Friday, November 29, 2019

2018-01-02: Driving Home From Maryland to Texas Days 5, 6, and 7

Well I made it back to Texas. Making sure that I made it back today so that I can be at work tomorrow, I made fewer Geocaching stops. After waking up Sunday morning and making sure my wife had everything she needed, I said my goodbyes and packed up the GeoDogs into the car.

Day #5: I drove just over 700 miles from Baltimore to the western outskirts of Nashville. Only one quick cache (GC4MH5D) at a truck stop in Tennessee for gas, food, and dog walking.

Day #6: Yesterday I'm up early and hit the road on I-40 westbound. I finish Tennessee, through Arkansas, and into Texas. In Texarkana, I turned south down to Atlanta, TX  for my first cache in Cass County. A virtual geocache called Old Texas Rails (GC7EF2) at the old railroad station. The town was established in 1871 when the Texas and Pacific Railroad made a stop here and named after Atlanta, GA where many of the early settlers were from.

Continuing west on Hwy 155, I get to the small town of Avinger, also in Cass County.  At the Mt. Plymouth cemetery was my next cache (GC13TKN). Most of the cemetery was well kept. But there was this one area off to the side that was in bad shape. It's sad to think that the church next door wouldn't take better care of it.

My next county was Upshur County and the town of Ore City. The cache was called Twisted Chimney (GC69QAP). It was down the hill from this unique chimney which was the only remains of an old house. The name Ore City comes from the ore deposits found here prior to the Civil War. Only small amounts were extracted until 1910 when a large scale operation finally materialized.

Camp County was next on my list and a stop for the Life of Riley cache (GC17BXV). From the historical marker: "The oldest documented grave in Riley Cemetery, that of Louise Gillum, dates to 1859. The land was acquired by John Riley Sr, in 1875, and became known as Riley Cemetery. Early settlers buried here include John and Elizabeth Keeling Riley and their five children; Confederate Captain George W. Keeling, a former member of the Georgia State Legislature; the family of M. H. Couch, whose name graces that of Couch Mountain, Camp Counties highest elevation point; and many area pioneers whose decedents continue to live in the area and maintain the historic graveyard." 

Also in the Riley Cemetery is this marker which tells another story. "First Grave Riley Cemetery; Unknown Child; Oral history tells of a family migrating west on the Old Pitt-Jefferson Road, who requested and were granted a site to bury their child. From several historical sources this was the beginning of the Riley Cemetery circa 1850's."

Day #7: This morning I started out in Decatur, Texas in Wise County. I was planning on just grabbing the quick airport cache. I still had 400 miles to drive today and didn't want to arrive late in the evening. Well I turned down the wrong road and I figured well I'll take a quick look at the Oaklawn Cemetery. After about 30 minutes of looking at headstones, I realized I'm spending way too much time here. So as I'm exiting through the gate to grab the other cache, I though well I'm already here lets get this cache (GC6CMT2). But then there's a BUNCH! OK, just one. Yeah right! I find this one and then decided to get another since I'm already here (GCXT4X). Finally deciding the rest will have to be skipped in order to get back on the road again. I got 3 more counties to get before making my way back to I-20 Westbound. Ugh so depressing to skip caches.

Moving on my way to Jack County, I grabbed a quick roadside cache fittingly called "Traveling" (GC6AE23). Following US-380 to Young County to find the "Saints Alive" geocache (GC1T3V6) near a church. Then over to Stephens County for my last geocache (GC2WEA7) of the day.

That finished off most of my NE Texas counties that I needed to get. Now I made the 260 mile beeline back to Monahans to end the week.  Time to unpack, do laundry, and prepare for work tomorrow. And start planning my next trip.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

2017-12-30: Spending a Day in Washington D.C.

As you recall from yesterdays blog, I had just arrived in Baltimore to surprise my wife who had gotten sick since she arrived a few days ago. This morning she felt slightly better. I think it was the fact of my showing up which cheered her up. Despite the below freezing temperatures outside, she didn't want to be sitting around inside the hotel all day long. So we decided to take a drive down to Washington D.C. for as long as she could stand it.

Our first stop was a Starbucks around the corner from the hotel to grab a nice hot cup of coffee. Followed by about an hour drive as we made our way into DC and found parking near the water at the Tide Basin Parking Area just south of the Washington Monument.

We walked across the lawn and up the hill. The Washington National Monument Society was founded on September 26, 1833 by Chief Justice John Marshall to raise private funds to erect an obelisk. It wasn't until July 4th, 1848 before the first cornerstone was laid. A zinc case filled with a copy of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, coins, newspapers, and mementos was places inside the 24,500 pound marble cornerstone.

By the Fall of 1854, the Society had exhausted all of its funds for the project and only completed 152 feet in height. Finally on August 2, 1876, Congress appropriates $2 Million for the completion of the Washington Monument. A second cornerstone is set on August 7, 1880 at the 150 foot level, marking the resumption of the shaft. Finally on December 6, 1884, the capstone and aluminum point are set in place marking the completion of the Washington Monument, thirty-six years after it began. Dedication ceremonies were held on February 21, 1885.

Walking down towards the reflecting pool, we arrive at the National World War II Memorial and grabbed a virtual cache (GC7B6JK). The WWII Memorial opened on April 29, 2004, with a dedication ceremony on May 29, 2004 for a 4-day "grand reunion" of veterans on the National Mall. 

Twenty-four bronze bas-relief panels line the entrance and tell the story of America's experience in the war. Granite columns representing each U.S. State and Territory at the time circle a pool and fountain, though with the below freezing temps it was drained and off. Two massive victory pavilions represent both the Atlantic and Pacific campaigns. And a wall of 4,048 gold stars to remind us of the over 400,000 Americans who sacrificed their lives for Freedom. Of course when you're visiting you just have to get the pic next to your home state!

Now on our way towards the Lincoln Memorial and another virtual cache (GCEB2). You can see in the photo that the reflecting pool had been drained and was now a thin layer of ice covered with snow.

In March of 1867, just two years after Lincoln's assassination, Congress incorporated the Lincoln Memorial Association to build a memorial to the slain 16th President. Modeled after the Parthenon in Greece, architect Henry Bacon felt that a memorial to a man who defended democracy should echo the birthplace of democracy. Ground was broken for the foundation on February 12, 1914. The memorial is surrounded by 36 columns, one for each state in the union at the time of Lincoln's death. Above the colonnade inscribed on the frieze are the names of the 36 states and the date they entered into the union.

From the chamber of the memorial, one can appreciate the different stones used in its construction. The terrace walls and lower steps comprise granite blocks from Massachusetts - the upper steps, outside facade, and columns contain marble blocks from Colorado - the interior walls and columns are Indiana limestone - the floor is pink Tennessee marble - the ceiling tiles are Alabama marble – and the Lincoln statue comprises 28 pieces of Georgia marble. These building materials may seem random, but Henry Bacon specifically chose each one to tell a very specific story. A country torn apart by war can come together, not only to build something beautiful, but also explain the reunification of the states. The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated on May 30, 1922.


On the way back, we stopped by the Korean War Veterans Memorial and our 3rd virtual cache (GC2657). The memorial was designed and financed by private contributions and erected under the direction of the Korean War Veterans Memorial Advisory Board composed of Korean War veterans appointed by President Reagan. Dedicated on July 27, 1995, the memorial consists of four parts: the 19 stainless steal statues, the Mural Wall, the Pool of Remembrance, and the United Nations Wall.

Next up was the D.C. War Memorial. The first plans were submitted to the memorial commission in 1919 and became reality with the passage of Resolution 28 in 1924.  The 499 names of the men and women from the District of Columbia who gave their lives in World War I are inscribed as a perpetual record of their patriotic service to their country. 

A circular, open-air, Doric structure built almost entirely of Vermont marble, the memorial has an overall height of 47 feet and a diameter of 44 feet, large enough to accommodate the entire U.S. Marine Band. It was intended that the structure be a memorial and a bandstand and that each concert would be a tribute to those who served and sacrificed in the war. Construction was completed in 1931 and the memorial was dedicated by President Herbert Hoover on the national observance of Armistice Day, November 11, 1931, "13 years to the day and to the house the armistice took effect."

This next item is probably overlooked by most everyone who visits the monuments here in Washington D.C. I know I would have walked by it with only a thought of that it looks like an over-sized fancy fire hydrant. Thankfully being a Geocacher, this was highlighted and made into a virtual geocache. The Japanese Stone Lantern (GCF2A6) continued the gift giving cycle that began in 1912 with Japan's donation of the famous cherry trees.

Presented to the city of Washington on March 30, 1954, this stone lantern symbolizes the enduring cultural partnership that re-emerged between Japan and the United States after World War II. The lantern is one of two, memorializing Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third shogun, or military lord, of the Tokugawa Dynasty, under his posthumous name Daiyuinden. Carved in 1651, it stood for over 300 years on the grounds of the Toeizan Kan’eiji Temple which contained the remains of the Tokugawa Shoguns. The temple was located in the ancient city of Edo, present - day Tokyo, in Ueno Park, a place famous for its cherry blossoms. Its mate stands there to this day.

The view across the Tidal Basin sits the Jefferson Memorial. In June of 1934, Congress approved the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Commission to direct the erection of a memorial to the 3rd President. Modeled after the Pantheon of Rome, it follows the style of Jefferson's two most famous buildings; Monticello and the University of Virginia Rotunda. FDR laid the cornerstone on November 15, 1939. The dedication was held on April 13, 1943, Jefferson's 200th birthday. Because construction took place in the midst of WWII, the original statue of Jefferson was made of plaster because of the restrictions placed on certain metals needed for the war effort. A 19 foot bronze statue replaced the original plaster one in 1947.

That's about all Candy could handle of the freezing temperatures. I'm surprised she made it this long as sick as she was. Fortunately after the two hour walk, we're back at the car AND a heater! A few minutes later and we're warming up and thawing out. Halfway back to the hotel we spot an Olive Garden and decide on some HOT soup and a salad. We spend the remainder of the day staying warm in the hotel, give her some cold and flu medication, and getting some rest. I gotta start my long drive back to Texas in the morning. Thanks for stopping by and following along. Hopefully you kept warm.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

2017-12-29: Surprise Road Trip: Texas to Maryland Day #3: The Arrival!

SURPRISE!! Despite being sick with a cold, away from home in a strange town, sitting in a hotel, and WAS missing me, my wife was extremely surprised and extremely happy and in disbelief that I just drove 1800 miles to see her and cheer her up. But it was worth it just to see her reaction when she walked down to the lobby and saw me sitting there with the puppies.

In case you missed the beginning: Day #1 or Day #2

So this morning I got up and going before the sunrise in Virginia. Gathered up my stuff, put the GeoDogs in the car, and checked out the hotel. A quick stop at a nearby Geocache (GC1Z0ZC) "Hurricane N Town" because you can't make a stop and not grab at least one cache! Plus it was in Smyth County which is a new county for me. And this early in the morning there were no muggles in sight.

Thirteen miles down I-81 was my next cache "Chev-It" (GCR76N) in Wythe County. It was located at a Shell gas station right off the exit so it was a quick stop for gas and a cache.

On the way to my next stop I gotta nice view of the sunrise.

Pulaski County was my next stop at another quick "Under the Old Oak Tree" cache (GC386K7) right on the exit! Gotta keep moving... One thing that's kinda funny. The GeoDog Chihuahua's lay down and nap in the passenger seat as soon as I start driving. Before I even come to a stop, they pop their heads out from under the blanket trying to look around as if they're saying "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?"

Another 40 miles down the road was Roanoke County and the "Hanging Rock Battlefield Trail" cache (GC6DGB0). On June 21, 1864, following two days of fighting at Lynchburg, Confederate General Robert Ransom's cavalry, pursuing Union General David Hunter's retreating column, engaged in a conflict that would ultimately become known as the Battle of Hanging Rock.

Hunter, fearing an assault by the forces of Confederate General Jubal A. Early after the Union defeat at Lynchburg, withdrew toward New Castle. His troops followed the Lynchburg-Salem Turnpike.

Early sent his army in pursuit. He ordered Ransom to lead his cavalry over the Peaks of Otter to Buchanan, then to Salem on the Great Road (modern Route 11).

Hunters retreating forces included a wagon train of ambulances and supply wagons as well as artillery and munitions. The narrow gap between steep rocks between Hanging Rock delayed the column, creating a prime opportunity for Confederate attack. On the morning of June 21, Confederate General John McCausland's cavalry spotted the stalled Union artillery.

Early's infantry had not caught up with Hunter's army, so Ransom sent McCausland with only a portion of his cavalry to strike the Union column. Union guns and wagons sustained heavy damage; wheels were torn away, cannon trunnions broken, and limbers pushed into Mason Creek.

McCausland's troops burned ammunition wagons, killed and captured horses, confiscated guns and took prisoners. Finally, Union cavalry and infantry reinforcements arrived. McCausland was forced to abandon the gap, allowing Hunter to continue his retreat.

The monument below is a memorial for the battle. Around the corner in the second photo is the "Hanging Rock." Kinda looks like the profile of a grinning ape or a smiling grinch after getting the Christmas spirit.

Back on the road for another 55 miles got me to Rockbridge County. What was to be a quick and simple park and grab geocache (GC16Q5V) near the exit, turned out to be a stroll through history. On the hill across the street was a couple of old homes and a church, along with another cache (GC19TXP). One house in particular sits on land that was once occupied by a log cabin. The log cabin was the birthplace of Sam Houston. Born on March 2, 1793, the Houston family moved to Tennessee in 1807. After serving in the U. S. Army during the war of 1812, Houston studied law, was twice elected to the U. S. House of Representatives, and became governor of Tennessee in 1827.

For several years he lived with Cherokee Indians in present-day Oklahoma. He moved to Texas in 1832, led the fight for independence from Mexico, and served two terms as President of the Republic of Texas. He represented Texas in the U. S. Senate from 1845 to 1859. A slave owning Unionist, he was removed as governor of Texas in 1861 after refusing to serve allegiance to the Confederacy. Sam Houston died in 1863.

The house that now stands in place is called Church Hill at Timber Ridge Plantation. It is the private residence of the Thompson family since 1848, and the setting for scenes from the 2001 Warner Brothers, Ted Turner Civil War movie "Gods and Generals". Church Hill is listed on both the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historical Places.

Next door is the Timber Ridge Church. This Presbyterian Church was built in 1756, nineteen years after the first settlement in Rockbridge County.

Forty-five miles down the road is a quick park and grab cache (GCTNRX) at a park and ride lot in Rockingham County. Then thirty-four miles later in Shenandoah County for the "Cannonball Run" cache (GC1N7YD). A quick stop near the exit at a shopping center with a couple of cannons. That's one way to deter shop lifters!

Thirty miles later into Frederick County was the Battle of Cedar Creek (GC4XT74). This is located near the highway exit but at the Winchester-Frederick County Visitors Center. I didn't have time to go inside so I wasn't able to see anything. Hopefully the next time in the area I can check it out.

A short 17 miles down I-66 to Fauquier County to grab a virtual cache (GC2F1F) called "Who Saw It First". I can't say much about it because I'd be giving away the answers. So I'll just leave it at that.

Thirteen miles down and in the same county was another historical cache I wanted to get. "Preserving You Heritage" (GC3AKCG) was a stone meeting house built in 1771. It served as a church until 1809 and then a school until 1909. It was converted to a private residence for a long time and then a video rental store in the 1990's. Now restored, it is the home of the Fauquier Heritage and Preservation Foundation.

The interesting part is the land surrounding the meeting house. It's the site of the original town cemetery. Local writers from the 1800's noted that the school children used to play among the tombstones. While the tombstones were moved to the cemetery outside of town, most of the remains were not! The gravel parking area covers a portion of the original cemetery. Beware of hitchhiking ghosts!

Sixteen miles and in Prince William County, I get to another virtual cache called "Shirley You Jest" (GC874F). Not what you'd expect to see when you go to the shopping center. The small Shirley Family Cemetery is the final resting place of Richard O. (1802-1857) and Susan Shirley (1813-1880) and possibly several of their six children. Richard Shirley owned approximately 400 acres of land near Gainesville.

A quick stop in Fairfax County at "Nighty Night" cache (GC2H52A), a loop around the DC Bypass, and another 58 miles to Linthicum Heights, Maryland in Anne Arundel County for another quick cache (GC4FJZH) just outside the hotel. My wife hasn't gotten off work just yet, so I find someplace to grab a bite to eat and let the GeoDogs investigate the snow on the ground.

It wasn't long when I get a text telling me that she's back at the hotel, feeling horribly sick, cold, fever and already got her PJ's on and crawled into bed. Now how can I disturb her and make her go down to the lobby. So I go back to the hotel and take the Chihuahua's inside, one in each arm, and talk to the clerk in the lobby. After explaining that I just drove over 360 miles today and 1800 miles in total to surprise my wife, who's company changed our vacation plans, all I had to do was pay a small pet deposit and we could stay there too. Unlike the answer I got when I called a few days ago.

So I asked them to call her room and tell her that she needed to come down to the lobby to get a package that just arrived for her. Remember she has no clue. When we talked every evening, I always said I was somewhere in Texas driving all over the state Geocaching. That explained why I was in a different hotel each evening too.

From around the corner I hear the elevator doors open and there she is. SURPRISE!! It takes a moment for it to register when she sees me, but then her face lights up! She gets this huge smile on her face. For a few minutes anyway she forgets the fact that she's sick with the flu. Seeing myself and the puppies there in the lobby just made her day. For the rest of the night before she fell asleep from medication, she'd just shake her head when she looked at me in disbelief that I'd drive halfway across the country just to see her. But I just wanted her to know how much I loved her and missed her. And I think from that moment forward, her sneezy cold and stuffy head started to disappear! I LOVE YOU MY SWEET CANDY!!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

2017-12-28: Surprise Road Trip: Texas to Maryland Day 2

So welcome back and a quick recap of where I'm at. Because my wife was pulled from our Christmas vacation and sent on a business trip to Baltimore, I decided to drive there from Texas to surprise her. Yesterday I drove over 500 miles and stopped just west of Memphis, Tennessee, over on the Arkansas side. Along the way the GeoDogs and I are stopping for caches in needed counties to fill in those empty spaces on the map. In case you missed it, you can read all about Day 1 here before continuing to fill you in on the Why, Where, and Wohoo!

Waking up at dawn this morning in Brinkley, Arkansas, I loaded up the GeoDogs in the car and we began Day 2 of our Surprise Road Trip. Brinkley is located in Monroe County and one that I needed. Not far from the hotel was a park with a simple and quick cache, Best Park Ever (GC1XC5F), I could easily grab and be on my way. And not to worry about muggles this early in the morning.

Back on the road and a long stint before the next scheduled cache county. Eastbound on I-40, across the Mighty Mississippi River, through Memphis after 105 miles we arrive in Shelby County, Tennessee at a town called Arlington. It wasn't right off the exit, but the NoWhere Road cache (GC3RYBG) was pretty easy to get to and I thought it wouldn't take much time away from traveling. Found it quickly but the container was empty. Added a new log sheet and was on my way.

Taking the backroads back to the interstate, I passed by this old abandoned spooky house. It would have been cool to go exploring inside. But it was beyond the fence on private property. So just photos for now.

Just twenty-six miles down the interstate was my next stop in Haywood County and a quick cache called Koko Moto (GC2GAB3). A quick find right off the exit and return eastbound quickly.

Forty-seven miles later and I find myself in Henderson County at the Independence Cemetery. A small unincorporated community in Tennessee just a few miles from the interstate. The cache was called Earn Your Independence (GC111HB). Cemetery caches are among my favorites because of the stories and history that could be found in them. With the small church and graveyard it was hard to resist not taking a quick walk among the headstones. The cemetery was well kept with the exception of the space between these two headstones. Husband and wife headstones. I've heard about some people who don't want their burial site to be well mowed grass because they like gardening, trees, vines, etc. Could this be the reason? Or perhaps turmoil and chaos in the marriage? Hmmm. I guess we'll just have to imagine what truth has been confined to the grave.

Continuing east and across the Tennessee River, I arrive in Humphreys County and grab a quick off the exit cache. Pond Bottom at Cuba Landing (GCX8NR) was a quick cache with a view of North Fork Blue Creek. A quick stop for the cache and to let the Chihuahuas take care of their business.

A short 14 mile drive later and I'm in Hickman County at another unincorporated community called Only, TN. Here was an Earthcache called Lee & Gould Furnace (GC15QK3). Samuel Lee and James Gould built the furnace in 1833 as part of an ironworks that employed hundreds. They located here due to the proximity of the raw materials needed to produce iron. The furnace stands as a reminder of an early industry.

Williamson County was the next stop thirty miles east. The Flying Alphabet cache (GCX9NE) was at a truck stop near the exit. A nice quick stop that I could park next to it and let the GeoDogs out as a distraction while I made the find.

The next exit down was Cheatham County and another quick right off the exit No Map Needed cache (GC3V7K4) in a busy shopping area. Again I was able to position the car to block the view from muggles to make the quick find.

Thirty-eight miles and through Nashville later, I arrived at Wilson County for my next cache. Wash Day at Belinda City (GC1DVEN) was just the cache needed right off the exit at the edge of a parking lot for a quick find to keep me moving forward.

Next was a nice long stint of 115 miles over to Roane County. The New Years Resolution cache (GC5JHVJ) was so close to the exit it was practically still on the exit!

Sixty-seven miles later and passing through Knoxville, I arrived in Sevier County and the town of Kodak. There I grabbed Scorpio the Scorpion cache (GC3Q3DT) to claim a county find.

Speaking of Knoxville, they have one of my favorite cache finds. I found Knoxville's Fastest Headstone (GCNBF5) way back in 2008. The cache is located near the headstone of A. J. Pete Kreis who was from Knoxville. He was a favorite to win the 1934 Indy 500 race but was killed during practice when his car crashed over the wall and burst into flames. If you've ever watched the race on TV and in the intro do a brief history of the race, they usually show that crash. Well his giant rectangular headstone has the track outlining it and his car going over the wall. Pretty cool to see if you're ever in the Knoxville area.

My last cache for the day was in Hamblen County off I-81 in Morristown. Pull Out #3 cache (GCMJ18) is another one of those quick park and grab at the exit caches for the highway traveler.

Welcome to Virginia! Finally making it through Tennessee longways east to west, I drive another 115 miles to Marion, Virginia. When I got off the exit ramp I'm staring at these signs and begin to chuckle so I just had to take a picture. You got the Atkins (diet) to the right or the Hungry Mother to the left! Well I thought it was funny. Maybe cause I was driving for 625 miles, I'm tired, and ready for a hotel. I should make it to Baltimore tomorrow to surprise my wife. Talking to her on the phone a few minutes ago, she now thinks I'm still in Texas driving around the state Geocaching. With the freezing temps there in Baltimore, she's starting to come down with a cold and not feeling too good. Hopefully arriving with her puppies and myself will cheer her up! Come back tomorrow to see what happens!

Saturday, November 16, 2019

2017-12-27: Surprise Road Trip Killeen, Texas to Baltimore, Maryland Day 1

My Wife has a Big Heart and I Love Her Very Much! She's always willing to put others needs before her own. Being a therapist in a nursing home facility is almost like being in the medical profession. Wait, it is a medical profession. What I mean is that the only holidays she gets off is when it falls on the weekend. Fortunately this year, she is between facilities. The new Director has taken over where she was in West Texas but the new facility in Killeen hasn't opened yet. That's why her company has been using her to train others.

My job has shut down for a week and a half for the Christmas / New Years holidays. So we had the entire time off together. NOT SO FAST! She got a call begging her to help at a facility in Midland to cover on Monday, Christmas Day as well as Tuesday the 26th. Her big heart and willingness to help says OK. We'll still have a whole week at the house in Killeen for a vacation.

So yesterday we decided I would take her to work in Midland and drop her off before going back to the apartment in Monahans. There I would finish packing, load up the dogs, pick her back up after a few hours, and continue east towards Killeen. NOT SO FAST!! Just before I picked her up, her boss called to say they're sending her to Baltimore for two weeks to train some more directors there. Oh, and her flight leaves in a few hours! So back to Monahans, repack with scrubs for work, and back to the airport in Midland. I guess it's just me and the dogs for the next week.

Well on the remaining four hour drive to Killeen, I was feeling sad and depressed about our vacation vanishing. But then it hit me! I got a whole week! I'll stay the night in Killeen, but continue driving to Baltimore and surprise my Sweet Wife! I can get there and back in a week easy. So last night I called the hotel she was staying at to see if they allow small dogs but they said no. There was one nearby that did though. But I'll deal with that when I get there.

I also started looking at the route to get there and back. Can't do a road trip without getting a few Geocaches. Especially in the counties I still needed. So this morning I woke up early with excitement, grabbed the dogs, and out the door I went!

My first stop was Italy! Well Italy, TX that is. Nearly 2 hours and just over a hundred miles, I figured this virtual cache right off of I-35E would be a good place to walk the dogs too. Unique Italian Architecture (GCC25B) can be viewed from the Interstate while passing by, but then you can't see all the unique buildings. This is a warehouse made to look like a caterpillar, but the company makes dome shaped houses. There's a whole domed house neighborhood right here too. After a few pics and the dogs taking care of business, back on the road again!

Another two hours and another 120 miles later, I stopped for another quick cache (GC26HV9) right off the exit on I-30 in Sulphur Springs, Texas. This got me a new county, Hopkins County, and the dogs got to do their business as well.

Just 40 miles east on I-30 was Morris County and another quick highway exit cache (GC384YY).

My last Texas stop for today was just 24 miles later in Bowie County at the New Boston Cemetery (GC15NGJ). New Boston was established in 1877 as the result of the railroad being built just four miles to the north of Old Boston in 1876. Didn't spend a lot of time here. Gotta keep moving.

Welcome to Arkansas! Thirty miles later I pull into the Arkansas Welcome Center to grab a cache for Miller County (GC27RNF).

Ten miles later a quick exit park and grab cache (GC4KKN3) near a roadside memorial for three accident fatalities and one for Hempstead County.

Twenty-seven miles after that and I arrive in Nevada County, Arkansas for my next needed county. I chose this cache called The Battle of Gum Grove (GC18ZWR) because it was close to the exit and it had a Civil War history. Officially known as the Battle of Prairie D'Ane (French for Donkey Meadow), it was an open prairie 20 square miles surrounded by dense forest. Having taken place April 9-13, 1864, it was part of the Camden Expedition launched by Union Forces to drive the Confederates down into Texas, which it was unsuccessful in doing so. The cache was placed near an abandoned railroad overpass of I-30 which overlooked the battlefield prairie. Not really much to see related to the battle.

But what I did take a liking to and another reason why I like Geocaching, is finding the old abandoned railroad overpass. I took several different photos and I think I liked these two best and couldn't decide which one to share with you. So I decided to share them both.

OK, after the dogs and I have checked out the bridge enough, I load them back into the car and we hit the road again.

Compared to these previous short drives, this next one was a long 72 miles down the road. I arrived in Saline County in a town called Benton, Arkansas. The cache itself was fairly easy to find, but it was a Challenge Cache. A Challenge Cache is one that has requirements beyond finding it and signing the logsheet. This particular one is called "5 State in a Day Challenge" (GC5FB8A). I think you can guess as to the requirement needed. Well I met that requirement back nearly two years ago on another road trip: "870 Miles, 6 Geocaches, 5 States, 1 Day", when I found a cache in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida all in the same day.

Twenty miles up the road and I'm now in Pulaski County and Little Rock, Arkansas. There's several good Challenge Caches here that I qualify for, but being pressed for time I had to choose just one. I ended up picking the Arkansas Bakers Dozen Challenge cache (GC395QZ) because I also needed its Difficulty/Terrain rating. It had a D/T rating of 5/2.5 of which I used to have a blank space on my grid. To understand the Bakers Dozen requirements, click on the GC# link and there's a detailed breakdown on the requirements.

Another short 20 miles later and I arrive for a quick exit cache (GC7G6CG) in Lonoke County.

I drove another 50 miles before calling it a night and checking into a hotel in Brinkley, Arkansas. A total of 538 miles today with plenty more to go. My wife still has no clue I'm coming. When we talked on the phone a little while ago, I was somewhere down in South Texas geocaching and picking up the needed caches down there. Gonna be a big surprise in Baltimore! Be sure to check back in tomorrow for more...

Thursday, November 14, 2019

2017-12-17: Driving 5 Hours and 300 Miles for 4 First to Find Geocaches!

Hello and welcome back to the AwayWeGo Adventures Blog. Today was one of those "You Might Be A Geocacher If... you drive for 5 hours and 300 miles just to get 4 FTF's!" Yep that was our day today.

Started out this Sunday morning with nothing on the agenda except relaxing. We had decided to stay in Monahans, TX this morning instead of driving over to Killeen for the weekend. My wife had just returned from her trip late Friday, so didn't plan much.

But then I said, "You feel like going for a drive?"
Her: "Where to?"
Me: "To get First to Find on a few Geocaches that have been there almost a week."
Her: "Where are they?"
Me: "To the south about a 150 miles away."
Her: "Sure why not."

So off we went. Taking Hwy 18 south out of Monahans down into Fort Stockton, and then US-67 south from there, we arrive at our first cache (GC79NHA). Just a quick picnic area rest stop cache halfway between Fort Stockton and Alpine.

Just a few miles past that one was our first FTF Geocache (GC7FYYN) at 12:20 PM. A quick park and grab and AwayWeGo!

Another couple of miles further down US-67 and our second FTF Geocache (GC7FYYN) at 12:33 PM. Another quick find and AwayWeGo!

Continuing on and still on US-67 was our 3rd Geocache FTF (GC7G0M1) at 12:46 PM. AwayWeGo again!

Now heading eastbound between Marathon and Sanderson, we arrive at our 4th Geocache FTF (GC7FQ35) and our final cache of the day.

So yeah. We might be those Geocachers who'd drive 300 miles over 5 hours just for a few First-to-Find's! The sad thing is that while it was a nice drive, I only took one photo. Just a sun-bleached carcass of bones laying on the side of the road near one of the caches. Until next time, Go Geocaching for your next adventure!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

2017-12-10: Geocaching Cemeteries, a Ghost Town, a Power Run, and More Around West Texas.

Well it started out a sad morning. I had to drop my wife off at the airport this morning in Midland, Texas. She had to take a business trip up to Boston, Massachusetts for a week to train a Director of Therapy at a nursing home there.

So I went geocaching solo today. I didn't go far, just taking the long way and backroads to Monahans. I drove north out of Midland-Odessa on US-385 to grab my first cache at a picnic area (GC2KBRC). It would have been a quick park and grab, but there was this old wind mill there with this hawk or falcon sitting up on it. I probably spent about 15 minutes trying to get a decent picture. But you can only do so much with an old phone camera. I couldn't really get a closeup shot of the bird itself. It just made me miss my old Nikon. Gotta get a new camera one of these days.

Finally I decided enough photos have been attempted and continued north a few more miles. I arrived at a geocache called November 24 (GC3B1RT). It is one of a series of Power Run caches scattered about Midland and Odessa named for each day of the year. Along this stretch of road, I managed to get another 19 of 22 of the calendar dates. There were three along this road that I could not find. 

Looping back around to the south on Farm Road 181 and about 4 miles west of Goldsmith, I came to this intersection. On the one side out in the fields are these old buildings. Couple houses maybe? I'm not sure. I couldn't find any information on them. If you know what they were, please comments below. On the other corner is an active business. The Pioneer Cafe looks to be a combination cafe and convenience store. Though it was closed today so I'm not sure.


So I made my way back to Monahans and stopped by the Monahans Cemetery. I hid a cache there last year (GC6X29H). It had gone missing so I made a new one and replaced it today.

Instead of going home, I decided to continue heading west. There was a new cache listed in Pecos and the FTF (First to Find) was still up for grabs. Instead of jumping back onto I-20 so quickly, I decided to take the Old US-80/TX-57 highway westbound for the scenic drive and to see what's there. It goes through Thortonville, then Wickett, and into Pyote. Just before you get into Pyote on the east side of town was this small cemetery. There wasn't a cache here but I checked it out anyway. Hmmm I don't have a cache container with me so I'll have to bring one back and hide it here.

Continuing on into Pecos, I arrived at the roadside picnic area north of town where the cache (GC7FVHA) is supposed to be hidden. Looked and looked where the coordinates lead me to but no luck. Then I spend another 20-30 minutes looking based on the cache name and hint. Nope! Finally after about an hour I give up and log a DNF. Maybe next time.

Well while I'm here, I might as well get a couple others in town. This next cache (GC6XM70) was outside a restaurant. Fortunately small town Texas means closed on a late Sunday afternoon. So no muggles made it easier to find.

Another stop by the cemetery here on the south side of town without a cache. This one was kinda divided into three sections. The main cemetery which was neat, orderly, and lined up like you would expect a cemetery to be. Another section which was also normal. But in between the two was a spare section with a few scattered headstones from the 1800's. Some out in the open and near the dirt drive path that could be easily driven over if you weren't paying attention. Either way, another spot to hide a cache at soon!

Well that's it for now. Back to the lonely apartment without my better half. Well me and the Chihuahuas anyway. Until next time...