Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Great DC Adventure: The Trackables

A major part of this adventure that can't be overlooked is the trackables. They definitely added a layer of fun to our road trip!

They are called 'Travelers' 

One of our first stops on the first day was WVTim's TB Hotel Extraordinaire where we dropped off almost a dozen visitors from Detroit. Safe travels!

Can't forget this little guy!

This little ghost has traveled with me to all the Virtuals over the last few years. Funny thing is? This is not actually the geocoin. The original coin is now a Virtual coin lost behind a Virtual in Cleveland, OH. Lucky I found this replica pin to take its place.

Jug Bridge GCGCRN

Can you spot the geocoin?

As one of my only souvenirs of the trip, I bought this Zero Milestone geocoin. It's sole mission was to visit the very cool Zero Milestone Benchmark, located between the White House and the Washington Monument. Every time I hold it I will remember TaGeez's warm hand in mine and the rain wetting our faces. Can you spot it?

Mile Zero GC2E52

A toast to Capital Hill

Right before our trip, both TaGeez and I received our Tin Cup Trackables in the mail. Mine took a trip to DC and back and is now in Germany. TaGeez said whiskey is one way to make politicians more palatable.

Capital View GCDE1
Also in my pouch is my United States Capital Benchmarks Geocoin.  On one side is Freedom, the lovely lady adorning the Capital dome. I dipped this coin at each geocache on this adventure!

On the back are three of the most well-known benchmarks on the Hill. This one is HV2019, located at the Southeast corner of the building. We searched and searched (under the increasingly watchful eyes of the local constabulary) but couldn't find it. The coordinates led us near the sidewalk, but the description made it seem as if it was closer to the building. 

Finally, we approached the Capital police, guarding this corner, and asked if we could take a peak near the steps. They were nice but very watchful. Imagine their surprise when we found it tucked between the wall and the steps. All the years they've guarded they never knew it existed! They even pointed it out to others! Watchful, eh? 

On an adventure of their own!

Not wanting this adventure to end, TaGeez and I brought personal trackables to DC for release. His, obviously, wants to visit  military Memorials and Monuments around the world.

Uncommon Valor TB6D331
He bought the keychain at Arlington National Cemetery and released his trackable to a newer cacher we ran into at the Delaware border. 

Mine wants to visit state capitals and capitals around the world.

Our Nation's Capital - DC Adventure TB4WX87

And I released it at the Burke Park Stash GC175 to new geocaching friends we met there. Safe travels!

Mission completed!

And speaking of trackables with missions, this was the sweetest of all!

Travel Bug Origins - United States had a mission to visit an Honest Man. CITOcacher, a Detroit friend, knew we were heading to DC so she made sure we had it in hand. It was fun stopping for pictures along the way. This was the first trackable mission we helped to complete! Honest Abe is exploring Philadelphia now!

View of an "Honest Man" GCEB2
There are a million trackables in the world, each with a story to tell... I'm glad we were part of their stories!

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Great DC Adventure: Heading Home AKA The End

Leaving DC our intent was to return home via Philadelphia. But after dealing with the coastal traffic and tolls the day before, we decided another plan was in order. And this unexpected change in our journey was some of the most fun!

First stop: National Harbor!

We were here the other night for the "Awakening" Virtual, but it was mad! It reminded me of the Vegas strip, throngs of overdressed, undersober tourists blocking the roads in front of overpriced restaurants and shops. Today? We parked at the top of the stairs leading down to the beach.

Cool beach and AWESOME Virtual!

Titanic Memorial

Located across the National Harbor, we decided to make one last stop before heading out of town. We saw its counterpart while touring the other Memorials in town a few days earlier. 

Burke Lake Park

Yes, an oldie - December 2000! We've completed our JASMERs, but how can you pass up a granddaddy cache? LOVELY park, beautiful lake, and lots and lots of logs to hide things under! We were lucky twice - free park entry and the appearance of Rsoxfan8 and 2bjPN. Tricky hide - so glad we had so many eyes looking for it!

scrapcat, 2bjPN, TaGeez and Rsoxfan8

Antietam National Battlefield and Cemetery

Day is passing and this time we're really heading to home. We pulled off the highway in Maryland for an amazing gadget cache and found ourselves passing Antietam (after driving over a very big mountain - EEK!). Admittedly, we never considered thisAntietam as a stop on our adventure, but, now that we are here... Moving. Beautiful. Again, sounds like a cliche, but geocaching takes you to some wondrous places.

After Antietam, we turned to home. We spent most of the ride signing classics (like The Man Song, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Scotsman, King of the Road) while weaving in and out of the Appalachians and Allegheny Mountains. 

Another amazing adventure in the books. I'm just so glad I have TaGeez to share in these experiences. 


1,615 miles  and $90 in tolls from Detroit and back
4 new state souvenirs: Maryland, Washington DC, Delaware, and New Jersey
65 caches total and 19 benchmarks
  • 34 Virtuals, 27 Traditionals, 2 Puzzles/Challenges, and 2 Webcams. 
  • The oldest cache was hidden in December 2000!
  • Combined, as of this posting, these geocaches have the sum total of 13,908 Favorite Points!
  • Find counts: DC (26), Maryland (12), Virginia (8), West Virginia (6), Delaware (6), New Jersey (6), and Pennsylvania (1).
6 days of incredible memories
  • Wednesday - Detroit to Maryland to Martinsburg, WV for the WVTim caches
  • Thursday - WVTim caches, Arlington National Cemetery, Congressional Cemetery, Old Town Alexandria for a Civil War tunnel & dinner, and ice cream along the riverwalk
  • Friday - Metro to the Smithsonian Museums, walking tour around Capital Hill, and dinner at Martin's Tavern in Georgetown
  • Saturday - Metro to the White House, tour around the Memorials on the Mall, and our first trip to the National Harbor
  • Sunday - Scott Circle webcam, the National Zoo, the National Cathedral, Delaware, New Jersey, Baltimore (Poe's Grave and dinner at G&M Crab Cakes)
  • Monday - Mount Vernon drive-by, National Harbor, Titanic Memorial, Burke Lake Park, Antietam National Battlefield & Cemetery, and then home to Detroit

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Great DC Adventure: Webcam to Webcam

I know it seems like I've been talking about this trip forever, but it was amazing - one I love reliving. We're home now, with a family member dealing with some medical issues, so I haven't been to the keyboard as much as I like. I must admit, though, writing this post that these pictures bring back a smile to my face. Because leave it to TaGeez and I to just go off the tourist rails!

First stop on Sunday morning? Webcam! Oh, the parking was horrendous, but we pulled up to a (mostly legit spot) marked "Sunday parking only". We hopped out long enough to clown for the camera.
We grabbed the webcam on the way to the National Zoo. Oh, we almost gave up! It took us almost an hour to get ushered into a zoo lot. And then $22 to park for the 'free' zoo - ouch! All was worth it when we emailed front-row pictures of the pandas back to my Dad in the hospital. 

And nearby is the National Cathedral, another Virtual. What a difference since my last visit! The entire back half is under scaffolding for earthquake damage!

The sign among the wreckage reads, "The limestone pinnacles were damaged in the August 23, 2011 earthquake here. The ground shook for less than a minute but caused the 301-foot central tower of Washington National Cathedral to whip back and forth. Some of the 50-ton pinnacles spun like tops and others fell onto the roof." I look forward to returning when it's repaired. The larger stones will take carvers 32 weeks (costing $60K) to recarve.

Taking this on the road

Ok, traffic congestion and pedestrians are everywhere. Time to head out of the city!

The wonderful thing about going to small states is that you can 'collect' state souvenirs a little easier. With a special ride up the coast on Sunday, we acquired Maryland, Washington DC, Delaware, and New Jersey.

It was a fascinating study on traffic, tolls, and parking toils. As a military wife, I thought I'd experienced these to the max, but it was so bad Sunday night we decided to skip our detour to Philadelphia on Monday to avoid that experience again. 

Even with all of this, the drive was lovely - sky so blue. In Delaware, we met another cacher, nshoopie, at our first Delaware cache. She was celebrating her 100th find and had hoped to find some trackables in the cache to take back to Philadelphia. No luck in the cache, but, luckily, we had a few to trade.

Further up the road was New Jersey - actually, a bit middle class but quite lovely, along the river. As there were no fabulous caches near the Delaware Memorial Bridge, we grabbed our desired 6 caches and turned back around.

Delaware Memorial Bridge

Oh, how we underestimated the traffic! We had assumed, since we had set aside almost a full day, we could make it up to New Jersey and back to Maryland with plenty of time for dinner in Baltimore. We had dinner in Baltimore but around midnight.

One stop was the webcam at Towson University. Such a nice little campus, well groomed with flowers blooming. Too bad for a college town all the restaurants were closed. Onwards to Baltimore passing colleges and Universities and miles and miles of expensive houses in manicured neighborhoods.

We wrapped up the night driving around downtown Baltimore looking for food and parking. We visited Poe's grave, saw the big ships in Baltimore's harbor, and wrapped it up with a late night meal at G&M Crab Cakes.

Exhausted we headed back to the hotel to rest before our journey home...

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Great DC Adventure: The Monuments

It was a gray and stormy Saturday morning... It was a little disappointing at first, stepping off the Metro, to see the weatherman had it in reverse. The sunshine was on Friday and the rain clouds today. But, for us, everything is an adventure so we gamely opened our umbrellas and set forth.

Note to self: the harder it rains the less tourists about!

First stop? The White House! Yes, it's there. It's behind that large, white tent. Bummer. Rainy and obstructed. Time to move on!

As weird as it sounds this is one of the things I wanted to see most during our visit. The Zero Milestone was here when I visited last - I must've been within feet of it but never noticed it. So we made a pilgrimage back.

Modeled after ancient Rome's Golden Milestone, which itself was a gesture meant to unify the disparate people's of the once-sprawling empire, the Zero Milestone in Washington, D.C. was created as a symbol of the effectiveness of the country's road system, but in the end its influence never spread past the city limits. (Atlas Obscura)

National Christmas tree - Zero Milestone - Washington Monument

Ah, the "Big Stick", as TaGeez so lovingly christened it. I must have pictures of it from every angle and direction. This one is seen from Constitution Gardens. Did you know about this? This isle in the northwest quadrant of the Mall? It's a memorial to the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence.

And, of course, the Wall. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial. If I have one regret about this trip, it's that we didn't visit here at night. I understand it's amazing. 

Although I lost nobody in this war, I found myself crying at the sheer enormity of the loss.

After the Wall, we moseyed across the street to hang out with Albert. What a hoot! I couldn't quite reach his nose for luck!

And then back to the war memorials. You can't see them, but, standing next to me at this Nurse's Memorial were Annapolis cadets wheeling veterans along the brick paths. At a bench across from us was a pair, several generations apart but with the same disposition, heads bowed, sharing stories. Moving.

Time to hop a chain-link fence and head to Abe's place. The clouds are starting to dissipate and hope for some sun appeared. That's when TaGeez fell on the National Mall along the Reflecting Pool. I had nothing to do with it.

We look a little worse for wear but still having fun!

The Korean War Memorial was just as memorable and moving as the last time. You felt you were standing alongside these men. You fully appreciate that these were real people and not just names. Whoever designed this was brilliant. It was even more moving seeing Veterans visiting in their wheelchairs and a group of Korean tourists laying wreaths at the apex.

We were a few weeks late for the cherry blossoms, but that didn't stop us from enjoying the Japanese Cherry Blossom gardens. So peaceful along such a busy road!

Japanese Cherry Blossom Garden and the Jefferson Memorial

We took our time wandering along the Tidal Basin. Look at these trees!

Another addition since our last visit: the MLK Memorial. Packed! The day was turning bright and the tourists were coming out of the woodworks. Striking and so fitting to be so near the Lincoln Memorial. MLK's I Have a Dream speech was sounding from nearby speakers.

On the same path is the FDR Memorial. It is "a 7.5-acre site, the memorial depicts the 12 pivotal years of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's presidency through a series of four outdoor gallery rooms." 

Lovely to see the sun out. You can see the sunlight creeping up the Big Stick.

Our last stop along the Tidal Basin was, of course, the Jefferson Memorial. I so wish I had the concession for selfie sticks. Oh, the people posing! Did they even notice the history around them? 

We have to admit we walked 18,500+ steps for the third day in a row that we invested some of our souvenir money in a well-deserved taxi ride. We can honestly state that we were 'taken for a ride' by a DC taxi driver - he 'mistakenly' made several false turns that cost us a few extra dollars, but it was a hoot. 

After circling the World War II monument all day, we finally came in for a landing.

Do you see those sunny, blue skies?

The view from the Washington Monument knoll

Finally, the Big Stick! Can you imagine this behemoth left unfinished for 20+ years?

Honey? Am I close?
Right on, TaGeez!

The sun finally appeared!
Such an amazing day. And best of all every minute and every step was spent with my TaGeez.

Boy, with the Mall under reconstruction, the Capital Dome under repairs and a big tent in front of the White House - not the optimal time to site see. 

Washington DC Virtuals and Webcam

On the plus side, there are 5 or so unfound Virtuals left in the area... always an excuse to return!