Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Cave # 5: Cedar Ridge Crystal Cave (Third Visit)

I've been working hard over the last year or so to lose weight and get back into caving shape. In that time I've lost over 100 lbs and walked almost 200 miles in September of this year. Unfortunately, near the end of that month I developed some severe pain in my left arch that left me walking about half as much every day and stalled out my weight loss. I really wanted to go back to Cedar Ridge though, so I planned on going, even with the arch pain, this past Saturday. Fortunately, my doctor called in a prescription for Indomethicin, which has been a miracle drug for me several times over the years. By Saturday morning the pain was almost completely gone, so I loaded up Jack and my caving gear in the truck and headed down I-24.

Since it had been so long since I was last caving, I discovered a few weeks back that my Princeton Tec Apex headlamp was still working, but the rubber covering the buttons had stiffened up so much that it was almost impossible to turn it on and off. I contacted Princeton Tec and since the light has a lifetime warranty I shipped it off to them to be replaced. In the meantime I needed a main headlamp and so did Jack, so the night before I went to Walmart and purchased a pair of Energizer 315 Lumen headlamps that use AAA batteries.

These headlamps are "water resistant" and a 1 meter impact resistance, which doesn't sound that great, but they did fine in this small cave and we had other backup lights as well of course. They are very bright, but the throw distance is not that great on them and I ended up using the small tactical LED flashlight on the side of my helmet as the spot light for most of the trip.

So after filling up with gas, grabbing some coffee and a sausage biscuit, Jack and I headed down I-24, thinking we were running a bit late. Johnnie Gatlin was leading this trip and said he'd be at the cave to open the gate at 10am. We pulled into the parking area about 10:15am and were the only ones there. Johnnie had formed a texting group a few days earlier and I told them we were there and the rest of the folks said they were close behind.

I had been looking at the map of the general area and saw that there was a spring marked on the USGS nearby called "Bible Spring". It looked like it was across the road and next to the interstate, so we decided to walk over there while we were waiting on the others. Just as we were about to cross the road, a pickup with a camper shell and an NSS tag blew by us headed west. I waved but they never slowed down.

We started bushwhacking down the hill with me in the lead. I had on shorts and sneakers with ankle socks on, so I tore up my lower legs pretty good on some briars because I kept slipping on the very damp slope. We finally reached an old road bed and found a large pile of tires and from a small bluff we could see a pool of water that I assume is the resurgence of Bible Spring, and I took this picture of it.
The USGS site lists this as Bible Spring.

Everything was pretty damp around the area and I didn't want to get too muddy before the cave so we didn't go down and explore around the water. Nearby just off the old road bed we found a large crack in the ground. It's hard to tell in this picture, but it goes down about 10 feet or so and then has a small pile of rocks. I couldn't feel any air moving from the top, but we didn't climb down into it at all.

We walked a little further east down the old road bed and then climbed back up the small bluff and discovered we had to go a little further east to find a lower spot to slide down back to the paved road, which we walked along back to the parking area. A few minutes later everyone else showed up and we started getting ready for the caving trip. I then remembered I had left my boots at home, so I decided to just go in my sneakers.

I started making the same old lame jokes with the people that hadn't been there before. "Yeah, it's a beautiful cave, but the four mile hike up this mountain to get to it is a real pain." Frank P. Lavarre had stopped by Jody's house to pick up a bunch of extra lights and some big batteries, which John Baker loaded up in a big yellow caving pack that must of weighed 30 lbs with all that stuff in it. It was more than I wanted to carry, anyway.

Also joining us on the trip were Brandon Beard, Caralynn Strand, and her daughters Annabelle and Lillian, a.k.a. B-Dog and L-Money. We geared up and made the long hike down to the entrance, where we paused long enough to take a group shot before we got the gate open and crawled inside.

B-Dog went in first and I crawled in right behind her. Since it had been over 10 years since I had been to the cave I of course went the wrong way immediately and climbed down into the hole to the left along with B-Dog. While the rest of the folk were coming in we climbed back out of it and then I followed Jack and B-Dog through the semi-tight squeeze through the old gate.

Following those two, I traversed along the side of the small canyon that has what would be a lot of decorations in any other cave, but it's really just a taste of what is to come. There are some great examples along this passage of where the top of the cave is moving towards the road. There are several columns that have snapped in half and the top half has moved several inches closer towards the side of the hill. It might be interesting to measure a few over time to see if it's still in motion. 
Eventually we came to the big room and Jack got to see it for the first time. It's always an amazing sight. There's a large column in the middle and the ceiling is covered in soda straws. John setup Jody's lights and that helped set the stage for people behind us coming into the room for the first time.

Johnny Gatlin and Jack Hatcher in Cedar Ridge Crystal Cave

I thought we'd be in the cave for an hour or so, but it took us almost three hours before we came out since several people in the group spent a long time exploring every nook and cranny. John and I went over to the climb down on the east side of the cave, but I didn't go all the way down since the crack was a little tight for me and I wasn't super comfortable about being able to pull myself back out.

Several of us ended up sitting around the main room taking pictures while others explored the cave to the bitter end. I ended staring at this one area of the cave just off the main room where a huge piece of rock broke off the ceiling and dropped about a foot, leaving a large flat area that has been completely decorated by soda straws and small columns. It's like someone built a miniature cave inside the cave. It just needs tiny elves or gnomes playing in it to make it complete.

There's less than a foot separating the two layers you see in this photo.

After we finally exited the cave, we all loaded up and Johnny took us down the road just around the corner and showed us what he had been told was Bible Spring Cave. It's a tight cave entrance right next to the road and there's a false entrance just to the right of it. No one really wanted to go caving any more that day and it was probably a very wet cave so no one went inside. 

The entrance to Bible Spring Cave.

After that Jack and I headed back to Hendersonville after stopping for some carbs in Manchester. I showered and then slept like the dead for about two hours before the Alabama game.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Page Factory in C# - Dealing with Frames and Latency

One of the issues we've been having with our new C# framework that utilizes PageFactory is that the pages did not automatically check to see if they were loaded with an IsLoaded() type method. We tried various schemes to alleviate this, but in the end after a lot of online searches I discovered that the PageFactory.InitElements() method can be overloaded in multiple ways:

This allowed us to implement the following InitElements() in our framework:

PageFactory.InitElements(DeviceMainTab, new RetryingElementLocator(Driver.SwitchToInnerFrames("main>tabPage"), AutomationConstants.DEFAULT_OBJECT_TIMEOUT));

The first argument is the object or class that is being initialized, the second parameter is another method that implements the RetryingElementLocator class. We gave it the Driver.SwitchToInnerFrames so that it would always switch to that frame set on that page in our application in order to find the defined elements.

The second parameter to RetryingElementLocator() is just a timeout, which we set to a constant that is 20 seconds.

This eliminated the majority of the latency and subsequent Element Not Found errors we were experiencing and was much simpler than trying to implement LoadableComponent pattern which we found did not work well with PageFactory.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Thompson Falls

We had dinner with my mother at Top 'O The Lake in Guntersville on Saturday afternoon, and when we finished we still had several hours of daylight left so I pulled up Google Maps on my phone and searched for "waterfall".  It brought up several that were nearby and I picked Thompson Falls on Mink Creek and we headed that way. It was about a 15 minute drive and the "road" to turn off to get to the falls is only marked with a No Dumping sign.

If you go here, take a vehicle with high clearance and you shouldn't have any trouble driving right up to the old bridge that is just above the falls. The road is bumpy but is mostly rock so there shouldn't be any issue with getting stuck. 

We weren't ready to do any real hiking since I had my new sneakers on and Jack only had flip-flops, but there is a trail that leads down to the lower two cataracts.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Two Years?

Heff! It's been two years since I updated this blog. I miss the old days of the Blog Wars. I even miss Big Bill. Ah well, life goes on.

I'm a grandfather now. My little Leo is a little over 12 weeks old now. I'm still incredibly fat, but I'm also working on that.

This week also featured the passage of a small kidney stone on Tuesday morning. It started late Monday night and I finally passed it about 8:30 the next morning. It must have been pretty small since I couldn't find it afterwards in the bowl, but I wasn't looking too hard.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Tension, Apprehension, and Dissension

Last night I finished reading The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester for probably the third or fourth time in my life. For some reason I never really remember all the details of this book when I start reading it again. It's like a Level 1 has gone in and "demolished" that part of my memory. As always, it was an excellent read. I'll need to pick up The Stars My Destination for another reread sometime soon.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Kaijudo Tournament #2

I showed up at the Game Cave again tonight for the weekly Kaijudo tournament.  I was using the fire/nature rush deck again, with a few more twinks made to it.  I won the first round 2-0 after teaching someone how to play.  In the next round I came up against a tough control deck but managed to win the second game after I got some cheap cards out quick.  I still lost 2-1.

In the third round I played an all Fire deck for the first time and lost quickly to some Drakon Evolution cards that he managed to summon fairly rapidly.

So I ended up coming in #7 out of 12 again.  Fun night and Dave at the Game Cave even gave me a free demo deck that should help beef up my rush deck some more.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Kaijudo Tournament #1

So last week I bought Jack and I each a starter deck for Kaijudo, which is a recent game put out by Wizards of the Coast, who also produce Magic: The Gathering.  A new gaming store called The Game Cave has recently opened up very close to my house, so I decided to head down there tonight and check out the Kaijudo tournament.

I took my Bull Rush deck, which is primarily an aggressive deck featuring the Fire and Nature civilizations.  It was mostly just the starter deck, but I borrowed a card from Jack's deck and had a few cards from a booster pack also in it.  I wasn't expecting to do well, since most of the guys there have worked diligently on building good decks, but I was hoping to win a few games if the right cards came out early for me.

Round 1

Twelve players showed up tonight, and in the first round I played a guy named E, who eventually won the tournament.  E had a deck that he said had about $250 worth of cards in it and was primarily a Control type deck.  I didn't really draw many of my cheap creature cards very early, so after about seven turns it was quickly obvious that I was going to lose.  I managed to get him down to one shield in the first game, but since he had a lot of gold cards he just restored them and then brought out several very large cards that I literally had no chance to beat or defend against.  I lost 0-2 in Round 1.

Round 2

For round two I played my friend Richard, who is also a relative novice at the game.  He was playing a combination of Water and Darkness cards.  Unfortunately, most of his cards required 5 mana or more, so when my cheap red and green attack cards started showing up early there was little he could do to defend against them.  I won 2-0 in Round 2.

Round 3

In Round three I played a guy named Nate who also had a fairly expensive deck that featured a lot of Water and Darkness cards.  I lost the first game pretty quickly, but managed to get some good draws early and beat him on the second game.  I lost the third game fairly quickly though.  I lost 1-2 in Round 3.

We were going to do four rounds, but the software wouldn't let Dave do that so we stopped at three.  I came in 7th place out of 12 players, so not too bad for what was mostly a basic deck.  When it was over Dave from the Game Cave had each player choose a booster pack type and then he opened them all and put the rarest card on top of each stack.  Then we chose from 1st to last which stack we wanted to go home with.  E the player from the first round also gave me some common cards from a pack he had opened earlier.

All in all I had a lot of fun for 4 bucks.  The game plays fast and although you can spend a lot of money on it, I had a lot of fun for basically a 12 dollar investment.  I look forward to tweaking my deck to be even more aggressive and see what I can do with it.