Saturday, January 30, 2010

"Geode Catching"

As the hearing-impaired Emily Latilla (Gilda Radner) from the old, old episodes of Saturday Night Live would say:

"What is all this I hear about geode catching? Why would anyone want to do this? It seems like it would be dangerous tossing heavy rocks back and forth, even if they ARE interesting to look at! Someone could break a tooth or get a black eye or a broken bone. Who is going to pay for all the hospital bills?"

At this point, Chevy Chase would say, "No, Emily, it's GEOCACHING, not GEODE CATCHING."
Emily would then say, "Oh. That's different then. Never mind."

Roger here...Sorry for the silliness; Gilda Radner has always been one of my favorites. I could not help it, it just popped into my head.

(Dianne here: Kind of like the Javelina songs...but we won't go there!!)

A couple of days ago, Dianne and I attended a geocaching class at Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort in the Rio Grande Valley, where we are currently staying. The class was free and our neighbors encouraged us to go.

When our daughters were young, we used to send them on scavenger hunts all over the house to retrieve their Christmas and birthday gifts. My parents even got in on the act at Christmas time (when we were adults) by sending my brother, myself, and our wives seeking clues all over their property. We always ended up at the deep freeze in the basement, which contained a side of beef that our families shared - a thing of value at that time for our young families.

Dianne and I knew that the similarities between those scavenger hunts and geocaching would make this an interesting activity. The concept of using a hand-held GPS to find hidden "treasures" planted by others was intriguing.

After the class, Dianne logged onto the geocaching web site to download the coordinates of some nearby caches. We then dug out the hand-held GPS that our friends Jay and Nancy gave us as a retirement gift and began our adventure. It was both fun and frustrating.

It took a while to become familiar with the GPS. As we learned of the various features, mostly through trial and error, we developed a guarded sense of confidence. We took the dogs with us. I am sure that they were bewildered as they followed us around walking a few steps, turning, talking, walking, turning, talking, shaking our heads, turning, walking, ad infinitum. I'm sure the people in the parking lot where we started out were also confused by our erratic behavior.

We found our first cache in the parking lot at Bentsen Rio Grande State Park. The GPS kept leading us to a bush in the median. I looked at the bush several times, seeing nothing. I stopped to take a picture as Dianne posed with her head in the bush, when she yelled "I found it!" The cache was a small cylinder (35 mm canister) that was hanging by fishing line in the center of the bush. It was disguised with camoflage tape - those tricky geocache hiders!

(Dianne again: The funny thing was that I was actually just mugging for the camera when I stuck my
head in the bush, and then I looked straight ahead and there it was!! For those of you who don't know about geocaching, basically you take a tiny log
out of the cache and add the date and your geocaching "handle." When you get home, you log onto the computer and log your visit there, too. It's really fun!
I can't wait to take Kaia, our granddaughter, geocaching when we get to Florida in March. See if you can spot the container in the bush before you look at the close-up photo.)

We made an attempt to find our second cache near a bridge at the park entrance, but gave up after half an hour. The entire time we were being watched by an officer in one of the ever-present border patrol cars. As we searched I imagined a challenge from the officer and rehearsed my responses: "No, sir, we did not hide drugs here. Really, we didn't. We are American citizens. We are just looking for a container that has a piece of paper in it with people's names. I know that doesn't make sense...."

After a frustrating half hour we walked back to the motor home for lunch. Then on to find three more....

The first was hidden in the bark of a mesquite tree.

The second was cleverly hidden in the hole of a bird house
at the state park birding center headquarters (with permission of the park personnel.)

The third took us back to our failure at the bridge. Dianne finally spotted a magnetic key box that was attached to the bottom of the guard rail.

We are learning that I am better with the guiding, and Dianne is better with the finding.

One last task before heading home for the day - a photo of our last find. Guess what happened as Dianne took the picture of the cache under the railing?
Chaplin got bitten by another fire ant! This one bit him on the same paw as the last time. At least we knew what to do this time for a quicker response. I carried him (30 pounds) back to the motor home. We then washed the paw and soaked it in a cup of white vinegar for a half hour and then slathered it with Benadryl lotion and massaged it. He calmed down enough to take a nap while resting his head on my lap, and woke up an hour later good as new.
The only thing left to do was to wipe up all the vinegar splatters that he kicked all over the motor home (and us), and vow to not take him on any further bushwhacking trips!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Breaking Away!

Roger here...

Some of you may remember the movie, "Breaking Away," that was filmed in and around Indiana University many years ago. It was one of those uplifting movies
about an underdog "townie" bicyclist who joined some of his friends to defeat the fraternity teams and win the "Little 500" bicycle race, an annual event at IU.
It has always been one of Dianne's favorite movies, so it is an appropriate reference for our recent twelve-mile bike ride on the local bike path.

Those of you who know Dianne may know that she is not particularly fond of bike riding. In fact, due to what she terms a balance problem, she is somewhat afraid of the activity. The start of this adventure proved to reconfirm her fears - complaints that her feet were not close enough to the ground, fear of starting, fear of stopping, worries about running into other cyclists, fear of rocks on the path,
yadda - yadda - yadda. HOWEVER, the uneasiness quickly passed, and by the half-way point of our excursion,
she demonstrated a new-found confidence by insisting on taking the lead and (yes) "breaking away."

on the patio was the activity of choice when we returned, as we enjoyed watching the Texas moon between the motor home and the palm trees.

Dianne took a shot of the "boys" relaxing on the couch; what they do best.

Before dinner, I decided to re-hang our Colts banner (getting ready for the Super Bowl) and, because Purdue is again looking like a top-ten team (after a disappointing three-game slump), added the Purdue flag to the shrine.

The night-time shot was taken outside the motor home - little doubt from our neighbors about our loyalties.

I think the reflection shot of the Colts banner through the mirror with our Texas wines in the foreground is kind of cool. To quote my good friend, Jay, "it pleases me."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Happy Birthday, Robyn!

You moms will understand:

This blog is dedicated to our oldest daughter, Robyn, who showed us the miracle of life
on January 26, 1976. You have made us proud to be your parents since the day you were born!

I have included a photo of Robyn and her little sister, Amanda, outside our first RV - a 1970s
Starcraft Pop-up trailer. We loved that pop-up, and it enabled us to take our girls on many really cool vacations, including Fort Wilderness at Disney World, when they were little. Camping enabled us to do that on a teacher's salary.

Other photos that deserve an explanation:

This one Roger and I happened to have a camera handy when we noticed things were too quiet and discovered that Robyn had learned to shove a chair to the counter in order to reach the cookie jar. It should be entitled
Caught in the Act.

The photo on the beach was taken at the
Outer Banks of North Carolina, and was Robyn's first glimpse of the ocean.

The first Christmas after our second daughter was born, we used the photo on the right in our Christmas Cards; the girls reenacted the pose a few years back at Christmas at their grandparents' house, only this time Robyn wasn't choking Amanda with a baby bottle!

Robyn and her little sister, Amanda, who is 21 months younger, got along well other than the usual sister squabbles.

Even in the "awkward" junior high years, Robyn was beautiful
and excelled at everything she did. She had the added burden of having her Dad as her junior high principal! Can you imagine???

high school, poor Robyn had to endure the embarrassment of a mother who would stake out the best seats in the school theater and video tape every school play on dress rehearsal night, then sit near the front row and smile (horrors!) at her throughout each performance.

Robyn was a brilliant student all through school, and had the ability to choose any career. The acting bug bit her in the eighth grade, however, and she was strong enough to follow her dreams.

She has the unique combination of creativity, coupled with focused, hard work and her dad's gift of organizational skills. She has been able to travel the world and has wonderful, funny, creative friends everywhere.

The really
good recent photos are various head shots she's had taken over the past 11 or so years of her professional career.

I had to shove several tourists and people hawking notices for porno shows out of the way to get a good shot of the
marquee outside the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, when Robyn's Second City cast was in residence there.

You might think we are proud of all her professional accomplishments, and we are,
but most of all we are just proud of the kind-hearted, creative, fun-loving, adventurous, hard-working person she has grown up to be!

I know Robyn reads our blog, so I want you to know, Honey, that we love you, and that this isn't your only gift; your card is in the mail!!

Check back next October 26 for memory lane installment #2, when we embarrass our other beautiful daughter with photos on the web!!