A walk in the park • Rendezvous • Misc.

I do like my Saturdays. Here’s what happened on the 7th, taken from my journal.

I got up about 1130 and had lunch. I was going to invite [my friend] to come along geocaching, but I couldn’t find her. It’s just as well – I’m probably the only person on campus crazy enough to go through everything I did today. I got some water and such ready, and then around 1330 I took off for Jacob Krumm Preserve.

The biking went pretty smooth until I turned onto the gravel road – then I discovered that “gravel” was really a euphemism for “mud covered with gravel”. But, I found enough purchase on the roadway to get to the preserve. Pretty uneventful. The roads were so wet because it’s been melting the last few days, in volume. The gravel road at points had a creek running alongside it in the drainage ditch.

I entered Jacob Krumm Preserve, and found the trail. The first cache I looked for was supposed to be on a grassy hill scattered with tiny dead-looking trees, but I searched under every tussock and found nothing. So I moved on to the next one.

It was easy to find when I got close: just a peanut butter jar in a log. I noted that it was getting wet on the ground as I moved on. I came across a field with a huge dirt mound and a wooden tower in it, with the trail bypassing it to the left, and a “fire lane” trail going approximately to the tower. I took the trail, but then it turned out to be a stream – no kidding, a real stream with a real current. I slorshed across some slushy ice to the field I’d left, and quickly found the geocache at a post of the tower I’d seen. There were kids playing on the tower while their dad looked at something through binoculars from the top. I moved on, because I also found a trail that wasn’t actively flowing.

This led me to where the trail comes near the railroad line. There was supposed to be a cache there, but no such luck, or at least I didn’t see it. There was a bridge, over Sugar Creek. Sugar Creek was creeking right along at a good clip, coming out from a tunnel beneath the IAIS. Every few seconds a good-sized chunk of ice would float by. The water was dirty, cold, and roaring.

I moved on, to the West Loop of the trail, which circles a big pond. To get to the West Loop I had to slog up a big hill covered in snow that had half melted, so that with the push-off part of each step I would sink down an inch or so. It got maddening. But I kept walking (my feet steadily getting wetter despite my water-resistant shoes). The first cache on the West Loop is hidden somewhere on a big dirt mound by a little stream, but the catch is you have to walk through solid bramble to get there. It was the thickest bush I’ve ever whacked, and practically every plant had thorns. I mentally composed the cache log: “For this cache: A curse on you, and your children, and your children’s children, unto the seventh generation.” It was pretty damn bad – and when I got there, it was too covered in snow for me to find anything. So I bushwhacked back to the trail, mystifying a group of girls who were walking past, and moved on.

I finished out the trip with two easy caches, one in an oak tree and one in a dead log near the parking lot. As I moved between those two, I saw a bunch of guys ice-fishing. Apparently, despite three days of thawing, the ice is still 18 inches thick.

Krumm is rich with potential krokay courses. I’m getting krokay up again soon, and maybe we can play our first new game there. We’ll see how the weather acts. If it stays as squishy as this, Ill probably wait a week. I’d comment on the beauty of Krumm itself, but I caught it on an off day, with all the ground a giant bog and no leaves on anything. Despite that, I guess it’s a pretty nice place.

I walked the road back to my bike, and (now with a tailwind, on the gravel road, but a headwind on the highway) biked back to town – stopping briefly at Arbor Lake to see if there was little enough snow for me to find the cache I missed the other day. (No.)

Other stuff! Eric, Ben and I have been exploring the campus more. A couple weeks ago, we found an unfinished room underneath one of the buildings here, with no floor. If you weren’t careful to step on the joists, you could fall straight out into outer space. That’s not true. There were no joists, only a rolling landscape of a spongy white architectural substance that I couldn’t identify. But there was also a tarp and some teabags and a coffeemaker and Christmas lights and a note.

The note was addressed to whoever stumbled across this place. It said feel free to take some cookies – though there weren’t any just then, we discovered – and to please not disturb anything. It was unsigned.

So Ben and Eric and I wrote a note back. We told these people that their hideout was pretty sweet, and asked if they’d like to see more awesome places on campus. We suggested that we meet sometime, and said we’d check back in the future for a reply.

A few days later, we checked and there was another note, saying they’d be very interested in seeing what we’d found. So we left a meeting date and time, and waited for them to approve of it. When we got their next note, it said, “Your proposed time and place are agreeable to us. Come alone and come unarmed.” It was signed with an angry face and a devious face, and in a P.S. there was a happy face.

We met in one of the theaters at 11 at night. Ben, even though he had proposed the original meeting date in the first place, had lamely decided not to come, because it was his birthday and a bunch of his friends had come over to have a party. So it was just Eric and me. Also, the theater was in use – some fool group was having auditions there. Luckily, it wasn’t 11 yet, so we waited around, exploring to see what was locked and unlocked tonight. At about 10:55, we peeked in the back of the theater to hear the auditioning people closing up shop. Ha ha! So a few minutes later, we went up to the catwalk and started waiting for our contacts.

Unfortunately, there was no light in the theater, so they wouldn’t be able to see us when they came in. Instead, we went down to the stage area. While we were remarking on how good our timing was, Eric gestured to his side. There was something there in the darkness. But I couldn’t make out what it was. It looked like someone sitting, but it also looked like an empty Adirondack chair. Eric called out quietly: “Hel-lo?” No answer. I was trying to decide if there was a person there, trying to psych us out before busting us for being in the theater after hours, but Eric asked, “Are you who we’re looking for?” and the brightish area in the darkness said, “Yeah.”

We moved into some light. There was a guy and a girl, both first-years and neither of them people we’d known before. We introduced ourselves, and then talked about our various escapades of the past and planned exploits for the future. As some of these were probably faintly illegal, I won’t describe them now, but suffice it to say that we gained a mutual respect for each other. It’s hard not to respect someone who has a grappling hook and has used it – they had. We toured the building, but found doors annoyingly locked. Eventually we walked together to wherever we were going next. All in all I couldn’t ask for a whole lot more out of a Wednesday night. Eric and I even got to go to Ben’s birthday party and harass him for being lame.

I’ve been working at CERA again, so that’s cool. So far it’s been a lot of database-entering stuff, but it’ll get more exciting. Relatedly, I’ve also applied to live in EcoHouse next school year. EcoHouse is a college-owned off-campus house that aims to minimize its impact on the environment by conserving energy, buying local foods, composting, growing a garden, and other stuff. Doesn’t that sound just like me? Well, I hope I get in. I think my odds are good – I talked with a current resident (a guy in my intentional communities class, the Jordan who took me back to Ohio once last school year), and he said a lot of people wanted to live there in the fall because they were going abroad in the spring. Since I’ll be going in the fall if I go – another topic I’m going to address in a moment – I have a good chance of being picked to fill up an empty slot, I think.

File under: adventure, prairie, fun in the cold, climbing

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Let me put my two cents worth in. You make some great points about staying put in Grinnell, but take it from one who shoulda and coulda but didn’t do it. I have regretted that decision all my life. Getting out of your comfort zone is what it’s all about, and I guarantee it will change your perspective about a lot of things. And give you a confidence you can’t get any other way. Grandma




Perhaps you might try for a summer abroad thing instead? Maybe the summmer after junior year you might want to go somewhere. I also know how much you like the Press. And this continent. It may be that a summer travel plan is the thing. Talk to Those In the Know so maybe you don’t have to choose between two good things.

I know you haven’t posted about it in your blog but things are pretty crazy here with Micah’s problems. He has become my job.

We went to see Cammy and she is a cutie.




I say go for it. Get out and see the world while you can. You never know what will happen with the US or world economy. You may not have an opportunity for quite awhile if you don’t take this one. You have plenty of time to be comfortable in the US when you get back.


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It’s far easier to sit in your comfort zone than to be assertive and look for new challenges in life. But those who do, and try to make a positive difference in the world, very seldom regret it. Going to a foreign country, even for a few months, is an incredible experience and changes your views of how best we can solve the enormous problems facing our civilization.

Find some way to get yourself to Europe. It will be an opportunity not many young people have. You won’t be sorry.

Aunt E.




Okay, My two cents on this studying abroad topic will be short. DO IT YOU FOOL! I will defer the rest of my argument to Tracy, since she has first hand experience in this area.




I too was loath to leave Grinnell for any of that all-too-short time there, and back then it was not so common a thing to go off, not at all. But I have discovered since that missing a semester would not have made much difference to my Grinnell career, but might have made an enormous difference to my world understanding.

I did go abroad the summer between my junior and senior years, for a six-week homestay in Puno, Peru, plus travel to La Paz and Cuzco, Arequipa and Lima. It opened up my life enormously, and was probably the smartest thing I ever did.

I’ll send you the essay I wrote about it after your grandparents and I went to Peru in 2005.

Love, Irene


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