Sunday, November 30, 2008

Adventure....Part Two

When we last left off we had just finished mountain climbing at a nearby state park in search of the illusive geocache. Six miles up and down hills with no paths and we were ready for more.

There was another hidden treasure a few miles away so we jumped into the truck and headed out for part of the Swan Lake Wildlife Refuge about two miles from our home.

We parked the truck and headed off into the woods. Hmmm, this was beginning to look like the experience we just had at the last place we searched. We kept going and adjusted our path a bit and determined the location must be across a gravel road and up some BIG hills.

Up the hills we climbed, or crawled at times. It finally leveled out and the GPS was counting down....10 feet, 9 feet, 8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1....Will you look at that....I think we found something!

Yup....this is what we were looking for.

Ah yes...success...I felt good!

By now the shadows were starting to get long and the sun was making it's way down past the horizon so we thought it prudent to head back through the woods so we could get back to the truck before dark. The coyotes were starting their nightly serenade so we knew it was time.

All total, we hiked 9.63 miles and in spite of that, we felt pretty good.

Tune in again soon for another edition of "Now What Are They Doing?"

Saturday, November 29, 2008


As you may have read in the last blog, we purchased a handheld GPS unit for geocaching. I am not sure we knew what we were getting ourselves into!

I have seen the advertisements saying "for fun and exercise, get into geocaching." Also..."It is a great way to get exercise and discover new areas."

Now wait just a second here! I claim false and misleading advertising.

Please allow me to explain.

OK, the day after Thanksgiving we decided not to participate in the carnage exhibited at the stores. Heck, if I wanted to get beat up like that, I just would have gone to work. At least I would be covered under workers compensation.

Anyway, We looked at geocaches in our area and read that one was located in Minneopa State Park just a few miles from our home. I downloaded the coordinates into the GPS and struck out for a leisurely day in the park.

Well, so we thought. We stopped at the Ranger's office and purchased a new annual park permit seeing how ours expired last month. I asked the ranger if the cache was still out in the park and he said "I think so". I should have had my suspicion hat on at that point.

So we left the station and turned on the GPS thinking this would be easy. We walked about a half mile and the GPS was counting down....20 get the idea. When we arrived at the spot we could not find the green ammo can that was the cache. Man, we must have looked like old people searching for shells on the beach as we wandered in circles for over a half hour.

At that point, we headed back to the Ranger Station to tell him the ammo box was missing. He looked up and said, did you find the big kiosk that had glass on all four sides with park rules and colorful posters? Well, yes we did Mr. Park Ranger and there was no ammo box anywhere within a quarter mile radius of it.

That is when he took off his cap and wiped his brow saying " yuh know, everyone has trouble with that out here. You have to go the kiosk and there is a little piece of paper displayed among the colorful posters giving you the coordinates to the site."

Now what is that all about? The coordinates are listed on the website and there is no mention of the fact that this is a multi step process.

He had the upper hand as he was wearing a badge so I decided not to give him grief.

So off we treked, another half mile back to our starting point. So we hiked one and a half miles so far and we had not really even started. From that site we loaded in the new coordinates manually, after reading the instruction book for about a half hour. Off we went following the pointer on the GPS.

Now this looked really easy, given the fact that there were no hints, just the latitude and longitude. The machine said .48 miles to the cache. We went by some great waterfalls and LOTS of steps up and down. Pictures will follow the story.

It looked like we were going in a circle and the numbers were not decreasing. The trails were leaf covered and slippery with some huge drop offs to the rocks below. After a while (two miles) we thought we would take off through the woods and cut some time off. So we scaled hills that were a good 60 degrees up. Now that can be a challenge through dense brush, leaves and trees. It was kind of like driving in the mountains, you cross one pass and then there is another. Being the adventures we are, we trudged ahead and finally heard sounds of civilization again. Oh my God, we are entering the human race again. We saw a highway! What the hell, this was highway 99 that turns into highway 169/60 leading to Lake Crystal, Minnesota. At least we were still in Minnesota!

After considering three options, we headed off again. What three options you ask?

1. Call our son to pick us up...nope, don't like to admit failure.
2. Head off back into the woods and hope for the best.
3. Throw ourselves off the cliff.

We decided on option number two.

So back into the dense forest we went. Every step we took was a challenge with the picker bushes that seemed to wrap around us in hopes of squeezing the little life we had left out of us.

To make a long story short, we found our way through Minnesota's version of the Amazon and found familiar surroundings.

After composing ourselves, we thought that since we had come this far perhaps we could re-group and find the cache. We studied the GPS and struck out again. After about a quarter mile the trail ended and was blocked off because of a washout. We detoured around it and kept going. Finally, common sense took hold and we discoved that we were not getting closer so we doubled back and found our truck.

Now after an experience like that one would think that alcohol would become involved. Nope, we sat in the truck and ate turkey and stuffing sandwiches!

After six very difficult miles you would think we would be totally turned off with this "fun and exciting" adventure. Nope, we actually felt good afterwards. We got some really good exercise and saw some beautiful scenery.

During this ordeal we took some pictures for you to enjoy.

Sue moving leaves with her walking stick looking for ammo box.

Standard state park building

Some of the Falls

Other Pictures of the Park

In spite of the near death experiences we encountered in this park, we did have a grand time.

As if we didn't have enough of this monkey business, we took off on another adventure once we let the park.

To find out more you will have to join us again soon for another adventure of "Now What Are They Doing?"

Friday, November 28, 2008

Geo What?

For the past several years we have been following along the sport of geocaching.

Basically, people hide stuff and post the location coordinates on the internet and with a handheld GPS you go looking for the hidden item.

Once you find the item, you sign the log and put the "cache" back for another person to find. You can hide your own if you wish.

This has become extremly popular as there are over 800,000 hidden around the world. Just within a ten mile radius of our home there are hundreds hidden.

We have an early Christmas present to ourselves that we just had to open. In fact, Sue's best friend Beth, forked over some pretty heavy cash months ago to help purchase the GPS.

We got a pretty good one with lots of bells and whistles. Now the big project will be to learn all the functions.

Pinpoint Your Location — and Direction
With the GPSMAP 60CSx, you can find your way in almost any conditions:

High-sensitivity GPS receiver gives you improved satellite reception even in heavy tree cover or deep canyons
Barometric altimeter provides extremely accurate elevation data
Electronic compass can determine your heading and direction, even when you're standing still
IPX7 waterproof case can withstand an accidental dunk in the water and still perform
Large, color TFT display makes viewing the screen easy, day or night
Built-in Americas autoroute basemap, including highways, exits and tide data, gives you automatic, turn-by-turn directions
Add More Detail
The 60CSx comes with a blank 64 megabyte (MB) microSD card, so you can store extra maps from optional MapSource® mapping software. Just connect to your computer with the USB cable, and you can load map data or transfer routes and waypoints. You can even purchase microSD cards that are preloaded with MapSource maps, which means you don't have to connect to your computer. The microSD card slot is located inside the waterproof battery compartment, so you never have to worry about water getting inside.

Our oldest son Ben came over Wednesday afternoon and showed me how to work the basic functions of the unit. We also downloaded the coordinates of a cache that was located about a mile from the house. The mile was "as the crow flies" so we took some back roads as far as we could then walked a short distance to the prize area.

This was a cool adventure. First off, Ben and I had the opportunity to do something together..I alway enjoy that.

The road leading to the cache was a minimum maintance road and was deeply rutted. Good thing we had a four wheel drive to get through.

It was really out in the middle of nowhere.

The gps coordinates get you close to the cache, then you have to look for the item with hints if they were provided. The cache hider said that "rock and roll is here to stay". Hey.....I see some rocks!

And a barrel...Hmmmm, Rock and roll? A barrel rolls! We looked inside and guess what we found?

Inside the cache we found a "traveling bug" that is been moved all over the country. It started out in Michigan several years ago and has been hidden and re-hidden all over the country. The last time it was found was in Florida. Someone moved it here recently and we found it. Now it is up to us to hid it again and keep the bug traveling.

This was a lot of fun. When we returned home we loged in to the geocaching site and reported our findings. We also loaded in three more sites we are going to explore this weekend.

We need all the excercise we can get after all the food we consumed on Thanksgiving!

Tune in again soon for another edition of "Now What Are They Doing?"

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Fly Turkey...Fly

Did you know that Minnesota produces more turkeys than any other state? I am talking about the birds...not people, thank you very much.

We started the day getting our 18.75 pound bird ready for the roaster...Sue caught the bird just in time as it looked like it wanted to fly away.

Sue caught it in time and we wrestled it into the roaster for its five hour tanning session.

Of course, no meal is complete without a stuffed bird PLUS a big pot of stuffing. I sure hope four bags will be enough!


Of course we had to make the pies...Three should do it.

The table was set and we were almost ready for the crew to arrive.

There were six of us for supper. Sue's folks Molly and Harv and our son Ben and his wife Anna.

The food was fantastic and the company even more so.

I am so full and can hardly type so I had better go now.

Tune in again soon for another edition of "Now What Are They Doing?"

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Well here we go, another excuse to over eat. My favorite thing to do.

I suppose I could write some serious or somber message about the real meaning of Thanksgiving, but I won't.

Instead, how about we commerate the holiday with pictures!

I changed my mind, I will publish a few words about the day.

May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have never a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!


Tune in again soon for another edition of "Now What Are They Doing?"

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Turkey On Sunday...Part Two

Thanks for stopping back in. When we last left off, we were reviewing the event with pictures and a few words.

As promised, here are a few more pictures and words for your total enjoyment and possibly amazement.

What a bunch of hams...everyone seemed to enjoy getting their pictures taken.

Do any of these pictures disturbe you? After a while, you get used to it.

As I always say, you never know what you are going to see when you stop in.

There we have it. A great group of people who had a wonderful time. If I did not get your picture, sorry. Don't think that I thought the picture was so bad that I wouldn't use it. Believe me, I love to post pictures that are less than perfect. :)

So long for now. Please tune in again real soon for another edition of "Now What Are They Doing?"

Monday, November 24, 2008

Turkey On Sunday

What another great day we had this past Sunday in St. Peter,MN. No, not at the state hospital for the insane, but now that I think about it, some of the family I do question.
Sue's family met at her brother's home. Chris and Joyce have a beautiful home and everyone always enjoys themselves.
Of course we have pictures....

Did I mention the food? Oh man, what a feast. Chris made a turkey in the fryer and as usual, it was perfect. Along with "the bird" we had everything imaginable. I guess this was a dress rehersal for this Thursday and Thanksgiving.

More pictures? Here you go.....

What a great looking group of people! I am not just saying that because I fear that if I tic them off, they may not feed me anymore.

I have more pictures and words for you, but I will save them for another day when you check in to see "Now What Are They Doing?"