Friday, February 27, 2015

Winter Can't Keep a Michigan Cacher Down!

RayQix asked if we have enough events to span the next two months - looks like it! And this list isn't complete!

As Carni Grewal said, we Michiganders sure love our events! Yahoo!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

To Boldly Go…(Geo-Art)

Sunday was a bit of a shock for some of our Southeastern Michigan geocachers.  Our phones exploded with new cache notifications!  62 new puzzle caches published near Wayne/Westland.  (I had a greater shock as they published in two of my overlapping notification areas – 124 emails!)

Commander Overlord released his Star Trek To Boldly Go geo-art!  Check-out the first puzzle here: Geo-Art #1

CO is releasing 2 more puzzles to complete this
He said he’s been working on this for 2 years.  Although I’ve already had the pleasure of completing one geo-art, it was exciting to have something so close to home!  And these puzzles were fun – you don’t have to be a Trekkie to enjoy them. 

As they were too far away for an FTF run, I stayed home in my jammies and started solving them at my pleasure.  CO mixed it up – not only does the series span multiple puzzle types, but he used a variety of checkers. For the most part, you had to find the answers to the puzzles, enter them into these specialty checkers to get the coordinates.  It really, really kept things interesting.
And now, if we ever get invaded by Ferengi, I can translate their demands (as long as they use the Ferengi cipher and put it into writing).  How handy is that?

Last night TaGeez and I grabbed the first 20.  We’ve decided rather than rushing to complete this, we would grab them in batches on the way to the monthly I-275 meets.  For the most part, they are very Winter-friendly.  This one even had a bench to sit on!

I’m very excited that our Canadian counterparts are getting into the fun.  The members of the Essex County Geocaching FB group have been posting the status of their solves all week.  If they come over en masse, maybe I’ll host an event at the end of the day to meet some of the locals?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

GSAK Update and Tricks

Pretty cool.

I just updated my GSAK to version  I was a little nervous at first because, after launching, the home screen froze and never opened.  However, a quick reboot fixed the problem.  All my caches, databases, and settings were in place.

Typical nerd – I read the release notes.  Unlike a typical nerd – I only understood half of it. I did find it interesting that it offered (limited) LAB cache support.  With that in mind, I decided to sit down and manually enter my LAB caches in my FOUND database.  Yellowjeeperman said the LAB icon has been available for awhile now, but I felt motivated.

I learned two really neat tricks when manually entering a cache (Menu Waypoint > Add):

After entering your first one, click the Waypoint > Add button again.  There is an option to Clone/Copy the waypoint you have highlighted in your grid.  After clicking that option, tweak your new entry and click OK.  I was able to enter the MWGB LAB caches quickly.

Also, there’s a field called Owner ID to fill in.  Each person who creates an account on is assigned an ID number.  In GSAK, it’s used when running macros so it’s very important to make sure you populate this accurately.  You can get this information two ways (that I know of). 

  • In GSAK, find another geocache hidden by that same Geocacher.  Right-click on the record and select Edit.  You will see the Owner ID populated midway down the screen.

  • If there isn’t another geocache in your database hidden by that same user, go to  Find their Public Profile and click on See the Forum Posts for This User link.   You will navigate to the Forum. Now, look at the URL at the top of your browser.  The last digits in the URL address is the cacher’s User ID.

Pretty nifty, right?


NOTE: I'm not affiliated with GSAK - just a very enthusiastic user.

Mardi Gras Bling!

Very pretty souvenir from LadyB4T's Belated Mardi Gras or Samedi Gras Celebration GC5KR8Y. Look how it changes in the different lighting/different background?!?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Windsor Welcomes Us!

Saturday rolls around, and I was in a quandary.  I wanted to go to the WEC (Windsor, Essex County) Event GC5K4AR, but three sets of travel companions cancelled on me.  I was contemplating going alone when TaGeez suggested I message AstroEricJ.  Eric had posted he planned to ice walk several nearby island caches and had asked if anyone wanted to join him before the meet.  It wasn’t too long until he was on my street (OOPS! I gave him the wrong house number but thankfully had included a photo of the exterior), and we were making the 9-mile drive to the Detroit-Windsor border.

Canadian view of the Ambassador Bridge
Look at the ice on the Detroit River!
The WEC event is a monthly, moving event.  This one happened to be in Windsor at Franco’s Pizzeria on Tecumseh Street.  Hosted by first-time host, jkbailey, it was a fabulous excuse to go on an adventure!  First stop, on the way to the event, was a nearby cemetery SQ – Tread Lightly GC5DM0A.

Nearby Firefighter's Memorial

Guarded by 4 fire hydrants

About this time we were running behind so off to Franco’s for warmth, friendship and laughter!  Great turnout of Americans.  We ran into Trustworthy (Mr., Mrs, and Gucci), Team Gates, Alona Spiegel, the Frito Bandito, RayQix, PaRaDiZ, and Kachehuntr. 

Team Gates and Alona Spiegel

Kachehuntr, PaRaDiZ, RayQix, and Frito Bandito

RayQix and Frito Bandito
All the food looked good.  I regret I didn’t try the salad bar (Mrs. Trustworthy’s salad dressing was like catnip to me).  However, my cheese & pepperoni pizza was Heavenly.  We introduced ourselves to our Canadian counterparts, discovered Trackables, and chatting the afternoon away. 

To top it off, many of us were lucky enough to win door prizes.  This is mine – I’ve named him Windsor TB6RRMG.  He’ll return to Canada this spring with the mission of exploring Canada’s 10 provinces and 3 territories plus neighboring Alaska.

Windsor - Monkeying Around Canada

Afterwards, Eric, Gates, Alona and I grabbed the newest caches that published in the parking lot, and then headed East.  Eric is excellent company. He had a good knowledge of Detroit history, Canada’s views on the new bridge, and the new Windsor construction.  I really enjoyed talking about oldie caches we had found and future trips planned.  I just regret that TaGeez hadn’t been free to join us – I miss my bear.

Several months ago I had posted on Facebook about this cache (3% GC8BFE) that was disabled by a reviewer without (IMHO) cause.  There were no ‘Needs Maintenance’ logs or any issues.  A nearby Cacher, Yeti-at-Large, went out and tidied up the site, but we couldn’t get this oldie (Sept 2002) reactivated.  The Reviewer said the owner had to, but, no matter how we tried to contact him, the owner wasn’t answer.  As a Christmas miracle, a reviewer went in and reactivated it (and then quietly deleted his log so only those of us on the watchlist saw his message).  Since we were in Ontario, our group decided we needed to go out to claim this in case history repeated itself.

Beautiful walk on the snowy path.  Fun stepping off the trail and into knee-deep fluffy snow.  I was the first to point it out with Gates doing the honors.  I felt safe enough to drop 3 geocoins to continue their journey.  We attempted another in the same park, but to no avail.  The snow was just too high.

Team Gates with the prize in hand

Alona, AstroEricJ, and Gates
After dropping off Gates and Alona (we will see them later in Michigan at the Belated Mardi Gras event GC5KR8Y), Eric and I headed west. 

Local landmark - the Canada House

The Capture of Detroit monument

We visited a neat salt mine (Windsor’s Halite GC11YCJ) on the Detroit River, and then headed down to the Ambassador Bridge.  

The salt mine - see the salt cave to the left?

Salt elevator behind me - my log picture

I was excited to see the ice-locked river and the snow-packed park while Eric grabbed some caches I already had.

At the Windsor Sculpture Gardens

Detroit River on the Left
Ren Cen in the background
Windsor Sculpture Park to the right

View from Canada

See the Boblo Island sign?
Stunning, isn’t it?  Yet the sun kept sneaking behind the clouds and the cold was sinking into our bones.  Time to head back across the border for tonight’s adventure.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Geocaching and Scouting - An Unbeatable Pair

Congratulations to 3inaTree (Jeremy, Robyn and Andrew) on your 1,000th find and your 1st cache!

To help Andrew and other Scouts earn their Geocaching merit badges, 3inaTree hosted the Taco Tuesday - Geocaching Merit Badge event GC5JP95 this past Tuesday.

With the awesome help of Merit Badge Counselor srstuart, one Scout completed his merit badge requirements and several more are closer to completing theirs.

A special thank you to TaGeez for hiding a nearby Letterbox (On My Honor GC5KN37) as a first-to-find reward for all attendees.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Lake Frances Lighthouse GC5MV6B


Okay, it’s not a very big lake, but I did it!  In -11° weather! How crazy is that?!?

I saw this publish late Sunday night. 

With the following as a cache description:
scrapcat, consider this our formal Thank You for placing You Might Be A Geocacher If… #6 (TheGrundalows) (GC575TH). It should have a little bit of everything you love (minus TaGeez, but feel to drag bring him along): a mystery cache in a nice park, in Detroit, centered around quintessential city landmarks - with a Grundalows touch.
Lake Frances - Source: Unknown

It was after dark and bitter cold – the park was already closed.  But it ate at me…. Because Ben knows how to push my buttons.  A puzzle.  In a nice park. Near a dear piece of Detroit Golden Age history. Just down the street from me. A possible FTF and a D/T grid filler. Ah, there’s the rub! Even before solving it, I knew the challenge that had been placed before me.  I could just imagine the Cheshire grin when he hid the cache.

Lake Frances Lighthouse

Monday wasn’t possible – TaGeez made me promise I wouldn’t attempt it without him.
Tuesday was out – my brother and his family were hosting their first event.
Wednesday was out, also – we would be on the other side of town for RayQix’s birthday event.
Thursday?  Impossible.  It’s supposed to be the coldest day of the year, breaking records.
Friday? It’s supposed to be colder.
Saturday is the events in Windsor and Southfield.

So I watched this and bided my time.  TaGeez had a good chuckle as he watched me searching for the history of the lighthouse, the lake.

Actually, I knew quite a bit about the Palmer cabin and the Palmer Park Merrill fountain. 

Merrill Fountain in Winter
I did my reading when I visited both in 2011 right after taking up geocaching.  I was trying to figure out the differences between a geocache, a waymark, waymarking, and benchmarks.  I am surprised how little there is about the Lake Frances Lighthouse.

A man-made lake dotted with small islands and anchored by a miniature red-and-white lighthouse that was once lit with an oil lamp.  During the home’s heyday, (the lighthouse) could be accessed via a small flight of stairs. It was created at Senator Palmer's behest and named for his mother-in-law.  Palmer once observed that Lake Frances was ‘a perfect breeding ground for goldfish,’ and children used to feed them with bread crumbs – and sometimes fish for them.  These days a blue heron, some turtles, and a couple families of ducks call the little lake home.

So today rolls around, bitter cold, and I’m home sick.  I suffered a severe allergy attack, and this was the first time I’ve ever called out of work for allergies.  Late this afternoon the pills finally took effect so TaGeez asked me if I wanted to grab my cache-a-day.  The stipulation was that it had to be somewhere close as Detroit broke a record for winter low temps.  No sense in endangering ourselves to reach my 3-year milestone, right?

So, before I knew it, we were at the parking coordinates.  Technically, this is one of my closest unfound caches.  We were here just to take a look – to scout it out for a warmer weekend day.  Just a look. I promise.  I couldn’t imagine crossing the ice-locked lake – frozen or not, I have a fear of water.  But the cold air felt good against my raw eyes, and the sun came out.  So close. Right there.  Still unfound.  But it was that darn lighthouse!  I wanted to see it a little closer. But walk on the lake?  TaGeez watched my face, waiting for the inevitable.  He was waiting for me to come to the decision he knew I would make. He knows when it comes to history and photography I can pretty much talk myself into anything (look at last year’s Power Island trip).

How about just a look? We don’t have to cross over.  With all the foliage dormant, I should be able to see the lighthouse clearly.  Come on!  We’ll just walk up the path and snap a few pictures.  We’ll come back later, right? 

TaGeez is a very, very patient man.

TaGeez on the steps leading into the lake

We trudged through knee-high snow, the cold not as bitter as expected, but each footstep exhausting.  Silently, without acknowledgement, TaGeez veered towards the steps and onto the ice.  I only hesitated once – not out of fear but because I had to feel out the steps buried beneath the snow.  He walked across and I followed, a huge grin on my face.  What an awesome view of that little lighthouse!  I’m not sure I actually set foot on the island – I was too focused on skirting the protruding branches to get a closer look and take some pictures.

Lake Frances Lighthouse

Palmer Cabin
And I snapped merrily away until my phone shut down due to extreme temperatures and TaGeez was standing next to me, telling me he signed a clean log.  With a promise that we would come back this weekend when my camera could function in this weather, we returned home after this awesome adventure!

I did it!

Shared {FTF} with TaGeez – Favorite point for location and experience!  Thank you to TheGrundalows for such a fabulous all-around experience!  

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Out of this World Puzzles!

I was a military wife for almost 12 years, and they were fabulous years.  The separation when he was deployed was painful, but I filled my time exploring wherever we were.  With 10 moves in 10 years, I had a lot to explore.  (Darn shame that geocaching wasn’t around then!) I think that’s why I love geocaching so much…. It sounds like a cliché, but it really does take you places you’ve never been before.

I think it’s my years wandering around the States that feed my love for the Where in the World? puzzle series.  Have I mentioned I love puzzles? 

This series, the brainchild of mmc881, posts pictures from around the world.  To add a degree of difficulty, he slightly distorts the picture so you can’t use Google Goggle or  He makes you think – in some instances, I never did find the original picture online but had to imagine the structure from another angle (like the one below.  I lived near here for almost 3 years, but tourists don’t normally see this structure from this angle.  I’m embarrassed how long it took me to crack this one).

Where in the World? (pt.XXXI) GC5MWC3
You have to locate the actual site, find it’s Wikipedia coordinates, and search for nearby caches.  Somewhere, on one of these caches, you will find the final coordinates to your puzzle.  Note: I’m not giving anything away.  This is all in his write-up.

So far I’ve solved 31 of them with 18 already found.  TaGeez and I will take another Where in the World? adventure this spring to grab the latest ones.  Last year’s was a hoot!  An all-day adventure that took us from Ferndale > Ortonville (and the pet cemetery) > Holly > Fenton >Milford > Ferndale. 

Did you see what crazy thing we found in one of the cemetery caches?

We came across several historic cemeteries, several Art/Founders festivals, and an amazing dinner at Lucky’s Steakhouse.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Who brought the pen? FTF Fever

Last night was pretty exciting.  Sometime after 6 p.m. my phone went wild with new releases notifications. Steve and I had received several messages asking if we were going for the Traditionals, but we were settled in for the night.

In addition, two new Puzzles/Unknowns published last night.  

The latest in the Puzzle Caching 101 series (this one by BSW2010) released in the Warren area. SOS Style explains puzzles that are "solved on site".  It was a good explanation using one of the historic residences as the "site".  I found it funny because I didn't solve it "on site" - I solved it in the warm, comfiness of my pajamas in my living room.  Wondering if anyone is going to tell the newbies about!

The second one was put out by TheGrundalows as a thank you to me for helping them finally earn their February FTF. It's called Lake Frances Lighthouse
scrapcat, consider this our formal Thank You for placing You Might Be A Geocacher If… #6 (TheGrundalows) (GC575TH). It should have a little bit of everything you love (minus TaGeez, but feel to drag bring him along): a mystery cache in a nice park, in Detroit, centered around quintessential city landmarks - with a Grundalows touch. 
I solved it quickly enough. But this D/T 1.5/5 cache involves an ice walk in subzero weather.  I can't wait to visit the lighthouse, though.  This winter has been missing an adventure.

As the weather is currently -11 degrees F, I think settling in with my How To Puzzle Cache book might be the ticket.

Happy Caching!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Flat Packs - Also a Michigan Thing!

It’s a Michigan thing! Like PBN’s – we’re in inventive crowd.  If it’s said on a podcast, it must be true!

I was trying to explain “flat packs” to somebody outside of Michigan. Made using small resealable plastic bags (like the pill bags), duct tape and (optional) strong magnets, they are great for concealing behind signs, under power boxes or inside guard rails.

Inexpensive and quick to mass produce.  Easy to feel when reaching blindly but not thick enough to draw anybody’s attention.  I’ve seen them as small as 1”x1” and concealed in the cracks of a utility pole (often with a little hanger attached to grab it with).  I’ve seen them as large as 6”x8” and magnetized behind a green power box.

And with the plethora of duct tape colors and textures, they camo pretty well with their surroundings.

Pick an appropriate sized magnet to suit your bag size

Here is your winter tip (thank you, Mr. RayQix): After signing the log and sealing the bag tightly, replace the pack with the opening hanging upside down.  This is added protection from melting snow or drizzling rain from seeping in.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Winter Tip: Thank you, Mr. SmartyPants!

Still winter streaking – less than 3 weeks away from my 3-year anniversary of cache-a-days (CaDs).  I had mentioned previously that if I’m desperate for a winter-friendly cache I will check out the recent finds of other streakers to see what they’ve grabbed.  Their logs are pretty informative. The problem with that is if they’ve streaked for awhile, they’re hunting further and further afield so their finds might not be in my area.

GeoDog Gucci was dressed for the weather
SE MiGO Event 02/11/14

One way to overcome the “winter struggles” is to attend events.  First, for the smiley.  And, secondly, for a slap to the side of the head.  You experience the latter when someone makes a common-sense suggestion, and you realize you should’ve thought of that.  But sometimes old dogs get set in their ways……

I was sitting across from Ben of TheGrundalows (note the capitol T – see?  I can learn a new trick!)  We were talking about our recent escapades of caching in Michigan’s winter.  On the plus side, recently-visited caches will have footprints leading you right to the find.  On the down side, the footprints are normally in several feet of snow.

He said one of the tools he uses in planning for his grid-filler is by running a pocket query.  Ok, this made me curious – I run them all the time.  However, when you do something over and over, using the same defaults, you sometimes forget your options.

Ben will run a query of caches found within the last 7 days – our last major snowstorm was 12 days ago.  AHA! Lightbulb!

Section of the Pocket Query form

No need to stalk other streakers – I can let the system do the filtering.  And let’s not forget the handy terrain, type and distance filters.  Wow.  It’s all right there.  Maybe that’s an advantage to the recent changes to the website – I have to re-learn it each time.

This handy right now – today’s “feel like” is -7° with wind gusts up to 20-30 mph with chance of snow.  Time to earn my geocaching hat again.