Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bird Hills Cache GC1AB2

Ooh, I've been wanting this one for quite some time!  Bird Hills Cache is an oldie near Ann Arbor.  It's a triple threat: A Jasmer filler (September 2001), a D/T 3/4 4-stage Multi, and a Historic Cache of Washtenaw County. After other plans fell through Sunday morning, TaGeez and I decided we needed to cruise west and have an adventure!

I must admit that I went with a little trepidation.  This was the closest 09/01 cache, and it had MANY DNF's of late.  Later another experienced cacher told me he had driven 2x from Toledo and still never found stage 1.  Another posted a log that it took him 6 tries!

Luckily, we had better luck.  Well, not sure if it's luck.  TaGeez and I are a Hell of a team when it comes to finding tough caches.  We really, really do compliment each other.  My analytic mind and his dogged determination.  Neither of us mind getting dirty and we're very bull-headed -- no cache shall go unfound!

I won't bore you with a play by play.  If you'd like to read it in case you give it a go, you can find my log here. I thought we were in trouble at the very first stage (walking in circles because the GPSr wouldn't settle, lost our pen before we got there), but it turned out to be a fabulously successful mile walk (not kidding - it really was "up hill - both ways!")  The terrain rating fit.

I will share with you the end of my log, though.  I think this is the funniest bit:
Off to the final. This was a vastly different terrain from the first 3 stages. I don't want to give too much away, but it was muddy, wet and buggy. TaGeez hurdled the creek (landing in ankle-deep mud), trying to close the gap of the last 60 feet. I moseyed to the right, hoping I could give him directions from my bank. As I settled on a log my iPhone displayed the final as 10 feet away! A twist of fate that he directed me to the final, visible from his bank!
What a hoot!  After a brief break (it was horribly humid), we tiredly (and doggedly) walked the (very) hilly path a mile back to the car, silly grins on our faces.


We celebrated with the most fabulous dinner at the Blue Tractor BBQ & Brewery on Washington Street (try to smokey BBQ and the mustard-based BBQ sauce - WONDERFUL!). 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Can It Be THE Miguel Cabrera?

On Saturday, TaGeez and I did a fabulous Spirit Quest (SQ) puzzle at Holy Sepluchre Cemetery in Southfield, MI.  It was SQ - The Ghosts of Tigers Past GC5B7QT. It's a 10-stage puzzle where you visit the gravesites of 9 Detroit Tigers (players and owners).  It was well-written and a fabulous tour.

From my log: 
This was the first time in the Holy Sepluchre mausoleum, and the stained glass windows were fabulous! We [TaGeez and I] went down every corridor looking at them.

Afterwards we took our time snapping pictures at each gravesite. We particularly liked the Briggs Mausoleum (with it's Madonna window in back and a fan's Tiger ticket stuck in the grill). Fascinating history here. Each stage was easy to find and many were conveniently close together.

One rewarding stop was the Navin mausoleum. I had read RayQix's fascinating history of the Detroit Tiger's at Michigan and Trumball. I had also seen the tigers at this mausoleum before, but, until today, I never put 2+2 together. Great stop!

This puzzle took several hours, and it was well-deserved it's favorite point.

After updating the log and attaching (the above) picture, I also uploaded this collage to my Instagram account (gracie-bird).  I received several Instagram notifications for "new activity" and decided to check out who visited my pictures.  Do you see the second entry down?

miguel.cabrera24 - 2nd one down

Miguel Cabrera?  What do you think?  Could it really be him?

Can it really be him? Almost 10K followers? Maybe?
How cool would that be?  A Detroit Tiger!  I've decided to believe it is so... ignorance is bliss!

JASMER Dream List

Honestly, I never thought of completing my JASMER grid, but after a series of unrelated events.... It's looking possible!  I see some road trips in our future, TaGeez! Hmmm... It might be time to visit my brother in Kansas City (who lives conveniently within a few miles of Mingo, too!)


Out of curiosity, I created a map in GeoSphere to see what lies ahead.  The highlighted orange pins are my targeted caches - the unhighlighted ones are backups.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Wimpy Mail Time!

Look what showed up in my mailbox!!!! One of the free Wimpy kid Trackables! I requested one months ago, and I'd finally given up hope - woot!

No wonder it took so long - it was sent to Ferndale, CA! I hope the rest of it's time on the road isn't so haphazard!  I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to attach to it and will send it on it's way shortly.

Update: He's been activated!  Woot!

What's the deal with this DOAWK trackable?

When You're In It For The Long Haul, Things Are Bound To Get Lost Along the Way

Help the Heffleys find their lost luggage! Greg, Rodrick, Manny, Mom, and Dad have hit the road, but they've lost a few things along the way. Can you help them find what they're missing?
The Heffleys need your help finding six thousand Wimpy Kid trackables hidden across North America. Each trackable features an item the Heffleys have lost. When you find a Wimpy Kid trackable, use the code to log it and then keep it moving by putting it in another geocache. Make sure you log it to see how far your trackable goes! When you place it in a geocache, others will have a chance to help the Heffleys, too!
You can track the Heffley's belongings via this interactive map.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

We're On A Mission... To Windsor

While exploring Fention, MI about a month ago, we came across a fabulous geocoin with a mission - A Gift of Love for Graunty wants to go to Windsor! It has several failed missions and still hadn't made it. How cool!  I live 9 miles from the Detroit/Windsor border.

Geocoin for Graunty TB5N42K
On this beautiful Saturday (August 9th), TaGeez and I headed over.  In addition to finding a new (temporary) home for Graunty, we thought we'd hunt for some Ontario Spirit Quests and the new Whimsical caches along the pretty parks along the Windsor Riverfront.

First stop: SQ Red Alert GC4XP7N

I've seen this type of monument before but never
a hand holding the anchor!
Categorize as another "Geocaching has taken me to places I've never been before....".  We saw a cache called the Capture of Detroit - 1812 GC3E5PN so we decided we needed to capture their cache!  (We put it back after signing!)

Finally heading to the riverwalk and the mighty Ambassador Bridge.  Very cool cache at the Canadian base called The Ambassador GC4MWD9.

TaGeez and scrapcat

TaGeez making friends again!

While here, we did some Sightering, too.
This was one of the "sights" I captured.

The cache is called Sculpture Garden GC3RCBH
You can see the RenCen in the background!

Aren't they cute?

LOVE the sculpture garden!
After caching and sightseeing under the Ambassador Bridge and in the Sculpture Gardens, we headed a little further East along the Riverwalk for more Whimsical caches.

Fancy bathrooms on the riverwalk

Detroit skyline
We only managed 9 finds, including a home for Gaunty (TB Hotel - I'm Watching You GC45XKE).  It was such a beautiful day in wonderful parks with so many people worthy of people watching!  I guess we'll have to go back for the rest of the caches!

Update: Here's a funny postscript.  At the last cache, the TB Hotel, we found 2 trackables in there.  We swapped Graunty for those TBs.  Upon returning home, we discovered that our friend, June17 (from Michigan, also) had just dropped those same trackables hours before!  We hope they enjoyed their brief stay in Canada!  Maybe we need to take them back...

Friday, August 22, 2014

Perfect Date Night!

Puzzle run, Lego Store and Sy's Thai with TaGeez!

We grabbed all 7 of DarrylW4's Blue Box series! Fun! Are these containers fun! My little buddy enjoyed posing at each cache site!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

No Roaming in Canada For Me!

I live very close to Canada. Sometimes, in my travels, I can be as close as a mile or less from the International border.  Last month while on the Port Huron adventure, I racked up some small roaming charges.  Boy, it adds up fast!

So, before the trip to Windsor, I reached out to my mobile carrier and asked if I could shut off roaming capabilities. I figured I can shut off data service and use the “Caches Offline” feature in GeoSphere for geocaching.  I couldn’t use the Airplane Mode because when I tried that last time the GPS feature on my phone wouldn’t function.

My phone rep said I couldn’t shut off International capabilities through them, but I could turn them off on my iPhone 5.  He walked me through the steps (check with your own carrier or owner’s manual for what works for you).

To shut off Data Roaming (and possibly all Cellular Data):

1. Go to your Settings > Cellular > Data Roaming.  Make sure the toggle is off (no green is showing).


2. For added peace of mind on my trip to Ontario, I also shut off your Cellular Data completely (though remember it when you return from abroad).

You will notice there is no 3G, 4G, or LTE in the upper left corner of the phone.  If you’ve never “roamed before”, you will see “0 bytes” under Current Roaming Period (I had reset this before leaving for the border, and then I kept checking this over and over again while in Windsor to make sure nothing was running).

WARNING! Shutting off “Cellular Data” only shuts off the data portion of your smartphone.  You can still receive (and be charged for) International phone calls or messages.  I spoke to my carrier who said even if you don’t answer the phone you will still be charged (she guessed $1/minute) for the call as it drops into your voicemail!

I did, as a precaution, shut off all messaging on my iPhone.  Under Settings > Messages, I shut off iMessages and MMS Messaging.  I’m not sure if this worked as nobody messaged me in that period.  I’m not sure if it works like a phonecall or like data.  Do I get pinged for each message if my messaging is shut off?  Anyone know?


I guess this post is more of a reminder for me for the next time we head across the border.  If you’re visiting Canada (or Mexico or somewhere else…..) reach out to your carrier for instructions on shutting off your roaming, calls, messages, too.  In this crazy world, I can’t guarantee (and won’t be accountable) if this doesn’t work for you.  Results may vary. My message to you is: BE CAREFUL! READ YOUR MANUAL! CALL YOUR PHONE COMPANY! International charges are expensive unless you opt-in for an International plan.  My phone company offered me several options, but I don’t go over enough to consider them.

GeoGearheads is hosting an episode on Offline Caching on September 4th at 9:10pm via a Google Hangout. I hope maybe I can find some useful tips there for my next offline geocaching adventure.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hau'oli La Hanau, Vi!

Several weeks ago, Frito Bandito reached out to the local caching community asking for a favor.  Would we hide up to 50 cupcakes for his daughter, Hawaii Vi’s, 50th birthday?  Sure thing!  We had volunteers traveling miles to pick these plastic beauties up for today’s release!

As far as Ferndale to Brighton – Milford to Dearborn.  At 8 a.m. this morning, the alarms started chiming that new caches were publishing.  I haven’t heard Vi’s reaction yet (it was a surprise – which is amazing for this gossipy group!), but her Dad said they did manage a few first-to-finds!

Hidden by Captain Obvious

Hidden by Team TopKat and Miss Bella

I managed two, also!  As I pulled into work, my phone went berserk. One was hidden a mile East of work and another a mile and a half to the West.  I just beat June17 for #2.  I messaged TaGeez to let him know I had 2 FTF’s (which included an FTF prize of free cupcakes at a bakery in Livonia) when he messaged me back – he had two FTF’s himself!

Now I’m just sitting here, excitedly waiting to hear who found our four.  The Southeastern Michigan Geocaching Cachers are an amazing bunch of people!

Hau'oli La Hanau, Vi!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Midwest GeoBash 2014 - 10 Years of Goodness!

GeoBash happened over 3 weeks ago, but life when topsy-turvy upon a return so I'm late in logging this awesome adventure!

This pictorial essay picks up where On the Read to GeoBash ended: the arrival and enjoyment at the Fulton County Fairgrounds in Wauseon, Ohio!  This was the 10th Midwest GeoBash, running from July 24th - July 27th.

Although there was some coming and goings due to Scout camp and work, many of the Team Free Range Lobsters "usual suspects" were able to attend.

3inaTree, scrapcat, TaGeez, WikidKriket, SnakeyLicks
Caching Fire around the team banner

My first time camping in 36 years, and it was a hoot!
Couldn't have enjoyed it without TaGeez

This year's Bash included 10
Winter Wonderland-themed LAB caches

Up very early Thursday morning, TaGeez
trying to get Rudolph out of the chimney

Kriket and Fire playing with Trippy's balls

3inaTree and theGrundalows joined in!

Funny how Peppermint Stick stumped so many!

10 for 10 LAB caches!
Friday morning also brings Poker Run!  You take this card to 7 locations around Wauseon and environs.  At each stop you get a sticker for the back of the card.  Return to the fairgrounds by 3pms to see if you have a 'winning poker hand'.  We never do, but we enjoy the adventure.  Because of work, only 3inaTree, scrapcat and TaGeez were able to enjoy this year's excursion.

1st stop: TaGeez and 3inaTree at the Historic Museum

In-laws bonding 

MamaTree made a friend

Lunchtime at Mom's Diner in Archibald

So much to see and good eats!

scrapcat hamming it up!
TaGeez and scrapcat
After each excursion (Poker Run and Treasure Hunt), TaGeez and I would explore the local countryside completing several challenges including the Old Timers of Fulton County (visiting rural cemeteries) and the local Wauseon challenges (found on the Wabash Cannonball Trail).

We weren't expecting donkeys to stare us down at the cemetery

Love the Wabash Cannonball Trail
We spent many peaceful hours there.
Grabbing some caches in town
Late Friday evening brought great or my sister and brother-in-law.   Gang all together, and we grabbed the night cache on Friday and were able to spend most of Saturday up to the closing ceremonies together. 

Traditional banner picture at the front gates

Fire is loving Christmas in July
We ran into many friends on the Midway before the Treasure Hunt.

DarrylW4, Fire, RayQix, GeoBirdie,
WikidKriket and Snakeylicks outside the store

Never met these people before, but they were
new cachers and thrilled to meet Fire

The Geocaching Vlogger met Caching Fire!
His son and DarrylW4 having a good time, too.

TaGeez finding his trackable during the Treasure Hunt at the
Horse Rink. Kriket is digging it out for him.
 Each evening was spent grabbing some of the 30+ geocaches around the Fulton County Fairgrounds.  This run was especially fun as the gang was all together.

There was no cache here, but SnakeyLicks and MamaTree
couldn't resist the traditional climb!
Can't go to GeoBash without a visit to Area 51.  As expected,  we were tripping over friends!

Snakey, TaGeez, RayQix and afishoutawater

A2Queen, Snakey, afishoutawater, and RayQix

TaGeez with A2Queen's Dad
MSU Couple in the house!
We were a little slow-moving, breaking camp Sunday morning.  Even so, WikidKriket and TaGeez were game to grab the last few caches in the wooded area.  The humidity and the skeeters were horrendous!

Kriket and Snakey
TaGeez and I had no set plans for the drive home.  Exhaustion and humidity were a deterrent.  We decided to forgo a list of Virtual caches to save as the basis for next year's adventure.  We did stop at the Swan Creek Candle Company in Swanton, OH. Afterwards, 1 last Virtual and 1 puzzle final.

Virtual - Just Ducky GC9DC1
We rolled into Michigan just as a major thunderstorm hit the Midwest.  As with the whole weekend, timing was everything!

We returned home with major swag, too!  We each had a complete set of event path tags, a lackey's tag, the t-shirt from the Treasure Hunt, the event coin and a MWGB ornament!


The final, unofficial count came out to:
  • 7 Free Range Lobsters
  • 82 caches found including
  • 12 cemetery caches
  • 10 LAB caches
  • 8 challenges completed
  • 8 Virtuals
  • 1 Jasmer filler
  • 1 Night Cache
  • 1 Poker Run
  • 1 Treasure Hunt
We're already making plans for next year!