Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cheaha Mountain

One of the things on my bucket list is to visit the highest point in every state so I was really excited when my Dad agreed to turn our trip to Rome into an extended vacation to visit the mountains.

Our first stop was Cheaha Mountain in Alabama. At 2,407 feet it's the highest point in Alabama and from the pictures we've seen, looked stunning.

We left home early Wednesday morning and got close the the mountain around 1pm. From there things started to fall apart pretty fast.

Have I ever mentioned that I'm scared of heights? I can be a little neurotic about a lot few things but I have two true phobias. Snakes and heights.

And there I was, on a small two lane road, winding our way up the mountain. No guardrail or anything to keep up from plunging over the cliff to our deaths.

The Island Girl, on the other hand, loved every minute of it and hung her head out the window looking down all the way to the top.

The farther up we went the more I started to panic. I have anti anxiety meds but one obviously wasn't enough.

We made it to the top of the mountain and went inside Bunker Tower, which is a stunning stone building built by the CCC in the 1930s.

I felt a little better inside of the building and decided that maybe I could look at the view from inside and not be so worried about gravity plucking me up and throwing me off the mountain.

But then I saw the stairs.

I don't do well on normal stairs but if I can see through them I get vertigo. If I can see through them and they wind I get really bad vertigo.

I told Dad and the Island Girl to take pictures of the view and sat down on a bench to wait for them.

As I sat there it hit me. I have done a LOT of dumb things in my life but this has to be the stupidest thing ever. What person with a fear of heights puts “Stand on the highest point in each state” on their bucket list?

I'm sending my picture to Webster so they can put it next to 'Stupid' in the dictionary.

They came back down from the tower and off we went to explore the top of the mountain.

We were on a boardwalk that ran through a beautiful tree stand and I couldn't see the edge at all so it wasn't a bad walk. Until we got to the end.

I'm not sure how I didn't see this one coming but one minute we were on a boardwalk in the trees and the next we were standing at the edge of the mountain.

My child did not develop my fear of heights (thank goodness) so off the boardwalk she went. She climbed around on the rocks then plopped herself right on the edge of the mountain - where she sat with a huge smile on her face.

I'm trying not freak out about her sitting out there when my Dad heads off on the rocks saying there is a geocache about 40 feet away.

I can't breathe, I'm doing everything I can not to fall out in the middle of the boardwalk and cry like a baby and now Dad is climbing around on these big rocks and hanging his head over the side trying to find the cache. If he falls here he'll roll off the mountain, which is totally different from sliding down a hill on Eglin.

I did not want to look at the view or find a cache – all I wanted to do was GO HOME but that wasn't happening so I decided that Island Girl was fine and sitting still but I needed to help Dad because Mom would have been furious if I let the old guy fall off the mountain.

I crawled around the rocks for a minute and then flashed to something I saw on tv the other night about Timber Rattlesnakes denning up under rocks just like these.

At that exact moment I knew I was in hell. Heights and snakes, right here, right now.

I hightailed it back up to the boardwalk and decided that if he fell I'd tell Mom that I'd tried to warn the old fool but he wouldn't listen to me.

I sat on a bench desperately wanting to go home but also dreading the fact that there would be another terrifying drive back down the mountain.

But before we could leave they wanted a picture of them at the edge of the boardwalk

And then it was my turn. 

The Island King asked why I couldn't at least have tried to smile and I told him that was the happiest face I could muster. 

After what seemed like an eternity they were ready to go so we drove around the park and then headed on to Rome.

Back down the mountain we go, same winding, narrow road, same horrifying experience.

Halfway down the mountain he realized he'd taken the wrong road down.


There are no words to describe him turning the truck around on this narrow road - while eating a Milky Way bar.

Now we have to go back up the mountain and then back down another road.

I am not ashamed to tell you that I took another pill, buried my head under a pillow and hid until I fell asleep and then slept the rest of the way to Rome.

I'm glad the Island Girl took a lot of pictures because now I can see how beautiful it really was up there. Looking at things through a haze of panic can really mess up the view.

After the event in Rome, Dad and the Island Girl continued their trip to higher parts and I jumped in the car with the Librarian and came home.

I've now changed my bucket list to “Stand at the lowest spot in each state” and I should be able to handle that one – as long as I don't have to go over a mountain to get there.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Prison Guard Incident

Attending a mega event in Rome meant seeing groups of geocachers everywhere and as we were driving along we see a couple climbing up a hill on the side of the road. Next to where they were climbing appeared to be a cave so we turned around and went back to help find the cache and explore the cave.

After we pulled off the road, the Librarian checked her phone and discovered that there was indeed a cache there named Isolation.

It turns out that it wasn't a cave but an isolation cell belonging to the jail on the other side of the fence and that many years ago this bunker was used as an isolation cell for disruptive inmates.

The idea of spending even 5 minutes in there gave me the creeps.

The cache instructions told us that the cache was not hidden inside the cell so we joined the other couple, climbed up the hill and started poking around.

After we'd looked for a few minutes the woman who was there originally pulled the cache page up on her phone to see if there were any clues to help us find it.

Instead she saw that the cache had been archived sometime in the previous five minutes.

I've never had that happen. One minute it was there and the next it was gone.

We climbed down off the hill just in time to see the prison guard walking towards us.


The couple started walking down the hill to talk to him and as they were walking the woman looked over her shoulder and yelled “Save yourselves!”

We weren't sure what was going to happen so we did. We jumped in the car and the Librarian peeled out of there, blew past the guard and we never looked back.

After we made our getaway we pulled the cache page up again and read that whichever jail official approved a geocache originally was no longer employed there and that no geocache would ever be approved along the jail perimeter.

It's too bad we didn't pay attention to this sign.

I really hope the folks who were talking to the guard talked their way out of trouble.

Flash Mob in Rome

I've just returned from Rome (I love saying that – even if it's Rome, Georgia not Rome, Italy) after an amazing Geocaching Mega Event

We began our Roman Holiday by dressing in Togas and meeting the rest of our tribe at the clocktower in downtown Rome for a Flash Mob.

As we left our hotel that morning the desk clerk asked if we were going to a party. I couldn't resist telling her no and acting like we dress this way all of the time.

Actually, I was a little surprised that we attracted so much attention. We were in Rome after all and here in Destin no one thinks twice when they see a pirate walking down the street.

Of course there were a LOT of us and it was fun to watch people come out of the surrounding businesses to see this huge bunch of toga clad geoachers invade the tower.

It was so fun to see all of the Roman inspired costumes.

I got to meet Signal the Frog!

My Dad and the Librarian looked good in their togas.

This was just a small portion of our local caching buddies that were there. Northwest Florida represented very well. 

After the Flash Mob I really wanted to spend time caching in my toga but it's a lot chillier in Georgia than it is in Italy so back to the hotel we went to change into warm clothes.

The rest of the day was spent caching, eating, caching and more caching. Absolute heaven!

Now I want to go back to Rome so I can spend more time just wandering that beautiful city.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Geocaching, A Testimonial and a Hooker

For the longest time I've been hovering just below the 1,000 geocaches found mark and last night I decided I couldn't stand it any longer.

I was determined to find my 1,000 cache – that night – even if it took me all night long to do it.

I needed 9 caches to hit 1,000 so I picked 9 easy grab-n-go type caches, talked the Island King into being my wing man and off we went.

I hit 1,000 at a cache named Down on the Corner, Out in the Street, which is one of my favorite songs.

I love the sign the Island King made me - he gave himself big muscles.

We were happy and hungry so off we went to get something to eat.

We ended up at a local place that we both enjoy and sat down on the patio, ready to celebrate my milestone. He went inside to get us a drink and through the window I see him talking to a man at the bar.

He came back out a few minutes later and told me the man was someone we'd done a shoot for several years ago.

A couple of minutes later, out he comes and asks if he can join us. Absolutely. The more the merrier.

He'd obviously had several drinks before we got there and it wasn't long before he was telling us about his life before he moved here.

He was rich and powerful and God came and talked to him but he didn't really listen. Things went South and he lost everything and then God came to talk to him again.

This time he listened and has been on the right path ever since. For three hours we talked about God.

He continued to drink and he was a preachin'. The Island King and I never got much more than a word or two in edge wise but he was fascinating to listen to and I agreed with most of his points so it was an interesting experience.

As we he was talking, two cute, little blond girls walked past our table, realized who he was and each gave him a big hug. They started talking and he told us they were waitresses at Hooters. They had some discussion about a tip and a drink he'd had earlier, while at Hooters.

He offered to buy them a shake, “since neither one of them are 21” but they declined and headed inside.

Back to preaching. Not in a bad way but more of a testimony than a sermon.

But then, mid sentence, he stopped talking, his mouth fell open and his eyes almost popped out of his head.

He was looking at the redhead that had just walked onto the patio. I have to say she was stunning. She was wearing a beautiful dress that wasn't too revealing but definitely caught your eye and she seemed a lot more classy than most girls her age ( 22? ) are today.

She sat down at the table next to us, then got up, walked past us and then back to the empty table.

Our friend never quite recovered and as she came by the 2nd time he introduced himself to her. She made a point of making sure he got her name right, shook his hand and sat down at the table next to us.


The Island King asks if she used to work there, thinking she was another girl we know. She said she used to but not anymore.

He said “Did you have long hair?” and she said no.

I noticed her hair was up in a bun but it didn't look big so I assumed she had short hair.

Friend asks her where she works now and she tells him Victoria's Secret. The Island King laughed and told her she was in the right place and Friend is drooling and saying that he needs to shop there.
The Island King gets up and announces that he's going to the restroom.

As he walks by her she says “Good luck.”

The jealous woman in me kicked in long enough to wonder what that meant and then I dismissed it, thinking she was probably just waiting on someone and Friend was making her nervous with his drooling.

A second later she gets up and goes into the restaurant.

As a jealous woman I'm not sure how I missed that.

Meanwhile, Friend is having a dilemma because he knows he shouldn't be ogling girls but he is.

I jumped in with “Seriously, what would you have in common with a girl that young?” (he's 65)
“What would you talk about?” “What kind of music would you listen to in the car for Pete's Sake?”

I delivered my questions in rapid fire form because experience had taught me it was hard to get in a word otherwise.

Well, that man jumped up out of his chair like a Mexican Jumping Bean and started around the table towards me.

I'm wondering what is happening and at that moment the Island King came flying out the door.

That seemed to freak Friend out even more and he took off running around the table.

I'm sitting there wondering what in the world is happening and the Island King says “We've got to go”

He has this look on his face and I could tell he was on the verge of bolting.

I'm processing Friend doing this weird, around the table run and the Island King wanting to leave Right Now when the bartender comes out the door with a squash in his hand.

He'd made a pipe out of the squash and said it actually worked.

It was truly like being in the Twighlight Zone.

The Island King was moving like his head was on fire and his ass was a catchin'.

He was grabbing stuff and dragging me out of my chair, Friend can't say goodbye fast enough and the bartender is proudly blowing air through his squash pipe.

All while the redhead stands just inside the door watching us.

As the Island King drug me off the patio, Friend went inside and immediately sat down at the bar with the redhead.

I'm still asking what is going on so the Island King says, “She's a professional and he's embarrassed that we were there when she arrived.”


Then he tells me that when he went to the restroom she followed him and was standing right outside the Men's room door when he came out. With her hair down. Her long hair.

He said she looked him right in the eye and gave him an “ask for my number” look which according to him is when he knew for sure she was a hooker.

He then realized she was there to meet Friend and that's why Friend was so freaked out. He'd just spent 3 hours preaching and giving his testimony only to have a hooker arrive for an appointment.

I fell out and told the Island King about me questioning him about the girl's age and how he'd jumped out of the chair like I lit a fire cracker under him. Which caused the Island King to tell me that he wondered what was happening when he came out and Friend was running around the table.

He thought Friend was hitting on me and got freaked when he saw him and that's why he started running.

He wasn't hitting on me but I'm sure seeing the Island King added to his confusion which caused him to run even faster.

After we stopped laughing I wanted to know how my husband knows all of this “hooker etiquette” and he spent some time telling me about all of the hookers he carried over the years in his ambulance and that he can just spot them.

Hmmm. We're going to have to talk about that a little more.

I'm still shocked that this entire thing unfolded in front of me and I never noticed a thing.

Finding my 1,000 cache was cool but the dinner show was spectacular!