Daily Archives: June 28, 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,”