Sunday, October 31, 2004

Fun Weekend


Just a quick update, have to get the little ones in bed. Still no pictures, hopefully tomorrow, really!

Yesterday was the very last farmer's market. Summer is over. OK, even fall is almost over. I am sooooooooooo not ready for winter! After the farmer's market, we went to a local gaming shop, where the boys wanted to pick up a few things. We really needed more dungeons and dragons books :-)

In the afternoon, we headed out to a geocachers Halloween party. Of course, we had to stop for a quick cache on the way there, which wasn't a quick cache at all. Well, we knew it was a months long multi, but we figured it wouldn't take long to pick up the first stage. We were wrong. Couldn't even find the darned thing.

Had a great time at the party though, it was nice to put faces to all the caching names. Came home around midnight, after a lot of pee stops, crying stops, water stops, gas stops, etc etc.

Today went grocery shopping, and off caching again. Found the cache we couldn't find on Friday, but still couldn't figure out the first stage of the multi... How frustrating!

We had to be back home in time to go trick or treating. The kids had a blast and are on a super sugar high now. Have to get the house ready for homeschool support meeting tomorrow, maybe I'll just let them step over the toys :-)

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Quilt Is DONE!

Happy to announce that I finished my quilt! Started it Sunday night, finished it this morning. It's not perfect, but it's DONE! I will post pictures tomorrow, too tired now, but had to share the amazing fact that I actually made my very first quilt!

When I wasn't quilting, we went geocaching, had our very first 'Did not found' on a Vermont cache. We have to get back there and figure out what we did wrong.
Today was a nice day, with homeschool club and homeschool Halloween party. Way too much candy of course, the kids very much enjoyed it :-) Lots of running around and all kinds of fun things happening.

Now off to bed, it's late. Will go to a geocaching Halloween party tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The whole crew

Desperately Caching

The weather has been so nice lately, that I feel that we should get as many caches as possible in, before the snow starts. Winter is right around the corner, yikes! So today was totally devoted to caching yet again. Can you tell that we are hooked?

This morning we did some caching related administrative stuff. Cees's very first cache had been found yesterday, but the coordinates needed some tweaking. Travel bugs had to be activated, cache pages needed to be printed, and somewhere in between all that, we even ate some breakfast. We had hoped that our own new cache would have been approved already, but that didn't happen till tonight. So no first finder on that one yet.

Then off we went, and when the kids were finally in the van, I realized that I hadn't cut up my new orange fabric yet. I felt better about having it with us, because of hunting season, so I did a very fast project of cutting 7 strips of Halloween felt, which we could use as scarves or whatevers.

Now we really went off, we didn't even forget anything essential. Found the trailhead pretty easily, only one wrong turn. The biggest issue was meeting a truck on one of those one lane dirt roads. He was better at backing up than I am....

Today's cache was on the top of a nice, big hill. So up and up and up we went. The usual amount of complaining, whining and fighting happened, and it got windier and windier the higher we got. At the top it was really really windy. There used to be a cabin at the top, but some one stole it! How the heck would you steal a cabin? There still was a chimney though, and the anchors on which it had been chained. Guess that didn't help enough against theft.

Amazing views, I love those hill and mountain top caches.There is something soothing about being on top of the world, looking around you, enjoying the views. Even if there are kids insulting each other in the background :-)

Time to hike back, and get ourselves to the local Borders, where we met two other geocachers for some tea and hot cocoa. Very enjoyable afternoon with them. And yes, I did buy more books than I was planning to buy, somehow that always happens when I go over there. Even if I go without the kids. With the kids, it's even worse. Although I was able to resist the Hello Kitty mini DVD, which Kate tried to make me buy :-)

No, I didn't make any progress on my quilt, but maybe later tonight. For now I want to go watch the moon eclipse, it's just starting. But hope to do some sewing later.

On top of the world

Quilting Progress

I actually did start working on the quilt, not only that, but I even got the whole top sewn together already! It's not perfect, but it's done! I got backing fabric at JoAnn's yesterday, and then discovered that I needed more than I had thought. Those border strips took up a lot more fabric than I suspected. And to my utter surprise, did the borders make the quilt bigger, so I suddenly needed more backing fabric. Sometimes it would be nice if I actually thought before I jumped :-)

But hey, I just got more fabric today and have the whole top finished now. Hope to do the backing tomorrow, after geocaching of course :-)

Yesterday, I spent most of the day cleaning up five years worth of mail on our desk. OK, maybe it was only a few months worth of mail, but it FELT like five years! Just think, I could have been out geocaching instead.

Today, I wasn't going to fall into the same trap, so I made sure to get some caching in. We first had a drs appointment for Kate and Erik, made a stop at gymnastics to sign them up for the next session, picked up backing fabric at JoAnn's, and got some bagels for lunch (yes, I know that I could have baked them, but somehow that just didn't happen today). Cees had joined a friend to do a cache that he hadn't done yet (the rest of the family had), so we couldn't go find a cache. Because then he would have been mad that he would have missed that one.

So we hid a new cache instead. Our fifth one! Hiding is almost as much fun as finding them! Spent most of the night puzzling over and listing the cache, and now I need to be off to bed.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

yet another cache

Nice Weekend

Had a wonderful weekend, the only issue being that it just was too short. I drove down to Durnham, NH with my friend M, so we could do some caches there. She managed to find us a way in that involved bushwhacking and boggy soil. It's amazing how things like that keep happening to us! The first cache was a pretty easy find, the second one was more challenging. Way more challenging.

At least this time, it wasn't challenging in a physical way, not too much bushwhacking, and only about 3.5 miles of hiking alltogether. And no darkness involved either. This time, the difficulty was in figuring out the cache coordinates.

It was a multi cache, with some challenging stages. Stage one was a film canister, hidden in the woods, which contained a formula to determine the coordinates for stage two. Do you know how hard it is to find a film canister in the middle of the woods? Actually, this first one wasn't too bad, so we expected that the other stages wouldn't be too hard either.

We found the first film canister, with the formula and hiked to the football field, where my friend's son played in the marching band during half time. Amazing how the timing worked out just right. She watched the band play, I worked on the math for the coordinates. It wasn't too hard, and I got the result that the cache was more than ten miles away. Hmmmm, that sounded kind of unlikely.

My friend came back and we compared results, found a few counting errors and calculated again. This time the cache was less than half a mile away, which sounded a lot more likely. We considered getting lunch, but the cache was calling to us, so we wanted to go caching first. Well, the only issue was that Sylvia had decided to show her disdain for our mathematical efforts by having a poopy diaper. So much for caching, we first needed to find a bath room to change her. I had a hard time not getting anything from the vending machines on the way there, but I was able to resist that temptation. It did tell me that I was getting hungry though. But who wants to eat if you can be out geocaching instead? ;-)

Into the woods, we went, and to the coordinates of the second stage. Another film canister. As I said before, do you know how hard it is to find a tiny film canister in the middle of the woods? Really hard. There were so many perfect hiding spots, but none of them had the canister. The GPS kept leading us to the wrong spots, the tree cover didn't help. We were all over the place, looking, and looking and looking. Searching, and searching, and searching. I started wondering about the calculations, did we do everything right? Was there something we were missing? Was the canister at a totally different spot because we messed up?

I was sure that our arithmetic had been faultless, but there was one variable that I started to wonder about. We wanted to search for a bit more and then go back to the first stage to double check that one variable. I started looking at places that were less likely, but could possibly have the canister. And suddenly, it jumped out at me. There it was!!! It had taken us quite a long time to locate though, so I was even more hungry by now.

But here we got the coordinates for the last stage of the hunt, the actual cache. How could we go eat when we were so close? We both decided that finding the cache was much more important, and I had some Luna bars with me anyway, so I just ate one of those, and we went to search for the last part. There was a certain lack of trails in that direction, so we had to bushwhack yet again. Not that there was much bush to whack through, those were pretty open woods, not much undergrowth.

Finally arrived at the cache site, we were sure this was going to be so much easier. We were looking for a rubbermaid container this time, as opposed to a film canister. That couldn't be hard, we would just walk right to it and then go have lunch (it was 4pm by then I think...)

The GPS kept leading us to different places, but none of them had the cache. It took us at least half an hour till I finally was hit by a particle of inspiration and looked in the right location. Clever hide, and it made us feel really good that we managed to do all those three stages.

By the time we were back at the car (yes, I had set a waypoint on it :-), it was 5pm and kind of late for lunch. My friend went off to meet with her son, I drove all the way back home, stopping once to nurse and change Sylvia.

Dh was not happy that I had been away for so long, Kate had been kind of challening, screaming and yelling, and fighting all day. I couldn't feel too sorry for him, I deal with her the six days a week that he works, so I felt entitled to a day off. It will make him appreciate the quietness at his office a lot more :-) That's where he spent the day today, he seemed really happy to escape this morning :-)

I was home just in time to clean my bath rooms for my friend Rachel coming over. We had a really nice night, talking a lot about all kinds of issues. Her kids and my kids play well together, now if only they would have gone to sleep at some point. I think it was after midnight before any one, apart from the two babies, was asleep. But they had a great time together :-)

Today, we first spent some more time with Rachel's family, and then went off to Jo-Ann's to get some fabric for a quilt for baby Angela. We want to make a quilt with our LLL group, and I still hadn't bought fabric. I took all the kids with me, so that made it a bit more challenging. In a moment of insanity, I told them that they all could get two fat quarters, and I would make a quilt for our family out of it. Not that I ever have made one. Or know how to make one. But that's not holding me back from trying anyway :-)

We got back to the car and some one came over to me, remarking 'Wow, I was looking at your family, how many kids do you have? I counted six.' I replied that she must have missed one, because I have seven. She told me 'You must have been really desperate for whatever you were getting there, to take them all with you!' LOL

Dropped off the squares, made a spectacle of ourselves at the grocery store, and finally were back home. Tara had planned chocolate fondue for dessert, so we spent some time preparing that. Erik decided that he didn't like chocolate anymore. How can any one not like chocolate???? Especially one of my kids?

One of my friends called to go out for a walk, I told her about the quilt and she lent me one of her quilt books after the walk. Now I just need to sit down and actually do it. I want to just make a very simple quilt, I cut all the fat quarters in four, so I have 48 squares now. Tim made a 6 x 8 pattern, which he thought would be perfect for the quilt. So I'll use his pattern for this quilt, I also want to incorporate Sylvia's old sling (which got destroyed at Oliver's cave). I think I will make it into four squares for the corners. Wish me luck! It is not going to be perfect, but at least I will finally make a quilt!

Saturday, October 23, 2004

So tired

Caching, And Caching!

Well, it isn't all we did today, but we did spend a good part of the day caching. Cees hid his very first cache, all by himself. We had to wait 'far' away, so we wouldn't see where exactly he hid it. He really enjoyed making plans, preparing the cache, and doing the actual hide.

Then afterwards, we went to a local cache, in a very remote NH pond. About a mile hike in, but no bushwhacking, and the most amazing thing was that we were back at the car at exactly sunset, so no hiking after dark :-) Very nice pond, quiet, peaceful, well, apart from my kids fighting that is.

This morning we had a homeschool club meeting where we got all our kids back, so we are up to seven again. The house feels more right with them all at home.

And last night, I finally managed to hit Staples, so I could make copies of clips for my paper query letters. I sent one out today. I have received one rejection already from the three I sent out over a week ago, but it was a 'We have enough material' one, as opposed to a 'Your writing sucks' one, so that was ok. I am just happy that I got those queries out at all, even if nothing comes from it.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Till Death Do We Cache


Which is the name we came up with for our latest cache, a cemetery puzzle quest, in a historic cemetery. It got approved today, so now the race for First To Find can start. Talking about First to Find, we tried to get one in a Vermont cache today. It was a puzzle cache and we solved the coordinates yesterday, but the boys had to go to karate, and I didn't really want to drive for an hour to the cache at the end of the day. We were hopeful that maybe we still could be FTF today.

This morning, we got up early, ok, planned on getting up early, had a fast breakfast, ok, hoped to have a fast breakfast and set out to the cache. Realizing on the way there that I forgot my backpack with trading items and, even more important, the backpack with clean diapers for baby Sylvia. I did some moaning and groaning, but couldn't think of anything else to do than turn around and drive back home...

Half an hour later, we set out again and now actually made it to the start of the trail. Only one wrong turn, not bad for us :-)

It took a while, but Cees found it. We all gathered around it, to wait for the magical moment of opening. Anticipating to be the first ones to write in a virginal logbook. Drums rolling. Cache opened. We cried out in dismay when we discovered that THREE other people had been there before us. Well, two were together, so those were really two finds, but still...

Oh well, at least we were Fourth To Find, which still sounds like the proper acronym, right?

We left baby Sylvia's very first travel bug in the cache, appropriately named 'Baby's Bug' :-) This was Sylvia's first geocaching in her new sling, after we destroyed the last one at Oliver's Cave (remember the Too Much Adventure entry?)

Did two more caches, one fast virtual one, and one long, long multi cache one. By then we had to race back home, because we were supposed to meet a friend and I thought we were way way late. Luckily, she was even later, so that all worked out.

We have three of our kids sleeping over at other houses tonight, so only four kids at home. The house feels empty! Guess I better go enjoy it by getting some sleep :-)

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Bulbs!

Yes, it's that time of the year again! My bulbs got delivered, so I had to spend quite some time digging and planting. I got a few hundred this year, not as bad as sometimes, but still quite a lot of work. Now it just needs to snow for half a year or so, and then they will sprout...

After all that bulb planting, we got yet another cache ready and hid it in a historical, local cemetery. It's a really old one, with revolutionary soldiers, and you have to read the graves to find the cache coordinates. Nice cache hide, just in time for Halloween :-)

Before we went to hide the cache, I asked Tara to make a bunch of pictures of Phoenix the Medabot from Florida, our current travel bug. She came up with quite creative ones, including a date with Barbie LOL.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Confluence

Learned a new word today, when I visited a cache on a degree confluence. I thought geocaching would increase my geography and history knowledge, but now it's also increasing my vocabulary :-)

The drive to the cache was spectacular, the leaves are such beautiful colors. The lighting was amazing, we even saw purple mountains. We took a nice shortcut to the cache, with perfect autumn views.

My friend's baby is at home now, so she can be in the loving arms of her family as opposed to the cold hospital environment. I dropped off some food today, and I got to hold her. So small and so precious.

It has been a hectic week, and I can't even remember what we did. Some caching, LLL meeting, meeting with assessors, some benchmark hunting, gardening, baking, whatever. Just a full week. Baby Angela is taking up a lot of my thoughts.

Reading about Levi's poop blowout milestone made me remember one of the happenings this week. It had been a long, long day, and at the end of the day every one was cranky and tired. The kids had eaten dinner (sorry, no pics :-) and I decided to grab a bite of something to eat for myself too. Sylvia was willing to be put on the floor, but I was airing her out, so she was not wearing a diaper. No problem, I had put her down with her butt on a prefold.

I got a nice everything bagel, cut it in half. Was salivating anticipating the taste, I was so hungry. Popped the bagel halves in the toaster, got goat cheese from the fridge. Was impatiently waiting for the toaster to pop up, listening to the happy sounds of Sylvia playing on the floor. There it was, my long awaited bagel. Tara said that Sylvia had rolled off her diaper, but I figured I would put her back on in a few minutes.

Got a knife, and put goat cheese on the bagel. Deposited it on a nice plate, found myself a book, and walked over to the living room to finally take my first bite.

Just when I was bringing the bagel to my mouth, so close, but yet so far away, Tara told me 'Eeeew!!! Sylvia pooped all over the floor!!!' And yes, indeed she did.... A nice pile of sh*t in the middle of the living room, with her rolling in it... Yuck, yuck, yuck! So much for sitting down and eating my bagel.

Enfin, about twenty minutes later, I finally could sit down and eat my now cold bagel... Such is the life of a mom :-)

Monday, October 11, 2004

Stuff

So many things to tell, so little time. My friend's baby is still in the hospital, and my friend is holding her as much as possible, making the most of the time they will have with her. Yesterday, I visited them, the baby is so cute and precious, it's hard to know that her time with us will be too short. Very sad. The baby's name is Angela, very fitting.

I finally got my registration straightened out. It took one visit to city hall, a visit to the DMV, another visit to the DMV, $12, a visit to the garage, but now I finally have the right color sticker. The kids didn't understand why getting a different colored sticker had to take up so much energy, I didn't either :-)

We hid our third geocache! Decided to do it on the Appalachian trail, which passes not too far from our town. We hiked in for about an hour, so it should take a normal person not more than 20 minutes I would guess :) Found a good spot to hide the cache, looking forward to reading the logs of the people finding it. Hiding caches is a lot of fun, even if it isn't as adventurous. We even were back at the car before dark :-) Got some sundaes to celebrate our third cache hide.

It was cold today, but I still did some outside stuff, putting gardens to bed for the winter. I had a lot of compost delivered last week, and am working my way through that pile now. I am sad that gardening season is over already, I feel that I didn't really do enough gardening. On the other hands, the reason that I didn't do much gardening is happily sleeping on top of me right now, so I don't care that I never harvested the beets in time.

But worse, geocaching season might be over soon! This road trip down South is starting to look more and more attractive, just don't know yet whether I really want to be stuck in the car with the kids for a long, long time. Have to think about it. There are a bunch of people I really really want to meet though.

We went apple picking again today, less apples, but just as much fun. Now I just need to find time to actually bake something with all those apples. I haven't even been baking bread, well, at least, not as much bread as I usually bake. Maybe I'll start a sponge tonight, so I can bake fast bread tomorrow morning, before going out on yet another geocaching day :-)

Had a LLL meeting tonight, nobody showed up. Which is not unusual for our night time meetings. We (my co-leader was there) still managed to sit and yak for more than three hours.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Hug Your Kids


Got some sad news, one of my friends had a baby with birth defects which are incompatible with life. Such a heartbreaking news, a birth day should be a day full of joy, not full of grief and sadness. I don't feel like writing much, but wanted to share my sadness and some pictures. Please hug your kids extra tightly today!
Sylvia
Sylvia

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Three Queries!

Well, it is less than I had planned on doing (my goal was one a day), but it is more than would have happened if I had continued to procrastinate. Three query letters have been sent out, and maybe I'll get out more tonight or tomorrow! It's a start.

Still trying to find my car registration though, ended up going to city hall to ask what to do to get a duplicate. They filled in the Yellow Form form for me, and sent me to the DMV. The DMV was closed for lunch though, so still no car registration for me. Don't want to be pulled over again, but hey, at least I can show them my Yellow Form to prove that I am trying to get my registration straightened out.

Sylvia has found her feet! So cute when she is sucking her toes :-)

For Jennifer B, no, I am not an American citizen, that's why the border patrol wanted to check me out. I am one of those suspicious Dutch citizens. Not sure why they call it border patrol, since it was at least 100 miles from the border I think. I wasn't trying to get into Canada, I actually was driving away from it. Still got stopped though, and had to be checked out because of not carrying my green card with me. At least they didn't notice that my inspection sticker was out of date, now that would have gotten me into even more trouble!

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Homeland Security

Today, I got stopped by the border patrol again. This time they didn't believe in my innocence. 'US citizen?'
'No, permanent resident.' 'No, I don't have my green card with me'
'Do you know you can be deported for that?'
Didn't really have a good reply, but wondered what they would do with the van full of kids if they deported me right away. 'Sorry, I am afraid to lose it or have it stolen'
'But it's just like a driver's license or a credit card, you can have it replaced
Yeah, only it's a much bigger PITA and time frame to replace a green cardDidn't say that, but sure was thinking it.
'OK, go over there, and park behind a border patrol unit, we will have to check you out on the computer'

Drove over, tried to look innocent again, but I guess being sent over there convinced him that I wasn't. He reassured me that they weren't going to arrest me today. That was good, because I wanted to go geocaching, not spend the day in a cell. He asked for my alien number, I had to admit that I didn't even know that by heart. I handed him my driver's license instead, so he could check me out on the computer. He disappeared within a trailer, while we tried to explain to the kids why they were being so difficult. I tried to decide whether it would have been a good thing, or a bad thing, to have all those ammo boxes with me. I saw a DMV vehicle, and hoped that I wouldn't get into trouble next for not getting my new registration sticker yet.

We expected he would be back soon, but he wasn't. We were waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting. I should have nursed Sylvia, but I hadn't realized that he must have been using a dial-up connection as opposed to broadband. Cees started worrying about his and my criminal records. I just wanted to go on so we could do more geocaching. Didn't want to end up on yet another night time hike, even although I would have been able to blame the border patrol. I doubt that they would have been coming to my rescue if I had gotten myself lost in the woods without a green card. Unless they wanted to deport me, I guess.

It took at least twenty minutes for them to find me in the computer. I was wondering whether they had found my blog and were checking it out ;-) But then, I got my driver's license back and was allowed to continue my journey. Isn't it wonderful how they keep our borders safe? By stopping every single car on an interstate somewhere in the middle of Vermont?

After all that excitement, the caching seemed almost boring. The first cache was a very beautiful spot, nicely stocked cache, lots of bird houses, and birds. No bushwhacking, no brambles, no bogs, no night time hikes, just a very easy trail to a peaceful reservoir. But still the thrill of finding the cache, in the middle of nowhere.

The second cache was in a park, less peaceful, but a longer hike. Most of it on a paved road though, so that every one could drive their coolers to the picnic spots. Jane worded my sentiment when she sighed 'I wish they hadn't put a car road here, but just a trail instead'. Pretty easy find, but huge fights between Tara and Tim about the pocket knife, and between Kate and Jane about the crayons. My friend M came to the rescue when she pulled a pack of crayons out of her backpack, telling us that she was going to put those in the cache, maybe one of them could take it. The fight between Tara and Tim lasted longer.

It was definitely colder today than it was on our other caching outings, we are expecting the first frost tonight. Guess I will have to pick all those tomatoes tomorrow. I dont' like the idea of winter creeping up on us, maybe this winter I will make good on my plan of taking the kids on an extended road trip down South, and visit internet friends between all the caching we could do :-)

Now I really want to get a query out tonight, I still haven't gotten the epregnancy writer guidelines, so I will just send them the query and hope for the best. Then I want to write more queries, since I was going to work on trying to get one out every day. I really excel in procrastination!

Thanks to Heather for explaining to me what the difference is between an executive and a managing editor. I had no idea.

And to Annalise and Paula, This includes a nice introduction on how to write a query. I have seen other ones on line too, but somehow it's so much easier to read about it than just to do it :-)

Monday, October 04, 2004

Too Much Adventure

Yes, yet another geocaching adventure, it's amazing how those things keep happening to us. Maybe I should start stamp collecting instead, as a nice, sedentary hobby :-)

We really wanted to find Oliver's Cave before hunting season in Vermont started. It sounded like a neat place, although it wasn't clear how hard it would be to get there. The cache description read "There are a series of VAST trails in this area, giving you cachers no reason to bush whack. However, the way we approached it and the way you go may be very different." That sounded good. But some of the logs didn't sound that positive "*&^%^&^% %$@#$%@ ^^%@$@^&()#^
This was the hardest cache we have ever lived through!"

It sounded like it really would make a difference which way in we took. We poured over the topographical maps in the atlas. Printed and studied on line topo maps. Read all the logs, and all the experiences, and decided that it would be best to come in from the North. We used the road that one of the logs stated would be a good choice. This one had a lot less contour lines, than the other choices had. And because there was supposed to be this extensive network of VAST trails, we figured that we would be able to hit on one soon, wherever we parked.

Dh was home, so I gave the kids the choice to either come with us, or stay home. I kind of encouraged the two little ones to stay home, just in case we would end up bushwhacking a lot. The two older boys were at camp, so we ended up going with a group of all females. My friend M, Tara, Jane, Mesa, Sylvia, and myself.

The way in took us on progressively smaller dirt roads, after getting lost a few times. We found a nice parking spot, close to where a trail headed into the woods. Got on the trail, followed it about a third of the way in to the cave, and then it went in the totally wrong direction, so we decided to bushwhack. No problem to bushwhack in, we saw a nice pond, lots of brambles, but it was usually not to hard to find an easier route, so we eventually made it to the cave. It took us longer than expected though, but that was ok, because from the description, it sounded like we should be able to find trails really close to the cave, which we could use to get back to the car. And trails usually make it a lot easier and faster to hike through the woods, for some reason.

It was an extremely cool place. Some fellow, who didn't want to fight in the civil war, had first lived in a tiny cave up there, and then decided he needed more room. So he lugged a railroad jack up the mountain, and built himself a bigger one. Stone walls all around, and a huge, flat granite slab on the top. Mind boggling how he was able to construct it. It was nice to go in and be out of the rain, and to try to imagine how he could have lived there. Jane wondered how he could live without a door.

Now we just had to find the cache. After all the bushwhacking and hiking, we figured they shouldn't make this too hard on us. They did anyway! Dense tree cover, so we kept losing reception on the GPS. Luckily Tara suddenly spotted the cache, phew. We did a quick trading, because it was getting later, and we did not want to end up in the dark again. Little did we know.

It was 5:50pm by now, and the car was about a mile away. Shouldn't be a problem to get there before it got really dark, we should easily be able to do that within an hour, right? Wrong!

We spent some time finding the trails that were supposed to be close to the cache. They were not where they were supposed to be, we couldn't find a single one. We didn't want to get caught in the dark, so we decided to just bushwhack in the direction of the car, and hope we would hit one of the trails.

One of the logs stated "i think we found every bramble patch and small pond in the area. i think some of the brambles came in from other areas just to meet us." We met the same brambles. They kept jumping into our path, and getting into our hair and clothes and feet. It's amazing how many brambles there were growing there, I lost count after 14,621 or so.

Did I mention yet that Jane was wearing her flipflops? She said that she liked them better than her hiking shoes... I didn't notice that till we were way out on the trails, and it was too late to change.

The going wasn't as fast as we had hoped, and the dark came much sooner than we had feared. Suddenly, we were hiking in the dark yet again, and found out that it is not good to have to bushwhack in the dark. There was no way of finding the best route, so we kept running into those darned brambles, into fallen down trees, boulders, ledges, bogs, saplings, more bogs, more boulders, and did I mention brambles? I don't remember how many time we wished for a machete, but I think that might be part of our geocaching gear soon.

Jane was crying and told us that she wanted to be home. We totally empathized with her feelings, we wanted to be home too. She also said that she wanted to be as small as Sylvia, so she wouldn't have to hike. Sylvia was crying too, because she was just sooooooooooooooo tired, and couldn't fall asleep. She tried nursing, but that wasn't either, she just was too tired and I think she might have been picking up on my stress, increasing it by her crying. My sling was falling apart, suddenly I felt her feet sticking out at a spot where no hole should be, so I had to carry her partly in my arms, didn't want her to slide out of the sling.

Tara lost her shoe a few times, thanks to the darned bogs. I lost my shoe once too, had to hike in the bog with one shoe and one bare foot, till I could find a dry spot to get it on again.Mesa's shoes were wet enough that she ended up with blue dye from her shoes all over her toes. Jane kept losing her flipflops. The going was slow and agonizing.

It was getting later and later. So much for taking less than an hour to hike to the car. I don't know how long we had been going, but we weren't even halfway yet. The nice thing about having the GPS is that we never felt lost, we knew exactly where we were and what direction we should be going. The not so nice thing is that the GPS got us into this in the first place, without a GPS we would never have been there at this time of the night! On the other hand, we would have missed out on the cool cave. I felt so bad for Mesa, doing this to my own kids is one thing, but doing this to some one else's kid seemed worse. Although both Tara and Mesa were real troopers, they didn't complain at all, just did what needed to be done, and were almost cheerful about it.

We were starting to get pretty desperate. I felt that I would start to scream if we stumbled upon one more bramble. OK, I didn't, but I have to admit that it was tempting LOL. M checked whether she had cell phone reception, and we decided to call 911 to try to have them find us a trail. We figured they might have a good local trails map, and since we could tell them exactly where we were, they might be able to direct us to a nearby trail. For all we knew, we could be 50 feet next to a trail, but never know it because of the darkness.

911 was not very helpful. They had the very same topo map that we had been using to plan our trip, which did not include hiking or VAST trails. They also did not understand how slow we were going, with four little girls, in the dark, in the brambles. I wish they had sent out some one to give us a machete, now that would have been helpful!

It took us a while to get through to the right person at 911, so we had a break, which was nice. Sylvia was still crying, she so needed to fall asleep, but somehow couldn't. At least we did have flash lights this time around, I don't think we could have done this one without flash lights. I was sooooo sure that we were not going to need them though, boy, was I wrong!

We hiked on and on and on. Met a few more brambles. Found a few more bogs. Stepped over more fallen down trees. Got called back by the state trooper to ask whether we had made it out yet. No, we didn't. They really had no clue about how slow we were going, having to go around all kinds of obstacles.

Finally, we made it back onto the trails. It had gotten later and later, although I hadn't realized yet how late it was getting. My mind was really more on taking step after step in the direction of the car, as opposed to keeping track of time. It wasn't like knowing the time made any difference anyway, apart from making us feel even more desperate.

Following the trail wasn't easy in the dark either, but at least we didn't meet any brambles. They had given up on us now that we had escaped to the trails. At some point, none of the trails seemed to be going to the car though, so M called 911 yet again, to beg them for another map reading. The trail seemed to be going East-West, and the car was due North. We totally refused to do any more bushwhacking, so we wanted to figure out which way was the best to go.

While we were on the phone with the state trooper again, we found a sugar house. Civilization!!!! Not only that, but Tara spotted a road close to it, a real dirt road as opposed to a trail! And the very best thing was, that that dirt road seemed to be going in the direction of the car! We might actually make it home tonight!

It was 10:30pm by the time we reached the car. I couldn't believe how late it was, we had spent a freaking FOUR AND A HALF HOURS to hike one mile. Unbelievable! It didnt' feel like that long, I guess the adrenaline helped to deal with it. We called dh and Mesa called her parents to tell them that we were safe. We had considered calling from the trail, but we didnt' really want to tell them that we were in the middle of nowhere and had no idea how long it would take us to the car, it seemed better to call when we were at the car. We had offered Mesa to call her parents, but she had declined, and I figured Sander would have reassured them that we were ok, might be having dinner somewhere, which had been our original plan. By now it was too late to do that though.

The kids started eating corn chips and cheddar bunnies when we were in the car, we had eaten snacks on the way, but I think they suddenly realized how hungry they were when we finally made it back. We turned to heat to high, changed and nursed Sylvia, and started on the way back home.

Got lost only once, ended up on some ones driveway. All those dirt roads look alike. But somehow it was so much more relaxed to get lost in the nice, warm car, as opposed to bushwhacking in the dark.

Jane fell asleep on the way home, she never does that, she was really exhausted. Mesa's dad was at our house to pick her up, and Kate and Erik were happy to see us. Kate was begging me to take her to the cave, I was not ready to repeat this experience!

OK, it's really late now, and we have a homeschool support meeting here tomorrow, so I am off to bed, but I had to write about this! And no, I still didn't get a query letter out, but I am wondering whether I can write articles about geocaching with or without kids, maybe including a list of essential items, like flash lights and machete :-)

Friday, October 01, 2004

Procrastination


In more than one way. First for this blog, I have been wanting to write so many things, but life keeps getting in the way. Yesterday, we spent on the top of a mountain instead of blogging. Not only that, but we logged our first First To Find!!! Will post more details later, because at the moment I am also procrastinating on a query letter. In a moment of insanity, I decided to sign up for the MomWriters Query Challenge. We got divided into teams of five people, and the team with the most queries during the month of October will win.

Sounds easy, right? Yes, that is if you are a good query writer. As opposed to one who has lots of ideas, but always seems to have life getting in the way of query writing, and the 'there's always tomorrow' philosophy. Suddenly, tomorrow is here upon me!

This is what I wrote to the QueryChallenge mailing list today. I am still trying to get that query at least started today!

PROCRASTINATION

It was a dark and stormy night...

At 12:01, I could have started on my first query letter. But instead, I was snuggled in bed, next to my baby, and too lazy to get up and get my butt into gear. There would be so many more hours in the day, I would do it later...

It was a nice and sunny morning...

Homeschool meeting, I considered taking a piece of paper and start on writing a query. Never happened, but that was ok, there are so many hours in the day...

It was a even nicer and sunnier afternoon...

Decided that I hadn't cooked for so long, that I really wanted to make soup today. Thought about query letters while cutting up veggies. Does that count? I thought not, oh well :-)

Had to get the boys off to a scouting camping trip, I actually managed to turn on the computer before they left, but never actually sat down and started anything on it. I did dig up my Writer's Market book, and started looking for markets, but couldn't find epregnancy, which is going to get my first query. At least, it did give some examples of query letters, which should help.

Did lots of other stuff, but still no query letter.

Suddenly, it was night, and nothing had been written yet.

I did on the computer, and stared at a blank screen Picked up email, read message boards, and stared at the blank screen again. Read some more email, went into chat, and stared at the blank screen. Got one of my epregnancies that was laying around, and wondered what the heck the difference was between an executive editor and a managing editor, and stared at the blank screen. Looked for writer's guidelines for epregnancy on line and could not find them. Stared more at my blank screen.

Time was ticking, it was almost 10:30pm now. Realized that even if I write a query, I can't even print it, because I have run out of toner. But I still wanted to get the query written today.

I wish I could post a happy ending, but for now just posting the resolve of getting the query written, even if I am not sure yet which editor, but at least I can get everything else right.

I hope every one else is doing better than I am :-)

Stay tuned for more procrastination updates.

Karen :-)