Sunday, February 24, 2008

Buffalo or Bust

Yesterday we had a nice day driving out on Highway 55 to Buffalo to celebrate great grandma's birthday. The celebration was going to be later in the day, so we decided to make a family day out of the event and do a bit of breakfasting and geocaching, both before and after the event.

Our first stop was in Hamel, MN, at Peg's Countryside Cafe. Peg used to be the face of Betty Crocker (which changes now and then, so they find new models from time to time) and now she owns a restaurant that serves up a great breakfast (they once encouraged me to dine and dash because I'd been reading my paper at the counter for an hour and lost track of the fact that I didn't have any food), and excellent sausage. The place is always packed in the morning (it's about the size of my dining room + kitchen) and there are pictures of the patrons all over the walls.

Our first geocaching stop was Rockford, MN. Along the Crow River.

The Crow River freezes solid and turns into a great big snowmobile highway for the winter. We saw dozens of snowmobiles (snowmobilers?) racing up and down the ice, and this family even stopped to have a picnic in the middle of the river. They were very interested in what we were up to, asking about the GPS and what we were looking for. We get that a lot. I think there are many people that realize GPSes, outside the sort you use in a car, exist, but they can't picture what you'd do with one outside of survival hiking.

Here's the first cache we found in Rockford. I am getting too old to climb trees. Another 10 months, I'll be 40, and then it will be official. Whoever put the cache in place had filled the hollow tree with large branches to allow the cache to sit in the hollow up near the top. I fiddled around down below for a while trying to pick out branches from holes in the tree before I decided this might be the first cache I'd have to climb after.

Eryn enjoying a beautiful 38 degree day next to the Crow River.

Our second find along the river. It was covered with the loose bark before we dug around for it. I was worried for a while that it was in a deep hole nearby. I'm glad I didn't stick my arm down there first. I worry about getting worried by a badger.

The flip flop geobug. It's trying to bounce back and forth between coasts, and has the official title "Rockford or Bust". Based on the information on, people have been moving it to whatever nearby Rockford (MN, IL) they can find. If I'm incredibly motivated, perhaps I'll haul it down to Iowa.

Walking back along the river involved trying to push Eryn up a small hill. She has this interesting habit of going limp and not helping at all when you're helping her up or down an incline. I'm not sure if I captured where she crosses her feet so she's not even in a stance that makes walking or climbing a remote possibility. You'll hear why I titled the video "Poke her with a stick".

The birthday cake at the assisted living center in Buffalo. Eryn and grandpa ate about 10 pieces worth of frosting between the two of them. Ugh. I brought home a cup with two pieces of cake stuffed in it so she can indulge again today.

Grandma and Eryn cut the cake. At one point, the dental floss flicked frosting onto Grandma's forehead, and Eryn reached up, wiped it off her forehead, and ate it. I'm hoping to go to my grave without anyone ever saying of me, "He once ate frosting off someone's forehead."

Afterwards we geocached around Buffalo. There was no geocache here. These are the offices of The Drummer. When I was younger I used to deliver the drummer from door to door in Monticello. 75-90+ papers, sometimes divided into two sacks if it was close to a shopping holiday. Now and then we'd actually end up at these offices for extra plastic bags to stuff the papers in. Wandering around Buffalo was a little strange because it's been two decades since I was last there, and for a while it was where the papers came from for my high school job, where my mother worked at the hospital, where I paid the fine for my Malp Lake speeding ticket (the one where I wasn't actually speeding), where I went to the gym (pre-chain days), where I was requested to go for jury duty, and where a dozen people from Monticello we knew owned businesses like the mortuary and Bridgeman's. A lot of it looks exactly like it did back then.

I post this cache because it's the first one Pooteewheet ever found.

A downtown cache. The second one we've found in a phone booth/stand. We're getting a tour of all the phone booths left in Minnesota. I wonder if we'll eventually be able to call ourselves, or accidentally step into a Tardis.

People in Buffalo used to be so poor they had to live in piles of snowballs. Must have made for a very wet basement in the spring.

Can you see where this one is hidden at Sturges Park?

Another cache, overlooking Buffalo Lake. It's a very large lake, and there are dozens of cars and fish houses out there. Pooteewheet drove out onto the lake just to show Eryn you could, although not without effectively bouncing the undercarriage of your Ford Focus off a few ice ridges. There are two birdhouses right there - the one with the geocache, and another upside down one built by Troop 458. I used to do Boy Scout ceremonies for them back in my Order of the Arrow/Boy Scout days. I think they knew which end of the birdhouse went up back then.

Death of a snowman. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

This is primarily for all of you who don't get much snow. It probably didn't occur to you that when it gets cold and snowy in Minnesota, we still go outside and play at the playground. You just have to make sure your butt isn't wet so you don't get stuck.

And you have to make sure your Dad isn't a jerk that bounces you a little too enthusiastically.


Anonymous said...

You did not mention your days of flying when you had a hard landing in Buffalo!

tonka_boy said...

Hey neighbor! I just came across your post about geocaching in Rockford. We're over here in Minnetrista. I recognize that slope in the "Poke Her With a Stick" video. We posted the FTF on Rockford Crow1. I put it on our blog.

I can't tell you how many times I drove past that cafe on 55 and never stopped to eat. I'll have to try it now.

Stop by our blog and say hello.

The Northwoods Geocats

Sank said...

Hey Scooter, we're going to have to chat about this geocaching thing. My middle kid has been wanting to do this for a long time but I know nothing about it. How do you get involved?