October 1, 2016
Abandoned structures, back_country, battlefields, blogging, diners, exploring, family_friendly, geocaching, GPS, history, lifelong_learning, military, monuments, munzees, museums, national_park, off_the_beaten_path, outdoors, paranormal, photography, Road trips, travel, urban exploration
Alabama, Arizona, benchmark hunting, bicycling, Civil War, desert, diners, exploring, French and Indian War, geocaching, ghost_towns, GPS, hiking, history, Minnesota, munzees, National Park Service, Off the beaten path, Pennsylvania, photography, South Dakota, Tucson, Wisconsin
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.
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.
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
March 8, 2013
Arizona, blogging, cameras, landscapes, photography
Arizona, desert, Nikon D3100, palm trees, photography, sundown, Tucson
I was sitting on the balcony of our snowbird condo in Tucson a couple of days back, enjoying the evening breezes. As I watched the shadows start creeping up the nearby palm trees, it almost looked like a painting. So I fetched the trusty Nikon 3100D and snapped away. It’s simple and uncluttered. The contrasts, colors, shadows, shapes and light all make this an interesting shot.
February 16, 2013
back_country, climbing, desert, exploring, geocaching, geology, hazards, hiking trails, national_park, off_the_beaten_path, outdoors, safety, Texas
Balance Rock, Big Bend National Park, climbing, desert, exploring, geocaching, Grapevine Hills, off_the_beaten_path, outdoors, photography
Another adventure in Big Bend. In the northwest quadrant of the park, not far from the Panther Junction Visitor Center, lie the Grapevine Hills. Here you will see rock formations unlike any others in the park. This is igneous rock formed by cooling lava. The word igneous comes from the Latin word for fire – ignis. When solid material cools it shrinks, tearing itself apart. The result is a valley full of huge boulders that have been exposed to erosion and weathering for millions of years. Now it is a barren landscape with fantastic rock formations that look almost impossible to create.
This is the view looking back down the Grapevine Hills Trail from Balanced Rock.
The most famous of these is “Balanced Rock”. Located in a saddle about a mile and a half from the trailhead, it is exactly what it says – a huge boulder precariously perched between two others. In addition to a hike through the valley, some basic bouldering is required at the end. This area got its name from grapevines that used to grow here on the valley floor. The entire Big Bend area was once much more livable than it is now, with good grass, clean water, trees and crops. Overgrazing by sheep and cattle killed the grasslands and all the trees were cut down for firewood and construction. I guess they call that progress.
Balanced Rock and Ground Zero for the cache. Now all we have to do is get a picture with one of us in the window.
This is a back country desert hike, not recommended in the summer. Take water, sun screen and a hat. We hiked out in the early morning and, once again, had the place to ourselves. In the picture, Natasha is getting us credit for the virtual cache located here.
Natasha at Ground Zero getting us credit for the cache.
Photography is a challenge at Big Bend. It’s all bright light and dark shadows. I’m not much with filters and all that but I’m pretty good with Picasa and Photoshop. Both came in handy on this trip.
Cheers … Boris and Natasha
February 13, 2013
back_country, desert, exploring, history, nature, off_the_beaten_path, outdoors, state_parks, Texas
Contrabando movie set, desert, exploring, ghost_towns, GPS, Hollywood, off_the_beaten_path, outdoors, Rio Grande River, Texas, Texas Big Bend Ranch State Park
NOTE TO READERS: In keeping with our philosophy of lifelong learning, we are now on Twitter as @cachemaniacs. If you’re interested, there’s a Twitter follow button over on the sidebar or you can just click this link.
More surprises in Big Bend Country. How about a Hollywood movie set? There is a 50 mile scenic drive along the Rio Grande on Texas Highway 170 between Lajitas and Presidio. It runs along the southern boundary of the Texas Big Bend Ranch State Park. About 15 miles west of Lajitas is the Contrabando movie set. It is named for a nearby canyon and not a movie. Built in 1985 for the western “Uphill All the Way” (I never heard of it either), it saw steady use for 20 years. Two Larry McMurtry books – Streets of Laredo and Dead Man Walk – were filmed here. Heavy flooding in 2008 inundated the set in eight feet of water. It survived and has been repaired, waiting for the next Oscar winner to be filmed here. The Rio Grande, marked by the yellow arrow, is just a gurgling brook these days.
February 7, 2013
exploring, family_friendly, geocaching, geology, GPS, history, national_park, off_the_beaten_path, outdoors, Texas
Big Bend country, Big Bend National Park, desert, exploring, geocaching, GPS, history, hot springs, off_the_beaten_path, outdoors, Rio Grande River, Texas
Big Bend National Park is full of surprises and this is one of them. In the far southeast corner of the park, a geothermal spring bubbles up from the bottom of the Rio Grande River. A relic of the area’s ancient volcanic past, it is crystal clear, laden with healthy minerals and is a constant 105 degrees – about the same temp as a hot tub. In 1909, an entrepeneur named J.O. Langford built a bathhouse to corral the springs and opened a health resort. Besides the bath house, it had a store, a cafe, a post office and cabins that rented for $1.25 a night. People came from all over the world to soak in its healing waters and there are all kinds of stories of people being made well from just about everything. In 1916, Langford had to abandon his operation because of the Pancho Villa raids. After 10 years of border violence, Langford returned in 1927 and started over, making things bigger and better. He sold the operation to the state of Texas in 1942, which donated it to the National Park Service. The NPS ran the resort as a concession until 1952, when it was abandoned for good. However, the springs and the foundation of the bath house are still open to the public. You can soak in it all you want (although you can’t do it naked like the old days). If you get hot, you can hop into the Rio Grande to cool off, then climb back in. It is the most popular destination in the park. In addition to the springs, you can explore the ruins of the old resort facilities. There’s also a geocache there, so how could we resist? The yellow arrow points to the spring. The water in the enclosure is all spring water. It flows into the river over the outside wall.
February 4, 2013
back_country, desert, exploring, geocaching, geology, national_park, off_the_beaten_path, outdoors, Texas
Big Bend National Park, desert, exploring, geocaching, GPS, history, off_the_beaten_path, outdoors, Rio Grande River, Texas
Big Bend National Park is just amazing. This enormous crevice is Santa Elena Canyon. The orange dot in the foreground is the lovely Natasha getting us credit for the virtual geocache located here. The canyon is contained in an escarpment that rises 1500 feet and was once the bottom of a primordial inland sea. The Rio Grande River carved out this channel millions of years later. Texas is on the right; Mexico on the left. Santa Elena Canyon runs to the northwest about eight miles. You wouldn’t know it to look at it now, but this section of the Rio Grande, which is flowing towards you, wasn’t navigated successfully until 1885, when the Texas Rangers pulled it off. All that showed up from previous attempts were planks and splinters. You can hike about 3/4 of a mile into the canyon. At the end of that, the walls go completely vertical right out of the water and the canyon is only 30 feet wide. We made the hike and were not disappointed. And much to our surprise, we had the place to ourselves.