Saturday, August 20, 2016

International Geocaching Day.

Today is International Geocaching Day. I attended my first International Geocaching Day Event on this day in 2011. Heather had just introduced me to Geocaching a few months previously, as a way to get me out of the house after Nid and the children moved out here to Wyoming. I have come a long way since that day in Harrisonburg, in so many aspects of my life.

Today I needed to find one cache in order to get the souvenior badge. I found 13, and did not find 4. Two of them were missing, and two of them I chickened out on trying because the rock climbing was above my abilities to try, especially alone.
This was my first did not try. I'm pretty sure I know which crevice the cache is in, but I could not reach a hand hold that I was confident enough to pull myself up with. It was disappointing on several levels, because it was a strenuous walk just to get to the rocks, so not finding it was even more hard on my heart.
I was thankful that this "bridge" was actually sturdy.
This is my second did not try. I walked up to it. I looked up. I walked around it. I got back in the car. It's on the top. I wasn't going to try to get on the top by myself.
At one of my caches, there was the tiniest of pull offs 50 feet from the cache. It actually wasn't a pull off, it was just the first part of that particular road that had more than one lane. But it was so close to the cache, I parked there anyway. I had just sat down to open the cache and sign the log when a car pulls in behind me. Now, it really wasn't a pull over. so I thought that they must have been cachers. I was only 50 feet away, but pretty straight up the tree covered hillside, so I continued to do what I needed to do. I closed it up, and then got my camera and snapped this photo. As far as I can tell, neither of them ever looked up. I was hoping that when I climbed back down they'd roll the window down and introduce themselves, but they just seemed surprised when I appeared on the road, so I got in my car and left.
Today did have two technology problems that I'm having to deal with. My iPod froze near the beginning of my journey, and a hard reset isn't working. The good news is, at the elevation of the Medicine Bow forest I was at, I could pick up the Fort Collins country station perfectly. Not as good as my pre-loaded soundtrack, but better than nothing. Half way through my journey I got an error on my phone that my sim card was INVALID. I'd never heard of this problem, and so I turned the phone off an on several times. That didn't fix it, but my c:/geo app was working fine, so I continued on. When I got home I rebooted and took out the sim card. That didn't fix it either, so I called Straight Talk. I had already googled that this happened sometimes with Straight Talk phones (this is my first Android with a sim card, none of my others had them). I just got this phone in June when my other one crapped out on me, and I was already not impressed with this particular phone, and wishing I'd chosen a different one. The customer service lady told me that sometimes when you go into areas with no service, it basically breaks the sim card. She's going to mail me another one. Now, it's great that she's going to do that for free, however it takes 2-3 business days, and it's a Saturday. Which means it'll ship out on Monday, and get to me maybe Wednesday. So that's five days without a working phone. That's not cool. I told her than half of Wyoming doesn't have service, and her solution was that when I know I'm going into an area without service I should put my phone into airplane mode. That would be great if I knew where I was going to lose service. I was caching right where I was today last weekend and this didn't happen. In two weeks I'm going on a two-three day caching trip, most of which will be where there is no service. What if I turn it off, but then actually need help, and turn it on, but it breaks again and I can't call for help? I'm pretty disappointed in this new development.

When I got home, Georgia was so excited to see me. It was nice out, so I set up her kennel so she could lay in the sun. I left her there while I showered and made my call, and started logging my caches. I got up for something and looked in the bedroom.
She had abandoned her sunny outdoor spot, and gotten into bed. Crazy girl...

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A Little Hike... Straight up.

Yesterday morning after work, I set off to the Summit to get a Geocache that I needed to complete part two of the August Challenges. I had solved the puzzle earlier in the week that told me that I needed a multi, and after searching for the ones within an easy drive of Laramie, I chose one that looked the easiest, and was placed by one of my local caching friends, so I knew that it would be a quality cache as well.

A multi cache involves one where the original coordinates take you to a location that tells you the next coordinates, and so on until you get to the final coordinates where the cache is actually hidden. I had just found the first stage when I was stopped by a law enforcement officer and questioned about what I was doing. Officer Wick initially seemed skeptical of my telling her that I was Geocaching, and asked me to take her to the coordinates to show her. Apparently, there are artifacts out in the area where I was, and it's illegal to take them. She then went on to warn me about the dangers of hiking in the state/national parks. Apparently a Geocacher south of Denver was out searching and walked into a field of 16,000 marijuana plants. He didn't turn back and ended up face to face with two armed drug cartel members. She said that I was only likely to stumble on an occasional one out past where I was, and I assured her that I am very safe, especially since I generally cache alone, and I didn't think I'd be going down into the area where she thought there might be illegal drugs growing. She then seemed satisfied, and thanked me for chatting with her and went on her way. After saying, oh Geocaching is like the original Pokemon Go. Well, maybe, but I have to say I doubt that Pokemon Go will still be going in 16 years, which is how long Geocaching has been around.

My plan was to just get this one cache, and then go home. I looked at my GPSr, and there were a number of caches that were short to no hike at all, so I decided to get a couple before I headed home. My first one was near an old bunker.
I of course had to explore.

The floor was made of metal, and I could tell there was an open space underneath of it, making it a rather more creepy than it already was.  It was pretty cool, though.

I was lucky to be able to find the cache nearby quickly and discretely, as there were quite a few hikers in the area, due to the Wyoming Equality Rendezvous which was set up nearby. It looked like they were having a good time, and I'd never seen so many campers/motorhomes not on an actual campground. In hindsight, I wish I'd stopped in and asked if I could purchase a meal from their food tent, as I made an interesting decision to climb a mountain spur of the moment, and while I did it safely and successfully, I had only had a protein shake for breakfast, and had not packed nearly enough water for my journey.

0.3 miles from the cache at the bunker was another cache. It was rated a level 4 terrain, and I usually avoid anything over a 3, because I like to keep my caching casual. This one was calling my name, however, and I really wanted to find it. It had only been found twice before, back in 2014, shortly after it had been placed. One cacher had posted photos, and she wasn't young, so I thought, if she can do it, I can do it, so I started off. My destination was the little tree you see on top of the rocks in the center of the photograph.
Standing at my car, I was at an elevation of 8280ft above sea level. I had to go down before going up, and that elevation was right around 8200ft, maybe a little lower. The climb to the base of the rocks was about an hour, which included many breaks to rest. It was all bush-whacking, which makes it so much harder. I definitely need to invest in some hiking boots that cover my ankles, because my sneakers collected many pine and sagebrush nettles that poked my feet uncomfortably. Once I got to the bottom of the rocks, it took about twenty minutes to find the safest way up to where I thought the cache might be. I knew that it wasn't at the very top, but close to it, and it was. The top was an easy 30 foot walk up from where the cache was.
This is the tree that was visible from my car.
My car is right in the center of the photo, and is barely visible, so I circled it in this photo:

I got a little frustrated searching for the geocache, because I was hot and tired and dehydrated. When I did find the cache I was impressed that after two years, there was not a bit of moisture in it, and everything was in perfect shape.

I'm the third person to find this cache. I traded items for a 1946 Lincoln Penny. I have collected a number of unique coins from caches over the years, and will be adding this one to my collection.  I had thought that the trip down would be just as hard as the trip up, and while it did have it's challenging moments, mostly because I was exhausted and kept tripping as I bush-whacked my way through heavy under brush, I made it back to the car in pretty good time. I finished my water, and this is when I should have headed straight home (or stopped and asked the Equality folks for some food and drink), because I soon got quite sick from dehydration and sun exposure, that I am pretty sure more water and some calories would have prevented, or at least kept the symptoms bearable.

I found several more caches on my way home, and was very proud of myself for making a healthy lunch (at 3:00pm) choice instead of the greasy burger that I was craving. As I got into Laramie I called in an order to Sweet Melissa and picked up this healthy and filling meal of black bean burger with cheddar and sweet potatoes, and drank my Arbonne after workout drink.
This perked me up a bit, but it took Tylenol, Ibuprofen, a nap, and three more liters of water to make the headache go away.

All in all, it was a great day. And today, I am sore but not miserable, and already planning a trip to the top of these rocks, where there is a cache on the edge/under a cliff somewhere. I am thinking next Saturday would be the perfect time for that. It's got to be easier than what I did yesterday.

 After a short nap, I had to get up and go do a petsitting job. I was rewarded with these two different views on my way back home.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Saddest Of Days.

Our summer holiday officially ended yesterday, when I left Briony at the airport to fly back to Wales. We did an amazing job of not crying our eyes out up until the time we said goodbye at the security gate. I waited up above until she cleared security, and then she stopped for me to take a photo and whisper I love you one more time.
By the time I got to the car I gave up trying to hold the tears back. I was a full blown mess by the time I got on the road. Had I not had less than an hour to get to Fort Collins to pick up Georgia, I think I would have completely fallen apart. I turned on the radio really loudly and sang my heart out all the way home. Between every song, I burst into tears again. Thankfully Georgia is not too upset by human emotion. Bearette would get very stressed when I cried, but Georgia doesn't mind as long as it doesn't interfere with her napping.

Grief is such a fickle thing. Briony and I have the best relationship that we've ever had. We're closer now than we've ever been. We know things about each other that most parents and children don't know about each other (for better or worse). I just miss her so much, all the time. I know that we'll see each other again, but I also know that we'll never live near each other again.

I don't regret much. I have lived a life, and made choices, some of them good and some of them rash. But I will never regret the choices that led to me becoming a mother. What I do regret, however, is that I took bad advice from an adoption agency in the US that said that I could adopt the children after we moved to Virginia. I had already filled out the paperwork in the UK to start the process, but then we started the process to move to the US and there were going to be conflicts, so I got advice and did not pursue the UK adoption. Once in the US I found out they told me the wrong information and then it was too late. Because of this Briony and Cale could not immediately become US citizens, and would have to wait until they were eligible. Briony chose to leave before she could become a citizen, and she can never come back now. My other regret is not staying in the UK long enough for me to become a dual citizen. I don't know that I'd have even been able to do it, as I realized after I got there my marriage was not what I thought it would be. But having the option, on day, to live near my daughter and her future family is a lovely thought. Unfortunately, that will never happen. And that makes my grief all the worse.

Despite the bone deep sadness I am experiencing right now, I am so grateful that I was able to have this summer with my beautiful daughter. I am so grateful that we could do all of the amazing things that we've done this last month. We will always have these memories and experiences together. Until the next time, when we make new memories.


On Friday, the 22nd of July, 2016 Briony and I saw Keith Urban in concert for the third time together (and my 17th time seeing him). We had a monumental KURT (Keith Urban Road Trip) in 2013 where we saw him back to back two nights in a row. This concert was particularly special because it was Briony's last night with me before heading back to Wales.

We stopped at Starbucks on our way out of town for drinks, and Georgia got a pupaccino.

We took Georgia to Four Paws in Fort Collins. They take such excellent care of her there, and several girls were heading out of the office for lunch and called hello to her as we were walking in. I am so glad that I found this place to keep her when I can't take her with me.

We got down to Greenwood Village Colorado in plenty of time to get checked into our (fantastic) hotel before heading to dinner. I hadn't planned in advance where we would eat, and Briony was suspicious of my suggestion of the nearby IHOP, but once she got her crepes she was a happy girl.
Parking was easy at the venue, I'll definitely remember the cheapo lot I found that was closer than the more expensive lots, and use it again for future concerts at Fiddler's Green. I got Nabru as a gift many years ago during a Keith Urban Christmas Gift Exchange present. It had to have been 2005 or 2006 I would think. He's been to every Keith concert I've gone to since then, and lives on my fridge the rest of the year. 
The line to get in the venue was crazy stupid long, but moved fairly quickly and the threatening storm brought in much appreciated clouds that meant we didn't have to stand in the sun the entire time. We did get bored, though, and took photos of our cute nail polished toes.
We got to our seats just as Marin Morris was finishing her last song. We sat down and Briony recognizes her as the one that sings this Cadillac song that we hate, but kept hearing on the radio during our road trips. So it worked out great that we didn't have to sit through her singing.

Bret Eldredge came on next, and I am familiar with most of his songs. He's especially funny on snapchat, and the only reason I keep that stupid app on my phone at all. He was pretty good.
The wait between set changes always seems to take forever while waiting for Keith to come on.

The wait is always worth it. Keith came on, and for an hour and a half he rocked it, like he always does. What's even more amazing when you're at a concert with your daughter, is when she reaches over and holds your hand, or links her arm in yours so that you're even more connected with each other during special songs.

For the part where he always comes up into the audience, this time he didn't come to a tiny stage on the left side like he usually does, they had a full stage set up right in front of where the lawn starts. Briony and I were late to go join the crowd leaving their seats, because I didn't think that security would allow us to stand in the walkway (Keith has actually had it out with security during concerts before that I've been to). We could have been so much closer had I not hesitated, but still we were about 20 feet away for the three or four songs he did up there.

It was the best night. Briony said she thinks it beats the last concert we saw together, one of which was at Red Rocks, and then in the pouring rain at Jas Aspen Snowmass. The second of those nights was better, despite the rain, because it was mostly accoustic.

I am so glad that I not only got to see Keith again with Briony, but the timing was perfect, as it was our last night together during this holiday. It helped because by the time we got back to the hotel we were too tired to be sad about her leaving, and talked about how wonderful and happy Keith seemed until we fell asleep.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Vedauwoo & The Snowys.

Today Briony and did some sight seeing and Geocaching. Neither of us had ever been to Vedauwoo, though it is only a short distance from Laramie, so we packed a picnic and headed there after I finished work this morning. The day got hot quicker than we'd thought, so we quickly found three Geocaches and then found a shady spot to cool off and eat our lunch.

After lunch we picked Georgia up from home and headed the other direction to the Snowys. I have a favourite spot at Mirror Lake, and we went there and I made a snowman and we took in the views.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

City Band Concert.

Every Wednesday in the summer, the Municipal Band plays free concerts at Washington Park. I inevitably miss half of them, but Briony and I finally made it to one on July 13th.

We took Georgia, and we had a blanket, and it was a lovely evening. We had some yummy treats that Briony's step grandmother had made that day, and given her.

 At the end of a long day, my girls turn into goofs: