Daily Archives: June 26, 2014

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