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Welcome to our blog

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NOTE TO READERS: Here’s a few items to guide you on our blog.

This page is our permanent first page, called a sticky page. It was updated on October 1 and will remain on top permanently. Our most recent post is directly under this one and then they roll in date sequence from most recent to earliest.

Be sure to check out our new tag word cloud search functions in the sidebar.  We’ve also added a Geocaching Storefront to the sidebar with links to our favorite geocaching products.

Also in the page bar at the top of the blog are five pages of background and instruction on geocaching.  The titles are self-explanatory. These short pages are more than enough to get you started.

Cheers … Boris and Natasha

Hi and welcome to our newly updated blog. Designed as a companion to our website, we use it for shorter pages than we typically put on the site.

We affectionately refer to each other as Boris and Natasha (usually with “dahlink” at the end) – retirees, snowbirds, explorers, geocachers, munzee and benchmark hunters, history lovers, sometime photographers, freelance writers and lifelong learners who can show up almost anywhere.

KidsRN in action

Natasha is relentless in her quest for geocaches. Here, she gives it her all in the Black Hills. Mt. Rushmore is in the upper left hand corner.

Our vision for Off The Beaten Path is a family friendly blog that promotes interest in outdoor activities, curiosity about the world around us and lifelong learning. Our vehicle for that is geocaching and related activities, plus all that goes with them.

You would be hard-pressed to find another activity which is more fun, positive, educational and family friendly than geocaching and its siblings. My 88 year old mother has been out with us. Our grandkids (now 6 and 4) went out with us in their strollers. They really love hunting munzees and can both handle a smart phone like you wouldn’t believe. Some of the best times I ever had as a Dad were with my youngest son hunting down geocaches in the wilds of Montana and Wyoming. When I was teaching school, I used it in my math classes to teach all kinds of things.

One thing you can be sure of – the pages of this blog and our other related sites will develop skills and take you places you would have never known about otherwise.  The only adverse effect we’ve encountered is G.A.S. – Geocaching Addiction Syndrome.  Once it gets in your blood, it’s hard to walk away.

Our adventures have taken us to ghost towns, caves, mountain tops, waterfalls and more out of the way places than we can recall.  It’s been a hoot.  We’ve geocached in 38 states and have a plan in place to finish all 50 by the end of 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 (or thereabouts).

You never know what you might find here. We love forts, battlefields, ghost towns, one of a kind diners, cheeseburgers, skin-on French fries, anything to do with National Parks and anything else that’s off the beaten path. The tougher, longer, higher, creepier or more calorie-laden it is, the better we like it. Of course, we do normal stuff, too. We’ll mix things up to keep it interesting.

KidsRN at Mt. Rushmore cache site.

Mission accomplished safe and sound. No humans were injured in the production of this blog.

This is an open blog for families, adventurers, explorers, vagabonds and anybody else who might share our passions.  There’s no arm chair traveling here.  We’ve been to all the places we blog about and most of the pictures are ours.

See you in the blogosphere. …Boris and Natasha

Geocaching Experiences – The Hoffman Mansion

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Geocaching and exploring have taken us to some spooky locations and sites.  Many of them involve tales of killing, treachery and tragedy.  These are almost always accompanied by stories of ghosts and paranormal activity.  I’m not a guy who is easily spooked, but we have experienced some things in our travels which converted me from skeptic to open minded.  There are definitely things out there that can’t be explained.

One of those places is the Hoffman Mansion, outside of Peoria, OK.  We stumbled upon it while looking for a nearby geocache called… (drum roll)… the Hoffman Mansion.

The haunted Hoffman Mansion

The caretaker's quarters at the Hoffman Mansion. This is the only structure that remains in the compound. Everything else has been demolished but their foundations and outlines are clearly visible.

The history of the place and the tragedy that happened here are well known.  The compound was built in the 1880’s and bought by the Hoffman family at the turn of the century.  In the 1920’s, they ran a camp for boys there.  One night, one of the Hoffman family tortured and murdered five boys who were staying there, then hanged himself.  All were buried in the family cemetery which is on the grounds.  The Hoffman family lived in the mansion until 1960, when it was bought by a family from California.  They lived there for several years, then abruptly packed up and moved, never to return.  The main house and several other structures were condemned and demolished in 1998 after over 30 years of abandonment and neglect.

Nevertheless, there appears to be something present there.  Visitors, passers by and paranormal investigators have reported voices, lights and the sounds of children playing.   Investigators say there is an enormous amount of paranormal energy.  One interesting detail is that there is absolutely no graffiti anywhere on the premises. The taggers don’t go there. 

The compound is posted and fenced.  We, however, ventured into the grounds via an open gate.  At least I did.  The geowife didn’t want any part of it.  I walked around for about a half hour.  It must have been quite a place.  There were two large concrete aprons with shredded tennis nets and rusty basketball hoops along with several large foundations, one of which looked like a swimming pool.  Normally, I can poke around a place like this for a long time, but after 30 minutes, I’d had enough.  Completely quiet and deathly still,  it was really creepy.  I kept turning around to see if anyone was there. 

More detailed information about life and death at the Hoffman Mansion is hard to come by.  There are no known pictures of the compound when it was intact, which is unusual considering it was occupied for almost a century. The cache is still there, just outside the property line near the cemetery. In addition to spirits, there’s lots of poison ivy, so beware of both.

Good haunting … The Cachemanian Devils

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