Monday, May 30, 2011

Berm

Before Photo
 It is Memorial Day here in the US.  For the Canadians reading this think May 24 but a week later.

Since I had a 3 day weekend I decided to take on a project that has been needing to be done since I moved in.  Specifically I needed to find a way to stop the erosion along my back fence line.  I have a creek in my back yard that occasionally floods.  I also get a lot of water flow through my backyard when it rains, and it is chipping away at the bank.

  A landscaper who goes to my church suggested that we build a berm to slow down the water, and an armored channel (made of rock) to drain the excess water into the creek.  This weekend my wife, Zeke and I built such a berm, and to make it less of an eyesore, we made it into a raised garden.

It is a surprisingly large amount of work to build a berm.  I moved 1.3 tons of rock, and 6(ish) cubic yards of soil into place, not to mention the mulch.  It took us part of Friday, all day Saturday and all Monday afternoon to complete the project.  We took Sunday off, not cause of the Sabbath (cause a) Sabbath is on Saturday, b) I'm not Jewish and c) New Covenent - woohoo!), but because we ran out of dirt :) (We spent Sunday afternoon caching and listening to music in Banner Elk NC, up in the mountains - my wife's blog has more information)

So right now we are incredibly tired, very sore, but in our back yard is the results of a long weekends labour.  I present to you, the BearBerm(tm)

After Photo

Friday, May 27, 2011

Errant Thought Roundup Guest Post

My friend Kendra has a blog called Southern Disposition, in which she posts thoughts, events, and details about her life.  One of her running features is called the Errant Thought Roundup, in which she takes the poem:


I love, I love, I hate, I hate
I like, I wish, for goodness sake...
I hope, I hope, I pray, I pray
I will, I won't, and for today...

And fills in a thought for each section.  It actually ends up being pretty neat.  I recently tried my hand at an ETR, and she was gracious enough to post it on her blog. So please check out: Errant Thought Roundup 31: Guest Post.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tying Your Shoes: You are doing it wrong.

3 Minute TED talk on how you are (probably) tying your shoes wrong:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bears Across America: Homecoming

May 6th was our final day on our epic journey to explore the wild west of America. It was the longest road trip any of us had ever been on, and today it ends.

We spent last night in Lexington Kentucky, and today we would drive through Kentucky, across Tennessee and finally arrive in North Carolina.

Since we are so close to home, our route mostly took us through territory we've been in before. Despite this we still managed to get some adventures out of it.

When you think of Kentucky you may think of the Kentucky Derby.  The thrill of the horse race, the shortness of the jockeys, the prissiness of the spectators, the stupidity of the gambling.  The Derby has it all, and lucky for us we missed it completely.


What we did see was the only other thing Kentucky is famous for... KFC.  In Corbin KY is the very first Kentucky Fried Chicken that Harlan Sanders ever opened.  It is still a functioning KFC restaurant, with a  museum bolted onto it.

After reveling in the history that is KFC we raced across Tennessee as quickly as possible.

Our last adventure occurred just outside of Asheville NC at an abandoned water pump station.        We pulled off the road and hiked 500ft into the woods to check it out.  There is, of course, a geocache there as well (which is how we discovered it).  There are several old buildings that still have the pump equipment in them, overlooking a really nice mountain river.

After spending a few minutes exploring the buildings we got in the car and arrived home at 6PM.

Some (hopefully) interesting facts about our trip:
  • 21 days on the road
  • 6100 (approx) miles driven
  • 168 caches found, averaging 8 per day.
  • 18 different states, including 11 that none of us had ever been in, and 15 that I had never cached in.
  • 4 free nights at hotels from "frequent traveller" points
Zeke was a great traveller, and seemed to love being in the car more and more each day.  We are glad to be home, but we had a blast on our trip.  I would definitely do it again.

To finish off this series of posts is the photo gallery from our trip:

Cheers!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bears Across America: 100th Meridian

"Me debunk an american myth?
And take my life in my hands?
Where the great plains begin
At the hundredth meridian
At the hundredth meridian
Where the great plains begin

Driving down a corduroy road
Weeds standing shoulder high
Ferris wheel is rusting off in the distance
At the hundredth meridian
Where the great plains begin"

 --  Tragically Hip - At The Hundredth Meridian"
     (lyrics posted for Cian)


May 4th and 5th.  We, my wife, kid, dog, and myself, are on the return leg of an epic adventure.  We have explored the wild west of America, and now we are on our way home.

The last two days brought us from the middle of Kansas, across 3 state lines, one 4 times.  We also, at some point in time, crossed the 100th meridian, where the great plains begin (well in our case, stop)

We started this leg in Salina Kansas and headed east.  Along the way we pulled off the interstate and drove by the Dwight D Eisenhower Presidential Library (our second Presidential library of the trip).  We then decided to check out the country side, so we headed out on some dusty dirt roads to check out the farmland (and to grab some caches).  I got Kansas all over my car (its still there!)


We ate lunch in Kansas City, and then drove most of the way across Missouri, and stayed in O'Fallon MO, just to the west of St. Louis.  This stretch was one of the least interesting stretches of our trip.

The next day we headed into St. Louis to check out the infamous St. Louis Arch.  It is exactly what it pretends to be - a giant arch.  It is supposed to symbolize the expansion of America to the west (think Louis & Clark etc.) but I think it means that St. Louis is trying to compensate for something.

After the arch we went to find the first cache of the day, which was at a really interesting metal sculpture of a jazz band.


After St. Louis we crossed then Missouri River and headed across Illinois, then into Indiana.  We barely grazed the southern half of these states so there isn't a lot to say about them.  We didn't really stop except to get caches so I can check the states off my list.

We did get to see a lot of the flooding that has been happening in that part of the world.  Mile after mile of farmers fields covered in 4-6ft of water.  It was rather dramatic, and mildly depressing.

Indiana had an interesting cache that I wanted to get.  It is called "Kentuckiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom"...  try being a cacher, read that title, and NOT want to get it... go ahead... try.

Done trying?  Yeah, me to. It is hunt time.   The issue was that to get to the cache I had to cross the Ohio river into Kentucky at Louisville KY, then cross back into Indiana - the cache is on the Indiana bank of the Ohio river.  The problem is that yours truly is, surprisingly (hopefully), bad at navigating city streets. When we got of the bridge from KY to IN I took a wrong turn and accidentally ended up on the bridge back to KY.  A turn around later and I re-crossed then river and ended up at the cache.   I crossed a timezone boundary with each crossing, so I am pretty sure, due to the paradoxes of time travel, that I aged 3 hours in those 15 minutes.


The cache itself was at an abandoned building that made up the support structure for a large train bridge that crossed the Ohio River.  If you are in the area I highly recommend doing this one.  One interesting thing that made it extra special was while I was hunting the cache I was up near the tracks as a train was going by.  One of the engineers on the train was leaning out the window and gave me a nod as he drove by - it was rather cool little scene.

After the cache we headed to Lexington KY to spend the night. The end.

Tomorrow is our last day on the road.  What adventures will it bring? Will we make it home?  Will we break down on the side of the road, give up on our current life and become a band of roaming gypsies with a music playing monkey?  Will I finally stop posting such long posts about things that happened  3 weeks ago? Will I stop asking rhetorical and silly questions?  yes.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Bears Across America: Go East Young Man

May 3, 2011.   Our family adventure to explore the wild west of America was rapidly coming to an end.  Since we went north to get to Colorado Springs Colorado, todays adventure would lead us to the corn fields of Kansas.

I expected todays trip to be fairly boring because, well, Kansas doesn't exactly have a reputation as a party state.  Normally when people think of Kansas they think of two things:  Flat farmers fields, and the Wizard Of Oz.  I never saw a wizard (or the tornado that provides a gateway to Oz) but I did see a lot of farmers fields.  They were not that flat tho.

The trip did turn out to hold some interesting points of interest tho, and lucky for you I will tell the tale... wait, come back!

The first point of interest was in Goodland KS.  They have what is possibly the worlds largest Van Gogh painting on record.  The "canvas" is 30' x 20', and the easel is bigger than that.

We ate lunch basking in the glory that is the Kansas art scene, and then hit the road once more.

Our next stop led us into history.  Recent history for most of us, but ancient history for this geocacher, for lurking at this destination is the worlds oldest active geocache, called Mingo.

The cache was hidden on May 11, 2000, only 8 days after the very first cache ever placed.  The cache is on its 4th log book - and I mean book.  Most caches has a small piece of paper or a small spiral notepad as a logbook.  Mingo had a 100 page hard cover notebook as a logbook, and its on its 4th book.  Over 2000 logged visits to this location.  Lots of history here.

Our next stop brings us to Victoria Kansas, and the Cathederal Of The Plains,  which is exactly what it sounds like, a large cathederal on the plains of Kansas.  This cathederal is huge, and reminded me a great deal of the cathederals in Europe (aside from being built out of brick, and not stone like the European ones).

 Salina KS has a burger joint called Cozy Inn, which has some amazingly tasty sliders (think White Castle, but with flavour).  After downing a couple sacks of burgers we bedded down for the night in an Econolodge, and stored up energy for the next days adventure.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bears Across America: Garden Of The Gods

April  30th to May 2nd.  Our epic road trip adventure to explore the wild west of America has brought us to Colorado Springs Colorado.  We are here to visit some friends that we met in Belgium when we were on assignment from work there in the summer of 2008 from Canada who now live in the US (cause who doesn't have friends they met in a foreign country while on work assignment from their home country, who they visit  while living in another foreign country in which they currently inhabit? :)

We have spent the last few days basically hanging out with our friends.  Zeke has been playing with their kids, Debbie has been playing with the wife, and I have been hanging out (Mr. Friend is on assignment with the Air Force so male bonding time has been absent).

Colorado Springs is nestled on the eastern side of the Rockies, so it quickly becomes a remote region with really beautiful landscape.  The peaks of the Rockies dominate the skyline to the west.  One of the most spectacular landmarks is a park called the Garden Of The Gods.

The Garden Of The Gods is a series of rock formations left over after soil and lighter rock have eroded and leaving behind denser rock, some of which is in spectacular spires.

The most striking example of this is Balance Rock, where the rocks have eroded such that a large rock is left balancing on other rocks.  I tried to push it over, but was unsuccessful.

I have also been doing some geocaching around the area.  There is one interesting type of hide that I have not seen before.  The cache container is a metal cover plate (like from a light switch or power outlet but without the holes).  On the back of the plate is attached a ziplock bag to contain the log.  Magnets are glued onto the back of the plate, and the whole thing is left on a metal electrical box on the side of the road.  It looks amazingly official until its picked up.  I grabbed 7 caches in the rather long series (at least one per letter of the alphabet) before I ran out of time. Awesome good times.

We will have spent 3 days in Colorado, and then we are turning the car eastward tomorrow to check out the great American plain states.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bears Across America: Race To Colorado

April 28 & 29, 2011.  The continued adventures of a family of bears on an epic road trip to explore the wild American west.

The last couple days were mainly travel days.  We needed to get from Las Vegas Nevada to Colorado Springs Colorado in two days.  We basically spent two days in the car with a stop in Albuquerque, so there isn't a lot interesting to talk about.

There were road signs, rest stops, and occasional hamburgers. At one point in time we may have broken out into song, cause ya know, who doesn't like a good musical?

The high plains of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado are pretty bland, but incredibly windy.  Zeke was literally blown over during a pit stop at the Colorado visitor center.

We did run across this sign in Albuquerque:


I don't think I'll be seeing that dentist.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bears Across America: Viva Rock Vegas

April 27, 2011.  The Bears Across America whirlwind tour out west has brought us to our most western point:  Las Vegas Nevada.

Las Vegas is too large to be explored just passing by, so we spent an entire day exploring the Las Vegas Strip, where all the famous casinos and famous landmarks are located.

Our first stop in Vegas was the famous Las Vegas sign which anchors the southern end of the strip (it also doubles as a virtual cache).

We walked the strip in the morning, checking out some of the casinos and the other sights.  There is a lot of cool things on the strip - way to many things to comment on in a blog post, so I'll hit some of the highlights:


There is a lot of shopping on the strip.  One of the best stores we visited was the M&M Store - 4 floors of all things M&Ms... a tower of deliciousness that melts in your mouth, not in your hands.

I have been doing more caching on this trip than I expected, so I was able to hit a milestone on the Las Vegas strip.  I picked the virtual at the M&M shop as my 500th find. It was great deal of fun, and a sweet (literally, figuratively) way to celebrate this milestone.


 We stayed at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino, mainly due to it being dog friendly, on the strip, and cheap.  It was still a very nice hotel, one of the nicer ones we've stayed at this trip, and it is truly dog friendly.

I was not prepared for the size of the place.  According to the clerk at the check-in counter there are 3600+ rooms in the hotel.  The bottom two floors contain a casino, food courts, and many shops.

The hotel also has a really nice courtyard with live flamingos and other birds, pools, fountains, and outdoor patios.

 The strip at night is much more impressive than during the day.  The number of lights is astounding. No wonder they build Hoover Dam so close :)

Every casino has its own theme and style, and all are unique.  Some are fancier, some are not.   Almost all have some sort of fountain, some sort of food, shopping, and a built in hotel.

You may ask if we gambled, and the answer is yes.  Both Debbie and I put a US dollar (98 cents Canadian) into a slot machine.  We didn't win.



The Bellagio, a casino in the middle of the strip, has an impressive fountain display every 15 minutes during the evening.  It is synchronized to music, and well worth checking out.

Zeke loved the fountains.  He was mesmerized during both shows that we saw.    He really enjoyed most of the sights and sounds of the strip.

There is a seedy underbelly to Vegas which we didn't explore.  It doesn't take a lot of looking to see evidence of it, however it doesn't take a lot of effort to ignore it either- just don't accept handouts from people on the strip :)

It is now time to head east again, but where are we going?  What is next for the Bears?  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bears Across America: The Hoover Maneuver

April 26, 2011 saw the continuing adventures of a bunch of bears on their journey to the wild west of America.  Todays journey brought us from Flagstaff Arizona to Las Vegas Nevada.

In between is a little engineering project called the Hoover Dam.

Visiting the Hoover Dam proved to be the most annoying experience I've had this trip.  The issue is that for some bizarre reason I could not have a dog in my car and park it in the parking lots close to the dam.   I can understand not having a dog walk around the dam, but why the restriction with them being in a parked car?  Government Restrictions I was told.  bah.  So we parked in the far lots, and walked down to check out the dam. The fact that you can walk over the dam and look down, way way down, to the bottom is cool.  Otherwise its a huge chunk of concrete in the middle of a desert.

The dam itself is a pretty impressive piece of engineering, and beautiful in its own way.  It is not a surprise that this is where they kept the All-Spark, and Megatron.

Lake Mead, the lake created by the dam, is also beautiful, tho not as big as I expected.  The drop in water levels as the Colorado River is drained for use in Las Vegas and LA is remarkable (thats the white band you see in the photos).  Just goes to show the hubris of Man to build major cities out in the desert.

After we spent 20 minutes at the dam we headed west again and arrived in Las Vegas in time to put Zeke down for bed.  Las Vegas itself is an amazing place to drive into.  Desert, desert, desert, middle of city.  There is no middle ground :)

Stay tuned for more from our adventures in Las Vegas.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bears Across America: Phoenix


April 25, 2011.  My wife has a favourite website to buy "cool" baby stuff called Baby Half Off (babyhalfoff.com).  When she realized how close our trip would take us to their physical store we immediately added Phoenix to our list of places to visit.

I always wanted to see the giant Saguaro cactus in the wild, and the Phoenix area has them in spades.  I was always under the impression that such cacti were rare, so we were taken aback to find out that they grow in forests like pine trees grow in the east (for loose definitions of forests in deserts).

We spent the morning shopping for baby stuff, and for quilting stuff. It was exactly as exciting as it sounds.  Whoo. uh. Hoo?

Afterwards we went geocaching... woohoo!

We only had time to find 5 caches, but they were all awesome.  The first was a large 50 gallon container on the front porch of a house.  The second was at a waterfall by the water distribution plant.  The third was a key lock box in the back of an office building.  The fourth was at a view of a Medieval style castle in the hills overlooking Phoenix.


When we pulled up to the castle cache, an older gentleman pulled up behind us, and before we could say anything he mentioned in a gruff voice: "So you came all the way from North Carolina to block my driveway"... um... :)  Before too long we realized he was having fun with us and talked a bit about the castle.  Apparently for $900K I can make it my summer home... my wife sadly said no.  boo!

The last cache was the most spectacular cache I have ever seen.  The cache description simply mentioned that the cache is in an ecologically sensitive area, and care should be made.  Also that the geocaching logo is on the cache container, and finding that logo would make opening the cache obvious.

When I got to the cache coordinates I found a dead cactus, about 8 feet high, still standing.  I saw the small geocaching logo, and took a closer look.  I saw an eye-hook, which I opened, and the entire front of the cactus trunk opened up to reveal the cache container.  Yeah, its a cache container built out of a cactus. Friggin' awesome!  This, my friends, is what caching is all about.

An added bonus to the cactus cache was that it was in a field full of the seguaro cactus I wanted to see, so I was able to get some awesome photos.

After finding this cache we took the 1.5 hour drive back to Flagstaff.  We treated Bailey, our dog, to a trip to a local dog park to get some puppy-playing in.  Afterwards we hit the hotel and started getting ready for the next stage of our westward adventure.

What will tomorrow bring?  Stay tuned!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bears Across America: Ain't It Grand?

It is hard to believe that it only took 18 years for
Teddy Roosevelt to dig this out!
April 24, 2011 was the day we achieved the original goal of our road trip:  Visiting the Grand Canyon.

This was the day after our sick day so we were not feeling our best, but we piled ourselves into the van and drove the 80 miles to the eastern gate of Grand Canyon National Park.

They say that the Grand Canyon is one of the few things that you see that doesn't disappoint, and once I got my first view of the canyon I have to agree with them.  The Grand Canyon is absolutely awesome in terms of scale and beauty.

We spent the morning driving the southern rim to the Grand Canyon village, where we had lunch.  After lunch we hiked two miles along the rim trail. We got rained on, and the canyon has some cold rain with hard winds, but we persevered, and enjoyed some stunning views.  Zeke enjoyed some stunning nap time.

There is not a lot to expand on here. It is just a series of amazing views. so I will not express every thought or detail about this trip, except to say that if you have been here you know what I am talking about.  If you have not, and have any appreciation for the beauty and awesomeness of nature, you must visit this place.

After our hike, we took a shuttle bus back to the parking lot and headed back home in time for supper.

Considering the state Zeke and I were in yesterday, we managed to turn out a really great day of adventuring.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bears Across America: Illness and Fatigue

April 23, 2011 is the day we got sick.

A couple days ago Zeke started throwing up after eating.  We kept going as he seemed to be maintaining, but as we arrive in Flagstaff AZ we realized he needed a break.

Luckily we had an extra day built into our Flagstaff plans, so we spend Saturday taking care of Zeke.

Later in the day we took Zeke to the emergency room to ensure he wasn't dehydrated.  Turns out he was still doing pretty good.  So we took him home, gave him some anti-nausea meds, and let him sleep it off.

While we were in the ER, I got sick myself and spent the night at the hotel sick to my stomach.  Luckily my issue only lasted the night, and Zeke was perking up, and we were able to continue our adventures (What those adventures are will have to wait until tomorrows post).  Only losing a day for such serious issues was a blessing.

We'll get back to the fun adventuring stuff tomorrow, promise!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bears Across America: Desert Rocks

 Friday April 22nd.  Our travels westward took us from Albuquerque New Mexico to Flagstaff Arizona.

We expected it to be a fairly low-interest day, but it turned out to be much better than I expected.

We started the day by visiting two National Parks:  The Painted Desert, and Petrified Forest.  When you pull up to the park all you see is incredibly boring old featureless desert, however a mile into the park the land suddenly drops and some of the most magnificent desert landscape I have ever seen exposes itself in front of you.  The colours - reds and browns, are amazing.
The petrified forests are also cool.  Miles and miles of stone that looks like wood.  I am positive that some of the wood is still actually wood.

Some of the best bits abouts the petrified wood is the extensive amount of crystals that have formed inside the logs.

After the parks, we headed further west and did some caching.  One of the first caches was at the Wig Wam Inn in Holbrook AZ, which was the inspiration for the hotel in Cars.

We then headed to Winslow Arizona and stood on the corner.  It was made famous by the Eagles song  "Takin It Easy"

"Well, I'm a standing on a corner 
in Winslow Arizona
It's such a fine sight to see
It's a girl, my Lord, 

in a flatbed Ford 
slowin' down to take a look at me
Come on, baby, don't say maybe
I gotta know if your sweet love is
gonna save me
We may lose and we may win though
we will never be here again
so open up, I'm climbin' in,
so take it easy..."



We finished our day by visiting the largest meteor impact crater in the world.  Miles across, and 450ft deep.  It is definitely a big hole.

Oh, and somewhere along the way I ended up riding a giant bunny... because why not?


Angry Birds On The Web

As announced at Google I.O you can now play Angry Birds on the web:  http://chrome.angrybirds.com/

While we're on the subject, here is a live action video of the group Pomplamoose playing the Angry Birds theme song.


We apologize for any inconvenience to your productivity this post may cause.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bears Across America: Left Turn At Albuquerque

The Date: April 21st, 2011.  The Place, New Mexico.  The reason:  eh, why not?

New Mexico is rich in history.  It has everything from ancient cultures to modern scientific endeavors.  Billy The Kid lived here, and before that Billy the Infant.

Today we took a drive into the New Mexico country side to check out one of the more modern marvels the state has to offer: The Very Large Array radio telescope.

The telescope is a series of satellite dishes arranged in 3 lines.  They all work together to explore the far reaches of space by detecting radio waves with amazing fidelity and accuracy.  Its also where parts of the movie Contact were filmed, as well as a Bon Jovi video.  Tho I have it on good authority that Jon Bon Jovi had no influence on the science.

The VLA is out in what Websters would define as a textbook definition of "the middle of nowhere".  It is 2 hours outside of Albuquerque, and 60 miles from any form of civilization. Its also at 7000ft elevation, which makes it the highest place I have ever stood on earth. It does offer some amazing views of the mountains and high country of New Mexico.

After the VLA we headed back to Albuquerque to check out Petroglyphs National Monument, which is really just a state park.  The Petroglyphs are a form of Pueblo Graffiti - images and artwork carved into the rock by ancient North American civilizations, most like the Pueblo indians.

There are over 25,000 'glyphs in the park, and we saw only a small handfull of them before we moved on to exploring the old downtown area of Albuquerque called Old Town.

Tomorrow we will continue our adventures west and drive to Flagstaff AZ, where we will spend the next 3 days exploring, adventuring, vacationing, relaxing, and eating.  Stay tuned.

Oh, before I go, I gotta say that the best thing about the day was that I finally got to take that left turn that Bugs Bunny never did:

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bears Across America: Route 66



April 20th saw the fifth, and so far the most interesting day of our family adventure to head west for fame, fortune, and vacation.

We spent the night in Shamrock, Texas in an Econolodge located right on the famous Route 66.

Our first stop of the day was Conoco Towers, an old gas station. If it looks familiar to you, you shouldn't be surprised. It served as the inspiration for Ramones Body Shop in Radiator Springs... still confused?  It was the town in the movie Cars.
We drove along the original Route 66 for a while, checking out some of the history surrounding the Mother Road: old cafes, interesting milestones (like the half way point between LA and Chicago), scary nutball religious iconery, and eventually visited two car ranches.

"Two what ranches?"

 Car ranches. Ya know, ranches for cars. Places where cars are born and bred (where do you think they come from anyway?). Specifically Volkswagen Beatles, and Cadillacs.

What is a car ranch?   Well, its where a series of cars are half buried hood down in a row.  People are encouraged to spray paint the cars when they come visit.  The Bug Ranch had 4 cars, and Cadillac Ranch, never to be outdone by lesser vehicles, had 10.  I signed my name on cars in both places.

After the ranches (and subsequently after lunch) we headed towards (and eventually crossed) the New Mexico state line.  I found several caches right at the state line.  There wasn't anything overly remarkable about the caches itself (aside from my first experience with desert conditions), however after I logged the find I was emailed by the cache owner who informed me that he was pretty sure that he saw me hunting for one of his caches as he drove by.  Small world :)

Further on into New Mexico we took another caching detour and ended up in a small ghost town - a total of 3 houses, and a couple run down foundations.

It is really remarkable how fast the landscape changes.  It seems like it takes only minutes to go from the flat plains of west Texas and eastern New Mexico to mountains and high hills.  It really is beautiful country.

Zeke is starting to catch a cold, but otherwise he has been an absolute trooper, and has learned to entertain himself in his car seat.

Tomorrow we are sticking around New Mexico, tho our exact plans remain undecided.  Tune in next time to hear me say "hey, stop following me!"... Same bear time, same bear channel.

 Creepy image for the day:  New Mexicow is watching you!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Bears Across America: Oklahoma, OK!

Tuesday April 19: Day 4 of the trip to the American wild west.  I have packed up a wife, 18 month old, a puppy, and my geocaching gear into our mini-van and am heading westward.  Ultimate destination?  The Grand Canyon.  Todays goal?  Conquer Oklahoma, finding some geocaches along the way

We started the day in Russellville Arkansas where we grabbed a few geocaches before skipping town. The notable one being a cache where the container is magentically attached to the bottom of a water main lid.  When the lid is lifted, the cache comes up, along with a rubber spider attached via fishing line.  Spooky.

We ate lunch in Shawnee OK, and then headed to Oklahoma City to check out the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial.  After than we headed for the Texas border.

Along the way we took a detour to snag a cache at an old gas station on Route 66 that was run by a woman who used to let people stay with her that had no money, or who's car broke down.  She was known as the mother of the Mother Road.  Her legacy still stands here.

We spent the night in Shamrock TX.  Tomorrow looks promising as we explore some more of Route 66 and all it has to offer.  Stay tuned to see how we get our kicks on Route 66.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Bears Across America: Clinton With A Suess On Top

Monday, April 18th is the third day of our family road trip to the wild west of America.   So far we have driven through 6 states, and today we added two more to our list: Louisiana and Arkansas

After getting a hearty breakfast we left Vicksburg MS and headed across the Mississippi River to Delta Louisiana to do some driving and some caching.

One of the first geocaches we found was at a small airport in Delta that was the birthplace of a major airline... guess which one?   :)



 We didn't spend a lot of time in Louisiana, but our route took us along the Mississippi River for a couple hours of amazing scenery.

Once we crossed the Arkansas line we went immediately from river to farm land.  After a quick pull-off into the edge of a farmers field to make some lunch, we continued on our way to Little Rock Arkansas.  Our destination?  The Clinton Presidential Library.

I always thought a presidential library was more of an honorary type of thing.  One thing I was not aware of is that every document a presidency generates belongs to the citizens of the United States, and after a president leaves office all those documents are stored in the presidents library.  So this means the Clinton library contains a copy of every document he generated, all 80 million of them.

Crazy.

The library also contains a private residency on the top floor where President Clinton and his Secret Service entourage can stay whenever he is in town, which apparently is quite often.

The library also contains a lot of Clinton stuff:  presents he received, clothes he wore, the car he was driven in, and a replica of the Oval Office laid out exactly as he had it.

While we were there the library was hosting an exhibit of Dr. Suess artwork.  Suess is an amazing artist, and one of my favourite poets, so it was cool to be immersed in the crazy genius that is Dr. Suess.  When I inevitably go crazy (I'm saving up to become eccentric!) I want to slip into a Suess themed delusion - it will be a lot of fun.

After the library (and grabbing the cache in the gardens behind the library) we continued on and spent the night in Russellville AR.

Some of you may be wondering how Zeke is holding up after 3 days on the road.  He has been fantastic.  He tends to get a bit cranky at the end of the day, but who doesn't? :)

He loves watching the traffic and scenery go by the car window, and sings along with the radio (he's off key - gets that from daddy).  Last night he spent some time practicing for when it is his turn to drive:

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Bears Across America: The Mighty Mississippi

Sunday, April 17th was the second day of our epic adventure across America to check out the west.   We will eventually explore the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and parts of Colorado, but first we need to get there.

Todays adventure got us a little closer as we headed from Birmingham Alabama to Vicksburg Mississippi.  This is one of the shortest travel days we have planned, 4.5 hours in total, so we took some extra time to do some geocaching.

We started the day finding a few caches in Birmingham, then we pointed the car westward.  A couple hours later we stopped off at Bonita Lake Park to eat lunch.

We of course found some caches there too.  This was my first cache in Mississippi, and it completed a personal goal of finding a caching in 50% of the lower 48 states while I am living in the US.  I've since amended my goal to include all 48 states, many of which I will complete during the remainder of this adventure.


After lunch we continued west and cached at the Clinton Community Nature Center where we found a tree that resembles an elephants head.  I also found a cache that was built into a bird decoy shaped like a dove.  It was simply resting in a tree.

We also did a cache at the Woodrow Wilson bridge in Jackson MS.  I am a distant relative of his so I tend to be interested in all things Woodrow.

We eventually made our way to our destination of Vicksburg Mississippi, which is located right on the edge of the Mississippi River, and the border to Louisiana.

We ate supper at a park overlooking the river, and did some site seeing.  Vicksburg is a really pretty town.

We ended our day by viewing the sunset over the river, and finally heading back to the hotel to bunk down for the night.

Day two was another excellent day of exploration, and the kid is still hanging in there, and travels very well.

It is time to sign off for this post, but come back tomorrow to hear about the next leg of our adventure, which will take us to Arkansas.