2012.12.12 Stick your hand in that hole

Written by David Green.


Geocaching takes you to such interesting places.

I know I've used that line before, but it's happened once again. I went out searching for hidden trinkets and ended up having dinner with the mayor of Miami. Yes, I'm stretching things a little.

We often get together with two or three of our children for Thanksgiving or Christmas, but this year was a little different with the new grandson, Ryland, who was born a few pounds early. He's now either two months or five months old, depending on how you view the situation. He's approaching 11 pounds, which is an astounding turn-around from the initial 2.2 pounds.

Preemies are supposed to avoid possible infection from a crowded, enclosed area such as an airplane, so we made arrangements to meet in Miami where Ben lives with his wife, Sarah. Airline tickets are always more expensive over the big holidays, so we looked over schedules and chose the first week of December. That's why you're reading a little 12-page newspaper. At least I hope you're reading it. I have a long way to go at this point.

We arrived in Miami late Wednesday and by Friday afternoon I realized that I hadn't yet gone in search of the elusive geocaches around Coconut Grove. I had put in a lot of time chasing Caroline, the inquisitive 21-month-old, so while she napped, I headed out.

My GPS receiver took me to an enormous ficus tree—one of those Florida trees with multiple little trunks twisting around one another. What a likely hiding spot for a cache. 

I started digging around in those recesses and removing leaves, and wondering what southern spiders might be lurking in the leaves and if those big fast-moving ants were fire ants. I should have brought Caroline. I could have said, "Grandma's purse is in there" and she would have explored every possibility in about two minutes flat.

I suppose Caroline’s mother wouldn't have approved. The girl was already getting fairly beat up while under the care of her grandfather. I recall three incidents of scraped knees, two head bumps, an injured finger and one case of getting stuck in a chair. There was also the time she fell on sharp rocks, got away from me at the edge of the swimming pool, took a spill while exploring her cousin's crib, got banged up while rolling off the sofa cushions, laid down underneath a street tree where dogs must have…well, it’s Miami. There are dogs everywhere. I better stop here. This might all be news to her parents.

They weren't fire ants, Ben told me later, nor was the cache there. I read the hint—magnetic—and walked over to the guard rail and found it. On to the big anchor for the next one.

It was supposed to be an easy one right there in view by an enormous concrete anchor. I finally gave up and moved on to another located in the twisted roots of an ocean grape tree facing Pier 5 at Dinner Key. More Caroline territory. It was getting dark, I felt hesitant to stick my hand into the dark crevices, so I walked on around a nearby building to head home. That's when I encountered a marching band and what looked like an African dance troupe.

Something was happening here and I started walking back to tell the others. I soon met them heading my way and we walked toward the event. There was smoke from outdoor cooking. There was a line of food booths. We wondered if we stumbled into someone's party. It didn't appear that anyone was paying for food. 

I spotted someone who had the look of a down-and-out guy walking away from a booth with a full plate. Were they just being nice to him? He didn't seem to belong among the well-dressed guests.

We walked closer to a booth and a woman asked if we wanted some food. But of course. We received plates of rice and black beans and bread. Other booths offered barbecued chicken and ribs, tamales, pork, gourmet cupcakes, ice cream and more. We would no longer be going out for dinner. We had already arrived.

All of this was happening in front of the Miami City Hall, which, for some reason, is located down the coast a ways in Coconut Grove where Ben lives. The high school marching band did its fancy footwork and then a man from the Zoo arrived with an enormous snake wrapped around his neck. Soon the snake was around the neck of the mayor.

City commissioners were introduced, then the fire chief, the police chief and other dignitaries. Eventually there was only one dignitary remaining: St. Nick. I don't recall if he was wrapped in the snake.

Geocaching inadvertently took us to the City of Miami's annual Christmas lighting ceremony—and at least half of the lights lit up when they “threw the switch.”

Maybe we should mark the calendar now for next year. What’s a few hundred dollars in airfare when a free meal awaits?

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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