A bit about us...

We are a modern family of three, living on less than two acres with a 3,000 square foot garden that meets our produce needs and allows us to share with friends and neighbors. Our laying flock of chickens seems to expand each year as we raise chicks each Spring to replace older hens. This blog is more of a journal, if you will, for us to chronicle and share our experiences in the yard, garden and kitchen. It is our hope that along the way a few folks might learn something, be entertained, or simply enjoy sharing in our stories and the lessons we learn on a daily basis. I named the blog after the times when I am the happiest, when I am elbow deep in earth.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Geocaching: at it again in 2012

#14 was tucked under a log
This entry will share with you finds #14 through #20 for our Geocaching Team - Unlikely Family. If you want to read about the first 13 finds, you can do so here. Warning:  This post may contain spoilers if you haven't been out to this location yet, so please be aware before reading further! :-)

The bug bit us to geocache again in February.  The weather was mild and we were sad we hadn't done more of it last year.  So, we started thinking about where we could go as a family and walk around outdoors to cache for an afternoon.  On February 12, 2012, we got ourselves packed up with pencils, the camera, the toy/trinket exchange bag and bundled up to head out.

Natural camouflage
We decided we didn't want to do any urban caching, so when we found a place called Crosswinds Marsh Preserve, we knew we had a winner!  The preserve is an area that was created to replace marsh destroyed by the building of part of Detroit Metro airport.  When land is used, they must replace 1.5 times the amount used to restore habitat lost.  The company hired to complete this task did a marvelous job of creating a successful, self sustaining marsh ecosystem that supports myriad of mammals, birds and other species.

Upon investigation, there appeared to be a dozen or more caches in the preserve, so we decided there would be plenty to keep us busy until some or all of us had had enough of being out in the cold.  When I say the weather was mild, I mean it was probably just under 50 degrees Farenheit and not terribly windy.  It was by no means warm, so we were dependent on moving enough to keep warm.

These boardwalks were amazing
 Lexi was so excited to get outside, she ran along the trails for much of the hike.  That is, with the exception of where we were not okay with running for fear of her falling into the water.  There are lots of boardwalks along the trail we chose and there are no railings.  You walk at your own risk.  My assumption is that the water is not that deep, but it is still a risk and the mommy in me would not let her run across these sections.  I could just envision her tripping and going head first through the super thin ice that sat as a film over the water.  The natural beauty of the area was stunning, even though nothing had really started growing yet.

Fungus among us!
Even in winter, Mother Nature has so much to offer the senses. Folks should really get out more and look at what surrounds them! There were beautiful collections of fungus decorating trees, both standing and fallen.  The ice on the water and the crispness in the air added to the experience.  The bugs hadn't hatched and the marsh was relatively quiet as much of its inhabitants were still resting for the season or had not arrived, as in the case of lots of migratory birds that I am sure will be there in another month or so either to visit or make their homes for the summer.

Happy puppy, walking
We don't always get to include Bitsy when we are gone from home and I often feel badly about that.  She is kenneled for her safety while we are at work and so I try to take her with us whenever we can to give her a chance to get out of the house as well.  She was much like Lexi in that she ran for quite a while until she settled into our pace. The vet tells me she is a bit heavy, so the walking does her good from that perspective as well.

It was an overcast day, so we weren't at risk of winter sunburn so much, which added both to the enjoyment level, and the need to keep moving to stay warm.  It was such a beautiful place to spend an afternoon.

Here are a few shots to show how pretty a place like this can be, even in winter.

Another gorgeous view
Snack/rest time on the trail

#16 was tucked away in a place best
retrieved by a little body
Find #15
Clever containers and clever camouflage make geocaching such a great way to use your brain while spending time outdoors with your family.  Find #15 for us was nicely camouflaged and hung in a tree with a dog leash.  

The story behind it was that the family dog loved to walk the trails in the marsh and so they placed some caches along her favorite trails. Sometimes the stories behind the hides can be as much fun and as interesting as the hunt.  This one was an apparently home made container, but it was water proof and solid!  We thought this one was very cool!

We went prepared with snacks, knowing that we would be out there a while and that we may very well work up a hunger.  There were benches periodically placed along the trails, so we made use of one (Bitsy too) to sit for a spell and have a snack and rehydrate.

Find #17 for us was retrieved by Shane.  It was hidden well off trail and there was a lot of brush and such in the way.  Lexi and I stayed on the trail with the dog and waited while he "bushwacked" his way in.  It was cleverly hidden.

Sometimes caches are obvious and out in the open (taking some of the fun out of it), other times, they are right in plain sight, but you have to be really looking for them to see them and recognize them for what they are.  We looked for quite some time for this one, and were a little embarrassed by having missed it when it was right out in the open.  That's the fun of the hunt, though!

#18 was tough to spot

After #18, we could tell we were losing Lexi's attention and even the dog had slowed down from the walking.  We decided it was time to head back out to the car.  There was just one issue, we had not picked up trail maps. Oops!  Thankfully, the app we have on our phones also provides satellite imagery, so we were able to navigate the trails back to the parking area utilizing that feature.

It was a breathtaking walk.

There is an extensive boardwalk system that meanders over the open water portion of the marsh.

There is even a screened in pavilion complete with tables for having lunch or entertaining a group. Although not well maintained, the charm of the building really captured us.

Some of the marsh residents kept a watchful eye on us while we moseyed about the boardwalk system on the way to the car.  We can't wait to return during warmer weather to see all the wildlife that we are sure this ecosystem teems with later in the year.

After spending the better part of an afternoon outdoors, we were ready for lunch.  We were looking for someplace with homestyle, stick to your ribs type food to re-energize after our walk.  Cracker Barrel fit the bill.  After taking time to rest and refuel, we decided to try for another find or two on the way home.

#19, our first virtual cache
Our next find was our first virtual cache.  A virtual cache is one where you find a location or object, collect information or a photo, and then email the required things to the cache owner in order to validly log your find.  In this case, the cache was meant to teach a bit of history and show how the local area had changed over time.

After the virtual cache, we struck out on a couple hunts and started to doubt our hunting skills.  We noticed a cache nearby in a cemetery and thought we may have better luck there.

ending the day with find #20
Cemetery finds are typically in the same types of places, so we hoped to end our day on a high note, with a find.  We were in luck.

It was a fantastic day, well spent with family.  We saw lots of places we had never been before and would never have otherwise had occasion to go.  This day was just the beginning for this year!  Stay tuned, there are lots more hunts and finds to come!

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