Thursday, April 30, 2015

R U Firesafe?

Imagine my joy when I received a message from my Australian buddy, Firesafe, that he was thinking of stopping by Detroit during his whirlwind visit to the States in April! Sure! Come on!  I have so much to show you!  DarrylW4 and I met Firesafe last year when we visited Chicago for the sendoff of the Chicago Geocaching podcast. We had said, "If you are ever in the neighborhood..."

Saturday started with the annual Spring CITO on Belle Isle.  Sure, Firesafe had only been in town less than an hour, but nothing says WELCOME TO MICHIGAN! like cleaning it up!  First stop - CITO souvenir earned!

Belle Isle CITO crew

Mosaics along the Detroit River
Afterwards, we headed downtown to grab some caches and then some grub at Green Dot Stables.  Too bad the weather was so overcast.

The Gateway to Freedom Virtual GCJH56

Heading back up Woodward, the sun finally came out, and we detoured to Woodlawn Cemetery for my wherigo.  Imagine our surprise running into BSW2010, Alona Spiegel, TeamGates and ProBob with the same idea!

SQ- Wandering Historic Woodlawn GC5C08W
BSW2010, TeamGates, Alona Spiegel, Firesafe, DarrylW4
BSW shouldn't have been caching.  He had his own CITO event that he was late for in Warren.  After another park cleanup (especially all that pesky geo-litter found every 528 ft apart) 15 or so of us piled into cars for the new Midnight Rider's cache.  How many cachers does it take to crack a monkey puzzle?  Oh, 15 or so.

Puzzler26's A-Maze-ing Nightmare GC5HJCC
Sunday found TaGeez joining our ranks.  As well as Firesafe's event, we were targeting Puzzler26 caches. Time to show off the local talent.  

But first... a stop in a cemetery.  And another. And another.  I'm sure Firesafe's wife was getting worried because EVERY photo had some type of headstone in it.  No fear! He made it home safe!

SQ- Clover Hill Park Cemetery Earthcache GC3KE10 with TaGeez

The Hobby We Enjoy (Presidential #20) GC40T2Q
Firesafe, TaGeez and DarrylW4
 One thing I have to give Firesafe kudos over was his willingness to try to local cuisine. After topping off a coney dog at National, he moved onto the local favorite, a Hani.

Experiencing the joy of the local cuisine
National Coney Island - Main Street

After a few more Presidential caches, off to the event we go!  It was an evening of good food, good fun, and Vegemite!

R U Firesafe? GC5PH3B

Obligatory picture with Caching Fire

Yep, a typical evening for this crowd!

Just a portion of those that showed!
 Apparently, we didn't scare him off.  I met Firesafe Monday morning for another geocache tour of Detroit.  There were so many things Darryl missed!

{GHQ} Heidelberg Redux GC2GA9Y

Firefighter Memorial at Elmwood Cemetery

Masonic Limestone of Detroit Earthcache GC3KM1D

Share Your Candy GC4T88Q
It was nice spending time with you, Firesafe. I hope you have some fond memories of the people you met and places we explored!

Friday, April 24, 2015

La Vida Geocaching!

Hey, I have to share.  Did you see the really cool FTF prize I won this week?

Bright and early Sunday morning TaGeez and I received a new cache notification.  The cache was 7/10ths of a mile from home (and truly just up the road).  We headed over for a bright and shiny smiley to start our day. Imagine our surprise when we arrived home to receive an email from the CO which basically said, "Did you miss the FTF prize?"

YES! Yes, we had!  The cache was a skirtlifter called Live the Life GC5RPM1, outside LaVida Massage in Ferndale. When we lifted the lightpost lid, the container had rolled out and away.  We never lifted the lid all the way - even returning the container we just lifted it enough to tuck it back into place because the container was too large for the hide spot.

Before heading out for the CITO weekend, I made the trek back to the site for our prize.  It was kinda weird and kinda funny to walk up to the lamp post and see someone snapping pictures of me from a nearby storefront.  Mrs. GeoTrekTrio works at LaVida and her boss had supplied the FTF prize!  I must've been a sight in my ragged hoody, geoaching pants, and muck boots (remember, I was heading out to clean some parks).  

Thank you to the GeoTrekTrio and LaVida Massage for a great way to start my weekend!  Boy, after cleaning those two parks, I REALLY needed a massage!

CITO Fever in Michigan

Oh, my.  Southeastern Michigan Geocachers sure do like their events.  We have 6 CITO's scheduled in the very immediate area (plus a few more if you are willing to drive).  But kudos to those that came out last weekend to lend a helping hand with only a promise of a smiley and no souvenir.

CITO at Dorais Park GC5NGQ8

Dorais Park is home to one of the Dorais Park Velodrome.  "Built near an urban hill known for soap box derbies, the Dorais Park Velodrome was home to decades of bicycling champions before it was lost to neglect.  Then, in 2010, a group of renegade mowers found it again."

Our mission this past Saturday was to clean up this forgotten park so the Detroit Mower Gang could come in and cut the long grass after the Winter.  The Detroit Mower Gang is a group of crazy yet wonderful volunteers on lawnmowers who visit park to park in the boundaries of Detroit so the communities have a place to gather and play.

Biggest hauls of the day was an abandoned Skidoo, a large mattress, and enough parts to almost make a car.

Spring Pool Party 2015 GC5M8F9

Several hours and 34 miles away is the Park and Ride in Milford.  I believe the South Lyon Trekkers were the first people to ever contact M-DOT to adopt a P&R.  Several times a year cachers congregate in the lot for a cleanup and then head towards downtown Milford for Dairy Queen.

Largest hauls were the multitude of dumped tractor trailer tires and many abandoned truck parts.

I can't wait to see what this weekend brings!  Remember to attend a CITO from April 24th - April 27th to earn the latest souvenir.  I'll post some pictures from Belle Isle!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

My Heart Broke a Little Today

Email from Groundspeak:

Effective April 21, 2015, a one-year moratorium is in place on all new challenge cache submissions. It does not impact previously published challenge cache listings. 

For more information about the pause, see the Help Center article ( 

Challenges are my favorite part of geocaching - I'm the owner of 7 of them. I had one more really tough one in the works - just 1 qualifier short of publishing it!

Bummer that this means no new challenges at Midwest GeoBash.

I think YellowJeeperman said it best: "This could either be really good or really bad."

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Live The Life!

Woot! FTF within minutes of publication! It was truly "just down the road from me"!

Coolest part? Awesome spa gift set as an FTF prize! We were so focused on retrieving the cache and hoping for a blank log that we missed it! Luckily, Mrs GeoTrekTrio emailed us, and I returned before an STF showed.

Thank you, TheGeoTrekTrio and LaVida Massage, for a wonderful start to our Sunday!

Friday, April 17, 2015


This is Hoodwinked GC5RN9W
It's a nano in the grass.
I didn't find it. No surprise.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The FTF that was after all!

Ooh! I have a follow-up to The FTF that wasn't!
So I wrote that log draft on Monday at the time the cache was actually published.  I knew there was no chance for an FTF run as my car was in the shop, and I was 19 miles away. I did put it on my watchlist to see who would be FTF-after-publication.
Life happened.  I finished work, drove to the shop & argued with the mechanic, went to a relaxing dinner with Dad, and then returned to pick up my car.  Checking my email there were no FTF logs. Nada.  Could it really be up for grabs? It was still 6 miles away, in rush hour traffic.
Ok. Fair game.  I need a cache-a-day and, four hours after publication, this was still sitting out there.
Arriving at the park I looked around to see if anyone was running the Wherigo cartridge.  If so, I'd wait, and we'd share the find.  The park was empty.  I grabbed the cache and checked the log – still blank.  I even waited an extra 15 minutes – still no one arrived.  
Nobody could claim I wasn't fair.  Four hours after publication and thirty hoursafter we originally found it, I signed the blank log, adding TaGeez's name as he was on the original adventure.
According to, this was my 275th first-to-find and FTF's comprise ofalmost 5% of my finds. Sometimes it is about the numbers AND the adventure!

Monday, April 13, 2015

The FTF that wasn't (sort of)

I guess my log says it all:

Sunday dawned and TaGeez & I decided to head to Normandy Park for our monthly Wherigo.  As I had to reset my phone recently, the cartridge was gone so I had to re-dowload it.  Lo and behold!  I spotted an unfamiliar Wherigo on the site called CL World Trail GC5R2VT. Sweet!  And the cache was unpublished!  Woot!

As we were heading that way, TaGeez and I decided to stop by and see if we could find the cache.  It was 64˚ and beautiful out! Lovely day for a walk.  It didn't take long to make it through the stages (and even grabbing the new cache Merica GC5JD60 in the same park!).  At exactly 12 pm, we had the cache in hand and messaged the CO with the attached picture.

Per the CO's request, we left the FTF slot blank so the first person after publication could claim the bragging rights.  We told the CO, however, that we added a ❤️ to the paper log as our signature so we wouldn't have drive all the way back here just to find it and sign it again. 

I'm geeked that I spotted the cartridge and made the find, but bummed I'm out the FTF run (car is in the shop undergoing $300 in unwarranted repairs). It's been a sucky month.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Don't Leave Stick With It

First to find!  That's a great surprise!  

Running errands after work with TaGeez, we decided to stop for a cache called Don't Leave Stick With It GC5QJVN because it was the only cache between Point A and Point B that we didn't have.  Published the night before, we were very surprised to find a blank log!  Why are we so shocked?  This cache was released the same night as a nearby event about 3/10th of a mile away – everyone must've gone home already.

According to, my first-to-find rate is 4.99% of my total finds, and I'm averaging one every 5.2 days.  That should change soon as I have two more under my belt since the last weekly update.

God Bless the active hiders in southeastern Michigan!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Village of Manchester

Ah, to be on the road again.

Just a short journey.  I've been watching a certain local Virtual that is in danger of being archived.  The object in the write-up, although easy to spot onsite, has been moved around 300 ft from it's original location. I think the reviewer has been more than generous in his warnings that the cache page needs to be updated, but, as of yet, the owner (although still active) has not updated the coordinates.

Kinda hard to miss it, right?
As a result, many of the Southeastern Geocachers have been making excursions to the Village of Manchester, southwest of Ann Arbor, to claim it before it disappears.

Although not a long journey, I was really looking forward to getting out with TaGeez.  The winter had been long and Friday morning's tax appointment was dragging.  At 2 o'clock, I pulled up to his work, pushed him into the car, and took off.  It is a sign of trust that in the 8.5 hours I had "kidnapped" him, TaGeez never asked once where we were going.

We started off by finding a JASMER filler.  TaGeez has now completed his grid from January 2001 to present!

Stush's Smallmouth Spot GCMJ1G
Posted January 2005
And then off to find a puzzle final in a nature center.  The grounds crew told us to follow the trail back "that way" until we reach the bridge.  We were expecting something a little more imposing.

Washtenaw Community College
And then after a nerve wracking detour, we finally made it to the Village of Manchester for some Virtuals, a water tower puzzle and many cemetery caches.

Camo GC92F3 - Virtual Cache
 Lovely stop at Oak Grove Cemetery in the Village of Manchester
Anybody home?  Just checking

In Memory of our Soldiers GC92FC - Virtual Cache

TaGeez working on a Cemetery Sleuth puzzle.
The final was a few feet above where we parked the car!

We headed North and made a stop at Salem Church

Sneaky one, right?
scrapcat for the find!

AA5150 Benchmark - across the road from the church
#PSNoBoundaries - benchmark with our NCEES TB's

AA5150 - last found 5 years ago!
 After an overcast, muddy day, we started towards Ann Arbor but the cemeteries kept jumping out at us.

A Very Old Resting Place GC1ZT1B

SQ Lodi Cemetery GC49DJN
 Ah!  Just what we needed! BBQ burgers and root beer in Ann Arbor.

And, just out the back door, another final virtual.  Last found 4 years ago!

NE0696 - on the county courthouse
After a short stop at Cherry Republic and another cache, time to head home!  It was a nice excursion with Virtuals, geocaches, benchmarks and waymarks.  A well rounded day!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Washknight's Interrogation: The Truth About Scrapcat

Why do I write?  A well-known podcaster once said that blogging is for people not talented enough to broadcast.  I don’t agree with that.  For me, blogging is for people who enjoy the visual as well as the written.  Although I write so others will share my journey, sometimes I’m still pleasantly surprised when my journeys are noticed.

Take the wonderful email I received last week – no April Fool’s joke.  I made it on Washknight’s geocaching blogroll 
“Geocaching adventures in the Great Lakes”Elisa a.k.a. Scrapcat lives and caches in southeast Michigan in the USA. She was introduced to caching by her brother on a visit to the Zoo one day back in 2011. She has many interesting, funny and informative stories to tell and they are all laid out beautifully on her blog. In November 2014 she celebrated her 5000th cache on the 1000th day of a caching streak and as of March 2015 it doesn’t look like she will be breaking that streak anytime soon.
I first heard about Washknight over a year ago when Sunny of Podcacher read his ‘Twas the Cache Before Christmas on air.  What a hoot!  Check it out! And then later when Chasing Smilies answered his 20 questions. And now Washknight (Paul) asked me to take my turn!

1. When and how did you first get into geocaching?

Ah, competition.  Little brother, a Scout leader, was going to show his Big Sis a thing or two about this new thing called “geocaching”.  It was May 28, 2011 – a sunny and glorious day at the Detroit Zoological Gardens.

2. Do you remember your first find?

At the front of the zoo was this ENORMOUS tree – has been there for decades. It is so large that it’s lush, drooping boughs could conceal several picnic tables. The limbs were so laden with leaves they sagged down to the ground. I was there with 3inaTree (Papa, Mama and Little Tree) and WikidKriket, looking for Knoll Central GC2VXHC.  After going around and around the trunk, Papa Tree was determined to find the cache so we could see a typical container (and I was determined to find it before him)
“What are we looking for?”“Something out of place,” he answered.“Like that?”

Yep, my first find was a green bison in a leafy tree, and I was hooked.

3. What device(s) do you use for locating caches?

In the city, it’s my iPhone 5 with my trusty Geosphere app (using the official Groundspeak app as backup).  Once in the woods, I sport both a Magellan Explorist GC and my Garmin Oregon 450T.  No one device is perfect in every situation, and the more toys the better.

4. Where do you live and what is your local area like for geocaching? 

I’m a proud member of the Southeastern Michigan Geocaching group and the Michigan Geocaching Organization (MiGO).  Within a 10-mile radius of my house is over 2,300 caches!  Every year on New Year’s Day, local cachers place between 300-350 brand new caches.  And two miles from home is the center of a 40-mile 210+ cache power trail, skirting the incredible city of Detroit. If it wasn’t for this talented and active group of local cachers, I wouldn’t be on my 1,131st day of streaking.

5. What has been your most memorable geocache to date, and why?

Power Island GC35 (Placed July 2000)  It was the most exciting and scariest adventure of my life.  I’m terrified of water, bridges, docks, boats. I can’t swim.  But the darn thing is in the middle of Grand Traverse Bay and there was only one way to get there!  I remember shaking so hard I could barely walk down the pier towards the charter.  Seeing the gap between the pier and the boat.  Feeling the boat dip under me as I climbed aboard.  My only other boat ride was a rowboat with my big brother, Jim, near the Huron shore, when I was 8 years old.  Thankfully Captain Mike let me sit up front with him for a calmer ride.  But the sheer enormity of the expanse of water before and under me. Arriving at the storm-mangled dock.  Climbing out of the boat on shaky legs.  And then the hike. 

TaGeez and I hadn't looked at topographical maps first.  The center of the island was too steep to be called a hill – too confined to be a mountain.  TaGeez and I hadn’t lost our winter weight, and it was a struggle.  I was determined not to cry as we ascended, fearful that after conquering all those demons to get here I didn’t have enough strength to crest the top.  We couldn’t afford to make this trip again, financially or emotionally.  This was our one shot at this oldie.

At the top we discovered we had to descend the other side – steeper, rockier, more dangerous.  Leaves covering branches concealing tenuous footholds.  Other branches jutting upright, perfect for impalement. My fear of heights is almost as overwhelming as my fear of water. I didn’t used to be afraid.  That came later, as an adult, after I’d been knocked down a few times.  Inching down the steep backside of the mound, not looking down and with no handholds or trails to rely on.  Believing that if all else fails I can land on TaGeez (happy thought!).  And then, finally, sandy beach.  The others had reached the cache first and had already signed.  They handed it off to me, and I stood there, stunned at the enormity of what I accomplished.  What I overcame. I was numb.

Power Island GC35 - July 2000 
On the ride back, I was Indiana Jones!  Lara CroftJames Bond!  Fearless!  Victorious!  Emanating the most amazing feeling of pride and satisfaction (that lasted until I had to step back onto that shaky pier again).

6. List 3 essential things you take on a geocaching adventure excluding GPS, pen and swaps.

My camera (iPhone) to peer into dark tree holes.  My Wellies (because there is always water and muck).  My lists (can't risk missing a cemetery, a Virtual or a webcam).

7. Other than geocaches and their contents, what is the weirdest thing you have discovered whilst out caching?

Technically, it’s “content” but the animal skull in the cache located in a pet cemetery was pretty memorable.

8. On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is 'I am obsessed by numbers' and 10 is 'I am all about the experience and the quality of each individual cache'. Where do you put yourself?

I’m a 5.  My blog attests to some amazing adventures (have you seen my recent Temple of Tolerance post?) but if you offer me a power trail, I’m on it before the car stops!

9. Describe one incident that best demonstrates the level of your geocaching obsession.

Oh, I think the Power Island trip above just might take the cake.  Or is the 3-year cache-a-day streak?  You choose.

10. Have you picked up any caching injuries along the way?

Never cache in flip flops.  I’m just saying.

11. What annoys you most about other geocachers?

People who instantly reply negatively to everything.  If you can't solve a puzzle cache or use a smartphone, then don't.  You have other options. Nobody is making you. But don't give me guff because you aren't willing to try new things.  Move along.  Life is too short. 

12. What is the dumbest thing you have done whilst out caching?

Ok, this is a toss-up between almost getting buried alive in a cemetery or getting stuck in knee-deep muck while caching alone in a Massassauga rattlesnakes' habitat.  I’m sensing a theme here.

13. What do your non-caching family and friends think of your hobby?

3inaTree, scrapcat, TaGeez, WikidKriket and SnakeyLicks
Luckily, most of my family caches (under the team name of Free Range Lobsters).  As for the rest of them, I think they’re used to me doing my own thing.

14. What is your default excuse you give to muggles who ask what you are up to or if you need help?

I’m honest.  I tell them I’m on a scavenger hunt.  If they give pause, then I go into the 30-second elevator speech. I'm not going to lie in case someone calls the police.  One story and I stick to it.

15. What is your current geocaching goal, if you have one?

I’m four caches shy of completing my JASMER grid (July, October, November, and December of 2000).  There is a chance I can grab 2 of these in June, but I would LOVE to complete my grid during the 15th anniversary year of Geocaching.

16. Do you have a nemesis cache that, despite multiple attempts, you have been unable to find?

At the moment I’m nemesis-free unless you count all the tree-climbing caches I wistfully desire. This dumpling can’t get that far off the ground!

17. What 3 words or phrases best sum up what geocaching means to you.

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts." ~ Mark Twain 

Geocaching has taken me to so many wondrous places and has enriched my life with so many fabulous friends.

18. What prompted you to start blogging about geocaching?

Long Michigan winters.  I wanted a way to look back at trips to remind myself that another adventure is just around the corner.

19. Which of your own blog entries are you most proud of.

Upon hitting my milestone of 1,000 days of consecutive caching, I wrote a post about Tips for Successful Streaking.  I was hoping FTF Magazine would use it, but it wasn’t even worthy of a rejection letter.  For fascinating photos, you can’t beat This is OUR Detroit! – a photo array of Detroit’s urban art scene.

20. Which other geocaching blogs do you enjoy reading?

As much as I enjoy the big blogs and the many podcasts, I like to read the posts shared by the local cachers in our community (like Alona Spiegal and Wilbury Travels).  It’s fun reading their take on some of the caches and locations I’m familiar with.

Bonus Question #21.  How did you choose your geocaching name?

This question fascinates me, and I seem to ask it everywhere I go.  People have the most interesting tales about it.  I'm scrapcat.  I'm a scrap quilter with two wonderful cats, Oscar and Ginger.  So, how did you get you name?


Thank you to Washknight for asking me to participate.  
If you get a chance, check out the other blogs on Washknight's blogroll.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Detroit/Belle Isle Year X GC5JDGR

Spring!  Spring is here!  Or so the calendar says.  Mother Nature has a sense of humor.  These were my thoughts as TaGeez and I were heading out to the Belle Isle X event, fresh snow encircling my car.  But luckily, although cold, we had a beautiful day for an event!

This is the tenth annual event, hosted by the Belle Isle Cachers (Rattrak, Brummelbear, and Team Rumble), located on Michigan's newest State Park.  The isle is a wonder - beautiful views, historical buildings designed by famed Albert Kahn, with new walking paths recently added by the state. It has a multitude of terrains: large, glacial boulders sitting precariously over the fast-moving river, wooded nature trails, wetlands, lakes, and golf courses.

Windsor (L) - Ambassador Bridge - Detroit (R)
And a nice variety of caches: 7 Puzzles, 7 Multis, 1 Letterbox, and 30 Traditionals.  For those who didn't finish last year, for one day only both the 45 old and 45 new caches are available.  This year's cache theme was car company's located in Detroit (not including the "Big 3").

In addition to several hundred of our friends from Michigan, Ontario, Ohio, and afar, were members of Team Free Range Lobsters (scrapcat, TaGeez, WikidKriket, and 3inaTree).  Team FRL won 3 chances as FTF during the raffle, but, alas, as they were so far apart, we happily grabbed #17 and called it a victory.

Yes, it was above my head. Yes, almost missed it.
#17 - FTF!
We decided to start on the Eastern peninsula accompanied by Mrs YellowJeeperman.  Can you see the mini icebergs behind her?  Much of the ice has melted, but you could still see large chunks floating by.

Mrs YellowJeeperman

TaGeez found a cool place to hang out

Mrs 3inaTree with WikidKriket
Good thing we weren't on a numbers run.  So much jocularity and very little searching, but we made clean work of the peninsula.

Team Free Range Lobsters:
WikidKriket, TaGeez, scrapcat, and 3inaTree

Can you believe Jen signed on for this?
Ok, there's a story behind this.  Have you seen these pictures in the past?  TaGeez and WikidKriket were trying to scare me by shaking the bridge.  Uh, guys?  I'm not on the bridge. Who do you think is taking the picture?

WikidKriket and TaGeez

New peninsula bridge
Can you see the ice sheets in the bay?

And... um... what are you doing?

The boys looking on in disbelief

Good shot of 3inaTree

Mrs. YellowJeeperman, Kriket and 3inaTree
Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse (the only all-marble lighthouse
in North America) in the background
Lunch was an enjoyable potluck, hosted by the Belle Isle Cachers.  Leo (Brummelbear) manned the grill - nothing tastier that warm hot dogs cooked by someone else on a biting cold day.

Afterwards, Team FRL headed off to Albert Kahn's Casino for a nice puzzle cache.  This is not a modern, Detroit casino - no gambling here.  It's the antiquated term for gathering place.

The new Shinola timepiece in front of the Casino

Puzzle final takes us across the red bridge
We made pretty decent work on the puzzles and traditionals in the middle of the Isle.  We decided to save the Western rocks and wetlands for a warmer April

Windsor (L) - Detroit (R)
See the ice drifts?

The sun is finally coming out so we get our second wind. We decided to knock out the Southern (below) and Northern piers before we end our day.

Southern Pier Multi

Starting point for the only Letterbox - a LARGE!

Team FRL hunting a regular at the Northern pier

TaGeez, WikidKriket and 3inaTree
Today was not about the numbers.  It was about spending the day with people as weird as you are.

Sore, cold, muddy... we celebrate!  Topped off the day meeting SnakeyLicks at M Brew in Ferndale. Yum, they had a house root beer.  

Of course, we were plotting our return for a (somewhat) warmer April.