GeoCaching

I have maintained a GeoCaching blog for a while.  What is GeoCaching you ask?

According to the current Wikipedia definition “Geocaching is an outdoor sporting activity in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called "geocaches" or "caches", anywhere in the world. A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook where the geocacher enters the date they found it and signs it with their established code name. Larger containers such as plastic storage containers (tupperware or similar) or ammo boxes can also contain items for trading, usually toys or trinkets of little value. Geocaching is often described as a "game of high-tech hide and seek," sharing many aspects with benchmarking, trigpointing, orienteering, treasure-hunting, letterboxing, and waymarking.”

Yes.  I am a GeoCacher – tease me if you want – but I enjoy it and that’s all that matters!

ghc The problem with the GeoCaching blog is that it requires a lot of work for very little payout.  I end up making an entry about my finds (sometimes one single find), copying my logs as the text of the entry and uploading it as a post.  It’s pretty darn “dry”.

Then after this year’s long winter (and a weather related hiatus from caching) – I failed to maintain the blog once I started caching again this year.  .  

So, I have made the decision… I am officially pulling the plug announcing the retirement of the “GeoCaching with Dad” blog from the “trifecta”.  I will “archive” (not delete) it, but will no longer be updating it.  In its place, I will (from time to time) post HERE about any fun or extraordinary GeoCaching adventures, and labeling it with the “GeoCaching” label.    

I do have two stories to kick off the new format with (it’s been an interesting kick off to spring GeoCaching for me!) – but before I get into those – I have a couple of other tales I’d like to share first!!

Soda Sabbatical

Here we are again, poised at the end of another year’s Lenten Season.  The end of Lent also signals the end of my annual “Soda Sabbatical”.  Each Lenten season (within the Catholic Tradition) I give up something that would constitute a sacrifice. 

Since soda is one of my biggest vices (and part of the reason I have to shop in the tall and fat departments), I make it a point (for my health if nothing else) to give up soda for the duration of Lent.  Lent (being 40 days) represents 10.9% of a calendar year.  Reducing the soda I drink by almost eleven percent per year has to be a good thing, right??

Each year as Lent draws to an end, the anticipation of that first soda is FIERCE!  I start thinking about it a week ahead of time.  Two years ago it was an R.C. Cola.  Last year it was a Mountain Dew. 

This year it was looking like R.C. Cola again until one fateful moment.


Cue the flashback music…

Two (or maybe three) years ago during duck hunting season up at Best Bud Ed’s cabin, we patronized one of the local grocery stores in town to stock up on needed supplies.  While there I noticed a display of “Frostop" brand sodas.  There was Root Beer, Cream Soda (both which I have had previously) and a third flavor I had had always wanted to try but has never actually tasted. 

The flavor?  Sarsaparilla.

I bought two bottles of it.  I really enjoyed it – I would describe it as root beer with a hint of spiced wintergreen flavor. 

Since that time I have sought out the Frostop Sarsaparilla to no avail.  I wrote Frostop looking for a local distributor, but never got a response back.  Even Frostop’s website no longer lists Sarsaparilla as a product.  I was very disappointed. 

I have located other sources (on line – aka expensive specialty craft sodas with limited or outrageous shipping costs) – but the heavenly smell and taste of sarsaparilla soda has not passed my palate since.


Kansas City SarsaparillaCue the “return to reality” music.

On a multi purpose trip (more on that later) to the northern reaches of Minnesota known as Duluth (aka – the home of “Best Bud Ed”) we made a special trip to a wonderful little place known as Superior Meats.  Superior Meats is a butcher shop and small convenience store in Superior, WI.  Upon entering the store, I spotted something out of the corner of my eye.  I spotted a display of what looked like Frostop Root Beer.  Then as if as if a ray of sunshine from heaven above spotlighted the display!  I saw them.   

I spotted bottles (plural) of SARSPARILLA!! 

After conducting our business with the butcher (more on that later) I went back to the entrance and grabbed a shopping basket.  With the empty shopping basket in hand, I returned to the display and loaded up EVERY SINGLE BOTTLE of “Kansas City Sarsaparilla” they had (eight in total).

It’s an odd combination.  This is branded “Kansas City Sarsaparilla” but pressed into the plastic of the bottle is the Frostop logo…  Since Frostop is no longer making their sarsaparilla, I have to wonder if the distributors of the Kansas City Sarsaparilla bought some bottles from the Frostop company.  The other thing I noticed…  The Kansas City Sarsaparilla is distributed by C B Beverage Corporation, which is based not far from me in Hopkins!

Since we were still in Lent, I have been unable to actually partake in the wondrous pleasures of the sarsaparilla.  We opened one bottle for Best Bud Ed’s kids (I left the rest of that quart there for them) and have fallen asleep each night since, dreaming of that first pull from a cold glass of Kansas City Sarsaparilla!


Kansas City Sarsaparilla

A New Challenge

As most readers here know, my boys are involved in the Boy Scouts of America.  I now have two boys who have achieved the rank of Life Scout, and are only a few steps (albeit some significant steps) away from achieving their Eagle Scout.

This is something I am VERY proud of them for having achieved.  I have tried my best to maintain involvement in their troop because as a young man myself, I had always wanted to be a Boy Scout – but alas, I never took the step.  In some ways, I am living my dream of being a Boy Scout vicariously though my boys. 

Over the past four years I have been asked about, and debated becoming an Assistant Scoutmaster.  I have taken two of the four required courses, but have struggled to find the time to take the remaining two courses.  Not having the time to commit to completing the training makes me question my ability to commit to becoming an Assistant Scoutmaster.

A few days ago a different opportunity for working within our troop was presented to me.  I was asked if I would consider taking on the duties and responsibilities of the Troop’s Unit Advancement Chairperson.

I listened to the current Advancement Chairperson’s description of what she does for the troop, and some of her own personal “tweaks” she does to make the position run as smoothly as it has for our troop.  I started realizing that this position may prove to be a good fit.  It matches with my interests (in the troop, computer technology, and organizing computerized data), and seems to be a better match for the time I can commit to the troop.  My availability is in shorter, more frequent “bursts” of time verses the longer “extended” commitments such as campouts. TAC

I accepted the position. 

I am (truly) excited about, and looking forward to the challenge that this position within the troop will offer.  I am also a little nervous about it too (to be honest)… After all, I have some big shoes to fill.  The current Advancement Chairperson has done an AMAZING job at establishing, organizing, and maintaining the troop’s records.  I truly hope I can continue meeting the high level of standards she has established, and our troop has come to expect.

Wish me luck as I prepare for, and begin this new endeavor!

Side note:  I am still considering completion of the Assistant Scout Master training.  If nothing else I can support our Scouts, the Scoutmaster (and other Assistant Scoutmasters) during the weekly meetings, and other activities that I CAN fit into my busy / hectic schedule  hoping I can still squeeze in a few campouts before my boys achieve their Eagle Scout rank.  My thinking is that even though I am unable to attend many of the troop’s extended weekend camping trips – I am able to help out with single-day events, and am present at most of the meetings – where perhaps I could fulfill the Assistant Scout Master duties…

MSHSCTL

clayEarlier this year #3 of 5 came home with a flier from school.  The flyer was for a new (to our district) extra-circular activity that was being offered to the junior high and high school students.  He told us that was interested in joining, but was a little apprehensive about asking us because of the associated cost.  He first brought it up to the Mother of Five who told #3 of 5 to speak to me about it – which he did. 

I have to admit, the cost is noticeably more expensive than the “typical” extra-circular activity - and that did give me a pause.  Yet, when asked why he was interested in this particular activity, he was able to articulate a number of good reasons why he wanted to join.  #3 of 5 was told that the Mother of Five and I would have to talk about it, and thanked him for bringing it to us.  We talked about it, and decided to find a way to make it happen.  What is this extra-circular activity? 160_Logo-Sidebar

 

It’s the MSHSCTL.

MSHSCTL stands for…
Minnesota State High School Clay Target League

 

 

 

After #3 of 5 and I (together) signed up for and passed the Minnesota Firearms Safety class, he told us that he was interested in joining the 4-H shooting club.  We liked the idea, but since it was “off season” it went on the back burner, only later to be forgotten by all.   When he asked about the school’s league I was not completely surprised.

The district held an informational meeting where we were given all the pertinent info and required forms, and learned all about how our school district got involved into the league.  The coaches (who, interestingly enough, were also our Firearms Safety Instructors) went above and beyond to get this all set up and operational.  They had to work with the League and the School District to initiate this new activity.  Then, once established, they are also volunteering their time as coaches too!

Both the coaches bring years of knowledge, experience, and experience in various forms of shooting sports to share with the students. 

The team has had two “classroom” sessions.  The first one covered “fundamentals” (a refresher on gun safety, and the basics of leading, shot placement, and follow through) and the second session was all about shotgun chokes, shot patterning and pattern density.  The kids all got to “pattern” their guns see the what their gun is shooting like.

Then, we had the first practice held at the River Valley Trap range.  The kids were broken up into squads of five.  Each squad was able to run one round.

A little bit about Trap Shooting.

Trap Shooting Range

A trap range has five shooting positions and a centralized “trap house” that the clay pigeons are launched from.  Each member of the squad takes a shooting position on the range.  Starting with the left position (standing behind), the first shooter indicates he/she is ready by shouting “pull”.  The puller releases the clay (which varies the clay’s trajectory each pull) and the shooter fires.  This is repeated with the second through fifth shooters.  After each position has fired five times, the shooters rotate one position and another five round per shooter cycle is started.  This is repeated until each of the five shooters has had an opportunity to shoot five shots at each of the five positions.  In the photo to the right, #3 of 5 is shooting in position #4 (the second shooter from the right)

Missed clayThis was #3 of 5’s first REAL opportunity to fire my shotgun.  Last year’s duck season was overbooked, and we never made it out.  The year before that (the year he got his firearm safety certificate) we went out, but had no real shooting opportunities.  At this practice, I watched as the first three clays gently drifted out after he took his shot, and I began to get a little worried.  He was successful in breaking a few by the end of his round – he finished with a score of 7/25…  Not the best, but for being his first time behind the trigger, it could have been a lot worse too.  I look at it this way.  He has five years worth of practice ahead of him!   

 

217268_2004334747982_1232038102_32391654_5358818_nOf course – with a new team in town, comes some news coverage (especially in a small town like ours)!  ScoreboardMN did a STORY on the team with an accompanying photo SLIDE SHOW.  Our local newspaper also did a short little BLURB on it as well (with hopefully more coverage to follow – although you can be sure there will be a bit of coverage here on Father-of-Five). 

From my perspective as a parent I have to say how exciting it has been to watch my son getting involved in the team's inaugural season.  In fact, I may go as far as saying I’m a little bit jealous.  I would have LOVED to have had this opportunity as a teen, and now as an adult – I’d love to find a casual group that is in need of a middle aged, slightly shy (socially anxious), mediocre (at best) shooter.   (If you know of one, be sure to contact me with the info!)

 


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A Weird Thought

Today on my drive into work (at 3am) the roads were eerily deserted – so much so that it felt a lot like I was a lone survivor driving around after a “zombie apocalypse”.

I gotta say… In an odd sort of way, I kind of liked it.   

Not… One... Single… Thing…

For the first time in…  I do not know how long (at least since school started) there was one whole calendar day that nothing was scheduled.

Not…  One...  Single… Thing…

No work (for either of us), no overtime, no after school sports (practices or games), no driver’s ed, no dance class, no Boy Scout campouts, no prescheduled commitments…  NOTHING.  We had a whole day to ourselves!

It was the perfect excuse for a family day!

We wanted to get out and do something ANYTHING after being cooped up all winter.  Since the spring thaw has (significantly) flooded the rivers all around us, we decided to make a road trip. The Mother of Five’s old college town is about an hour south of us.  The journey to Mankato criss-crosses over and through the Minnesota River Valley so we could check out the floods as we traveled (something we wanted to do anyway) then we could spend some time checking out the town – hitting some of our old favorite spots, and checking out what’s new since our last visit.

We arrived in North Mankato, driving past the first house the Mother of Five and #1 of 5 lived in when they first moved into town.  We did a bit more exploring around N. Mankato, then headed to old town Mankato.

Our first “get out and stretch our legs” stop was Generations Antiques.  One of the things the Mother of Five and I enjoy doing together is milling around old antique shops.  This was has a little more “nostalgia” for me as Generation Antiques is located at the old Minnesota Warehouse Furniture building I used to work in.  MWF is no longer at the same location having moved up the hill.  MWF has also been renamed to Rooms and Rest.  Having visited Rooms and Rest a few times throughout the years, I have been able to ascertain that it is still owned by the same guy who owned it (and hired me) when it was still Minnesota Warehouse Furniture back on Front Street.  I’ve never run into him there, but have inquired about him while shopping Rooms and Rest a couple of times.  It would be nice to see him again sometime.

We left Generation Antiques, and drove by the house that I lived in while I was living in Mankato.  We then proceeded up the hill to the second and then the third apartments the Mother of Five and #1 of 5 lived in.  These locations brought back some fond and happy memories of time long since past!

We drove up to Mankato State University.  I never attended school there, but it was fun listening to the stories and pointing out spots the Mother of Five recognized, and things that were apparently new since she attended.

Last December I received an email about a deal that Restaurant.com was having.  I could pre-pay for twelve $25 gift certificates – one for each month in 2011.  I bought the deal and have a folder of all these unused gift certificates (because we never have the time to go out to eat).  So, I checked on Restaurant.com and noticed there were four participating restaurants in Mankato.  We selected Busters Bar and Grill – and so we all went out and had dinner at Busters.  The portions were big, the food was great and for a change (with the restaurant.com certificate) going out as a family (to anyplace that you do not order a “meal by the number” did not not require a second third mortgage! 

195825_1969031945434_1232038102_32347333_5165474_nAfter eating, we all wanted to get out and “walk dinner off”.  I had preloaded my GPS up with a ton of GeoCaches from the Mankato area – so we picked a nearby park that had two within it.  We arrived at Erlandson Park, but unfortunately, the only person eager to go out caching with me was #4 of 5.  So, while the others sat in the car listening to the radio - #4 of 5 and I headed out and made these two finds.  I spotted the first one – but the log was a soaked and actually even a little “slimy”.  No way to log that find – so we took a photo with the soaked log.  The second cache had me a little stumped, but #4 of 5 spotted pretty quickly.  We logged that find and headed back to the van.

With the weather as cool as it was, and no one else wanting to get out and GeoCache, we headed to the next stop. 

The River Hills Mall.

When the Mother of Five first moved to Mankato, there was no such thing as the “River Hills Mall”.  When it opened, it was a MAJOR event for the area.  A huge improvement in the retail community – and for being a small college town, the mall is actually pretty big.

There was one GeoCache just outside the front door that #4 of 5 and I could find (and we did).  We could get some walking done (inside) – the boys could do some window shopping (GameStop), the Mother of Five and the girls could do some window shopping (Herbergers), I could do some window shopping (Sheels) – the we could all head in and peek through the shelves of Barnes and Noble.

By the time we were back at the van (tired out from a fun family day) it was already 9:30 pm – and so the drive back home (through the river valley) was much less “scenic” and I was unable to get a good look at the flooding on the other side of the river.  

Afterwards, I told the Mother of Five that this was one of the best days I have had in a LONG time.  Were were all together (sans #1 of 5), there was no major complaining, no meltdowns, no arguing, and no fighting and everyone got to do a little something that they wanted to do. 

It’s almost a week later, and I can still feel the positive effects of that day! 

Five

Five is my favorite number.  It has been as far back as I can remember.

There is the “obvious” reason (ahem… father of FIVE), but that’s not (originally) why five was my favorite number.  Five became my favorite number somewhere around the age of seven or eight (long before I knew I would be the father of a basketball team).  You see, that’s about the age I started learning my “multiplication tables”.  Zeros, Ones and Twos were (understandably) very easy.  Threes and Fours were a little more challenging.  Then came Fives.  Fives were (for me) easy-breezy-lemon-peezy, and so because of that, “five” became my favorite number of all!

Had I known then, what the significance of my “favorite number” would have on the title of this blog, perhaps I would have chosen something slightly different… Something like “one” or maybe even “zero”…
Yeah, yeah… I’m just kiddin’ with you all.  I would not trade one of them for anything!
(Well, at least I don’t think I would, but who knows.  Make me an offer…  Ya never know!)
Today’s post is not about how many kids I have, or about my favorite elementary school multiplication table number, or how much I would take in exchange for one of the kids - No, today’s post is about celebrating an achievement, a milestone, a landmark.  It’s about a dedication and commitment to something.

The Life of a Father of Five is FIVE YEARS OLD TODAY!!

Yes, five years ago my little spot on the web started with THIS POST describing why I wanted to start blogging.   (By the way, I still read “Many Things”… and that song still makes me tear up...)
Five years, 654 posts, and over 33,350 web hits later – and here I am, still plugging away.

After five years I can say that coming up with fresh (and interesting) topics can get a little “challenging” at times.  I still find maintaining “The Life of a Father of Five” a therapeutic outlet.  Although the “frequency” of new material is not what it once was, I have no means of giving it up.  Together, we have been through a lot over these past five years…  I’ve shared a lot about myself, had a few laughs, shed a couple of tears, and learned a lot from others - all while making (and even meeting) some really great people along the way.  Some, I am quite proud to call “friend”.  It has been an interesting journey indeed.

In honor of this fifth anniversary, I have done a couple of things. 

First, I gave the site a facelift.  If you read this post through a feed reader, be sure to click through and take a peek at the new and (in my opinion) improved look!! 

Secondly, I have two pending guest posts.  #2 of 5, and #4 of 5 are GUEST POSTING sometime in the very new future.  (I’m very excited about this)

I also want to take this opportunity to thank the folks that keep me doing this.  First and foremost, my beautiful, lovely, and wonderful wife – The Mother of Five.  Without her I am not sure where I would be today, and I certainly would not have the rest of the crazy “cast and crew”.  She also is very patient with me when it comes to working on this site.  Sometimes (when I get on a roll) I may (or may not) “zone out” from the chaos around me.  I’m not sayin’ I do, I’m only saying it “may” happen from time time.  Right honey?? 

Then, there is  #1 of 5, #2 of 5, #3 of 5, #4 of 5, and #5 of 5.  This group of hooligans is what keep me motivated day in and day out – motivated to (try to) be the best man, the best father, the best role model I can be. (Although, being that person will often make them mad at me – but, then I know I am doing my job correctly, right?)

Last, but certainly not least is YOU.  As I stated earlier – through this site I have had the opportunity to meet and get to know many new people – all so very interesting - from various locations around the US, and even around the globe.  Sometimes it’s a “rogue” visitor.  Often it’s a regular visitor.  Regardless, many have come, some have stuck around, some have moved on, some have never returned – but all have been appreciated for their perspective, input, and for helping to keep me motivated.

Here is my gift to you all.  As a means of thanks for being loyal readers, and for being there for me through the laughs and the tears, the ups and the downs, the good times and the bad times - on this fifth anniversary of “The Life of a Father of Five” I’m going to take you back in time.  I am going to walk with you hand in had through the collection of the “headers” that have adorned the top of “The Life of a Father of Five” over the past five years…  Some were prototypes, some were trials, some stuck around for a short time, and others were there so long even I grew board of them.  I’ll do my best to keep them in order, but I suspect there may be one or two quite a few that “slightly” out of sequence and a few that are not here.   

Thank you all for having been there for and with me over the past five years.  I look forward to the next five years of laughter, tears, and friendship!
I hope you enjoy!

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