Saturday, May 31, 2014

Caching Fire is Famous!

He made it in the March/April 2014 issue of FTF Magazine!
But who is that strange woman he's with?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ticked Off in Michigan

Talking to the Southeastern Michigan Geocaching Facebook Group, many of our members reported ticks (and mosquitoes the size of finches) this weekend.  We even found a tick on Fiona, the geo-wonder-pup, while doing to Metropark trails.  It’s been a bad season.  SuperJosh reports he prefers the Northern ones – our deer ticks are larger than ones in the Southern states so they are easier to spot.

You are not supposed to squeeze and kill a tick embedded in your skin for fear of them releasing all their toxins into your blood stream.  Worse yet, I heard a tale (urban legend?) about a guy that poisoned himself because he would pull ticks off his dogs and then bite off the ticks’ heads to kill them.  Oh my.

As a result of the increase, there have been many posts about Tick removal remedies. has disproved the “liquid dish soap method” as an old wives tale. Another post states you should use a lint roller after being outdoors to remove ticks from your clothes – I’m not sure if this works or not. Wear light clothes so you can spot them easier.

What I do trust is Ben of TheGrundalow’s CDC link about Tick removal.  The goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible and to clean the wound.  It’s a short article, but it’s really clear about what to do and to watch out for.  It even has this nifty graphic:


As for Fiona, we used my new tick key on her, which was quite quick and quite painless.  I bought this from but, after a quick Internet search, they seem to everywhere now.

Remember: Nothing is quite as fun as a tick-check with the one you love!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Road to Traverse City: Sleeping Bear Dunes

After the 7 Monks with Rusty&Libby, Hearty Soles and Tick27, TaGeez and I realized we still had a few more hours of daylight left.  Checking my GeoSphere list of "Special Traverse City" caches, I realized there were only 3 left unfound.  Did we actually have time to go grab those three Sleeping Bear Dunes Virtuals before heading back to Detroit?

Sleeping Bear Virtuals
Since we were already in downtown TC, driving to the dunes was almost a straight shot West.  It was no surprise when TaGeez responded, "I'm game!"  Fabulous drive up and down some hilly roads, through farmland. First stop, Empire, Michigan!  Home (for that weekend) of the annual Asparagus Festival!

When Lumber is King GCC1F9

Empire is adorable.  The streets were lined with little, white fishing cottages.  They were in the midst of their Asparagus Festival, but we didn't have time to stop.  Instead, we circumvented downtown and headed to the little park on Lake Michigan.  Gorgeous!

Sleeping Bear Dunes - view from the Virtual

This picture, with the lighthouse in the foreground,
gives you a real sense of scale of the dunes.

Looking South and at Lake Michigan

Sleeping Bear Duneside GC95B8

This was supposed to be our last Virtual, but I overshot the entrance to the scenic drive.  The GPSr said we were only .7 miles from the other Virtual, but it didn't account for the sand dunes or the climb up a small mountain.  This was my first trip to the dunes!

We had a nice surprise at the entrance gate - because it was early evening it was unmanned so we saved the $15 entrance fee.  This Virtual was not the dunes themselves - it was in a wooded nature/wetland area that runs parallel to the dunes.  

There was no way to take a picture of this (walking a bike path parallel so the dunes).  The entire West side was just a solid wall of sand reaching up to the sky!  In fact, as the sun was lowering, we walked the length in the dune's shadow and had the first chill of the day.

Walking away from the dunes and along the bike path

Entrance to the Nature Area
If you look to the left, you can see the dunes beyond the trees

In the shadow of the dunes
The wall of sand is to the left

After scaring a deer, heading to the Virtual

Walking back to the parking lot

One last picture of the dunes as we were leaving.  Look
how huge they are! 1.3 mile walk to Lake Michigan

As we were heading towards our next destination, we had
to scare this deer standing in the middle of the road.

Pierce Stocking Overlook #1 GCGHV4

Heading South again, we located the spot to turn into the scenic drive.  I remember thinking the road was weirdly twisted on the map - didn't hit me that we were driving up a small mountain to get to the top!

Again, due to the late hour, nobody at the gate so we saved another $10 fee.

One side going up and one coming down

Lovely surprise to round a corner and see this.

And the view from the top....

View from the overlook

Top of the dunes and Lake Michigan
There's a sailboat out there

Since we practically had to pass this anyway...... made it to Moomers right before close!  I was so excited that I could share one last favorite spot with TaGeez before heading home!

M-Dot Employee Memorial Cache GCB608

After Moomers, we had to head home as TaGeez had to work the next day.  As we were leaving from the West side of Traverse City, the GPS took us South instead of East.  I must admit, driving down those dark two-lane highways after adventuring on Old Mission Peninsula, Power Island and Sleeping Bear Dunes, I was exhausted.  To refresh myself, we kept pulling into rest stops (and grabbing geocaches) to stay awake.

Imagine my surprise, when we pulled into one near Clare, and I saw these really cool statues near the building.  As tired as I was (and you can tell from the picture below - beat!), something sparked, and I checked my phone.  We found one more Virtual on the way home!  To qualify for the find, you had to either snap your picture with a statue or answer some verification questions.  As it was too dark outside, we snapped our photos with the Supervisor, all snug inside the building!

With TaGeez taking over driving during the last 45 miles of the trip, we rolled in around 2 a.m. - victorious, exhilarated, and downright exhausted.  It truly was the best vacation ever!  Everything just fell perfectly in place. Weather was fabulous; the company was wonderful; Finds on all our must-do caches.  We did everything we hoped to do, and yet we never rushed. Most of all we were able to relax and enjoy every moment with each other.

Our stats for this adventure:
  • 38 finds for TaGeez & 31 for me
  • 9 Virtuals for TaGeez & 6 for me
  • 4 Power Island Caches
  • 4 Jasmer squares
  • 10 Barn Quilts
  • 3 cemeteries
  • 1 Michigan Lost Town
Adding to our experience:
  • 1 Turtle booking it down the highway
  • 1 smiley face water tower
  • Several species of mushrooms
  • 1 brown and white feather
  • Turkeys, bathing Robins, cardinals, blue jays, a woodpecker and an Eagle (PI)
  • 3+1 deer standing in the road and one crashing through the woods
  • 1 cottontail, many cows and many horses
  • 1 giant cement swan and several real swans (OMP)
  • 2 brew pubs
  • 1 wine & chocolate gift basket

Here are links for all the posts in the Road to Traverse City series:

Friday, May 23, 2014

Road to Traverse City: Power Island

Power Island GC35 is the 22nd oldest still-active geocache in the world.  It is a pilgrimage for some who love the life of geocaching.  To reach it, one must cross a bay, climb a mountain, traverse a marsh, and navigate a beach. After much planning, the hour was afoot for our grand adventure to the Island. I thought the best way to describe this portion of the adventure was via my caching logs.

Another TaCat geo-adventure! TaGeez and I are up from the Detroit-area this weekend to grab Power Island GC35 (with Hearty Soles, Tick27 and Rusty&Libby) and Geocache 612 GC36 (for TaGeez).

Although weather predictions were for 70% chance of rain & cloudy conditions, the day was blue and beautiful! The three teams met for the first time at the Clinch Park Marina. Renee & Rebecca from Wisconsin and Rusty & Libby from Grand Rapids. From there, we walked down Dock A to meet the AMAZING Capt. Mike from Ambitious Charters.

Clinch Park Marina - Dock A

Tick27, Libby, Rusty, and Hearty Soles

TaGeez and scrapcat

On the way out to the island, Capt Mike pointed out key features of the bay. There's still ice at the harbor mouth, but here the water was mirror perfect. As we pulled into Power Island, we could see the Winter damage to the main dock.

Approaching Power Island

Power Island through the Ambitious windscreen

Bassett Island Isthmus

Capt Mike, TaGeez, and the Ambitious.
The official dock was destroyed during the harsh winter

Power Island - Lucky #13 GC4M5XG

We had the island to ourselves and 1 hour to find 4 caches. With great optimism, we set off single file. It didn't take too long for this find. It was a lovely stroll through relatively easy terrain that was blanketed by small violet flowers - the smell was amazing! As requested by Capt. Mike, TaGeez replaced the damaged container with one left by the previous finder.

Rusty, Rebecca, Renee, and Libby

These flowers carpeted the entire trail to the first cache
They smelled wonderful

Power Island Weird Tree GC3VW3D

The aerial maps are misleading. It looks like an easy jaunt from Lucky 13 to Weird Tree to Power Island. Nobody really mentioned that big $&%#ing hill along the way! Oh, the stunned realization that the cache was at the top! I had hoped the terrain rating was due to the boat ride... Wrong! The attached picture does not do the steepness justice as I'm taking the picture at an upward angle.

Kudos to the two other teams who made it to the top faster than we did. TaGeez and I were beat by the time we joined them - I never thought I'd catch my breath. That was a heck of a climb, and I'm so proud we are able to sign the log and claim this cache!

This picture is misleading
This sucker was STEEP!

Power Island GC35

You have to appreciate how important this find is to me. I'm terrified of deep water - I can't swim. I'm scared of boats - I've never been on anything smaller than a ferry. I'm horrible at steep inclines - I'm shaped like a dumpling.

Thankfully, we chartered a boat with the AMAZINGLY professional and charming Capt Mike - he's a gem. I can't recommend him enough especially for the anxious boater. And thankfully I had my FABULOUS Love, TaGeez, to hold my hand during the rough spots!

After making that insane climb up the $&%#ing hill to grab Weird Tree, we realized we had to descend the very steep backside to reach the beach far below. I realize now why my hometown friends had recommended grabbing these caches from the water, if you can do a water landing. The descent included leaf-covered branches, steep muddy declines with no handholds, and crossing a muddy wetland on a small wooden bridge. Did I mention the hill was steep?

Upon reaching the beach, it was a few hundred feet over sand and large stones to the find. Last to arrive, we arrived just in time to sign the log, drop a path tag, and take our picture.

It wasn't until later we realized that TaGeez left his favorite, trademark hat behind. RIP

Original Power Island Log

We're official!

scrapcat and TaGeez with the Power Island cache

Power Island Paddler's Cache GC89A2

After finding GC35, we checked our GPSr and Google Earth and realized we could make the last find by skirting the coast - NOBODY wanted to climb back up that hill! It was a half mile as the crow flies across marshy grass and sand, over ankle-breaking rocks and around animal carcasses.  Again, we were last to arrive but in time to sign the log.
Skirting the coast

Gorgeous view of the bay
Look how calm that bay is!

Libby stopping for a smile
Continuing around the shore, we found a set of very steep wooden stairs to ascend. After a half mile or so bushwhacking back to the dock, we met a smiling Capt Mike, who willingly snapped some group photos of the victors!

Rusty and Libby crossing back to the boat

View right before the dock

TaGeez and Capt Mike sharing a laugh

Capt Mike regaling us about past Power Island trips

TaGeez, scrapcat, Libby, Rusty, Tick27, and Hearty Soles
We were quiet but smiling on the peaceful boat ride back to the mainland. Upon the recommendation of Capt Mike, we retired to the new brewpub in town, The Seven Monks, for celebratory drinks and food.

Last view of Power Island in the wake of the boat

TaCat - all smiles!

Waving goodbye to Capt Mike and the Ambitious

And now time to celebrate!
Thank you to Hearty Soles for arranging the charter.  Thank you to Rusty & Libby for making me laugh as we hobbled up and slid down the hills.  Thank you to Tick27 for keeping us on pace.  Thank you to my love, TaGeez, for sharing another memory.  Thank you to Captain Mike for taking my worries away.

Here are links for all the posts in the Road to Traverse City series: