Saturday, December 31, 2005

Paris: Day Two - New Year's Eve

We woke up early, enjoying a truly amazing breakfast at the hotel restaurant before wandering out into the bright chilly morning. Since we had no specific agenda, we decided to stroll back along the Jardins Tuilieres to the Place de la Concorde and onward to the Eiffel Tower.

The walk was refreshing, though we were both pretty chilly once we arrived at the Eiffel Tower. The lines for the tower were 3 hours long (!) and there were a couple thousand folks milling around, so we enjoyed the gardens, took some photos and then hopped in a cab back to the Louvre.

We explored the shops and cafes in our home neighborhood and enjoyed a light lunch in one of the cafes, but our clocks were winding down pretty quickly. We didn't sleep much on the plane and had a short night's sleep, so we both decided to catch a nap before the New Year's Eve festivities kicked off.

We woke up late, around 6 pm, and groggily prepared to ring in the new year. A short stroll from the hotel we found a fantastic restaurant and dined on roast chicken with french onion soup. The food was amazing and thus revived we headed out toward the Champs Elysees for the third time since our arrival.

The crowd was HUGE - I would estimate about 50,000 at least. We settled in to a spot for the big event and watched the Eiffel Tower as it lit up at midnight, sending sparkling light all over Paris. Champagne corks popped everywhere and the celebration started really cranking as the alcohol kicked in. Within 20 minutes Nightengale and I were scrambling for cover as revelers began shooting fireworks of all kinds - in every direction, including into the crowd. The air became thick with the smell of champagne and black powder, and for a few minutes I thought it likely that one or both of us would be hit with either a rocket or a flying champgne bottle!

We made a safe escape to the Jardins Tuilieres and enjoyed a more orderly procession back to the Louvre. On arrival at the hotel, we watched TV coverage of other European celebrations and settled in for a long night's sleep.

The Champs-Elysees at dawn on the 31st. Paris is just waking up.

Here's the Place de la Concorde at sunrise.

Nightengale and I spotted this interesting building while walking towards the Eiffel Tower - there was moss and lichen planted all over it!

Our quarry rises before us. Our bellies stuffed with a french country breakfast, we forge on...

At last! The view from below...

We're looking straight up from the pavement under the tower.

New Year's Eve and our hotel was lit rather nicely, as were most of the Parisians we encountered.

The Eiffel Tower sparkled at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve and the crowd of several thousand on the Champs Elysees went wild!

Here is Nightengale at 12:01 am on January 1st, 2006. There were fireworks everywhere!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Paris: Day One

Nightengale and I arrived in Paris around noon time after an all night flight from Washington, and after a quick nap, we set out to see a few sights. We walked the Jardins Tuilieres and the grounds of the Louvre and marveled at the sheer beauty of our surroundings. The amazement of that first day never faded - we were in awe for the entire trip!

This is the obelisk at the Place De La Concorde...

Our friend Pericles can be found near the Louvre.

Some sculpture along the Jardins Tuilieres!

Here is fuzzy night shot of the Louvre through Napolean's arch. That's what I get for not bringing my tripod to Paris!

This lovely lady is the site of a virtual cache - which I didn't know when I took the picture!

We were rewarded at the end of the day with this beautiful sight of the Tower.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Annual CCCA Event: All I Want For Christmas!

Nightengale and I saddled up for a ride to Mt. Joy, Pennsylvania for the annual holiday event held by CCCooperAgency and Friends - which is a 'Must Attend' in our book. The event has grown exponentially in just one year, and it was standing room only when we arrived at the event location.

We got to meet many, many cachers from all over the place, sharing good food and lots of caching stories. Once everyone was fed, we all headed out for 8 hours of night caching in various caravans. It was darn cold, but we managed to pick off over 60 - that's right! 60! - caches before heading back to Virginia!

I enjoyed seeing so many familiar faces, and making several new friends. Of course, everyone got an Airsafety bracelet, and during the dinner there were hundreds of geocoins floating around.

Keep an eye out next year and mark your calendars - this event is not to be missed! Thank you to CCCA and Friends for a really first rate event!

Here are two of my most favorite people in the world - Carl and Molly, better known as Mocadeki. You will never meet two nicer people, and I was very happy to see them again. In fact, I gave Molly a big ole holiday bear hug til she squealed! They hid some GREAT caches for the event, which were enjoyed by all.

Here was the scene as we drove up to the event: standing room only! There were probably 200 people in attendance from all over the USA!

This is Trev, of Trevalyan's R&R, one of our local legends, and a heck of a good guy. I was glad to hear that he wasn't being force moved after all!

Here she is: the world's #1 geocacher and host of this increasingly popular holiday event - CCCooperAgency! WOOWOO!

Robert, of the MD Geocaching Society, shares a few insights during the 'feast and meet' part of the event.

Is this a black swan, or is it a goose? Nightengale fell in love with it!

Have you ever seen anything like it? There were gazillions of ducks and geese here - but the truly wild ones stayed far away from shore.

Mocadeki had some very fun and clever hides in this beautiful park near Mt. Joy.

High adventure on the trail with the night caravan!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Cachin' With Norm

It isn't often enough that I get to go out caching with friends, and I was very happy to head out with Norm on this fine Saturday to make some finds near Springfield. We managed to knock out a few tough ones, managing to get the truck stuck for a few minutes, and like many cache outings we probably walked A LOT farther than we should have! Thanks for a great afternoon cachin, Norm!

"Yes Honey... a loaf of bread, gallon of milk, and fill the car with gas. I'll remember... honest!" Norm fields a call in the field.

Easy does it as I walk the slippery slope up this wet tree...

Here I am, clinging for dear life while reaching for the hide. Fools run where angels fear to tread!

Since Norm drives a Range Rover, we thought that this wee bit o' mud would be cake to drive through. WRONG! The Rover got stuck and was in danger of sliding down the hill in to an electrical transmission tower - but thanks to Norm's cool performance un der pressure, the truck was extracted after just a few minutes of wrangling.

Norm plays fetch after a hard day of cachin' madness. See the mud on his truck? I told ya we were stuck!