Tuesday, June 27, 2023

The Turkey Trots!

I swear, I dunno what's going on. Since Brugger and I have (mostly) gotten ourselves moved into Pleasant Hill in Martinsville, this well-stuffed Thanksgiving turkey keeps appearing in random places. It apparently belonged to my mom, although I have no recollection of her ever putting it out for Thanksgiving (or Yog forbid any other time; it is so inconsistent with her typical decorating style). But in recent days, yon turkey has appeared on shelves, at computers, in bedrooms, on the john... all kinds of random places. Brugger denies all knowledge of this affair, but I somehow suspect she might be behind it all.

If all goes as expected, we'll have the Greensboro house on the market in the next couple of weeks. As it is, we're now pretty well ensconced in the house where I grew up in Martinsville. Mom called the place Pleasant Hill, and it's a nice enough name, sure, but Brugger and I are thinking something not quite so pleasant might be more apt for us. I'm thinking Ground Zero, as it's apt for both geocaching and blowing up shit.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Ferrum First-to-Finds, The Kraken Strikes, and Pursued by Ducks

There certainly hasn't been much geocaching in my regular routine for quite a while now, due to being consumed by both the move to Martinsville and copy editing my upcoming Deathrealm: Spirits anthology. Brugger and I have been upgrading the Greensboro house to sell and Pleasant Hill to move in, the latter of which is at least very close to being habitable full-time (the former increasingly less so). I moved my two cats here a couple of days ago, and Brugger is bringing her three today. Frazier and Droolie have settled right in; whether Ralph, Rufus, and Moose will be as mellow remains to be seen.

Right about bedtime last night, a couple of new geocaches published at Ferrum College (one of my old alma maters), about 25 miles up the road from Martinsville. So, at dawn's first light, I hopped (or perhaps hobbled is a better term) out of bed, grabbed coffee, and hit the road. There's now a lovely nature trail through the woods near the campus; back in my time there, the only trails were deer paths and meandering ruts through the forest left by drunken or otherwise impaired college students (I might or might not have been among them). There was one standalone traditional cache and two new Adventure Lab caches, which provided the necessary info to locate a bonus physical cache. So, I managed to secure the coveted first-to-find honors on the lot of them. It was nice to be out in the woods alone on a beautiful if rather muggy morning.

After caching, I wandered the campus a bit. There's a sculpture, which I assume to be quite new, in Adams Lake: a canoe being dragged down by what is presumably a kraken tentacle. Wonderfully whimsical, I must say. A massive crowd of ducks were gathered on the banks near the kraken, and when they saw me coming, they all converged, no doubt hoping I had duck goodies to share. Unfortunately for them, I did not. Still, they were generally polite and a pleasure to spend time with.

And now... back to the restoration work!
A lovely but muggy morning in the woods
The Kraken strikes!
Pursued by ducks!

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

R.I.P. Rob "Robgso" Isenhour

After being diagnosed with lung cancer only a few short weeks ago, my good friend and regular geocaching companion, Rob "Robgso" Isenhour, passed away just before dawn this morning.

Rob and I literally have spent almost every Sunday geocaching together since sometime in 2011 (and on occasions for at least a couple of years before that). In geocaching circles, he and I became known as the "Old Farts" even when neither of us were all that old. For that reason, I always referred to him as "Old Rob" in my geocaching logs and whenever I've written about him on this blog. He had nine years on me, but until recent days, I always figured that if I were doing as physically well as he when I reached his age, I'd be doing damned well indeed. Even prior to our acquaintance, the locals called him the original "Trail Dawg." The man did love trail hiking — and especially trail geocaching. For all the years that we cached together, we certainly went after plenty of park & grabs and other such urban hides, but his true love was getting out there in the woods.

Once Rob retired — not all that many years ago, it seems — he became one of those devoted "first-to-find" hounds. Whenever a new geocache published in our area, there was a better than average chance that he'd be the one to head right out to it and grab the first-to-find honors (however dubious said honors might actually be).

For our regular Sunday outings, Rob and I, along with several other cachers, such as Cupdaisy (a.k.a. Debbie), Diefenbaker (a.k.a. Scott), Fishdownthestairs (a.k.a. Natalie), and RNLee (a.k.a. Robbin), adopted the semi-official title Team No Dead Weight, or — in my book — "The No-Dead-Weight Irreglars" (since, if there ever were a bunch of irregulars, that would be us). Sometimes, if it were just Rob and I on the hunt, we'd dub ourselves "Two Old Farts" (or "three" if Diefenbaker joined us). Rob and I frequently tried to convince friends Natalie and Debbie to join in the glory of Team Old Fart ("C'mon, y'all qualify!") but they'd have none of it. So sad for them!

I am reminded that Rob was on occasion also known as "Bloody Rob." This was because Rob was an expert at injuring himself while out in the woods, and he bled profusely. He had no fear of brier patches, I can tell you! His motto was "No blood, no fun," so you knew if he was covered in red stuff, he was a having a good old time.

When it came to hiding caches, Rob was a master of meanness. He created a considerable number of brilliant woodland camouflage containers, oftentimes hiding them in... ahem... briers... so that you, too, as a cache hunter, could shed some red. And you could just hear him laughing about it.

Rob with Bentley, his favorite trail dawg

I suspect Rob was the dog person to end all dog persons. He's owned a passel of them over the years (and is survived by two). Whenever we were out hiking and encountered someone walking their dog(s), we'd have to stop so Rob could pet some heads. Oftentimes we'd have to wait on Rob for quite a spell because he sure wasn't gonna miss out on petting dog heads. And while he might not have been as much a cat person, he sure loved our guys, particularly Chester (may he rest in peace) and Frazier. Back when Chester was alive, every Sunday morning, Rob would bring Egg McMuffins over so that Chester could eat the cheese out of them (Chester loved him some cheese). On occasion, when Brugger and I went out of town, Rob would come by the house to feed and pet the cats, and they sure did love him for it.

On occasion, despite being a Trail Dawg, Rob would get confused, direction-wise. We always figured it was best not to let Rob navigate because we never knew where he might lead us (when he did, it was never good). He blamed this on a series of concussions he suffered in his youth. So, these days, whenever I steer myself (or anyone else) wrong, I blame it on Rob's concussions. It seems only proper.

A while back — just a few months, really — it was clear that things weren't quite right with Rob, physically. He had stents put in his heart several weeks ago, and at first, it seemed like that started him back on a positive path. But then things took an unexpected turnabout, and the next thing we know, Rob has lung cancer and very little time remaining. The speed with which it claimed him still staggers all of us who knew and loved him.

I know that Rob's wife, Dianna, and the rest of his family will go through a tough time, but I do pray they will find comfort in Rob's memories. It's clear that he possessed plenty of love and basic wonderfulness to go around.

I suspect that Old Rob is out there somewhere, blazing a new trail. I hope there are nice geocaches out that way, and when the rest of us follow him, he will send us their coordinates, or at least some useful hints.

Godspeed, my old friend.

The last photo I have of Rob with the No-Dead-Weight Irregulars, March 21, 2023.
Old Rob and Diefenbaker hanging out with some noisy folk
No sweat, Rob.
Rob's typical exuberant arrival on site after trailing behind the rest of us for a while
(no doubt this was due to the concussions).
Serious geocachers. Old Rodan, Old Diefenbaker, Old Rob, Not-so-Old Fishdownthestairs

Friday, June 9, 2023

A Little Deathrealm Update

It's been a hectic week of little else but working on either the house we're moving into or the house we're moving out of. Slow but very steady progress, at least.

The "else" has been copy-editing Deathrealm: Spirits. Also slow but steady progress. The final contents have been compiled, all authors contracted and paid, and it won't be long before this monster goes into production. It's coming from Shortwave Publishing in October 2023.

The table of contents will include Brian KeeneJoe R. Lansdale, Eric LaRocca, and many more. Future updates will drop additional names onto the list, for a total of twenty. This is going to be a good-sized, kick-ass anthology, I'm here to tell you. The cover reveal isn't too far off either, so please stay tuned.

Until later.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Back on the Geocaching Trail

Here you see Two Old Farts (Old Rodan, left, and Old Diefebnaker, right) wondering what the hell kind of curve balls life has been throwing at them. Our longtime third wheel, Old Rob, is facing a profoundly critical time, and another of our best geocaching friends, Night-Hawk (a.k.a. Tom) is in a different but potentially equally serious place. All of us are struggling to come to grips with these facts in our own ways. All this comes amid the biggest life change Brugger and I have willfully undertaken since we decided to share space in each other’s lives going on fourteen years ago.

Change comes hard.

During the month of May, I made exactly four geocaching trips, two no more than quick jaunts, and this constitutes the least amount of caching in a month’s time since the genesis of my geocaching days back in 2008. For all these years, caching has been an ongoing and what I would call the most immersive and invigorating activity of my adult life. For both Old Rob and Night-Hawk, geocaching has been a defining aspect of their personalities.

Anyway, today, Scott and I ventured forth to the Cane Creek Mountains Natural Area just south of Burlington. A new trail system has opened up (the Oak Hill Trails) adjacent to the original area (Pine Hill Trails). Eventually, the two will connect. Anyway, four new caches recently came out on the Oak Hill Trails, so Scott and I took it as our task to go out and hunt them. We did this thing, found two other newish caches in Burlington proper, and then did the Simply Thai lunch thing in Elon, as tradition demanded.

Ms. B. and I have plenty of tasks piled up to conquer, so this evening, we’re conquering them. Well parts of them. Big parts. Or at least medium-size parts.

Parts is parts.
Lovely little picnic area in the foundation of an old cabin
The Giant Claw
A little dam and reservoir hiding in the woods near the trail
View from below the dam