Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Beware the Challenge Checkers!

This past weekend my Sweetie and I grabbed a few older caches which qualified us for 2 challenges. We made the finds, logged the caches and posted our qualifiers.

Fast forward to today. The CO emailed TaGeez to say he didn't qualify for the challenges. This made no sense to us as TaGeez was with me at each cache and is current on his logging.

Lightbulb! We realized the CO must've used the Challenge Checker on Project-GC.com to verify that he qualified. TaGeez is not a paid member on that site so the site only updates his cache finds weekly. So when you run the Challenge Checker it shows he's missing caches because it's source data is not current.

Lesson learned!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Last Getaway: Traverse City

Summer is waning, and TaGeez & I had the opportunity to camp for the weekend in Traverse City, Michigan.  Here are some pictures of our last major adventure for the year.  We saw some odd and beautiful things!

Grand Traverse Lighthouse - Leelanau Peninsula
The purpose of this trip was to dip our toes into the sand and spend time with the family.  PopLob, JimLob65, and CampFamily6 were awaiting us.  However, we had several hours to pass on the ride up and came across some wacky and wonderful webcam and Virtuals.  It was miraculous that the heavy rain stopped each time we needed to exit the car for a geocache.

Who named the best little town by a dam site? GCJRV9 webcam
Although we crossed off 7 Virtuals on this trip, we didn't include many here so as not to post spoilers.  The ones we stopped at were very memorable.

Now, here was a particularly odd stop. We pulled into Cadillac to grab a bite to eat.  While in town, we stopped by Ferrum Equinus GC8105. As I was gathering answers to the verification questions, I saw TaGeez wander off.  What the?  Yes, those are boulders in the trees.  This postage stamp park was filled with trees and boulders.  Pretty cool art installation, right?  They look so real!

Ferrum Equinus GC8105
Finally made it to TC. After pitching camp, we met the family at world famous Moomer for a celebratory treat! 

scrapcat, Hockeyman40, PopLob, and TaGeez
Afterwards they went off to do their thing (they were in town for the Red Wings training camp), we moseyed downtown for Cherry Republic, the world's largest pie tin, some cemetery caching, and Mancino's pizza before heading back to camp.

Cherry Republic

World's Largest Pie Pan

Fence nob adorning a gate for a family plot

Grand Traverse Bay

Mancino's on the West Bay - YUMMY!
Day 2 broke as a brisk but sunny morning.  The family were heading out for the Red Wings again so, after breaking camp, TaGeez and I had a few hours to kill. We decided to hit some historic caches and take a tour of the beautiful Leelanua Peninsula.

Daybreak at the State campgrounds
As this was primarily a trip to spend family time, we didn't have too many caches on our list. However, we discovered we almost qualified for the Historic Caches of Grand Traverse County Challenge GC2QT2B and the Historic Caches of Leelanau County Challenge GC58H0W. Sounds like a plan to me!

First stop was the Cass Pond Cache GC7430 (July 2002).  Dire warnings at the gates but the views were breathtaking. Lovely walk on the side of a hill (really).  Following the length of an old rail line, we traveled through large ferns and past yellow mushrooms to this oldie.

Gives you a sense of comfort, right?

But well worth the view....
With that, we were able to make our claim for the HCofGT Challenge.  Now for a drive up the coast.

'SteppinOn GCNETP
That's Power Island on the left

Quick stop in Sutton's Bay

Several years ago my father brought out his brand new iPad while on a visit to Traverse City.  As I had never seen one, my nephew Jon showed me how it worked. He opened Google Earth and showed me the amazing Grand Traverse Lighthouse on the map.  You could see it?  Real images?  He showed me how to twist and turn and take it (almost) to ground level.  I was amazed and played with is all night. You could click on the little square next to it for additional historical information.  WOW! The image of the Grand Traverse Lighthouse on Google Earth is what motivated me to get my first iPad. Ever since then, I've always wanted to visit.  It is gorgeous!

Grand Traverse Lighthouse on the tip of the
Leelanau Peninsula

scrapcat and TaGeez at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse

Enjoying a walk on the beach

scrapcat and TaGeez at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula
 On the way back down the coast, we had one more cache to acquire - qualifying us for the Historic Caches of Leelanau County Challenge. I've visited cemeteries all around the country, but this was by far the most rural Pioneer cemetery I've ever visited.  Down a seasonal road in the middle of miles and miles of woods, there purported to have been a settlement here once. The only trace left were the few headstones poking out of the scrub nearby.

Bland Cemetery GC911D (Sept 2002)
Back in town for lunch with the family, we enjoyed burgers and conversation at the Mackinac Island Brewpub. LOVED the time we had with the family!

Our time is running out, and we needed to turn to home soon.  TaGeez and I had one last stop to make.  The final to the HCofLC Challenge. What an unexpected boon for us!  We hadn't really planned to cache this trip and now we were on the cusp of our second Historic County Challenge! This was a biggie for us - this would be our 10th HCofMI Challenge which qualified us for the meta-challenge in Lansing.

Only one problem. It was closed.  As we pulled up to the park, the construction crew were pulling the barriers in front of the entrance. They said no vehicles were allowed due to the eroding berm. When we explained why we were there and asked if we could proceed, they just repeated "no vehicles were allowed" and drove away. Well.  We came this far. We hoisted our packs and walked in. As the crow flies, it was only 3/10ths of a mile (up hill).  Add a lake in our way and it was closer to a half mile each way.  But we got it!

Turning home, we detoured to Frankfort. We've heard this was an up-and-coming vacation town just south of Empire.  The beaches were gorgeous as well as the views of Lake Michigan and the dunes. 

We spent quite a bit of time walking shoeless in the perfect sand.  Not too hot and not too cold... But TaGeez had to work tomorrow so back to the car we went. 

Pride of Pierport GCD8B0
Everyone know's it's Windy GCH2AZ
We had the pleasure of visiting 4 more Virtuals on the way home, but posting more pictures would post their spoilers, too. One cool one, Ladies First GCJW51, was about a historical figure I had just read about in our Smithsonian's Pioneers of Aviation and heard about in a recent Memory Palace podcast. We didn't know until we visited the marker that this person was a Michigander!

It was a wacky and wonderful adventure to cap off our summer!  Thank you, PopLob, JimLob65, and CampFamily6!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

MGA15 Picnic - Lake Erie Metropark

Just wanted to share some pictures of the latest MGA15 (Metropark/Michigian Geocaching Adventure) picnic in September. It was an absolutely stunning day in my favorite Huron Metropark. TaGeez and I spent the day with WikidKriket and friends.

Lake Erie Metropark - our view upon arrival

Kriket ran into Maizie

scrapcat always taking pictures
[Source: WikidIriket]

Freighter on the horizon

Portah, Alona Spiegel, Team Gate, TaGeez, and WikidKriket

I won a first-to-find: Saturn GC62H6P

TaGeez and Team Gates

[Source: Team Gates]

Bet you can't guess what we're looking for!
Heading off to another part of the park
Alona Spiegel and Team Gates are good sports

MGA15 Picnic Attendees

Kriket and TaGeez waiting for the potluck

Team FRL won a paracord dog leash
Kriket trying it out on TaGeez
Nothing keeps him out of trouble, though.

After a lovely morning of geocaching and potlucking, we headed out to several of the nearby Huron Metroparks for additional MGA caching.



Ninjas at Lower Huron

TaGeez for the find

Team FRL in our matching shirts
Now onto Mexican food in Royal Oak!

Funny postscript to our day:

At the end of the potluck, we tiredly left the park leaving our chairs behind. The Seed Spreaders sent us a ransom note! All in good fun, and they were kind enough to drive up to Southfield and drop them off. Geocachers are the best people!

Monday, September 21, 2015


You might be a geocacher if you understand G.R.E.A.T. Examples include a 14-hour trip from Detroit to Wauseon, OH (102 miles) and an 8-hour trip from Detroit to Traverse City, MI (255 miles). #TravelOftenCacheMore

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Riding the WAZE!

Ooh, AstroEricJ showed us a neat new app – perfect for Geocaching roadtrips!

WAZE is a GPS, Maps & Social Traffic app available for iPhones and Androids.  During our Chicago trip, we drove into a major rainstorm – you could barely see the hood of the car. Eric pulled out the app and saw other drivers (called Wazers) had posted trouble spots such as cars parked along the highway due to weather and lanes undrivable due to flooding.  He could also see construction, accidents, slow downs, closed roads, and policemen (FTF, anyone?)

I think this app might replace several I already have on my phone.

Yellow Pages: You can enter your search criteria and it will direct you.  It also has a Gas Finder feature.

Glympse: You can send friends notification of your arrival and connect with friends via the app.

Google Maps: On my phone GM is unresponsive.  WAZE does an excellent job updating as you drive.  Nice maps, too.

On the downside, it doesn't navigate to coordinates like a geocaching app.  It will suggest nearby addresses for selection.  So, if you are on an FTF run, it will get you as close as possible (while avoiding construction, slow downs, and possibly policemen—not that we ever speed, right?).