Friday, September 28, 2012

The road back

This week has been fairly unexciting. Erin got sick on Sunday, and I followed on Monday.  Forteunately between the 2 of us we were able to keep the caching streak alive, it's currently at 88 days. The ankle is feeling better, but there is still some visible bruising that hasn't gone away yet.  I've been to the gym a couple of times and did a half hour on the elliptical with only a little pain. Going forward I should be able to do low impact cardio at the gym, and maybe introduce some very short runs and see how it goes.  After seeing Rachel's writeup of her hundred miler I'm wanting to get out and do another trail ultra myself. Erik had brought up Trail Mix in the spring which sounds apealing. I think it's been long enough since I've done that race that the uglyness has been forgotten. This should also give me something concrete to shoot for. It's good to have goals.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Grasslands Adventure

Going through the gate on our way back to the car
With fall here, I thought it would be a great time to head out to the grasslands for some hiking and geocaching. I had been out to the grasslands before to hike, bike and run, but Erin had never been out there. On the drive there I asked her if she was scared of cows, and she laughed it off. I told her how sneaky and underhanded they could be but she dismissed my comments thinking that they were just cows.

The first cache we looked for was near the trail head. We got out of the car and were caught a little off guard by the cold wind. We expected a crisp morning, but the accompanying wind was something that was a little unexpected.  The first cache was found fairly quickly although it was about 40 feet from where the Garmins told us it would be. We decided that we would grab some windbreakers before heading on to the next cache.  After a quick trip to the car we were off again, this time heading deeper into the grasslands.  Up until this point when I went out to the grasslands I stayed along the North Country Trail, however this time the trail didn't go where we needed it to. We found some wheel tracks and decided to follow those. Fortunately the tracks took us almost exactly where we needed to go.  The second cache was another easy find.  As we were signing the log I asked Erin again if she was scared of cows. She sort of laughed and asked if there was one behind her.  In the distance I noticed 3.  Probably the advanced scouting unit of the cow army.  Even though the scouts were trying to hide we could clearly see them. God help us if they ever discover camouflage. I figured the cows already radioed our position to the rest, so we might as well try for cache number 3. We tried to outflank the scouts, but they noticed our movement and fled like the cowards they were. From there we followed some wheel tracks through the woods for another half mile or so before heading off on a cow trail.  Normally cows move single file like sand people to hide their numbers, but here there were 3 distinct trails. What were they planning? We went a little farther and found a clearing in the woods. From there we spotted an advanced cow battalion trying to hide behind a barbed wire fence.  I was thankful that cows were such awful hide and seek players. Thinking we could get around them Erin and I moved back into the woods, but we had been spotted.  The cowards again fled, and I found myself thinking this was almost too easy. Were we being led into a trap? Erin was getting a little nervous, I think she was sensing we were mooving deeper into cow held territory. We were about 700 feet from the cache and decided to proceed through the gate. We had gone this far and would not be stopped.  After we cleared the gate we followed the trail up a hill and there we saw it, the headquarters of the cow army. They had made their base in a large clearing, directly in our path to the cache. It all made sense now. They wanted us to become emotionally invested in finding this cache. It was less then 500 feet away from where we stood staring down the herd. As we stood there I spotted one of the cow special forces emerging from the woods. Once it was spotted it hung it's head and shame and returned to the herd. All of that training to sneak around our flank was wasted. Since their trap had failed to spring I figured we could take the trail in the woods that the special forces cow had used. Erin was thinking about turning back, but we couldn't let the cows win. Who knows where their tyranny would stop if we did not stand up to them. The trail took us safely around the cows encampment and after delving deeper into the woods we were victorious. The cache was OURS! With the log signed, the cache returned to it's hiding place and the cows thwarted we needed to head back to the car.  We followed the trail back to the gate, however I decided to take a shorter route. The cows had been angered by our victory and decided now was the time to act. They began to marshal their ranks forming a line standing shoulder to shoulder. As they began to move my direction I shouted which briefly distracted them Erin was up on a ridge and kept moving toward the fence line.  When the cows began their second attack I stood my ground.  I shouted for Erin to keep moving and I would bravely hold them off. As I stood there staring the cows down I could feel their shame growing. They had failed to protect the cache and they knew that I knew that they knew that. I turned my back in disgust and retreated into the woods towards the fence line. Erin had already reached it, but was unable to find a spot to cross. We decided to follow the fence back to the gate. Along the way we didn't see any more cow activity, perhaps they had consigned themselves to their fate and were lining up for the truck to the slaughterhouse. When we made it through the gate Erin was relieved.  On our way back we spotted the 3 advanced cow scouts, but they kept their distance. Eventually we made it back to the car and had Jimmy Johns for lunch, we had picked it up the previous night.
Looking for a cache in the grasslands

After lunch we headed out of the grasslands, my ankle was starting to bother me and hiking didn't seem like it would make things better. We grabbed a few caches along the road and stopped by a couple of cemeteries on our way to Lisbon.
Large tree in the middle of a cemetery.
When we reached Lisbon Erin needed to use the bathroom, so we stopped at the gas station/grocery store. From there we backtracked to a cluster of caches that was Southeast of Lisbon. When we got there we discovered that this place was called Dead Colt Recreation Area. There was a picnic area, and a swimming beach, as well as camping areas and a couple of baseball fields. It was a beautiful area and we had a good time caching there. After we found all of the caches in the park we decided we had enough for the day and headed home.
Dead Colt Recreation Area (Click for a better view)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Offsite trip for work

This is me putting in a winning effort at ladder golf.
Thursday afternoon my team at work was invited on an offsite trip along with another team out to a coworkers cabin right across the lake from Maplewood. It was a good chance to get to know my teammates better and relax a little.  I got a chance to kayak took a pontoon tour of lake Lida played some ladder golf and enjoyed some good food.

Ronnie and I on the pontoon.

The sprained ankle is feeling a bit better. I'm walking normally most of the time.  Inclines still cause it to hurt and there is still some swelling.  I might get to the gym this weekend and test it out on the elliptical before getting out and running on it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ouch Part 3

Recovery from my sprained ankle has been slower then I'd like. There are times when I can almost walk normally on it, and times where it still hurts a lot and I have trouble moving around. I've still got some very impressive bruises showing at the top of my foot, along the sides, and even near by toes. I'm hoping to get to the gym or even get out to run soon, but that might be optimistic.  I'm just taking it a day at a time. 

The girls and Erin out looking for a cache in North Fargo
This past weekend Erin and I were babysitting again. This time 2 girls. Erin and I had a great time, however cooking for them was a bit challenging. They were fairly picky and didn't like things that were spicy, or seasoned, or really anything with flavor. Ok, it wasn't quite that bad, but we did make a lot of kraft mac and cheese.  We took the girls out geocaching both Saturday and Sunday and found a total of 5 caches with them.  We also targeted caches near playgrounds, so they got to play in some new places. With the finds this weekend and the past couple of days our geocaching streak is at 79 days.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Ouch Part 2

The swelling a bruise on my ankle
It took a day, but I've got a nice bruise that formed on the top and side of my foot.  This is about a day after I tweaked my ankle.  Perhaps this is going to take longer then I thought to heal up. On the bright side I can put weight on it, and walk sort of normally. I'm hoping some ice and ibuprofen can take the swelling down.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Wednesday night Erin and I were going over to some friends for dinner and needed to find a quick geocache. When we got there the Garmins were directing us all over, so we started searching over a wide area. There was a tree that seemed to be the closest to ground zero, but the only place to put a cache there would be above head height. It's possible the cache was there and we just couldn't see it.  I kneeled down and had Erin stand on my knee, but since there wasn't much to grab onto she couldn't get up.  We switched positions and I tried to stand on her knee. This didn't work very well and I wound up twisting my ankle as I fell.  At first it hurt so bad I couldn't really talk, it was like when your breath gets taken away by jumping into cold water. I rolled over to a nearby bench and sat down.  Eventually I was able to talk again and had Erin look for the cache, which she found almost immediately, exactly the same amount of time it took my ankle to swell up.  Fortunately the swelling wasn't too bad and I was able to limp my way through the rest of the evening. I'm thinking this is going to make continuing our consecutive day geocaching streak (currently at 73) harder to maintain as well as doing anything physical. I've been doing better this week with my running, and getting to the gym. Not just because it's something that I should be doing, but because I want to again.  It feels good to have that motivation. Sooner or later the motivation and ability will line up again and I'll find the running addiction again.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Geocaching in Maplewood State Park

Erin and the boys looking at acorns
This past weekend Erin and I were staying with some boys we babysit.  Sunday morning after breakfast we drove out to Maplewood state park to find a couple of geocaches.  The first one was part of the Avian adventure series and we found it fairly quickly, the other was a few miles away from that.  We drove over to the second cache and parked less then a quarter of a mile from the cache. I didn't want to make a quick find and then take off, so we took a round about way to the cache on some of the trails and wound up hiking a little over 2 miles.  A good time was had by all.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Bemidji Caching Trip Day 4

A Nintendo repurposed as a geocache in Lake George
Day 4 of our geocaching trip started with the realization that it had rained overnight and our plan of starting the morning with some biking was going to be a bad idea.  We had breakfast at the hotel and planned our next move. Instead of caching on the bike trail we would started heading home and try to find more caches along the way. We spent some time in Lake George and along the North Country Trail with runs just a little south of the town.
A spider web catching the light on the trail

After Lake George we went to Itasca to do the Avian Adventure cache there. This was the hardest one we have done so far, it seemed like the caches were all about 30-50 feet from where the Garmins lead us. Eventually we solved the puzzle and got our bird card.  It was close to lunch time so we stopped at a barbecue place just outside of the park only to realize that they weren't open on a Tuesday. We decided to snack and then eat when we got to Park Rapids.  Half a dozen caches later we were in Park Rapids eating at the Royal Bar.  The food was good, but I hate how small town places don't take credit cards. After lunch we headed back to Fargo with only a few more stops to look for caches. We wound up with 194 finds over our 4 day trip.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Bemidji Caching Trip Day 3

One of the caches that wasn't a matchstick container
Erin grabbing a snack along the trail
Day three of our geocaching excursion began the same way day two did, with breakfast at the hotel.  I really like breakfast at the Holiday Inn.  We decided to do some more biking today, this time heading South along the Paul Bunyan trail.  We drove to where the trail starts to head out of town, but this time there wasn't a public parking lot. We decided to park at a church because I didn't think anyone would be there on Labor Day. We couldn't find the first couple of caches, but then started to have better luck. Most were still matchstick containers, but were much more difficult to find then what we'd seen the previous day.  They were further back in the woods, and the terrain had more hills. I was hoping to make it out to Guthrie, but the temperature started to climb and we were running out of water, so we decided to head back. At the time we had found 72 caches for the day and our biking trip would be 21 miles. When we got back to the truck we decided to head back to the hotel to shower and drop the bikes off. We also took the time to log our finds and load up some waypoints for after supper. We decided to hit up Bar 209 again for some cheese curds, this time Erin ordered the pot roast and it wasn't as good as the burger she had previously. We headed just North of Bemidji to try to find some more caches. We found 3 out of the 6 we tried for before I got sap all over my hands and it started to rain. We decided to call it a day and went to Target to pick up some miscellaneous stuff, before heading back to the hotel to lounge around in the hot tub.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bemidji Caching Trip Day 2

An old sawmill foundation near the lake.
This chipmunk was enjoying an acorn.
He stayed within 5 feet of me while I logged the cache
Our second day of our Bemidji caching trip started with breakfast at the hotel.  As far as hotel breakfasts go I think Holiday Inn is above average.  I had some cinnamon rolls and Erin had a bagel and hard boiled egg. After breakfast we drove over to the Paul Bunyan Trail that runs along the east side of the lake.  The geocaches along the lake were all spaced about a tenth of a mile apart and many were the same matchstick container in trees near the trail, not the most exciting caches.  We turned it into a bit of a sport by seeing how fast we could get through the trail. After biking about 23 miles we had done the caches along the lake and were ready for lunch.  We opted for a quick trip to Burger King before doing some more geocaching on the bikes.
Random people taking pictures with Paul Bunyan

We parked at the visitors center and biked around downtown and near the collage for the rest of the afternoon.  I took some pictures of the art in the area, but missed a lot

The USS Sally, I have no idea what the significance of this is
Erin and the Republic
Here is a picture of the mighty Republic.  Ok, maybe not so mighty, but it does have a geocache. We spent a while looking for it, because there were so many great places to hide one here.

Some turtles we spotted from a bridge on the Mississippi
When we were finished downtown we dropped the bikes off and loaded up some more waypoints on the Garmins. There were 7 caches near the hotel and we wanted to get to 66 finds for the day, so we'd have 100 total in our first 2 days.  The first cache was at a hotel across the street. We wandered around outside for a bit with the Garmins pointing into the building.  Eventually we realized that was correct, and went inside to log the find.  Then we went to a near by park.  The first few there were easy finds, then we had to go onto a Frisbee golf course.  After finding one of the caches we were walking back through the woods when we encountered some golfers who asked how things were going. Not wanting to explain geocaching I just replied with a friendly "Guten tag" and kept on going. After that we wandered around in the woods for a bit and were just a touch lost when Erin looked down and spotted the cache we were looking for.  Getting back out of the woods was just as fun as getting into them. When we were finished in the park we were 1 cache short of our goal. We found a quick park and grab before deciding on Little Caesars for supper.  It was a long day, but we had lots of fun.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bemidji Caching Trip Day 1

A small park in Ada, MN
Over Labor Day weekend Erin and I planned a trip to Bemidji to do some geocaching. There were a large number of caches in the area, as well as lots of bike trails to fill up our time.  Friday night we got everything ready and Saturday morning we were able to get on the road shortly after waking up.  The first part of the trip took us North on highway 9 in Minnesota to Ada. We found 2 caches on the highway and 3 more in Ada.  On of the caches we found was a locked box attached to a pole, Erin was amazed when I walked over and got the combination right on the first try, all it took was a little bit of looking around the area.

Pine trees near Gary, but no cache
Mahnomen benchmark
From Ada we headed East with a quick stop in Gary before heading onto Mahnomen. Our stop in Gary was not productive. We think we found where the cache used to be, but it was no longer there. We did find the cache we were looking for in Mahnomen right near a benchmark.

Lunch time sneaking, you can just barely see the truck
After our stop in Mahnomen we stopped by a public water access, there were people there, so we parked a little ways away behind some trees and ate lunch while we waited for them to leave. Once they left we quickly found the cache.
Near Zerkel

From there we followed a logging road through the forest to some caches that don't get found very often.  It was a neat area that we probably would not have been in if we hadn't been out geocaching. After the logging road we found the remains of a house that had been moved, the foundation and chimney were all that remained.

From that point on we ran into some trouble maintaining a data connection with our phones which made things a bit more difficult. We had the waypoints stored on our watches, but needed the integration with the maps to drive to where we needed to go.  I think we missed a few caches I had planned, but muddled through as best we could.  We found a cache near a bridge of historical significance, if you'd like to know more about it, I've attached a picture of the sign.
3rd cache down the narrow dirt road

After the bridge we found a narrow dirt road that had a few caches down it. When we pulled up a few people on ATVs let us know that the road was closed up ahead, we decided to try it anyway and found the caches, the last of which is the little mailbox shown here.  That was the easy part, the hard part was getting back out, with no where to turn around I had to back down the narrow dirt road about a quarter of a mile. When we were done here we tried for a few more caches without any luck so we decided to head to the hotel.

Once we'd finished checking in and dropping off the bikes we decided to grab an early supper.  I had read about an Italian restaurant that had just opened that sounded good.  We drove over and I guess 4:30 was a bit too early for supper because we were told that the kitchen wouldn't be ready to server until 5:00. We decided not to wait and walked over to a near by bar.  We had some cheese curds and burgers at Bar 209 before heading out to a place called Hobson Forest to do some more caching. We had no luck at Hobson forest, we made it to where 2 caches were supposed to be and found nothing, fallen trees blocked the trails to the other caches back in the woods. After that disappointment we stopped at Bemidji State park to pick up the Avian Adventure multicache.  We had to walk a couple of miles to make the find, but really enjoyed how well this was put together and where it took us in the park. After that we wanted to break out single day caching record so we picked up a few miscellaneous caches on the way back to the hotel and finished the day with 34 finds.