Sunday, 19 August 2012
I've been on track to make my 2012 geocaching goal of finding my 1000th cache by September 1st. @murisopsis and @OldDogSparky are also nearing this milestone at the same time. In fact, we've planned a little get-together on the 1st with a few geocaching friends so we can make our 1000th find together. By the time I got back from @Aloysius_son 's Cabin Party in New York last week and found a few new local caches, I was sitting pretty at 980.
There are several hiking and bicycling trails in the general area (by which I mean within 50 miles) and they've become what we call power trails for geocaching, with caches placed roughly every .10 mile for the entire length of the trail. I've begun trying to find all the caches along the Van Buren Trail which runs about 20 miles and has about 110 geocaches hidden on it.
The smiley faces are caches I've found.I'd been to the trail twice before yesterday, once with Brett and Boo and once with Krysten and Boo. Boo can't handle more than about 1.5 mile of walking, so we weren't making great progress. We'd found 8 caches on those two excursions. Yesterday @joyouswind and I headed to the trail without Boo. We parked and backtracked to pick up a cache we'd accidentally skipped before and one that had been missing and was recently replaced (#4 and #7). Then we moved on up the trail to #11 and just kept on walking northwest. It was a gorgeous day and there was not another living soul on the trail.We crossed over the Paw Paw River on a footbridge, after we went down to look around underneath the bridge. I can't begin to remember all the bridges I've been under since I started geocaching. Except there were no geocaches under this bridge; we were just curious and went down to explore.The unusually high temperatures and long drought this summer has caused some trees to drop their leaves already. They didn't turn pretty colors, just dried up and fell off. We've had a few good rains in the past month, though, and it's nice to finally see some green after a couple of months of everything being dry and brown.The trail runs between farmers' fields. Most are accessible from the trail, but it's a matter of etiquette to stay off the private property. Some fields are fenced, some have signs posted, some have planted barriers at the edges of their fields to discourage hikers from entering.Once it finally rained, mushrooms, toadstools and tree fungi popped up in huge numbers.
This looked like clams stuck in the tree trunk.
Krysten found the cache in this sign as I was searching the sign on the other side of the trail. We had no fear of wearing out before we headed back to the car because we knew @Bookmark61 would be meeting up with us further up the trail. We'd given him parking directions at a point about 2.5 miles from where we'd parked. After he joined us, we walked another 1.5 mile up the trail, then back to the van. Krysten and I walked a total of 5.5 miles and found 16 caches. I didn't mean to find that many. I am now at 996, so I can only find three more in the next two weeks. Which probably means a ton of new caches will pop up in the area in the next two weeks just to torture me.
As Krysten and I were headed toward the interstate to drive to the trail head, we passed a weird bird waddling along the shoulder of a fairly busy road in the area. As we approached it from behind it looked like a goose. When we passed it, however, it didn't look quite right. In fact, it looked odd enough that Krysten turned around and went back. As we got close, the bird walked out into the middle of the road and spread its wings to challenge an SUV. The SUV stopped and waited for the bird to move, but it just stood there flapping it's much larger than expected wings so the SUV drove slowly around the bird. I handed Krysten my camera and she got this shot.
It stopped challenging cars once the SUV was gone, but it still managed to stop traffic as everyone stared for a while before slowly edging around the silly thing. You know you live in the sticks when a bird causes a traffic jam. Finally a woman got out of her vehicle and shooed the bird off the road with her orange purse.
I've been trying to identify the bird. It was goose-like, but the neck was very thick and the face kind of squashed in. I've gone through a couple of online bird directories (the Audubon Society's Aquatic Birds and Birds of Michigan) with no luck. Can you identify this weird looking bird?