A wonderful Geocache!

Most of you know, by now, that my wife and I love Geocaching.  We’ve never been “numbers” cachers…we prefer caches that are a little more remote, out of the way, and take us somewhere interesting to see.

We were in St Paul Indiana to do a restaurant review, and spotted some historic cemetery caches  (our very favorite) in the area, and decided to grab a few of them.

This is the Dutch Chapel Schoolhouse cache in Decatur County, Indiana.  The schoolhouse was in service from the mid 1800’s through 1920 or so.  Although the building is long gone, the pump is still there, as well as a few bricks from the original school.

As you can see, this is a pretty remote part of Indiana.

Countryside

Although the schoolhouse is long gone, the adjacent Church still stands, and still hosts a (small) congregation.

Church front

As you can see from the above picture, there’s a VERY well maintained cemetery behind the Church, with graves dating from the early 1800’s to the present.

Church back

It’s a great cache.  For those interested, the cache ID is GC574NV

Star of the County Down, Dulcimer Alternate Tuning

I’ve been messing around with alternate tunings of the mountain dulcimer.  Typically played in the tunings of DAD or DAA, sometimes different keys require different tunings.  Although one can capo for different keys, I much prefer to retune to get a “fuller” sound.

Star of the County Down is an Irish ballad, dating back to 1870 or so.

Playing in an alternate tuning presents some fingering/chording challenges, to be sure, but, overall, I’m happy with the result.

 

Weekend hiking, a tale of two parks

We had a reasonably free holiday weekend, which is a REAL rarity for us.  Part of it was by design…we’ve got a VERY busy June and July coming up, so this was a chance for us to catch our breath and get ready for a couple of months filled with music, comedy, and weddings.

We’ve both been working hard to be more active, and to work harder to do the things we really enjoy.  I used to hike quite a lot back in my younger days, but a pretty severe injury and weight gain put that on the back burner.  But, after doing a 5k the previous weekend, we decided to do some hiking this Memorial Day Weekend.

We chose two state parks to hike in.  Saturday, we knew we were going to Madison, Indiana.  Holly’s father is buried at the veteran’s cemetery there, so it was a good chance for us to check out Clifty Falls State Park in Madison.

The hiking trails in Clifty Falls range from easy to rugged  (I THINK one was listed as very rugged, also).  This part of Indiana…on the Ohio river, could easily be Kentucky or Tennessee.  It’s certainly not how you think of Indy.  It’s very hilly, with lots of exposed rock cliffs and some fairly major elevation changes on some of the trails.

It’s a beautiful park with a number of trails, as well as an Inn for overnight stays for those who prefer to stay in a more hotel like setting.  There’s also a fine campground, suited for everything from the largest motor homes to tent (primitive) camping.

We did one of the easier trails, even then, there was quite the elevation change and up and downs in the park.  Here are just a couple of photos.

Clifty 2

Clifty 1

 

Sunday, we did a few things around the house and generally caught up on things.  Monday, we headed up to Anderson, IN, to visit Mounds State Park.  Mounds looks like what most people picture Indiana is…flat to gently rolling.

Mounds is famous for it’s Native American Burial Mounds.  There’s the Great Mound, the Fiddleback Mound, and a number of others in the park.  Mounds is Indiana’s smallest state park, at a bit over 200 acres. It has a fine campground, as well as a very nice swimming pool.  The trails run from easy to moderate, although down by the river, it can get a bit rugged.  Here are a few photos from Mounds.

Mounds 2

Mounds 1

 

One thing I learned from this weekend is that I really need to get a good pair of hiking boots.  With some pretty significant ankle issues, the tennis shoes I’ve been wearing aren’t going to cut it for long, as I up my mileage/terrain.
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog!

Today, I hit the 25 pound lost mark. Here’s what I’ve learned.

25 pounds.  A sack or taters.  Or a medium sized dog.  Or a really big cat, but that’s what I’ve lost so far.

2014-04-25-Walking_JR_604

I’ve learned a few things.  I surprised myself by really enjoying lifting/weight training at the gym…BUT…the treadmill or stationary bike?  They are just torture to me.  I’ve given them a good, hard, try, but I just can’t do it.  Luckily, the weather has been pretty decent for me to do outdoor activities.  When the weather has been crappy, I’ve been walking at the mall.  Yep, I’ve turned into a senior citizen mall walker.  It just makes me feel like I’m going somewhere, even if it is just around and around the mall.  I suspect when winter gets here, I’ll do a LOT of walking at the mall.

I’ve learned I’m not drinking NEARLY enough water.  And, honestly, it’s a struggle for me.  I gave up diet pop some time ago, but replacing it with water is proving more difficult than I thought it might.  I’ll keep trying, but it’s a struggle.

And, I’ve learned just how much time I spent setting.  I’ve made it my goal to get up and DO something every hour…walk around the block, pull some weeds, SOMETHING to keep active.

So, just a few random thoughts about my first 25 pounds.  Here’s to the next 25!

Improving my photography skills.

One of my goals this year was to improve my photography skills.  To that end, I’ve taken a couple of online courses, subscribed to a couple of forums, and just been working hard.

I’ve no aspirations to become a professional photographer, I just want to be a GOOD photographer who takes more than snapshots.  I’m planning on entering the State Fair Photography Contest, also, something I’ve always wanted to do.

I thought I’d share a few of my recent works with you.

Eunan McIntyre, visiting from Ireland, and my wife, Holly, at the Indianapolis Artsgarden.  People aren’t my favorite thing to photograph, but I’m pretty happy with this one.

Eunan and Holly

The Scottish Rite Cathedral in Indianapolis

Scottish Rite

Seagull, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Seagull

Meerkat portrait, Indianapolis Zoo

Meerkat

So, those are just a few!  I hope you enjoyed them!

Central Park, Carmel, Indiana.

In my quest to become more healthy, I’m doing a lot of walking.  It’s a great, low impact exercise for those of us with joint issues, and, it’s fun.  You don’t cover as much ground as you do with bicycling, of course, but it’s a great way to slow down and enjoy the scenery while enjoying the exercise.

Central Park in Carmel, Indiana, is less than a mile from my house.  It’s a huge complex, with a large lake, a wetlands, wonderful hiking trails through the woods, a bicycling trail, and more.

When I walk there, I usually walk the trails in the woods,   but yesterday we got quite a bit of rain, so I chose to walk the paved path that goes around the lake.  One loop around the lake is just over a mile.

The lake covers a few acres, and is a birdwatchers paradise.  While walking, I’ve seen the common birds…mallard ducks, Canada geese, robins, sparrows, and the like.  A little rarer, but still common, I’ve seen red wing blackbirds,  several kinds of hawks, grebes, bluebirds, and more.  Shorebirds are fairly common, with the great blue heron being the most commonly spotted.

If you’ve not visited Central Park, give it a try.  A great place for outdoor activity.  I’ll leave you with just a couple of pictures.

 

Two weeks in with the FitBit

 

As with any piece of technology, there is a bit of a learning curve, and it takes some getting used to.  There are a number of tweaks one can do to make it most useful to you personally.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s quite useful right out of the box, but I’ve been tweaking and have been pretty happy with it.

There are, or course, somethings that work VERY well, and some that either I’ve not tweaked enough, or just aren’t going to be that useful for me.

The useful:  Step Tracker, although it’s a mixed bag.  I’ve been counting steps and comparing it to the FItBit, and it’s dead on accurate.  I really like that because it allows me to keep track of how much I’m moving.  The downside to that is, when I do other types of exercise  (Weights, etc) it doesn’t track steps, so there’s a temptation to neglect those and go for the steps, as I’m a little bit competitive so I want to at least equal my friends.  Nevertheless, I’m finding it quite useful for step tracking.

Exercise tracking I’m also finding quite useful.  When I do weights, it keeps track of time, calories, and heart rate.  Again, after doing some cross checking, it seems to be dead on accurate.  That’s a good thing for an analytics geek like me.

Sleep tracking:  I’m not finding that to be very accurate at all.  If I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom  (something I do at my age) it just stops tracking sleep, even if I go back to bed.  I’m pretty disappointed  in the sleep tracking feature of it.

The Smartphone/Crossover features…the ability to read text messages, caller ID, etc.  It’s somewhat useful.  It’s nice to be able to just look at my wrist and see who’s calling or texting, but I don’t use that feature as much as I thought I might.

All in all, it’s been a VERY positive experience.  I’m still tweaking and learning, but it’s playing an integral role in helping me keep active and be more healthy.