I am a proud

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sportsmen's Banquet

Paige Patterson
Two weeks ago we held our first every Sportsmen's Banquet for men in our church and community. We filled our Multi-Purpose Room with about 375 men from all over. We came together to first of all enjoy a nice wild  game dinner. Second, we enjoyed some good Blue Grass music from a local band. Third, we had prize drawings and gave away some really nice gifts. The grand prize was a three-day Family Get Away to the Bear Cabin near Martinsville, Virginia. This cabin, located on 600 plus acres of land affords our winner the opportunity to get out on the trails on the two ATVs and in the jeep at this large cabin in the mountains. We also listened to Dr. Paige Patterson talk about his Safari experience in Africa. Later he also shared how men can be the kind of Fathers that God wants. Thanks to the men in our church for both the financing and the muscle to put this together. Fun was had by all.

I posted last week that I was breaking a geocaching slump. This banquet was the chief reason that I was busy and unable to cache any.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Breaking up a slump

The last time I went caching before this past Saturday was the 1st of January 2014. With all the work I have it became almost an impossibility for me. I've cached most of the area around where I live so driving distances for a few caches seemed too much.

Yesterday I offered to take my wife out to buy some silverware to replace some she had lost in the many moves we have made over the years. We drove from the west side of Greensboro to a store along the Interstate that specializes in replacing silverware. When we pulled up I was unpleasantly surprised to see the cultural/social/political statements the management is obviously making about distorting marriage. They were represented by a flag flying in their back parking lot and a symbol on their door. I simply had to turn around and go somewhere else. I value marriage too much. Some would tell me my little protest (not shopping there) does not mean anything nor does it make a difference. For me it does. Others would ask me what skin is it off of my nose if two men or two women marry each other. I do have a stake in it. They are called my children and grandchildren and those who come after them. What kind of world they live in matters to me.

Scripture is informative. Genesis teaches that we are made in God's image. Romans 1 teaches that when we show irreverence to God, either by turning to idols or by making the God described in Scripture into something He is not (this is something we do in our minds) then we subject ourselves to character distortion too. What these people are advocating for is not natural; not the way God intends us to live. Yet, in Romans 1 Paul tells us that this type of distortion of human character (some find it politically correct to call it an "orientation" today) is simply the distortion that comes to us as a result of our having distorted who God is. It stands to reason that we would not be unscathed. When men want a God after their own liking (some say "in their own image") then they get a "god" who never requires anything of them that they don't want to do. They are free to explore the depths of every type of variation on life that their minds can fancy. Without any "right" and "wrong" boundaries in life, we fallible humans go far astray from that which God created us to be. Paul writes in Romans 1:22-27:

22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and [o]crawling creatures.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for [p]lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed [q]forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is [r]unnatural,27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing [s]indecent acts and receiving in[t]their own persons the due penalty of their error.

Forget replacing the missing pieces. Not if it means shopping at a place that seeks to turn from what is so clearly stated in Scripture and in nature. We went on down the street to another location. Instead of replacing a few pieces, we replaced the whole set. We probably came out better because of the sale at Belk's. On top of that, we stood by our convictions.

Now before someone becomes intolerant of my right to believe that Scripture is true and that there are some rules to be followed in life, let me say that while I do not support the movement to recognize two men or two women as a legitimate marriage, I have gay friends. I visit with them and talk with them on a weekly basis. Some of them have been in my house. I care for them because I care about truth. I care for them because Jesus cares for them. I want them to know that Jesus died for them as much as He died for me. Because I care I want them to know that what they are doing is not pleasing to God and that, like all else the Bible calls sin, their sin can be forgiven through repentance and trust in Jesus. Whether they change or not will not cause me to "un-friend" them. But I cannot approve what they are demanding. This radical, foolish shift from a Scriptural understanding of marriage to an unnatural (take a look at nature) understanding is a cancer that will bring great sorrow to those who participate in it and approve of it.

Just before our little buying spree we stopped to grab a few caches. The first one proved to be easy and fairly nondescript. The second one was interesting. Had we not had an ice storm last week bent and broke many trees in the area, this cache would not have been more important than the last one. But due to the ice storm, it gets a special mention here.

Hard to see but this is the base of the sign
sumajhuarmi and I pulled off the road near the GC. The small North Carolina pines along the opposite side of the road were still bent over towards the road from the recent weight of 1/2 inch of ice. They'll likely straighten up in a few more weeks. For now, it looks like they are bowing down to some unseen deity. The cache is CACHE ISLAND (GC2DCQW). As I crossed the country road I saw just off the road skid marks where a vehicle had run off the road. It had taken out a traffic sign. The sign was laying on the ground face down. At first the signal bounce took me into the woods a ways. Then it brought me back. I turned the sign over to find that it said "Traffic Island Ahead". I looked at the base of the sign. It had been severed about 8 inches from where the metal pole entered the ground. After a quick search I found the base still in the ground but badly damaged. It was split in two piece lengthwise and bent. Taking care not to get cut by the sharp metal protruding from the ground I fished around at the mangled base and came up with the cache. Too soggy to sign I replaced it. When I got home I logged the find. I was the second person to find the cache since the accident. Apparently during the ice storm someone lost control on that road, took out the sign and ended up on the shoulder. There wasn't much of a ditch so they probably got out ok once the ice was no longer an obstacle.

We went for one more cache but came up empty handed. From there we made our way to Belk's to find a great deal on a nice set of everyday silverware to replace the old. All in all, we had a great day. It's good to be back in the swing of caching. Maybe I can pick it up again.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Unmaintained caches .... sometimes the better of two evils

Ecuador doesn't have much geocaching going on. At least not compared to the movement that takes place in North America and Europe. There are a few cachers there but the majority of
Metro Park SE
caching done there is by tourist visiting the country. While there one of my favorite activities was placing tourist-friendly caches. By this I mean caches that are easily accessible to tourist who have a limited amount of time to get to a cache between one of their tours and going to the airport to head to the Galapagos Islands or on to Peru.

The best place I found to place geocaches that tourist could easily find was in Parque Metropolitano. We placed the second one in the park but the longest standing cache there to date back in 2007. It is Metro Park SE (GC15JCC). This cache has proven difficult for many for many because it is well-hidden and because, if you don't have much time, like many tourist, it is a good walk to the far end of the park and takes some time. The elevation doesn't help as you huff and puff to get there in the thin air.

The next long-lasting cache I placed is one called Reforestation (GC168M3). When I placed it the area was cut back and had just a few bushes in ankle high grass. Dispersed throughout the area were small saplings that were recently planted to replace Eucalyptus trees that had previously been cut down. Now, as you can see from the photo, it's a jungle out there.

Karen's Caper Travel Bug Hotel (GC182AC) and Brandon's TB Boarding House (GC1K4MD) are two of the tourist-friendliest TB hotel caches in the country. They are both placed very near the entrance to the park so that the tourist can get out of their taxi right at the entrance gate and make a short one-minute trek into the woods to claim their prize, drop
Looking up while at Karen's Caper
their trackables and still get back to what they have waiting for them.

What makes these, plus a number of others we have placed, so special to us is that we no longer live in Ecuador but have been able to leave a gifts that keep on giving. The choice that obviously faced us upon departing from Ecuador was whether to archive these caches or simply leave them for folks to find and then archive them when they finally play out. With no one to call on to maintain them (there were no active geocachers nearby who were able to maintain them) we knew that they would deteriorate over time. We left them. They have proven to be gifts that have truly kept on giving, both to those who come to Ecuador and geocache as well as to me. I have been joyfully watching the messages come in as tourist and a few Ecuadorians alike, have continued to find them. We've had some go missing, requiring that we archive them.

It's been almost three years since we left our beloved Ecuador behind. We feel just a little bit closer to our home-away-from-home when we revisit the caches there on!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Check out these interesting caches!!!!

Here's a few interesting caches I've come across in my travels. I won't say where so as not to create a real soiler.

Gate intercom cache

This one had us looking. We drove up to a gated area with a garden all around. There was a large rock on each side. The GPSr pointed to one of the rocks. That's where we began our search. We looked and looked. We had a time schedule and were getting in the car when I decided that maybe that wasn't a real doorbell/intercom box. Sure enough, it was the cache.

Another cache that caught us by surprise was one of those electrical-type caches. I've seen them before but just wasn't thinking along those lines the day I looked for this one. I was the driver so three others were already at the GZ looking all around the sign. I came up and joined the search, looking in all the obvious places they had looked before it dawned on me that I ought to look at the fake box. There it was!

Some of the caches we find are nothing more than attractions to some strange art. This one seems to represent an angel of some kind. It's located at Guilford Technical Community College near Jamestown, NC. We had to spend a while dodging muggles and turning over stones to find the "one" stone we'd have to turn over to find the cache.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Great Christmas Gift from some special friends!

One of the nicest gifts I received for Christmas, right there along side my Kuerig Coffee Maker, was my one-year membership as a Premium Member of Two really good friends, Chickenlvr413 and Chanak80, were so kind to give this to me as a Christmas gift. It has opened up more caches right close to home!

My new job is keeping me in the office and hard at work. I'd really like to get out and hit the trails to find some caches but am held back right now. I'm hoping that this kind gift will motivate me to get out and find some more caches!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Granny Codine and her neice Modean

Geocaching puts you in touch with lots of nice folks. Here's a case to prove my point. After learning about geocaching I had the pleasure of introducing it to a special friend. She just has to be my most favorite geocaching friend for 2013! Her name is Granny Codine. She's a character to say the least. She gets around to visit the folks in the nursing home and is sometimes invite to help friends roast other friends. Granny Codine is right funny to listen to. For that reason I thought it appropriate to place a cache in honor of this friend. It turns out that Granny Codine has a neice or something. She's a dental technician and goes by the name Modean.

While out in the country near where Granny Codine goes to find her roadkill, I placed a micro in her honor sometime back. It goes by her name and is GC445AX. Several folks have ventured out to find it.  So far none of them have seen Granny. Thank goodness! As I understand it she dresses up like a normal person and goes geocaching on those double days like January 1st (1/1), February 2nd, (2/2), March 3rd (3/3) and so forth. So be on your lookout when out in the woods south of Greensboro, NC.

 When our church has the wild game dinner, even though it's just for men, I'm going to invite Granny for sure. She'll probably provide most of the take.

Recently Granny was so kind. For Christmas she gave me a premium subscription to I appreciate her and wish her a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I went out and placed a another geocache in her honor, only to have it disapproved by my reviewer. He felt it was too close to a major highway and that geocachers would park along this Interstate to get to the cache. I've seen thousands of caches just like mine but its not worth the time to argue it. I went back to move the cache to another nearby location and hope it gets approved. 
Granny Codine

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Moses H. Cone Mansion along the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC

The Mansion thanks to Larry
One of my favorite places to travel and cache is the Blue Ridge Parkway. There is so much to see along the parkway, which runs from southern North Carolina to northern Virginia. Every chance we get we head up to the parkway. During winter months you have to check ahead to see which portions are open as winter weather closes stretches at higher elevations.

Twice during the last year I had the chance to visit the Moses H. Cone Mansion along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Moses Cone became famous in the late 1800's as he and his brothers, all wealthy men, invested in the textile industry and providing means of employment for thousands of North Carolina residence. As a summer get away he built the mansion, known as Flat Top Manor, along what is now the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Walking the trails thanks to Christina Dulude

From the lake thanks to T.Cowart
On our first trip during cold weather we found the part of the parkway near Blowing Rock, NC open. We had driven up from Greensboro, NC along highway 421 to intersect with the Blue Ridge Parkway just east of Boone, NC. We were able to travel southwest along the parkway, stopping to pick up geocaches along the way. Since geocaches cannot be placed on parkway land, most caches are just off the parkway. As we traveled along we found ourselves stopping to take in the marvelous views from the many overlooks along the route. What beauty!

One of my favorite caches was THE Blowing Rock Rest Area Cache (GC3R7RK), which is the closest cache to the mansion. The first time I came to the mansion I was with sumajhuarmi. The rest area was closed so I had to pull off the road and walk into the rest area. The cache was back in the rhododendron in an area free of muggles. It was an easy regular-size cache.  I walked a little further to catch a glimpse of the mansion from a distance but went no further. I knew then I wanted to come back to see the mansion when it was opened. We continued on our trip and spent the day in Blowing Rock.

Later in the year, during the warmer months, I came with three colleagues on a pastor's retreat to the Valle Crucis area. We stopped at the mansion on our way and spent about an hour. The mansion now houses the Parkway Craft Center. There are all kinds of wood and weaved crafts and much more to browse through and purchase. While I didn't get to tour the mansion (I don't know when that is possible) it was fun to walk around the grounds and take in the view. There is a beautiful lake at the bottom of the mountain the mansion overlooks. At times during the year there are carriage rides through the area. There is a walking trail that cuts underneath the Blue Ridge Parkway that's worth a walk and a little exercise while you are here.

The Parkway has some nice caches. If you have the time you'll want to cruise the parkway and grab these while taking in the beauty of the place. Stop in at the mansion too!