Monthly Archives: June 2014

Geocaching Adventures with my Cousin Part 3

 

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I am still here in this beautiful evergreen state visiting my cousin. We share a number of interests and recently we’ve added geocaching to that list.  My delightful cousin was very aware of my geocaching adventures and asked that I bring my handheld GPS unit when I visited. Along with a friend, we’ve ventured on two successful geocaching expeditions. The challenge and the success of the previous ventures have contributed to a sense of achievement and a desire to continue. Now bitten by the geocaching adventure bug, we planned another hunt.

This time we planned to visit the university which is a larger campus adjacent to a thick and hilly forest.  We consulted a geocaching map to study the hidden cache sites. One was located in the arboretum; we eliminated this one due to lack of accessibility for my cousin’s wheelchair. We studied another possibility which we found required the use of a webcam. We dismissed that site too. We then zeroed in on one near a dry “dock”. I programmed the north longitude and west latitude coordinates into my GPS unit. We then chose another site deeper in the forests which appeared to be accessible for my cousin. We also recorded clues for each site.

With our plans set, we headed to the nearest city bus stop. We were blessed and thankful for the pleasant bus drivers we encountered that day. Sometimes the drivers are not so courteous for my cousin with her wheelchair. Although inwardly hurt by their behavior, she has learned to quietly endure this with patience. We took two buses before arriving at the university. Once we arrived, I turned on my GPS unit and waited for it to connect to the satellites. Once ready, we followed the arrow image to a campus commons area.

We began the search for the first cache by looking under wooden benches. Having no success we consulted our list of clues and were reminded of a dry “dock.” We journeyed out of the commons area, ventured down a nearby paved path, and soon discovered a long wooden, multi-layer dock on dry ground. I checked my GPS and found it indicated to continue in the direction of the dock. My cousin wasn’t able to get too close to it but she anxiously watched as we conducted another search. We looked along the top of the dock, dove under to check beneath, and wandered all the way around it. No luck in finding the hidden cache. I kept checking the readings which indicated we were very close. We also found that a portion of our search area was sealed off for construction work. The cache may be hidden in that section so after considerable time of hunting for it, we very reluctantly gave up the search.

At this point, I want to stress something important about geocaching. Sometimes the real treasure in geocaching is not finding the cleverly hidden container but often it is in discovering something in nature. While we concluded our unsuccessful search on the dock, a quiet visitor flew in to rest in the leafy foliage of a nearby tree, a lorquin admiral butterfly (according to my research afterwards). He caught my attention because I had never seen such a butterfly. Actually, I haven’t seen very many butterflies at all in recent years. At this cache site, he was our hidden treasure.

 

A Washington Butterfly

We continued on our journey to the other side of campus where the forest started. This university was so covered in trees and shrubbery that it was almost a part of the forest. I had reset my GPS for the next cache site, and we were led down a paved path and through a tunnel. My cousin commented at this point, “Going through a tunnel sounds mysterious.”

We then entered the forest where the terrain was rough with loose gravel and exposed tree roots. We stopped to access the situation. The uphill trail just ahead looked too treacherous with a large exposed tree root. There was no way for cousin in her chair to avoid that bulging root. Any hard, jarring movement of the chair could result in painful muscle spasms. She also didn’t want to risk damaging her wheelchair. Our friend hurried ahead along a narrower path and found an easier route. It was still gravelly and windy with a portion of the trail going downhill. At this point, I gently encouraged my cousin to take it easy on the path and go slow. I feared she may go too fast over the uneven ground and that any sudden jarring movement would hurt her. I also grasped tightly onto the arm of the chair (as if I could stop a 300 pound wheelchair from rolling too fast, oh hum). But I needn’t have worried so much as she expertly drove her chair and gently traversed the rough terrain. Once again we all enjoyed nature’s beauty. There is just something about being in nature which is nourishing to the spirit. When I can I like to just journey to a beautiful place in nature and it seep into my soul

We rounded another bend in the trail and found a small clearing. Here my cousin relaxed in the shade of the forest while we began our search. We soon found out that this would not be an easy find at all. Our target area included rough terrain, with steep paths, rocks, trees, and bushes. Our main clue alluded to a “foundation or lack thereof.”  My GPS kept directing us to a certain tree atop a small hill, so I wondered about the “foundation” or trunk. Every time I climbed that hill, I could see my cousin and I would wave to her as she continued to soak in the greenery and shade of the gently swaying trees. I circled and searched for a hollowed opening of the nearby tree. Found nothing there. I also slipped along the steep and slanting hillside but managed to maintain my footing. We looked for other hollowed out trees and checked beneath the loose base of a light pole. Still found nothing. Deeper in the woods, our young friend found an old and crumbly foundation with large circular openings; we searched inside but only found lurking spider webs. Looking at the GPS again, I retraced my steps back to the first tree upon the small hill and waved again to my cousin. I also shrugged my shoulders to signal that we haven’t located the cache. The tree or that immediate area appeared to be the target. I let myself slide down a steep bank of dirt and found a rock wall embedded in the hillside. We studied and felt along it looking for any loose stones which may hide a container.  Again, we came up empty.

Upon studying my GPS again I arrived at the unfortunate conclusion that my readings were inaccurate.  Therefore we needed to expand our search area. We traveled back towards the crumbly cement foundation hidden in the forest and reached a small wooden cabin. Our friend trekked around the far side of the building and after a few minutes of quietness she suddenly called out, “I found it, I found it.”  The cache was hidden beneath the floor of the cabin where normally would be a cement wall support.

This time it was a large cache; a plastic storage container filled to the brim with small trinkets. With bubbling excitement, she raced through the trees to show my cousin. My cousin was just as ecstatic about our find. We sifted through the “treasure” and opted to make a trade. Our friend added a pin/button to the cache and removed an orange, striped rubber snake. She dashed back through the woods to replace the container for the next hopeful geocache seeker. We are all pleased with our latest success and wish we had time for more such adventures. But my visit here is nearing an end. Thus concludes my geocaching adventures with my cousin in the state of Washington (at least for this visit). Stripe the Orange Snake will be on his way to a new cache in the state of Minnesota.

 

 

 

Adventures in Geocaching with My Cousin Part 2

 

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I am still visiting northwestern  Washington spending some wonderful and cherished time with my very dear cousin and a new friend. Having a desire to experience a little adventure, we’ve attempted a few geocache hunts.  My cousin uses a wheelchair and was not able to get close to our first geocache search area but, having a knack for being logical she was the first to determine where our search area would be. I had entered the longitude and latitude coordinates into my handheld GPS (Global Positioning System) unit which indeed led us to the area my cousin had already determined. At that point our  friend and I trekked through the nearby woods seeking the elusively hidden cache.  With everyone helping out, our first hunt was successful and this gave us all confidence to try it again.

Off we journeyed by foot and by wheelchair further away from home, to find another geocache located somewhere near a community college. It continued to be a beautiful and warm day; I marveled at the greenery, some wildflowers, and natural beauty around me. I had voiced my amazement a number of times about the numerous trees, shrubs, and other natural greenery in this small city. I felt sure that it is the greenest city I have ever visited.

I had already entered the needed coordinates and this led us to a sculpture of a globe. The globe was our first clue and indicated we were on the right trail. But, this second geocache was not going to be so easy. According to the directions on the geocaching.com website, we were supposed to calculate the next coordinates. I had hoped we wouldn’t need to do so. We had other clues about “Roe, Roe your boat” and “where a troll might hide.”  So we all determined to look for a nearby bridge. I was also wondering about a fish hatchery when considering the word ‘roe’. My cousin went searching in a different area and called us over because she found flowing water. We rushed to comb that area in search of a bridge. No such luck as we only found a bubbling fountain and no bridge. We returned to the globe sculpture to reconsider our options. None of us knew the area well enough to continue the hunt. Deflated for now we gave up the search for that day. But we determined to return as we each were caught up the excitement of finding that hidden container. We all sensed the challenge to find it and did not want to admit defeat. To me, this is a fun and clever way to “hunt” without shooting anything. It was also a time of enjoying the beauty of nature.

As we headed home, my cousin reluctantly commented, “We may need to perform those calculations.”

I didn’t trust my math skills with determining multiple sets of coordinates and so I answered her, “maybe not yet; I have an idea but it will take some planning.” Yes indeed, we will be returning. We all had tasted a little success in our hunt and were eager to taste it again.

Back at my cousin’s home, I went to work on the computer. I brought up an Earth Google map to study our search area. In thinking about the clue “Roe” I was so sure there had to be a fish hatchery near. I studied various structures on the 3D map but found no such thing. I commented to my cousin, “What else could ‘Roe’ mean?

She thought about it, “It could be someone’s name.”

“Well, then there could be a unique building named after someone.”

I then searched on the internet to find a map of the nearby college. The first map I found was blurry. I squinted at it until I found something that said, ‘Roe Studio’ and showed this to my cousin. I also compared it to the Earth Google map. She became excited again, “I think there is a bridge near there.”

A few days later, I found a clear and colorful campus map which confirmed what I found and it also showed a small bridge. Our friend joined us and we show her the map, memorize the route, and set off once again. We found the globe sculpture and journeyed past it paying careful attention to the building names.

“There’s a bridge.”

“And there’s a sign for ‘Roe Studio’.”

This time due to paved paths, my cousin is able to get very close to our target area and watch us continue the search. She watched us and smiled in anticipation. While I searched along one side of the small wooden structure, our friend, searched on the other side. There really was no water but it was damp like a marsh.  The grass is vividly green and we all comment on how pretty the campus was. At this point, the search does not take long as our friend called out, “I think I found it.”  And sure enough, she had.

This time the cache container is a plastic baggie containing the log to sign as proof we found it and one little ‘treasure’.  We signed the log using our geocache name. We also leave the treasure for the next geocache seeker. My cousin decided to add a little something to the ‘treasure’. It was another fun find adding a bit of excitement and adventure to our day.

I also learned that my cousin and friend are enjoying this so much that they start planning yet another day of geocaching and this time at another campus further away which required taking the city bus. They have been seriously bitten by the geocaching bug and  were eager for more adventure and more success in finding the hidden caches. They instructed me where they want to go. They also gave me the task to research for hidden geocaches on the other campus and to input the new information into my GPS. Therefore this geocaching adventure will continue one more day.

 

Friday Verse Journal 2 Samuel 22: 33

 

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I am finding lately, that when I let my mind wander off and not stay focused on God, I notice then that I am not believing God will help me and I am not trusting in his strength. I still try to go through life relying on just myself to figure everything out and I am relying on my own strength. Then I am in danger of being too worried about everything. Recently, God led me to this verse as a reminder to keep trusting and relying on him:.

2 Samuel 22:33 (Holy Bible New International Version):

“It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure,”

Adventures in Geocaching with my Cousin Part 1

 

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During summer of 2014, I arrived in the beautiful city of Bellingham to visit my cousins who is nearly the same age as me.  Among other things to do, we hoped to be a bit adventurous; we do have a history of going on adventures together. We have had several misadventures with the city bus system when she still resided in California. My cousin already had an idea for this and instructed me to bring my handheld GPS unit. She is aware of my geocaching ventures and wanted us to attempt to find some geocaches near her home.  For those not familiar with geocaching, it is a technology based sport which involves the use of a handheld GPS device and internet access. Having its beginning roots in the US, geocaching is now popular in many countries The cache is a hidden container and can be almost any type of container and any size. Some caches are very small while others are very large containing items for trade. One rule in geocaching is trade fair or trade higher so that there is always a “treasure” to be found by the next geocache seeker. The “treasures” are usually small inexpensive trinkets such as key rings, small toys, and tiny ornaments. Some geocache seekers will track their items via the website to see how far away their items travel.

Once a hidden cache is chosen, I record its coordinates into my GPS and note any helpful clues. Usually, I research the geocaching.com website to find nearby hidden caches. There are other sites to use. I logged onto this site and began research based on my cousin’s location. We found several hidden caches within walking distance.

The first cache we focused on was described as an easy cache. Many geocache seekers have reported success in finding it. I record the longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates into my GPS and review for clues about it on the web page. As I scanned the log entries about it I commented, “It seems to be near the co-op store.”

My logical and detective of a cousin, well versed in Nancy Drew mysteries, came to a very quick conclusion even before I finished inputting the coordinates, “It must be near that park.”

“We’ll soon find out.”

Soon we were on our way being also accompanied by a new friend. It was a beautifully warm and sunny day as we all journeyed along. I also enjoy the bright green scenery here. I scrutinized my GPS as we walked along and my cousin’s reasonable conclusion appeared to be accurate. We were headed to a nearby park. Just to test the GPS, we walked a bit past the park but, sure enough, it directed us back. We returned to the park area and found we needed to venture further into the woods surrounding the area.

That part was a disappointment because my cousin uses a motorized wheelchair which cannot travel over rough terrain. We discussed this. The fear of her getting stuck deep in the grass or other rough terrain was real. The chair was heavy and if anything happened I knew I wouldn’t be able to help her get out. She decided to patiently relax near the park while we continued the search.

Following my GPS reading, we journeyed a short way through the woods arriving at a parking lot on the other side. A few business buildings were nearby.  The readings indicated the cache was hidden in a tiny area of small bushes and slender trees.  We searched and searched the same bushes and trees without success. I have learned to check areas where the cache would be safe from the elements of weather and be completely out of sight.

After seeming to exhaust the area, we tried wandering to a different location only to be instructed by the GPS reading to return to our original search area. We rechecked and considered giving up. I didn’t like to give and tried to continue the search. In doing so, I happened to bump the heavy metallic base of a light pole. The circular base around that pole moved. My new friend stared as a strange expression must have appeared on my face. I turned my attention to the movable base and started to lift it. My friend came running to help and we found success. The cache was carefully hidden beneath it; it was a tiny camera film container with a log. As I record on the log of our find she took a picture of it to share with my cousin. We soon returned to her to report our success and show her the picture.

With one success met, we confidently continued to the next hidden cache recorded on my GPS. This one proved to not be so easy. The web page for this next cache had instructed us to find a spinning globe. The coordinates in my GPS led us straight to it. Then we were supposed to perform some calculations to continue our geocache hunt. We did not determine those calculations and were now stuck. Having no clue of what to do next we returned home unsuccessful with the second cache.

My cousin was so excited by this first find though, that she lost no time getting onto Facebook to share this with our family and friends. She very enthusiastically described my trek through the woods in search of it.  And we weren’t ready to give up on the second hidden cache. We had an idea, a new plan to implement. We all enjoyed the sense of adventure in searching for the hidden cache and were determined to try again. And I hoped to determine a way to get her closer to the next geocache site.

Assignment 13: A Baby Named Annetta (Part 2)

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From trying to remember my grandmother’s story and researching about a historical event which took place in 1911, I’ve attempted to piece together the story of my grandmother’s birth. At best, this would be a piece of historical fiction based on a true story and not a true biography because I am not 100% sure of all of the details. This story of a true disastrous event occurring so close to my grandmother’s birth is a part of my family’s history.

Timeframe: October 1911. Place: a small farm in Oakridge rural area south of Black River Falls, Wisconsin. My great grandfather Albert watched the hard rain pound the house and ground around him. It has been raining for weeks and flooding was a mounting concern. He had another worry, Bessie, his wife and my great grandmother, was pregnant with their first child; very pregnant. The rising Black River perhaps already cut him off of the main town of Black River Falls as he possibly wouldn’t consider traveling across that long iron canopied bridge stretching across the swollen waters. He devised a plan to head south; perhaps all the way to LaCrosse roughly 50 miles away. His mode of transportation was a horse drawn vehicle so it may have taken several days of hard driving in the rain across wet and slippery roads.  In the drenching rain, Albert hitched his team to and helped Bessie to safely climb inside. They endured a dangerous and harrowing journey as they traveled southward to trying to stay ahead of the rushing river.  Little did they realize at the time, they would be traveling along the crest of the Great Flood of 1911.

In the meantime the Black River was swelling; it originated in Taylor County and passed in a southwest direction through Clark, Jackson, and LaCrosse counties emptying into the Mississippi River.  According to a New York Times article, it was believed that the concrete dams in place could hold back any amount of flooding water. On October 6th, at 4am, the first dam north of Hatfield gave way and racing water flowed around the dam and then continued along the river’s path. By 10:45am, the second dam closer to Hatfield broke sending even more rushing water towards Black River Falls. Word of warning was sent the residents of the doomed town that a raging flood raced in their direction. At first the villagers and business owners did not believe they were in  immediate danger but much to everyone’s shock and dismay in about an hour’s time, the unimaginable wave of torrential water arrived with disastrous results.

The water came in great torrents and the Black River Falls power plant was first to be struck and damaged leaving everyone in darkness by nightfall. The huge wall of water took out the iron canopied bridge, businesses, and houses carrying them downstream as seen in photos posted by The Merchant General of Black River Falls. The flooding water cut through the banks carving out the ground and destroying three blocks worth of downtown business and residential buildings all along the river’s edge. According to a news report from Clark County, A number of lumber and sawmill businesses were swept away along with a shoe store, a jewelry retail store, an iron works business, a hotel, a sash factory, and hardware store. Also destroyed was the county poor house along with many homes.  Barely enough warning was given for Black River residents to evacuate although without their possessions. They just kept backing away from the rushing water and climbing to higher ground.  Black River Falls had become nearly an island cut off from the surrounding countryside. The raging flood also destroyed many farms in its wake and families were stranded on rooftops (New York Times, 1911). Although the loss of animals and property were enormous, no resident lost his or her live that fateful day (Rupnow, 2011). After nearly wiping out Black River Falls, the torrential river raced towards more communities down the river and LaCrosse was in its path.

Albert, my great grandfather and Bessie, my great grandmother, must have been terrified of the pounding, rushing water as they continued their harrowing journey. While Albert held the reigns and drove the horses, I can imagine my great grandmother praying for their safe arrival in LaCrosse.  I’m sure she cried out in pain, knowing she was close to giving birth.

As predicted, the flooding, raging river propelled its way into LaCrosse damaging the city’s power plant. Somehow, through fear and determination and by God’s loving grace and protection, great grandfather Albert and my great grandmother Bessie reached Luther Hospital of LaCrosse. No doubt, a huge sense of relief showered over my great grandparents as caring doctors and nurses aided them.

On October 7,, 1911, one day after the Great Flood of 1911 struck and devastated Black River Falls, Wisconsin , a baby girl was born, a baby named Annetta; my grandmother. While she grew up on a small farm in Oakridge, the city of Black River Falls was rebuilt as residents determined to remain and rebuild their lives (Rupnow, 2011).

Many years later she moved to Black River Falls as a teenager to attend high school. She married and raised a family. She worked as a school bus driver and later as a store clerk. She may had other jobs that I am not aware of. Today Black River Falls continues to be thriving small town in rural Jackson County Wisconsin; it is also near where I lived and grew up years later. I spent many Sundays visiting my grandmother in her tiny apartment not far from the banks of the usually gentle flowing Black River.

Reference Links about the Great Flood of 1911 which struck Black River Falls Wisconsin:

From New York Times, 1911:

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9902EED81131E233A25754C0A9669D946096D6CF

From Leader Telegram, 2011

http://www.leadertelegram.com/news/front_page/article_fc49aa4c-eb22-11e0-bc07-001cc4c002e0.html

Clark County History Bluff:

http://www.wiclarkcountyhistory.org/3data/79/79599.htm

Sunday Drive Round Up June 22, 2014

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Cruising around the blogosphere and the web to find hope and inspiration in Genealogy, and Space Exploration. For some reason I dove into history and then leaped into the future.

Genealogy:

Here is a helpful blog site which describes determining strategies and goals in conducting family research and includes links to other helpful links:

Genealogy with Valerie:

http://genealogywithvalerie.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/genealogy-goals-vs-strategies/

Here is another interesting story related to genealogy but a different twist in that the article focuses on saving and restoring an 1841 American whaling ship. A small group of  passengers with unique interests have opportunity to sail on the historic ship:

Australian National Maritime Museum:

http://anmm.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/ancestral-pursuits-aboard-a-historic-american-whaler/

 

Space Exploration:

For those that are inspired to know the latest in exploring Mars here is a site dedicated to space exploration and updates from the International Space Station. One of the latest stories is about the the Martian rover, Curiosity:

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2014/06/22/mars-rover-curiosity-drive-reverse-spare-damaged-wheels/

And here is an interesting article of a NASA engineer physicist working on the first space warp ship:

http://communityofreaders.org/2014/06/21/nasa-just-designed-the-baal-shem-tovs-wagon/

To find another very interesting article about this read:

http://www.startrek.com/article/nasas-latest-warp-drive-design-looks-very-familiar

 

Hiding in a Cocoon

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I’m trying to beckon that person deep inside of me.

I’m yearning to share myself with others, you see.

I’m trying to spread my wings but there isn’t any room.

I am so shy and nearly too late, I’m trying to grow and bloom.

Is there anyone out there?

 I anxiously wonder.

Does anyone see me hiding in my little cocoon?

I wistfully peek out at the sky, sun and moon

When afraid, my voice is but a lonely squeak.

And no one hears when I meekly speak.

My ears are of little help

As I miss a few syllables.

I come out and strain to hear what others have to say

I try to guess and find I’m wrong, oh, what a tearful day.

When I find I’m in error I receive an unkind scorn

And I hurt inside because I truly mean no harm.

So back into hiding I go; back into my little cocoon

Where there is no room to grow and no room to bloom.

A special note about this poem; my need to “hide” at times is often due to my extreme shyness in some social situations.  I just become incredibly quiet and my hearing impairment also interferes. I do have hearing aids but they do not help in every situation. While the hearing aid amplifies someone I want to hear, it also amplifies every sound around me and the voices I want to hear get lost in the noise around me.