Friday, August 19, 2011

Geo-what? GeoCACHING!

This summer has been particularly tough to find time to explore with each other. It seems that when Josh is working, I'm not and when I'm working, he's not. We have come to realize that though we can't seem to get too far from home, there are still plenty of small adventures close to home. So, we dusted off the GPS and started to investigate the geocaching possibilities.

Geocoin & Travel Bug
I first started geocaching in 2007. I can't remember who told me or where I came across the game but it sparked an interest immediately. Basically, it's a worldwide treasure hunt played with GPS units. Cachers navigate to specific coordinates and then try to find a small camouflaged containter (the geocache). Then the Cacher logs their find online.

In the geocache are various trade objects; marbles, keychains, fishing tackle. You never really know what you are going to find but the coolest things are Travel Bugs and Geocoins. A Travel Bug is a dog-tag that's attached to an object and a geocoin is unique coin, both are numbered. They travel from cache to cache around the country and people log them so everyone can see where they've been. It's a little dorky. We know. But it's also kinda fun!
50cal Ammo Box cache, Located off Maitland Rd.

When we logged into we were surprised to see that within 10 miles of our house were 64 caches. It's kind of amazing to think that within that distance there were that many treasures to try and find. So we started looking. 30 days later and we've attempted about 25 caches.

Last night we tried out first Night Cache. It was located off of Mt. Roosevelt Rd., not too far from home. We took an old two-track that we hadn't known about before. We drive Roosevelt Rd. all the time and still had missed that road. We drove down to the coordinates and waited for the sun to set. The pines rose up all around us and for being so close to town it somehow seemed like we were in our own world. We heard the insects begin their night songs as the forest came alive around us. It was very cool.

Once the sun set we started up our flashlights and began to look. It didn't take us to spot the reflectors and after a short walk we found the camouflaged cache. We signed the logbook, took a 35mm film container with a trash bag in it (to pick up trash with on your hike out) and left, in it's place, a key-chain bottle opener.

On our way home we realized how nice it was to be out caching in the evening, especially in the dark. Now that we've found a night cache we are going to start looking for more to do. Maybe even put one out ourselves. Wouldn't that be fun?!

Only part of geocaching is finding the cache. The most important part are the places that you'll see and the experience that you'll have. It's about going somewhere you may have overlooked or had never known about and exploring it with fresh eyes.

If you are interested in finding out about geocaching near your home than visit and put in your zip code. A list of caches will appear but you can also look at them on a map. If you want more of an idea of what you may be getting into watch What is Geocaching? If you'd like to go out with us than leave us a note! Either way look for us, BackroadsAdventures, on the trail!


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Loving our life! Plus a preview of our biggest adventure yet!

Today, I was looking at our blog and realized how lucky I am. I can't help but appreciate how much effort Amanda puts into chronicling our adventures. She is such a hard worker. She is a full time student, works nights, and takes care of me and our house. With all this going on she still seems to find time to plan out some truly great adventures. I love my wife with everything I am and ever will be. She is my driving force and my best friend. I love the life that we have created. And I especially love our adventures all over the USA.

Our lives have been a little hectic lately and we no longer have as much time to go out and explore like we use to. Well, I am glad to announce that this is just a temporary situation. Amanda and myself are on our way to starting our own eco-tourism business.

We've done a lot of jobs and been a lot of places, and it has become obvious that we are at our best when we are outside with each other. We've been toying with the idea of having our own business for over a year. We kicked a few ideas around, and all seemed like good avenues. The only problem was that we needed money to get it all started. So, we've been working our butts off in an attempt to get the money together to start our business.

To be honest, it wasn't looking too good there in the beginning. As is typical with us, it took a little help from nature and fate to give us our break. As you all know, we had a great wedding and a fantastic honeymoon. It was on that honeymoon that we felt the nudge we needed.

While in Yellowstone we realized our love for being outside wasn't something we could ignore. After riding around and thinking about what we could do Amanda came up with the idea of Eco-tourism. I had heard of it before but never really thought about it much. Amanda told me about what she knew and I was on board. When we got home from Yellowstone we did some research and I found that it was one of the safest business ventures there is. Relatively low start up and a large market to appeal to. This was right up our alley.

I don't wanna give any more away until we get further along in our process, but I encourage everyone who reads our blog to keep an eye out for Backroads Eco-Adventures and hopefully we'll be giving you a tour of what we call home.

Again, I can't thank Amanda enough for being so amazing, and I know that this incredible adventure we've begun is about to take a very fun turn. I love my life and I love my wife. I really am the luckiest man alive.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pathways Spiritual Sanctuary & Community Caves

A few days ago I came across an article about Pathways Spiritual Sanctuary, a place open to the public as a place to reflect and be at peace. This seemed like a very cool idea and on my next day off I headed that way. Nate happened to have the day off and he came along. The dogs were in tow. I instantly realized what a special place this was and knew that I'd be back in a matter of days with Josh. It was something that he needed to experience.

Entrance to Pathways 8.11
That day came on Sunday. I had told him just enough details to get his interest peaking and we woke up early with anticipation. We were in great moods as we cruised out on Rochford Road. It's beautiful country out that way. Pathways is located on Juso Ranch Road, just across from the Dumont Trailhead of the Mickelson Trail.

We parked in the lot, leashed the dog and passed through the gate. It felt as though we were entereing a private, sacred place. We read the welcome prayer, which wasn't religious, so much as spiritual. And when we walked on I think we both felt lighter.

The Invocation, 8.11
 The walking path was wide easy to navigate and natural to follow. Our first stop was at the statue called "The Invocation".  It's a larger than life depiction of a warrior on the back of a bucking horse with only a buffalo hide between them. Raised to the sky, the warrior holds a buffalo skull. The statue has begun to patina and it was awe inspiring. It was impossible not look look at it from all sides in wonder.

The path first lead us through an aspen grove, then up a slight hill and through the woods. Along the way were nooks with plaques with quotes to contemplate and benches to sit in wonder. There were many religious quotes from a wide variety of regions, each emphasizing one-ness. It felt like a very positive place. We don't want to give away too much because it really is something to see.

Gandhi quote on the walking path, 8.11
We took our time and sat on quite a few benches. We sat and listened to a symphony of insects wake up and enjoyed the dew on our feet.  We eventually made our way back to the beginning. As we exited through the gate we promised to come back here soon. Our early morning visit had been inspiring.

Late that afternoon, after lunch and a nap, we headed to Spearfish Canyon to find Community Caves. Earlier this spring I had thought that I had glimpsed a frozen waterfall that could have been the Caves. I had asked just about every local friend and search every blog on the Black Hills and it was only a few days before when a few friends had hiked it. After a few details, we had a better idea of where we were going.

Community Caves, 8.11
We parked at the turnout that was 2.7 miles, crossed the highway and walked back towards Spearfish along the creek bed. The trail was fairly easy to find and we began the assent up a rocky ravine to the caves. About halfway up a small stream of water washes through the path and it seems as though we've stepped into another world.

Community Caves 8.11
At the top of the ravine a waterfall spills over the overhang that houses a series of small caves. Some of the caves had smoke damage and one had artwork. The water spilling over the edge was cold and we used it to cool ourselves. We hung out for awhile and enjoyed the peacefulness.

On the way home we had to pass through Deadwood, which is gearing up for Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. It seemed like a nice night to enjoy a dinner at Diamond Lil's and an ice cream. We walked around town and took all the bikes in. The streets rumbled with the thunder of Harley's and it was a good way to end our adventurous day.