfully ignoring social distancing, and otherwise denying that we have a true crisis through which we should all be working together, I would say the only thing you are honoring is your own petty, selfish ego. This is especially egregious for those of you who claim to be Christians. I know an awful lot of you who fit this shameful bill.

Do better. Please.
Hey, look! Brugger has tamed the wild beast atop her head... at least for the time being.
Research assistant researches
Droolie impersonates stuffed tiger, emphasis on “stuffed.”

Friday, May 22, 2020

Country of the Snake

A little excerpt from my current work in progress, a short story titled “Country of the Snake”. I derived the title from the inscription on a plaque found near a geocache in the Uwharries, not far from Asheboro, NC.
A faint, distant rumble told the Switchman the train was coming. He plucked his old pocket watch from his tattered vest, glanced at its ornate face, and slipped it back into his pocket.

3:30 p.m.

Right on time.

With a groan, he drew himself up from the wooden bench inside his makeshift shanty. The desert sun pummeled his face like a hot iron fist as he peered around the door and down the tracks. There it was: the faraway plume of smoke in the east, gradually moving closer.

There was never any whistle. No signal of its approach. But it was never a minute early, never a minute late.

Mr. Lancaster's private train.

The Switchman shuffled across twenty feet of sand and gravel to the switch lever. He spat on his palms, grasped the flesh-scorching metal handle, and tugged. With a scrape and a clank, the switch rails slid and locked into position to send the train onto the diverging track. He released the lever and stepped back. The approaching wave of sound swelled and washed over him.

The huge, black locomotive roared past and veered to the right, onto the northwest track. Apart from the engine and coal tender, there were only three cars. Most times, curtains in the windows blocked any view of the inside. On occasion, though, the Switchman might glimpse a random figure or pair of eyes peering through a murky pane. He never knew anyone on the train. He didn't know Mr. Lancaster or anything about his business. He didn't care.

The Switchman had only one job. To put the train on the right track, and then return the switch to its original position. This was what he did. This was what he lived for.

As the train thundered away into the endless northwestern desert, he took hold of the switch lever and dragged it back to its original position. With what sounded like a sigh of relief, the steel points swung back into place.

For a moment, the Switchman peered after the train, as he always did. Only Mr. Lancaster's train ever went that way. Once it diverged onto the northwest track, it might as well no longer exist. He had no idea where it was going. He had never known.

He did not want to know.

The Switchman ambled back to his shanty and sat down on his bench to wait. In exactly twelve hours, when he and the desert sun were long asleep, the train would return. Tomorrow at this time, he would throw the switch again.

He leaned back, closed his eyes, and was gone.
A few minutes ago, I went into the vault upstairs to find a certain book. Didn't see it, so I grabbed a random book off the shelf, opened it, and two dollar bills fell out. There's a shit ton of books in there. I guess I know what I'm gonna be doing the rest of the evening.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Don’t Get Bitten by the Bug
COVID-19 isn’t the only nasty bug to try like hell to avoid. It has turned out to be a baaaad tick season this year. I’ve found way too many of these vile critters crawling on me after hiking these past few weeks. Particularly hateful are seed (larval) ticks, most of which are no bigger than a poppy seed (and I've found some even smaller). Unlike the bites from most adult ticks, these tend to sting and itch maddeningly very shortly after the little fucker has latched onto you. While I hesitate to classify this as a good thing, the distinctive pain is about the only way you’ll ever know the hellish bastard has gotten you. The ticks themselves can literally be too small to see unless you know the precise area of your anatomy to examine.

Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Alpha-gal Syndrome (which causes a severe allergic reaction to red meat, transmitted by the Lone Star Tick, easily recognizable by the single white spot on its back) are among the most serious tick-borne diseases, and I have numerous friends who have suffered one or more of these. Fortunately, this season, I have detected and destroyed every tick that has discovered me — at least, to my knowledge! — before it has managed to dig in for the long haul. With so many more people now out on trails and in the woods, the pandemic is but one of the risks out there, and socially distancing one’s self from ticks tends to be difficult.

While most ticks laugh at DEET, I have found that spraying my entire body before getting dressed and then spraying down my clothes has dissuaded the vermin from catching a ride and using me as a restaurant car. If you value your health, these little nasties are not to be trifled with. When you're in their environment, take the necessary precautions. (And when you're in my environment, wear a fucking mask.)

Grazie mille.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

“Strategies Against Architecture” and Such

“Strategies Against Architecture” is the name of a series of geocaches in the Triangle of North Carolina, where the caches are placed in or around the crumbling remains of old structures, usually in the remote woods. Several different geocachers from that area have placed caches in the series. The photo at left shows such remains — however much of them you can see. All that's left of this one is an old stone chimney, some random stones from the foundation, and a few piles of ancient refuse. This was clearly once a house, but there’s no telling how long ago it fell into ruin. The state of the remains suggests it's been many, many decades since this was a habitable dwelling. I do love discovering locations such as this, particularly when they are a bit more intact. Geocaching has taken me to many of these. Happily, we found the cache here in good condition.

It turned out to be another fine day for a gathering of Team No Dead Weight: friends Natalie (a.k.a. Fishdownthestair) and Scott (a.k.a. Diefenbaker). We chose as our primary destination the gamelands along Jordan Lake, accessed from Seaforth Road. Natalie and I had cleared a section of these gamelands a few months back, but we had left an even dozen caches out there unclaimed. All that wilderness seemed a pretty good place to hunt caches while practicing social distancing, and that, sure enough, turned out to be the case. There were a couple of others cars in the parking area, but we never saw another living soul at there. Hardly a surprise, given the relatively vast area, the rugged terrain, and the scarcity of trails. Quite a difference from some of the nearby hiking trails, where the parking areas were filled beyond overflowing, with cars lining both sides of the highways.

Too. Many. Motherfucking. People. Oy. Thanks be to Yog I am not a people.

Until today, we’ve had a mild spring, probably the mildest in a decade or more. It’s been great for getting out hiking during the pandemic, but today, the heat — right about the 90-degree mark — and excessive humidity made for some exhausting hiking. No matter; we found some excellent caches, got in plenty of exercise, and enjoyed each other’s company (from at least the requisite six feet at all times). I was pleasantly taken to see the signatures of my former next-door neighbors, Paul & Jamie, a.k.a. TravelinFarmFam, on some of the cache logs. They had apparently been out there caching on my birthday.

Happily, in the Cary/Apex area, there are still quite a few wilderness areas/gamelands/parks loaded with caches, so I hope I won’t run out of relatively nearby places to hike and hunt caches anytime soon.

Stay safe.
All that remains of the old foundation at "Strategies Against Architecture: Neglect" (GC24VTD)
This is not the cache.
Neither is this.
One of the more scenic areas we found on our excursion into the gamelands
And another.
Left: dinosaur bones? Right: We never found a trail until we were on our way back to the cars.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

The Doom That Came to Eden

So says a line on stone marker placed at the remains of an old scout camp in the deep woods of the Uwharries, about 40 miles south of Greensboro. The marker is part of a multi-cache that requires gathering certain information about the location to procure the coordinates to the final stage. ’Tis a fun one, which I found today.

I woke to a beautiful Sunday morning, just the kind for hitting the geocaching trail. Still, facing the day required a little extra coffee, since yesterday was Ms. B.’s birthday and we pulled quite the late-niter celebrating her now-excessive age. Once duly fortified, I hit the road for the Uwharries, specifically the Joe Moffit Trailhead at the King Mountain Trail, not far south of Asheboro. There I met friend Natalie (a.k.a. Fishdownthestair) and — due to certain complications, a bit later, out on the trail — friend Scott (a.k.a. Diefenbaker). It turned out to be (mostly) an excellent location for social distancing. And we about wore ourselves out on the hike, I can tell you, for the Uwharries are not flat. Not even a little bit. At the end of it, we put in about six miles, which made us about eight geocaches richer.

The scenery certainly hit the spot today. Our hike on King Mountain led us to an old scout camp (“Camp 7”), which is where we found the aforementioned stone marker, as well as the remains a much older well. From there, we went up Little Long Mountain, which led us to a fairly scenic overlook. Unfortunately, it was also the only place where we ran into a concentration of people. Fortunately, not a huge one, but there were enough about that we spent less time and took fewer photos at the location than we might have otherwise. Still, we claimed a cache at the site, and thus we found happiness.

After that, Natalie went her way, and Scott and I headed after a cache at the Lewis-Thornburg house, a restored farm dating back to the 1880s, right on the edge of the Birkhead Mountains Wilderness area. Here, we also encountered a few folks, mostly at the parking lot, but as it turned out, they all headed in different directions than Scott and I. So, we were able to explore the old farm and hunt the cache sans muggles, which is always a happy thing, even when we’re not overly concerned with social distancing.

And all that wandering about wore me out real good. I even came damn near taking a nap late this afternoon, which is highly uncustomary. It almost makes me wonder if some of Kimberly's old age isn’t wearing off on me.
A couple of guinea hens on the road to King Mountain
View from Little Long Mountain
The Lewis-Thornburg house, which dates back to the 1880s
A few of the outbuildings behind the farmhouse
A couple of old farts social distancing on the farm

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Supercycle Eleganza!

When I was a kid, I wanted a motorcycle something fierce. Or, at the very least, a cool mini bike. A slew of my friends had mini bikes, and my really cool friends had small off-road motorcycles, like the Honda SL-70 Motosport or Yamaha 60 Mini Enduro or Suzuki TS-90 Honcho. My folks weren't inclined to let me own anything so liable to send me to the ER, but — perhaps oddly — they never chafed about me riding other people's motor bikes. And since I had any number of generous friends, I rode them quite a lot. There were trails galore in the area, and when nobody was around to let me ride their motorcycles, I'd just ride my bicycle like a maniac through the woods.

Recently, I found online a copy of the very first motorcycle magazine I ever purchased (and I ended up a passel of them). It was the October 1971 issue of Supercycle, and when I was 12 years old, I read that thing over and over, never mind that I didn't understand half the technical and mechanical stuff the magazine focused on. I just loved the pictures and the reviews of off-road bikes, motocross races, and... the fashion?!

Well, I don't know that I really did, but when I picked up the magazine the other day, it fell open to that Eleganza ad you see up yonder. I reckon it was one thing to never end up with a motorcycle of my own, but how I survived my teen years in the 1970s without Eleganza, I'll never know. Perhaps I'll leave that to you to figure out.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

“Escalation” to Appear in Borderlands #7

I am happier than one of my fiery hot pepper martinis (and that is very happy, I'll have you know) to announce that my short story, "Escalation," will be appearing in the 7th edition of Borderlands, the award-winning anthology series from Borderlands Press edited by Olivia and Tom Monteleone. It's scheduled for release on October 1, 2020.

From the Borderlands Press website:

Borderlands 7 is the current volume of the continuing anthology series that has garnered awards and praise for its contributors and editors for more than twenty-five years. It is a non-themed gathering of stories which push the boundaries of genre fiction with provocative tales of the surreal and the weird.

“You will find no zombies, no serial killers, no vampires, no ghosts... or any other familiar genre tropes or icons within these pages. Borderlands fiction is typified by its absolutely untypical nature. The editors offer herewith a wide range of fiction varying in tone, length, style, and theme. The path to the Borderlands of contemporary, imaginative fiction is traveled by writers who believe they can write a story that is so unique and memorable it demands to be a part of this current volume. The result is a grand amalgam of respected masters, solid veterans, and bold newcomers.”

Here is the full list of contributors:
  • Meghan Arcuri-Moran
  • Michael Bailey
  • Gary A. Braunbeck
  • Michael Scott Bricker
  • Cory Cone
  • Roby Davies
  • John DeChancie
  • Michael Louis Dixon
  • CaitlĂ­n R. Kiernan
  • Felicia Lee
  • Bentley Little
  • Lisa Mannetti
  • Richard Christian Matheson
  • Robert McCammon
  • Donna J. W. Munro
  • Stephanie Pendley Paul
  • Bill Pronzini
  • Stephen Mark Rainey
  • Lucy A. Snyder
  • Daniel Waters
  • Tim Waggoner
  • F Paul Wilson
  • Leo Zaccari

Monday, May 4, 2020

Half-Past Fun in the Woods, Part Deux

After an ignominious defeat at "Fun in the Woods" (GC8PWW0) on yesterday, Robgso (a.k.a. Old Bloody Rob), Fishdownthestair (a.k.a. Natalie), and ye olde dude resolved to return to the scene of the horror this morning. After failures here by a substantial number of seasoned geocachers (other than us), the cache owner, Skyhawk63 (a.k.a. Tom), and his dastardly partner in crime, Punkins19 (a.k.a. Linda), also decided to come out and check on the cache's coordinates and wellness. This bothered the rest of us not a whit, although Tom's tight-lipped demeanor while we hunted rivaled Natalie's at her worst (which is pretty beastly). Like yesterday, coordinates on all our devices proved bouncy as hell, yet when they deigned to stabilize for brief spells, they continued to point us to roughly the same localized area. At one point during our increasingly frantic search, Old Rob unwittingly jostled the cache, making it somewhat more visible, and a few minutes later, Natalie actually laid eyes on the thing. Lord have mercy, what a monster! (The cache, I mean, not Natalie — this time.)

I'd say the coordinates turned out reasonably good; it's just that they rarely keep still long enough to pinpoint a distinct GZ. To my mind, that's why this cache is so tough: you end up with a very big search area and, within it, a vast array of alluring hiding places.

So, at least for Natalie and me, that was around 3 hours on the hunt here. Finally, a hard-earned first-to-find for Old Rodan, Old Robgso, and Young Fishdownthestair at 10:00 a.m. Whew.

And there we have it: Half-Past Fun in the Woods, conquered!

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Half-Past Fun in the Woods

Hmm, yes that does look a little bit like an old fart in a tree. I reckon he is — old, I mean. Yesterday was another flippin' birthday, and I swear I just had one of those a couple of weeks back. It was kind of an odd one; a little weird, I guess, what with it falling in the middle of a pandemic. Still, in all, it turned out to be very pleasant, mostly relaxing. On Friday, Ms. B. and I journeyed to Martinsville, set ourselves up at the Homestead, and picked up some dinner (burgers fantastique) from Third Bay Cafe, our favorite Martinsville restaurant. Then we settled in with some wine and watched Europa Report, which we had seen a few years back, but we both enjoyed it and wanted to see it again. It holds up nicely.

We headed on back to Greensboro yesterday afternoon, and then, last night, got a nice dinner from Fuji Sushi. Since being mostly homebound these past few weeks, I have sure been missing the sushi, so it was great to be able to bring home some of the good stuff. For the rest of the evening, being in the Japanese spirit and all, we put on three of the Ju-on movies, which I have always liked a lot — Ju-on: The Curse, pts. 1 and 2 (the original made-for-TV chapters from 2000) and the theatrical feature, Ju-on: The Grudge, from 2002. That put us late into the night, but it sure made for a pleasant birthday evening.

A couple of new geocaches at the Richardson-Taylor Preserve, placed by friend Skyhawk63 (a.k.a. Tom), were published this weekend, so this morning, friends Robgso (a.k.a. Old Rob) and Ms. Fishdownthestair (a.k.a. Natalie) met at the trailhead, spread ourselves out nicely, and hiked out to the new one called "Fun in the Woods" (GC8PWW0) A few previous hunters had posted DNF (Did Not Find) logs, so we hoped we might manage the first-to-find honors. We hunted high, low, over, under, and everywhere in between, but we couldn't turn the up the damned thing. After an hour or so, we decided to move on to a couple of other targets. One of them was my own cache, "Alien Artillery #2" (GC8PVCV) which resides a little ways up in a tree. Now, friend Rob is not a tree climber (which is due less to his own lack of desire or proficiency than a profound fear of his wife should she learn he climbed a tree), so I volunteered to go up and grab the log for him. Happily, unlike on my first ascent when I hid the cache (see "Alien Artillery," April 26, 2020), I did not fall out of the tree.

After this, we parted ways with Rob and returned to the site of "Fun in the Woods," where we came upon a geocacher I'd not met before, namely MetsFanNC. We joined forces and hunted, hunted, and hunted (again), still to come up empty-handed after well over an hour. Sigh!

Well, a DNF gives me a reason to take another trail hike, which I'll no doubt do this week. Maybe I'll find myself a tree to climb, just for fun. I'm old as the hills now, so I can climb if I want to.
Up we go, and making the grab.