Saturday, December 31, 2016

Starting a New Book - 2017

This last book was a bit of a flop. Thinking this one needs a little more adventure in it. 

Any of these would help greatly:

Smithsonian National Museum Natural History Tour
Back Roads and Beaches GeoTour
Clinton County Quilt Barn GeoTour
Michigan Counties Challenge: Upper Penninsula

We'll see what happens in 2017!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Cache-Mas!

I hope Santa was good to you, and you received a plethora of new tools and fresh boots for Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Start the New Year with a Clean Slate

Logging caches yesterday, I scooted over to to check out some statistics. While there, it showed that I had found 7208 finds on 7207 unique caches. Uh oh! Dupe log! is a free website (though they do offer a paid membership with added benefits) with easy-to-navigate tools primarily for geocaching. One of the handiest tools is the Bad Log finder.

Click the link, enter your geo-name, and click Filter. It will return results for three types of issues:
  • Duplicate logs on your owned caches
  • Duplicate logs you created (with a handy GC link)
  • Your logs on your own caches
I ran both mine and TaGeez - I had one dupe and he had two. Easy enough to resolve, and next time we reach a milestone we will know it's a true milestone.

Have a happy holiday and may Santa bring you many tools of the trade!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Tacos and Cocoa?

I thought this a nice touch. Tuesday afishoutawater hosted the monthly Taco Tuesday meet.
As part of the Loco for Cocoa and Tacos event, she gave out cocoa goodies bags. YUM!

We love tasty swag!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Butler County Swag!

ShelleyJean gave me the heads-up, and the next day I received a package in the mail! 

Butler County Vistors Center!

It's our swag from the Butler County geotour! T-shirt, geocoin and Visitor's Guide. 

They were really a class act all around. The night before we headed down someone had DNF'd one of the geocaches. Before sunrise the next morning a new cache was in place! And as for the swag, the passport warned 'expect 8-10 weeks for delivery' but the package arrived within 10 days!

Ha HA - I think the back of the shirt is a hoot!

The coin is a solid 2" piece of work and comes with a special icon. LOVE IT!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Taking One For the Team

Welcome to Michigan!

Poor, TaGeez. We had our first snowstorm of the year.
I think that lamp post cache needs a new terrain rating!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Monkey in the Middle GC6WXQ5


Would you believe I picked this baby up at the Container Store? I did! 

However, it wasn't on a geocaching end cap. It was in the pocket of DarrylW4.

He had spent 18 hours 3D printing it, and he wanted someone to release it into the wild.

What is so special about this container? Well... it doesn't have a simple twist-off cap!

In fact, it has quite a few twist and turns.

Easy to find, but the signing the log could take a few minutes. Deviously wonderful!

Happy Caching!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Butler County Donut Geotour Adventure

Traveled.  Found.  Devoured.

Thanksgiving weekend found many of our friends out of town and TaGeez working so ShelleyJean and I tossed some bags in the car and headed down to Cincinnati for the Butler County Donut Tour!

Butler County Donut Trail

Yes, you heard that right! Visit a dozen homegrown, neon-frosted, so sweet our teeth hurt confectionery establishments for free swag (and about 10 extra pounds)! 9 stamps on a passport earns a Traveled. Found. Devoured. t-shirt and 12 smilies plus code words for a geocoin.

Butler County Donut GeoTour GC6P6WX

And the adventure was a hoot! In just a few short hours upon arrival, with Shelley at the wheel and me navigating, we found 12 friendly 'donut' caches, coffee bean art, Alexander Hamilton in leg warmers, and several other wonders in lower Ohio. Many of the shops included other delicious items including brownies, cookies, and even maple syrup.

Alexander is Back in Town GCZGB4

Although overcast, the weather was mild enough for light coats and site-seeing. We scoured the usual websites before the trip, and Hamilton (although a sweet little town) had only two real claims to fame: the German Village and the Hollow Earth Monument. Does it not resemble a donut? But, no! That's not what the tour is all about!

Hollow Earth Monument - Hamilton, OH

We even nabbed a few Virtuals on our donut tour trek, too. This is a pretty interesting virtual - to claim it, you have to visit a specific benchmark and there is a different one for each month.  This is the WLW "super power" Radio Tower (aka "November").

Benchmark of the Month Virtual GC7227

Downtown Cincinnati Adventure

We arrived with a loose game plan. ShelleyJean found this fabulous puzzle in Montgomery, and, I must admit, it was the first moment I felt the holiday spirit. We solved this puzzle by the light of our smart phones, and then strolled down a pine-festooned, festively-decorated cobblestone walkway to the cryptex at the final.

Montgomery Cryptex GC4CDJP
In turn, I dragged Shelley across the Ohio River into Kentucky for one of my favorite Virtuals. The streets were filled with holiday revelers. We crossed back into Ohio by the lovely John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge and were greeted by fireworks! We discovered later that Cincinnati was celebrating its tree lighting tonight (with Santa & friends rapelling down Macy's facade) at Fountain Square - excellent timing!

"Newport KY" World Peace Bell *Virtual* GC653C
We ended our fabulous first day at The Boathouse - Montgomery Inn for dinner. It's a round, two-story restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooks the river. The food was amazing and the tables were full. If you go, make reservations first to save your sanity. And, oh. Order the crab cakes - yum!

The Boathouse - Montgomery Inn

Sunday Morning Promenade

With plenty of time to explore so many places, we still awoke early and headed out. There were donut shops to revisit (If you do the tours, they do close early when they run out of donuts so plan accordingly). Afterwards, we headed downtown again - Sunday mornings are the perfect time for site-seeing and urban geocaching in any big city.

Great American Ball Park - Red Sox Statidums

**Spoiler - not supplying a GC**

Admittedly, one of our favorite stops was totally unplanned. Across the parking lot from The Boathouse and along the Ohio River is the Theodore M. Berry International Friendship Park (along the river walk). Shelley had spotted a cache she wanted to visit, and I realized there is a wherigo starting in this parking lot. Two birds - one stone. And a truly lovely walk. Notice the sun is finally shining?

Geocaching Around the World Wherigo GC3NK19
Such a well-planned chain of smaller parks (as described in the wherigo as a "bracelet" where each continent is a charm). The landscaping, rock formations, art objects, informational signs blended beautifully, and, before you know it, you've walked a lovely strolling mile (being passed by joggers, perambulating dog walkers and mothers with strollers).

The first "charm" is the Garden of Europe which includes the Munich Pavilion “Castle of Air” that caught Shelley's attention. Fascinating! It reflects like the Bean in Chicago. You have to be careful where you stand because the heat from the reflections can be pretty intense. You can cool off by stepping into the inner sanctum within the structure (a good place to hunt for a traditional cache).

Cincinnati "Castle" in the Clouds GCN0BR
Ok, admittedly, I'm pretty comfortable with myself as a whole. But after seeing myself in this very flattering stretched reflection I'm beginning to regret all those donuts from the day before!

Looking good! Scrapcat and ShelleyJean
The Garden of the Sun (and Sun Plaza) features a sundial made from 150-year old charred English oak trunks. 

The river walk ends in the Garden of the Americas and is anchored by Susan Ewing's 50-foot Crystalline Tower.

Energized by our walk and finding the wherigo final, we turned towards Fountain Square. Inside the visitor center is a large travel bug hotel (4 trackables in - 2 out). And outside we found Cincinnati's famed fountain, their holiday tree, and the Christkindlmarkt in full swing. 

Cincinnati mural near Fountain Square
With a few hours of sunlight left, it was time to turn North.

Spring Grove Cemetery

Only a place with a heart and soul could make for its dead a more magnificent park than any which exists for the living.”
[Source: Atlas Obscura]

Established in 1845 as a result of a cholera epidemic, Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum is a prime example of a "garden lawn" cemetery. Along with the renowned distinction of being the second largest cemetery in the United States, Spring Grove Cemetery is also "one of only seven cemeteries listed as a National Historic Landmark." During its heyday, the Cincinnati elite would day trip to these rolling hills and 15 serene lakes "to be seen". According to the wonderful guides, Spring Grove became so popular that tickets were required for admittance to prove family was interred within.

Cypress Knees within the Civil War section

Our first stop was the Civil War section. We grabbed our first geocache in AFK's Freedom GeoTour.

Shelly for the find! FGT Spring Grove Cemetery GC5T08W

A must-stop is the Dexter Mausoleum with its stained limestone and flying buttresses (rumored to be the only mausoleum in North America with flying buttresses). This wonder contains 12 marble catacombs and was planned to include a manual elevator. 

Dexter Mausoleum/Chapel

Read this fascinating article which includes a bit about an actual open house when it was first built. I would've enjoyed that tour. As ShelleyJean asked, do they still build structures like these?

Dexter Mausoleum Entrance
Quite the final view, eh? 15 lakes, 10-acre preserve, and "serving as a living horticultural laboratory, Spring Grove’s Arboretum boasts a remarkable 1,200 species with over 1,000 labeled for study and research purposes for universities, nurseries, and growers."

Spring Grove was stunning and worth committing an afternoon. Stop at the office to pick up four impressive brochures: Historic Spring Grove Self-Guided Walking Tour, Historic Spring Grove Visitors Map, Historic Spring Grove Cemetery Beer Barons, and Historic Spring Grove Cemetery Presidential Connections.

Vine Street Hill Cemetery

Across from Spring Grove Cemetery were two additional historic cemeteries: Vine Street Hill Cemetery (formerly the German Evangelical Protestant Cemetery) and St. John Cemetery (fascinating Catholic cemetery perched on a hill). 

Symbols of the Vine Street Hill Cemetery Wherigo GC5J6D1

ShelleyJean and I rounded out our Cincinnati adventure completing another wherigo, a Beer Barron letterbox, and a Historic Chapel puzzle in Vine Hill Cemetery. We left so many geocaches behind!

Historic Chapel GC5JA2C
Ah, so many more Ohio geotours to do! On our way home, we stopped in the Pure Michigan Visitor Center and discovered a new Earth Cache onsite. Such a fun, well-rounded weekend!

@ShelleyJean took some truly amazing cemetery photos on this adventure. If you'd like to see her work visit her on Instagram. Her landscapes and "arty photos" are stunning!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Urban Adventures Trackable - Got One!


We got one of the free trackables! It arrived in TaGeez's mailbox on Monday. Now, what to attach it to? And where to drop it?

From the trackables page:
Urban Adventures shows travelers the stuff that only locals know in more than 150 destinations around the globe. From stuffing your face with the best street food to discovering the coolest underground street art, Urban Adventures is about finding the fun local spots, the fascinating local culture, and the friendly local people that make every city unique. Show off your own local knowledge by leaving this trackable luggage in a hidden corner of your own city –– or show your ultra-caching skills by planting it in an Urban Adventures city anywhere in the world! 

Be sure to snap a photo with your favorite spots, and post it on Instagram with the hashtag #localsknowgeocaching. Urban Adventures will pick the 25 most intriguing snaps to win a free tour anywhere in the world! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Thanksgiving Eve Tragedy 1901

File this under the interesting places geocaching takes you to....

A few days ago I mentioned TaGeez, ShelleyJean and I explored Oakwood Cemetery in Adrian, MI looking to solve Necropolis Ruins. On this dreary, overcast snowy/sleety day, one monument caught my attention.

Lovely, isn't she? What tale did she have to tell?

On the back, there was a plaque with four black and white photos.

Beneath is read:
On Thanksgiving Eve, November 27, 1901 6:45 pm Trains No. 4 and No. 13 collided head on between Seneca and Sand Creek. Train 4 was east bound to Detroit carrying residents going home for Thanksgiving Holiday. Train 13 was west bound through Montpelier Ohio to St. Louis Missouri carrying a large group of Italian Immigrants on contract to work for mining companies in Colorado and California. On impact, cars on Train 4 exploded but were saved from fire by the quick thinking of the Train’s engineer Aaron T. Strong. Train 13’s cars were shattered on impact and instantly caught fire when an overhead kerosene lamp fell to the floor of one of the cars blocking the escape of those trapped inside. One-hundred plus Italian immigrants lost their lives and their remains were placed in five coffins and buried in unmarked graves here in Oakwood Cemetery. This tragedy remains one of the worst railroad disasters in Michigan History.
Railroad spike embedded at the base of the memorial
So sad. But geocaching brought us here and gave us the opportunity to read this. 115 years later I sit here thinking about those lost souls.

I am thankful.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Sorry Out of Service: Saginaw Urban Art

I love urban art, and WikidKriket and I saw quite a bit while in Saginaw yesterday.

This one encompassed the entire building!

I had to take a tour of the whole thing.  No side disappointed.

Funny thing is... as I rounded the last corner I thought this would be a good place for a cache. Pulling out my caching app - VOILA! GC6R3PE Get Your Gas Somewhere Else. Only problem is... I couldn't find it. The hint was You're not looking for a container and several of the prior finders confirmed it.

Kriket joined the search and found it out in the open (log was resting up against a curb). We signed it, snapped a picture, and then I lost it. We didn't know where it went so I bent to replace it where I found it. It fell down a crack and into the deep, dark, scary darkness!


Original and Replacement
Luckily we had replacement logs. The worst part was hearing Kriket chant, "I found it and you lost it" over and over again for hours - ugh! 



So, why were we in Saginaw? It was WikidKriket's birthday. We take each other's birthday off and spend a day adventuring, seeking out interesting museums, cemeteries, experiences, and (of course) caching. 


In planning the day, I had a little help from my friends: