Sunday, December 26, 2021

Smith Mountain Lake Madness

Well, it was only madness in that there was a shit ton of geocaching going on. I was up and at 'em fairly early this morning. Gassed up the car, gassed up me with a big honking bucket of coffee, and off I went. I stopped off in Rocky Mount to snag a quick park & grab hide, and then I threaded my way through Franklin County on a spidery network of back roads toward the big lake.

It felt rather like summer out there, with temperatures in the mid 70s. There were a good many people out and about, at least in places, but for the most part, I was able to hunt caches in both woodland and populated settings unimpeded. I did find a few cool hides — from the mooning dwarf shown above to a gaggle of giant beetles and a big honking spider. I came home with 14 finds and one DNF (did not find). I could hardly have asked for a better day to get out on my own, indulge in my outdoor passion, and decompress in beautiful surroundings.

There's a group going after my new night cache tomorrow evening, which makes me happy. I may tag along or something such, if circumstances permit.
The Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance, with the Peaks of Otter partly visible on the far right.
A lovely day at Smith Mountain Lake

Saturday, December 25, 2021

One Dark Christmas Night...

I mean, really. It is one dark night out there.

Ms. B. and I enjoyed a lovely Christmas day today. A lovely Christmas week, all things considered. I mean, over the past couple of years, the world has set itself on one hell of a new and different course, at least for me. Mom died in 2020. My brother died earlier this year. Brugger and I got married and moved in together. We have five cats. There's a pandemic. Even since this time last year, the world feels like a wildly different — and oftentimes tougher — place to live.

This was the first Christmas that Brugger and I have spent together as a married couple, and the first I've ever spent in my own home in Greensboro. As a youngster, the family always spent the holidays with my grandparents in Georgia. Even when I moved to Chicago in the 1980s, I always came south for Christmas. After the grandparents all passed away, the family spent Christmases together at the old homestead in Martinsville. And so it has been even up to last year, when Kimberly and I celebrated Christmas at Pleasant Hill, just the two of us.
Christmas Eve sunset from The Vino Shoppe in High Point
This past week, we had several little celebrations to lead up to the big day. Wednesday, we went to dinner at GIA - Eat. Drink. Listen, which we hadn't visited since before the pandemic set in. Yesterday, for Christmas Eve, we drove over to High Point for an open house hosted by our friend Kelly, who used to work with us at the old office. Then, following longstanding tradition, Ms. B. and I went out for wine. Typically, we've gone to the Grove Winery on Christmas Eve, though this year, the Grove was closed. Since we were in High Point for the open house, we opted for The Vino Shoppe, which we hit on Christmas Eve a couple of years ago. The decent wine and all-around nice atmosphere made us smile real big. As a rule, for Christmas Eve dinner, I make either vegetable beef soup or beef chili. This year, we opted for the soup. I done good; it was much better than being slapped in the belly with a wet trout.

I made several outings to the Greensboro watershed trails this week to set up a new night cache, which I submitted to yesterday. As with many of my caches, this one is inspired by dark literature, in this case The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers. A night cache is specifically set up to be hunted after dark, with trails of reflective fire tacks to lead cache hunters to their destination. I put in some serious time and energy setting this one up, so I hope it will work out as well as I believe it will. Ought to be fun for the local geocaching contingent, I do believe. The cache is called "Have You Seen the Yellow Sign?"
Sunset from the Laurel Bluff Trail, overlooking the Lake of Hali... er, uh... Lake Townsend
For the past few years, our Christmas movie repertoire has steadily grown. For some time, we satisfied ourselves watching Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown! and A Christmas Story. A while back, we added National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. A year or so ago, we added Die Hard. This year, we also watched Die Hard 2 and Die Hard with a Vengeance, not that these were actually Christmas movies; we just kinda felt like watching them. Die Hard with a Vengeance turned out to be particularly fun, thanks mostly to Samuel L. Jackson. We also fit in Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which was one of my staples when I was a little kid. I don't know that it's going to become a staple in the adult years.

This morning, I cooked slapjacks for our breakfast. Then we opened presents. There were many good ones, for Ms. B. does tend to spoil me. The highlight for me, perhaps, was an S. H. Monster Arts Godzilla figure (from 1989's Godzilla vs. Biollante). Unfortunately, one of her gifts has not arrived. I just hope there's no problem with it at the source or with shipping. But all in all, we both made out rather splendidly. For our big dinner, I made Chicken Marsala, as I have on at least a previous Christmas or two. Happily, I didn't fuck it up.

After things settled, I set out for the trails again, this time to see if I might recover some very old cache containers from a long-archived cache I had adopted many years ago (see "Darkness Falls Restored," February 24 2014). I found one of the containers; the other, I did not. Then, I set out for Martinsville, figuring I'd put in a little holiday time (and some geocaching) at the old homestead. Just before I left Greensboro, I received notification of a new cache up at Fairy Stone Park, a few miles out of Martinsville. I knew it would be after dark before I could get to it, but the mood was upon me, and I figured I might be able to snag first-to-find if I didn't dilly-dally. Well, I didn't dilly-dally, and I did get first to find. I tell you — as I mentioned way up yonder in this blog — it was one dark night out there. The sun had been down for a little while before I arrived at the trail, so it's a good thing I had a very bright flashlight with me. It wasn't a long hike — maybe a half-mile round trip. But it was dark. Very, very dark. Even once I arrived back in Martinsville, it was very dark. Still is.

One dark Christmas night.

If you celebrate Christmas, I hope yours was as satisfying as mine. If you don't, then I don't reckon it was. But whatever, I hope your day didn't involve any wet trout and belly-slapping.

Au revoir.
No, there are NOT any toasted folks here. Not yet, anyway.

Friday, December 17, 2021

Abandon Hope All Ye... and Such

With all due acknowledgement to Dante, “Abandon Hope All Ye...” is a geocache I placed in Eden, NC, over ten years ago, at a long-abandoned bridge over the Dan River (the cache is limited to premium members only, so if you’re not one, I’m afraid you won’t be able to view the cache listing). I had happened upon the bridge while hunting another cache back in 2009, and the location struck my fancy. In 2011, the cache located there was archived, so I took advantage of the opportunity to place one of my own. A decade and some change later, mine is still active.

The bridge is narrow and well-worn, though it doesn’t appear to be unsafe for foot traffic. To access the cache, however, one must negotiate some treacherous terrain. It’s only gotten more rugged over time, as erosion has taken its toll at either end of the bridge. The cache has ended up missing a handful of times during the past decade, but since I am so fond of the location, I have always gone back and replaced it rather than archive it. Two weeks ago, I went by to check it out after a cacher who was unable to find it suspected it had gone missing; indeed it had... again. This evening, on my way to Martinsville, I stopped by with a replacement container on hand, which I put very securely in place. I hope this one will stay put for a while.

It’s been one of those weeks with all kinds of goings-on, so I haven’t managed to fit in any blogging. I got the Christmas decorations up at the house, wrapped up one major writing project (more news on that later), and made considerable headway on another. Last night we had company — our regular supper club gang, the Nelsons and the Albaneses — for a little Christmas dinner. And tomorrow, we’ve got some more socializing to do at the Nelsons’ place. Hopefully, the weather on Sunday will be conducive to a caching outing.

And that, as they say, is that. Be good to yourselves, and be good to Buffalo (or wherever you hail from). Ciao!

Almost dusk — the view of the Dan River north of the bridge
Dan River south of the bridge
View of the sky from the front porch in Martinsville, 9:30-ish in the p.m.
Casa di Rodan with a few Christmas decorations up

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Taco Time and Other Treatz

No, that's not a messy taco in the photo above, but my homemade spicy Thai ahi tuna. TacoTime is the name of a geocache (GC9JC1T) I picked up in Reidsville on my way to Martinsville last night. It was essentially a park & grab — one of those that you generally don't have to look for very long because it's pretty obvious. It was a pleasing enough cache, but like so many that are hidden near otherwise abandoned or deserted areas, somebody decides that they absolutely must sit in their freaking cars for extended spells right there near the cache. I think I'm going to start a website that features coordinates for non-existent caches and call it Wonder if it'll get much traffic.

Once I got to Martinsville, I made a supply run at the nearby Food Lion, headed home, and cooked up the lovely Thai dish you see above. It was quite delicious — and definitely HOT!

Friend Samaire stopped by bearing a couple of goodies she had picked up in New Jersey from mutual friend and fellow writer, Patrick Freivald. First was a Concord grape pie, which is apparently a regional dish; I wasn't aware Concord grape pies existed. I'm glad they do because this sucker was delicious. I followed the baking directions, but I was afraid the crust came out a bit overdone. It was dark, but by gummy, the texture was perfect. So, Concord grape pie is a dandy dish I would love to sample again. Second was a bottle of hot maple syrup, from Patrick's label, Frog's Point Honey. I've had Patrick's hot honey before, and it's fantastic. So is the "Spicy, Eh?" maple syrup. I put it on pancakes this morning, and it had just the right amount of HOT for my palette (your mileage might vary). To try these sweet/hot treats out for yourself, visit I bet you'll be glad you did.

So, Friday evening was good for treats. Today, my brother's friend and estate executor, Jane, came for a visit to see some of Phred's old stomping grounds and cover a few points of business regarding the estate. It was a little sad, but we did have a good conversation; plus, I enjoyed taking her to a few nearby locations where my brother and I had spent much time together in our youths.

So, until next time, be good to yourselves and be good to others. Ciao!
The Concord grape pie, fresh out of the oven