Monday, December 29, 2014
TaGeez and I belong to families of amazing cooks. We knew the holidays would be dangerous so, in preparation of my brother's caramel pecan cheesecake, we took in a several mile "walk" before Christmas dinner....
Oh, and much to my delight, there were caches in our paths! Bonus gifts!
Happy New Year!
Thursday, December 25, 2014
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
I haven’t blogged in awhile. It’s been very dreary here in Southeastern Michigan. What free time I’ve had is directed towards holiday shopping and getting ready for the family events.
Saturday night a new puzzle cache was released (Will the real GeoCHECKER please stand up? GC5HCZ3). It’s a TomasDiaz creation – he only puts out puzzle caches. He makes you think – no easy grabs here. You always earn your stripes with him. I’ve spent anywhere from days to months working on some of his and, although I have almost a 1000 puzzle finds, there are many I’m not smart enough to solve. So when a new one published…..
Again, I saw it on Saturday night, but TaGeez and I had holiday chores to do. Every time he turned his back, though, I had pencil and notepad in hand. (He’s so sweet – he kept turning a blind eye and pretending he didn’t notice). It’s so hard not to shout spoilers, but, in essence it’s about 50 or more puzzles within a puzzle. Some simple. Some complex. And, of course, the red herrings and dead ends. Some testing your geocaching knowledge about coordinates and coordinate conversions. Math. Science. Google Earth. Geography. And then keeping everything straight – there are several times where you have to backtrack to other puzzles to solve later puzzles. As my log later said, it was “brilliantly convoluted”. Luckily, I made copious notes and took many screenshots along the way.
|Cool, eh? One of the many sites I had to visit|
I could only putts around with it Saturday, but, after TaGeez left for work Sunday morning, I sat down to “treat myself” to a few more hours of solving. You had to solve dozens of mini-puzzles (some within other mini-puzzles) to then solve a larger puzzle by way of another complex puzzle. Call me surprised when I had the final in hand.
Really. I sat there on the loveseat. Stunned.
There was no way I’d get first-to-find. We have too many puzzle geniuses in the area (I say with respect) and the cache was 12 miles away (as the crow flies – driving it was probably 18 miles). Still, I changed out of my jammies and headed out the door. I solved a TomasDiaz puzzle within 24 hours of release – I was going for it!
Warily I pulled up to the GZ. Were these coordinates correct? Can this be right? I don’t see anything. I was afraid I’d show up to find a note that said, “No, you are really wrong. Go back and start from Square A again!”. Again, I can’t give too much away, but there was a note. And, eventually, another container. Inside this one was another paper, but it was a log with a beautifully pristine spot for an FTF signature!
I don’t know if the other seekers were busy with holiday shopping or travel plans. And I probably should’ve been doing chores of my own. But as I pulled away with a silly grin on my face, I kept thinking this was the best Christmas gift for me!
Friday, December 19, 2014
…..I don’t believe anyone who doesn’t admit, to some degree, that the numbers matter. Let’s face it - as much as I LOVE the “experience” (as this blog will attest), those numbers do add a degree of fun.
Take the ones (with a degree of salt) below…. Long story short, a Facebook thread made me curious about Michigan rankings. After tooling around Project-gc.com (under the Statistics menu)…..
I’ve reached #100 for Michigan finders!*
And TaGeez is #68 for Michigan hiders!*
*Technically, both of us have more hides and finds than showing, but we're in the ballpark! Pretty cool, eh?
OK. Back to our original programming. Happy Friday!
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
I’m SO geeked! I ordered myself a geocaching Christmas gift today!
This week’s Podcacher featured an interview with Cully Long, the author of the newest geocaching wonder book “How To Puzzle Cache”.
I LOVE puzzle caches (just shy of finding my 1000th puzzle-cache smiley) – we have some phenomenal puzzle craftsmen here in Southeastern Michigan. I’m continually surprised each time a new one publishes – there’s just so many ways to create and solve puzzles. And then you have that moment when you solve it…. nothing sweeter! I thought the book might help with those stubborn blue ?’s on my map and maybe even inspire more puzzle hides on my part.
Several of the biggest selling points stemming from the interview:
- It’s in a textbook format so you learn and then try with each chapter.
- I ordered the spiralbound version so it will lay flat and not fall apart.
- One of the reviewers is Jennifer (of Teamajk), who has the fabulous puzzle-a-day blog. She also did a great interview on puzzles for the GeoGearheads Cache-a-maniac podcast recently.
- Cully has promised that once the book is out there he will continue to update his website with book excerpts, additional tips, etc
If you get a chance, visit the Podcacher link and enter for your chance to win a free copy (no affiliation with Podcacher or the book).
Monday, December 15, 2014
Had a FABULOUS time at LadyBee4T's "12-13-14 Celebrate the Last of the 'Numbers' Dates" event GC5F9M6. So geeked that WikidKriket and Snakeylicks joined myself and Ratspazum for a fun night out.
As usual, one of the best parts is the event geocoin! This year's coin has two parts to it - it includes a celestial disk that magnetizes to the same coin. Too cool!
Saturday, December 13, 2014
Woot! Congratulations to WikidKriket for hiding her first geocache,
Digging History GC5G92C!
Kriket is my sister and she volunteers weekly at the Detroit Zoological Gardens. As one of her responsibilities, she works with both the Boy and Girl Scouts of America educating about the animals, letterboxing and now geocaching!
TaGeez and I went on a Sunday to make the find - nice LARGE container smack in the middle of the Zoo grounds! The weather was perfect.... keeping the humans at home and drawing the animals out. We tried to be stealthy but there were eyes everywhere.....
|Decorated for the annual Wild Lights event|
We just happened to go opening day of the Wild Lights event - the Zoo is strung with millions of LED lights, many in the shape of animals. We walked through as they were testing the lights just prior to the opening ceremony. Can't wait to go!
If you make it the zoo in the summer, Detroit Zoo volunteer Snowbird2 hides around 6 caches throughout the grounds, active from around May 1st to Halloween.
I can't believe after two years I've finally caught up on my podcasts! In addition to many mainstream podcasts, I subscribe to 9 geocaching podcasts:
Chicago Geocaching Podcast - I refuse to believe this show has truly ended. If you've never heard it, visit the archives. I can't listen to them while driving - I tend to veer because I'm laughing too hard to focus. Truly a blast watching them in person broadcasting their 100th episode!
Podcacher - Grandaddy of them all. I just wish Sunny would read my post about LPC'ing in the Michigan Winter and stop berating them.
The Geocaching Podcast - Getting my Scott Berks fix. Best episode EVER was the Glympse show with Scott and Corey caching LIVE. Scott, did you ever go back and find that cache?
GeoGearheads - Co-hosted by one of my good friends, DarrylW4. I've spent a lot of money in the App Store because of them.
The Podcacher Show - My first UK download. The Amasons are a hoot. Plus I love their "in the field" excursions and local interviews. I feel I'm walking the trails and attending events when I hear them. I've learned a lot about their local caching culture.
The Oh Beep Geocaching Podcast - I'll admit... the constant "offensiving" of Americans gets old quickly but listening to Banana Sauce trying to keep Doctor D on track is a riot. And, of course, the takeover for one episode by Walt & Scott (Chicago Geocaching Podcast) was genius! Pure brilliance! On a serious note, I think everyone should listen to the episode about depression - most moving, honest podcast I've ever heard.
UK Geocaching Podcast - I just started listening to them. I wasn't sure about this one, but now that I understand the dynamics and humor between Collin and LJ I welcome each episode. I love that they don't take themselves too seriously.
Chasing Smilies - I like the concept (sort of the British version of The Geocaching Podcast). I can't wait to see where this goes.
GeoTalk - This one hasn't produced a new show in awhile due to the host's health issues (I'm sending positive thoughts his way). I LOVED the roving reports and accents. Well worth downloading back episodes.
It's a given that I listen to any podcast that Dave DeBaereMaeker appears on. Smart, funny, informative. Follow him on his "Only Googlebot Reads This Blog". Native Texan also is a good listen - learned a lot from her.
I would love to subscribe to a German podcast, but... well... there's this little thing called a "language barrier".
Any others you would recommend?
Friday, December 12, 2014
With the holidays upon us, I like to take time out to cache in some of my favorite winter wonderlands. When geocaching, take time out to enjoy the view! Here are some pictures of my favorite spot: Belle Isle. Belle Isle is situated in the Detroit River (you can see Canada from here!) and is Michigan's 102nd State park.
|Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory|
|Shinola has installed a new clock outside the Belle Isle Casino|
|One of several bridges spanning the interior river - each one different|
|Another fabulous and photographic bridge on the Isle|
|The Scott Fountain is secure for the Winter|
|Freighters are very common on the International Waterway|
That's Windsor, Ontario in the background
|Nancy Brown Peace Carillon|
|Alpheus Starkey Williams Statue|
If you're in the area, check out Michigan's 102nd State Park for caching diversity! Each year (near the end of March) the Belle Isle Cachers hide approximately 45 new caches, blanketing the island in the Detroit River. On that one day a year, you can cache both last year and this year's caches!
|The Nothwest corner is Detroit - Southeast is Windsor, Ontario|
Monday, December 8, 2014
Well, this is cool!
Gsix5666 (Roseville, MI) hosts an annual event on New Year’s Day where hundreds of Cachers race for hundreds of brand new caches after a pancake breakfast. Because the new caches publish hours after the event, hiders are asked to submit their hides to him weeks earlier so he can compile them into a handout and create a GSAK file for distribution.
This year, he sent out this really cool link: http://unpublished.vaguelibre.net/
There are several methods available on this site*, but the easiest is to login with your geocaching.com user name and password. It displays a list of all your unpublished caches (both unpublished and submitted/waiting for review). Select the caches you’re interested in exporting and click Create GPX. That easy!
By doing this on my computer, I was able to create a GPX file for uploading into GSAK or my GPSr device. By doing this on my iPhone, I was able to upload the GPX file directly into Geosphere. Using either method, I could also email a file to anyone I wanted. The cache files contain all cache information including coordinates, D/T, size, description, hints and attributes.
Not only can you use this to distribute cache information for events, you can also upload your unpublished caches to the device if you want to take the coordinates for a “test run” before submitting for publication.
Definitely a tip worth sharing!
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Thursday, December 4, 2014
What started out as an innocent enough Saturday ... visiting a cache in Battle Creek with RJ-Toot and BinderyGuy, ... began with a 9 AM start time at a park and ride in Portage, MI and ended 25 (yes, twenty-five) hours later with us pulling into that park and ride at 10 AM on Sunday! Towards the end of the adventure I began to wonder, “What is it about having a map and a GPS in hand that makes all common sense fly out the window?” You might think that with three adults out caching we would be capable of rational thoughts, but I beg to differ!
Thanks for allowing me to be a guest blogger! My name is Sara and my caching name is RomanTwins. I have been caching sporadically since 2010 and really started caching when I introduced my friend to this awesome hobby in 2013. The geocaching adventures that have ensued since then have been amazing.
Our adventure this weekend started with a few goals in mind, including Luandry Time in Battle Creek and 3 night caches in Coldwater, MI. In between those caches we decided to go where the GPS led us.
Luandry Time is a Challenge cache in Battle Creek with 4 stages hidden on a hiking trail. Each stage in itself is cache worthy, but added together made it quite the challenge. Stages included picking up number clues for the final, carrying a key from one stage to the next to unlock a stage and carrying water with us to discover a set of coordinates hiding down a PVC pipe. I am still amazed at the fact that BinderyGuy had DENTAL tools with him to help get a camo-covered pill bottle from the bottom of a 6 inch round PVC pipe. This pipe had random cutouts from bottom to top so that you could get tools or perhaps sticks to work the pill bottle to the top. Had I been there alone I probably would have given up early on, but we made it to all the stages and then rescued a few travel bugs that had been stuck in this cache for over a year.
I pushed RJ and BG to make it to Coldwater before dusk because of two caches in a Coldwater cemetery I wanted to find. Michigan Spirit Quest #2 No horses allowed told the story of Henry Clay Lewis who decided NOT to leave his art collection of 1000 pieces to the city of Coldwater upon his death because they refused to let him bury his beloved horse in his family cemetery plot. Inside the final for that cache was a laminated three-page story of Old Sam.
Old Sam, I learned, was a horse who served for 4 years in the Civil War. They say his work on the railroad as a young horse is what kept him alive in the war for 4 years when most horses only lived 3-5 months in battles. He was accustomed to the loud clanging noises of the railroad which meant that the sounds of battle didn’t faze him much. After the war, Sam returned home and had a position of honor in Coldwater. When Sam died, certain people decided he needed a burial with honor. He was buried in an unmarked grave in the cemetery under cover of darkness and buried with military honors. Information from this story led us to the gun in the middle of town that Sam actually pulled in war. Hero Horse is a challenge cache all about Sam and the gun he pulled. It was made all the more fun because the town square was lit up with Christmas decorations when we visited the park just after dusk!
We enjoyed dinner and the talk focused on night caches. I think they are awesome! Using flashlights to follow reflective tacks through the woods after dark just adds to the adventure of caching! I joked that the night was so beautiful and mild for this time of year that it would be a waste to head home after we got the three night caches in Coldwater. Why don’t we head to Fort Wayne, IN and get three other night caches in that area. I was kidding, really! Little did I realize that RJ-Toot and BinderyGuy would take me seriously!
Rotary Park at Night and Land of the Homeless are night caches in the same park. The second cache started within 500 ft of the final for the first one. Both were well done caches with very little bushwacking. We even got to cross a stream on a makeshift bridge of logs to get to the final for the second cache. I will admit I was glad to be in the company of my partners in crime. There were no homeless people, but the thought of it made me a little leery about being in the woods for the second half of the walk.
The last night cache in Coldwater was A Short Walk in the Woods. This was truly a short walk in the woods behind a coffee shop and would be a great first night cache for anyone. It is located in the middle of the city so there is civilization around and you are never more than 200 feet away from the parking lot.
It was after this cache that we realized RJ was going to log cache #3000 on this trip and I was going to log #1700. We made sure to stop for several Park and Grab caches to make sure he hit #3000. I also realized that we were seriously heading south to Fort Wayne, IN…at 2am!
BG took over the driving while RJ took a power nap in the back of the geomobile. I kept BG awake on our drive south. We arrived at Chain of Lakes State Park around 3am to start Night Chain.
We started out by walking along the trail next to a lake. Suddenly I heard a loud splash close by. I immediately turned to RJ and BG to see who had thrown something in the water to freak me out. They claimed innocence. We began walking and shining the flashlights towards the water and were surprised to see a few BEAVER swimming around! Looking back I think we may have heard a tree falling and splash into the water. Along the walk I spotted several stumps that had obviously been felled by the busy beavers.
This cache was a Terrain of 4, so when I swept my flashlight up a hill it didn’t really surprise us that the trail led us up a very steep hill. Then we started bushwacking through waist-high thorns and going for very long distances between spotting tacks. When we got to a tree with 3 tacks on it we figured we had found the final…except there was no final there. We looked for quite a while for another tack and came up empty. Then we pulled up the cache page on our phones and saw that recent finders did NOT have the same experience we had. In fact, it sounded like they hadn’t bushwacked much at all!
We headed back to the main trail, thanks in part to the tracking that BG had on his GPS and in part because the cache owner had included a waypoint on the cache page. The waypoint said “If you get to this point, turn around because you missed it.” We made it back to the trail via a deer path that was much less thorny and followed the fire tacks PAST the up-the-hill-turn-off we followed previously to the final location that involved very little bushwacking. Leave it to us to turn a 30-45 minute night cache into a 90-120 minute walk through a gauntlet of thorns and “Devil Trees” (Honey Locust). We still aren’t sure what that other trail was from. An old night cache? A hunter’s trail?
We then headed toward Columbia City, just west of Fort Wayne. By this time it was 6am and I was a little worried about getting to the last two night caches before dawn. We stopped at McDonalds for sustenance and COFFEE for me. Then drove to The Morsches Park Night Cache and Morsches Park Bonus Night Cache. The last two caches were in the same park. In fact, the instructions for the bonus cache simply said “While finding the markers for the Morsches Park Night Cache, Keep an eye out for a distant marker that will reveal the location of this bonus cache.” RJ spotted the Bonus cache on our way along the trail. It wasn’t as “distant” as I was expecting.
Back on the trail we made our way to our last night cache as dawn was beginning to break through the woods. Fog was also happening in the wetland area where the fire tacks were leading us and this made the flash light beams bounce a little. The Final was found without trouble and by the time we made it back to the geomobile the sun was up.
At 7:30am the GPS was set for home. I will admit, we did make a few stops on the way home. I asked to find a cache in a county that was new to me. RJ pulled over a few times so that BG and I could find some caches with lots of favorite points that RJ found on a previous trip. We pulled into the Park and Ride in Portage at 10am, exactly 25 hours after we started our adventure the previous day.
What is it about having a map and a GPS in hand that makes all common sense fly out the window?
I think the answer has to do with the potential for adventure waiting at the next set of GPS Coordinates!
Next destination? The Greater Detroit Area!
Thank you, Sara, for sharing your adventure.
I’ve added many of these geocaches to my bookmark list!
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Sunday, November 30, 2014
On Wednesday, November 26th, I found my 5,000th cache on my 1,000th consecutive day of geocaching.
I'm lucky. I did have many advantages to help me along.
I'm lucky. I did have many advantages to help me along.
- I love to travel and I live in a cache-rich area (southeastern Michigan).
- I have an adventurous sweetheart who caches, too.
- And I did this as several other members of Team Free Range Lobsters were streaking, too.
I thought after one thousand days, I'd share what I learned. Here are my “streaking tips” especially for winter.
Incorporate your cache-a-day as part of your routine. I plan my target cache (plus a backup) as I get dressed in the morning. Before long, it becomes second nature. When planning your cache, consider what’s on your agenda for the day – last Thursday the family gathered for Kriket’s birthday. She chose a restaurant in a very target-rich area so I saved my cache for later that night.
Download a weather app. According to the weatherman, the warmest part of Monday was first thing in the morning. By noon we would drop below -3° and have snow squalls. Hence, I grabbed my cache on my way to work.
On nicer days, drive a little to get your cache and/or pick a cache with more difficult terrains. Save the ones closer to home for severe weather days or days packed with family commitments. If I’m on the road somewhere with friends, I will ask them to stop for a few minutes so I can make my grab, saving the ones closer to home.
Sounds trite but it’s a “cache a day “ so pace yourself, even on a power trail. Our local Cachers have setup a several mile-long power trail along the I-275 bike trail. There are multiple places to park and access the trail. If you grab a cache a day, you are set for the next 4 months (or so)!
If you need a “numbers run” (to reach a milestone or to complete a challenge), stay away from home. Again, I’m lucky that I’m in a cache-rich area so I don’t have to travel far for a pocket of smiley-goodness.
FTF-runs are not “streak friendly”. I know it’s a downer, but when you get the notification you may not want to run out and get that new cache 3.4 miles away. Save it for a rainy day.
Know your local hiders. In our area, we have some Cachers who turn over their cache hides every six months – make sure you grab them when you can. There may be others where you have to grab their cache within the first week of publication before it disappears, never to be “maintenanced” again. Another hider nearby has an excellent history series with very basic hides (bringing you to the local site is most important) so his caches are excellent for very bad-weather days. One puzzle-master disables his caches for the winter and another revels in particularly evil (and unsolvable) hides.
Attend events in inclement weather. I, personally, prefer to grab a physical cache on event day, but events are caches and will add a smiley to your streak. They are also a way to learn the local hiding habits (see entry above). Another reason to attend events…
|Team Gates, Alona Spiegel, Caching Fire,|
the Grundalows and afishoutawater
Make friends with other “streakers”. They’re running out of caches, too, so help each other out! If each of you hide a dozen or more P&G’s, you can get yourself through the winter.
Don’t assume just because it’s an LPC it’ll be a quick find. Last year TaGeez and I were standing on 6-foot snow mounds, trying to dig out the skirt.
|It was in there. Trust me.|
Don’t assume because it is “high terrain” makes it unattainable in winter. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve used a convenient snowbank to grab that tree cache!
Create a bookmark list. You don’t want to be rushing to a family birthday or in the middle of a snowstorm and trying to think of a cache to grab. Many of the items on my list were recommended by other Cachers on our local FB group in case I need a find in their area.
Speaking of bookmark lists, make sure you have access to an offline copy of it. I have an offline list saved in Geosphere in case geocaching.com is down for maintenance or we have a severe windstorm, knocking out power and/or cellular service.
Expand your Cache Type repertoire. Grab those Earth Caches on warm days. Many Virtuals are not weather-dependent. There is such a thing as simple Multis, too.
|TaGeez and scrapcat at the Great Falls of Tinker's Creek|
Solve those puzzles. I LOVE puzzles, but I know so many people who avoid them. Winter is not only a good time to sit in your snug house solving puzzles, but, in many instances, a good time to go for the puzzle final. For many creators around here, the puzzle is the interesting part and the final can be a simple park-and-grab.
Surround yourself with supportive friends and family. Just shy of the first anniversary of my streak, my car died and I had to car shop, relying on others to get me back and forth to work and to the various dealers. I had just as many offers from friends and family (Cachers and Muggles alike) to take me for my daily cache. My Dad pulled over on the way to a memorial viewing at a funeral home so I wouldn’t have to walk to a cache in arctic weather. This challenge is so much easier when surrounded by those cheering you on.
|The AWESOME members of|
Team Free Range Lobsters!
I hope this helps, and maybe I'll add more as I work my way to the next thousand.... possibly....