Holiday Party 2013 and Saturday Recovery

Last night was our work holiday party, and I’ve spent today recovering. It was a lot of fun. I let loose and decompressed after a stressful week, so I needed today to rest and recuperate.

When the work day ended, I took Jon to the game store. I’ve dragged him with me to parties in the past, but I let him out of it this year. I knew I’d want to dance and socialize, and I didn’t want him to be bored and awkward, so I flew solo for the evening. My first stop was to get ready at my friend and co-worker’s house. My outfit wasn’t overly dressy, but it was different from what I’d worn during the day, and I actually put on some light makeup.

We had a couple glasses of wine before heading to the Hilton Garden Inn for pre-party cocktails. We mingled and visited with people while we waited for them to open the doors to the party room. Everyone was given two free drink tickets, so I had another glass of wine. When they finally opened the doors, we grabbed a table with all the report coordinators a friend from the business office. They started the lines for dinner shortly after that, and our table was in the second group called.


Speeches and a company update from our president followed dinner, and those were followed by more drinking and some dancing. I don’t drink often, but I definitely enjoyed some wine and beer last night. It was made easy by the bottles of wine they put on our tables. I’m also not a smoker, but I used to be, and when I drink I still have a tendency to join my fellow smokers for a cigarette. Luckily, I don’t seem to develop an addiction, and it will likely be several months before I smoke again, but when taken in the context for a party, I love me a cigarette. I didn’t think it was that cold outside, and the view from the hotel was very festive.

Going to walk through these lights next weekend.
Going to walk through these lights next weekend.

True to my plan, I spent much of the night dancing, taking rest and water breaks as needed, but definitely holding my own on the “shake a tailfeather” front. It was so much fun! I love dancing, I just never get a chance to do it. This year, the music was good, and though there wasn’t a huge group of people on the dance floor, the group that was there was a good one.

Jon got a ride to the party as it was closing up. The festivities ended close to midnight, and after making sure my friends got home okay, we made the drive to Wamego. The weather had forecasted some nasty weather, but it never hit us, so our drive home was easy going. I fell asleep shortly after we got home and slept in this morning.

When I finally did get up, I showered and had some Gatorade and a Luna  bar for breakfast. As I’d expected, I was sore, so I spent most of the day chilling in my chair and working on knitting projects and solving mystery cache puzzles. However, the sunny skies outside eventually got the best of me, and Jon and I went out for an early evening walk before the sun went down. Because I was still hurting, I considered this a little bit of active recovery to get my muscles and joints moving. We walked several blocks, including a trek downtown where we stopped and had an early dinner at Barleycorns.

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Grilled turkey panini and baja chicken soup

On the way back home, we stopped to get drinks and snacks for the evening, then came home to rest some more. It was a pretty leisurely stroll, and I think the only reason I was hurting when I got home was because I’d been hurting anyway. That dancing, man…my hips and lower back are probably going to need another day to right themselves again.

I talked to my mom tonight and got some information for a little writing project I’m going to do for her. I’ve been playing some cheesy Christmas movies, but I’ve been hanging out on the internet for the most part. I’m going to lay down early tonight and get some reading time in before calling it a day. I hope the weather is good tomorrow. I want to find some caches and hit the gym before gaming, and the plan is to go grocery shopping tomorrow night as well.

Now, it’s time to pop some more ibuprofen. Cheers!


Murder Mysteries and Misty Weather

The current big thing in the office right now is our Halloween week murder mystery. This was an idea that my group came up with and we’re having a blast running it. I’m pleased with how it’s going so far.  The back story is that someone killed a local auditor and hid the body somewhere on campus. Now the players must solve the mystery and lay his ghost to rest.

I’m going to be honest…I’ve never played in or set up a murder mystery before, so this one is very experimental.  For the clues, I gave everyone participating three to four clues that they could share with each other. Then I chose “witnesses” from other parts of the building. My “informants” give the players a clue as to which witness they need to find, they give that witness a password, and they receive two new clues (from a larger pool of clues, so they have to continue to interact and trade clues).

Technically, it’s a team building exercise, but it’s also an individual player contest, because whoever solves everything gets a prize. Either way, creating and executing this has been a blast and has started the creative juices flow, possibly in preparation for NaNoWriMo (if I decide to do it).

Besides that excitement,  Forsh brought in Halloween candy today and got us all sugared up. I’m usually a holiday humbug, but this year I’m kind of having some fun with Halloween. I’m never one to costume up, but I’m going to enjoy the rest of it.

The weather was weird and misty today, and since I worked the later shift, I wasn’ t feeling up to fighting the gym crowd. Our original plan was to take a walk around the rec center and do a zombie mission. Instead, we went out geocaching after work, deciding it would be some good activity but we could still write today off as a rest day. Our first cache took us to a local cemetery that we’d passed on the road a few times but had never visited.  We drove into it and couldn’t believe how huge it was. It just kept going. It was beautiful, and with the misty and chilly weather, the atmosphere was perfect.

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We found this cache and two more nearby before heading to another part of town where we found one more. We looked for one that was recently published in the area but had to log as a DNF. It was dark by that time, and the ground was wet so we weren’t getting low for the hunt. I figure we’ll probably go back soon and try to find it again.

We chilled at home with some dinner and one of my guilty pleasure shows, Toddlers and Tiaras. I will say that the new season on Netflix is slightly annoying thus far. We’re only two episodes into it, and I’m already tired of seeing little girls be taught cattiness by their nasty mothers.  I know the show is edited for that type of reaction, but I wish they’d edit to show the good parents more. I think the light they show these pageants in is why so many people hate them, even though I think there are some major positives to these competitions.

That’s a subject  for another post though. I’m going to finish up here, get a quick shower, and settle in for some reading. I checked out a book at the library on a whim, but it’s a “Sizzler,” and it’s due back tomorrow. I’m over halfway through, so I have to finish it tonight before I fall asleep.

Tomorrow’s Wednesday, so make like camels and enjoy your Hump Day! (Yeah, that was really bad. Sorry!)



Going Out Westy

Yesterday was another geocaching day. We didn’t have a specific goal in mind, we just wanted to see how many we could get.

After grabbing a quick drive thru breakfast, we went back to two places we’d already been. The first one down at the boat ramp continues to elude us. We’ve been down there 3 or 4 times, and a fellow cacher even emailed me with some help, and we still can’t find it.  I don’t know if we’re ready to give up all together, but today wasn’t our day.  The second one was out at Mount Mitchell, and this time, we found it. The walk up the hill was still a little challenging, but recovery was quick and we didn’t need a sit down break like we did the first time.

We decided to head out towards Westmoreland to snag some more caches. The first few were around a historical marker and wagon display for the area where the California-Oregon Trail crossed Kansas.

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We found a trail and followed it under the highway to the tombstone of one of the travelers.

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A little further up, we took a walk down a long trail to grab another one, then we found one at a historical hand-dug well. The well was neat. We even stood on the small overhanging platform to look directly down.

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We continued to follow our list into the Westy back roads. There was a cemetery cache that I think was taken out by the removal of some trees, and there was more pretty scenery and bridges.

At one of our last stops, we came across two  “helpers.”

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They were so cute and friendly, and because we wanted to pet and play with them, it took us longer to find the cache. Before we left, we walked down to a nearby house to make sure the pups were close to their home. Luckily, they were. The roads out there aren’t heavily trafficked, but I would have felt bad if they’d been lost.

The corgi walked us back to the car and saw us off before trotting back to his home. I think there might be a corgi in our future. Maybe.

There was another cache just down the road, but after that we decided to head back to a cafe we’d passed earlier to grab a late lunch/early dinner. Sadly, the cafe had already closed for the day, so we grabbed some nuts and a drink at a gas station to take the edge off until we could get real food.

After a real dinner of shared General Tso’s at Imperial Garden, we decided we were going to call it a day for geocaching. We were tired, and my hip was killing me (which means a chiro trip this coming week).

We went to the library and hung out there to read until they closed, then went to Hastings for some more reading time and a black and white mocha before going to hang with the Fantastic Four while Terry and Erica went to the haunted house out in JC.

I read some more and worked on my current knitting project which has to be done this coming week. Once that’s done, my project list will be down again to just a few things, but I’m still on the fence about doing NaNoWriMo. I’m down to a week to decide.

Oh, and I talked the kids into watching “Chicken Run” with me. Love that movie!

We got home late last night and since I wanted to publish this post with all the pics, I waited for today. I’ll post another one later for the smallish happenings of today, and then I’m thinking of doing an “informational” post on geocaching since I’ve had several people ask questions about it.


Hangin’ Out with Mom

It was another longish drive back to Kansas on Sunday. We left early but still made a few final stops to finish out the visit. We also stopped for food and a geocache.  Jon and I managed to keep ourselves from going geocache crazy, but we needed a few stops to stretch, so it gave us a good excuse to do so. We found one along the highway that hadn’t been found in over a year. I was glad it was still there.

We made a stop in Rose Hill to visit the in-laws and grabbed one last geocache on the final stretch home. Online, there was no other logged find, so we thought that maybe there was a chance we’d be the FTF, but no dice. The FTF just hadn’t logged it. Still, it was a good cemetery cache, and the area was beautiful. It was one of the first ones we’ve been to with crypts, which always strike me as such peaceful structures.

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Dinner was easy roast beef sandwiches, and we watched a bunch of YouTube videos that Mom hadn’t yet seen.

Monday was our day out in Manhattan. We had to do laundry first thing in the morning, so we got that going while we went and ran other errands. Mom had a bunch of photos printed at Walgreens, so we picked those up, vacuumed the car, took it through the car wash to get the red clay off, and picked the laundry up. It probably wasn’t the most exciting start to the day, but it helped us kill time until things started opening.

We went to Goodwill first and poked around. For the first time in years, I actually found clothes there that fit me. I found a pair of pants, two shirts, and a pair of walking shoes since my other ones are already wearing down.  Down the sidewalk, we checked out Tuesday Morning. I’d heard about the place, mainly from stories of people finding great discontinued yarn there, and I knew Manhattan had one, but I’d never been there.  It turned out to be a really cool store. It was like a smaller Big Lots, offering discounted closeout items.

Once we got our first round of thrifting out of the way, we went to the Flint Hills Discovery Center and then picked Jon up for lunch at Cox Bros BBQ. Afterwards, we commenced with round two of thrifting by heading out to the Grand Ol’ Trunk to poke around. By this time, I was getting tired. It didn’t feel like a lot of walking, but my feet were telling me it had been.  Instead of looking for more shops, we went out to the scenic overlook so I could show Mom the view, which seemed fitting after she visited the FHDC.

We once again found ourselves with time to kill, so we went on a drive to look at more scenery. My original intention was to find Pillsbury Crossing, but I missed the turn. Still, the drive was nice and we stopped for a geocache, which my mom actually found. I don’t know if she’ll become a geocacher, but it was cool that she made the find on that one.

We stopped in at work to say hi, then tried to find a premium cache near the stadium with no luck. After we picked up Jon, we came home, made more sandwiches, and watched Frankie Go Boom and Cabin in the Woods.

This morning we got up, finished Cabin in the Woods (we were too tired to make it to the end last night), and took Jon to work. Our first stop was Menards, as we were on a mission to find Mom some overalls. They didn’t have any, but they did have a lot of Christmas decorations, including Risky Business Santa, which amused me more than it probably should have.

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We completed our overalls-finding mission at the supply store across the street, then headed back to Wamego to give a more extended tour and visit the Oz Museum. It was my third time there, but I actually stopped to read more of the information on this visit. Mom liked it, and I learned more about the artifacts than I had on previous visits.

We headed toward KC a little earlier than planned, but we stopped off in Topeka and had Cracker Barrel for lunch. I love browsing their store, even though I don’t usually buy stuff (except a few snacks every now and then). They had some neat holiday things. They also had massive candy bars and Pez dispensers. I didn’t take many pics, but they had Peanut Butter Cups that were a pound each.

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We arrived at the airport much earlier than we needed to, but Mom wanted to make sure her bags were under the weight limit and that she didn’t need to send anything back with me to mail. I drove around looking for parking but had no luck, so in the end, I pulled to the side and gave her hugs in the fire lane. I’m not going to lie….I’ve been sad and teary eyed since leaving the airport. I hate goodbyes, and I cry every time I have to go through them, but it’s especially hard saying bye to my Mom. I never feel like the time we get to spend together is enough. The time we did have was awesome, though.

Now I have to try to slide back into routine, which is going to take a couple days. I got a jump on that by putting away laundry, catching up on email, and getting this post done, as well as uploading the rest of the week’s photos. Tomorrow it’s back to work and back to working on several projects I need to finish before Monday. It’s going to be a very busy next few days.


Sunday Travel Home

I woke up in pain this morning, my lower back hurting from what I’m assuming was a combination of two days of walking and several hours of sitting in convention chairs. I was slightly miserable for the first few hours, but managed to slog through hotel breakfast and packing and loading the car to head home from OKC.

One thing I forgot to mention in the previous post was that after we got done eating at McDs, we tried to find a geocache in the area. Unfortunately, it was too dark and we had no luck. This morning, we decided to try again, and this time, we had success. The only muggle in the area was a taxi driver taking a nap in his car, and he didn’t wake up until Jon and Drew had made the re-hide.

After a gas top-off, we headed back to Wichita. We didn’t make any stops, which gained us some time but caused more aches in my hips and back. We dropped Drew and his friend off at their respective homes, then we went to Braum’s to grab lunch. While there, we mapped some geocaches we wanted to to try to get on the drive home. Even though we were really tired, I didn’t want to go the whole two hours without getting out and stretching, and I knew caching would give us a good excuse to do that.

We found a cache near a benchmark, one in a cemetery, and two park caches right off the highway. One of the parks was a great discovery, not only for the cache but for an alternative public restroom during future trips along that route (the current option is a gas station bathroom that’s a little sketchy and very uncomfortable).

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Coming into town, we decided to stop at one of the scenic rest areas that we usually pass.  There were two caches in this area, a traditional and an earth cache, which involved answering some questions and taking a picture in order to legitimately log it.  The stop was worth it. It was a nice walk around the area and the discovery of a new place to walk at some point in the future.

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I was still debating walking the rec track, but the clouds this way looked ominous and it was chilly, so we decided to just come home and relax for the evening. I used the time to finish my posts, upload pics, and will finish off the evening with a shower and a laundry round-up since tomorrow is laundry day.

All in all, it was a great weekend (even if my last post made it sound like I didn’t have fun at the tourney).  Another adventure down!


Day 2: Mission to 100 Geocaches

I normally split these multi-day excursions up and only post one a day, but since these are just two of these, I’m kicking them both out tonight.

Day 2 was a little bit harder because we were tired from the first day and from staying up later than usual.  We slept in until 9 and didn’t get out of the house until 10, then dawdled some more getting breakfast.  Based on our energy level and Jon’s headache, we decided to stick to caches that had lower ratings for difficulty and terrain.

Our first stop was City Park, where we scored five caches to start the day off. The park is big from the outside, but being on the inside, it seems even larger. It has a splash park and sports fields and water slides…it’s a pretty busy area of MHK. Being that it was early, there weren’t many people out, so we were able to make some stealthy finds.

Johnny Kaw
a  Johnny Kaw

Manhattan started getting busy, so we headed out into the outlying areas to hunt. One of the finds took us down a two-trail type of road that made us feel like we should have a jeep, not an Impala.  The scenery was great though, and the cache was worth the trip.

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Another cool cache we found was at an old church and cemetery, but coming upon it from the road, the top looks like a castle tower.

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One of the cool things about this cache was that the owners had placed a disposable camera in there for people to take their picture with. I’m pretty sure Jon snapped us before I was ready and was licking my lips or something, so I have a feeling that’s going to be a pretty silly picture.

After finding a few more off the highway, we decided to go to Ogden.  It wasn’t in our original plan, but it seemed like a good way to finish off our finds for the day. Before we resumed hunting, we grabbed lunch at Subway. It was very much needed. We were losing steam and still had a few to go to make sure we both had 100.

One of the caches in Ogden looked like it had been muggled, but the log was intact, so we signed and put it back together. Another one sounded like it was going to be a difficult one, an ode to DNFs, but instead, it ended up being a fun park and grab with a travel bug to discover.


At the end of the day, we’d made our goal to break 100 caches and grabbed a few bonus ones.  The weekend total was 31 found and 0 DNFs. The weather was great, the driving was relaxing, and we just had a good time hanging out together.

This trip also gave us the chance to compare our endurance and stamina levels from when we first started. The first geocaches we found (a few months ago when we first started) that involved walking across uneven terrain were pretty tough. This weekend, we found them challenging, but nothing that kicked our butt completely.  The first time we tried to do a full day of caching, we made it four hours before we went home, sore and needing to crash.  This time we went two days and cached for 7-8 hours each day. Granted, a good portion of that was spent driving, but there is still a decent level of physical activity taking place on these hunts. Jon even ran up a short hill today without getting winded.

I think we’re doing awesome, and it’s exciting to think that at some point in the future, we’re going to be able to find some that are rated at a more difficult terrain level.  Our next big goal is to hit 250, but we’ll probably plan a couple more weekend cache trips before that.

Once we got home, I took a shower and some ibuprofen so I wouldn’t be too sore for the work week. I did some photo editing and uploading to FB, finished the blog posts, and kept half an eye on a couple movies, Clue and Vanilla Sky (which is still in progress and will be watched with both eyes when this is done, because it’s one of my favorites).  We didn’t make it to the gym, but I’m not going to stress on it. It means we missed our gym goal this past week, but I think we made our walking goal, plus some.

I still anticipate being able to sleep well tonight.



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…


Climbing to the Top

I was so glad when I woke up this morning to the feels of no back pain and a high level of energy.  We got out of the house early to beat the heat and traffic for geocaching.  Our original plan involved going to Manhattan to run a few errands, do some caching, and maybe play a round of mini golf. But we never made it that far, deciding to hit some caches going the opposite way instead.

Most of the caches were fairly easy, yet highly adventurous today. We drove a lot of dirt boards. We found most of them, so that was nice, and we were able to leave some treasures in the non-micro caches we found. We even sent our found geocoin back into the wild.

The first highlight was a cache near an old abandoned bus out on the plains.


The land is private, so the bus itself isn’t explorable, but the scenery is pretty and somewhat haunting. I feel I could write horror stories about that bus.  Jon braved the bees to find this one, which probably gave him the advantage since he ended up finding more than I did.

The second cache of note was actually one we didn’t find, but it took us hiking up Mount Mitchell, a local area just outside Wamego. The term “Mount” scared me a little after our last climbing expedition, but I wanted to tackle it anyway. The log said the cache was halfway up but that if you climbed to the top, the view was gorgeous.

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At the point where the actual cache was supposed to be, we rested and debated whether to go up the rest of the hill. This little hike had been difficult in the fact that I had to avoid small muddy areas and watch where I was going, but it wasn’t that taxing, so we went the rest of the way up to take in the view.

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Kansas has a reputation for having ugly flat lands, and I’ve heard that parts of Western Kansas live up to that. But I believe the area where we live, near the Flint Hills and tallgrass prairie, is beautiful. Climbing the summit of this “mountain” was well worth it, not only to see this awesome angle, but as an affirmation of just being able to physically do this.

We noticed that red stone from one side of the hill (last picture, bottom right), so we went back down and took the trail the other way to see it from a closer view.


The picture doesn’t show the writing well, but this stone was in memory of a soldier, “Dodge.”  He died in action on April 30, 1945 (my birthdate, though a couple decades before I came around) in the Philippine Islands, incidentally in the same area that Jon was born (a few decades earlier as well).  Interesting coincidence.

The other caches were fun too, but the last place we stopped for the day just did me in. I couldn’t tell where the thing was, and I walked through the brush and ended up covered in little fuzzy plant seeds. It irritated me, and I figure when irritation sets in, it’s time to call it a day. We may go back to that one, though there were chickens in the area, and I feel the chickens kind of made it a little awkward.  Silly chickens.

We came home, showered, and plan on spending the rest of the evening chilling, possibly getting a few things done around the house, but taking it easy for the most part.

Since I promised some pics from last night’s cache in the pretty hidden garden we found, here you have them.

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I’m happy to see that my camera took decent pictures so I can use it more at Gen Con to save my phone’s battery life. We talked about doing more caching tomorrow, but we’ll have to play it by ear. The goal for tomorrow is to have everything packed and ready for Tuesday’s drive. Also, we’re planning to dog-sit for my friend during the day tomorrow, which means laundry and probably some much needed rest. I’m thinking I might hit the gym for a lighter workout, just to keep moving.

But for now, it’s off to find something on Netflix.