Sunday, June 15, 2003

Father's Day Geocaching

I am so lame. Now that I have a job, I have no time to write. Even on days when it is cold an dreary and rainy, I don't sit down and commit to an entry. It isn't like I don't have things to say. I'm just never able to get in here long enough to write more than an email before someone needs me or I have to break up a fight.

For instance, right now it is 11:30pm. I should be sleeping. Instead I'm wide wide WIDE awake after doing three geocaches, the last of which was very challenging, and I'm sort of up and twitchy. Everyone else is asleep. Me, I'm drinking water and scratching bug bites, so I thought I'd sit down and tell you about our weekend.

Yesterday was a wash out. The kids wanted to go to the movies desperately but we can't afford even the most cursory "fun" expense until after Doug pulls down a few of his new fat paychecks. So instead we cleaned Geoff's room and did laundry. The kids did pretend pokemon battles until Jessica could no longer be a good sport (three hours of it and she was very done) and Geoff didn't like that idea so they had a battle royale of the sibling kind.

Doug put more spackle on the ceiling.

That was about the extent of our Saturday. The weather definitely made this place Camp No Fun. So when we saw the weather report today, we knew it was Camp Yes Fun. And we set out Geocaching.

First stop, Massabesic Ledges. Awesome. Gorgeous. Wonderful. Jaw Droppingly lovely.

Massabesic Lake is a lovely place east of Manchester, and the recreational boaters were out en force. We approached the cliff from the bottom and had to climb up, and it wasn't bad at all but it had Kinger very worried. The cache contents were sort of lame, but the being there and the view made it all worth while.

Second, we were off to one called Bearly Hidden. In the same lake area, by a pond called Tower Hill Pond. We had a hard time finding the parking but once we got there it was a quick and easy in and out. Jessica walked us right up to this one, and our geocachers eyes went straight to the hidey place. And sure enough -- there it was. Huzzah!

We spent a great deal of time here, climbing around the rocks and really digging the place. It was a beautiful little pond. Nice place to just go for a walk. A lot of mountain bikers though, and in the winter it looks like the home to a New Hampshire based snowmobiling mob, er, club.

Next we went to Norton Cemetery. Like last time when we cached with Xeraphas we had two parking choices. The shorter approach was once again all washed out. The road was impassable, so we hopped back into the truck and approached from the second option.

We were in a newly built residential neighborhood and parked next to an unfinished house that will soon be sold for close to $400,000. There are a ton of ATV trails behind this development, and a good 3/4 of a mile back into these woods there is a small abandoned cemetery. The cache page speaks of the family buried there as having been wiped out in a year from disease.

We lost the trail at one point, and looking at the GPS Doug went "as the crow flies" as much as the terrain would let us. The terrain rating on this site was a two, but by losing the trail we turned it into an eleven.

After close to an hour and no cache site in sight, Jessica started to lose it. I can't say as I blame her. We both wore our hiking sandals (hers are Columbia and mine are Ocean Pacific. See banner above) and when you're on the trails sandals are no problem. Off trail though and in the deep bushwhacking, sandals are sucky. And the bugs were very hungry. Very very hungry. Even with our 2000 percent DEET (hyperbole there folks) she was the hors d'ouvre, the entree, the desert and the after dinner mint for a nation of mosquitos.

The cache site showed us no headstones or markers that we could find. There was a giant rock, and we sat on it while Doug did the hunting. I pondered the clue and after a while yelled to him "It's in that tree stump."

And sure enough, there it was. I signed the log book with some snarky comment like "Now, Where's the Beer!?" and we hightailed it off the rock.

We heard ATV'ers and motorbikes, and then saw them whiz by just north, so there was the trail we should have come in on. We soon found that this cache would have been a cake walk if we had managed to stay with the trail. Trucking along, I looked down to my left at one point and lo and behold, there, sitting on a rock, was a can of Bud Light. Unopened. Unmolested. And it was cool to the touch. It had probably fallen out of one of the ATVs that run the trail, and ended up right there for God only knows how long.

But it was there, and it was ours. Doug and I enjoyed sharing this beer, which may have been there since the winter. We even let Geoff have a sip to wet his whistle (we were all so dehydrated, and the water was at the truck because I didn't feel like carrying it this time... duh). The crappy weather prevented this little trail beer from getting all warm and skunky. Huzzah for trail beer!

The point of all this is -- free beer is awesome. And God answers snarky comment prayers. We discovered that there were two possible trails to go in on once we got back to the truck, and the way out was far easier than the way in. Jessica and I walked through streams and flooded parts of the path with our sandals and just didn't care anymore. It felt so cold and so nice on our very sore feet. Tonight, we both used the hand held Homedics massager on each other's feet.

And I have to take the time here and give mad props to my daughter. A year ago, this hike would have resulted in her leaving the family. Or dying. She would have given up and died on this one. Instead, she maintained a steady whine through the last 1/4 of the hike and didn't start crying heartily until we were 400 feet from the location, instead of 1/2 a mile from the location.

I'm seeing great improvement in her abilities here folks. And, we had to go the same distance out as we did in, but once we were on the nice trails, she was all about kicking ass and hiking. And she was great. I gave her compliments, because to be honest, I would have started crying a lot sooner if I were here. And she didn't. She kept it together and kept going. She earned her "black death" squishy from the Slush Puppy store, and I'm crazy proud of her for doing what she did.

One of my biggest fears with my kids (well, with her really)is we're going to make them rebel in horrible ways. Especially with this outdoors thing. She is going to become one of these nature haters who lives in the city and doesn't care if she never sees another damn tree or hears another bird as long as she lives, as long as she's got cable and squishies. She'll go to raves (if those still are hella popular in 10 years) and she'll hang out with all her urban friends, indoors, with the windows shut. She will be so anti-hiking. She'll take cabs places. All the time. She will cease reading about marine biology and horses. She'll read Ginsburg and Kerouac, but she will never ever ever want that wanderlust to go "on the road" to enter her heart.

I know we're creating that rebel force.

My big hope (contrasted to that big fear) is that she won't. She'll continue to like going outdoors and hiking and going places. Especially now that she's getting better at it. I somehow doubt it. But I can hope.

So here's to Jessica. Best Geocacher Ever.

I'm really worried about Kinger tonight. All told I think the total hiking mileage we did with the 3 caches was about 4 or so miles. But that last cache was hard on us all, and he rock climbed, and he kicked ass. He's very sore. He can't get up when he's on the hardwood floor. I almost had to help him but he managed. He didn't want to go out and pee for his before bed walkabout. He stood on the porch and waited for Jack.

Jack could go out right now and do all four or more miles of what we did today, right now. He's all set. He's healed amazingly from the accident a month ago... but he'll sleep really well tonight.

Alright... so I wanted to get sleepy and less jacked up, and I am. Tomorrow should be fun. It is my boss' birthday and I suggested we all go out for lunch. I'm going to stop and get her a card on my way in. Yes, I'm a suck up and a brown nose.

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