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Friday, July 31, 2009

Return to The Cow Hurling Incident

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about tubing on the Pequea and the Geocache that we had retrieved. Well my camera was soaked too and I didn't get any pictures of the cache so I returned today. I am so glad that I did because this section of the Conestoga trail is nice and flat and parallels the Pequea creek on a nice little traveled road. After crossing the bridge that was closed I wandered up stream towards the treasure. What a nice quiet country road. The Heron was even quiet as he flew down stream looking for lunch. I found the cache again to get my photos, but the best things I saw were the delicate little flowers along the side of the road. Some of these flowers I had never seen before.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Spoiler Alert! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Images below show the cache and may reveal the location.

CITO in Rays Woods

Wow, another week has already passed by without me writing. I have less time now that I don't have a job then I did when I was working, but looking for work is a full time job. Last saturday, the 25th, I went out on my First CITO Event in Rays Woods. Only 3 other geocachers showed up and only one person from the Lancaster County Conservancy. The five of us worked hard and laughed plenty, sharing experiences and tips and ideas.



When you first walk into the woods it looks pristine and tranquil. The tranquility wears off after you look a little bit closer between the ferns and leaf litter. This beautiful place had been a dump for the locals for hundreds of years. Nature has done a great job of reclaiming the organics like food waste, papers and certain plastics etc.., but the glass and most of the metal that "we" have left behind will be there for centuries if ignored.

This was the second CITO event here, so when I arrived there was already a mound of trash bags that needed to be moved so they could be hauled out of the woods before we even started picking up the trash on the forest floor. Within an area the size of the average first floor of a home we filled an additional 20 or more bags of garbage and discovered numerous antique bottles and interesting trinkets. It seemed like just when you think you are done in a spot, you discover another layer of trask below you, Just keep on digging. To know that fellow hikers can enjoy this place safely and animals can walk through the woods without cutting themselves makes it all worth the effort.

Reminder: CITO means Cache In Trash Out, and please never forget that whatever you take into the woods should come back out with you. Pack it in Pack it out is a simple rule to keep nature natural.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I love you, goodbye

I wish my words were enough Lucina.
I will always love you, goodbye Sunshine.

To have known a woman like Lucina makes me the luckiest man in the world and she will always be my friend no matter the distance between us.
I am blessed to have known her,
and I'm sorry to say goodbye.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bison Tubing on the Pequea

Today I decided to join some fellow Geocachers for an event at Sickmans Mill on the Pequea Creek in Lancaster County PA. We went tubing on the Pequea, and yea, this time I actually did go tubing. I left the bike at home so I could go with them. I'm glad I did. It was so relaxing and invigorating and interesting. I haven't gone tubing since the 80's, and back in the old days they were just inner tubes not these new fangled, canvas covered, handle bearing, multi-colored floating devices. The new tubes are much better. And don't call me grandpa! I'm used to walking along beside the streams and rivers as I hike, so I felt a bit like a fish looking out of the fish bowl for a change. I loved it!




It was so nice floating down the Pequea, and trying to anchor myself long enough to get some pictures, and a couple of movies. I really enjoyed the conversations with other tubing cachers and relaxing while the water swept us slowly down stream. Then someone, (I won't mention your name Lynn) said, Hey, one of the caches is up there, and pointed up the side of the hill along the stream. Three of us were foolish enough to climb the steep bank to get to this cache. I was last since I had dropped my GPSr in the water and had to retrieve it. Boy was I relieved when I found it. Note: The Magellan Triton 300 A. does not float as advertised, and B. is not water proof as advertised. But it will survive I hope. Anyway, the other two found the cache and were nice enough to let me log it as well. We only found out later that this cache was not intended to be retrieved from the water like we did. You're supposed to go to it from the trail/road that parallels the creak. It didn't matter, it was fun and an adventure.

After tubing we went back to the mill for a nice picnic and more conversation, and a tour of the mill. The owner has done an extremely good job of restoring this old mill from the mid 1800's. Some of the group went for round two on the Pequea, but I stayed behind with the others and enjoyed the sun and company and conversations.

I still think it is ironic that the van to pick us tubers up had a leaking tire. All he needed was, guess what, a new tube for his tire and he was surrounded by them.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Goin' Batty

People are so worried about bats because of all of the horror stories and urban legends. I welcome bats in my back yard because they do such a great job with insect control. They eat the bugs that bite us, like mosquitoes, gnats, some flies etc...



They won't nest in your hair unless you have a maggot farm up their. They won't swoop down and bite you on the neck. Generally speaking they don't want anything to do with us so they try to stay away. They only cross our paths because we provide a condition that encourages bugs to gather, so they come for dinner with no intention of staying too long unless the buffet is open all night long. We might have a light that draws in the mosquitoes and moths, or an opening that gives the bats a place to sleep in peace during the day. Whatever it is that draws them to your home is good for them and they are good for you. However, you should try to keep them out of your home and provide them with their own bat box either on the side of the house, or on a post, or on a nearby barn or shed.

Note: it is not recommended to handle bats, but this poor guy had recently passed when he was found by a neighbor, still hanging from a window sill. And don't worry, that is black paint and grease on my hand, I was working on the bike at the time.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ride to Shiprock Woods Nature preserve

Today was one of those days where I couldn't decide if I wanted to go bike riding or hiking. The weather forecast was warning me not to do either, but I had to get out! So I decided to do both.

I hopped on the Bike and enjoyed most of the ride until the right pedal decided that it was time to retire. I barely made it to the top of the hill, and when I stopped I accidentally kicked the pedal off of it's axle or stem. I was able to do some temporary repairs using nothing but my pocket knife, so I continued to Shiprock.

Have you ever had a great idea that you thought might not be such a good idea any more? Well, my right pedal has no bearings and wants to fall off. Storms are rolling in and the winds are picking up. It's getting darker in the middle of the day, but hey! I made it this far, why not go for a hike as planned?



After locking up the bike so the squirrels wouldn't take it for a joy ride, I explored these trails and saw them for the first time even though I had been here before. The birds, the sound of the wind rustling through the canopy, the dogs barking in the distance, ok I could have done without the dogs barking, but otherwise it was great.

After returning to the bike for the ride home, the only natural path was directly past Pequea Valley Hotel. A local bar that I used to frequent in my past after my divorce. I wanted to go in, but I chose to continue my ride instead. It was a bit of a push since it is all up hill from Shiprock, but I rolled back into Willow Street with a sore left leg and a great day to remember.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Passing Wind

It's been a busy week of job hunting and testing Windows 7. A new weekend is coming so I thought you might want to hear about last weekends hike and Earth Cache. It was an excellent hike on the Conestoga Trail which parallels the Susquehanna River here in Lancaster County. The section I was on took you to the peak of a steep slope and to a cave which few people even know is there. I found it thanks to geocaching.com. This was what they call an Earth Cache. With an earth cache there is no hidden box or anything, the real prize or treasure is the place itself. They called this Earth Cache "Passing Wind" probably because it is called Wind Cave and it is so easy to pass right by it when you are on the trail. It is also called Cold Cave and Pequea Cave. It turns out that when I was hiking in Reed Run and then House Rock Run nature preserves back in the Spring, I had ventured to within 1020 feet of this cave and I had no idea until last weekend.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Spoiler Alert! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Images below show the cache and may reveal the location.



I loved the hike and ventured a short distance into the cave, but I soon realized that I was extremely ill-prepared. I had told people where I was going, but I was hiking alone as usual. I decided that exploring a cave alone with such basic flashlights was not such a great idea. I left the cave, but I have every intention of returning with someone to share the experience with, oh and to cover my back in case something happens.

After I left the cave I wandered along the trail for awhile and saw either a young female Eagle or a large pale Hawk. They tend to stay above the canopy, so you only get a second or two view them. I also saw what I think was a Pileated Woodpecker. It was very large with a red head, black body, and white or pale gray underwing, but that may have been poor lighting. It was so graceful and fast even in the dense woods. It was definitely a large wood pecker because it landed on a dead tree and the pecking commenced. If it wasn't a wood pecker then this big bird must have locked his keys in the tree and he kept knocking hopeing for someone to open the trunk for him.

You may see in one of the pictures that locals had left trash on the trail. I usually try to keep a shopping bag with me to pick up a little bit of trash I find on the trails so I can dispose it. I have never filled a bag so quickly and I barely made a dent in the litter. Geocachers do something called CITO or Cache In Trash Out. It's a way to take care of the trails and repay nature and the trail blazers. This is a great place for a CITO event where many people get together to gather trash and clean the trail in a certain area. See the link to the right if you want to know more about CITO or geocaching.

Well I better get some rest, who knows where the trail will take me this weekend.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Windows 7 is in the breeze

Have you heard. There is a new Windows opening up and the first draft feels pretty good. It's a pretty cool breeze so far. Ok, enough puns, but Windows 7 is pretty cool!


Those of you who know me will be surprised when I suggest to at least try Windows 7. If you like XP and you wished that Vista was better, then you will love this. It's "Vista" done right with enough "XP" to keep it familiar to most users. I'm testing Windows 7 RC on an old Dell Dimension 2350 bare bones system and aside from having to update my onboard audio and video drivers, it has worked flawlessly! I'm still playing with it, I mean testing it, but so far I am impressed. Even on this older system it is running very well. It's fast and so far very reliable. (Note the low CPU usage and acceptable RAM usage. This is with  a few programs open including Media Player wirelessly streaming music from my music server in another room.



Much of this OS is different from what you were used to in XP, a little bit like Vista, but basically all its own. This feels like a complete rework of Vista. There are few prompts like Do you want to open X? Why would you have clicked on it if you didn't want to open it! The start menu is well layed out and less cluttered looking then Vista. The only gripe I still have is having to hunt to create a restore point, but at least you can create restore points like in XP. The networking controls are a bit confusing at first and not all of the tools you need are in the same place. For example when you setup a new wireless conection there is no where to indicate what type of WEP key you are using so you will not be able to connect until you left click on the wireless icon in the sys tray and then right click on the connection you want to use and choose Properties. This should be in the same place as creating a new conection, but they will fix that I'm sure.  I'm still not a fan of Internet explorer 8, but that's why God created Fire Fox (just kidding).



I normaly wouldn't suggest that you buy an OS or any program, but right now you can buy Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade from Amazon.com for only $49.95! You probably won't beat that price anywhere. I normaly wait until the first Service Pack comes out after real people like you and I have used a new OS and worked most of the bugs out of it, but the Release candidate that I am using has very few bugs. The final retail version will probably be excellent for most of you right out of the box.

Just to make it clear, this is not a paid endorsement, I am not getting a dime from Microsoft or Amazon.com for this post, I just wanted all of you to know about it. If both of you enjoy the article and the OS, I will be happy. If you hate it, then, they made me do it!  {:^)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Willow Street Festival

The Willow Street Independence Day Festival was held on Willow Valley Farm this year for the first time. It looked like it might rain at times, but you could not have asked for better weather. There were so many people who attended this event. It seems like 2/3rds of the town plus some showed up to have some fun tonight. The crowd was great and the fireworks at the end were excellent.

These photos barely capture the magnitude and expanse of this event.



Here are some movies, and animated stills for your viewing pleasure as well




I hope that they hold the festival here again next year and do as great a job as they did with the fireworks again.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Trout Run Cache Stage 2

This was my first multicache. I'm embarrassed to admit that I didn't notice on my GPSr that it was a multicache, or I would have waited to do stage 1. I found stage 1 when hiking on the rails to trails nearby. If you look back on my May 31st entry you will see that I took the wrong path to get to the cache, but I still found it. If not for the rain I would have looked for stage 2 that day, but I had to back track to the car several miles away before the skies opened up.

Here is a reminder of my wanderings that day.



If you're not familiar with geocaching or what a multicache is, basically you are given coordinates to a geocache or cache. That is your "prize". With a multicache the first stage is a cache that only has coordinates to the next stage or another cache. Sometimes, but not always, this second stage is the "real cache" but it can also just have clues or coordinates to another site for the next cache.

I had to come back for stage 2 today and I'm so glad I did. Today I entered the preserve from the recomended parking area on Stump Rd. This is definately the best way to access this great place. This preserve is so full of interesting sounds and plants, and the streams are the musical backup that the birds need to complete there song.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Spoiler Alert! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Images below show the cache and may reveal the location.



This is such a beautiful preserve that I highly recommend that you take the time to explore it even if you are not interested in geocaching.