A Challenging Find and Scary Games

I realized that I didn’t do my blog last night, opting to crash out after time with friends rather than try to push through a post. It’s early right now, almost 8am on new time (did you remember to “fall back” last night?), and though I was going to get my Nanowrimo session done first, I figured I’d go ahead and kick out yesterday’s grind.

I started my day off with some hot tea and writing, working on my piece for Nanowrimo. I settled on erotic fiction, since it’s a genre I hadn’t yet really tried, and though I’m not regretting it, I don’t think I’ll be comfortable letting anyone in my family read it. So far it’s coming along nicely, though. Like most of the things I write, it’s doing things I didn’t expect, which is always fun and why I use a very loose outline when I write. Yesterday, I broke 6,000 words, and I’m hoping to break 8,000 this morning before getting started with the rest of the day.

Once we left the house, we headed out to the Wamego Boat Ramp once again to try to find that geocache. After talking about it with the cache owner and some others who had found it, we wanted to give it another try.  NCC had helped us eliminate some of the possibilities, so we focused our attention elsewhere this time. Within a few minutes, I saw a place where it could be, and Jon managed to get into a position to check it out. Sure enough, there it was! Talk about a sense of accomplishment.

From there we went to Zeandale to grab a few more on one of the back routes to Manhattan. This trek took us to Pillsbury Crossing, an area that we’d heard about and talked about but had never been to until yesterday.

It was a little weird driving across here.
It was a little weird driving across here.
Swing time!
Swing time!
Had to make a short hike to get down here, but the view was worth it!
Had to make a short hike to get down here, but the view was worth it!

We found one cache in a picnic area. There was another one near the rocks in the lower picture, but we decided to save that one for a day when we were geared to handle wet and rocky terrain. We ended the day with five finds and one DNF.

We called it a day there because we were hungry and because I had some prep to do for a small one-shot horror game I was testing out, After stopping at Taco Bell, we headed over to Forsh’s for puppy sitting. I finished up my game’s back story, and we watched the latest episode of “American Horror Story: Coven.”

Around six, Terry and Erica came over. I transferred some music over to Erica for her workouts and we ordered pizza, ate too much candy, and got the game going. Though it was only supposed to be a one shot game, we put it on hold to finish at a later time. It’s story based, so even though I had a general outline for it, I had to veer a bit since the players basically dictated what happened. This is actually a really fun way of running a game, at least for me. It’s like storytelling improv. To my knowledge, I only made one mistake in the telling, and I’m blaming that on being tired.

The goal for today is to “detox” and get back on track with eating well and exercising. When I say detox, I’m really just going to avoid sugar, drink a lot of water, get a good workout in, and maybe have a green smoothie for lunch for a nutrient boost. Last week was SugarFest 2013 (thank you, Halloween) and a short gym hiatus, but I want to get back into a routine. We have our St. Louis trip coming up, and I want to be ready for that and the high amounts of walking we’ll be doing.

For now, going to work on my Nano.


Our First Geocaching Event

Tonight, Jon and I attended our first Geocaching Event, Post Hallo”weenie” Roast, and had a blast, though getting to that point was a little rough.

The day started out okay. I had an eye exam this morning and everything checked out fine. I believe my vision has actually improved slightly in the few years since my last exam. I ordered some new lenses and frames, and I should have those by next week. So that was good.  Work wasn’t horrible. I got quite a bit done and used my lunch to start this year’s NaNoWriMo project.  After work, however, anxiety crept up on me and I had a tough time in the two hours we were doing stuff before the event.

Besides my normal social anxiety that was peeking out due to the prospect of meeting new people, I was also feeling road anxious and had a hard time driving with all the people leaving work and going to sporting events. Normally, I can deal. Today was really tough. I think that even though I used this week to do more activity outside, this coming week needs to put me back in the gym, because that has been effective at keeping the high amounts of anxiety at bay.

Things finally eased up when we found two caches near where the event was being held and actually made it to the event itself. The event was a fire and weenie roast hosted by one of the area’s more well known cachers. The place it was held seemed a little scary at first, but it was actually a really cool area. There was a 400 yard walk from the parking lot to the campsite where there was a grill, a firepit, and some stone benches for seating. There was also a huge field to one side, and a hill that I believe lead to a creek on the other. There were two caches in the park, but we opted out of going to them, deciding to go during the day sometime to explore the area more thoroughly.

This reminded me of The Blair Witch Project, but the actual area wasn't as creepy as one might think.
This reminded me of The Blair Witch Project, but the actual area wasn’t as creepy as one might think.

We had just gotten settled, did a few introductions, and were getting ready to roast some hot dogs when a storm started blowing in. We’d seen the lightning in the distance, and it just seemed to be getting closer. There was talk of moving to the event to the host’s house, but after checking the weather, it looked like it would only be a short one. To stay out of the rain, everyone walked back to the parking lot and waited the storm out in their cars.

I have a mild phobia of lightning. I love thunderstorms, but I worry about being outside in one because I don’t want to get struck by lightning. I was more than happy to wait it out in the car, but once we got there, it rained for three minutes and the thunder and lightning were nowhere to be heard or seen. Once the rain let up, everyone headed back to the campsite to eat and enjoy the rest of the evening.

The event gave us the chance to put some faces to names. Everyone was super nice and offered to help us when we were ready to hide our own caches. Semmels (the host) gave all the first timers a bison tube, and later he hooked us up with a few micro containers to hide as well.

Film canisters and bison tubes
Film canisters and bison tubes

We also met North Coast Cacher and discussed how his Wamego Boat Ramp cache has thwarted us several times. We had a good laugh over it, but seriously….we are going to find that one. If the weather holds tomorrow morning, I think we’ll head out there again, despite me saying last time that we were going to give up on it completely. Now it’s just becoming a challenge.

The event also gave us a chance to discover several travel bugs, including one brought by NCC and ones on people’s vehicles. This only confirms that we really need to get one for our car.

Besides talking to people, I got to enjoy a bonfire, something I loved doing as a kid and don’t get to do nearly enough as an adult. I got to eat roasted hot dogs and have a s’more, and Jon and I got to look at the stars for awhile. It was a great night! There are two more events coming up, and I’m definitely less anxious and more excited to attend both of them.

It’s way past my bed time, so my writing projects will have to wait until tomorrow. Hope everyone out there is gearing up for a good weekend!


Day 1: Mission to 100 Geocaches

I should clarify the title of this blog post: the mission for this weekend was to reach our 100th geocache, not to find 100 in one weekend. That may be a challenge for later, though. Also, this wasn’t a worldwide mission or anything. This was just the goal Jon and I set for ourselves.

On the first day, we were out of the house by 8am. It was cold and rainy, but we were determined to press on. We grabbed a breakfast sandwich and some almond amaretto cappuccino at the gas station and headed out.

The rain was just an extra challenge, right?
The rain was just an extra challenge, right?

The first few were easy park and grabs, but it was cold and windy, so they were a little uncomfortable. Eventually , the sun came out and the day was beautiful. We did a lot of back road traveling to start and came across some gorgeous views. One of the best scenic views was near a cache called The Shamrock Cafe. The view overlooked a patch of land that varied in different earth colors. It also overlooked trees that had started to change colors with the season.

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Our exploring took us to an old schoolhouse and a couple cemeteries, one of which had an old, creaky windmill that made things a little creepy.

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The wildlife was out as well. Early on, we found deer tracks. Later, we “chased” some turkeys down the road and stopped for some quail. One of the more unique sightings was a coyote that ran out in front of us. Luckily, I was going slow, trying to get a picture of the road and tunnel. Any faster and we might have hit him. We also came across some cicadas and a wooly bear caterpillar.

Love these tunnels.
Love these tunnels.

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Since we were heading towards Junction City anyway, we had lunch at Tyme Out Steakhouse. I’m not a major steak eater, but I love the ones there, so I had a steak and baked potato.

Two of our last caches of the day took us to some fields in JC. We missed the driving trail that we could have taken, so we walked a little over half a mile to get two caches. I was okay with this since caching was the day’s exercise. The bad part was that the field had several divots, and I tweaked my knee a few times.  At our last stop, we heard an unsettling noise that made us a little nervous. Luckily, the cache was a quick find. It was only after we left that we thought maybe it was a deer. Still not sure, but it’s more comforting than thinking it was some wild Kansas field monster.

We made that our last cache so we could get back in time to hang with the kids. All in all, we scored 16 finds and had no DNFs. We also picked up two trackables, one of which is trying to get to Texas, so we’re going to take it to Oklahoma next weekend to get it a bit closer.

It was a fun and successful day that put us closer to our 100 cache goal.

Onward to Day 2…


Day 1: Becoming an Outdoors Woman 2013

What a weekend! I’m tired and a little bit sunburnt, but the BOW experience was definitely worth it.  Like I did with Gen Con, I’m going to break these down into day posts because it seems like a lot to put into one long blog post.

I got to Rock Springs a little before 10 on Friday morning, after dropping Jon off to work and grabbing a quick breakfast sandwich. I had a little trouble finding check in, but eventually found parking.

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Almost everyone else in my cabin was there, but thankfully I scored a bottom bunk. The ladies were so nice and welcoming. They helped me bring my stuff in and gave me some newbie pointers.

We had lunch (the food was great all weekend, and there was a lot of it), then the welcome meeting, then our first class. Mine was Intro to Fishing. We started out learning about the more popular fish native to Kansas. Then we learned about different poles and how to tie a hook, lead, and bobber. I caught on to making the knot fairly quickly, so now I kind of want to go fishing so I can show off.

Learning about fish!
Learning about fish!

Once we had our poles ready, we headed down to a small fishing hole and stream. The area was beautiful, but I was feeling tired and a little shaky. Standing on the edge was making me nervous. I still caught several fish, including the only large mouth bass of the day.

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The anglers in my family should also take note that I put a nightcrawler on the hook by myself and didn’t get too grossed out. And I unhooked my own fish. Next year, I might even take the advanced course or the course where I learn to filet and cook a fish.

The mini Walk for the Cure was originally scheduled for that night, but they switched it up since we were getting a visit from Theresa Vail, also known as Miss Kansas 2013. Instead, we did a Chuck-A-Duck (I didn’t win), and later I went and visited with Theresa for a little bit.  She was genuinely sweet, and in case anyone was unsure if her love of the outdoors was genuine or not, it is.

After dinner, I attended a mini session called Kansas Critters that was taught by the same instructor who taught my fishing class. The session went long, but it was really interesting, and I actually learned and retained several outdoor facts. I debated going to the campfire afterwards, but I ended up just heading back to the cabin instead. I was tired, and the walk back itself was even more exhausting. It was uphill, over several rocky, uneven steps. I made that trek many times over the weekend, and it never got easier.

Not gonna lie, that night I felt a little homesick. My shower experience might have had something to do with that. I’d been given a pair of shower shoes by my friend, but I hadn’t tried them on first, and they ended up hurting my feet. The showers themselves weren’t horrible, but they had the hard rubber mats inside the stalls, and those hurt my feet even more. Because I’ve never actually showered in a camp setting (at least that I can remember), I was ill prepared all around, and so by the time I got back to bed, I was hurting and exhausted, and even though I’d had a great day, I still missed Jon and my own bed.

However, I slept fairly well, and when I woke up the next morning, I was refreshed and feeling good and optimistic.

To be continued…


Sort of Like Disney…But Real

Today, I saw deer.

Three deer to be exact, and not out in the middle of the woods or in some farm field, but right across the street from where I work.

When I was growing up, deer weren’t a novelty.  I lived in northern Michigan (the northern lower peninsula to be precise), right between woods, farmland, and Amish country, and deer seem to have an affinity for the woods and fresh Amish baked bread.  My grandparents had deer feeders in their backyard so we could watch them at fairly close range (watch the deer, not my grandparents). We always got excited to see fawns in the spring. In the fall, the men folk would go out and hunt. I don’t think it ever crossed my mind that some people weren’t into hunting until I was older because everyone I knew did it.

I went hunting with my dad when I was a teenager a couple times. Got buck fever. Never shot anything, but venison sausage is one of the best things ever. While I like shooting a big gun every once in awhile (not a euphemism), hunting as a hobby never took.

As I grew older, I actually started to hate deer. Oh sure, they’re pretty and fun to watch, but once the “ooh shiny” wears off,  you realize that they’re a  road hazard on four legs.  Michigan deer (and Kansas deer, from what I’ve been told) wait along the highways and byways, edging closer and closer, waiting for their moment to run across the road. If you happen to be the lucky sucker they run in front of, you’d better hope you have good brakes.

Since moving to Kansas, I haven’t seen as many, though they haven’t been completely scarce.  This morning I pulled into my normal parking spot, where I proceeded to enjoy my breakfast sandwich before heading into office monkey territory for the next eight hours. I happened to look across the road, and there they are, wandering the field and checking out the road.

The field is between us and university land. There are apartments and buildings surrounding it, and while there are small trees, it’s not a heavily wooded area. To the north, there is more flatland and woods. These deer had wandered into our area and for a few minutes, it looked like they were going to try to cross. Which made me nervous. After seeing a cyclist down yesterday, I had the feeling that a deer would get owned and own someone’s car in return if they tried to cross the road. In the first place, that’s a busy time of morning between people going to work and students going to school. It’s also at the top of a hill, so someone coming over the hill too fast or not paying attention was going to hit one.

Watching nature is surreal sometimes. All these cars were going past and the deer were still edging up further and further, cautiously, tentatively. In my head, I was thinking “Here it comes..here it comes…”

But then, the local ATA public transportation bus drove by and that was it. They turned their little white tails and took off. I’m not sure what it was about the bus…maybe it was the sound or the stronger smell of diesel fumes…but they were having none of it. In fact, it kind of reminded me of this guy from A&E’s “Obsessed” who had a phobia of El Caminos (if I’m coming across as heartless for making fun of a guy with OCD, I’m really not. I loved that guy!).

Obviously, deer don’t do public transportation.

So crisis averted, and I didn’t have to witness a hit and run involving Bambi or his mother.  I am, however, reminded that fall is on the way, so I’d better be a little more watchful in the coming weeks.