Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Point Pelee National Park - Canada

Ah!  Now this is what geocaching is all about... walking on sandy beaches, waves lapping against your ankles, under a beautiful blue sky, cooled off by a Great Lake breeze!  TaGeez and I had the urge to get away so across the border we went!  We have a Canadian National Park just 40 miles from our front door, and Point Pelee National Park was well worth the trip!

Point Pelee is the ninth national park opened in Canada, but it's the first opened for ecological reasons.  With 70% marshland, it is both a bird habitat and a butterfly habit on the southernmost tip of Canada.  That famous tip?  It was once a land bridge that connected Canada to Ohio!

Follow the bouncing ball!
That's us at the tip!
Point Pelee, a 10-kilometre sandspit with its southern point equal in latitude to the northern border of California, contains one of Canada's smallest but most unusual national parks. A thin triangle jutting into Lake Erie at the southernmost point of Canada, the 20 square kilometre landscape boasts a unique blend of vegetation in the marshes, jungle-like Carolinian forest, Savannah grasslands and unpredictable beachfront, supporting a complexity of wildlife. The early attraction the peninsula had for the first people to come in search of game, continues in the overwhelming popularity the park has amongst bird watchers and day visitors.

Here are the highlights of our adventure and the Point Pelee National Park - Canada Earth Cache (GC17DQ5 by ByeTheWay) :
  • The entrance gate accepts USD (we missed currency exchange at the bridge). The cost was $13.90 for 2 adults (this includes the tram ride to the point and access to all these beautiful beaches!). We were geeked that the signage and all the rangers greeted us in English and French. Hello! Bon Jour! 

  • Orientation: We pulled off to get the lay of the land and plan our day. We lingered over the displays and then moseyed over to the first of four beaches. We discovered the water on the West side of the peninsula is relatively tranquil and summer warm but the water on the East side near the point is refreshingly cool with powerful waves.

#GenerationNature trackable

The North Beach (near Orientation center)
  • Boardwalk: Still taking our time, we pulled in to explore the marsh area and bird & butterfly habitats. At first, I wasn't thrilled about the "floating" boardwalk - I have a fear of bridges - but the view was absolutely breathtaking. It wasn't long before TaGeez led me along the entire 1.42 km length. None of our pictures do it justice. I can't wait to bring WikidKriket back here - they do kayak rentals, too!

  • DeLaurier House: This peninsula was once occupied by the British.  Eventually, private residences were built on the peninsula.  This one (former residence of the CO's uncle) was a nice little break midway along the peninsula. We read the signs and took pictures. Peaceful.

  • Visitor Center: As we approached the main doors, we were greeted by a 2-foot long snake crossing our path. And once we entered, we were greeted by a ranger giving a lecture accompanied by an 8-year old yellow snake. Happily, those were the only snake-sightings we had. After searching for the CO's answers in the museum, we stopped to speak to the ranger (Hello! Bon Jour!) about the land bridge. She pointed on the giant map behind her the approximate location of the bridge that spanned from Canada to Ohio. Fascinating! 

  • The Tram: By the time we loaded into the tram, we were ready for a few minutes of shade and peaceful contemplation. Lovely 2.5 km ride down a tree-lined road, catching glimpses of water through the trees on either side of us. After disembarking, we posed for photos at the Tip Exhibit and then at the 42nd parallel sign. Then, hand-in-hand, we strolled to the point.

So much activity overhead!
Barn swallows everywhere!

"You are now just south of the 42nd parallel, as far south as Rome
 and Barcelona.  Some of Canada's rarest plants and animals
are found at Point Pelee because of its mild southerly climate."
  • The Sandspit: You step out of the shady trees onto a beautiful, sandy beach. The waves are powerful here, and, as it's high tide, most of the spit is under water. A nice German family agreed to take our picture (the one at the top of this post), and we stayed to enjoy the point long after our tram-mates returned to the depot. I've lived off the ocean in 3 states, but nothing is as breathtaking as the blue, clear water of a Great Lake.

  • Black Willow Beach: Before leaving for the day, we had to make one more stop at one of the lovely beaches for a little more toe-dipping.  Beautiful!

The only disappointments of the day were the biting flies while waiting for the tram and the missed opportunity to eat at big, red double-decker bus outside the main gates.  Apparently, the bus serves the best fish tacos so we will have to come back!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

GS15: Let's Get Extreme

We did it! The latest #Geocaching15 Challenge kicked off yesterday so TaGeez and I headed to Detroit!

This challenge is to find a D5 or T5 cache for the special souvenir. Between us we had 4 D5 caches (all challenges) on standby. The one we chose was extra special as we qualified for it during an epic 4-day 2000-mile 10-state adventure in May!

Friday night might not have been the smartest time to go downtown as the Tigers had a home game and the Youth League conference was letting out. In high humidity, we maneuvered through pedestrians in peacock colors, Woodward Light Rail construction, a few urban eccentrics and the citizens of the D cooling themselves in chairs outside their apartments, we finally made the grab! A beauty in a back alley!

I really think we earned this one. Looking forward to the next two souvenir challenges plus the bonus!

Monday, July 13, 2015

You Only Need to Sign Just One

Something I found a little unexpected in Frisco: In high Muggle areas, a CO will hide multiple containers for the same cache. (Example: "If you can't find the magnetized bison on the rail, there is a 35mm canister a few feet away.") To claim the cache for Lombard Street GCFB3C, you have to find and sign one of four containers. I saw the same thing at Coit Tower GC41NZ0.

Not judging. On the one hand I think it takes a bit of the challenge out of it. On the other hand, as a tourist, it's comforting knowing you should be able to find at least one.

I wonder if this practice is done anywhere else?

That being said... I found none at Lombard Street (no time) or Coit Tower (unexpected stop and I only grabbed the Virtual). Bummer. Those smilies would've made great souvenirs of these Frisco landmarks.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Discover Multiple Trackables Simultaneously

Saw someone on FB griping about all his work in discovering Trackables at an event. 

So I introduced him to the discovery tool (on left).

Follow these easy instructions (images on right).

1. Click on

2. If you have not done so already, click the Authenticate button to link your amount.

3. In the Tools drop-down menu, select Discover Trackables under Others

4. The Discover Trackables window will open. Populate the Date fields, enter your Log Text and then key in the Trackables codes (one per line).

5. Click the blue Discover button.

6. The History window will open and your logs will upload. You can view not only the original text of the log (click the Toggle Log Text button) but any codes that failed (click the + sign to the left of the record). 

I have spoken to a developer about creating an app that will read TB codes from pictures and upload the numbers for logging. We'll see if it's ever developed.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Hmmm.... Where to now?

Steve, Sweetie.... I'm feeling the need for another geocaching road trip. Where shall we go? #UpdatedGSAKstats

Thursday, July 9, 2015

GS15: Fun With Favorites

Oh, forgot to share this one! #Geocaching15 Fun with Favorites! My first California geocache had over 200 favorite points! I dropped off several dozen trackables and picked up a couple dozen to bring home! Lovely stop in a California history museum.

G15: Meet Your Road Trip Crew

Earned our second #Geocaching15 Road Trip souvenir last night! Big turn out - many newbies - everyone wanting their virtual badge! Woot!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Stepping Out in San Francisco - II

It's still Friday afternoon (see my prior adventures here), and I was beginning to think I should make my way back to the hotel to prepare for the evening at the convention.  My feet were barking, and, if I waited any longer, it would mean taking a taxi or Uber back.  (With all the pedestrian traffic, a taxi or Uber will cost you about $10/mile because the vehicle has to keep stopping). Just as common sense reared it's ugly head and was about to rule, I realized the Embarcadero was just another few blocks over and there were riches to be had!

First delight in my path?  This community art project right on the corner of Mission and Steuart surely had to have a cache, right?  Yeppers.  I may've looked a little odd groping it, but I found it!

One to All GCTF3D
Then one more block East and I found the Ferry Building, the Embarcadero, and San Francisco Bay!

Ferry Building - Port of San Francisco

A Simple Life GCG1TF

Left What in San Francisco? GCAD16

View from under Cupid's Bow

And that night I met up with some friends from Maine.  Deb and Sabine took me to Ghirardelli Square where I had the amazing Dungeness Crab Strozapretti at McCormick & Kuleto's. Deb then guided us on a tour of her old neighborhood - what an absolute hoot spending the evening with these girls!

Atop Larkin Street off Ghirardelli Square looking at Alcatraz and the schooner
This was also the view from our dinner table at McCormick & Kuleto's

Yes, we shopped.  I'm not saying how much I spent!
Afterwards we headed to the elusive Golden Gate Bridge (not really lit at night).  This is the closest I've ever been and still can't get a good picture of it! We wrapped up our evening with Lombard Street at night.  

Saturday was filled with work and social commitments, but I did sneak out at 6 am to grab my daily cache. 3+ years of cache-a-day still going! But Sunday morning was filled with great excitement! Today was the Gay Pride Parade IN SAN FRANCISCO and right after the historic SCOTUS decision! The energy and color and love in the air was electric! Whether you support this decision or not, you could not ignore the energy in the city.

I was able to scoot over to the parade at 4th and Market for about 45 minutes.  The celebration went on for hours.

Sunday night was the Library of the Year dinner at the Exploratorium.  Delicious food, intelligent company, moving speeches, and a STUNNING views from the deck.  Before the guests arrived (I worked the check-in table), I scooted across the dock to grab this one.

Current Flows GC4A8JA

San Francisco Bay - before dinner

San Francisco Bay - after dinner

We flew out Monday night but not without several additional adventures tucked under our belts.  I had mentioned to a coworker that I regretted not making it up to Coit's Tower - I was out of time to walk it (plus it was quite the hike up here) and it was kinda hard to convince a cabbie or an Uber driver to wait for me as I walked around it at 6am.  My coworker, Will, offered to take me up as he lived nearby and had his car. Wonderful!

Coit Tower is practically visible from all over the city as it's atop Telegraph Hill which (I think) is San Francisco's highest point.  

It was a gift from Lillian Coit in honor of the San Francisco firemen. The fact that it resembles a firehose is purely coincidental.

WPArt: Lillie's Cache GC138C
Although it was too early to climb the tower or see the famed PWAP murals up close (I was able to peak in the windows and see some of them), I did experience some amazing views from the park at the base.

San Francisco Bay

Ferry Building

Transamerica Building on the right

The Golden Gate Bridge enshrouded in fog
Afterwards, heading back to the hotel, Will veered off so I could see Lombard Street in the daylight.

Lombard Street
Then, after a few hours of wrapping up the convention, myself and my coworkers attempted to escape Alcatraz before flying home!

Escape from Alcatraz GCF7A2
It was a most amazing adventure, and I'm truly grateful for the opportunity I had to experience it.  I wish TaGeez had been able to join me; however, if we ever make it back together, I will definitely know where to take him.  And I WILL eventually make it over that big orange bridge one day!