Saturday, November 21, 2015



LEON and the CAT

We encountered this rock formation while geocaching in the back country of northeastern Licking County.  The cache container was a pill bottle wrapped in camouflaged tape and stuck in a crack near Sue's foot.   Like all traditional geocaches it contained a log we signed to prove our hunt's success.

Someone had painted a mouth and a couple of beady eyes on the rock which someone else evidently thought looked like a cat.  To me, it looked like the head of a giant catfish petrified for eternity.

Actually the stone is likely a slump block, as a geologist might explain.  A ridge of higher rocks behind my camera's angle of view could be the heavily eroded remnants of plate tectonics, the movements of the earth's crust over geologic times, wherein the collision of two continents along what we now know as our country's east coast, formed the Appalachian Mountains.

Those mountains originally rivaled the Rocky Mountains in size but the soft sandstone has eroded to the miniature remnant we see today.  Underlying rock eroded away more quickly than harder formations above which eventually caused a collapse in the formation leaving us with these "slump blocks" which tumbled and arranged themselves in peculiar locations.

So, to the casual observer we have a fanciful and imaginative stone.  If one's curiosity ranges above mere imagination, you could be enjoying something far more historically intensive than a smiling visage of a feline.

Still curious?  Pangea





Saturday, November 7, 2015


OHIO STATE CHAMPIONS!
Lexington High School Ladies Cross Country Team

Mackenna Curtis-Collins (standing atop #4 above) sneaks a peek as coach Benson (right) waves a championship salute while they are announced at the event in Hebron, OH today.  The girls, who finished second in last year's championship event by an extremely small margin, demolished the
competition this year with a score twice as fast as the 2nd place team.

That's a very proud grandma with the new champion (right), my lady Sue Brooks.

 An impromptu victory lap! ...as the champtionship trophy begins it way home.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015


MOTORCYCLES AND...
Summer's final romp (maybe)

Son Brian and I meandered gently over 145 miles of Ohio's country roads in today's beautiful but waning days of summer.

Here we are paused at the Chambers Road covered bridge in northeastern Delaware County.  This truss-style bridge was built in 1883 and continues to serve traffic on this bucolic country road.

From here we temporarily endured the mayhem of I-71 traffic for a lunch hook-up with Brian's bride Kate and son Dane in Fredericktown where after lunch we treated ourselves to a visit to the village gun shop.

Felt bad about that with Brian's wife and son having to head back to work while we continued our scholarly journey.  

From there we roamed the back roads to Danville for a peek at that town's gun shop which a friendly clerk described as Danville's answer to Cabelas.  Yup, that fits.

Just south of Danville we enjoyed a refreshing pause at the Honey Run Creek Park which hosts the
only natural waterfall in Knox County.  From there we ricocheted back through Danville to Brinkhaven which hosts Ohio's longest covered bridge coined the Bridge of Dreams.

Click here for some earlier blog stories on this marvelous structure.

This bridge (below) is so long a telescope would be handy to see folks at the other end.


Alas, while the day was mimicking mid-summer, failing light was chasing the sun into the western sky and we headed for the barn, so to speak.  Besides, looking down from the side of this towering structure was making me dizzy (below).  Some would say "dizzier".


Those are our two motorcycles parked between the vehicles viewed from far above and with a slight dose of Photoshop applied.

Two covered bridges, two boy's toy stores, lunch with family, one waterfall and nearly 150 miles of mostly gentle meandering on colorful country roads, it just doesn't get much better than that!




  

Tuesday, November 3, 2015



NASA'S SUPER GUPPY--

I asked the uniformed guy just inside the fence at Mansfield Lahm Airport today if he knew any of the specifications on the huge airplane that arrived in town Monday morning.

"T'is a big one, sure 'nuf," he opined.

I guess that about sums it up.

Turns out the airplane was acquired from the European Space Agency in a barter agreement where NASA took ownership of the plane in return for carrying ESA equipment to the International Space Station in two (then) future space shuttle flights.

This aptly named behemoth of an airplane has a cargo compartment that is 25 feet high, 25 feet wide and 111 feet long.  It has a weight carrying capacity of more than 26 tons.
 
You can see the seam in the above photo where the nose area is hinged and can roll open 200 degrees toward the camera's view on the nose wheel to allow unobstructed access for loading and unloading.

The small photo (right) from NASA shows the nose opened on an earlier model and a loading/unloading platform handling two small NASA jets.

The plane was here to offload future space mission equipment that will be trucked to NASA-Sandusky for further fabrication.  







Friday, October 23, 2015


SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE--

The conservatives in the US House of Representatives finally got rid of the soon to be x-Speaker. Now it appears the GOP majority is about to elect a new speaker endorsed by Sen. Harry Reid.

God help us!

Monday, October 19, 2015


75 LAPS AROUND THE SUN--

Good grief.  How many miles would that be?  The sun is about 93 million miles from Earth so that would be the radius of a very large circle.  The formula for determining the circumference of a circle is Pi times the diameter.

So, the circumference of our very large circle would be 93 million miles X 2 or 186 million miles X Pi.  Let's use the short form of 3.14.  That's close enough for our purposes.  So, that leaves us with 186 x 3.14 or 584--million miles.

That's how many miles I've traveled while hitching a ride on Earth as it has circled the sun for those 75 years since my birth.

No wonder I feel a bit tired once in awhile.

Now that I think of it,wouldn't it be great to convert that into a frequent-flyer reward!


At a more pedestrian level my bicycling-birdwatching-geocaching-kayaking friend Greg hopped enthusiastically on the thought of riding our bicycles 75 miles one day to celebrate my then approaching 75th birthday.

After all I did 65 miles then 70 miles to celebrate those birthdays.  Completely forgetting I am not getting any younger as these years roll along, I did not discourage his enthusiasm.

Woe is me.

Yup, we gave it a shot--and, to my surprise, did manage to pedal ourselves 55 miles that day on the local bike trail.  We both had some energy left but I was about out of gas and the end that usually follows him around was complaining too.

So, that ended that.

But, as my birthday continued to creep up on me my son Brian proposed we do a fairly hefty ride on our motorcycles.  A sunny day presented itself and we meandered around the Ohio backroads, mostly in Amish country for about 130 miles.

Ignoring the fact this latest 2-wheeler had a throttle, I felt perfectly exonerated from that measly 20 mile failure in our bicycling challenge.

That evening at our student's square dancing lessons my birthday continued its celebration with a boatload of hugs and handshakes when my birthday was recognized publicly.  The very next morning Sue and I joined Mark and Nancy Meinzer (above) in that amazing, geocaching outing in Wapakoneta discussed in the previous story.  Saturday night Sue treated me to dinner at a local, Italian restaurant then the musical "Singing in the Rain", on stage at the Mansfield OSU campus.  The celebration continued Sunday with a visit with Sue's sister in Newark where Patsy treated me to a yummy steak dinner.

Leave it to me to screw up this delightful chain of celebratory events--by scheduling some car repair work on Monday's actual anniversary of my birth.  When the young lady at the car doctor's office offered me an appointment that day, I took it, being completely unmindful the day had some other significance attached.

Now, let me see; where did I put that list of frequent-flyer reward offers. 



  


Sunday, October 18, 2015



THE TEMPLE OF TOLERANCE--


The mystique of Stonehenge is alive and well in a quiet residential neighborhood of Wapakoneta, OH where an unbelievable collection of boulders from geologic time anchors this reverent assembly of folklore whose ultimate meaning is left to the scholarly instincts of the beholder.

During our geocaching visit we had the marvelous experience of a rambling discussion of his creation with the creator; James R. Bowsher, Writer - Archaeologist - Folklore Collector - Lecturer and Master of his assemblage of antiquities, geologic and otherwise; where a nudge of pious reflection oozes from--everywhere!

As he described the assembly of rocks, many of unfathomable weight, my thoughts wandered to construction techniques from antiquity where "machinery" consisted of ropes, rollers and ingenuity uncommon in today's understanding of such things.

His temple includes an aging residential structure and some equally geriatric outbuildings, all adorned with relics of the past.  It's a stone garden confined within an antique, wrought-iron fence, with cubbyholes begging for discovery around every corner.  

We were there hunting for clues that would lead us to a geocache container and our hobby's reward of discovery; vastly exceeded by our sense of discovery in absorbing the meaning of Jim's creation.

Jim admitted having no formal, scholarly acclaim but I chose to think of his life's PhD being in the form of pious, geologic philosophy...

...with a great sense of humor as evidenced by this jarring artifact hanging from the eaves:




Photos:  Sue (top) ponders the grand-daddy of backyard stonework.  Jim (top left) creator.  Mark Meinzer (right) who with wife Nancy were our caching companions for this expedition, and (lower) this grand-daddy of conflicted meaning.

     

Wednesday, September 2, 2015




U.S. NAVY BAND CONCERT
and a wee bit of geocaching, of course

The high-voltage US Navy band Cruisers performed their first traveling concert of the season in downtown Akron recently.  They are described as the "...Navy's premier contemporary entertainment ensemble" and most certainly lived up to that billing in their performance.

Band members are setting up their equipment in Akron's Lock 3 Park outdoor Amphitheater (above).  Patrons set up their lawn chairs on the grassy area which was packed by showtime that evening.

Navy veteran and friend Mark Meinzer explained band members attend naval boot camp as recruits
but upon graduation are immediately advanced to the rank of first class petty officer from which they advance in their navy band careers.

Leading the band is drummer and senior chief musician Leon Alexander shown to the left of the female band member in the official navy portrait (right) where band members are presented in their navy blue uniforms.  They did Akron's show in their summer white uniforms.

Click here for their official web site and schedule of all navy band performances.

While enjoying the show's recorded music prelude we discovered there was a geocache in this very park.  (You may remember it was the Meinzers--Mark and Nancy--who introduced Sue and me to this delightful activity).

The photo below reveals the cache location which was about 200 feet or so to the left of the area visible in our lead photo:



There is a blue kiosk visible in the left-center area above.  Sue is barely visible standing where we found the cache in a magnetic container on the metal railing.  The robust splash of water is in the course of the original Ohio & Erie Canal now flowing among and under downtown buildings.

Also joining us in this magical, summer evening were our good friends and chauffeurs, Don and Roberta Karger.


Tuesday, September 1, 2015



ON THE ROAD AGAIN--

Left home Monday, 8/31 for a geocaching romp through a slice of western Ohio  We are working on caching in each of Ohio's 88 counties and trying to cache in at least 55 of her state parks along the way.

Managed to add 6 counties and two state parks this outing and rolled into my home driveway early that evening with exactly 350 new miles on the odometer.

Over in Paulding County we encountered this tree, representative of a species that chooses to discourage geocaching.  A search of my Audubon field guide suggests this might be a Honey Locust but I certainly will yield to a more informed opinion.

Our favorite stop was in Bellefontaine where the very first, concrete street in America is located.

Yup, a very enterprising fellow named George Bartholomew in the late 1800's was experimenting with a mineral he had found in abundance near Bellefontaine.  He thought it could cure the muddy quagmire that plagued local streets after every rain.

He presented his "mudstone" idea to city council but they were very skeptical of Mr. B's creation.  After all, no other successful samples of artificial stone pavements could be found--anywhere!  Finally, council authorized the test "paving" of the square around the courthouse.  They also required Mr. B to donate the "cement" and post a $5,000 bond that guaranteed the pavement would last 5 years.

That was in 1891.  The pavement remains in use to this day.

 
That's Sue admiring Mr. B's memorial with my silver car parked in the immediate background of Court Ave., which continues to serve as the street and and parking area south of the county courthouse.

We certainly wish the town's fathers would consider converting this historic site into a pedesterial boulevard, this preserving it from future automotive damage.

Several weeks back we were caching in Elyria's Cascade Park, the south end of which offers a
miniature version of the geologic features common to the Hocking Hills in Central Ohio. Sue (right) is looking for a cache in the remnants of an ice-age waterfall site high above the current river level. The huge stones are slump-blocks.  They once formed an elongated overhang over which the water fell and dissolved softer stone below over geologic time until the upper rocks collapsed of their own, unsupported weight.
Shortly after the Elyria experience we were caching in the rural hills of Tuscarawas County and discovered a delightfully natural rock formation totally hidden from the view of a nearby county road intersection and totally undeveloped commercially.
It was an acre or two in size and was a labyrinth of overhang-tunnels, cracked rock paths and randomly explorable geology that man would be hard pressed to duplicate.  We didn't find the cache that was hidden here, largely, I suspect, because I became a kid again and was lost in purely, imaginative exploration.

That's Sue peeking around a corner where our random wandering just happened to provide this encounter.  Finally we reoriented our bearings and made our way out of this forest-enveloped stone theater of natural creation. 

May the curiosity regarding what is around the next corner never cease.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015



MOTHER NATURE'S PALETTE--

This terrific rainbow sparkled across Ontario, Ohio's late afternoon skies late yesterday afternoon; the northern half of its arc, (left) from our perspective, dancing on the roof of the Meijer store.  A hint of a double rainbow is barely visible top right.

The aerial performance was viewed near the intersection of Lexington-Springmill and Walker Lake Roads.

 
 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015



GEOCACHE KAYAKING AT COWAN LAKE

Greg and Leslie (orange kayaks) prepare their lunch stop while Bill Niehoff heads for his shoreline lunch-munch mooring.  We were about half-way through a string of 11 geocache hides, mostly in overhanging cedar trees, retrievable without leaving our spiffy little boats.

We wound up, on this near perfect summer day, with 100% success enjoying this aquatic geotrail which covered nearly 3 miles of shoreline on this southern Ohio state park lake.

The cache containers were mostly small, weatherproof tubes fastened to tree and brush branches with plastic wire ties.  They all contained small, rolled-up logs on waterproof paper which we signed "K4" to prove our success.

Greg and Leslie are known by the caching name "GOC+me".  Bill is "Lighthouse Nut" and I am "Skagway330".  We shortened all that to the day's team name K4 (kayaks 4) to preserve space on the small logs.

Terry, Leslie and Bill celebrating the caching conclusion at the marina (left); photo with Greg's compliments.

Monday, July 27, 2015



MAY SHE REST IN PEACE

Mary Kellogg 
Born A Slave
Died Free

We encountered this ground-level headstone in the Westwood Cemetery, Oberlin, OH; a town with a deep history of supporting the Abolitionist Movement in our country's early history and the attendant Underground Railroad which gave slaves access to the potential of freedom while fleeing to the North.

I pondered her grave and shivered a quiet chill of thankfulness for all the Mary's of her period who escaped the contemptible evil of that time in our country's past.

*            *            * 

We were visiting Oberlin while enjoying a geocaching trail presented by the Lorain County tourist bureau featuring historical and cultural highlights of that lakefront county west of Cleveland.

Just days later we had the challenging experience (below) while hiking our way back to civilization while caching near the Harding Presidential Memorial in Marion, OH.


Our activity of geocaching continues to provide experience uncommon to folks our age who are confined to or simply prefer pursuits of a more pedestrian nature.  We are grateful for that with each new day's caching adventure.

With respect in this case, of course, to Mary and The President.



 



 

Friday, July 17, 2015




A WEE CELEBRATION
Geocaching style

We had just finished a celebratory meal along the Little Miami Scenic Trail near Morrow, OH when my teammates determined a picture was in order.  Thas's Leslie Cornet (left) showing 3 fingers, Bill Niehoff showing 5 fingers, Bill's wife Diane and my lady Sue Brooks both with zeros; collectively representing my new total of caches found--3,500.

Leslie's hubby Greg was doing the photo duty.

The day's count of caches found was 19.  Added to my then balance of 3,481 added up to the above total I had logged as we ended that day's bicycle caching along this very beautiful trail in Southern Ohio.

It's fun to note the end of my third year of geocaching would occur in the week following this outing.

In the lower picture we had paused along the trail just south of where it passes under I-71 high above where that super highway crosses the Little Miami River valley.  Said to be the highest bridge in Ohio it currently is being doubled in width with a second span paralleling the original bridge deck.

Standing on the bike trail you would need a telescope to identify any of the workers.

Conversely, riding that scenic trail was a peaceful oasis from the noisy mayhem of that super highway travel far above.

Thanks "Bike6" the name we had assumed for the day to save space in signing the cache logs.

I thought that was much better than something involving "Old Fogeys" that I heard mentioned as we grappled for our day's team name.   

 

 

Sunday, July 5, 2015



OHIO'S FIRST STATE ROAD--

If you look closely you will see a street name sign on the south side of SR 39 as it heads east out of Millersburg toward Berlin.  It advertises "Port Washington Rd".  I've been curious about that road name since my days of delivering corrugated products in what is now very well known as Amish territory.

Port Washington,  then and now, after all, is a mere village 26 miles from Millersburg as the crow flys.  If you are inclined to follow the roads you will travel 41 miles.  Yup, roads tend to snake up and down and all around in that neck of the woods.

The second curiosity is how in the heck did it come to be considered "Ohio's First State Road" as announced in the sign above and dozens of others like it along it's route.

Turns out there is a fairly good reason for the name.

The road began as a buffalo trail which the Indians followed when traveling basically north-south in this area.  After Ohio became a state in 1803 Millersburg was first platted as a town in 1815.  Ultimately lots of local farmers began clearing the land and raising both subsistence and marketable crops.

About the same time a canal system was growing across OH and the most convenient one for those local farmers to use passed through Port Washington on its way to the Ohio River.

So, the old buffalo/Indian trail slowly morphed into a road capable of supporting horse-drawn wagons loaded with products headed to far-away markets.

That road continued to be an important link in the local economy and passed through present day Baltic, OH.  When a railroad arrived in Millersburg and Baltic in 1852 the days of canal importance were doomed.

The canals continued to decline in the second half of the 19th Century and were pronounced dead when huge storms in 1913 destroyed most of their infrastructure.

Ironically, all three of those towns, Millersburg, Baltic and Port Washington, failed to ever achieve "city" status and remain villages to this day.

Meanwhile, back to our sign.  History reveals Port Washington Road was the first official state road in Ohio.  It was designated as Road Number 20 by the state on February 6, 1832.

How can it be Road Number 20 and, at the same time, be Ohio's first official road?

My head began to hurt as I ricocheted through web sites in pursuit of that answer.

Good night. 


*            *            *


Still curious?  Here's a detailed description of the current route  Click! in the event you would like to take a ride through incredibly bucolic Amish Country in Holmes and Tuscarawas counties in Ohio.  We did a series of 10 geocaches which largely, but not exactly, followed the route of this road.  Therefore, my field notes do not reveal the actual location of the above picture.    

Tuesday, June 30, 2015



HAVE A CHUCKLE--

The sign at the Bellville Dairy Belle said:
"Definition of a balanced diet--having ice cream in both hands."

Good one!

*            *            *

Then my oldest son shared this one:

"It hasn't been too bad a summer.  Only rained twice so far; once for 32 days and the second for 28 days."

Another Good One!

Sunday, June 7, 2015


RECENT BREAKFAST GUESTS--


A Whitetail Deer doe browses for breakfast in the weeds along the North side of my acre and a half pond.  The dark shapes in the foreground are (left) a leafy tree branch and (right) a cylindrical bird feeder topped with a transparent squirrel guard.  The photo was done through a glass window with a 200mm lens whose shallow depth of focus renders the foreground objects fuzzy.


A Wild Turkey of undetermined gender has been a frequent dining guest in recent weeks.  I was relating that tale to a couple of delivery fellows who were admiring my game-reserve like setting when, almost on queue, this critter or one of his/her pals wandered on stage thus authenticating what I suspected was some skepticism from my human visitors.

While they were ooohing and ahhhing I just smiled.

Saturday, May 23, 2015


HISTORICAL DISCOVERIES--
A delightful benefit of Geocaching

While the huge majority of folks our age likely are dawdling in more pedestrian activities, Geocaching keeps us sailing about where discoveries like this covered bridge are a routine but delightful experience.

This dandy is hidden in plain sight on a rural road in Wyandot County about 8 miles southeast of Upper Sandusky, OH.

It spans the Sandusky River on County Road 130 just south of County Road 62.  More specifically, use the "coordinate" function of your car GPS and insert the following:  N 40 46.227 and W 083 10.142.

Or, take a peek at the Ohio Atlas and Gazetteer, page 47.  You will see a little covered bridge symbol over there to the right in Antrim Township.  You have that publication, don't you!  The Gazetteers of each of our states are the back roads "Bible" for this marvelous country of ours.

The numbers given above are the decimal equivalent latitude and longitude coordinates.  With these numbers we can find (usually) a thimble-sized container deep in the woods somewhere.  As you can then imagine, finding a covered bridge is, comparatively, a piece of cake.

Those numbers represent a very precisely defined point on Earth, in this case 40 degrees and 46.227 minutes North of the Equator and 83 degrees, 10.142 minutes West of the Prime Meridian.

In the era of their popularity, covered bridges were built mostly of wood; then, the principal material of construction.  Since wood tends to rot over time the bridges had to be protected hence the side
walls and roofs.

Often the span was large.  In this case 94 feet.  Since wood is not as strong as steel, the main support design involved trusses, the crisscross shape visible along the sides.  They made up for the relative lack of strength with thickness.  Note the width of the sidewall ends in the top photo. 

The bridge was built in 1878 and rehabilitated in 1994.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

BICYCLING MY AGE IN MILES--

Nearly 10 years ago I hatched the ambitious notion to ride my bicycle 65 miles one day to celebrate my approaching 65th birthday that October.

My son Brian joined me for part of that ride and I still chuckle when he describes his huffin' and puffin' attempt to keep up with the "ole man".

We did that ride on segments of the Richland County B&O Bike Trail which runs 18 miles from Mansfield's North Lake Park to Butler in the bottom, southeast corner of our county.

Just a few months later, it seems, my bicycling friend Ken Johnson, whose birthday is nearly identical to mine in date and age, joined me in a 70 mile ride, also on the local bike trail, to celebrate our mutual 70th birthdays. 

While we were grinding through the final miles of that challenge I wondered how much longer I could possibly continue such bicycling adventures.

The only advantage we granted ourselves on these rides was to select an ideal weather day (dry, mild wind, etc.,) sometime in October before the approaching birthday.  The totals of 65 and 70 miles were done on those single, ideal days.

These rides are just a wee bit short of hopping on your bike and pedaling from Mansfield to Cleveland.

Now, I am very grateful and amazed, actually, to report the 75 mile version is already under consideration for this year.

This notion began to take on life during a casual conversation with my birding/kayaking/hiking/ geocaching/bicycling friend Greg of Sunbury, OH.  Greg and his bride Leslie also winter near us in Vero Beach, FL so we can enjoy our respective pleasures year-round.

"You want to do what," he squawked mildly when the topic came up then promptly suggested we could do it quite nicely by utilizing the Little Miami Scenic Trail which wanders in a continuously paved course from Springfield to Newton, OH (adjacent to Cincinnati).

I was thrilled.  At this age it is difficult to find a riding companion for a spin on local roads.

It also helps a bunch that our support crew, Leslie and Sue, who will drop us off and have promised to pick us up, share Greg's and my mutual interests--and are likely to keep their promise of taxi service.

Sounds like they will be planning a shopping, eating, touristy-like outing somewhere around southwest Ohio as we enjoy the 9 to 12 hours it is expected to take for our ride.

Choosing that venue was a marvelous idea.  It's downhill the whole way; an advantage I find quite appropriate as my 74th trip around the sun is about to conclude.  Stay tuned!





 

 

Friday, May 15, 2015


THAT'S LIFE--

The temperature overnight May 13th was in the mid-30s in OH.  Good grief!

*            *            *

I was shopping at the local Walmart the other day and a woman came zooming around the corner in front of me.  Barely missed colliding with my cart.

"Lady driver" she excused herself as she sailed down the aisle behind me.

Brought a smile to my face!
 
*            *            *
 
I came home from snowbirding over the winter and found a flat tire on my riding tractor/mower.

Called Mid-Ohio Gravely, the implement shop where I bought the then new tractor, and ordered two new tires.  They will be here either Wednesday or Thursday the owner chirped helpfully.

Didn't hear anything Thursday so I called there Friday.

"I vaguely remember your call Mr. Wolf, but I can't find where I placed the order," he explained lamely.  "I usually ask for a credit card number on these orders," he mumbled.

"You didn't ask for my number," I pointed out.

"Hmmmm," he mumbled again.  Then silence.

"Now what," I inquired.

"I can send a new order," he offered.  I gave him the tire specs again and he said,"...they should be in the following week."

After we concluded this phone conversation it occurred to me he still didn't ask for my credit card number.

Avoiding the risk of another phone call I drove out there and presented my card.  Rather than being miffed at his absence of an apology, I restrained myself and left with my fingers crossed the tires would eventually show up.

With springtime's rigorous grass growth I was imagining the guy who was bleeding from his injury and couldn't manage to acquire a bandage.

About two weeks after I noticed the flat tire, my new ones finally arrived, got mounted at Fred's garage and the aging tractor muscled heroically through tall grass almost ready for the combine.

My hypothesis; "Today's standard of excellence is mediocrity" marches on. 

Friday, May 8, 2015


TRAVEL'N ALONG AT A LEISURELY PACE--
Two samples; one with and one without a throttle

We combined bicycles and geocaching on our first outing shortly after returning to OH from FL snowbirding with this perfect, sunny day ride on the Kokosing Gap Trail out of Mt. Vernon.  Seven new hides were there along the way to Gambier and we got all seven in our tune-up outing.

We even added one that had previously eluded us at the Brown Environmental Center down near Kenyon College.  That one had two stages.  First we parked the bikes and hiked a very steep hill to a pine woods up behind the office building.  That little cache container simply had a piece of paper which told us the latitude and longitude of where the final stage was located--also high on the hill.

Sue (above) is enjoying the tranquility of the Kokosing River as it ripples and gurgles beneath the railroad bridge a few miles downriver from the trail head as we rode back toward town.  That's her blue, Sun recumbent tricycle in the foreground and my orange Sun, two-wheel ride in the rear.

Just a few days earlier we trundled leisurely home from our four-month stay in Vero Beach by avoiding the interstate highways as much as possible.  What a marvelous experience which left me wondering why we hadn't done that earlier.

We probably added about a half-day, maybe less, to our travel time in exchange for tranquility similar to our bike ride above on the vast majority of highway miles we traveled.

Gone was the insanity of 75 MPH traffic hanging on our bumper while that driver yacked unconcernedly on it's cell phone.

We traded that roaring scrum of inhumanity for nostalgic sights of the deep south that are blurred into invisibility at super highway speeds.  We traveled mile after mile on sparsely populated, often four-lane highways that once were the mainstays of north-south auto travel.

We hopped on US 23 in the Asheville, NC area, for example, and hopped off in Chilocothe.  We did that to avoid the insanity of Columbus traffic by sliding quietly through Lancaster, Granville and Mt. Vernon.

And, of course, we stopped often to geocache along the way.  That's Sue below on a rainy afternoon in Kingsport, TN where we booked our motel room in mid-afternoon and decided to enjoy the local sights.  She's bending under her white umbrella and pushing into the weedy undergrowth for this cache she found about 50 feet further on. 

How did I manage to avoid this mild downpour while she soldiered on?  Don't know, now that I think about it.  But, such things happen when the fun of the journey exceeds the urge to rocket home on the super highways.



Sunday, May 3, 2015



QUAIL CREEK PLANTATION--
A country club for the shooting set

Life gives us a bonus once in awhile and my most recent one came in the form of a Sporting Clay's shotgun shooting outing at this 5-star facility near Lake Okeechobee in Southern Florida.

Sue has a dandy new friend, Naomi of Cincinnati, OH and for the past several years the two gals have enjoyed a boatload of camaraderie--or whatever ladies call it--at a local arcade in Vero Beach.  Turns out Naomi's hubby Gordon is an accomplished Sporting Clay's shotgunner.

This melded nicely with my strong support of the US Constitution's right to keep and bear arms and led to an invite from Gordon to join he and shooting pal Steve from Michigan's Upper Peninsula for a morning's noisy romp across the plantation's 14 station practice event.

After uncasing a dandy pair of 12 gauge shotguns, a Benelli autoloader and a Winchester over and under, dumping a box or so of cartridges in handy belt cases (with plenty more ammo where that came from) we boarded Gordon's nifty golf-cart-turned-shooting-chariot and headed for the range.

The shooters alternated between shooting first then operating the hand controller for the clay pigeon launchers while the other took his turn shooting.  At each shooting station shooters could observe a practice launch of the clay pigeons (flying targets).

The targets are about 4.25 inch diameter, flat discs resembling a small Frisbee which are slung by a machine.  They can pass the shooting station from any direction at various velocities including from behind or from far ahead and flying straight toward the shooter.

They can start high and dive past the shooting station, or low and sail by in a climbing arc going somewhere.  Some are slung by the machine to roll rapidly across the ground in front of the shooter, resembling a rabbit in a hurry.

The discs are made of fairly fragile carbon based and brightly painted (sometimes) material that shatters when hit by a quantity of shotgun pellets.  They are said to "powder" when struck squarely by most of the cartridge's load.

Some discs are painted green to challenge the shooter's ability to pick their flight out of the green foliage background.

Sporting clay shooting is often described as "Golf with a shotgun".

Mostly each shooter would load two cartridges in his shotgun and shoot five sets of two.  A perfect score in this case would be hitting 10 discs out of 10.  After both have shot, we moved on to the next station which would offer entirely different trajectories to challenge the participants.

10 shots per man over a course of 14 stations equals 140 shots each.  25 cartridges to the box would equal 5.6 boxes of ammunition shot by each fellow that day.

I can remember entire rabbit hunting seasons where I didn't consume one box of shells while hunting with my trusty single barrel gun.

The guys offered me several opportunities to shoot and I declined saying I usually never shot anything that hurt me which the recoil of 12 gauge shotguns tend to do.

Actually my reticence was mostly from a strong instinct to avoid embarrassment.




















Monday, April 27, 2015


CLEVER TRAFFIC CONTROL--

Florida has a nifty feature in its traffic control system Ohio would do well to consider.

When it is difficult here to make a left turn from a driveway or side street, FL traffic simply is compelled to make a right turn.

Imagine wanting to go West across several busy lanes of both East and westbound traffic.  No sweat here!

Drivers simply turn East, slip into oncoming Eastbound traffic, change to the left most lane as soon as possible then move along until the next "flip" turn lane comes along.

Bingo, congestion is eased, traffic continues to move nicely and the only penalty is a short detour until you can make your flip into your intended direction.

We encounter a version of this every time we leave our mobile home/RV park on a very busy US 1 and want to head South.

We simply leave the park headed North then simply slide left into the left-most of two, left turn lanes at the next major intersection--which produces another challenge.

Northbound traffic turning left gets a green turn arrow at the same time crossing traffic can make a legal turn on red to head southbound as well.

Here the solution is simple too.  Traffic making the flip always yields.



Thursday, April 23, 2015



SAY WHAT?

This traffic control sign was encountered recently on a rural, neighborhood road near Stuart, FL.  The only thing I noticed this sign could be warning about was a speed-bump just ahead.

I wondered if this was the product of a great sense of humor in the local road sign department--or, the latest example in our pitiful struggle for political correctness everywhere.

Sunday, April 19, 2015



PHOTO POTPOURRI--

The critter above is a curly tailed lizzard who was curious about my geocaching activity on a drawbridge in West Palm Beach, FL recently.  It was about a foot long and, while common in Broward County, is not likely to be seen in Vero Beach, just 50 or so miles to the North.  Reminded me of a hunk of speckled corn--with eyes.


Often-times caching partner Leslie Cornet jokingly displays her displeasure when we were barred from seeking a geocache in this Brevard Co, natural area due to, as the sign says, "Habitat Restoration in Progress."  Both access and the cache find occurred a few days later.  Leslie is the "me" in the caching team known as GOC+me.  GOC is her hubby Greg Cornet.  They live in Sunbury, OH and winter close to Sue and me in Vero Beach.


A Favorite Dining Establishment:  Sue also was in a playful mood while we stopped for lunch at Archie's Seabreeze eatery, oceanside in Fort Pierce, FL.  This mostly outside dining/drinking establishment defines the word casual to the extent motorcyclists gather here for Sunday services where communion is said to be served, with due theological reverence, from the tap.


This Gopher Tortise watched Brad Smart and me as we geocached in the Melbourne, FL area.  These pleasant rascals are common, long lived reptiles throughout the state and their large burrows are believed to be refuges to all manner of critters when a fire is active in the neighborhood.  Natural predator/prey relationships are said to be suspended while everyone enjoys their haven.


Riding the Tri-Rail!  This train system is a combination of interurban rail rides stretching from West Palm Beach to Miami; Florida's most densely populated corridor.  The high-speed, modern, Tri-Rail train heads south to the Metrorail transfer station where a smaller train whisks riders into downtown Miami.  There an automated, Metromover roams around downtown, mostly on elevated tracks where multiple loops service more than a dozen stops.  Sue and geocaching friend Betty Maus from Tupper Lake, NY are shown enjoying the middle of the three rides.

Friday, April 17, 2015



JACKIE ROBINSON HONORED cont.

After posting the original story I still was pondering this pic.  Since the sun had already set, the lovely sky (above) had darkened considerably thus enabling an exposure with sufficient latitude to reveal detail in the foreground where the lightness of the field lights more closely approximated the lightness of the sky.

Again, the photo was taken with my Samsung Galaxy cell phone, hand held from our bleacher seats.




JACKIE ROBINSON HONORED
By Major League Baseball in historic Florida ballpark

It was on April 15, 1947 when baseball great Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in modern, Major League Baseball.  That milestone was celebrated for the second annual time this week at the Vero Beach, Florida facility, Dodgertown, where the then Brooklyn Dodgers held their spring training for many years.

Pro teams from nearby St. Lucie, FL (NY Mets) and Melbourne, FL (Milwaukee Brewers) engaged in this memorial game this April 15th with St. Lucie prevailing after a grand slam home run in the second inning sealed their ultimate victory.

Nearly 6,000 local fans were on hand for this soon to be classic celebration.

Robinson did spring training in this very facility every year he played in the major leagues and the Dodgers prepared for the season here until they moved West in 2008.

Fifty years after he became the first modern, black player, major league baseball retired his number 42 from every team in baseball; the first player ever so honored.  Robinson died in 1972.

*          *          *

Photo by the author; with a cell phone camera *Gasp*
  


Wednesday, April 15, 2015



FOX LAKE SANCTUARY--
Where Prescribed Burns are Beneficial and Geocaching is Welcomed

We were geocaching in this 2,568 acre preservation land just days after a prescribed burn.  That's Sue (in pink) walking a trail past this area of burn.  This trail is a tiny segment of the 7 miles of hiking, horseback riding, kayaking and mountain biking trails in this bountiful conservation area.

This sanctuary is part of the Brevard County, Florida EEL program--working to preserve Environmentally Endangered Lands.  The county also contains the Kennedy Space Center on Florida's East coast.

Population growth tends to fragment natural areas and this program preserves and sometimes recombines what is left.  The fragmentation also tends to reduce or eliminate natural forces--like lightning induced fires-- that have over eons of time helped create the areas we enjoy today.

Composting organic waste creates a marvelous byproduct well known to gardeners.  Think of fire as being an accelerated form of composting.  Initially, it makes a soot-blackened mess but, soon, very soon, fire, acting as a rapid mineralizing agent, produces natural fertilizer and new growth will appear to have spilled from the intense green of an artist's palette.

Long periods between fires also allow combustible material to build up thus creating the possibility of even more dangerous fires.

Firebreaks can be natural like a river or are man-created perimeter areas vacant of combustible material that contain the fires in their intended area like the one shown below.


Note the luscious green growth on the left of the firebreak while the acreage on the right appears ravished extending high in the background trees.  Within weeks with adequate rain the fire damage will escape notice except upon close examination.

Sue is following Greg and Leslie Cornet, our geocaching partners, as we worked our way to some caches in this huge area.  Turns out, a cache we were seeking, which was part of an event known as the Space Coast Geo Adventures Trail, had been destroyed by this very fire.

The cache also is likely to enjoy its own version of a regrowth soon.


Saturday, March 28, 2015



FOREVER FLORIDA!


A web search for the above name for this popular Florida attraction will take you to a page where it trumpets itself as a thrill pack of adventures in zip-lining, horseback riding and motorized coach rides.  Ho hum.

But, believe me it is all of that and more.  A lot more!

On our visit we did the "motorized coach" attraction and promptly encountered horses enjoying rainy-day pastures of immense freedom; horses that were the direct descendants of their Spanish ancestors from the state's colonial period and before.

We intruded on mama alligator and three of her offspring (red arrows).  See the yellow vertical stripes.  They were very much in their wild habitat.  We humans were properly confined to an elevated platform on a smooth-running but clunky looking swamp-type vehicle being piloted by an extremely knowledgeable and just as friendly lady naturalist, Leslie (right).
  
We chugged our way, bouncing merrily over rutted tracks winding through thousands of acres of pristine natural habitat known as the Allan Broussard Conservancy.  

"The mission of the conservancy is to preserve and protect the fragile eco-systems of Florida's native wilderness to provide a permanent protective habitat for wildlife, to maintain the historical ranching operation and to educate the public about the importance of conservation and the preservation of our unique ranching heritage."  
We rambled through hundreds and hundreds of acres of active ranch land then crossed a magical divide into a wilderness of 3,200 acres of undisturbed natural ecosystems: longleaf pine, wiregrass and palmetto flatwoods, slash pine and sable palm flatwoods, dry and wet prairies, scrub cypress domes, a variety of hammocks, a blackwater creek and sloughs.


We enjoyed seeing this whitetailed deer lounging in her piece of tranquility.


We enjoyed the exquisite horsemanship demonstrated by this very patient equine while the rider cracked her whip so intensely its tip broke the sound barrier and left the cloud of vapor in the foreground of her head.


We disembarked from our jitney and wandered into our own sense of Nirvana via a hammock with indescribable, natural solitude.  Where Leslie...


...put scholarly meaning to the raw beauty of Florida Forever.