Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Years Eve - Woods Style

Kathy Wade checking out the water depth

I've never really cared for New Year's Eve.  I don't understand a holiday, that at it's core is about getting drunk. I'm not much of a drinker, I don't dance and I don't like loud parties.  After my girls came and my mom started coming to NJ annually for Christmas, NYE was a family event.  The girls stayed up, we watched movies and at midnight we would go outside with spoons and pots to make noise and welcome in the new year.  When the girls started spending NYE out of the house, NYE became a private time with my mom.  We would drink eggnog and snack on all our favorite foods.  We would rent movies and wait for the girls to come home.  It was special and quiet.  When my mom was no longer able to fly and visit it was lonely but not nearly as lonely as the years after her death.  I tried to invite people over for a quiet evening but they either wanted to stay in their own homes or go out and party.

Last year, that all changed!  There is now an annual New Year Eve Event in Wharton for geocachers.  We start at the Pic (Pic-A-Lilli) in Shamong on the edge of the NJ Pinelands. They have great food specializing in wings.  It's the "unofficial" club house of the South Jersey Geocachers.  We have dinner and enjoy each others company.  After a while, usually around 2 hours, we head into the woods.  There are usually caches that have been put out just for the event. One of those is the Christmas tree on the right.  There is a ball on that tree that you have to find and it has to log in it!  Very clever and super special!

We all headed out with the intensions of forming a parade through the Pines grabbing the caches as we went. As usual, I jumped in with Kathy and John of the Aufbau's.  This becomes sort of a traveling party, lots of laughs and joking, running to see who can get there first!  We end up down tiny, narrow roads and then have to turn about 6 or 8 cars around in no space and head to the next.  Early on, last night, John, was at the head of the line and made a left when we should have gone right, he quickly realized his mistake when he hit a dead end!  One other car followed us.  We both turned around and tried to catch up to the rest of the parade.  Cell coverage was minimal at best out there.  I usually have coverage  if anyone does, and I didn't.  We got a call from Mollie (that's Mollie in the yellow jacket) that was broken up, telling us which way to go. We were told to stay on Carranza Rd.  In Wharton, roads are dirt, covered in pot holes and small ponds.  The roads aren't labeled.  I was on Google Maps following along, telling him where Carranza Rd. was and when it turned.  At one point the road bears off to the left, apparently we were suppose to bear right but that's not what we were told.  When we realized that we weren't heading for the cache, we found a road to follow back in that direction.  
Car/truck parade in the woods
We were being followed by  the Moliveris.  Last NYE, they joined us in their little Saturn. During last year's event, there was about a foot of snow on the ground and they got stuck at every turn, or so it seemed.  Finally, we got them out, took their car back to the Ranger Station on 206 and they jumped in with other people.  This year, they borrowed a relatively new Jeep Liberty for a friend.  Now, if you take your Jeep into the woods, it's up to you to decide if you're going to get it scratched or stuck in a puddle.  I was surprised that they would borrow a Jeep and really surprised that someone would loan a Jeep to go mudding.  

That's  a BIG puddle!
The front end of the Jeep is in the water
We were back tracking down this increasingly narrow road and they were right behind us, doing a fine job of keeping up with John! And that's not always an easy task. Finally we popped out of the road right near the cache and saw the rest of the cars!  Success! .... well, maybe not!

The other cars/trucks left before we caught up with them.  In front of us there was a huge "lake" in the middle of the road but it looked do-able.  John took off on the edge of the puddle and got through it with very little trouble.  We were now on solid ground and staring at a "puddle" that was probably 40 feet across in front of us and we couldn't see the sides of it.  Kathy got out and was wading around in it trying to determine if we should try it.  

yikes, the water is up to the door!
When you're in the woods they're 2 different kinds of risks, first, the risks you take when you're alone.  You need to know what your car can do and realize that you'll have to call for help and you will be there for hours before a rescue.  AAA is not coming out to help.  The second type of risk is when you're other 4x4's, you don't need to be as careful, there are people to pull you out. They enjoy helping and we enjoy watching!  No one enjoys being the one with their car stuck!  You're going to take quite a ribbing.

Joe Oliveri
Mudwhore to the rescue!
As we were trying to figure out how any of those cars/truck got across that lake, Mr. Moliveri came up to the our car and told us that they were stuck in the puddle behind us.  It seems that he decided to drive right through the middle of the puddle, he didn't even make it half way across.  The Aufbau's had cleaned their car inside and out for their son's wedding the night before and  didn't have a tow strap and neither did the Moliveri's car. It took many calls and texts trying to get the attention of anyone that we were with.  Finally we got in touch with Mollie and she told us that she would send the Mudwhores back to help!  Meanwhile, I went though the woods to get back to the Molivers Jeep to take pictures and discovered that they was a road to the left of where we were, a go-around for the puddle...the other cars didn't go through the puddle!  They took the go-around!  And about that time, the Mudwhores come flying down that very road!  Mr. Mudwhore got his tow strap and handed it to Mr. Moliveri to hook it around the hooks on the back of the Jeep...but there weren't any.  Long story short, Mr. Moliveri had to kneel down in the mud to connect it the "a structural member of the the car", per the user manual. The first time it wasn't solid, so he had to get back down and try again!  Now it was relatively warm last night but not warm enough to be kneeling in muddy water!  It was around 45 degrees.  Once it was connected correctly, it just took a quick pull and they were out.
Connecting the strap to the car!

While he was being pulled out, John went back to his Jeep to turn it around.  Kathy and I were sort of watching both events at the same time.  For a minute John and their Jeep disappeared and suddenly popped out of the woods up above.  He apparently decided it would be easier/more fun/quicker to make his own road! I wish I had  a video of it!  It was hysterical!

The Wharton Ball
It's coming down  10-9-8-...
We only had 10 minutes to get to Friendship for the dropping of the ball - Wharton style; it was about 3 miles away.  In the Pines that can be a quick trip or it can take forever.  The roads are always changing.  We headed off down the go-around. We made it with a few minutes to spare, but no sign of the Mudwhores or the Moliveris.  We waited and suddenly the Mudwhores came tearing down the road just in time!  But the Moliveris were still missing.

Now I know Times Square has their ball, but so do we!  Kevin and Mollie have a ball that is solar powered.  It is 2 clear Christmas bowls connected with a ball of aluminum foil and a string of Christmas lights inside.  It is suspended between 2 big trees and some how Kevin lowers it from a distance!  We were given noise makers, beads, and glow stick necklaces!  We had a count down and toasted with sparkly cider!
Right after the ball dropped, the Mudwhores got a call from the Moliveris, they had a flat tire and needed help... again.  I don't know the whole story but apparently they backed into a tree turning around and then their tire blew out on their way to the ball dropping.  Not a good night for them.  They've since decided that NYE in the Pines is not for them.  and they won't be back next year.  I hope they change their minds.  They should probably find someone with experience to ride with,  however.

Final cache found!

Cheryl and Doug
Jack and Debbie
A close up

As I said earlier, the Aufbau's had cleaned their Jeep for the wedding the day before. It was really clean and shiny!  But everyone knows that a dirty Jeep is much more fun!  The 2 pictures below show the remains of a great night in the Pines!  It was a lot of fun!
NJ mud is a very fine, light gray color

I know that this type of evening isn't everyone's idea of a fun NYE party but neither is a loud party with a bunch of drunk people! If you're interested in joining us next year, let me know...I might has other plans that will supersede but if not, I'll there!



Terry said...

Touching post, Kath. I never cared for NYE either! But what a fun way to pass into the new year!

Cheryl said...

You tell a good story Keebs. And it was all true, but I had very different experience. I didn't know about any of the getting stuck, flat tire, hitting a tree until the next day! We were at the front of the caravan and couldn't figure out where a few went off to. We saw the Aufbau's turn left when we turned right. Now we know.
I only remember GREAT caches, fire pit, party favors, bubbly, the ball drop and cRaZy GoOd fireworks! It was a GREAT night with wonderful friends!
I'm really enjoying your blogs, thanks!

Post a Comment