|View from the front door|
|View from the front door|
|Entrance to Big Walker Mountain Tunnel on I-77 northbound|
|Abandoned motel in New California, OH, the setting for “Hotel California” (GC8JR05)|
|Unfortunately, the cache wasn’t in the tower.|
|Sanford Lake Dam, four months after the Tittabawassee River blew through it|
|Rodan’s-eye view from “Yes, It’s Really Up There”|
|Crabby apples at a cache near Warmbier Farms|
|Chicken Marsala, probably my best effort yet. Y’all don’t get any.|
Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Seriously, I’d hard-pressed to remember when I have last enjoyed entertaining myself as much as on these solo morning biking/geocaching outings in Midland. Today in particular, after a decent night’s sleep (a rarity even in this more relaxed environment), I headed out into a beautiful, temperate morning, with a fair breeze and little traffic to contend with. Yesterday, I had claimed a bunch of caches on the Midland Grand Curve Trail east of Swede Avenue; today, I headed back to the trail, to the west of Swede. I targeted several others in the area, which meant more traffic and more muggles, but even then, it was anything but oppressive. I snagged fourteen caches, I think it was, and passed a most entertaining boneyard on my outbound ride (see below).
Later, Ms. B. and I drove over to Midland City Forest, where we put in about a three-mile hike — yep, caches for the old feller, and nature photography for the nice lady. Found a good many hides and got in some decent exercise. And for the evening, another round of wine and quality time with the family.
|Yep, that little dot is a magnetic nano|
on a lightpole, about 20 ft. up
Thursday, September 17, 2020
This morning’s bike ride fell more into the “challenging” category than the “exhilarating” one. It started out beautifully: I rode up to a cache I had failed to find on one of our more frigid excursions here a couple of winters ago. This time, it took some hunting, but I finally made the find. A relatively short distance away, there is a cache called “High Enough?” (GC8WYBG). The name is apt, for what we have here is a magnetic nano stuck about 20 feet up on a light pole. At least one previous finder shimmied up that pole, but I felt it more prudent to improvise a tool of the trade, which I did. Yessir, I came, I saw, I conquered, I replaced the cache as it was intended. A couple of years back, I had to perform a similar feat at a nearby Midland cache; I made it happen, but it required far more effort than this one did.
I hunted and found several more caches, but it wasn’t long before the trouble set in. I’m pretty sure Del’s bike has not seen use like I’ve given it in... well... probably ever, and now the chain took to falling off every time I hit a bump. Of course, this started about the time I reached the farthest possible distance from home base — several miles, at this point. I managed to get the troublesome bastard back on each time, though on a couple of occasions, only after considerable difficulty. Without tools, I couldn’t do but so much in the way of reparations. I did manage to nurse the brute back to Casa de Brugger, though I damn near lost my phone in the process. I apparently dropped it while working on the chain; fortunately, I knew exactly where it must have fallen, so I was able to head back and promptly reclaim it.
Once able to avail myself to proper tools, I dusted off the old talents (I was a proficient bicycle mechanic in my adventurous youth) and hammered the rear wheel back to sufficiently increase the chain tension. I hope. Kimberly and I took a ride around the neighborhood this evening, and the contraption functioned swimmingly. I trust it will for Del when he goes out to ride the thing!
Once again, we all enjoyed an evening of wine; fantastic food; stimulating... uh... yeah, that's the word... television; and some wonderful bonding time. Another late night for us old folks, it was.
Friday, September 18, 2020
As all good things must come to an end, so did this trip. Since I first met and got to know Del and Fern, back in 2010, I have felt comfortable and at home with them. But it didn’t take long for me to consider them family; and I have it on good authority the feeling is mutual. Each and every time we get together, I consider the occasion special, particularly since the Bruggers accepted me into their lives never realizing the sorrow, heartbreak, and outright horror they might be in for. But somehow, on this trip — maybe because my mom is gone now — I felt a deeper connection, a sense of belonging and acceptance I haven’t known since I was a kid. Indeed, this week, I experienced a youthful exuberance from spending so much quality time with these good people I have come to love and aspire to honor. Now, make no mistake, I am a crass old fart, and I fear I sometimes open the mouth and insert the foot, but for better or for worse, I believe the family understands where I am coming from. I do hope. As I told Del when we left this morning, I try to be good but it’s so hard that it hurts. Still, I think the Bruggers can only have a positive effect on me.
It goes without saying that Ms. B. and I had a long drive home. We took a different route back, primarily to compare time and quality of the roads. Today’s route was easier and marginally quicker. It also took us down Route 35 through Gallipolis, OH, and Point Pleasant, WV, where, back in 2018, I had spent some of the best solo time of my existence while researching my Ameri-Scares novel, West Virginia: Lair of the Mothman. Since we were passing through on such a long trip, we couldn’t spend a decent amount of time in the area, but I did snag a very cool cache in the shadow of the Silver Memorial Bridge — this one on the Ohio side of the Ohio River.
Back home now, and I must soon return to chipping away at the mountains of minutiae involved in settling Mom’s estate. I don’t yet see the light at the end of the tunnel, but from some of the information I have gotten, the tunnel, at least, may not be quite as dark as it portended. There be hope here.
Be good, be safe, and wear a fucking mask.
|The Silver Memorial Bridge over the Ohio River, from the Gallipolis, OH, side.|
The geocache host can be seen in the photo.
|Ms. B. in the shadow of the bridge|
|“For the Birds” geocart in Alamance County, NC. Found ’em all.|
It’s all about personal circumstances: the ever-deepening sense that life is a vastly different animal now than it was only a few days, weeks, or months ago. Maybe it’s because that, now that Mom is gone, the door to one chapter of life has closed and another has opened. I don’t really know what it is; my sensibilities seem to shift day by day. It’s weird. It’s disconcerting. It’s awful. It’s beautiful.
Somehow, that fact hit me hard today — while geocaching. Now, let me tell you. I’ve been caching since early 2008; I’ve had a bazillion transcendent experiences out there in the wild. I have gone out solo, with big groups, with little groups, with the best of friends, with relative strangers. I have discovered some the most beautiful settings that exist on Earth. I have shared laughs, sorrow, frustration, and excitement with folks damn near as goofy as I. I have discovered spiders bigger than Montana. I have seen the world from heights that would have terrified me even as a child, when I was absolutely fearless. I have found serenity deep in pitch dark storm drains. I have driven utterly ludicrous distances to be the first to find a new cache. Call it weird, but venturing out into the world to seek hidden containers and sign my geocaching handle — Damned Rodan — on little slips of paper brings me a unique joy. Geocaching moves me. It’s passion.
I got off work early today, and since there was a new geoart (a series of caches whose icons on the geocaching map create a specific design) a half-hour or so away in Snow Camp, I decided to give it a go on my own. The caches that comprise the geoart (“For the Birds,” it’s called) are all park & grabs — meaning they are hidden so you can just drive up, hop out, quickly find the cache, and sign the log. Generally, such hides are far more fun with a group of folks, more for the social experience than the challenge of actually hunting the caches. Going solo after park & grabs usually falls into the “eh, it’s okay” category. But with all those Death Cooties roaming free out there, I am still not keen on piling into a vehicle with other folks to claim smileys. Yet, today, all by my lonesome... I had a fookin blast. An oddly euphoric experience. Inexplicable, on the surface. Revealing, I guess, if I were to become ridiculously introspective. I’d say I won’t, but I think I already have. Fuggit. Circumstances today were such that I could hardly have enjoyed myself more. The caches in this series lurk along the rural back roads of southern Alamance County. Today, there was virtually no traffic (something I had forgotten was even possible), and going from cache to cache, making the find, and signing the log turned out to be as zen an experience as any I can remember. No stress. No anxiety. No anger. No grief. Just unmitigated satisfaction.
I will take it. Tomorrow is another day. As I deal with the aftermath of Mom’s passing, I keep finding increasingly complicated tangles of red tape to untangle. It is a long, slow, frustrating process; if you have lost loved ones for whom you have assumed responsibility, you may understand what I’m talking about. The issues will get ironed out. Too often, my problem is convincing myself that I don’t have to take care of every detail right now. But that is my nature. It has its benefits and its drawbacks.
Anyway, I welcome this little oasis of joy. May there be plenty more for me and for you.
That is all.
|One of my favorite spots along the Laurel Bluff trail here in Greensboro.|
A crumbling old structure amid a forest of bamboo.