Friday, September 23, 2016

Sight-Oh? Seat-Oh? CITO!

Ah, had a lovely time at attending TaGeez's CITO at Founder's Park on Tuesday. By attending a CITO (Cache In Trash Out) over a period of 10 days in September you can earn a special souvenir for your online profile. TaGeez and I like to give back, but we realized we couldn't make any of the weekend events. So we hosted one during the week!

Great turnout and beautiful weather. We had people coming and going so we took two group pictures. For being Farmington Hill's dirtiest park, we found very little to clean up. But we did our part, enjoyed some snacks, had a raffle, and then grabbed the three event caches placed in the park. Fun time had by all!



We are blessed in our area to have CITOcacher. While the rest of us are running around trying to add our names to pristine logs, CITOcacher (Carole) can normally be found wandering behind us picking up trash. She always seems to have a bag in hand, and, if you leave her alone, would be at it for hours. Steve and I have nothing but the highest regard for Carole.

Carole always hosts the best CITO's so when we planned this one, we took several cues from her experience and added a few of our own to the list. Here is our blueprint for the CITO:

  • Reach out to your local parks department for permission to host a CITO. Some communities will supply trash pickers (grabbers) and trash bags. Make arrangements for trash pickup after the event. After the event, we sent pictures of the clean-up effort and a thank you to the parks - maybe we'll make it in the community bulletin! Nothing like spreading geocaching good cheer.
  • Create an event page on with at least (but more is better) two week's notice. In the write-up, suggest your attendees wear/bring the following: old clothes, boots or wellies, gloves, trash pickers and empty buckets (for glass - kitty litter buckets work great!). Define a clear agenda on the cache page.
  • And it pays to advertise. We posted a reminder at the time of event publication (to get on people's calendars) and the day before (in case they forgot) on several local geocaching Facebook groups.

  • Borrow a sun shade if you don't have one because CITO's tend to happen in all kinds of weather. Also, use a picnic table or bring a portable table with chairs.
  • Supply cold water and snacks. We didn't have any of CITOcacher or SCOOK's baked goods so we made do with chips.

  • Bring a logbook and have a place for trackable discovery.
  • Don't forget the camera (and tripod, if you have one) for the group pictures! Nothing is more joyous than standing around a pile of trash for posterity.
  • Supply trash bags, hand sanitizer, and single-use latex or vinyl gloves. Having a First Aid kit handy is not a bad idea, either.
  • After the troops have gathered, outline the areas for clean up and remind attendees when to return for the group photo. If the area is particularly urban (good advice from RATTRAK), make sure to explain how to handle 'Belle Isle flowers' (condoms) and needles. It is generally good to make sure children are paired with an adult.
  • [BONUS] Not required, but people generally enjoy a good raffle, too. We raffled off 2 ammo cans (Harbor Freight), one headlamp, one $10 Arch card, and an unactivated trackable.

  • [BONUS} We also hid 3 event caches throughout the park (but near parking as we were sure everyone would be tired after working all day and picking up trash at night). Please give your reviewers plenty of time to approve them. After the group pictures, we distributed printouts to all and asunder. Any attendee who found a cache before publication could claim it as part of a group first-to-find (FTF). So much fun watching the roaming band of merrymakers heading off from cache to cache.

This list may vary based on region and country, but you get the gist. Planning is everything. Happy trashing!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

TBScan - a Trackable Scanner

Just saw this on Facebook. It's a new app for the iPhone which allows you to scan and discover trackables up to 10 per minute. No need to type them in.

I haven't tried it (yet), but afishoutawater said it didn't scan the tiny print on the Tincups (drat!). Kneel More suggested this might be handy when scanning parked cars at events. Hmmm... that right there might make it worthwhile!

I'll check it out!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Labor Day Adventure:Mystery on Lake Huron

So, we're on US 23 heading towards Tawas City, when I spied an easy cache nearby. We weren't sure if the next "Discovery" geocache would earn TaGeez another county (Iosco) in his challenge so we decided to detour to play it safe.

We pulled up to this interesting Michigan Historical Marker for Alabaster. Weird that "Columbian" is scratched out on both sides.

Something to the right and in the distance caught my eye....

I have vacationed each summer for most of my childhood in Tawas and have never seen this dark, hulking object here. What is it? Too large for a houseboat. Not on a natural isle...

ShelleyJean was able to get a better picture, and afishoutawater forwarded it to local friends for help. Nothing. Nada.  Ok, time for the Google....

Source: ShelleyJean
And I found it! Alabaster and the Ghostly Loading Dock! Sounds like a cheap Sam's Club knock-off mystery novel, right? 

The town of Alabaster was a principle supplier of Gypsum for over a century: Gypsum was a major component in the "White City" built for the Chicago Columbian Exposition (hence, the historical marker). An elevated Marine tramway with 72 buckets would carry gypsum to the waiting boats or storage bins. At a length of 6,450 feet it was the longest over-water tramway in the world. This ghostly loading dock is the only remaining structure in the operation. (Thank you, Lost in Michigan!)

Boggling that so many people see this every year and probably have no idea what this is. And gratifying that this obsession we have called geocaching takes us to these places!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Sunday, September 18, 2016

We Grow Things BIG in Michigan!

I know I shared many of these photos already, but I crack a smile every time I see this collage.

How wild and wacky is the Lake Huron region of Michigan? I feel another roadtrip coming on!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Labor Day Adventure: US 23 Heritage Trail III


You know how you go on a road trip for the first time with friends and by day three you're ready to slap the snot out of them? Well, that didn't happen here. From the first moment we toddled down an old logging road to pulling up into fish's driveway, Sunday was fabulous!

It sounds like a cliche, but it is true: 
Geocaching takes you to many interesting places!

The first stop was Bell Cemetery off the Besser Bell Road. That in itself is a fascinating bit of history - the old logging roads from when lumber mills were king. This one reminded me of the "seasonal road" to Bland Cemetery outside of Traverse City - getting there is half the adventure.  Luckily we had ShelleyJean at the helm on the way in and afishoutawater on the way out.

Like all communities, death was no stranger and the cemetery of Bell can still be found if you search hard enough.  Great efforts have been made in its preservation and restoration with a large fenced in area, the erection of a monument and fences around the few remaining wooden crosses.  The monument attested to those buried in this area... (including) two sailors who were washed ashore. (Presque Isle Migenweb)

afishoutawater, ShelleyJean and TaGeez

Unmarked crosses on the South side of the cemetery.

With the fancier stones on the North....

We spent quite a bit of time here reading the headstones and taking pictures. It was a very moving tribute to this lost town and so quiet, cut off from the world by these tall tree.

We found the geocache just outside the fence in a grove of white birches (I miss birch trees). Funny side note: I dropped off a trackable here believing that since it was end of summer and these roads will probably be impassable soon that it would sit here until Spring arrives. Later that day I was pleasantly shocked to find another geocacher visited right after we left, and my TB is on the move!

Back on the road and heading North on US 23, we made our way to Rogers City for more geocaches at notable historic and scenic locations.

US 23 Discover Tour - Boat View GC63B57

Here is another piece of art by Tom "Iron Man" Moran, owner or Moran Iron Works, located in downtown Roger's City. (We saw his Eagle and soldier the day before, remember?) Tom's incredible welded sculptures dot this area and can give you quite a start when you round a corner and spy a giant arm coming out of the concrete.  Looking into it:

Since 1989, Moran Iron Works has constructed a unique and intriguing float to enter in the Onaway, Michigan Fourth of July parade. The float entry is the town's best kept secret until the community sees it for the first time on July Fourth. The anticipation and excitement each year for everyone to see what Tom has come up with is worth all the extra time put into each one of these projects.  Most of these sculptures are located in Northern Michigan, so everyone has a chance to admire some of Onaway's treasured artwork. (US 23 Heritage Route)
Looks like we need a follow-up trip for all the heads we missed.

Alas, that was the last of the giant metal sculptures we saw this trip. But not the last of the beauty. Next stop: Hoeft State Park. The sight of miles & miles of nature trails, sandy beaches, and one 1929 Sears & Roebuck's modern lodge constructed from a catalog kit (with furniture built by prisoners - who knew?).

Afishoutawater said the next stop was a "must do" so off to 40 Mile Point Lighthouse and the wreck of the Joseph F. Fay. Up to now we had been caching pretty steadily, but it was time to stop and smell the lake air and take pictures (Ok, TaGeez DID happen to find a difficult geocache DNF'd by some recent visitors). Lovely, refreshing stop.

Forty Mile Point Lighthouse

ShelleyJean and TaGeez

Remains of the wreck 
Ok, this stop on the Heritage tour may not seem exciting, but I had to add it. If you zoom in, you will see that BOTH ShelleyJean and TaGeez are holding cache containers and signing logs. Seems someone left a 'throw down' so we signed both just in case.

Ah, quirky and quaint Cheboygan. My only regret is that we had friends visit the same day and didn't find out until we checked Facebook afterwards. We missed other friends earlier in the day at Forty Mile Point Lighthouse, and we passed family in Mackinaw City later on. Looks like the gang is all here but not together.

Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw

Cheboygan River Front Range Lighthouse
LOVE art in the park. They had a mosaic gazebo, too!
Spied on the way to lunch at Mulligan's

And, as everyone knows, when heading up I-75, you must SEE SEA SHELL CITY! 

afishoutawater with Man Eating Clam! Yikes! GCK9X7

We were told to point at the "man eater". I'm not sure why TaGeez is
pointing at me!?!
At last, Mackinaw City, the Mighty Mack, and St. Ignace. We knew there was a chance that I would reach my 7,000th cache find on this trip, and it was at this point we realized it was a reality. Only 12 caches needed, it took longer than expected because we were distracted by Mackinac Fudge, saltwater taffy, and souvenir shops. What a full yet gloriously relaxing adventure!

I must insert my apologies here. I tried. I really did. I tried to cut our 1K+ pictures down to a select few. But the Mighty Mackinac Bridge is stunning, and we took pictures of it from every angle. Again, I'm grateful for all the geocache hiders who led us to these very beautiful and secluded beaches. Thank you for understanding.

Traffic was crazy with the bridge closing tomorrow (for the annual Labor Day walk) and the Labor Day festival along the water's edge. And, yet, with all the thousands of people milling about we had so many beautiful spots to ourselves.

How's this for a final resting place? GC3RB8G
The cemetery has it's own private beach!

Not the best photo but a lovely Earth Cache GC1MTTC

Oh, yes! And caching, too!

We must be rewarded for good behavior, right? 

St. Anthony's Rock Earth Cache GC1E8AR

Such a stunning view and such a GREAT cache container! Labrynth by the
Lake GC33FJM earned its favorite points on both accounts

And then it finally happened. I hit my 7,000th at McGulpin Lighthouse (northeast shore of Mackinaw City). The container wasn't very exciting, but the sense of satisfaction is amazing! Of the geocaches in the area, we picked this one specifically as a reminder of our US 23 Heritage Tour adventure!

US 23 Discovery Tour - McGulpin Lighthouse GC63NWB

So, of course, we had to take pictures. TaGeez thinks he's helping

I couldn't have done it without this fabulous man pushing me down hillsides

McGulpin Lighthouse - see TaGeez up near the light

This is what we came for! We earned our path tag and bragging rights!

Alas, the sun is setting and TaGeez has to work tomorrow, so with one final look, we were off!

We, of course, cached on the way home. The 1-75 Drinking Fountain Earth Cache GC27XZK is our fourth Artesian well YTD!

Who picked this angle? We need a taller tripod!

Thank you, afishoutawater, for your companionship, the use of your car, and the great suggestions you added to this trip. The Earth Caches really added to the flavor and to the history on this adventure.. Thank you to ShelleyJean for the laughter - you are an amazing photographer and I treasure the photos your forwarded.*  Thank you to the SAGeocachers (and all other hiders we crossed paths with) for a most excellent series. And thank you to my love, TaGeez, for making every day an adventure.

*Shelley's pictures are absolutely gorgeous, but I didn't want to use them without her permission.