2012.12.12 Stick your hand in that hole

Written by David Green.

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.splash
    Water Fun—Carter Seitz and Colson Walter take a fast trip along a plastic sliding strip while water from a sprinkler provides the lubrication. The boys took a break from tie-dyeing last week at Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program to cool off in the water.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.pokemon
    LATEST CRAZE—David Cortes (left) and Ty Kruse, along with Jerred Heselschwerdt (standing), consult their smartphones while engaging in the game of Pokémon Go. The virtual scavenger hunt comes to life when players are in the vicinity of gyms, such as Stair District Library, and PokéStops such as the fire station across the street. The boys had spent time Monday morning searching for Pokémon at Wakefield Park.
  • Front.drum
    on your mark, get set, drum!—Drew Joughin (black shirt), Maddox Joughin and Kaleea Braun took the front row last week when Angela Rettle and assistants led the Stair District Library Summer Reading Program kids in a session of cardio drumming. The sports and healthy living theme continued yesterday with a Mini Jamboree at Lake Hudson State Park arranged by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Next week’s program features the Flying Aces Frisbee show.
  • Girls.on.ride
    NADIYA YORK and Aniston Valentine take a spin on the Casino, one of the rides offered at Wakefield Park during Morenci’s Town and Country Festival. This year’s festival remained dry but with plenty of heat during the three-day run. Additional photographs are inside this week’s Observer.
  • Front.softball
    Angela Davis (2) and teammate Allison VanBrandt break into a jig after Morenci's softball team won its third consecutive regional title.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.

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