Are You Talking to Me?

Do you remember the “good old days” when politicians and public figures behaved as adults, treated each other with respect and spoke only in well-mannered fashion?

I didn’t think so … neither do I.

But given today’s relentless barrage of pseudo-scandals and outrageous behavior, it is easy to understand why past public figures may have seemed a more-genteel bunch than our current crop.  A brief review of the history books, though, reveals a goodly amount of similarity to what we contend with today.  For example:

In 1800, Thomas Jefferson referred to President John Adams as: “… a blind, bald, crippled, toothless man who is a hideous hermaphrodite character with neither the force and fitness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.”

Across his political career, two-term President Grover Cleveland had to contend with the assertion that he had fathered an illegitimate child, and his opponent’s relentless consequent chant of “Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa?”

And who can forget the historic duel in Weehawken, New Jersey, on the morning of July 11, 1804?   In that clash, Vice President Aaron Burr shot and killed former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton because, well, Hamilton had allegedly insulted him at a dinner.

Today, the super-connected virtual world in which we reside hurls “news” (regardless of veracity) across the internet with but one click, while the vetting of information has become a process with which few seem to bother.  In this environment, it is impossible to ignore the glut of outright untruths and innuendo being paraded before us for the explicit purpose of character assassination or political gain.

Consider, for example, the torrent of vitriol heaped repeatedly upon United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg who, as the first openly gay cabinet member in history, is the target of incessant attacks based simply on his sexual orientation.  As he goes about deflecting these scurrilous insults, he provides us with useful guidance on navigating this confusing and ill-tempered virtual world:

We have to be smart about where we direct our attention. I know the most shocking thing somebody said or did yesterday gets the most focus today, but if I were to make a list of the 10 or 20 or 50 or 200 members of Congress whose commentary or thoughts or words we should be debating or weighing right now, it wouldn’t be those two or three members of Congress who get the most attention on Twitter for the outrage of the day upon which they try to outdo each other.

Buttigieg is right, for racist, sexist and homophobic slurs fall below the lowest threshold for decency.  A major problem, of course, is the anonymity the web provides us for, after all, making these sorts of ugly comments directly to another person’s face can result in a punch in the nose.  Saying the same thing in an internet posting, though, merely puts one at risk of a brief stint in “Facebook Jail.”

Like it or not, we have become wed to the internet in multiple ways meaning we face a daily struggle to avoid being drawn down some digital rabbit hole in pursuit of more “information” on the “scandal-du-jour.”  For our own sanity it is important to be discerning in the information we rely upon, while avoiding those spectacles that are nothing more than just, well, spectacles.

It is safe to state that the principles of dignity and self-respect are at risk among elected officials today … a criticism that applies equally across the political spectrum.  For example, in a recent interview a Democratic senator uttered one “f***,” two “f***ings,” one “bull****,” one “p***ed off” and one “they s**k.”  Not to be outdone, a number of Republican politicians have taken to posing with “Let’s Go Brandon” signs; one even ended his floor speech with those words and a fist pump.  The “Let’s Go Brandon” phenomenon is, of course, code for “F*** Joe Biden.”

These sorts of profane insults have even taken on hybrid form.  At a recent dinner, a Republican governor referred to former President Trump as “F***ing Crazy,” prompting one Democrat to note that Republicans, today, are using “F” bombs more frequently than at any time since the Nixon administration.

It’s getting so that broadcast political events will have to have viewer warnings similar to what we see in movie theaters.

Frankly, this sort of thing used to bother me, but now it just makes me tired.  As a remedy, I have begun following my own advice by taking an occasional break or sabbatical from the digital political battlefield, while seeking out those things that are really important.

Like, for example, watching kitten videos on YouTube.

Apologia Lost

Since May, 2015, Pope Francis has spoken, repeatedly, of the words “please, thank you, and sorry” as being essential to repairing and reinforcing bonds.  The phrase “I’m sorry” in particular, he said, is the one which, when lacking, causes small cracks in relationships to become larger to the point that they become deep trenches.

Apparently, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, did not get the memo.

This became clear, recently, when Benedict addressed allegations that he disregarded the reports of four survivors of clergy sexual abuse when he was Archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982.  While denying that he mishandled those accusations, he acknowledged his failure to assist those victims when they sought his help.  In asking for clemency, he added:  “I have had great responsibilities in the Catholic Church.  All the greater is my pain for the abuses and the errors that occurred in those different places during the time of my mandate.”

It is worth pointing out that Benedict’s comments lack the simple phrase … I’m sorry … that his successor, Francis, held as key to healing and mending brokenness.  This being so, one is left to wonder … don’t these guys talk to each other?

Benedict’s lack of personal remorse met with swift reaction. In New York, for example, Robert Hoatson, a priest for 45 years and co-founder of Road to Recovery, demonstrated in front of Archdiocesan offices carrying signs that read: “Pope Benedict: A Moral Failure.  Like All Church Leaders.”  When interviewed, he spoke for many disaffected Catholics in asserting that: “The Church is never going to change.  It’s corrupt to the core, from the Vatican down to New York City.”

To apologize, one needs to honestly hear what happened from the other person’s point of view and how it affected them. But those who believe the world revolves around them like, for example, the Princes of the Church, tend not to be interested in listening to others, particularly if they are being accused of doing something wrong.

Having, over the course of many years, learned this painful lesson, victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy have, long since, abandoned hope of receiving a sincere and meaningful apology from hierarchy of the Church.  

And as the recent intransigence from the upper reaches of the Vatican reveals, this is unlikely to change any time soon.

The World of Karen and Ken

Watching that video was like watching a train wreck.  I knew it was going to be ugly, but I just couldn’t look away.  

In it, a self-entitled and obnoxious woman entering a restaurant yelled at a young, minimum-wage-earning high school kid who had simply asked her to put on a face mask.  Things deteriorated quickly to the “I want to talk to the manager” stage before, in tears, the young employee told her boss that she could not put up with such nonsense any longer, and that she was quitting. 

As the young worker fled out the door, the nasty but now somewhat-subdued woman said: “OK, I will put on a mask.”  Other customers, though, having seen and heard enough, began to “boo” her.  Deciding to leave, her departure was accompanied by a chorus of: “Goodbye, Karen!” 

But wait … Karen?  How did everyone in that place know her name was Karen?

In fact, it is unlikely “Karen” is her real name.  Instead, the nickname “Karen” has come to identify that group of “adult” women unable to control their emotions when even mildly inconvenienced by store clerks, other motorists or even random passersby.  And the male of the species has a moniker as well … “Ken.”  People of this ilk are easily identified in the wild by their propensity for screaming and gesticulating … loud and long … at random individuals who, they believe, have done them some wrong.

Sadly, YouTube is replete with videos of the crazed behaviors of “Karens” and “Kens” engaging in these sorts of unrestrained public outbursts of rage over things most rational people would consider minor inconveniences … soup too hot … french fries not hot enough … checkout line too slow.  After watching some of these antics, one is left to wonder: do these people go home, look in the mirror, and feel proud of their actions?  Do they experience any shame?   And, since many of these individuals are accompanied by children, do they ever consider the sort of examples they might be setting?

In the world of public education, it should come as no surprise that record numbers of school district superintendents are throwing in the towel and moving on.  Anyone interested in knowing why this might be so should attend the next school board meeting and listen to the bitter and abusive language rained upon those charged with educating our children.  One speaker recently concluded her vituperative remarks declaring: “I will be at school on Monday with guns fully loaded.”

The airline industry, of course, has experienced unprecedented numbers of violent and otherwise uncooperative passengers refusing to comply with health and safety guidelines.  In one recent case, an international flight from Miami to London had to return to Florida because a passenger in first class refused to wear a mask.  The flight was then cancelled and everyone had to rebook on another flight … all because a self-entitled woman decided that the rules do not apply to her.  In short, this is her world, and the rest of us just happen to be walking through it.

If you have had the misfortune to witness a “Karen” or “Ken” in a full-throated rage over their belief that some service worker has failed to genuflect before them, you know how bizarre and uncomfortable something like that can be.  But as long as there is no threat of physical violence involved, it is likely a waste of time trying to calm or reason with one of those unhinged individuals.  In fact, getting attention is their goal, and it doesn’t matter whether it is good or bad attention … just so long as someone is noticing.  Frankly, when a bystander cares enough to enter their convoluted world on their terms, it is something they enjoy.

Perhaps George Bernard Shaw said it best:

I learned long ago never to wrestle with a pig. 

You get dirty and, besides, the pig likes it.

RIP, Michael Lang

In the satirical Netflix production titled “Death to 2021,” we meet a young and wildly enthusiastic participant in the January 6, assault on the US Capitol.  Some months later (and after her arrest), this now much-subdued woman is interviewed in her home where she must remain while awaiting trial.  Pointing, with some embarrassment, to her ankle monitor, she observes whimsically: “This was my Woodstock.”  She then admits quietly: “Of course, I don’t really know what a ‘Woodstock’ is.”

No argument here… she is clueless about Woodstock.

This snippet of televised dialogue came to mind when I learned that Michael Lang passed away on January 8, 2022.  The most visible face of the team responsible for mounting the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair held August 15-17, 1969, in Bethel, New York, Lang expressed his vision for this remarkable cultural event in an interview with Chronogram, on August 1, 2019:

“I just thought about how nice it was for someone to be sitting out under the stars in the summer, smoking a joint, and listening to music. I thought, ‘I wonder if something like this but bigger could work here.’”  

And the rest, as they say, is history.

This is not to suggest that Woodstock was devoid of controversy.  As a matter of fact, with protests against the Viet Nam war rocking the country, many of the musicians who performed espoused distinctly anti-government points of view … Jimmy Hendrix … Jefferson Airplane … Joan Baez … Richie Havens.  And, of course, Country Joe McDonald’s performance of his classic “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die” rag left no doubt about his position on the war.

But despite the uproar elsewhere, there was something almost magical about Woodstock that distinguished it from similar gatherings during that era and since.  As an aside, could it possibly have had something to do with the whole “smoking a joint” thing mentioned by Michael?  Thinking back to the thick marijuana haze enveloping Yasgur’s Farm over those three days in August, 1969, there may be something to that theory.

Reading Michael’s obituary reminded me of something else: he and I were the same age … we were both 24 years old during the Woodstock event.  And though (as far as I know) we never crossed paths, we both had “boots on the ground” at the same time during that affair.

Clearly, our roles were different: he was one of the impresarios running the whole enterprise, while I was a mere Dutchess County Deputy Sheriff sent to assist with managing the crowd and all that went along with that.  And while I cannot speak to Michael’s views after everything was over, I know that the time I spent at Woodstock – and the lessons I learned there – served me well over the course of what became a forty year career in law enforcement.

The fact that I was assigned to work at Woodstock as a police officer was pure serendipity, but it was an experience that I cherish. And, yes, nostalgia has a way of smoothing off the rough edges, so I am not surprised that those incredibly long hours, sodden fields, gridlocked roads and throngs of people seem less overwhelming today than they did in 1969.  Instead, my mind is drawn to more pleasant memories and, most especially, of the youngsters in attendance … smiling faces …  acts of kindness … expressions of appreciation … and the sense that we were involved in something bigger than all of us. 

You left us with vivid and important memories, Michael, for as Irving Berlin wrote: 

 The song is ended but the melody lingers on.

What The …

Filled with the Holiday spirit, I decided to do some last minute shopping for my lovely bride.  Walking across the store parking lot, I couldn’t help but smile at the array of Christmas shirts that caught my eye, each festooned with images and phrases celebrating this special time of year.

And then I saw it coming toward me … a garish red, white and blue tee-shirt with the words “Let’s Go Brandon” and three large letters … “FJB” … emblazoned on the front.  My immediate thought (which I kept to myself) was another three letter acronym … WTF? 

For those unfamiliar with the message on this gentleman’s shirt, the phrase “Let’s Go Brandon” is smokescreen for a vulgar insult directed at President Joe Biden (you can look it up).  And the letters “FJB” … well, you can use your imagination as to what they stand for.

By the way, I am not asserting a particular political stance here … there is, after all, ample evidence that fools, regardless of party affiliation, populate government in equal measure.  Instead, I am simply expressing wonderment and dismay at the thoughtlessness of someone who, clearly, has a bone to pick with our electoral process, while caring not a whit about others who might be offended by his sartorial messaging.  Thinking about this fellow’s audacious display I would guess that, if confronted, he would argue that he, himself, was offended by the outcome of the last election so, when it comes to his shirt, well, we can all just deal with it.

No doubt, my opinion on this matter puts me in jeopardy of being labelled a “snowflake.”  For those unfamiliar with the vocabulary of online trolls and purveyors of hate speech, that word no longer applies only to frozen precipitation that falls during the winter … today, a “snowflake” is someone thought to be overly sensitive and prone to taking offense.  If so accused, I know many will come to my defense pointing out my habit of uttering the occasional mild expletive or even conjuring up the random unspoken profanity (see “WTF” above).

So what’s the big deal?  When it is all said and done, this was only a tee-shirt, after all, and we all have far more important issues to deal with … right?

Perhaps, but consider this.  Navigating the offensive and oft-profane world in which we reside requires that we call upon a range of coping strategies to get through the day.  For example, we avoid “doom scrolling” on the Internet … we know and respect the difference between rudeness and humor … we avoid exposure to fringe news sources … and we call out and reject ignorance and hate speech. But then, despite our best efforts, we find ourselves face-to-face with – and unable to ignore – the very thing we have been struggling to avoid.

In the parking lot that day, I simply shook my head, sighed, and walked on, secure  in the knowledge that if ignorance is bliss, “tee-shirt dude” must be the happiest person alive.  Or, as Albert Einstein once said:

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.

Hypocrisy Personified

When you have a moment,  look up the definition of the word hypocrite.  When you find it, do not be surprised to see, next to it, a picture of James Jackson.  For those unfamiliar with the goings-on in the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, Jackson is the now-suspended pastor of St. Mary’s Church who was arrested recently for a range of criminal offenses related to the possession and distribution of child pornography.

While despicable beyond words, what makes Jackson’s case even more breathtaking is his penchant for writing columns decrying sex abuse scandals perpetrated by “psychosexually dysfunctional” priests, and then publishing those works in the weekly bulletin at his church.  He even wrote about former Cardinal Timothy McCarrick, describing him as a “creep” who, while engaging in public good works, simultaneously led a sinful private life.

As it turns out, Jackson knows more than a little about that sort of thing.

Needless to say, every person facing criminal charges deserves the presumption of innocence.  Jackson’s defense attorney, though, has his work cut out for him.  First, a police task force Identified the IP address of a computer at St. Mary’s rectory as being actively engaged in viewing and sharing videos consistent with the sexual abuse of children.  Second, a search warrant at that rectory found a two-terabyte external storage device containing multiple videos of young children engaged in various sexual acts.  That device belonged to Jackson.

To assist with his legal bills, a group of parishioners set up a web site to collect funds and share their views about Jackson’s situation.  Many posts on that site are disheartening, as they suggest some sort of plot to discredit Jackson,  going on to describe him as a someone they trust unreservedly.  One hopes these assessments are accurate, for that is what countless other Catholic families said about their own parish priests only to learn, far too late, that they were sexual predators.  In case after case, those awful men ingratiated themselves into families while, at the same time, sexually abusing the children of those who trusted them.  Who, after all, would ever think that a Catholic Priest would commit such evil acts.

For our purposes, hypocrisy is defined as the practice of engaging in the same behavior or activity for which one criticizes another, or the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform.  By extension, then, a hypocrite is someone who practices hypocrisy.

In addition to being a disgraced Catholic Priest criminally charged with moral turpitude, James Jackson is, by definition, a hypocrite.

Willie and Me

About half way through our recent cross-country drive to New York, I began channeling Willie Nelson.   It was somewhere along an Interstate highway in Indiana that I first realized I was, unconsciously, humming “On The Road Again,” his classic ballad celebrating  travel, friends and family … factors which, coincidentally, are identical to those that launched us on this excursion.  Unfortunately, that is where the similarity ends.

By all accounts, Willie’s travel experience is decidedly different from my own.  When the mood strikes, for example, he can retire to a personal compartment on his tour bus for a nap or even an occasional toke to keep things mellow.  I, on the other hand, caught in the motorized equivalent of a forced march, must grip the steering wheel ever tighter while combatting highway hypnosis with that day’s fourth cup of Love’s Truck Stop coffee.

Adding to the aggravation was one more item … our GPS.  In years past, Rand McNally guided us on our journeys but, today, we have a disembodied female voice (whom we have affectionately named “Nagatha”) chiming in from time to time to keep us on course.  As it turns out, she becomes irritated when I deviate a bit to, say, gas up the car or grab a coffee.  In those cases … and usually as I am navigating a packed parking lot … she orders me, sternly and repeatedly to: “proceed to the route … proceed to the route … proceed to the route.”

Looking back, the trip was not as bad as I make it seem.  For example, along the way we enjoyed some excellent meals in some unexpected places.  The trick, for us, was avoiding the fast-food joints and national chains that populate every highway intersection.  Instead, we sought out local fare (usually with the help of hotel staff) and were genuinely pleased.  For example, the next time you are in Rolla, MO, check out Alex’s Pizza; in Blue Ash, OH, try Sammy’s Gourmet Burgers and Beer; and for Mexican food in Washington, PA,  don’t miss the Old Mexico.

All in all, our 3,600 mile excursion was well worth the effort.  We visited family, attended a reunion of work colleagues, and drove through some familiar places one more time.  Our car ran flawlessly and the weather was good throughout, but there is little doubt that my days of long-distance marathon-style driving are over.  And much as I abhor the prospect of getting on an airplane, it looks like any future cross-country journeys will be with someone else at the controls.

In his classic “It Was a Very Good Year,” Frank Sinatra sang of the different stages of life.  And while suggesting that days in the “autumn” of one’s years are short, he said they are like vintage wine from fine old kegs.  Clearly, Frank’s taste in vino was different from the sort I prefer, but his observations were true to the mark … and excellent advice for the next time I begin thinking about an odyssey to some distant land.

In the future, instead of mapping out routes of travel, I will make the short trip to Trader Joe’s where, instead of Sinatra’s “vintage wine,” I will pick out a couple of bottles of my preferred varietal … Two Buck Chuck.  And for friends and family who want to get together, Tom Bodett said it best:

We’ll leave the light on for ‘ya!

Eques In Sempiternum

While sitting with his children and grandchildren at a family event, a grandfather was asked the following question: “Using just two words, Grandpa, what advice can you give on living life to the fullest?”  After a moment’s thought, he answered simply: “Don’t blink.”

The reasoning behind that response was not complicated, of course, for we know that life – from the standpoint of a youngster – seems to move at a snail’s pace.  From the perspective of the “senior citizen,” though, life passes by in an instant. 

For me, those “sands through the hourglass” thoughts have taken on special meaning of late, as the members of my graduating class from the New York State Police Academy met recently for a 50th Anniversary reunion.  And while an event such as this is, naturally, laden with nostalgic memories, my overwhelming feeling has been more along the lines of … fifty years?  Fifty years??  How, on earth, did that happen so quickly?

As one might imagine, the sixteen-week basic Academy course my colleagues and I underwent some half century ago could be characterized as a “formative” event in our lives.  With a curriculum consisting of academics, running, pushups, physical training, pursuit driving and firearms … among other things … the days were full and (intentionally) stressful.  And did I mention the running and pushups?

Naturally, the hoped-for outcome of a rigorous program of this sort is that those who graduate will be prepared to perform their duties in superior fashion, and I would like to think our class did exactly that.  Over the course of our careers, we worked in various areas and assignments around the state of New York, and though some classmates may have crossed paths over the years, our reunion marks the first time we will have gathered and celebrated together.

Our group numbered 100 on the day we entered the Academy, and we graduated 89.  Of that number, 15 (that we know of) have passed away with one, tragically, having been lost in the line of duty.  When we gathered we, of course, remembered those colleagues who are no longer with us.  In addition, we presented a commemorative plaque to the Academy; that gift, incidentally, marks an important distinction … ours was the first class to have begun and finished our training at the “new” Academy which, like us, is now fifty years older.

The United States Marines’ mantra of “Every marine is a rifleman” is a historic and symbolic acknowledgement that every member of that very special branch of the military has been trained in the rigors of front line combat, and steeped in the traditions of the Corps.  In like fashion, every member of the New York State Police, regardless of rank or position, shares a similar bond forged through the training and tradition of that proud organization.

I like to imagine that at some point in the future, a young member of a recruit class walking through the halls at the Academy will take a moment to stop and look at the plaque donated by our class.  When she does, she will notice a Latin phrase engraved upon it: Eques In Sempiternum.  In tracking down the English translation of those words, she will find that they capture the very essence of what it means to be a member of the New York State Police:

Forever a Trooper

What’s Next?

In the 15th Century, an Italian physician and lawyer by the name of Hippolytus de Marsillis wrote about a form of punishment known as “Chinese Water Torture.”    Characterized by slow but constant dripping of water on the forehead of a prisoner, the process caused fear and mental deterioration, especially when the droplets fell at random or unexpected times.  Often, the process would drive the victim insane.

Today, we are immersed in a world that de Marsillis would understand.  Daily, events find us navigating assorted threats to our health and well being while, at the same time, trying to understand and comply with often-contradictory guidance and mandates from those in authority.  This process seems relentless … new edicts issued hourly … different threats arising daily.  Somewhere, de Marsillis is watching and smiling.

For us, the modern-day equivalent of medieval torture can be seen in the fitful way we have been urged to deal with COVID … wear a mask … you don’t need a mask …it is safe to be out in public … but avoid large crowds.  And at long last, when it looked like we might be getting our hands around the whole pandemic thing … the “Delta Variant” made its presence known.  That, of course, was not sufficiently maddening … we soon learned that there is something called the “Lambda” permutation circulating out there as well.

Like many folks, we try our best to adapt and stay safe.  Preparing for a recent quick trip to the grocery store, for example, we went through our customary checklist … hand sanitizer … face masks … credit cards so we don’t have to touch actual cash.  Then, just before heading out the door we were stopped in our tracks … a news bulletin announced a new menace in our midst called “Monkeypox!”  Yes … MONKEYPOX!  In a year of medical angst, this virus – similar to smallpox – had somehow made its way from central Africa to Dallas, Texas.

Deciding, nonetheless, to chance a run for bread and milk, we ventured out.  Returning home unscathed, we breathed a sigh of relief, removed our protective gear, and settled down to watch the local news.  Any hopes for a relaxing evening were immediately dashed, though, when the broadcast led off with a report that the mosquito-borne disease known as West Nile Virus had not only shown up in our area, it had claimed its first life of the season. 

Set in a New York Police station, “Barney Miller” was a popular television show in the 1970’s and 80’s, with an outstanding cast.  One actor, Jack Soo, played the part of Detective Nick Yemana, a character known for sage and witty observations, including one that seems appropriate to the times in which we are living:

Many things look bleak at the moment of occurrence, but at least we ain’t got locusts.

We can hope that Yemana’s optimistic comment will hold true but, just in case, I am heading to Home Depot to see what they might have on hand for dealing with locusts.

Cache Us If You Can

By early 2021, we had reached the breaking point.  The seemingly endless pandemic-induced lockdown had long since lost its survivalist charm.  We had assembled (and reassembled) a plethora of jigsaw puzzles, fallen asleep while trying to find something new on Netflix, and engaged in the occasional squabble about what day of the week it was.

Clearly, we needed a breather and, since people were starting to venture out in public, we decided to “mask up” and take some cautious steps off the front porch as well.  We didn’t want to dive into the deep end right away, of course, so we looked around for something that would get us out of the house, involve some physical activity, and keep us away from crowded places.

For us, the solution was a simple one … we decided to join the multitude of others playing what amounts to the adult version of hide and seek.  Known as Geocaching, this rendition of that venerable childhood game is equal parts treasure hunt, problem solving, and outdoor exercise, and it has become our “go to” weekend pursuit.

Geocaching, as an outdoor activity, took shape in May, 2000, when  24 previously secure global positioning satellites were made available for civilian use.  With that change, folks could locate items anywhere in the world based solely on their GPS coordinates and, without a doubt, they have done so … there are now more than 3 million active geocaches hidden in 191 countries on all seven continents (even Antarctica)!

The “caches” we search for are generally small capsules or containers holding a piece of paper that, when signed, will register your find.  And though there are varying degrees of search difficulty one can select, we lean toward those that are relatively easy to locate without a great deal of extraordinary effort.  But be warned … people who hide these things can be very clever … we have found caches among the branches of trees, under rocks, and hanging from fence posts.  That, of course, is part of what makes this such an enjoyable activity.  

The process for tracking down a cache is simple: (1) check the geocaching.com web site for caches hidden in a particular area, (2) select the one you would like to look for and, (3) follow the directions on your phone or GPS device.  This will bring you very close to your goal and, usually, it is then only a very short walk (and search) before locating the cache.

In addition to the obvious benefits of being outdoors engaging in physical activity, geocaching has taken us to beautiful and unusual locations we had not previously visited, and immersed us in the fascinating history of the areas we have explored.  In short, we are smitten.

And if you are looking for us next weekend, you know where we will be.