Thursday, March 27, 2014

Texas Challenge 2014

This weekend, I attended another Mega event in the Lone Star State.  The Texas Challenge 2014 took place in/around Bastrop, TX.  It is a reunion and competition for cachers in the state and for visitors as well.  The competition is fierce among the "regions" (anyone can join any region for competition).  Congrats to North Texas for the win!

I was not able to make it to any of the pre-events, but I did get there for the day on Saturday.  I met up with my geo-buddies, AgNav and Scrapnphotos and we shopped a little, greeted friends and capped and deployed some Munzees.  There were quite a few virtual and mystery virtuals in the area of the main Challenge event. New ones that I deployed had quite a few hits over the weekend.

At noon, those of us that were not on the hunt teams for the Challenge met at the Old Iron Bridge over the Colorado River in historic Bastrop for the official Bridge-spitting ceremony where we learned the song.

Dirty Lil, Dirty Lil
Lives on top of Garbage Hill
Never took a bath and never will
Dirty Lil!

  We came, we saw, we spit!  We got our certificates that said we were official members of the International S.O.B. (Society of Bridge-spitters). After the ceremony, I got to meet Rob Vardeman (CoachV), president of Munzee.  What a nice, down-to-earth guy!  Thanks for the extra Munzees to put out!

After lunch at the Roadhouse, Nov64 (Patty) and I took off to complete some of the new Lab caches that were only in place this weekend.  We saw many interesting sites in/around Bastrop, including a bronze foundry. We saw several of the Buc-ees beavers there. There was a candy shop, wine shop, rock shop, rain water bottling plant and more along our route.  We put out some Munzees and capped others.  I even found a couple of Sights and created a couple on Sighter.  I did not get a chance to go into Bastrop State Park on this trip, but from Hwy 95, it STILL looks like a battle zone from the fires two years ago.  All those burned pines just break my heart.

We made it back to Mayfest Park in time for Patty to make it to the Texas County Challenge Reunion.  Yes, she has found a cache in all 254 counties in Texas!

We took a big group picture, waited through announcements and raffles, visited with cachers/Munzeers.  Then came the announcement for the winners of the Challenge.  Congrats to the North Texas team for the win this year!

Sadly, I was busy using my phone for locating caches and Munzees and did not capture many pictures.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Spring Break Fun

This week was my son's Spring Break, so I decided to take a couple days off work so we'd have a long weekend to spend in Louisiana with relatives. We didn't get to come at Christmas, so it's been a while since we were here.

Our cousin and his wife have a new baby. Our aunt wasn't feeling 100%. Dang allergies!  I sympathize for sure! We didn't want to intrude on them too much, so we took the camper and made reservations at Fairview-Riverside State Park in Madisonville.  I LOVE camping, but my son doesn't.  So we both got to do some of what we liked. He has been dying to go see the baby and we both have been craving beignets.  We got to do a fish fry for Mama Amy's birthday celebration, which was soooooo good! Good job Matt and Uncle Dane!!!  I love fried catfish and it just hit the spot.  Max fell asleep on my chest for a couple of hours and all was good until my backside started to fall asleep. :)

This was our first time to camp in a Louisiana State Park, so we added another spot on our Places We Have Camped map.  The staff was friendly and the campground was peaceful. Restrooms were available in the various areas of the park and they were nice, large and clean. There was a boardwalk along the river and throughout the Swamp Trail.  I love the Spanish moss hanging on the trees and blowing in the wind. I know they exist there, but we did not see any alligators.  It's still a little cold though.

There was one couple from Illinois that had an entire garden of solar-powered moving "plants" in the front window of their motor home. How cute!

On Saturday morning, there was a guided bird talk/walk. Our knowledgeable guide, Lori, showed us feathers, feet and skulls of various birds including a Bald Eagle, Barred Owl and a Cardinal. You can really hear the difference between feathers popped in the wind from a Peacock and an Owl.  We walked around the park to locate the species that were out in the day use area, the river and the swamp.  Just as we got started on the Swamp Trail, it began to rain and the group dispersed.  We got to see several and a couple of them are lifers for me. (*)  The little warblers were very active in the park.  Note to self:  bring birdseed and binoculars on the next camping trip.

Bald Eagle skull
Birds seen at the park on this trip:
American Robin
Boat-tailed Grackle
Carolina Wren
Crested Titmouse
Eastern Bluebird
Laughing Gull
Loggerhead Shrike
Mourning Dove
Northern Cardinal
Northern Mockingbird
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-headed Woodpecker*
Red-winged Blackbird
Rusty Blackbird*
Swamp Sparrow*
Yellow-rumped Warbler*

I also got to do some of my favorite scavenger hunts on this trip.  I was unable to find the Munzee in the park, but I added a couple of my own. I did capture some Mystery Munzees on the way home, though. 65 points on just 2 of them.

On March 15, I completely filled my caching calendar on the Groundspeak site.  I had filled my calendar on March 28, 2012 with finds on multiple listing sites, but this is just on the one site. I like to share the love between the sites. Later on Saturday, we went down to New Orleans with my aunt, uncle and friends of theirs to attend the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

It's a bit like small Mardi Gras parade, but all in green. There were lots of small "marching" groups. Some in tuxedos, others in kilts.  The floats were throwing out beads, scarves, boas, cups and such. Everyone had some form of green on.

For the holiday, they also toss out ingredients for Irish Stew.  It's a treat to catch cabbages, carrots, potatoes, onions, noodles (packages of Raman noodles) and the like.  I'm quite sure that most of the parade walkers that were vertical at the beginning of the parade were not by the end of the parade.  Fun in New Orleans!

The camper is staying with both of my cousins and they will share it between themselves and with their spouses. They are excited to have it back on their side of the Sabine River.  I know they will get more use out of it now that they can use it together. Since hitting the teenage years, my camping buddy is not into it anymore.  On the way home, we fought a lot of wind.  It made for a tiring ride, trying to keep the car on the road. Good thing we weren't pulling the camper.

We used the Waze app on the way there and back.  It sure helps to see hazards (and police sightings) ahead of us.  There was a major accident in Houston and we were able to route around it to save a lot of time. I am now a Warrior Wazer. My brother liked it that I could send him our route and he could see where we were as we made our way home.

Friday, March 7, 2014

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Monday, March 3, 2014

Gourmet Cupboard March Specials

Please be sure to list "Vajdak, Denise" as your distributor.
The Gourmet Cupboard® offers gourmet food mixes to help make cooking faster and easier, home business opportunities, online home parties, and fundraisers! Join The Gourmet Cupboard® today!
We Appreciate You...
We appreciate our customers and distributors so much that we offer monthly specials! Each month we offer different varieties of gourmet mixes... knowing that you will love them just as much as we do! Often the monthly specials are picked by our top Gourmet Cupboard® team leaders around the country! We love the monthly specials and hope you will too! Thank you for viewing our monthly specials each month!

March Special

The Gourmet Cupboard® offers gourmet food mixes to help make cooking faster and easier, home business opportunities, online home parties, and fundraisers! Join The Gourmet Cupboard® today!Celebrate National Chip and Dip Day on March 23rd!

Purchase the following delicious mixes:

Hawaiian Cheese Ball
Cheesy Corn Dip
Spinach Dip
Chili Cheese Dip

and receive a FREE
Mexican Fiesta Dip Mix!

Price: $15.50

March Hostess Special

The Gourmet Cupboard® offers gourmet food mixes to help make cooking faster and easier, home business opportunities, online home parties, and fundraisers! Join The Gourmet Cupboard® today!
Celebrate with cookies this month with this cookie special!

Purchase the following mixes at a discount!

Chocolate Chip Cookies (2nd week of March is Chocolate Chip Cookie Week!)
Oatmeal Cookies (National Oatmeal Cookie Day is March 17th!)
Chocolate Pecan Bars (March 25th is National Pecan Day)

Regular Price: $19.75         Sale Price: $15.00

Meals of the Month Club Special
  { view details & faqs }   { view recipes }

The Gourmet Cupboard® offers gourmet food mixes to help make cooking faster and easier, home business opportunities, online home parties, and fundraisers! Join The Gourmet Cupboard® today!The Meals of the Month Club is a club that you can sign up for and receive 7 meal type mixes in the mail at the beginning of each month.

That's right! You get different easy to make mixes to try every month!

Each month, there will be several additional recipes included with your shipment. Each month, we will also try to include a recipe that could be prepared in your crock-pot as well.

Besides additional recipes included with your shipment, we will also send you a grocery list to prepare the 7 easy to make meals!

The Gourmet Cupboard® automatically sends you the mixes around the 1st of each month, and the company automatically charges you for the mixes and the exact shipping.

Sale Price: $19.25

Mixes of the Month Club Special
  { view details & faqs }

The Gourmet Cupboard® offers gourmet food mixes to help make cooking faster and easier, home business opportunities, online home parties, and fundraisers! Join The Gourmet Cupboard® today!The Mixes of the Month Club is a club that you can sign up for and receive mixes in the mail at the beginning of each month!

That's right! You get different easy to make mixes to try every month!

The Gourmet Cupboard® automatically sends you the mixes around the 1st of each month, and the company automatically charges you a flat rate of $40.00.

This discounted sale price amountdoes include the shipping.

Sale Price: $40.00

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Outdoor Activities

I had the day off for MLK day, so I got together with one of my best geo-buddies to go find some geocaches. On the way to meet up with her, the morning was very misty-foggy. As I was driving down FM 50 near Brenham, I saw a Bald Eagle flying low over a pond just to my left. I always get so excited about seeing these majestic birds so close to home and over the last couple of months, I have seen 3 of them. I was driving so I didn't have a chance to try to snap a picture.
Photo by Suzzanne Britton

We headed northeast to an area where there were caches that neither of us have already found. The fog was beginning to lift and it turned into a gorgeous day. Our first stop, a cemetery. The wind was whispering in the pines and birds were everywhere. I could have just sat there for a long time soaking it all in.  A "V" of Snow Geese flew overhead heading south. Wrens where about as were some Robins. I saw a tiny bird with a bright red stripe on its head and it was flitting around in the cedars right in front of me, but not holding still long enough for its camera debut. I looked it up later and found out it is a Ruby Crowned Kinglet. A new one to add to my life list! Such a cute little fellow!

We started on a series of caches and then took a break for lunch on the Lake in Conroe. It was a little breezy, but nice, so we sat out on the patio.  I created a Sight on Sighter Game and we put out a few Munzees along the way heading home.  We stopped by the military tank that has twice eluded me and I FINALLY got to log that one and even completed a locationless cache on 20 caches found along with a couple of Munzees for the day. We didn't do much pre-planning, so no letterboxes today.

I got home and started a couple loads of laundry. I know, ugh! While they were washing and drying, I went outside with my tablet to edit and publish my field notes as logs.  I just couldn't stand going inside any more than I had to. The Barred Owls across the road were carrying on a little early and I love to listen to them. Henbit and Spring Beauties are already blooming in the yard. Hopefully, Spring is on its way.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Scavenger Hunts

The first round of Munzee Clan Wars of 2014 has started. There are just over 300 clans this month and I am in the DudeClan this time with other Texas Munzeers.  I was able to get out at lunch and deploy 3 more Munzees around Downtown Bryan and one of them is a Mystery. If you scan it, you can get anywhere from 5-50 points.

Clans consist of up to 10 players who band together to play. Individual points are added together to try to earn special clan "weapons" which are special Munzees that can only be earned as part of the clan wars.  For more info on Clans, click here.  New clans start and end near the beginning/end of a month. Players can join, leave and change clans only during that time frame.

Because of the GeoGearHeads Podcast, I learned about another location-based game called Sighter. There are now a few of them in Downtown Bryan as well. It is a Photography Based Urban Treasure Hunt. Use the app for Android and Apple. Open it and it will show you the nearest sights. Arrows will show you the direction and distance of the sight.  As you get closer, you will play the cold - warm - hot game until you can get there and snap a picture of the item.  Since there are none in my area from other players, I will have to wait to describe that part of it.  When you create a sight, make sure your GPS is on and locked on location. Take a picture, type in a hint and you can type a secret about the location as well and submit. It's that simple.

I have a couple of letterboxes that had the stamps taken from them at some point. Now I had to disable the boxes so I can re-carve the stamps. Tiny details are getting tough for me lately. Time for an eye exam.

A note to geocachers:
Rubber stamps are NOT swag - especially from a letterbox hybrid! DO NOT REMOVE them!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Main Street Bethlehem

Sunday afternoon, a handful of us from Hope Evangelical Free Church set out on a 2-1/2 hour drive to
Burnet, TX (pronounced BURN-it) to go visit a small replica of what Bethlehem may have looked like in the day of Christ's coming.  We arrived about 4:30 pm and got in line. We were not too far back, but the gates of the city didn't open until 6:00 pm.  After us, more people came to stand in the line that snaked back and forth in the block of the church and then it continued down the sidewalk and continued to grow down the next block and we finally lost sight of the end of it.  Good thing we got there when we did!

We entered the gates and were free to visit all the parts of the city at our own pace and choice of direction. There were townspeople and Roman soldiers milling around the town doing what people would do in any ordinary day in Bethlehem.

There were folk doing pottery, making baskets, making candles, grinding grains, looming blankets and more.  Some were making Bethlehem bread and there were samples to taste.  YUM!!!!  The recipe is on the website at the bottom of this blog. I'm going to have to see if I can duplicate it.  You could ask the people what they were doing and they would tell you and speak just as if it were 0001 BC.  Someone else was in a little house and she was churning butter in a pouch that looked like an animal skin. Since there was a goat just outside, I'm assuming it was goat milk in the mix.  Samples were good. No complaints here!

We stopped at the well to take a picture and just as we did, one of the shepherds jumped up on the edge of the well and proclaimed that the Savior had been born and we should all follow the star in the east. Who could argue with that?! We took their advice and followed the crowd, stopping by more houses and visiting with townspeople along the way.

There were live goats, donkeys and even camels throughout the city. People were sitting by fires or were in rooms with candlelight. Every once in a while the soldiers would grab someone and throw them in the jail. But don't worry, Mrs. Lena was quick to witness to them! There was also a tax collector trying to get what he could.  Blind teenagers and adults were scattered around with little cups asking for charity. A man was teaching a young boy in the Synagogue. It was really a step back in time.

After visiting the townspeople and seeing the rooms all filled in the Inn, we were told about the couple that had to stay the night in the stables out back.  What a wonderful sight to see Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus!

After we spent our time in the City, we walked out and were treated to little cups of hot chocolate and cookies.  All of this was free of charge and has been going on for 21 years.  Kudos to the members of First Baptist Church!!! It was truly impressive and inspiring.

More of my pictures can be seen here.

For more info and the recipe for the Bethlehem Bread, visit