Tag Archives: Adventure

Becky’s Haiku: Lift and Plan

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Sun is lifting and

Time to follow the plan God

Has outlined today.

Take a stroll and find

That rutted path where in the

Warm sun He awaits.

See that forest and

In those trees, find your trail

 in nature’s beauty.

Rise up and take that

 stroll; or this day’s adventure

You will never know.

I have just attempted yet another haiku challenge from Ronovan Writes blog using the words “lift” and “plan”. I am enjoying the challenge of putting different and even opposite words in such a short poem.  If you like challenges and haiku’s then I invite you to also accept his latest challenge at this link: https://ronovanwrites.wordpress.com/category/haiku-prompt-challenge/

I also have started participating in a photo word challenge with the haiku and this week’s photo word challenge is “outline.” You can find more photo word challenges at this link: https://thearanartisan.com/photo-challenge-words-2016/

Reposting: A Letter, A Journey and a Gift of the Heart

 

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Two days ago, a dear 2nd cousin of mine was severely hurt in a fire. Today she is in a trauma ICU on a long road to recovery. She is a beautiful young lady with a beautiful spirit deep inside.  And she is constantly on my mind and in my heart. Her mother, my 1st cousin, is one of my best friends in life who has been a wonderful source of encouragement and inspiration to me.  Many times she has been my personal cheerleader when no one else is around; always just a phone call away. So, today, I am reposting this story with some revisions to hopefully portray the strong yet gentle beauty that both these cousins have lovingly revealed to me:

Time frame: late 1980’s. While attending college in Minnesota I embarked on a quest to find my cousin, Kathy whom I last seen at age 10. I had told my roommate about her and she encouraged me to try to find her. We last saw each other when we were 10 years old when she, her mom, and dad came to visit us in Wisconsin. When we were five, my mother took a photo of us in the kitchen. When we were 10, we visited on the front lawn on a warm summer evening and I piled kittens on her lap. I thought those kittens were so cute but I am not sure she liked having them all on top of her. While I grew up on a farm in the Midwest, Kathy lived in southern California. Kathy’s parents divorced when she was 11; she could not return to visit her Wisconsin relatives. She also couldn’t travel easily because she had cerebral palsy and used a wheelchair. My immediate family never traveled as far as California. We lost contact with Kathy during the years following the divorce. Although I only met my cousin just a few times in my life, I often wondered about her.

Determined to find Kathy, I met with my grandmother who had written her occasionally and she had written back. But, time again passed so my grandmother could only give me Kathy’s last known address. To make things more complicated, my cousin had married acquiring a different last name. My grandmother couldn’t remember her new last name. Not wanting to give up, I wrote Kathy a heart-felt letter using the wrong address and the wrong name mailing it with a stamp and a sincere prayer. I needed to believe that God would answer my prayer.

Weeks and even a month passed. One day, I arrived at my apartment and found a letter from California.  The return address contained an unfamiliar last name but as soon as I saw “Kathy”, I knew it was from my cousin. I could hardly believe it.  Eagerly, I opened the letter and found that Kathy had poured out her soul in that long, detailed letter. She described some incredible events in her life. She unexpectedly gave birth to a baby girl.

Doctors told her that she couldn’t get pregnant. Sometime later, Kathy began experiencing extreme pain and was taken to an urgent care clinic. She was misdiagnosed as having a kidney stone or perhaps a bladder infection. The very next day and while on medication for a possible bladder infection, she returned to the clinic due to increasing pain. She was found to be in labor and was rushed to the hospital by ambulance. Kathy and her husband were shocked and amazed for the unexpected and miraculous birth of their daughter, Kristie Lee.

Through the years, Kristie would be an inspiring source of joy to her parents, relatives, friends, and to all who truly get to know her. She would prove herself to be intellectually brilliant, artistic, and to have an eye for beauty she discovers in nature.  She also possesses inside her soul a quiet and tender spirit which you might not see unless; you truly take time to know her.

Later Kathy told me that she and her husband tried to revisit her urgent care doctor who had treated her.  With her newborn daughter in her arms, Kathy wanted to show him her beautiful but misdiagnosed “kidney stone.” They were promptly told that the doctor was no longer at that clinic. Can you imagine the shock and surprise of everyone in that waiting room?

I wrote again and we began corresponding; by letter and by phone. We became more than cousins but friends who could talk about anything.  While Kathy told me about her married life and cute stories of her young daughter, I told her about my job working with adults with developmental disabilities, family in Wisconsin, and my personal life.  We shared about our common faith in Jesus. While Kathy had married, I had remained single which enabled me to do some limited traveling taking in time and limited budget considerations. At this point though, most of my solo journeys were short excursions to Wisconsin to visit family and friends. I had made occasional trips to Iowa too. Like I said, limited traveling.

Several years later, Kathy invited me to visit her in California and I was terrified, “I actually have to get on a plane?” Later and with lingering fear I was up for the adventure of traveling cross country. My first journey to San Diego was a direct flight taking about a three and half hours across mostly sunny skies; I watched from my window the changing view of cities, forests, and mountains.  Farms resembled quilt blocks of grassland and crop fields.

When the jet journeyed downward, the rising topaz-tinted desert appeared on one side of the plane and the deep-blue ocean on my side. Sun rays brightened the clear sky and glimmered on the ocean’s surface making the scene sparkle like a sapphire gem. This picturesque view showed me God was there and was blessing my journey. Apprehensive though, I braced for the final approach as the jet glided towards land and jolted as it touched ground.

At the airport gate, I gathered my belongings, and walked through a curving tunnel. With nervousness, I rounded the last corner stepping into the terminal. The afternoon sun glistened through the airport’s vaulted windows and in the midst of a blinding glow; I glimpsed my cousin in her wheelchair. After 17 years we had reunited. I hurried to give Kathy the warmest hug I could.

“Welcome cousin,” she said in such a warm voice that I forgot my shyness.  Kathy, a sensitive and loving person and we soon felt like sisters and even best friends. During this visit I became acquainted with Kathy’s husband and her daughter, Kristie. While I visited that first time, we managed to visit both Disneyland and SeaWorld. Surprisingly, Disneyland was a disappointment especially for Kathy. Many exhibits and attractions would advertise that they were “handicap accessible” but they really weren’t so; at least not for someone who is in a wheelchair. We did find one interesting attraction that was truly accessible; the Mark Twain Steamboat ride. Kathy was easily able to maneuver onto the boat and find a safe place to park her chair. We all enjoyed the gentle and scenic excursion along their recreation of “Mississippi River”.

Disneyland did have a few other attractions that interested young Kristie and one include “It’s a Small World after all”; a small boat ride through a series of scenes depicting children of all nationalities. Also, I still remember the Alice in Wonderland Teacup for Two Ride. This amusement ride is comparable to the Tit A Whirl which you might see at county fairs. Kristie and I climbed aboard our little teacup and waited for the rid to begin. She notice a turning wheel in the center of our teacup, “What is that for?”

“I don’t know,” I answered and then tried turning the wheel. We found out that the wheel caused the teacup to spin. So I instructed Kristie, “Oh! That makes us spin around. Let’s leave it alone.”

Four year old Kristie did not leave the wheel alone; she did the exact opposite by turning and cranking that wheel as hard as she could. By the way, Kristie is no weakling; when she cranked that wheel, she made it spin faster than any other teacup on that ride. I was convinced we were the fastest spinning teacup in all of America. I became dizzy as the world blurred around me. Finally, our unstoppable teacup came to a halt as the ride ended. I have never forgotten that ride or the adventurous spirit hidden in Kristie.

SeaWorld proved to be interesting as all wildlife exhibits and presentations there were truly accessible for Kathy; this made our visit more enjoyable for all. While there we saw two orca whales, Shamu and Baby Shamu who we learned was just a few weeks old and shared the same birthday as Kristie.  We could see Mother Shamu teaching Baby to swim and turn in the large pool. Another highlight was seeing the splashing, playful dolphins. As I held Kristie in my arms, one eager dolphin flew in the water to our side of the pool showering us in a huge spray of water and parked itself next to Kristie.  Kristie was soaked from head to toe but she delightedly reached out to pet the friendly animal. Over the years, I would also see that Kristie held a special love and fondness for animals and somehow they were attracted to her. She had rescued a number of cats and dogs who became pets. And when one passes away she deeply grieves and suffers a broken heart. At such moments, I realize that she has the softest heart of anyone I know.

Over time, I visited my cousin Kathy and her family as much as I could. We went on adventures together forging new memories and deepening our friendship. We also shared bus-related misadventures and trips to the beach on warm, sunny days. In one bus related mishap, Kathy was stuck, mid-air, on a broken bus lift and we waited hours under a steamy summer sun for her to be rescued. In another misadventure, we boarded the wrong city bus but did not realize this until the bus turned onto Eucalyptus Street heading in the wrong direction. We then got off the bus as soon as we could and endured a long walk home in the dark as no more buses were available that late in the day.

Also taxis were not an option as I was not strong enough to transfer Kathy into a car seat. During this time, accessible transportation options for my cousin were very limited. To keep ourselves calm, we kept up a steady conversation and prayed for God to keep us safe. Kathy’s courage inspired me to remain brave. Today, I don’t remember what our conversation entailed; I just remember the long walk along those California streets in the darkness like venturing through a dimly lit tunnel. Also, Kathy at this point used a manual wheelchair so I pushed her along until we were safely home. I have no doubt that Jesus was watching over us during that journey in the darkness.

Some years later, we camped on Mount Palomar where the sun-filtering forest surrounded us like a colorful, woven blanket handmade by God; it was a quiet refuge from the demanding world far below. We basked in nature’s peacefulness venturing through the woods, picnicking, and relaxing around a campfire.  We visited Mount Palomar Observatory and stayed up late looking through large telescopes, set up in a mountain meadow, to view stars, planets and nebulas. Kathy’s husband and I took turns pushing Kathy’s wheelchair through the long grass so she could gaze through as many telescopes as she wanted. It was a special evening of admiring God’s glowing creations, glittering like jewels embedded in the deep night sky.

The tranquil, emerald-colored mountain was a vivid contrast to the traffic-filled streets, and the sun-scorched climate of Kathy’s everyday life. Years later, she and her family moved to Washington State where they were amid perpetual greenery. Kathy’s daughter, Kristie, who is an artist and nature lover often shoots photos depicting nature’s inspiring beauty. She once asked me, “Do you remember how green it was on Mount Palomar? Well, it’s like that here but it’s everywhere.” The experience of Mount Palomar affected us all and remained a cherished memory in our hearts.

Over the years we’ve all persevered through life’s heartaches and disappointments praying and encouraging each other. In the same year, Kathy’s father passed away, my mother unexpectedly died; together we faced each family holiday with grieving hearts and feeling the emptiness of our parents being gone too soon.

We also encouraged each other in new aspirations. Kristie has grown up and continues to bravely forge out a new life of her own; life is not always easy but she courageously endures and keeps pressing on in sheer determination. She is an example of strength and bravery like I have never seen. In recent years, Kathy, growing in confidence and a desire to do more in her life, took on the tasks of completing her college degree and exploring professional work opportunities. She has earned one college degree and is working on another. We all have met unseen challenges and continue to endure the next chapters of our lives.

Several summers ago, I visited Kathy in her Washington home and we again indulged our adventurous spirits by hiking around woodsy Lake Padden. It was a long, winding journey with a paved trail circling the shimmering lake. The thick green forest surrounded us like a warm and familiar cloak. I instantly remembered Mount Palomar where we had camped, hiked in the mountains, and gazed at the stars. Kathy now used a motorized wheelchair and could easily propel herself up and down the sloping hills of that curving, woodsy trail. However, I worried about the battery losing its charge as we wandered along.   This had happened before with one of Kathy’s previous motorized chairs. Thankfully, that had been a lighter wheelchair; I just needed to switch the gears to manual and push her home.

But now if that battery died, I realized I wouldn’t be able to push her back home again. Not this time as the chair was much heavier. But Kathy knew her wheelchair and her battery readings better than I; she was confident and eager to continue our trek. We finished our journey and with a beaming smile, she exclaimed, “That was my first rolling hike.”

When I think of Kathy and her family, I remember the love and friendship we all share; I also am reminded of God’s words about treasures in heaven when in Matthew 6:20-21 of the Holy Bible we are told, “but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is there your heart will also be”. I went on a quest to find a lost cousin. In return, I had found a new sister and a lifelong friend. I also treasure the friendship I share with her daughter, Kristie.  Each friendship is an unseen treasure granted from God in heaven and a precious gift instilled in my heart.

 

Writing 201 Day 10: Pleasure, Sonnet, and Apostrophe

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“What in Life gives me the Most Pleasure?”

Today I sit and pause in deep contemplation

As I search inside my soul to truthfully answer

A mind provoking and piercing question,

“What in life gives me the most pleasure?”

This small mental quest indeed causes me to ponder.

Well I do enjoy being with friends and visiting family,

Traveling, and embarking on some adventures.

I also like reading, writing stories, and poetry.

I also anticipate strolling on long journeys

Into the forest, along a beach, or across a meadow.

Where in nature I might find some lovely discovery

And with my camera take some new photos.

But the most pleasing thing is quiet and lasting peace

In my mind and heart which only Jesus can give to me.

Writing 101 Day 3: Hunting for a Hidden Treasure

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One day, I and a friend went on a

Wild journey; a new adventure.

We hoped to find a geocache

Container, a well hidden treasure.

The dirt road we traveled on was

So rugged and so very rough

That like sizzling popcorn, we

Were jostled and tossed.

For we had traversed far into the

Thick woods; a deep mountain forest

Where the tall, green needled

Pines sturdily towered over us.

And along the windy and increasingly

Treacherous dirt road,

My friend and I continued on as

We determinedly drove.

With each bump and turn, I tumbled

And jumbled in my truck seat;

Never, ever had I journeyed on

A rougher, obstacle-strewn street.

Gravel, rocks, boulders, and

Gouges in the road galore all

Took their toll making my body sore.

I bounced so high that on the

Ceiling, I hit my head.

Now, how I wish I

Could just go back to bed.

Thankfully, our tree branch and

Bush battered vehicle did not break

But oh wow, what a way to

Get a throbbing headache.

And as we still jarringly tumbled along,

I felt compelled to finally ask,

“Are we really doing all

This just for a geocache?”

The dirt road before us continued

To sharply narrow and bend

As we wondered if we’d

Really find the end.

But we did come to a halt

And to quietly rest

Upon a grassy hillside;

A gentle crest.

Then by foot we continued

To journey along the way

Hoping that our gps will

Not lead us astray.

So we then arrived deeper

In the mountain forest green

And found ourselves surrounded

By an unusual rock formation.

The boulders loomed above us

And with perfect swirls etched in deep

While encircled by the forest trees.

It seemed as if God had reached

Down to carve a perfect design

In this cluster of white rocks mostly

Hidden from man and time.

It was a hidden place of beauty

Which most people will never see

Unless they are as adventurous

As my dear friend and me.

And wouldn’t you know as we hunted

And searched among the rocks and boulders,

We completed our adventurous task: we

Found the geocache, the hidden container.

But honestly as I and my dear friend have

Embarked on many of these geocaching adventures,

We’ve learned to cherish the forest, the wildlife, and

All of nature for that is the true hidden treasure.

Thinking about my Dad on his Birthday

 

Me and My Dad

Today, June 4th, is my dad’s birthday; he was born in 1942 and passed away when he was just 58 years old.  It is hard to believe that he has been gone from our lives now for 15 years. My dad had this quiet personality but with a very hearty laugh. When something struck his funny bone, he would roar in joyous laughter that echoed through the house. He worked for many years in an iron mine and later for another 10 years in a tire factory. Additionally, he farmed and sometimes was self-employed as an electrician. He did everything he could think of to pay the bills and make ends meet. I am convinced that his very best friend in life was his older brother John who was born in 1941 and also passed on in 2010. Even though they lived far apart in their adult years, they shared a special closeness.

My dad also possessed a sense of adventure and wonderment. In 1969 when man first stepped on the moon, my dad watched enthralled. He held me on his lap and pointed to the TV, “See, Becky, they’re walking on the moon.” When I was still very little, he liked to swim and let me ride on his stomach while he laid on his back floating. Years later, he showed his sense of adventure by taking us on a family trip out west. We traveled as far as Utah and visited family there. Other highlights of that trip included seeing Mt. Rushmore and camping at Yellowstone National Park. We spent many summer weekends camping in Hatfield.

As a father, he was stern when he thought he needed to be but also very loving when someone most needed it. At least that was how he was to me. And his gift of joyous laughter with twinkling eyes will always stay with me. He could regale in humorous animation a lively story of his childhood. His Christmas Skis story comes to mind. He also loved watching a comedy or a movie that could really bring out that laughter. But other times he would watch a movie and give it more serious thought. We once had a conversation about the old Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. Through the course of the movie, the main character, George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart) is very unhappy and in a dire predicament although through no fault of his doing. The situation seems hopeless to George and he doesn’t want to continue in his life. Near the end of the movie, George is happily running down the street. His dire situation had not yet changed. My dad puzzled over this saying, “His situation had not changed and yet suddenly he was happy.”

“No,” I slowly commented in my own quiet way, “His situation hadn’t changed; just his perspective.”

“Yeah,” my dad’s face lit up now satisfied, “His perspective changed and THAT was the point of the movie.”

My dad’s laughter and his quiet moments of wonder and thoughtfulness are gifts that I will always treasure in my heart.

 

Writing 101 Day 4: Lost

 

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I am continuing in this Writing 101 class and need to write about a loss. It does not need to be a sad story but it could even be amusing or comical if I could pull that off. Hum oh, hum. What sort of a loss should I write about today? Actually I am a day behind but am trying to make an attempt at completing this next assignment which will become a serial assignment with two more installments. I have experienced many types of losses in my life and so has everyone else. From the loss of my parents, grandparents, and others who were especially close to me to losing my keys, my glasses, and sometimes my mind as I forget what it is I am supposed to do today. Once while visiting the Mall of America I had forgotten my purse in the third floor food court and suffice to say, that wasn’t the best day for me.  I have also lost favorite pets, and favorite stories and other poems I’ve written after a computer crash. I have gotten lost just driving from one place to another thinking I know the way but I found out that I didn’t.  In fact, I think that is what I am going to write about today:

Lost in Wyoming (Part 1)

I once went on a journey from Minnesota to Wyoming as I was on vacation to visit one of my best friends and her daughter. Because I have driven this route before, I thought I knew the way by heart. And for the most part I did as most of the route was along Interstate 90 passing through Minnesota, South Dakota, and finally Wyoming. I enjoyed the journey very much as I like the sense of adventure which I experience whenever I travel. It doesn’t matter if I travel by car, bus, or airplane because along the way I relish this exciting taste of adventure; the flavor of doing something new or different and the thrill of having a change from my usual pace in life.

I packed my suitcase and stuffed that into my car with my hiking boots and my laptop and then headed out. I had my trip all planned and most of my route entered into my GPS unit. Since it was about a thirteen hour drive I decided to stay overnight in a small town in South Dakota which would  mark the halfway point of my journey; I am not one to drive 13 hours straight through and tend to take resting breaks along the way. My journey got off to a rough start in that it seemed I had eaten something that didn’t agree with me. Consequently, I needed to stop more often than planned to find a restroom so therefore, I had a dickens of a time just getting out of Minnesota.

But once I had crossed the border into South Dakota, my guest to make to my friend’s was in earnest as I seemed to feel better and could now drive a greater distance. Many described South Dakota as very flat and boring to travel through. To be sure, wide plains of grass and farm fields stretched out before me but I did not consider the scenery to be boring and because the journey was such a simple route, I had great confidence in myself that I would successfully complete this journey with no mishap. With the wide open highway and the sunlit blue sky before me, I bravely ventured on never dreaming that at some point I would become lost.

As I traveled onward, I debated about taking a detour to visit DeSmet, South Dakota as I was an avid reader of the Little House on the Prairie books. DeSmet is where the Ingalls family finally settled after their years of traveling and moving westward. I decided not to do this on this trip because it is such a ways and I am so focused on being timely, but I am determined to visit it on another trip. I make various stops along the way to refuel my car, freshen up and just stretch my legs. After hours of driving, I arrived at my first destination, Chamberlain; a small town situated on the Missouri River. I chose to stay here for the night because this town holds a special childhood memory. Many years ago when my dad and mom took us on a trip out west we had stopped at a campground staying overnight in our pop up tent. The campground was right on the river and my siblings and I enjoyed it very much. We met other children camping there for night and had played a late night of tag with them. Much to my surprise, the motel where I was staying was also right on the Missouri River and it was a beautiful view. After being assigned a room and storing my luggage, I took a walk through the small town and visited a few of the shops there. It is a very warm and relaxing summer evening. Finally, I went to bed feeling very sure of myself along this trek of mine and still never knowing that I would somehow get lost tomorrow.

Stayed tuned for Part 2!

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.