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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ants In The Pants

Being a long, holiday weekend, we were fortunate to have a visit from our grandsons, Andrew and Owie here at J. Strom Thurmond COE.  We had many activities planned, but we were somewhat stymied by some really cold weather.

That didn’t slow down the boys, they wanted to go pin hunting!  Almost better than geo-caching.  We bundled up and headed out to do some more boundary line verifications around Thurmond Lake.


We find it is much easier when we have helpers along with us.  The boys were so handy in locating pins, digging, cleaning off the pin heads with a wire brush,


tying a pink ribbon on the pin and marking it as “Found” on our map.


With all the energy these guys burn, Mimi Marti wisely packed some snacks.


The boys were quite excited when we found a couple of encroachments by homeowners onto COE property.  Here a homeowner pulled up the pin marker pole and tossed it aside to construct a porch.


I picked up the pole an tied it with the pink ribbon to a nearby tree for the park rangers to come out and deal with the situation.


Also, in the above picture, in the background, someone is setting  up a 45 foot long house trailer about 40 feet over the COE property.  The park rangers are going to have fun at this location.

After a busy morning walking through the woods, it was time for a lunch break.  What do boys love to eat (besides candy)?  Pizza, of course!


With a side of mozzarella cheese sticks.


After lunch, we were back out in the field, on to a new section of boundary lines.  While walking, Andrew got something in his shoe, so he sat on a nearby tree stump to take off his shoe.  Little did he know the stump was loaded with ants, but he found out quick!  He started jumping around scratching like crazy. 

Despite the cold air, we stripped him down and brushed off all the ants we could find.  Then we bundled him up in our own coats and hustled off to the car. A shower and fresh clothes were in order.  That finished our pin hunting for the day.

Because it was so cold out, we moved our evening campfire up to the Volunteer Village rec house, where we lit a fire in the fireplace and the boys roasted their hotdogs and made s’mores.


Over the rest of the weekend, we made good use of the rec house, it has plenty of room.  Marti gave the boys their weekly piano lessons on her portable piano we have set up in the rec house.


Andrew and I worked on building his model car engine he got for his birthday.



He was quite proud of the finished product.


And what better way to pass some time than playing Mexican Train dominoes?  Along with snacks, lots of snacks!


We wish we could have the boys more often, they sure make wandering around in the woods a lot easier…and more fun!

Some folks have asked about how we find boundary pins and how do we know the pins haven’t been moved.  Here’s a quick “Pin 101”.

First all the pins have unique serial numbers and they are broken down into areas. 


For example, a pin in area, say 99, will be marked 99-24, the next pin 99-25 and so on.  Once the pin is located, we tie a bright pink ribbon on it to aid in finding in again in the future.

We are given Google maps with the boundary lines outlined and the approximate pin location overlaid on the map. (Sorry this isn’t the greatest picture, but you can enlarge by clicking on it).


We’re also given a map without the Google picture, which is easier to read.


In a perfect world, every pin would be marked by three trees, triangulated around the pin.  The pin marking trees have three orange stripes and an orange dot at the top, called the “Eye”.  The Eyes are all “looking” at the pin, and where the eye “lines” intersect, the pin is supposed to be.

Here is a perfect example, with the pin being one of the old orange cement monuments that were placed in the 1950s.  It also has a modern marking pole.


Most modern pin markings look more like this, and the pin has replaced the cement monument.


Where it gets interesting is in some places, the marking trees have been cut or have fallen down, and/or the marking pole has been removed or destroyed.  Often a homeowner has put lots of fill dirt to make a nice backyard lawn and buries the pin. 

That’s where we have to use the metal detector to find the pin and once we get a hit, dig down to the pin to verify its location.  If an unscrupulous person tries to move the pin, there are enough ways to find the pin’s true location, and we have seen that a couple of times.  That’s for the park ranger to deal with.


Sometimes, we just can’t find the pin, for some reason it has been lost, removed or even washed away.  We note it on the map and turn it in to the park ranger we’re working for.  The ranger passes the info along and eventually a surveying team is sent out to relocate and replace the pin.

Basically, our pin hunting is like geo-caching on steroids.  We enjoy the “thrill” of the hunt, the fresh air and the exercise.  We both spent too much time in offices and cubicles during our working careers, so this is a very refreshing change.  :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.



  1. Boy I can certainly see why those boys love to come visit their grandparents. Fun fun and more fun. Such great memories you all are making together. I've been seeing Mexican Train on several blogs lately. I guess perhaps if the boys can learn it I can too. :-) Hope you'll let us know what happens to the "evil encroachers".

  2. Interesting tutorial on pin-hunting. Good thing you don't have to deal with the homeowners who have removed or ignored the pins. Bet they are none too happy.

    Feel sorry for Andrew and the ants incident. I unknowingly stood in an anthill in Bishop once. Thanks goodness it was right next to a creek and I sure jumped in fast.

  3. That gives new meaning to 'pants on fire!" :)

  4. Hey, where are you guys? We are planning to head east to Myrtle Beach and NC for about a month or so before heading to Maine and would love to meet up with you guys.

    1. We'd love to see you again! Our email address is at the bottom of the blog. Let us know what your schedule is. We are at the J. Strom Thurmond COE which is about 20 miles east of Augusta, GA. We'll be here until 1 April when we are heading to Missouri for an incoming granddaughter due mid to end of April, then over to NJ end of July for ANOTHER incoming granddaughter!

  5. Ouch ... no ants in the pants please. Looks like more fun with the grands for the holiday weekend.

  6. You sure are giving those boys an education. It wouldn't surprise me if one went on to be a park ranger. They're gathering so much knowledge from you. However, I certainly wouldn't want to be the one of the rangers who confront the people who have tried to claim some of the COE property. That wouldn't be a fun task at all.

  7. are definitely an expert 'pin-head' and teaching us all more than we ever thought we'd ever know about pin markers.

    Great to see the boys having so much fun with their Grandparents - great memories and terrific family time together. You and Marti sure know how to feed those boys too.

  8. Unfortunate about the ants in the pants. Hope it wasn't too bad.

    It looks like pin hunting should become a family affair. The boys enjoy it and you're getting it done. Those rangers will want you back next year! :)

  9. OH...hope those weren't fire ants!!! But the rest of the visit sure looked like a blast for all of you. Shame it has been so cold, but you seem to be making the best of it. The boys will remember these experiences forever:o))

  10. The story of his "ants in the pants" is going to be retold again and again around the campfire, to his kids, to his grandkids....
    "remember when?" ahhh memories!

    Karen and Steve
    (Blog) RVing: The USA Is Our Big Backyard

  11. Nice to have all the energetic help out there in the woods.