A New Favorite Geocache: George Mason

Symbol for the Virtual, or Ghost, Cache

I was looking to score new states, not to raise my number of finds (which is good because I really didn’t geocache much this summer–I’ve begun looking at quality rather than quantity).

Sweetieheart and I were in Washington, DC, for the fourth of July. On the third we decided to do the National Mall volksmarch. It was a good walk but we’d already seen most of the sites on previous tours. (We did get to see the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial which hadn’t been open the last time we’d been in DC.)

MLK and I share the same birthday.

As we walked, I’d occasionally look for a geoache. However, the many muggles kept us from making the attempt. Too many people hang around the National Mall on July 3rd!

Then we discovered a little memorial dedicated to George Mason. It was rather neglected with grass growing where it shouldn’t and the flowerbed appeared a bit dry. It also contained a nice bench to sit and enjoy the day and the view. Finally, it contained a geocache… one which wasn’t bothered by muggles.

I wish more people would visit this lovely little memorial. It’s just across the street from the cherry trees. It’s truly a lovely place.

The man who wrote the Virginia Bill of Rights deserves more recognition.

Walk across Texas

I am so excited!

Many years ago, I participated in my district’s Walk across Texas challenge. Schools across the district formed teams of eight members. Each team member pledged to walk 13 miles a week for two months. Supposedly that all added up to the miles needed to have walked across the state of Texas had we been participating in a relay race.

My school won. Heck! My school kicked butt! We completed our challenge with three weeks to spare. (To be fair, we had ringers. Three of our teammates were preparing for a marathon and totally carried the rest of us.) But that was my introduction to team walking.

Since then, I’ve continued to receive email from TAMU about other challenges. I decided I wanted to do it again but….

… school’s starting… and…

… maybe I won’t have the time… and…

… maybe I won’t have the energy… and…

… what if no one joins me (I need a team of eight!)… and…

… do I really need the stress… and…

… what if I’ve misread the situation… and…

I created an E-vite for those I thought might want to participate. Then I didn’t send it because all those doubts kept creeping in. Then I added names to the list and counted and came up with six–not enough for a team. And I continued to not send the invitation.

Finally, on Friday, after everyone had left the building, I sent the invitation. To my surprise, by the time I reached home, I’d already had my first positive response. By lunchtime, everyone had replied “yes.”

I still needed two team members. They came up with the names–both of whom accepted! In less than an hour, we had a team. Now they’re talking team shirts and regular walking parties.

We’re going to walk across Texas!

Our Goal:830 miles in two months (east to west Texas)

The Long Walk: AVA: The National Zoo with the Embassy Option

Sweetie and I have been in training for our trip to Washington, DC, for months. We have walked 10k and 5k treks for months now. We were up to 5 miles a day. We were ready for the challenges offered by DC.

My kitty thinks she can beat a lion. She's seen them on TV. Lions aren't that big.

The short walk (5k) offers a chance at see the National Zoo (from the outside). The long walk includes many embassies and a chance to see the National Cathedral (10k). It begins at a McDonald’s near a Metro station (the best way to get around DC). And, somehow, the long walk manages to be all uphill!.

See the bison in the poster? That's not Buddy.

It passes through some historical and yuppie neighborhoods. It deliberately takes the walkers past several embassies. (The Chinese embassy was the scariest with its armed guards.) Did I mention it’s all uphill?

By the time we made it to the National Cathedral, we were worn out. Sweetieheart had enough energy to hunt for the infamous Darth Vader gargoyle. He never found it. I think it was covered by scaffolding; the National Cathedral is still being repaired after the 2011 earthquake.

We hunted for Darth Vader for about 30 minutes.

We were worn out! But then the magic happened. Right next to the Washington National Cathedral is a bit of parkland which is some of the only old growth forest left in DC. Two cottontails led the way.

The bunnies disappeared before I could photograph them.

From the Cathedral, we were led into a historic neighborhood which featured several Victorian homes.

IMG_3003

Admiral Peary‘s former house featured a Free Library!

This was placed right in front of the Peary home.

And somehow, the end of the walk was still uphill. We were exhausted and triumphant over all the sights we’d managed to see. We probably wouldn’t have seen 90% of them if it hadn’t been for the AVA.

Review: Fitbit

One year ago, I bought a Fitbit. A friend had one and told me about it. I researched and found the cheapest one, the Fitbit Zip, at Best Buy.

I paid less than $75 at Best Buy.

My Fitbit One

Mine is pink. I attach it to my bra. (TMI?) I’ve had friends who say that they lost their Fitbits in the laundry so I bought a color which would stand out.

My favorite feature is probably that it let me know (via email) when it is low on battery. It has been known to throw false negatives, usually when I’m wearing extra thick sweaters or multiple layers of clothing.

I also like that, in addition to counting steps, the Fitbit will monitor my active minutes. I use those minutes while I’m competing in the IditaWalk.

The online tool allows me to keep track of several things: heart rate, sleeping, journals, etc. Food and water intake are interesting but I have a problem with food diary programs: we eat at home a lot. Tonight, for example, we had baked chicken thighs, roasted potatoes, and kernal corn. I have no idea how many calories are in that and, at this stage in my health plan, I’m not interested in learning.

My Fitbit is synced to the free app on my iPhone and iPad. Synchronizing is tricky at times and Bluetooth must be activated in order for the synchronization to occur. Each synchronization goes straight to my Fitbit account which awards badges for distances walked and personal records (nine miles in a single day is my record).

I’ve participated in several Fitbit challenges with my Fitbit friends. I have no idea who some of these people are but we challenge ourselves to improve and we’re able to message each other encouraging words.

I love my Fitbit.

Geocaching Accomplishments

I haven’t been devoting as much time this summer to geocaching. During my normal summers, I take time out to go on “geocaching adventures.” I may go to a small town and cache a town out or I may make a special trip to find one special cache. (I maintain a watchlist of interesting-looking geocaches on geocaching.com.) Sweetieheart usually accompanies me.

This was found on the Santa Fe Trail in Oklahoma, a geocaching trail maintained by DAR!

Sweetieheart holds a cache in Oklahoma.

This summer, though, I’ve been devoted to teacher-training and catching up on neglected housework. You see, my husband started a new job and we’re in the middle of new house routines as we get used to his new hours.

I’ve earned a few souvenirs, all of them accidentally. However, in my travels I’ve been devoted adding more geocaching states to my list.

Before this summer, I had found caches in the following states.

  • Texas (duh!)
  • California (Sweetieheart hails from San Francisco)
  • the District of Columbia — My husband says DC doesn’t count because it’s not a state.
  • New Mexico
  • Colorado
  • Oklahoma (my mother lives in a tri-state area — Texas, New Mexico, and Olkahoma

This summer, I’ve added the following states.

  • Delaware
  • Maryland
  • Virginia

This weekend I’ll be adding on at least one other new state: Minnesota. My sister-in-law is marrying in Bemidji. I’d like to get some other areas — maybe even cross the Canadian border!– but I doubt that I’ll have the time with our time crunch and the wedding festivities.

Accomplishments

This morning I walked the mall. Don’t hate! It reached 104F in DFW with an ozone alert. Mall walking makes a lot of (health) sense. As I walked, I had some realizations.

  • I’m able to walk farther than I have been able to since I was a kid.
  • I’m walking faster than I used to walk.

When I first began walking, I was lucky to walk two miles a day. (I think I actually began with a goal of 1/5 miles three times a week). I used to walk a 5k and pass out for the rest of the weekend. I could walk 10,000 steps and barely make three miles. June-July 2015,while I was in Washington, I had my first (documented) 25,000 step day. I walked a couple of seven-mile days. I even had one day with 11 miles of walking! And today I walked the mall. I’m about where I’m supposed to be (10,000 steps = five miles). In the mall, I can walk a 17-minute mile. These mark accomplishments. I’m only 5’3″. My strides are naturally shorter than an average person’s stride. I’m proud of myself. I paid less than $75 at Best Buy.

A Volksmarching Adventure: Fort Worth Downtown

It was Spring Break and I had a day to myself. The weatherman had forecast a soggy day so Mother Nature brought sunshine and temps in the 70s. The Downtown Fort Worth is a safe walk for a woman alone.

The start is at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Fort Worth. It sits across the street from the Water Gardens.

This lies along the sidewalk to the street next to the hotel driveway.

Fort Worth isn’t known as Cowtown for nothing. The Chisolm Trail passed through Fort Worth.

Remarkably cooling in summer!

Science fiction fans will recognize the Fort Worth Water Gardens from “Logan’s Run,” a dystopian movie from the 1976.

This building is reputed to be haunted.

If you enjoy historic buildings, be sure to check out the T&P Station. It’s now fully restored. Occasionally, you can even get a look inside, especially if they’re preparing for an event.

The unique shape of this building is reflected in the unique decorative touches.

Fort Worth is also known as Panther City. Keep an eye out for panthers while walking!

I think this looks like my cat.

Keep an eye out, too, for some interesting city art.

This kind of art makes me quite aware I know nothing about art.

One of my favorite pieces!

Another favorite piece

You’ll pass historic buildings.

It's got real, live firemen inside!

Check out the doors!

I also learned that I’m shrinking. All my life, my doctors have told me I’m almost 5’3″. Fort Worth taught me otherwise.

I should have brushed this sign with the top of my head.

Do I need to talk to my doctor?

It’s a fun walk but be careful around lunchtime and rush hour. The traffic can get dangerous to pedestrians.

Baltimore: The City that Doesn’t Wish to Rent

I like to travel on the fly. I don’t often get the opportunity but I like to go to a place without any real plans. Since I was on my way to Washington, DC, I thought I’d arrive a few days early. I brought along my faithful traveling companion, Sweetie, and the adventure began.

I was due in DC on Sunday; we arrived on Tuesday. We’d decided on the flight to visit Baltimore, a city neither of us had visited before. We had no hotel nor car rental reservations.

To rent a car, we had to take a shuttle from BWI (Baltimore Washington International airport) to the off-site car rental site. Let me tell you, they stuffed that shuttle tight. I was nearly bopped on the nose several times by an overstuffed backpack carried by a man with a bad sense of balance.

At the off-site building, we found about 10 rental agencies. Sweetie began with Economy. I’d used them before on spontaneous trips. We’d never had a problem before. Economy didn’t have any cars available. So he moved to the next booth: Alamo.

You’d think that Alamo, being named after our home state, would be friendlier but they wanted to see an itinerary before they’d rent to us. We’d been traveling paperless so we had no itinerary. A helpful agent suggested that we show them the paperless itinerary (from our email). However, there was no free wifi in the building and no one was willing to share their password to the wifi system.

“Why do they need an itinerary?” we wondered. We never got an answer but three more places wanted the same thing.

Dollar was willing to rent to us without an itinerary but we were rejected there because we only had my bank debit card (which functions as both a credit and debit card). They wanted a real credit card.

Sweetie made his way around the building from kiosk to kiosk int he two hours we were there. In the end, there were only two rental agencies he didn’t try because Avis finally agreed to rent us a car.

It took us over two hours to find someone willing to rent us a car "on the fly."

Inside the Building

Geocaching: A New Easternmost

Geocaching.com keeps lots of statistics. Some of my favorites are most eastern, western, southern, and northern finds.

Since 2011, my most eastern find has been I am the God of Leaky Caches and Soggy Log Books. In addition to logging a new state (Delaware), I’ve now logged a new most eastern find: Light Pole Park.

This is on the boardwalk. The cache is located at the end of the boardwalk.

Near the Cache but not yet there.

Wonderfully Silly Cache!

Sweetieheart and I were on a trip up the Panhandle to visit my mother. We stopped off to buy gas and to stretch our legs. As Sweetieheart paid, I pulled out my trusty iPhone and looked for a nearby cache.

We got a hit less than 300 feet from us. It’s title led me to believe that the cache could be located in this unique piece of art.

There's a cache in there!

We were right and we had a laugh at the silliness of this wonderful cache.

Found in the barrel of a large gun.