Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Geocaching 101: Caching Essentials Kits

Today’s topic is Geocaching Essentials kits.  I had been thinking of this for quite some time (since GeoBash, actually, when I bought all these small easy-to-lose caching toys).  On Monday, I even started gathering my stuff together (mainly because when I cleaned my car I almost sucked my new logroller down the vacuum).  Then, on my ride into work this morning, I heard Sonny on the Podcacher show talk about carrying essential tools on a carabiner.  So, it was time.  How many more reminders did I need to start putting these together?

What are “Essentials” kits?  Sometimes, when you are out grabbing some quick caches or on a numbers run, you don’t need a full Geocaching gear pack.  You just need…. The essentials!  I thought these would make good stocking stuffers or items for raffles.  This is a good starter kit for newer cachers and Scouts.  Plus, since most of the items are inexpensive, you can make a few to have onhand at all times.

To make sure I didn’t miss anything, I even put the question out on the Southeastern Michigan Geocaching Group.  These were the suggestions they had for my watertight containers bought at the local outdoor store (I will continue to update this list as suggestions arise):

  • Mini pen and/or pencil
  • Tweezers
  • Small blade for making other tools or sharpening pencils
  • Spare log paper
  • Batteries (if using a hand-held GPSr).
  • Path tags
  • Log roller (or DougPeterson’s Famous Extraction Tool featured in this cache description)
  • Contact card with cacher name plus emergency info
  • Single-serving sunscreen
  • Band-aids
  • Tick key and poison ivy wipe

I also intend to compile a list for Geocaching Gear Packs. Keep in mind that the contents of either the pack or the kit will vary based on geography, climate, personal preferences, etc.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

iPhone Keyboard Trick: The Degree Symbol

I learned a really cool keyboard tip on the GeoGearheads podcast show #94.  To enter a degree symbol on an iOS device (like an iPhone), hold down the number 0 button on the keyboard.  A pop-up window with the degree symbol will appear.  Handy when entering coordinates or discussing weather.  (Sorry for the sloppy mock-up image, I was in a hurry and didn't see anything online I liked).

You can find the GeoGearheads podcasts on iTunes or - they also have an official website at .  You will learn a lot about iOS and Android devices (plus a little bit about everything else) on this show.

Oh, and another note of excitement: Today is my 600th straight day of caching!  Woot!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Over 3500 Finds!!!

Out on an adventure with TaGeez and didn't realize that I reached my 3500th milestone tonight!

It was the perfect night. If included grabbing some Halloween caches, finding a "Large" ammo can in a community garden, exploring the Nautical Mile in St Clair Shores, and finishing with some challenges in Roseville. Wonderful!

I'm so glad TaGeez was with me!

A Cemetery Visit: Greenwood

Friday night TaGeez and I solved a wonderful onsite puzzle cache called Presidential Series: The Hobby We Enjoy. It was in Historic Greenwood Cemetery in Birmingham.

As much as I enjoyed the puzzle, I enjoyed the cemetery more. Greenwood Cemetery is nestled in a very affluent neighborhood. It contains a great variety of stones including several zinc monuments (you can see the particulars at

It also contains several very impressive statues - the most famous is the Leaping Gazelle resting above the headstone of its famous creator, Marshall Fredericks. Fredericks used to have a studio several streets over. Besides the Greenwood Cemetery, you can locally see other renditions of his Leaping Gazelle at the Detroit Zoo and Scripps Conservatory on Belle Isle.

In the attached montage: me solving the puzzle, the Leaping Gazelle, and a baby hippo statue resting near a headstone.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mushu - The Red Dragon

Had to share this beauty with you!  I picked up Mushu at a recent Meet and Greet and agreed to move him along..  Mushu is one of 1075 trackables that has crossed my hands and one of my favorites.

It belongs to another so I will be releasing it later today.  Safe travels!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

San Francisco Dreaming...

Rumor has it I may have a reason to go to California in January.  Trying not to get my hopes up, but downtown San Francisco has a LOT of Virtuals!

Virtual Cache
A Virtual Cache is about discovering a location rather than a container. The requirements for logging a Virtual Cache vary—you may be required to answer a question about the location, take a picture, complete a task, etc... In any case, you must visit the coordinates before you can post your log. Although many locations are interesting, a Virtual Cache should be out of the ordinary enough to warrant logging a visit.  [Source:]

I have no idea where the hotel is…. But it’s been fun looking at the ones downtown, imaging which one I can “grab”…..

Minty Fresh, w/o Altoids -         11 Favorite points
The K-Leave Me Cache -             40 Favorite points
Dragon’s Tongue -                      12 Favorite points
Whole Lot of Shakin’ -                60 Favorite points
House of Peace and Grace -      60  Favorite points
CalTrain – San Francisco -          14 Favorite points
Working Downtown -                 19 Favorite points
Waateekaa -                                  34 Favorite points
Inspiration Point Poetry -             23 Favorite points
Left What in San Francisco -     54 Favorite points
WPArt: Lillie’s Cache -                118 Favorite points
A Simple Life -                               41 Favorite points
Laughing Sal’s -                           279 Favorite points
WPArt: Victor’s Cache -              20 Favorite points
Escape from Alcatraz -                271 Favorite points
What a Sight! -                             45 Favorite points
WPArt: Lucien’s Cache -             34 Favorite points
The Great Lobos -                        32 Favorite points
Marin Headlands One -               90 Favorite points
Marin Headlands Two -              60 Favorite points
Caltrain – Sth San Francisco -    9 Favorite points
Everyone Knows It’s Windy -     37 Favorite points
Test of Time -                               13 Favorite points
Milagra Ridge View –               1 Favorite points
Bay Area History – Rosie -         28 Favorite points
Jeopardy: A LT Puzzle Cache – 8 Favorite points
Leviathan of Science –                15 Favorite points

Trying not to get my hopes up, but it would be fabulous if it happens.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

International Earth Cache Day

Happy International Earth Cache Day! In honor of today, I struck out to the Friendship Woods Vernal Pond GC1NBGV. Pretty little oasis in southeast Oakland County.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I Love You (No, Really!)

I must admit that I’ve been swaggering around, acting all Super-Geocacher-Ish. So, it’s nice when something catches me by surprise. 

I was home sick Tuesday night, when the notification hit that a new cache published: I LOVE YOU (GC4PG28).  Although I wasn’t feeling well, I still needed an FTF to keep my 20-month streak alive so out the door I went.  I thought D/T 1.5/1.5 Regular in a Ferndale alley should be cakewalk! 

I got there 20 minutes before the next cacher, but with no luck.  Another 20 minutes later we were joined by a third cacher.  Finally, too dark.  The coordinates place the final in the center of a parking lot – there was nothing there.  Later that night I logged my DNF and saw a fourth cacher had no luck either.

The next day the CO posted a “All Set” note.  So, even though I was in Farmington, I decided to give it a go.  Now, to get from Farmington to Ferndale during rush hour traffic is impossible, but I was SO curious about this cache.  The description only read “In Alley” and the CO signed her name as “A” (which was switched to “B” on the revised cache page).  I thought that if I hit Evergreen and there was still no FTF post on the cache, I would keep going and give it a try.  Traffic cleared at Evergreen and it was all green lights.

I pulled into the site with great anticipation and saw the cache immediately.  You couldn’t miss it – it was big and aqua and sitting prettily under a bush.  Wah? It was definitely not hidden and was definitely not here yesterday.  My next surprise came when I picked it up to realize it was one of those cardboard hat boxes you get from Michaels.  Oh, color and cardboard – this wouldn’t last long in this rainy weather and in a very public alley  (there’s no parking on Woodward so clients of the local Liquor store had to park right next to it and this alley was known to house several homeless people).

Decorated cardboard hat box

With great excitement I popped the lid of the cache.  Did I get first-to-find?  On top was…. A scroll?  Removing the ribbon, I opened it up to find it was a hand-written 3-page love poem.  Well, it wasn’t written for me (and definitely NOT the log) so I re-rolled it, re-tied the ribbon, and replaced it. 

Ok, log was underneath.  What’s all of this falling out of the log?  Was it already falling apart?  Nope, there were some pictures, drawings, and writings on the first few pages.  Yes, but am I FTF?!?!?  I flipped to the first almost-blank page and see a place for name.  Phew!  It was mine!  I signed, dated, timed the find and added a love note (it only seemed fitting).  Then I posted a quick FOUND log online so others knew not to hurry.

FTF (had to add a love note)

It was at this point that I became curious about the contents of this box. IT WAS FULL!  So, with the box sitting on the hood of my car, I started to poke around at the “swag”. Um, is that a bra?  Oh, it is (as I quickly stuff it out of site from the patrons of the Liquor store and nearby repair shops).  What the? A bra.  A candle and a lighter.  Microwave popcorn and candy.  Love poem scroll.  Cat toy (I think).  What???? So besides being in jeopardy by passerbies and rain, now it’s in danger of animal visitations.

Yes, that's a bra in the cache

I turned back to the log and took a closer look.  Inside I found a picture of a couple, a drawing of a man with (is that a) bra on his head, and some writing in the logbook.  It appears that the cache is filled with non-swag (logbook has a note that reads “*Please don’t take anything from this box*”).  Each item is symbolic and was meant for someone in particular.

It's all symbolic

Ok, that was new.  Never experienced this before.  I returned to the cache page to update my log to discover that the CO has changed the description.  This cache was placed in an attempt “to prove my love” to the man she loves very much.  The cache is now disabled because “the person who this is dedicated to is currently viewing the contents personally”. 

Not sure what that means.  It was a rather unusual experience.  My only regret is that I didn’t warn MPMCGILL before he arrived for STF and his daughter asked, “Daddy, what’s that?”

Monday, October 7, 2013

Geocaching in Space!

I just read the coolest thing on the Groundspeak blog – Geocaching is going into space AGAIN!

“WE’RE GOING TO SPACE!” Yeah! A Geocaching Travel Bug® is hitching a ride with astronaut Rick Mastracchio straight to the International Space Station. The mission is currently scheduled to launch from Kazakhstan at 4:08 GMT on November 7, which is 5:08 a.m. in Berlin and November 6 at 8:08 p.m. in Los Angeles…… Rick will live aboard the ISS for 6 months. He plans to use the Travel Bug as a tool to teach students on Earth, in his home state of Connecticut, about geography and science. He’ll also earn the Solar System’s most elusive smiley and find the International Space Station geocache.
Did you know there was a geocache on the International Space Station?  The log is pristine!  Lucky Rick!

What’s really cool is that we’re in on the action!  Anyone who attends a Geocaching even on November 6th or 7th will receive a special Virtual Space souvenir!  I’m so excited as I’m already scheduled to attend the Livonia Traveling Meet Greet and Cache #18 that day!

MetroPark Caching on Saturday

I realized that I haven’t shared too many pictures from our Metropark adventure on Saturday.  TaGeez, WikidKriket, SnakeyLicks, Fiona-the-wonder-pup, and I went to Indian Springs and Stony Creek to grab two more caches in the MGA13 series.  Although it had rained all morning, it was still a beautiful (squishy) walk and resteful picnic afterwards.

1- SnakeyLicks holding our Secret Weapon!
2- TaGeez enjoying riot of color at Indian Springs

4- Family Photo Time!
5- scrapcat and TaGeez
6- Not really feeling the leash

7- In the chamber under the pond
8- Working hard for the cache!
9- Stony Creek greenery

10- Fiona for the find! Worth seeing twice!
11- Picnic afterwards.  Puppies eat first!
12- Victory Meal!

13- Oh so tired!

It really was a fabulous time!  Just two more MGA13 caches to go!

Belle Isle Cleanup was a Clean Sweep!

Yesterday was a fun day…. Attended a CITO (Cache In Trash Out) event on Belle Isle.  As part of our efforts to help and not hurt nature, we have clean-ups and weed-pulling gatherings.  This one was the 14th cleanup on Belle Isle where you can find anything from alcohol bottles to used tires to car parts to less savory things. 

This year, TaGeez brought his Godson, GeoTrainee, to the great cleanup as part of his geocaching merit badge.  GT is on the road to becoming an Eagle Scout and was very fearless throughout the cleanup!

We were responsible for several miles of backroad on the Isle and were so fast that we turned around and helped another family.  This is TaGeez (also fearless during the cleanup) taking a well-deserved break.

In fact, we were so fast that we finished early and were able to take GT out to Start Your Engines – one of the oldest caches in Wayne County and in Michigan!  He found it himself!

Afterwards, we gave GT a tour of the Isle (he’s never been!), and I was thrilled when he asked to stop at the Anna Scripps Conservatory!  I love this place, but it’s normally not on my family’s radar!

Afterwards, we headed to River Rogue to see the SS Columbia (see prior post) and then off to dinner in Mexicantown at Xochimilco’s.  It was an awesome day of firsts!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hurt My Heart (Virtual Cache)

Did a Virtual cache today (these are grandfathered caches that take you to a location rather than a container. Normally it's a historic site that cannot house a cache box).

I won't give away the name or GC as this one is still active, but I had to share. This is the SS Columbia. Built in 1902, it was the first steam-powered excursion ship and one of the last 2 in existence (seen here with it's sister, the Ste. Clair).

This was one of the boats that carried generations of vacationers from the docks of Detroit to Boblo Island. It recently held a promise of a $10M renovation so it could be a floating educational tool in the Hudson River Valley. Instead, it was used as a rotting prop in the recent Transformers4 movie.

Seeing it in this state (instead of the blinding-white marvel from my childhood) was like a punch in the gut. It hurt my heart.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Fiona for the Find!

Out MGA caching with TaGeez, WikidKriket and SnakeyLicks at Stoney Creek Metropark. They brought 8-week old Fiona on her 2nd caching trip, and FIONA MADE THE FIND! No kidding!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

First To Find (a Book Review)

Heard rumors of this floating around the blogosphere so I decided to give it a go. It was especially tempting as the eBook was free from Amazon.  I love Geocaching, murder mysteries and puzzles so I settled in for the read.

I'm not too sure what happened to those first few pages. The writing was rather weak, but I persevered. And I'm glad I did. The book improved quickly and was really enjoyable. Carried it with me and enjoyed it during those rare, personal moments when I wasn't caching. Margarita was interesting, and Bindi & The Chief were adorable. Looking forward to the next in the series.

On a note about the Geocaching: the author knows her stuff and the inclusion of caching details was seamless and accurate. There was nothing forced about it. So, for a Cacher, her references will be very familiar to you (everyone has found an easier trail on the way out). And, for the non-cachers... Well... I haven't stumbled across a body at a cache... yet.

You can find the eBook here (now at regular price).

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Coffin in a Graveyard

A good caching friend of mine created these cool caches - about 10" long - in the shape of coffins. He hides them in cemeteries. That's so cool.