Sunday, August 13, 2017

Crosswinds Marsh Meanderings 2017



Yesterday was the third annual Crosswind Marsh Meanderings down in Wayne County. Most people think of Wayne County as Urban Detroit and Auto industry, but there's a softer side, too. Crosswinds Marsh is one of the largest man-made wetlands in the country. TaGeez and I had other plans until ShelleyJean reminded us it's our 1-year FRIEND-AVERSERY  so, of course, we came!

TaGeez, ShelleyJean and scrapcat
Happy Friend-aversary!
The event coincides with Hobby Days. Stan&Ruth, Hooked on U, and The Seed Spreaders man a tent and demonstrate the joys of geocaching in the marsh. Afterwards, approximately 50 cachers gather for a potluck, raffle drawing and 35 new geocaches.

Keeper of the cache or greeting committee?
If you find twelve special geocaches, you earn the CMA path tag for this year. Ah, a challenge! Place the opportunity of a bright & shiny in front of us, and we're off! Even if it's 87 degrees and very, very sunny! (Disclaimer: I LOVE the marsh but I REALLY LOVE the shaded boardwalks!)


The raffle was first rate: containers, geocaching t-shirts, geocoins. Several of us won FTF's - you don't have to be the first to claim it - you just have to find it on the day of the event.  I didn't take a photo of it, but the Crosswinds Cache Crew does a fabulous job on the handout. It includes this year's caches, last year's caches, maps, etc. 


After playing "Closest to the Pin" and taking a group photo, we were off! And lost! No, not really. I turned left instead of right so we took a roundabout way to the special caches.

Nothing suspicious here!
It wasn't long until we were back on track and grabbing caches with various groups. It seemed at each cache we ran into a different bunch!

The Frito Bandito and afishoutawater



This was one seriously fabulous groups of finders!
The views are stunning. There are boardwalks over marshland, hard-packed trails in the woods, and horse trails to the South. It was lovely seeing so many non-geocachers on the trails, too.







The potluck venue actually rests in the middle of the Marsh itself

ShelleyJean, scrapcat, and TaGeez


Here was my FTF - the IR Cache GC71G8K

I LOVE THIS MAN!
It was a big day for TaGeez, too. He made his 6.000th find on the trail!


Afterwards, with very sore feet (SJ's fitbit recorded something close to 17,000 steps), ShelleyJean suggested going to Rhapsody in Southgate for dinner. OH MY GOSH! The food in the Hungarian mainstay was AMAZING! Definite trip back is required!


Thank you to the Crosswinds Cache Crew for the fabulous event and for the pathtags. Looking forward already for next year!


Friday, August 11, 2017

Polar Bears on Power Island

How cool is this? I released my Hurtigruten Polar Bear in Grand Rapids, and a cacher called fallingaeroplanes picked it up....


And took it to Power Island!

Isn't this a great picture? My bear is now in Mississippi!


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

NECT: Heading Home

Heading home doesn't mean the adventure ends for us. It took ShelleyJean and I 19 hours to complete an 8-hour drive! Cliche but true: geocaching takes you to some amazing places!

Bennington, Vermont

We awoke our final morning in one of two commercial hospitality establishments in Bennington, Vermont. 'Nuff said about that.

ShelleyJean was hoping the fog and dreary skies would burn off for a clear view from the Bennington Battle Monument. With several hours to kill before it opened, we decided to explore the nearby area of interest. First stop was this nifty travel bug hotel behind the local liquor store - so worth the favorite points!



Next stop was Vermont's Old First Church and the nearby "Vermont's Sacred Acre" (cool nickname for a cemetery, eh?).


Again, I found rows and rows of headstones with funny faces! These ones were as white as the Massachusetts slate ones were black - such a contrast! So hard to select just a few of my favorites to share!






Alas, it is this grave off the beaten path that seems to attract the most visitors. Do you know this chappy? A little poet called Robert Frost? Make sure you Say Hi To Robert Frost GCRYRC when you visit.



Of course, you can't visit Vermont without visiting a covered bridge. There are three within this immediate area, and we detoured to the Silk Road Bridge. 


Finally, it was time to return to the Bennington War Monument. "The Monument was built to commemorate the Battle of Bennington which occured on August 16, 1777, and is considered to be the turning point in the Revolutionary War."

Bennington Monument GC1RXF6

At 306 feet tall and set atop a hill (at the end of the avenue where the Old First Church is situated), you can see it for many miles. Unfortunately, today it was overcast and cloudy. Major thank you to the ranger that eased my fear of heights and talked to me as I calmed my racing heart and swaying equilibrium 


When I exited the elevator into the museum at the base, the ranger pointed out Burgoyne's Cooking Kettle hanging from the rafters and this visitor book. As geocachers, we are fascinated when we see a log from 15 years ago. How about one that is a 100 years ago? They flip pages each day to display the signatures from a 100 years earlier. 


It was a lovely trip to the top, and I felt very jovial as I waved to my new friend (below) on my way out. We saw several more just like him (plus painted catamounts, a giant kane chair and a disappointing quilt shop) in town.


Now Entering New York

Let's call this "Dead Man's Curve".  Seven miles or so from Bennington and just inside the New York border is a Virtual called A Murder Mystery GC3B72. I thought this would be a very fitting finish to our tour - I believe ShelleyJean disagrees. Something about a dangerous highway and my disappearance looking for a nameless, faceless marker....

NOTE: There are no spoilers in the pictures or the attached article.

A moment of peace on a raging, crazy, busy, dizzy highway road
Unlike other roadside finds, this one involves crossing a very dangerous highway and walking about 300 feet up a disintegrating shoulder between a guardrail and a creek. We agreed SJ would turn back and get the car for a quick escape once the marker was located.

Now you see me and now you don't!

In the interim, I had to hop the guardrail again as the embankment disappeared and walked the remaining hundred feet while sharing the road with 18 wheelers blowing by. Hopping back over, I looked for the missing historical marker I had expected to see. NOTHING! Did it go missing? Has anyone mentioned it in their logs? 

With a sinking heart, I saw the words "bushwhack" in the logs. Aligning myself parallel to the GZ, I looked down the steep embankment and could barely discern a wet trail cloaked in large green leaves. It had rained last night so the "trail" was actually a little stream, and I'm wearing flip flops (yes, very stupid). Legs bare, feet slipping, I blindly edged my way down the embankment, pushing large wet weeds aside and praying (oh, praying!) there were no snakes in the underbrush. 

Little did I know that SJ had made several passes topside and was in a mild panic over my missing self.

Down at the bottom of the ditch - a total bushwhack
It wasn't until I almost reached the bottom I realized there was a headstone waiting for me. I can't share the inscription, but it spurred me to look up this fascinating tale of a boastful cabby, a murder plot, a canary singing and a dame gone bad. Yes, perfect ending to a cemetery tour!

Albany, New York

I consider myself well-traveled for an American. Wherever I go, I do my due diligence by researching the history, geography and objects of local interest. I spend hours watching travel shows, PBS documentaries, and Smithsonian videos. TripAdvisor, AtlasObscura.com and Roadside America are worn bookmarks on my computer. So tell me... how did I ever miss The Egg?

The Egg

We decided as we had left Bennington relatively early that we would make some stops along the way. We saw on our PQ a cluster of Virtuals in this little town on the river called Albany. Oh! Laughing at ourselves as we pulled closer, it struck us that this was not any old hamlet. It was THAT Albany! And imagine our shock and awe when we crested the highway and saw this... thing... sitting on top of this big concrete... other thing! 

Pulling into the parking structure under the other thing, the attendant welcomed us to the Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza as well as the performing arts center, The Egg. We took the elevator and escalator topside to seek our Virtuals. (Again, no spoilers here).


Nelson A Rockefeller Empire Plaza - Albany, NY
Capital Building in the center - Egg on the right

Hi ShelleyJean!
Her awesome idea for a photo!

New York State Women Veterans Memorial

Fountain in Washington Park

Riverside Park - Hudson River

The cultural diversity between the fountain and the Hudson River was fascinating. Fancy and formerly-fabulous brownstone on sloping hills. Neighborhoods dotted with bodegas and ethnic restaurants and many interesting people sitting on stoops and curbs. We saw these neighborhoods several times as we got lost in Albany's confusing streets!

Niagara Falls, Canada

It's getting late and the skies have been threatening rain all day so we decided to really push the miles.  We didn't reach Niagara until almost 7pm. This time the tourists weren't as thick, the skies a little clearer, and, thanks to our earlier recon, we located affordable parking! To my great happiness, even though it was getting late, we stopped for another adventure!

See the rainbow?
First, I'd like to thank ShelleyJean for not throttling me. With TaGeez at home, I was fixated on getting a scenic selfie to send back to him. 400 photos later - you can see how successful I was! 


With luck on our side, we were able to take some fabulous shots before the sun set. I particularly loved the panoramics taken with my new camera, but they don't show well on this blog.



Stunning shot by ShelleyJean
With time limited (and the desire to truly enjoy our time at the Falls), we grabbed the highest Favorited Virtual, Traditional and Earth Cache as our souvenir.  The traditional, Foundations: Ghost of the Cliftons, was tucked in this little park oasis between the raging, natural Falls and the Vegas-like hotels! Cool!

Looks like Vegas!
It really was quiet and quite beautiful.

SJ for the find!


Needless to say, we had a lot to talk about and re-live on the ride home!



It was an amazing adventure with ShelleyJean! Thank you so much!

Five New Souvenirs!