Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Road to Traverse City: Caching Our Way North

In mid-April, I received an email from Renee of Hearty Soles asking us if we'd like to join a party of Cachers on a charted boat to Power Island.  For those not of the area, Power Island is a 200-acre county park located in the middle of Grand Traverse Bay.  It is home to one of the oldest active geocaches in the world, Power Island GC35 (July 2000).

I had added a note to that cache last Fall asking to join a group in the Spring.  Deep down, though, I never thought I'd go through with it.  Money is tight, and I have a severe fear of drowning.  I can't swim; I've never been on a small boat; and I have an anxiety about surfaces moving under me (I've been known to freeze on docks).  To land on Power Island, I would have to walk out to a boat and take a half-hour boat ride to another dock.  And then return.

We couldn't go, right?  But TaGeez (Steve, my Love) got the time off.  I had a little money left over from my taxes.  My brother Jim offered the loan of his car.  We contemplated camping but were able to find a fabulous hotel room, off-season, at a great price.  I booked our trip.  HOLY CRAP! I'M GOING ON A BOAT!

Could we do this?  I knew, though, with TaGeez at my side I could survive a boat ride. He's my rock.  But the weather report was predicting 70% chance of rain.  Although I wanted to shout our latest adventure to the rafters, I told almost no one for fear of jinxing this adventure.  But everything came together beautifully.  Even the last minute shuffling off caches worked to our benefit.

With that said, at 12:31PM on Friday afternoon, we headed North towards Traverse City.

MLT - Geels GC1D3NP

I love the Michigan Lost Town series.  In some instances, these geocaches are the only monument to once thriving communities.  On the morning of our trip, I did a last minute re-route to grab this and the next cache.  According to the write-up, Geels was a town between St. Helene and Roscommon - a lumber town that was connected by rail.  Today, the only remnants is the town sign, the rail tracks and a building foundation. We found all three plus a cache!

TaGeez in front of the town sign
with the railroad tracks behind him

Inside and around the foundation was this delicate, pastel moss.

First mushroom of the trip.

TaGeez said lumber companies would replant trees
in rows for ease of cultivation later.

Geels Shrine of the Unwanted Carpet GCD46

This was a grab for our JASMER grid - June 2001.  Don't tell my brother, but we drove his Focus down some ATV trails to get here!  The day was gorgeous and the drive amongst the trees very peaceful.  Because we read the prior log, we brought repair equipment for this cache.

Making repairs

Michigan Firefighters Remembered GCGB75

This was the first of nine Virtuals on this trip.  I had it, but I was very excited to bring TaGeez here.

US 127/I-75 4-Mile Road exit TB Hotel and Spa GC4EGN4

We passed this last year, and it was killing me.  It was a large with 41 Favorite points so we made a special point to stop today.  EASY on/off freeway with nearby parking.  TaGeez liked it because it was organized and well-built.  It earned points from us!

Geocache 612 GC36

This is the other oldie in the area - August 2000.  I had the pleasure of grabbing it last year, so I was excited to bring TaGeez back.  The last few cachers mentioned the ruddy, muddy road to the cache - we've had a lot of rain lately, and this is a logging area with 18-wheelers churning up the dirt road.  Last year, Kriket and I drove 4 miles up a (dry) bumpy road to get here.  This year, TaGeez and I decided to detour around to County Road 612 and head South.  After 8/10ths of a mile dodging mud puddles and bathing (not scathing, Steve) birds, we parked Jim's car within .12 of the cache.  Big find for TaGeez!

Looking for a "CLUE SIR?" GC23ZRX

By the time we stopped at this cache, we had already visited another cemetery, a memorial and another Virtual (An Antrim County Ghost Town GCJJ7K).  This was a pleasant surprise in Charlevoix County.  This little cemetery contained 3 zinc stones - one with a very unusual swirl top.  Very peaceful, nestled on a hillside along a creek.

Halfway There, Almost Anyway GCGB0R

Yes, another virtual along the Eastern coast.  I had assumed it had something to do with the 45th Parallel.... almost.  It is located 2 miles South.  We stopped to snap pictures and ran into another visiting couple.  All the counties are represented by their native rock, but the Grand Traverse stone was most impressive.

At this point, it took us 8 hours for a 4-hour drive, but we were almost in Traverse City!  Although the predictions were for 30% to 70% chance of rain, we had nothing but blue, cloudless skies and calm winds.

Grand Traverse Bay - Eastern shore

Calm waters - bodes well for Power Island tomorrow

As the sun was going down, TaGeez and I decided to check-in to the hotel.  We booked the Romantic Getaway package at the local Best Western - King bed, wine/chocolate gift basket, and in-room jacuzzi!  Wonderful price, free breakfast, and it was located at the base of the Old Mission Peninsula (tomorrow's adventure).

Breweries of Traverse City #2 GC3VPD8

After checking in, hunger overtook us.  I picked a brewpub slightly out of town (assuming we'd enjoy the downtown one with new friends tomorrow).  The North Peak Brewery was relaxing with good food.  Even better yet, as we were leaving, we realized there was a cache in the parking lot!

TaGeez has not been in Traverse City in almost 30 years.  I think he really enjoyed the first leg of our adventure and the treasures this town had to offer.  Although we booked a Romantic Getaway package, fatigue overtook us, and we fell asleep watching the Food Network.  What can we say?  We're like an old married couple!

Here are links for all the posts in the Road to Traverse City series:

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