Saturday, February 25, 2017

Lorain County Geocoin

A fabulous surprise waited me when I came home yesterday - our Lorain County Back Roads and Beaches geocoins arrived! 

When I called prior to our trip, Victoria from the LoCo Visitor's Bureau said many of their locations were out of the geocoins. However, as we were making a 5 hour roundtrip, she offered to mail them upon completing the course. How generous! We dropped the passports in the Bureau's vestibule before leaving the area.

Isn't it lovely? I like the colorful LoCo emblem on the front. Looks like the emblem, doesn't it? And the footprints and boot prints on the back.

I agree with ShelleyJean - these are great mementos of a fabulous adventure with friends. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Back Roads and Beaches GeoTrail

68 degrees in Michigan and Ohio in FEBRUARY! 

That was the weather forecast over President's Day weekend. Inspired by this sudden reprieve of the Michigan drizzlies, ShelleyJean invited TaGeez and myself to an overnight adventure in Lorain County, OH! Ladies and Gentleman, I introduce you to the Back Roads and Beaches Geotrail!

LoCo BRaB - Vermilion Main Street Beach GC5DPD8
Sponsored by the Lorain County Visitors Bureau (Hi, Victoria! You were right about staying in Vermilion!) geocachers need to find 15 small and regular caches between Lake Erie and Wellington to qualify for the BRaB geocoin. Our first stop was the lighthouse in Vermilion (which is also a Virtual).

ShelleyJean at LoCo BRaB - Bacon Anyone? GC5DM17
The weather was stunning, and we experienced so many types of GZs - lighthouses, gazebos, downed trees, community centers, parks, a winery and a cider mill. We drove with the windows down!

Lovely Limestone cliffs!

And driving the back roads were lovely - barn quilts and apple trees, deer and seagulls.

LoCo BRaB - Sweet Smell of Cider GC5DNNQ
Look at this sky! This was a winery on the Gore Orphanage Road! Yes, I'll repeat that... Gore Orphanage!  But the name was scarier than the apple tree-lined road. Googling came back with the "most haunted area in Ohio" and "the most misunderstood legends of Ohio." What a cool and creepy name!

LoCo BRaB - Vines and Wines Equal Good Times GC5DQBW
Midway through our passport, we entered Common Grounds in Oberlin. Its website reads, "Our mission is to provide transformational opportunities for individuals and groups to realize their potential through conscious living. Our 2.5-hour canopy tour consists of a variety of fast zip lines, aerial bridges, stairways and soaring platforms." Not what two girls from Michigan with a joint fear in heights wanted to hear! Luckily there were no witnesses this time of year to watch us make fools of ourselves.

LoCo BRaB - Let's Find Some Common Ground GC5DNHA
Phew! Halfway through it's time for lunch in the nation's cheese hub (during the last half of the 19th century - come for the summer cheese festival!).  TaGeez found Dog Tracks Diner online, and it was delicious! Fried pickles!

TaGeez on his Jolly Trolly - nothing can keep him down!

Dog Tracks Diner Frickle Burger - yummy fried pickles!
And then onto a nearby cemetery (we actually stopped at a half dozen over the weekend). This one in Wellington is the final resting place of Archibald Willard, the painter of the Spirit of '76. Wise, local geocachers placed 2 caches in this cemetery!

Spirit of '76 PTMMD GC2V7QF
Have you ever heard of an "upground reservoir"? It's exactly as it sounds and quite popular with fisherman and walkers enjoying the weather. These blue summer days were a little misleading, though. We were reminded of the recent Winter thaw as we squelched to the cache here. 

LoCo BRaB - Wellington Upground Reservoir GC5DPBB
Time to turn North towards Pittsfield and Lorain -- back to the beaches! Here the parking lot and pathways were filled with short-clad locals -- walking dogs, sitting in lawnchairs, blaring music.

LoCo BRaB - Beautiful Lakeview Park GC5DQD5

Yet another lighthouse! This one in Lorain
Our final stop on the BRaB was along the Black River.

LoCo BRaB - Black River GC5DMAB
This park was the final station to freedom along the Underground Railroad (you forget how close we are to Canada here!). 

15 fun finds in Lorain County. We grabbed 15 BRaB code words and smilies -- we left behind over 20 trackables from Michigan!

Lorain County Back Roads and Beaches Geotrail

ShelleyJean, TaGeez and I headed off to a victory meal at Quaker Steak & Lube! How could we not eat at a place that offered Lube Sauce and Boom Boom Shrimp? There were actually people sitting outside on the deck in shorts eating dinner.

TaGeez in the elevator
Typical for us... any time there's a photo op and laughter, we're in the middle of it.

Scrapcat and ShelleyJean
Sunday morning found us at lakeside again. This was a sweet memorial garden about 2 miles from our hotel.  The cache owner had permission to place the cache here, and it's been here for quite a few years.

Dombrowski GCPCHJ
With the completion of the geotrail, we decided to head North and follow Lake Erie along Route 6 towards Sandusky. We grabbed several more caches and snapped pics at a few more lighthouses.

My picture of the lighthouse in Huron, OH

Shelley's pic of me snapping a picture of the lighthouse in Huron, OH

We stopped at the Cholera Cemetery in Sandusky. I'm surprised to discover this is actually featured on Roadside America.  From Haunted Hocking:
In 1849, a cholera epidemic swept through Ohio. In desperation to escape the sickness, trainloads of people from Cincinnati and other cities sought refuge here. However, with the refugees, they brought the deathly disease. At least 400 of the 3400 residents in the town died and were buried in a mass grave here. Their ghosts are said to haunt the area - angry voices are heard near the graves and lights have been seen along the grassy area.
It was rather peaceful when we visited Sunday morning.

Cholera Cemetery GC1QM4H
Speaking of cemeteries, recommended the Confederate Stockade Cemetery on Johnson's Island as one of its recommended stops in Ohio. Things they don't teach you in school: there was a Civil War-era Federal prison and Confederate cemetery on a little island in Sandusky Bay! I would've thought it too far from action to be possible, but that is one of the reasons it was selected. It held primarily Confederate Officers in its 3 years of existence.

Currently there is no geocache there, but the view and the history makes it a must-stop outside Marblehead.

We were heading towards Marblehead to see the last lighthouse on the trip. Marblehead Lighthouse has 2 Earth Caches and extremely picturesque views. You can see the rides of Cedar Point off in the distance across the water. 

This is a Prime Location for a Seiche GC16H4G
Marblehead Glacial Grooves GC1X4PR
And speaking of Roadside America, we stopped for handless Jacques and a cache. Actually, it was the worse cache of the trip - the plastic pencil case under Jacques right foot was not watertight and was OH SO GROSS! But snapping a picture of Americana was worth it!

Marblehead Muffler Man GC1GN9R
I think our last cache of the trip summed up the essence of the weekend: amazing blue skies, point-worthy caches, and great friendship. Being so near water for two days was rejuvenating after such an ugly Winter.

Water's Edge GC1Q492
Thank you, ShelleyJean and TaGeez, for another amazing adventure! We need to do this again soon!


If you are interested in earning coins or path tags, check out this list of GeoTours and Reward GeoTrails. See if one is in your area. Before you go on an adventure, remember to check if the geocoins/rewards are still available and the caches are still active. Happy Caching!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Geocaching iPhone Apps: A Visual Comparison

I've been asked if I have given Cachly and Looking4Cache a fair chance. Here is part of my answer:
I’m a technology trainer by trade. I gather requirements, advise in the building of new tools, test, document and train our end users. My job is to entice new users to adopt technology (teach old dogs new tricks). I get excited over new tools so I went into Cachly and L4C with great enthusiasm. I willingly paid for them and gave each at least a month’s use before reverting back to Classic and GeoSphere.  
Keep in mind that I have a 5-year cache-a-day streak so each tool was minimally a 30-day commitment. And, yes, before you ask, I did supply feedback to the Cachly developer, who was impressively responsive.  
Let's be honest here - these apps (including the "Official app") have many of the same features in common. They search. They display caches by lists or on maps. You get cache details, recent logs, and the ability to log. There are offline capabilities and tools for trackables. Some are more responsive than others and some have an easier learning curve.

What is a big differentiater? The visual features of the interface are HUGE! Let's face it - I'm in my mid-40's, and I'm surrounded by 30-, 40-, 50+ year olds. Our eyes are not getting any younger. I prefer the classic app in this regard because the listing pages use colors and frames to section off the cache details and the font/darkness of the cache descriptions are easier to read.

Geocaching iPhone Apps


Working Reference at Borders and Barnes & Nobles, people often asked which Dictionary or Thesaurus is better. It's a personal preference. Pick one word and look it up in each book - do a side-by-side comparison to determine which format works best for you. 

To help you with your iPhone app decision, I've put together a side-by-side visual guide for you. Before you make your final selection, however, visit the App Store to ensure that your selected tool does have the features you want in an app.

The Geocaching "Classic" app is no longer available in the App Store and will return March 23rd. The Geocaching "Official" app is free, but you have to pay for a Premium Membership ($30/year) to get the most out of its features. Cachly is $4.99 with no In-app purchases listed. Looking4Cache has both an Intro (free) and Pro ($6.99 and has in-app purchases). GeoSphere is $7.99 and is no longer actively supported.  GCDroid and C:GEO are popular Android apps and not available for iOS. There may be other iPhone apps, but these are the most common.

Classic - Official - Cachly
Looking4Cache - GeoSphere

Classic - Official - Cachly
Looking4Cache - GeoSphere

Classic - Official - Cachly
Looking4Cache - GeoSphere

Classic - Official - Cachly
Looking4Cache - GeoSphere

Classic - Official - Cachly
Looking4Cache - GeoSphere

Classic - Official - Cachly
Looking4Cache - GeoSphere

 It is truly a personal preference.  Hope you found this helpful and good luck in your hunt!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Kneel More: Geopoly

Yippee! I messaged Neil Moore (Kneel More), the creator of the Geopoly board auctioned at the MIGO Winter Social, and received the go-ahead to share with you!

How cool is this board?!? I'm blown away by this! 

He handmade it as an auction item, and it deservedly received one of the highest bids! I spent quite a bit of time reminiscing at the different caches TaGeez and I have visited. I really wish I could've flipped through the Community Event and Mystery cards.

He made custom cards, money, and game pieces. He posted that a coworker 3D printed the smalls and ammo cans (houses and hotels) included in the set. He didn't miss a detail. 

Proceeds (real proceeds - not the phony dough below) from the auction go towards the MIGO website, scholarships and events in Michigan. What an awesome contribution!

Visit Neil Moore's Cache Tales on Youtube!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

MIGO Winter Social 2017

Blue-haloo! It's winter time, and I'm suffering from cabin fever! The perfect medication is a jaunt to Lansing with ShelleyJean and afishoutawater for the 2017 MIGO Winter Social! I've been told for years this was the social event of the year so early Saturday morning we found ourselves bundled into fish's new SUV and heading west.

First stop: The Flash for Auction flash mob. WOW! Was it cold! Only insane people (and geocachers) hang out in a vacant shopping plaza in February for a group photo.

Source: Cache Page (Periwinkle128, I think)

To warm ourselves, a little caching.  Ah, the joys of caching in winter!

Luckily ShelleyJean and I found it! (Thanks, afishoutawater, for the photo!)

The coolest part is this cache (and several more to follow) were part of the North American Wildlife Series -- each their own unique diorama!

Eventually, time ran down, and we headed to the social (2017 MIGO Winter Social GC6WNBH).

Mrs Grundalow and RayQix striking the 'TaGeez Look"
In actually, Ray and Amanda may've been contemplating, "Who donated the SheWee to the auction?" I know, right? I wonder who bought it?!?

But there were two amazing contributions to the Live Auction. The first was the Geo-opoly game handcrafted by Kneel More (Neil Moore) and bought by Team TopKat. Phenomenal!

The other is the fabulous quilt made by Mrs. Goldfinch (with an assist from the Mister) and purchased by Allenite. It contains replicas of the 10 commemorative path tags from past winter socials.

The coolest part is my sister, WikidKriket's, path tag! She won a path tag design contest several years ago. Awesome!

'The GPS says we're close"
The best moment worth getting up early for was to see Othum again. He's been undergoing so many serious treatments lately and has been sorely missed from our gatherings. Love you, my friend! So glad Yeti brought you across the border and to our capital!

Othum and Signal
Ok, enough seriousness. WINNER!

Prize for Geocacher's Bingo - woot!

And then onto the caching. ShelleyJean just nailed the caches in the cemeteries! Afishoutawater and I were SO glad she nabbed this tricky puzzle final!

I loved the views and assortment of hides. I think fish was just thrilled with the automatic front gates - Every cemetery should have these! Pull up within 2 feet of the gate, and it opens automatically to let you out.

Mount Hope Cemetery
This was my favorite oddity for the day - a fire call box in the middle of the cemetery. As you get closer you realize it's a memorial for the fallen fire fighters.

And then we wrapped the day with a stop at the Cracker Barrel. 

Yes, a very good day.
Thank you, afishoutawater, for driving.
Thank you, ShelleyJean, for finding.
Thank you, MIGO Members, for two fun events.