Monday, October 11, 2010

The Swamp Fox... Revisited

Did I mention that my cache is active again?

I really thought long and hard about whether to go through the effort of trying to get my Swamp Fox cache approved. I was so disgusted by the backlash that I received from fellow cachers regarding my blog that I thought about quitting caching altogether. Then I remembered that there are 49 other States where the rules don't suck and I have a car... and there are airplanes AND there was nothing wrong with the placement of my cache AND I'm hard-headed, stubborn and determined when my buttons are pushed.

I can't remember where I left off with the situation.

I received an email from Brad (the cache reviewer) telling me that I needed to obtain permission from the property owner since there was such a stink being raised over the cache being near a cemetery. He sent me an email with some property maps showing boundaries. The email said that the S.C. Forestry Commission owned the property. I did some research and there were many email addresses for them so I wasn't sure who to email, so I emailed everyone, hoping to get a response. Within a couple of hours I received an email back from a person named Michelle who said that she was forwarding my email to the Deputy State Forester. A while later I received another email from Michelle stating that the Forestry Commission has no jurisdiction over the location.


I was confused because on the Berkeley County Treasurers land/property tax records online it shows that they are the owners. I copied that information and emailed it to Michelle. She responded stating that S.C. Parks, Recreation and Tourism is who I need to contact. I received a follow-up phone call from Joe Felder of the the Forestry Commission, who told me that the information on the Berkeley County Treasurers office is very outdated and they haven't had control of the land in years. The local Government has the wrong information?? Imagine that.

My next step was to email S.C. Parks, Recreation and Tourism... yeah, I emailed everyone who had an email listed again! It took a while, but I finally received an email from Phil Gaines, who is the Director of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. Phil thanked me for my email (he was super nice!) and said that he was familiar with geocaching and that he forwarded my email to the park ranger, Nathan Maiwald.

I waited about a week and heard nothing from Mr. Maiwald so I did a little research and found his email address online and sent him an email with all the cache information and a brief description of what was happening and why I was seeking permission. It took about two days and I finally heard from him. He said that I needed to fill out a permission request form and then mail or fax it back to him.

I received the form, filled it out, signed it, scanned it and emailed it back to him the following day. I also attached a several photos showing exactly where the cache was going to be located. I explained to him that someone took the cache that was there (jerks!) and that I had to replace it if and when it was approved.

I must say, that Mr. Maiwald must be pretty busy because it seems like I waited forever for a response... another week went by and I emailed him asking if he had received my application. He finally responded stating he had, and that he wanted me to replace the cache so he could go and take a look at it the next time he was out at the park. Ugh.

Weekend before last Robin and I drove out to St. Stephen to replace the cache. I looked around to see if there was another place to hide it, but it seemed that the original place was the one I liked the best. I didn't want it to be a difficult cache. The whole purpose was to bring people out to the resting place of Francis Marion so I replaced the cache in its original location in hopes that no caching lunatic would steal it again.

Robin and I spent the rest of the day doing some caches in the area. We did one close to the Santee river and I guess I should alway be more aware of my surroundings when in a woodsy area because as I stood there I saw something next to my arm move. I looked down, let out a blood-curdling scream and jumped back and ran because it was the biggest spider that I had ever seen that close to me!! I mean, living in South Carolina I've seen some pretty big spiders, but this one might as well have been perched on my arm!

I'm really not joking when I say this thing was the size of my hand!

When I screamed it scared Robin so much that she actually ran from the cache location and up the small embankment. She was freaked out and started bitching at me. As if I could help it! I learned that about 300-400 feet away there were some people fishing on the river. They never even came to my rescue! Made me wonder what I would do if I heard someone scream like that in the woods!

Speaking of being aware of my surroundings, I guess I should have read the past cache logs before we went to look for the cache. This is something I don't normally do unless I am having a hard time locating the cache. If you can't find a cache, reading the logs might shed some light on where it is and give you the extra hint that you need. To be honest, I kind of "supervised" and pointed in the direction of where the cache might be while Robin looked. Hey, it's still warm outside and when it's a warm day we all know that your reptilian "friends" are lurking around somewhere and I would like to think that Robin was way more butch than I am so I let her look. Somehow, even though I was on the road and not in the woods, I came into contact with poison ivy which didn't appear for a couple of days after we found the cache. When we went back to log the find (which happened to be on the OTHER side of the road from the gigantic spider!) all the logs said BEWARE of all the poison ivy surrounding the cache. Of course Robin didn't even get an itch from the poison ivy... my whole arm is inflamed!

This actually looks good compared to the festering, blistery mess that it was. It's now healing.

Here is a photo of the first stages of it...

Gross, huh?

Several weeks later I'm still dealing with it. Right now it just looks like a severe burn on my entire forearm. Have I ever mentioned that if it's going to happen (especially bad stuff!) it's going to happen to me? Yeah, just sayin'! At least we found the cache!


I'm actually finishing this blog post on October 23rd.

After I replaced the cache I sent an email to Ranger Maiwald with several photos attached to let him know that the cache was in place and he could now go take a look at it to make sure that it's within SCPRT's caching guidelines. Again, I didn't hear from him for a while so after a week I emailed him and he responded saying that the cache looks fine and the he is approving it.


My first thought was to send Coyotecal an email via telling him/her to SUCK IT!, but thought better of it and decided to let it go.

I emailed Brad (cache reviewer) and sent him a copy of the email that Ranger Maiwald sent me stating the cache was approved. I was really ready to get this behind me! I then received an email from Brad stating he was confused because Ranger Maiwald's email signature stated he was the park ranger for Santee Canal State Park and the cache was several miles from this area and to "please advise"!

Are you effing kidding me??

After all the bullshit I have been through with this cache I was livid that he was questioning this. I sent Brad an email stating that perhaps Ranger Maiwald oversaw that area, also - this was kind of logical, in my opinion, but what do I know?

In my initial email to Brad I stated Maiwald's contact info was attached and to ask him any questions - I'm not sure why he was directing this to me. After I sent that first email I remembered the email I received from the Director of all South Carolina Parks, Recreation and Tourism in which he stated Maiwald was the Ranger for that park. I forwarded that email to him, still not believing that this was still an issue... almost to the point of harassment in my opinion. I was fully prepared to go to Groundspeak with this. To me, it should have been a closed case when I got the email of approval.

After waiting for 24 hours, or so, I received an email from Brad stating that he was away from his computer and that he would approve my cache when he returned. He did... and I am so thankful all this caching drama is behind me.

You know, it really makes me hesitant to place any other caches in the area. I would like to think that they will be reviewed without bias, but you never know...

I'm going to choose to think positive about it.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

St. Stephen's Church

While out and about today we stopped at the St. Stephen's Church to do a RAOGK request. The requester wanted a photo of a grave with the surname Porcher. Did you know that Porcher is pronounced "Pour-shay" in South Carolina? I didn't. I was corrected twice that day. Anyway, in this cemetery there literally hundreds of Porcher's! Robin and I walked back and forth through the cemetery looking for Dr. William for a while.

I have always wanted to visit this beautiful little church but for some reason never did until that day. When I was looking for the grave I was taking photos while I walked. I started toward the back of the church and I heard someone say something to me. I turned around and I saw a woman with flowers in her hand looking at me. I said "excuse me" and she said "Would you like to see the inside?" and all I could say was "Absolutely!"

I went over to Robin and told her and she said she was going to keep looking for the grave while I went inside. There was no way I was going to pass up this opportunity!

The lady and I chatted (I wish I had gotten her name!) while I took pictures. She was there doing the floral arrangements and preparing the church for Sunday service the following day.

I love these old churches! I especially love when I have the opportunity to go inside and explore! Speaking of exploring, while I was inside Robin ended up finding the grave we were looking for so I was able to send the requester a piece of her missing genealogy puzzle piece. If you've ever dabbled in genealogy, you know that one small bit of information can prompt many other unanswered questions and hours more research!

Genealogy is a never-ending hobby - you can take a break, but it always draws you back eventually! I only wish I lived closer to my roots... sometimes!