Sunday, December 1, 2013

GEO-HIK-OGRAPHY (aka-FUN)

5 out of 6 ain't bad!

There's no secret as to what I consider the most important key to my introduction to a love for the outdoors.  If you've read any of the posts on my site, you'll quickly realize that geocaching is that key component.  And while our time spent geocaching has waned over the past few months, our love for hiking, camping, and photography has flourished.  Even so, I can honestly say that geocaching is on our mind each time we step foot into another outdoor adventure, whether it be hiking or camping.  We have even been instrumental in introducing a few of our acquaintances to our favorite outdoor hobby, though we ourselves have not taken in the pleasure as of late.  With a trip to one of Florida's beautiful state parks on Saturday, it was time for my wife and I to get our geocache on (forgive my feeble attempt at sounding hip).





Located about 80 miles to our Southwest is Tallahasse, Florida and the Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park.  I've spent many hours in Tallahassee, but it was only recently that a co-worker of mine mentioned to me that if I like to hike, this park had over five miles of trails and it was definitely worth the time.  Having spent countless hours in our Georgia State Parks, we have been known to visit the occasional Florida State Park, most notably, Little Talbot Island State Park (Jacksonville).  We've also visited Ravine Gardens (Palatka), Gold Head Branch (Keystone Heights), and our other co-favorite to Little Talbot, Blue Spring State Park (Orange City).  Blue Spring is a manatee refuge and to see these gentle giants come up into the springs is time well spent!  For more about manatees, check out this cool site:  Manatee.  As previously stated, today's adventure, however, would be spent at Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park.

Our trusty trail dogs, Walker (left) and Spencer (right), accompanied us to Maclay Gardens.

Upon arriving, we noticed that the entrance was beautifully landscaped and attractive.  Once we paid the $6.00 admission and received a park map, we made our way down to our first trail, the Big Pine Trail.  The narrative for this particular trail is that it is a 20 minute stroll around Lake Hall.  Additionally, we knew that there was a geocache also located on it, so we set out to find and conquer!  While making our way to the cache, we took time to observe the beauty of our surroundings.  Around us was the typical habitat of the deep south, moss, saw palmetto, and an ample amount of longleaf pines.  Also in the mix could be found a few grand Live Oak trees...very majestic.  Many of these trees provided a canopy to the trail, and with temperatures in the high 50's, it remained quite brisk for the better part of the morning hours.  We were happy to see that there were others, both young and old, enjoying themselves on the trail with us.  All had smiles on their faces as we offered pleasantries upon passing.  Most, if not all, were completely oblivious to our ulterior motive for being there...I was sure.  We had secretly transformed into Team DAWGTRAX and we were gonna find that cache!


If you've spent any time geocaching, then you know that saying that you're gonna find a cache and actually doing it are two different things.  No one likes to log a DNF ("did not find"- in case any newbies are reading) as much as me, however, blame it on rust, or blame it on the fact that we couldn't get a consistent reading on our GPS (it was all over the place), or just say that the cache was probably missing (my preferred option), but after searching near and far and high and low for about 20 minutes, we ultimately gave up the DNF!  Oh no!  What a poor way to start!!  Hopefully things would get better.

In case you're wondering what type of GPS we use, it is a Magellan eXplorist GC.  It must be pre-loaded prior to going out, and then plugged in to log the finds to the geocaching.com website.  In addition to the GPS, my most preferred choice, however, is the geocaching app for my iPhone.  I find that it is just as accurate as my GPS, and I especially like the fact that I can search, log, and send finds from any spot where I have a tower signal.  The "find nearby geocaches" is a great help too!

After failing to capture the prize on the Big Pine Trail, we made our way over to the short Nature Trail for attempt number two.  It was here that we started our string of five successful finds in a row, but like most of our finds for the day, it wasn't as easy as the description stated.  Again, perhaps it was the fact that we were a bit rusty.  Nevertheless, after spending quite an extended amount of time searching, we located the cache and gladly logged our first find in quite some time.  We were happy, happy, happy!  In fact, we were so happy that we decided to stop for a while and enjoy our picnic lunch.  So we did.

The view from our picnic table.
 We found a variety of available locations for our picnic.
 There is a playground area.
 A covered patio area for large groups.
 In Georgia State Parks, we call them "comfort stations".
Picnic tables down by the beach area.

After eating our lunch, we ventured out to the Lake Overstreet trails area for more geocaches and hiking.  The trail that we chose to finish our day on was the 1.75 mile Ravine Trail (loop trail, though it does have a connector that is about .5 miles in length).  It was here that we found our next four caches to round our day by finding five of the six caches we searched for.  The Ravine Trail itself is a multi-use trail in which we encountered bicyclists, runners, walkers, and even a couple on horseback.  You should have seen the look on Spencer's face when he saw a horse for the first time.  I'm sure I heard him tell me that was the biggest dog he'd ever seen!  It was a great trail and we look forward to hiking it again in the future.  We also plan to return to do the adjoining Lake Overstreet Trail which is nearly three miles in length, but for today's purposes, we were short on time due to the hour of day.  It was also on this trail that we found what we would call the "most creative" cache of the day.  Without spoiling it for some others that my read this post and visit Maclay, I'll only include a picture, though I'm sure if someone were diligent, they could find the name of the cache by performing a simple browse of the park via the geocaching.com website.

The most creative cache of the day!

Lastly, I'd like to tell you about another cache that I was ready to log as a DNF (missing) until my wife's tenacity won out and we were able to log the find.  Upon arriving at the coordinates listed, the first thing I noted on the ground was an empty cap that looked like part of a nano container.  And after searching for a few minutes, I was becoming more and more convinced.  Only after my wife excitedly exclaimed "I found it", was I convinced otherwise.  Take a look at the picture and tell me what you'd think.

 I was convinced that this was the remnants of a missing cache!
Notice the broken fence.  Someone had logged that they nearly fell through the fence into the water during the search for this cache...LOL!

If you ever find yourself in the Tallahasse area, do yourself a favor and visit Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park.  You'll be glad you did!

 Walker got a bit tired, so he hitched a ride in his mother's loving arms.
 Mrs. DAWGTRAX logging a successful find!
 Walker and Spencer on point!

For more information of Florida State Parks, click here:  Florida State Parks
For more information on geocaching, click here:  geocaching

I'd love to hear your comments.  Let me know that you stopped by.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

My Top Ten Thoughts While Spending Time Outdoors

During my recent vacation to the North Georgia mountains, my wife and I spent three days camping at the beautiful Vogel State Park located in Blairsville, Georgia.  This trip, like the many before, allowed me some necessary time to balance my life of work and rest.  I found that it also allowed me plenty of time to reflect on the priorities of life and how my time in nature affected those priorities.  More than a week has passed since we returned back to the rigors of balancing our lives with our jobs, but I still hold a few thoughts close to my heart from our most recent vacation.  And while I don't consider myself to be a great philosopher, and I know that these 10 statements fall far short of fully capturing all of the thoughts that filled my mind during our one week retreat, I'd like to share these with you.  Please feel free to comment. 
  1. You can spend all of your time complaining about the things in life that you don't like such as work, politics, or your social status; or you can spend more time enjoying the things in life that you do like such as family, friends, travel, or the outdoors.
  2. The only requirement to enjoying yourself is time.
  3. One's memory is like a photograph.  It fades over time.
  4. The outdoors is like a well-planned meal to me.  It provides my soul with energy and nourishment.
  5. Paradise is a state of mind.  It can be wherever you are.
  6. I find great reward in being able to improvise while out in nature, especially while camping.
  7. Nature is not partial to one's social standing.  There's no prejudice or racism here.
  8. We should always respect the home of the wildlife that reside in the nature/outdoors that we visit, hike, camp, or spend time in.  It is their domain and we are the visitors.
  9. A short time spent in the outdoors can help you get the priorities of life correct.
  10. I'd rather be awaken by the hooting of an owl than an alarm clock any day!




Sunday, September 1, 2013

My New Blog...

Straight, Narrow, and Sometimes Crooked

For those of you that may be interested, I wanted to let you know that I've created a new blog site.  Just as I relegate most of my posts on the Life Outside My Door site to the outdoors, my new site will be dedicated to those matters that involve my faith in God.  Hopefully, for those of you that might choose to follow, you will find an assortment of posts that will encourage you, challenge you own faith, make you laugh,  and might even make you say, "I know what you mean". 

I will continue to post here at Life Outside My Door too, but the new site will give me more of an opportunity to post about life issues that I deal with both inside and outside...you know, those "everyday kind of trials and tribulations of sorts".  Hopefully, you will take the time to check out the new site and share it with others.  I look forward to seeing you and interacting with you there, too!

Thanks,
Sonny

Click here:  Straight, Narrow, and Sometimes Crooked

Saturday, May 4, 2013

WARNING: Geocaching May Cause...

WARNING:  Geocaching may cause...

  • extreme amounts of fun and excitement.
  • you to think there's a cache behind/in every bush.
  • dreams about potential hiding places.
  • a desire to get out more and become much more active.
  • an unquenchable desire for hiking.
  • you to spend an unprecedented amount of time doing something that the whole family enjoys.
  • you to start camping.
  • a desire to become "technically savvy", especially when it concerns coordinates and a GPS.
  • you to become addicted to photography.
  • lots of daydreaming about geocaching while at work.
  • you to plan vacations around geocaching.
**And finally, geocaching may cause you to have so much fun that you are willing to post articles like this.

I'm interested to know what you'd add to the list.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What Not to Do While Camping.

Camping is an opportunity to escape the cares of life and commune with nature.  Finding a release from the burdens of a career and the general demands of day to day city life is refreshing and necessary.  Wouldn't you agree?  With that being said, there are still things that we do while camping that suggest  we still worry about the life that we are trying to leave behind, even if for only a few days.  Things like taking a computer and checking email, checking your phone frequently for missed calls, taking a television set to the campsite, etc....

I'm curious as to what you think.  Does this sound like you?  Where do you draw the line?  What are some things that you just refuse to do while camping?  Do you know of any other habits that people just can't seem to leave behind for a few days of camping?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Dreaming About a Place North of Here

   


     I suppose it has been quite a while since my last post, but the reality is that I've simply lacked the inspiration to take the time and sit down to write.  Many things are to blame for this, most notably a difficult work schedule.  The way I wish I could live my life seems to have taken a back seat to the necessary way of life which involves a career and finances.  Hmmm...if only things were different!

     In spite of the inconveniences that besiege me, I can still dream.  Yes, I can still dream about those fast approaching days in which we will make a return trip to the North Georgia  mountains.  The days that are coming very soon...those days in which we will breathe a different kind of air, far removed from that which we breath here in the city!  I can dream of a different pace of life which is a bit more carefree to the concerns of the world, and much more focused on living life to the fullest.  There are happy places in these dreams of mine too...beautiful places!  Places such as Georgia State Parks, waterfalls, trains, horses, old courthouses, and great places to eat. Great scenery!  We've made great friends there too...friends that we look forward to seeing again and again.

     While I don't have much more to say except that I long for the days that will be here soon, an old Stephen Foster song about the Suwanee River recently reminded me that my mind often drifts off to a place way up yonder in the Georgia mountains!

     Such days as these, please come quickly.  Come quickly.