Table Rock South Carolina Wedding

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.

Most road trips comes to an end

Day 89:
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.

I literally just got done adding photos to the photo album HERE.

Selfies Can Be Dangerous, So I Hear

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.

Western Maryland Welcomes Me Home

Day 87:
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.

I have added a lot lately to the photo album HERE.

The Highest Point in South Carolina is Sassafras Mountain

And you can drive right to it.

Day 84:
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 have added a lot lately to the photo album HERE.

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.

UTV Racing Is My Future

Day 83:
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.

I regularly update the photo album HERE.

Touring Georgia, Boating the Fake Ozarks, Watching Sunrise

Day 80:
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.

Day 81:
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.

I have put more photos of my roadtrip HERE.

Thank you John Barteau & Geocaching for these fun pictures

I got a phone call from my one friend back home who does the best pretending not to hate me. He wanted to make sure I knew it was the new moon, and had planned accordingly. He also told me some other nonsense about Saturn or Jupiter or Youranus, something about being close and visible. I was planning to get a hotel this particular evening. I knew it was the new moon, but I had not prepared or planned anything. I was planning to be in the middle of nowhere Texas the following night. Something about that phone call changed my entire attitude and mentality. I felt like one of those challenged kids that the entire school was rooting for suddenly. Rudy comes to mind, and Carrie.
I immediately pulled over for a fuel and research break. I found some dark skies in places I could get to before sunset. That is where Geocaching came to the rescue. I did not know anything about the area, and there was nothing on the satellite map except rugged terrain. There were a few geocaches spread out over a giant section of map. This is unusual. But seeing those green icons let me know that a human got there, and most likely without too much difficulty. I was able to navigate to the middle of nowhere northwest New Mexico, on drivable roads. I drive an adventure van named Pervvie, so almost anything is drivable these days. There was not another thing or soul around. Not only did I navigate to the middle of nowhere, very dark spot, it took me to a gold mine of beauty. I saw an amazing sunset. Crystal clear sky and I found these “ruins” nearby. It is just too much. Too too too too much.

The night pictures went perfectly. I can’t even believe this spot I accidentally stumbled on. I watched day turn to night with a beautiful sunset. Then I watched night turn to utter blackness. It does not get this kind of dark where I live. There was a moment I thought I was going to have to scratch the whole night. I stepped out of my van into the pitch black, walked a few feet away, set up my tripod, turned on my headlamp and the first thing I saw, a snake, in the middle of the night, in the middle of the desert, in the middle of nowhere New Mexico, I’m sure it wants to kill me. It was about 2 feet long as big around as a pencil, but it might as well been a dragon.
I stayed up all night with two cameras taking pictures of all different angles with several different foregrounds. I also spent several hours just sitting outside in my chair staring up at the night sky. It was mesmerizing and amazing. Last night was a night that I really wish I could’ve slept outside under the stars. Everything about it was perfect, the scenery, the smell, the sound, the temperature, the cool breeze. But, you know, the snake from 2 paragraphs ago.
Because of inspiration from the youth in my life, and a passion for finding hidden treasure, I was able to spend a perfect night alone, in the pitch black, world at my fingertips, and make some really fun pictures.
To make everything even more fun, today was day 69 of my road trip.

A bunch of my favorite pics from my road trip album HERE.

Fun playing with exposure as I process these night sky pictures:

You know where I got my kicks

Day 70:
16,010 miles and counting.
Today I met Jingles, hands-down the coolest dog of my trip.
I woke up next to an abandoned tractor and some buildings in northeastern New Mexico where I took pictures of the night sky all last night, during the new moon.
Boy am I sure glad I changed my plans yesterday. I stayed up all night with two cameras taking pictures of all different angles with several different foregrounds. I also spent several hours just sitting outside in my camp chair staring up at the night sky. It was mesmerizing and amazing. Last night was a night that I really wish I could’ve slept outside under the stars. Everything about it was perfect, the scenery, the smell, the sound, the temperature, the cool breeze. The only thing that wasn’t perfect about sleeping outside under the stars was that within 30 seconds of being outside taking pictures in the dark last night, I saw a snake. If there was a place to sling my hammock up, I would’ve slept outside, but I wasn’t sleeping on the ground after that 🙂
This morning I’ll make my way back toward civilization, and then Amarillo area. Tonight, I will definitely be getting a hotel somewhere to catch up on real life responsibilities. My route includes a whole string of really high favorited geocaches along the route 66 corridor that I stopped for. I have done this drive in the past, but there is a lot I did not take time to stop and see.
After a quick stop for breakfast, refueling, and postcard purchases, I continued along the 40/66 corridor, all the way across the panhandle. My breakfast spot also provided me an awesome little route 66 old car museum tour. I may be a 71-year-old man, but walking around in there really made me nostalgic for being a little kid with my pop. This is the kind of crap that he absolutely adored more than anything in life, except professional wrestling.
I sure am glad I am not Don Quixote, I would have never gotten through that mine field. I made a few random stops here and there for fun stuff. My goal for this afternoon was to get to Oklahoma City. This is where I plan to get a hotel and settle down for the night.
Through my travels I learned a lot about history, businesses that opened and closed, Route 66, old gas stations, and helium.
I would imagine based on the part of the world I’m in, and the time of year, my picture taking opportunities are about over. I got the new moon in the middle of nowhere darkness New Mexico last night. Between here and home, it’ll probably mostly be just working my way back towards Maryland. For 2 1/2 months I have based where I was going to be on the sunrise and sunset and where I can take the best pictures. Somehow that time of the trip feels like it might be over? It really feels like this is a book end to my trip. I have lost two time zones in the past day. Suddenly it went from 3 to 1 hour difference from home.
I got into OKCITY, Yukon to be exact, and got set up for the night at a HIE. I hardly made a dent in the things I need to accomplish. I think tomorrow will probably be a working day too.

Day 71:
16,450 miles and counting. Yep, mostly worked all day at the hotel. But, today I met Kletus, hands-down the coolest dog of my trip.
I left a Holiday Inn express in Yukon Oklahoma about 3 PM. I got into a hotel last night and got a few hours of responsible stuff done, but I hardly made a dent. I needed to spend the majority of today catching up. When I finally got back on the road, I went straight into OKC proper, and wandered around for a bit. I had to stop by a post office, and the one I chose was right by the memorial park. I had a lovely time wandering around there, reflecting, and learning a lot of things that I knew nothing about. In the end, humans, we are all just the same.
After I finished my business in OKC proper, it was time to head a little east towards Tulsa. I was hoping to get a few things done before I ran out of daylight today.
I made it to my main objective today. I wanted to find Oklahoma’s oldest geocache. It was not difficult like many of the others so far this road trip. And a quick 2 mile jog over the course of less than an hour I found it, and several other challenge geocaches nearby.
I made it back to my van just as I was running out of daylight. I sat and figured out what to do next. Being out of daylight, the only real thing I can do is drive. There’s other stuff around Tulsa I’d like to do, but I also need to get to Dallas. So, I decided to start making my way south toward Dallas. I have a handful of things surrounding Dallas that I’d like to accomplish, hopefully all tomorrow. I guess we’ll see about that. There’s an event for Geocaching in Dallas that happens tomorrow night. I might try to go to that, just for traveling fun.
On my way south I made one stop. It was to check out some baby rattlesnakes. That’s one of the funniest, cleverest, anxiety inducing geocaches I’ve ever done! So glad I made time for this one.
From here I drove I-35 south towards Dallas until I ran out of awake time. I found a truckstop and got prepared to start up again pre-sunrise.

Good chance there is new pictures at the album I created HERE.

If the idea of baby rattlesnakes in a geocache piqued your interest, then this video may scratch your itch: