Saturday, September 28, 2013


High on a north ridge of the Wooster Memorial (Spangler) Park Sue pauses to enjoy the late summer sun as it dapples the forest floor of this 350+ acres of plush woodland.  The park is laced with some 7 miles of challenging hiking trails and bisected by a gently flowing stream which, over geologic time, is likely a tool Mother Nature used to carve it's chiseled topography.

Today the park boasts 17 geocaches; all tucked invisibly and playing hide and seek with cachers like us and our friends the Meinzers, who after two, near day-long exhaustive visits and mile upon mile of hiking-searching, have managed to find 12 of the little treasurers.

The remaining five, all spaced at least 1/10th of a mile apart will nudge us toward a future expedition of savoring nature's visual communion in this nugget of public land.

In an earlier caching outing Sue and I came upon this tombstone which celebrates the all-too-brief life of a youngster who evidently found passion and likely noteworthy achievement on the baseball field.

I found myself wishing I could have seen him play while hoping Heaven rewards him far beyond what life had to offer.

Pro-creation, praying mantis style:  These two insects (below) found themselves smack dab in the middle of the B&O Bicycle Trail during their amorous exertions while we wandered by on yet another caching outing.

Note the wary expression of the lower creature for which I apologized profusely.

Moments later Sue and I went on our way and immediately bumped into another couple of cachers who happened to be from the Columbus area.  Nearly as quickly, and to our total amazement, they inquired if we were known in caching circles as the Skagways; which happens to be correct.

Turns out they also do some snow-birding in our Florida town; just a half-mile or so up the road, in fact, and they recognized us from our pictures in our geocaching log postings on-line.  Needless to say we are in the process of cementing our connection and looking forward to shared caching outings with them in the sunny south.

As we wandered back toward the parking area, Sue exclaimed, "What was that?"  I heard it too, a strange noise coming from the near-by brush.  It sounded like an aggressive human trying to clear his throat, or maybe a grunt through a very moist nasal passage.

While Sue turned to take a closer look I noticed a white tail deer in the same brushy area.  I was reminded it was approaching the season for their rut, and suggested to Sue this might not be either the time or place for excess curiosity.

I could picture an agitated buck deer blasting out of the bushes and encouraging our immediate departure.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


We rolled easily over the gentle hill in the country road and right there it was; a Bald Eagle.

Eating road kill.

I was, regardless, enchanted by the very sight of our majestic National Bird.

Then felt a quiver of dread.

Could I be witnessing a hint of our country's future?

Orwellian! you gasp dismissively.  Just turn off the electric in this country for a week or so.  Imagine everything grinding to a halt.  You can hardly conceive the anarchy that would soon follow.

Are we, once a beacon of hope to the struggling masses of the world, condemning ourselves to the despair of rooting in carrion for survival?

Currently the political elite infesting our national government seems hell-bent on bombing Syria senseless.

Do we risk igniting the cauldron of world war in the Middle East while at the same time seeming to find it impossible to extract ourselves from the killing fields of Afghanistan while the majority of
world leaders and our own population seem to find the thought outrageous.

Who anointed us as the world's policeman?

We have imposed upon ourselves by our own free choice a government that already has condemned our grandchildren to suffering a debt load and the consequences thereof, that defy comprehension.

We were a beacon to the world's infirm who could find comfort in the dream of repaired health in the then finest system of care in the world, ours, now being described as a train-wreck about to happen.

What about answers on Benghazi and Fast and Furious.  And the IRS and revealed others leading the Washington herd as it gallops our Constitutional rights into smithereens.

How about the twin monsters of unchecked, illegal immigration and jihad?

This cumulative morass makes Watergate seem like a junior high school prank.
God bless the carrion eaters of the natural order.

It was simply a sad experience to be reminded a Bald Eagle was naturally among them.

...and a horror to visualize that metaphorical hint of what may lie ahead.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Bellville Style

With a roaring snarl the 163rd edition of the Bellville World's Fair came to life Sunday with the highly popular tractor pull rattling the south end of town.

Official opening of the town's annual homecoming happened early Wednesday evening with a presentation of colors by the local American Legion color guard and a moment of silence on the village green as the town remembered the jihad horror of that September 11th,  12 years ago.

Then, the comfortable sense of corn-fed Americana kicked in as children romped on the grass while seven of the valley's finest young women vied through the final stage of the fair queen contest.

The midway, stretching most of the length of Main St., was a cacophony of noise as game vendors hustled their bucks and the growing crowd sashayed this way and that sharing constant greetings--with everyone!

The south end of Main St., was anchored by straw filled tent-barns where pigs squealed, ducks quacked and rabbits suffered the indignity of the judge's probing fingers while the young FFA showmen and women shivered silently with private dreams of that much deserved blue ribbon.

There were canned veggies, baked pies, flower arrangements and a gourd nearly 6 feet long on display here and there and a presentation of art and photography by the valley's artisans in the public library.

The aroma of fair food assaulted the palate and vendors in the Merchant's Tent assaulted passing visitors with an endless assortment of give-a-ways.

Anchoring the village square was a long table featuring the products of the  locally dominant industry--agriculture--with a poignant sign declaring "...and God created a Farmer."

Fair week will end Saturday night as raucous crowds ricochet their final trip down the midway, then, overnight the magic of fair week will, simply,  disappear.

Sunday the local fire department will hose the streets clean and town's folk will turn their attention to other serious concerns of the new day--like beginning to plan for the town's World Fair number 1 6 4.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Ohio River, Pomeroy, Meigs County

We headed for that (not-close-to-anywhere) Appalachian slice of Ohio on an early morning recently.  It was the start of a sweep of geocaching that ultimately would net us 7 new caches but, most importantly, two new counties in our quest for a cache in each of Ohio's 88 of them.

You just do not go to Meigs county in ordinary travel around the state...which makes it, of course, my kind of place!

Pomeroy is a riverfront village and the county seat of Meigs County with a population of 1852 souls.  Most of us have lived in neighborhoods with that many people.

The photo above was done in a town park looking straight south.  That's West Virginia in the background across this narrow neck of navigable river downstream from Parkersburg.

After scoring a cache in this little park and wringing the dew out of our shoes we headed back north and spent nearly an hour and a half on backroads where we went most of that time without seeing another car.

As you can see from this pic of our car GPS some of the gravel roads had quaint names.  After pondering this name I readied the camera for instant action in the event a bear did, indeed, decide to do some roadway wallowing.

The closest we came was a huge doe whitetail deer which sluiced down a steep hill and crossed closely in front of us on the way to join a regiment of her pals munching in a forest clearing just below us.

I wondered if that deer even remembered the last car that passed by.

We wound up meandering through Amesville in Athens County; a town best known as the site of the historic, Coonskin Library.  Settlers there in the early 1800s trapped fur-bearing animals as a means of both livelihood and sustenance.  They then sent a courier back east with a batch of fur hides where he sold the hides and used the proceeds to buy some 70 books.

They were the stock of the region's first public library--hence the name "Coonskin".

Somewhere along our route down there--and I haven't the foggiest idea where--we came across this horribly defiled, yet colorful, covered bridge:

It amazes me these hooligans were able to acquire the wide array of spray-paint colors used in this artsy vandalism.  Maybe by mailorder.
Our final treat of this adventuresome day occurred in McConnelsville where an actual working lock remains as a remnant of the Ohio-Erie Canal which, in its heyday stretched from Cleveland to the Ohio River.

Lock Technician, George Parker (left), while walking small circles around the black bar's gear axis, muscles the lock gates open or closed as necessary.  A vessel coming up the river would pull into the empty lock and the doors would be closed.

Then water from the higher, upstream river would be allowed to flow into the lock cavity, filling it and raising any craft in the lock to the higher level of the river.  When water reached that level, the upper doors would be opened and the vessel could continue its journey.

 A small, maintenance dredge (lower) has just been dropped from the higher, upstream side and is making its way out the lower end of the lock.  Only one door had to be opened to accomodate the beam of the dredge.

You can see by the water mark on the lock wall how much this vessel was lowered.  That vertical distance equals the amount of vertical height the river falls in this area with its impounding waterfall.

In its heyday this river system was a principal means of transportation.  That was through much of the 1800s but the railroads were churning their way west and taking the hauling business away from the much slower waterway system.  By the early 1900s the waterways were mostly out of business.

That part of our transportation history was eliminated entirely when a flood in 1913 destroyed much of the waterway infrastructure and the smaller river systems were relegated to handling mostly small boat traffic, just like this one today.

We left George sharing mutual smiles.  As we were telling him about our geocaching outing his smile led to the revelation we were standing quite close to a cache--right there.  He gave Sue a couple of hints as to its location while I was demonstrating how we found these things with a smartphone app.

Soon, we knew from Sue's happy squeal she had been successful.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013


The small photo right is a view of the lower part of the slit in the tree above where countless honey bees were doing their thing--naturally; creating a honeycomb full of that marvelous, yummy, product that will sustain the hive during the winter ahead.

We had just found a geocache hidden in another tree immediately adjacent to this hive when lots of flying bee activity directed my attention to the swarm's location.

We paid the activity careful attention while we signed the geocache's log and returned it to its hide, did a wee bit of photo work then left the bees to their honey-making/storing activity.

Meanwhile, we noticed the white slab seemingly appended to the lower left of the hive tree.  That evidently was the top of a tombstone which the tree had grown around, moving the top portion of the grave marker upward with the tree's growth.

We did not examine the stone's remainder closely in wise deference to the bee activity which, through that point, was tolerant of our presence.

This cemetery was in Union County, northwest of Columbus.