Monday, October 20, 2014

Geocaching in the Gold Fields


What a great day with the family.  Of all the things we could have done with the day, I think we chose nearly the best, no, I think we aced this one.  The weather in this neck of the woods is ridiculously hot in the Summer, supposedly wet in the Winter, but Spring and Fall can be absolutely delightful -  warm enough for T-shirts and cool enough to be enjoyable.
 

THIS is the scenery we daily see
It was a bit of a slow start, but once we got our feet under us we were heading for Grass Valley to go Geocaching.  We had originally planned to go to a ghost town waaaay up in the mountains until I remembered I was the duty chaplain for the week.  This was going to demand a much shorter trip.  Therefore, Grass Valley and geocaching was the outing of choice.
 
When following the lead on the GPS, you are never quite sure where you are going to end up.  There is a short descriptor on the individual Geocache, but you are only a little sure of the destination.  Many of you are picturing a road GPS.  This is not one of those.  It is the handheld hiking type of GPS that works only on coordinates never on addresses.  It would be totally useless to help you get to Walmart unless you had the Lat/Long coordinates of the store.  So, the arrow points in a certain direction and the distance reference says this far to go - that's it.  You have to track it down from there. 
 


 We were getting fairly close and the GPS led us to a cul de sac.  A chain link fence, a parking lot, and some trees was all we could see, well, except for that two foot gap next to the fence.  Yup, it was a trail.  Took us up to a side entrance to a nearby state park.  The GPS was going crazy because of all of the trees, but after giving it time to settle down, we were able to find the first geocache of the day.  The custom in our family is that the first person to find it says nothing, but wanders away and after a bit of time announces to all, "I found it!"  Then everyone else gets to intensify their efforts until they, too, find it following the same ROE (rules of engagement) as the first person.


Could the cache be in here?


SOME are content to let others carry the load on family hikes
 
 
We found a travel bug in this cache.  It is a small item that is registered on the geocaching website that is to travel from one cache to another to eventually end up where the people that originally placed it can find it.  This one was heading to the East coast.  The website tells the people that placed it where it is or who last picked it up.  So, I stopped to try to get it registered along the trail so we could drop it into the next cache.  Otherwise, we might end up holding a couple of weeks before we could get it placed in another cache.  Well, this looks an awful lot texting, surfing, checking email or game scores or any other sort of thing considered misconduct on a trip like this.  So, registering it would have to wait, particularly since the nearby trail looked very inviting.  It called out to all of us...  "Come my way."  "I won't try to get you lost."  "I promise to not leave you in the middle of a boggy swamp with strange sounds and prehistoric creatures - this time."  This is a lot for a trail to say, but we all heard it and knowing that trails are not necessarily trustworthy, we had to think about it. 
 
 
We all realized we don't really have to fear sneaking up on wildlife with Stacia along. She chatters and sings through the entire hike. Who knows how many near-death experiences she's saved us. 

Signage in an age of budget cuts
Well, we went anyway.  The trail was good to its word.  We wandered along the trail 'til we found some old debris.   
 



LOOK  - a giant blow dryer

 
 
 
 
 
 
 















We enjoyed speculating on the various things we were finding...an old road, an old cabin....ah, when we climbed up the back of the trail and reached the front we saw THIS....mystery solved.

We stopped at one bit of old mining structure when Nolan and Arielle said they had found a geocache.  We were not looking for a geocache.  How could you find a geocache.  Well, you start to get an eye for it after a while.  Things can look strangely out of place in a very ordinary kind of way.  That is what caught their eye.  I went through the geocaches we had programmed into the GPS, and, sure enough, it was one of the ones on our itinerary for the day.  We were going to look for it beginning in another area entirely, but this will do...


We wandered on up the trail not sure where it was leading us.  "Penn Gate" and "visitor center" was mentioned by some of our fellow-travelers.  Arielle was not at all sure our habit of taking off on unknown trails was a good one - we ignored her voice.
 
LOOK - may have been nice to see this sign before we hiked out of the area. This is disadvantage (or advantage) of hiking up the back of a trail - you miss the keep out signs completely.

After a short bit more, we ended up at the Empire State Mine.  How the mine got all the way out in that area is beyond me, but there it was along with its "blessed" restrooms.

We plugged in the next set of coordinates and were off and running again.  I will share the entry De'Etta left on geocaching.com: "SHEW! We're proud of finding THIS cache. BEFORE we found it - we disturbed a bee's nest in a hole in the ground...they swarmed. We would have avoided this if we'd read the clue and been on the right side of the path. (We're too good to read the code clues!!!!)  Two of us were covered in stinging bees.....12 yo (Zander) was screaming, rolling on the ground and swatting....somehow bees got inside Mom's pants...and in desperation Mom dropped her pants on the path and began swatting. Youngest of the bunch (Stacia) sang, "I'm bringing home a baby bumble bee," while youth in the group (Nolan and Arielle) sang, "Shake it off." Mom and 12 yo son nursed their wounds, while Dad and 15 yo son went back to find the pesky cache. Sweet Success. Hilarious family memories. Thanks for the cache. Left a toy and a signature coin!"
 
De's notes - Here is Zander just moments before realizing the hole he was exploring was a bee's nest.  I snapped his photo. Nolan then got down and began exploring under a tree. Zander started screaming.

 I came up from behind the camera and asked, "Did you find it?" He ran of screaming. I picked up a stick and explored the hole myself - as there is now way I'd reach into a hole for fear of a snake. BEFORE I felt any stinging Michael came running up behind me yelling, "Get on the path, get on the path." I hadn't a clue but ran for the path - could have been a python.  As we all tore past Nolan, crouched under a tree, he yelled, "Did you find it?"  (Don't you love our single-minded focus?) Michael began swatting at me and saying they are swarming....and then I felt the first sting. Zander was still rolling on the ground in agony.  Michael said to run up the path and we continued swatting at bees which were stinging me. By this time I was feeling them on my stomach and inside thigh....nothing was stopping them....YOU'D be desperate too! I DID rip off my pants....and I'd do it again. ::snort::   (end of my notes)
 Michael finds the cache on the DOWN side of the trail
 We had one more cache to go for the day.  Trundled back to the van, and headed out to find this cache letting the GPS vector us to it.  We found the actual "Penn Gate."  There was plenty of parking, and off we went.  We ended up crossing the road to get us into the general area.  This was a very difficult cache to find.  I do not want to give any spoilers out so no comments as to the name of the cache, but someone had taken the time to drill a hole out of a rock and implant it in the hole - pure genius.  Only after a family "FOD" walk could we mostly eliminate the entire area, and then that  "strangely out of place in an ordinary way" thing happened.  There it was.  Outstanding cache.  Well done!  Bravo!
GREAT CACHE!

Another family FOD was required to find Stacia's lost cell phone. This happened to be the second time she lost it during the day. 


We ended the day with a trip to a re-constituted A&W restaurant.  It was very good.  The basil and pesto fries were a bit oily (and oh, so very tasty); the root beer was excellent, and the burgers were outstanding.  I can not vouch for the veggie burger, but rumors are it was outstanding, as well.

By Grace - Michael (with a few additions by De'Etta)
©2014 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Morning Blessings

Stacia blesses our hearts in so many ways. 

The lessons we learned about joy during her pregnancy.

The lessons we learned about surrender and miracles during her pregnancy.

Her extroverted, bubbly personality is always a blessing.

She's the motivation behind my losing weight and trying to get healthy - so I can "be around to play with her preschool children."

Texts like this one from her, "Love you Mom  Your the best!" make my day!

Face it - most parents in their 50's aren't enjoying a "second chance" to atone for  parenting mistakes their adult children are pointing out. ::snort::

We are blessed by our baby.....and *I* am especially blessed.

You see Arielle is determined to grow up, graduate and go out on her own. That leaves me looking at a  household with three men and Stacia.  I think, if it weren't for Stacia, there would be WEEKS OF SILENCE in a house with just these men.....AND Stacia LOVES to go on errands with me, she loves to get up early for breakfast, she lives for adventures....I am blessed....

Note the basket from Ghana - praying for the Moores
Stacia set her alarm early to visit the Farmers Market with me again this Saturday. It was fun for us to see that vendors already remembered us.  We stocked up on all sorts of yumminess for the upcoming week of meals, we bought more pesticide free almonds for the freezer, we bought some Christmas gifts....and we even splurged on a bunch of flowers ($5).

We discovered (as we're both people-ers) that the pie man, jewelry lady, soap man and basket vendors are all Christians.

We had planned to buy samosas from the Indian vendor. He wasn't there.

We drove down Plumas Lake and settled on buying some yummy cupcakes at Cupcake Magic. Stephanie had surprised us with some when she and the kids came to visit this week.  They even have wonderful vegan cupcakes. I can only eat 1/2 at a time - a yummy treat.

THEN we spotted Café Olivetti and sat down for breakfast.  The food was good, the conversation was precious, the time was blessed. The waitress seemed a bit put out to have customers drag her from some morning TV show - but we didn't let her dampen our spirits. LOL

Stacia ordered a breakfast burrito because she remembered Cy had ordered one in San Francisco...this brought Josiah into our breakfast. We both commented how much Krista would enjoy this outing - and Krista was there with us. We laughed at how BreAnne would not like early morning adventures...and neither would dad or the boys - and they were with us.  Most of all - we were there - and Jesus was there - and I realized how much I want to grab these moments with our blessed little one.

Choosing Joy!
©2014 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

School Tidbits

Our big news is that Stacia finished the Raceway program in Sing Spell Read and Write. She would have finished much earlier...but I discovered with the program we were using for her and Zander she was MEMORIZING the work and not really understanding the phonics. Last year we began a totally new program and she progressed through the entire thing. She reads well now - and knows the phonics. LOL
 
Our children are always "behind" in language arts. This happens for several reasons. First and foremost is our educational philosophy and our long time experience with homeschooling - knowing what works with our kids. I focus on phonics alone until they master that....then we add in writing, spelling, grammar.
 
Zander exceeded all predictions by the "experts" and DID learn to read - phonetically. It just took us quite a few years longer than the norm. This means when we were ready to begin other areas of language arts I knew he was "behind." (Our 26 years of homeschooling really causes us not to sweat this - he'll be caught up by the time he graduates.)
 
And so, last year, I decided to start him on spelling and Wordly Wise.  From past experience, I knew that our Wordly Wise vocabulary books were a bit "excelled." He was in 5th grade and I started him on the book I had - 3rd grade - first edition. He  understood why he was behind and didn't cringe much when others his age had a 5 or 6 on their books. He finished it and I decided to skip through books 4 and 5 and order 6. Imagine our SHOCK when he began to work on it....
 
"Mom, these are the same words from book 3."
 
"All books do a bit of review."
 
"Mom, lesson 2 are old words too."
 
I checked! My WORD. We had edition 1. They are now on the third edition. Yes, book SIX is EXACTLY the same material that book three was over a decade ago.  EXACTLY - all the way through.
 
Last year was rough - but NOW we find Zander is a year AHEAD in vocabulary. ::snort:: He's happily working along in book 7. 
 
I've ordered book 5 for Stacia (she's in 3rd/4th grade).
 



Choosing Joy!
©2014 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Projects

SCHOOL - we managed to finish an entire week of school during a SHORT week - and a busy short week at that. 

We also managed to add a couple of Bible studies, a book club, several phone conversations with adult Gherkins, retreat meeting and a lunch meeting or two, and a BABY SHOWER!  It was a very full week.

In the down time we worked on a few projects. These two are putting together a Gundam action figure.  This is an incredibly intricate model - and all the directions are in Japanese.  Arielle had told Zander when she could read the directions she would help them. It's fun to watch them working on it.




 While Arielle and Zander work on international action figures....the rest work on a puzzle.  

We shop throughout the year for Operation Christmas Child - but this week we began shopping in earnest.  We also put together a display for PWOC and the Protestant service. We're excited to see how many shoe boxes the Beale community can pack and ship this year. One hundred and thirty last year.....
 
 
Choosing Joy!
©2014 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Princess Light and the King of Darkness

Stacia and Zander worked for a week to entertain us tonight.  Stacia wrote the play and Zander starred as the King of the Night.


 
Princess Light
 
King of Darkness approaches
 
After running for a bit Princess Light turns, faces the darkness and dispels it!  That'll preach!
This was fun to see on a variety of levels. I'm happy they organized this and nagged us all to sit and watch. I look forward to future plays. Fun to see their thought processes.

Choosing Joy!
©2014 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...

Columbus Day in Oregon!

My last real blog post was as we left for a long weekend in Eugene, OR. 

We arrived Friday around lunch and were joined at CAFE YUMM by BreZaak and Krista. Arielle and I love this place.  The "men" all went to either Wendy's or the sushi bar and brought their options back to Café Yumm. I went inside of Jamba Juice and bought a few drinks so we could all enjoy their outside seating. LOL A big bottle of Yumm Sauce purchased at this spot has been bringing enjoyment all week.

We decided to enjoy a leisurely stroll along the  Willamette River.  The walk along the river borders several community gardens, local parks and the Eugene Rose Garden.  I do LOVE the beauty of the Northwest.  It is also pure joy to meet up with the adult Gherkins.








The girls slept at Krista's and the rest of us enjoyed the hospitality of my brother Will and his wife, Sherri. Their granddaughter Harmony was waiting and waiting for us to "make contact." When BreZaak needed to get back to homework and "life," we called Sherri and dropped Stacia off to play. The rest of us went to visit with my parents and my cousin, Lori. We continued our visiting over dinner at Denny's.

The evenings and early mornings netted visiting time with Will and Sherri - a bonus over staying at a local hotel.  ::grin::  Below, Zander, Stacia and Harmony pretend to be interested in a Duck Game.

Stacia and Harmony
 Saturday, Michael and Will visited a couple of RV centers. We're looking for a stabilizing something or other for The Caboose.  Krista, the girls and I visited a couple of stores looking for Duck fan stuff....we all met back at the house to watch the Ducks (U of O) beat the Bruins (UCLA) 42 - 30. 

Saturday night Mom and Dad, Lori, niece Nadia and her boyfriend Seth, nephew Drew, BreZaak and Krista all converged at Will and Sherri's for dinner. Great fun.

Sunday we went home for church -  Calvary Open Bible Church (scroll down to see Pastor Bre - she's our eldest Gherkin).  We attended first service and then drove across town to Lively Stone Fellowship - Krista's church. Michael spoke.  Both sermons were great!  Feel fully revitalized spiritually we headed to Tio Pepe's for lunch. Rebecca, Michael's sister, met us there and we enjoyed another fun family dinner.  We enjoyed this spot. I like any restaurant with a vegetarian section on their menu - makes it really easy to adapt to vegan. LOL 

After lunch the kids and Michael and I spent an afternoon loving on each other....and enjoying Skinner's Butte.  Below is a mountain top view of the area.


Note the Three "Os"  - Autzen Stadium
 Gherkins on the Butte
 
Gherkins on the O
 
Sliding down the freshly painted O



Krista and the younger kids went on down to Skinner's Butte Park and we had a bit of quiet talk on the top for the Butte with Mrs. D.  We all met back at "the whale." This whale was in the area when we were kids. Mom used to bring Will and I to play on the whale.



 
Mom, Dad and Lori met us at Dickie Yo for a Sunday evening treat
 
Games and Football rounded out the evening


It always feels like a juggling act when we go home. We'd like to see all our friends (but rarely have time to touch base with friends), we love spending time with siblings and parents and our KIDS.....I know there is never enough time to do ALL you'd like to do - but I think this trip was a nice balance between time spent alone with our kids and extended family time. We did our best.

We drove home Monday and jumped into a shortened week early Tuesday a.m.

Choosing Joy!
©2014 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...