I was so fortunate to have been invited to a friends wedding in South Carolina. It was at Table Rock State Park. It was in October, perfect leaf peeping season. The weather was perfect. The couple is beyond adorable. This is a place I never would have ended up on my own. Here are some of my favorite pictures I took.
20,590 miles, and I will stop counting after today.
I woke up at Burke Lake in Arlington, only 2 hours from home, but still not home. And I won’t be home until 5pm. I have a 5pm arrival appointment at home with some very important people. I will see my wife and dogs for the first time in 3 months. I can’t wait to embrace her and roll on the floor with the dogs. What a long strange trip it’s been. I don’t understand why, and stopped worrying about why I am so lucky. I will just ride this wave until the rug gets ripped out from under me. That could be tomorrow. As I was pulling out of a pre-sunrise Burke Lake, the first thing I saw was frisbee baskets. I think that is a sign that my normal life is already returning. I had originally planned to play frisbees in every state I visited. Turns out I only played 1 time. It was very weird how I spent 3 months, nonstop moving and doing, and it somehow feels like I just spun my wheels in place.
My plan for the morning was to head into an empty, Sunday morning DC. I was going to ride my bike around and gather up all the fun there. I got into town, and everything was perfect, the streets were empty, and the weather was amazing. Out of nowhere, and for no reason, I decided I did not want to do that anymore. Instead, I head straight for home base. I had plenty of things I wanted to do before 5pm. Today is the first day in 3 months that I was driving without the assistance of navigation. I saw “95”, knew I could not get lost, and got a bit depressed that the interstate numbers were so high.
On the drive home I stopped by the national park at the harbor. I finished up a couple pieces of geocaching business there, that I had both started, and been unable to complete in past visits. After that it was back to my home area where I dropped off my bike for service, picked up a bunch of crap from work, visited my mother, took a few phone calls from friends welcoming me home and wishing me a happy birthday, and then finally home for a family reunion.
I guess today is the last day I will write a manifesto each day about my activities, photography options, and geocaching adventures. I hope it is not the last time ever, but even if it is, I have lived a much better life than anyone (especially me) deserves.
Thanks for the memories.
When I take these type of pictures of myself, I have always been able to say I was completely safe. My wife would see these pictures and get anxious, even though it was long since over. I have had people call me “brave”, because I was willing to make pictures like this. I was not trying to be brave, I have no friends. I WISH someone would get up in the dark and walk uphill with a headlamp alongside me. But alas, people don’t get along with me, and I am usually flying solo. I have always been able to claim safety, and play down how dumb I am, because I was acting very safe. I always use a shutter release. It is a button I can hold in my hand, and make my camera take a picture whenever I want. Possibly the most innovative piece of technology we have seen since the Supersonic Concorde. This evening I forgot my remote in the van. The van was a mile away, straight downhill. For these pics I used the built in, 10-second camera timer. I had to sprint into this position. I almost tumbled to my death each and every time. I said each and every time was the last time, but then the light kept getting better. I can not turn down the opportunity to get a better shot. Thankfully I did not die this time, but I will have to die sometime soon. Hopefully while failing at doing something awesome like this.
20,370 miles and counting.
I woke up this morning in western Maryland, at the high rocks trailhead, the bottom of the hill from the 2001 geocaching hide. I took sunset pics until late, so made camp there.
I never would have dreamed in a million years that I would finish a 90-day road trip by doing one of my favorite things. Playing in the autumn-colored woods of western Maryland, looking for ammunition boxes. I don’t know that life gets a whole lot better than this. I temporarily moved from my country-wide checklist to my Maryland checklist. For some reason I made it my purpose to find every active CAM cache. It’s something I’ve been chipping away at for a couple years. Now that I am done caching across America, it is time to cache across Maryland. I will get back to America tomorrow.
This morning I went straight to Dans state park where I didn’t see another human being at all, on a beautiful fall Saturday. Today’s weather was perfect. Blue skies, lots of clouds passing, 50° maybe 55 in the sun. After a quick stop first thing this morning at Dan‘s mountain I then went to Rocky Gap State Park, where I spent most of my day. I didn’t plan to be there as long as I did, but either this bridge being out is fairly new, or I did some of the poorest route planning of my life. In the end it just resulted in me walking a bunch more miles through the autumn-colored forest in western Maryland. I ended up being there about 4 hours and covered 7-8 miles. Rocky Gap was a two-fer. There was 2 in there I wanted. Then I went to Green Ridge Forest and then Orleans. Those 3 stops were very aggressive, and I thought I might run out of daylight. I made out fine, and still had time to drive to Burke Lake in VA. It was a very long day, and possibly one of my most productive.
There is one more piece of Geocaching business left, if I complete it then I will have had the most successful circle of the country I could imagine.
Wow, I created a very aggressive geocaching wish list map when I left. I never imagined getting so much fun stuff done. I made Burke parking lot my home for the night. Tomorrow at 5pm is when I will see my wife and dogs for the first time in 3 months! I am very excited. I am not sure how I will fill tomorrow. I might spend the morning around DC. Maybe Sunday morning is empty, and I can get some fun stuff done?
19,850 miles and counting
This morning I left cabin 9 at Table Rock State Park after an amazing couple of days. I’ve been on the road for over 80 days, living alone, eating alone, and mostly being alone, doing everything alone. It’s been the most amazing adventure of my life and I couldn’t be more grateful for it. The last two days have been spent with some of my closest friends at a celebration of a wedding for two beautiful people. I could not be happier for them. I also could not be more thrilled to have been included in their beautiful day. They brought me somewhere I may have never come on my own, Table Rock State Park and the Pretty Place. I got on the road just before sunrise, and I believe I’m just heading to Western Maryland for the day. I should be able to get there before sunset and find somewhere to take some pictures and camp out for the night. But the day is early and my plans typically change 100 times before I get where I’m going.
I turned over the 20,000th mile of this road trip just after crossing into Virginia on I-81, heading towards home over the next couple days. I spent most of the day speeding north, back to my home turf of Maryland. In a surprising plot twist, my wife asked me not to get home until Sunday, a full 48 hours from now. Either there’s a live-in boyfriend situation that needs to be cleaned out before I get home, or she has something to surprise me with when I get home, and wants to be there because it’s my birthday as well. Truth be told, I want her to be there when I get home too. The best way to ensure that is schedule my arrival around her busy life. I did not stop forward momentum today too much. Mainly for feeding Pervvie her delicious liquids, and a few pictures and tinkle stops. I made it to the firetower trailhead in western Maryland that leads to High Rocks. I was a bit later than anticipated, and I had to jog most of the way up. I made it in plenty of time to see an amazing sunset, get some great pics, and find the really old geocache from 2001. This trailhead is the perfect spot to call home for the night. After a headlamp hike back down the mountain in the pitch black, I made some dinner and settled in for the night with some music and junk food. Tomorrow I will kill a day hiking around western Maryland, and then hopefully head toward Arlington for 1 piece of unfinished business. After that, I will have successfully completed the most unrealistic, impossible, satisfying checklist of my life.
When I take these type of pictures of myself, I have always been able to say I was completely safe. I always use a shutter release. I forgot my remote in the van. The van was a mile away, straight downhill. For these pics I used the built in, 10-second camera timer. I had to sprint into this position. I almost tumbled to my death each and every time. I said each and every time was the last time, but then the light kept getting better. Thankfully I did not die this time, but I will have to die sometime soon. Hopefully while failing at doing something awesome like this.
Just like every good TV show, this road trip has come to an end with a wedding. A lovely union of 2 very fun people.
I woke up in my van at Sassafras Mountain, South Carolina’s highest point. Unfortunately, it was cloudy and rainy and there was no sunrise to be seen. This is probably only the second or third time I have seen rain in three months. I actually enjoyed it. I opened up all the windows, let the fresh rain air in, let it get freezing cold, and climbed under a blanket. I just did nothing for a little while and enjoyed the mountain rain song. Now it was time to go see friends for the first time in 3 months! I drove down the mountain to Table Rock. A whole bunch of us are renting the cabins for a wedding. I spent today with 2 of my bestest friends from home. It was the first time in 3 months that I have been a passenger in anyway. I have driven 20k miles in a row, over 3 months, since the last time I was a passenger. We visited a couple waterfalls and a dead end tunnel. We had a great time, caught up, and enjoyed being in nature. That evening there was a rehearsal dinner. I was invited and uninvited to that dinner twice, that has to be a societal record. I was on my own for the evening, where I did nothing. After the rehearsal dinner a bunch of us got together, around the campfire, to make fun of the rest of us that did not show up at that campfire. Then it was off to a very uncomfortable bed. I thought about sleeping in the van, but I did pay for this uncomfortable bed.
I woke up in cabin 9 in Table Rock State Park. I really might sleep in the van tonight. Billy and Jen called first thing to go back out exploring again. The wedding was at 2, so we had the morning. We caught breakfast, and then over to the mill and petroglyphs. Here I ran into a very interesting couple, and family. Visually they stood out, and they knew it. I knew I had seen this man before. He was too unique and colorful to mix up with some other bum. So I asked him, where I might have seen him. Just then it clicked, sunset at Sassafras Mountain the other night. We get to chatting about travel and picture things, and then parted to both explore the mill with our respective families. About 30 minutes later I look and see there is an actual geocache at this mill. I tell my friends I am with, and it was only 100 feet away. I look, and wouldn’t you know it, that same family was rummaging through an ammo box, and signing their fake internet name on litter. How fun is that?! That sparked up another 10 minute conversation that would bore any non-geocacher to tears. Billy is a good sport, he hung in there and feigned interest. What an unexpected fun addition right at the end of my roadtrip.
Today is the wedding, it is at the Pretty Place, which I hear is spectacular. I also hear that the internet ruined it for the locals. Thanks internet.
The wedding ceremony at the Pretty Place and reception back at Table Rock were a highlight of my trip. The weather was perfect, the wedding was a ton of fun, and seeing loved ones for the first time in 3 months was great. Tomorrow I will start a slow drive back home, arriving and ending my roadtrip later this weekend.
And you can drive right to it.
19,500 miles and counting.
I woke up at the Holiday Inn Express in Logan, WV. Shortly after waking up I was called to perform an emergency surgery. Thanks, HIE!
I rented a UTV from Bobby yesterday. After that I spent the day at the hotel catching up on real life stuff. I also spent most of this morning chipping away with that kind of nonsense. Today I will leave and head back south to South Carolina, for a wedding in Table Rock park.
I left the Holiday Inn express with a couple of quick detours. I had about a 5 hour drive to get back to table rock State Park in South Carolina. I should have plenty of daylight, even factoring in all the needless and random stops I will probably make.
There’s a possibility that I may see some of my closest friends tonight, for the first time in over 3 months. I’m going back to South Carolina for a wedding on Thursday, and a bunch of my friends from home in Maryland are traveling to it as well. I am excited for this time, to see some friends and people I love for the first time in months. And to see them in such an amazing place like the mountains of South Carolina! That’s just a bonus.
I spent the day getting to South Carolina’s highest point, Sassafras Mountain, as fast as I could, hopefully before sunset. I had hoped to meet some friends there, but they did not make it here until very late. I made it in plenty of time and watched an amazing sunset with a bunch of fun strangers, now new friends. I got to talking to a local retired couple. Turns out they lived in the town I grew up in for a long time. What a small world this actually is. Either that or nothing is actually real. After the sun was gone, and the conversation dwindled, it was time to retire to my van. I made that my home for the night in hopes of catching the sunrise in the morning. Sadly it rained all night, overnight, and into the morning. There was no sunrise to speak of.
I love when I run into pro photographers in the wild. I take pride capturing as many groups in a single photo as possible. This is 3 groups in 1 shot, my record is 4 wedding parties in 1 photo in Glacier.
Today I met Bobby from BAC Rentals in WV, hands down the coolest geocaching ally I have met this trip. I have met a lot of our allies during this trip. There are people all over willing to help me out with my stupid hobby, and obsession to complete nonsensical tasks.
I woke up this morning already at the place I wanted to be. That place was meeting Bobby with BAC UTV rentals in WV. I was renting a UTV for the day, and part of the plan was to find WV’s oldest geocache. That was a very small part of an amazing day driving like an idiot. 80 miles, 5 hours, 3 geocaches, and only 1 close call/near death. The time flew by! Another thing I did during this road trip that I had the entire place to myself. I only saw about 10 other people all day using the Hatfield & McCoy trails. I was on a UTV just a few weeks ago near Phoenix. That is how fast I forgot how much fun they are. I had a blast today. The terrain was very mild compared to Arizona, but still so exciting! All day I was driving these trails, I felt like the fat guy from Lost, 21-10-33-31-45-42-26-14-18. When I was in my 20’s a bunch of my gearhead, knucklehead friends bought ATVs and came down here all the time. Somehow, I did not fall in line with them that time. I grew up with dirt bikes and guns, so they were not a novelty to me. Bobby said it might take me about 2 hours to get to my first stop. I was there in just over an hour. I drove like a maniac, because that is the fun way to drive off road. I spoke to Bobby later, and told him what I did. He said the next fastest anyone has done what I did, is 10 hours. That is twice as long. I told Bobby I am fast, I always have been fast, I used to race big wheels. I think Bobby and I are going to be pals for a long time. I hope to come visit him again soon.
After an amazing day playing, on the edge of death, I had a hotel nearby to catch up on some real life, and I had to do a zooming meeting this evening. A shower, internets, and proper lighting are required. Tomorrow I will head back south a few hours for a wedding in SC in a couple days.
19,185 miles and counting.
I woke up in the parking lot of a Lowes. I bought a shirt and MOD pizza for dinner very nearby. I assumed that entitled me to sleep in their parking lot.
Today was all about a Renaissance Festival. I have never been to one. I was talking to a good friend who is taking his family this weekend. I did a quick search on the internet the other day, and a really big festival was happening right where I was going to be, near Charlotte. I decided to make that my day. I am so glad I did. Yet another thing I almost deprived myself of, because I feel like I always need to be moving and completing a task. I thought it would be a quick half day, and I’d be back on the road. I had to drag myself out after 6 hours. I had 4 hours of driving, and did not want to drive too much in the dark. I could spend another entire day there. So fascinating, and entertaining in every way. There were people dressed up in all kinds of costumes. From the Renaissance era, and everything else from mermaids to modern day superheros. My 2 favorites were The Beer Bellied Assassin, and William Shakespeare dictates a text message into his Apple watch.
I ran around seeing all the shows I could. I had a fun lunch, and I had a ton of conservations with people far stranger than me, which are hard people to find. I can’t wait to find out if all of these festivals are this fun, or I got lucky and just went to the best one ever.
In hindsight my most disappointing decision was made at this Renaissance Festival. I knew enough to know that a lot of people dress up. People were dressed up in all kinds of fun costumes. For a minute I wished I had a costume to dress up in. I was hundreds of miles from home, there was 0% chance I was going to run into anyone I knew and be embarrassed. Also, why would I be embarrassed, this is the exact place that adults dress up like idiots. BUT, darn it. I did not have a costume. Maybe next time. Just as I get to the entrance gates there is a shop. This shop is renting costumes to bums like me that arrived in regular street clothes. This was the perfect opportunity, and I squandered it. I spent the day in my shorts and tee shirt, being mocked by people wearing 60 pounds of costume. Next time.
After leaving the festival, I needed to end in WV, about 4 hours north. I am renting a UTV tomorrow at 7am from Bobby. I got to Bobby’s location just after losing all my daylight. I got the OK from Bobby to sleep there, that way I can’t be late for our 7am meetup. After tomorrow I will turn around and head back to Table Rock in South Carolina for a wedding in a couple days. Today was definitely a great day to have been alive.
18,740 miles and counting.
Today I met Razzle Dazzle, hands-down the coolest dog of my trip.
I woke up at the Modoc South Carolina 2000 geocache trail head. I slept fantastically and slept in so late. That was great, I did not sleep well the night before. I left South Carolina and went straight back to Georgia. I think it’s Jefferson County area, kind of near Athens. There was some big Geocaching event nearby recently. And this area is very well-known for having a lot of fun gadget geocaches, or so I just found out from my friend Drew the other day. So, I started off with a small circle of challenges up north and then worked my way south. I did a walking loop around a giant outlet complex. There was a whole series of challenge geocaches that hopefully I qualify for. It was also a nice way to start the morning, the weather was perfect, and I could get some steps in. I found them all but 1. I started and finished in the same spot and didn’t find it twice. Then I zigged zagged all over town. I followed a trail of highly favorited geocaches. These were some real doozies. I come from the land of a guy named West Virginia Tim. I am lucky, I understand. These were another level in some ways. I had to walk away from quite a few. I could not figure it out, I didn’t know what I was looking for, or I didn’t know what to do. I still nailed quite a few of them. I had a fantastic time, felt like a kid in a carnival all day. After that I did a bunch of the cow whereigo’s last night. I knew I was not doing them all, I can’t possibly do that. Sounds like a nightmare, like mailman purgatory. BUT, I wanted to get some to finally qualify for a challenge. These were super easy, and as well done as I have seen any series. So, a few random of those will help me get closer to a stupid checklist goal that nobody but me knows about. My last stop of the day is lake Lanier. I took the longest possible way to get here. I am getting on a boat at 8:30 Saturday morning for the old geocache out on a lake island. I wanted to see where that was, and it looks like that will be my home for the evening, awaiting vessel boarding time. Before stopping completely for the night, I went around the corner for the other old geocache. That was a very quick jog out and back. I then met a young man named Jeremy. He worked at a boat store. He looked friendly. He was outside washing things with a garden hose. I struck up a conversation, and then hit him with the big ask. Can I please fill my freshwater tank from your hose? He was so happy to let me. I offered him a little Debbie oatmeal pie, he declined. I invited him in and gave him the 13 second tour. That means he saw everything twice. I think we will be best pals for life. Finally, it was back to the boat launch parking. There is good telephone service, so I will catch up on some work. I had a very tasty beef stroganoff for dinner, watched the sunset and the moonrise over the lake, and smashed this drivel into a keyboard.
18930 miles and counting.
Today I met Jamie a Bernese Mountain Dog, hands-down the coolest dog of my trip.
When I left home, I watched the interstate numbers count down from 95 all the way to 5. Then I watched the horizontal interstate drop from 90 all the way down to 10. As I head home, I see those numbers gradually climbing higher. I’m already back at 75 and 85. Booooo. I will be at 95 before I know it.
I woke up this morning to a perfect sunrise over Lake Lanier. There was nothing good to see until about 7:20am, that is so late. I love this season, but hate the brevity. I took a bunch of sunrise pictures, and had a great conversation with a local. He comes there every morning to watch the sunrise. I think he and I will be pals forever. That was the first time I took out my cameras in at least 4 or 5 days. I came to accept that the photography portion of my trip has come to a drip, from the geyser it has been for the past few months. I had an 8:30 launch time with Captain John. I showed up and there were 2 other cachers coming on the boat. We all got along just fine, the captain was a delight, and we were back at the dock in about an hour. I thought it was more adventurous, but apparently not. My favorite part was all the info Captain John had about this area being the filming location for Ozarks. Once back at the dock, I got in my van, took a shower, got cleaned up and left the boat launch area about 10:30 AM to head towards Charlotte. Lake Lanier was a wonderful place I could see myself coming back here. Ultimately, I was going to end up near Charlotte. I’m gonna look for that old geocache nearby there, and then I think tomorrow I’m going to go to a Renaissance Festival. I’ve never been to one of those and I would imagine it’s a thing I would enjoy very much. I made my way slowly east, stopping a lot. Some of the tourist attractions, a couple places for pictures, and a geocache here and there of course. One of the funnest parts of my day was an accidental discovery. I was cruising along the main road into Greenville and I looked over and saw what looked like a bunch of people racing toy cars. I know what that scene looks like as it was a big part of my past. I verified that’s what it was as I drove by, then made a U-turn. I went back and watched a bunch of grown man race toy cars for a while. The sounds and the sights and the smell in the air brought back a lot of fun memories. Also, a lot of bad memories, but isn’t that how nostalgia works? You have to take the good with the bad.
Mostly I stopped for a bunch of old virtuals. Then I ended up in Charlotte, at the trail for the old puzzle here. I did not realize that was going to be a ‘get my tootsies wet’ type of party.
After all that was done, I found myself in central suburbia. I needed a shirt for a wedding on Thursday. Men’s Warehouse was happy to accommodate. Then it was pick up a pizza, and get parked for the evening.