Thursday, May 24, 2018

Shore to Shore Adventure

Do you hear it? The sound of road under our wheels? TIME FOR ADVENTURE!



Just in the nick of time TaGeez, ShelleyJean and I escaped our daily grind and headed for water. This past weekend was the Michigan Shore to Shore Series created and maintained by the TasmanianDevils.

Great Lakes - Lake Huron GC127DA
15 caches running the width of lower Michigan with 14 traditionals plus 1 puzzle final. Gather info from each container to solve the mystery while gaining smilies. Cache hides are sizable containers at varying interesting stops: nature preserves, a cemetery, a train depot, a lighthouse, rails-to-trails. 

We set off early Saturday morning after watching the Royal Wedding on TV for TAZ 01 in Port Sanilac. Unfortunately, we were driving into the rain, and it didn't taper off as predicted so in a word... wet. We got very, very wet.  For the most part that's not a problem, but this nature trail in particular was under water. Levels in some places almost to the top of our wellies.

Shiawassee Bird Watching GC6X139

TaGeez took one for the team and practically swam the last 75 feet, but we needed that clue! Upon exiting we squished past this little bit of history along the way. ALWAYS READ THE PLAQUE!




As we were moving along swimmingly (ha ha ha) we decided a brief break from skeeter-land to grab a few virtuals, a webcam, some food. Heading East to West along M 46 driving in and out of rain was soothing, especially when you travel with peeps as easy going as SJ and TaGeez.


The series can be done in a day, but what is the fun in that? As we found ourselves running right on schedule, we added a few extra stops along the way. It wouldn't do to be on time, would it?  Caching time is 1.5x as long to get from point A to B as regular time.

Bethany Lutheran Indian Cemetery - this is such a sweet little spot. On a slight hill and along the curve of a country road, this cemetery is nestled in lush green vegetation and tucked behind an ornate fence. 

SQ Bethany Lutheran Indian Cemetery GC2R6P9

So sad to see so many of these stones. This is the type of cache you research after you've visited.


Our trip didn't lack for historical cemeteries. We found caches in 9 of them but stopped at several more. One even had a "security camera" attached. 


Twelve series caches done, and we are 3/4 the way across the state when SJ said she could really go for some 'comfort food' and LO! Jimmy's Roadhouse in Newaygo appeared alongside the road advertising comfort food! Oh, and it was good! Kudos to them, also, for not taking a second glance at our muddy wellies.

Jimmy's Roadhouse in Newaygo

One last series cache and then...

Grant Depot Historical Sites GC6XN83

... we arrived in Muskegon.  We had made no plans for stopping overnight, but this place was as good as any with a little West coast nightlife.



This cute downtown consisted mainly of bars with names like the Unruly Brewing Co, Rebel Pies (Rock 'n Roll Pizza), and the 18th Amendment Spirit Co.  All of which had their TV's turned to Prince Harry & Meghan Markle's wedding on repeat.



We slept well at the Holiday Inn, and we awoke to another overcast day. Luckily there were many fabulous caches along our paths to cheer us up! In addition to completing the S-2-S series, we were hoping to knock off a few counties today.



Grave of the Branded Hand - Okay, the local geocachers dropped the ball here. No cache?!?! A memorial to a branded hand and NO CACHE? Fascinating story about a "slave stealer" (abolitionist) in Evergreen Cemetery.

Evergreen Cemetery - Muskegon, MI

After a few Virtuals (and more rain), we turned north for the last Traditional cache in the series. Ah, the White River Lighthouse near Whitehall. Even in the gloomy weather it was picturesque on the hill and tucked behind the dunes. 



White River Lighthouse GC5X30M


After TaGeez found the cache we moseyed down to the beach and the pier to take pictures. Brrr. It's cold this morning.




Picture postcard perfect!

It was some of the unplanned stops that gave us the most joy. After leaving the lighthouse and heading to Whitehall for a Virtual for SJ, we passed this really cool bridge. I thought to myself, "There really needs to be a cache here" and there was! Great story, good hide, good location. And TaGeez made a new friend! Older gentleman pulled off the road to see what TaGeez was fishing for. Lucky for us today's catch was box-shaped!


Titus the Troll GC74PA5

The haunted Mouth Cemetery near White River Township. This stop is right up there with the neglected Lumber town cemetery discovered on our US 23 adventure. It's reputed to be haunted, and, no exaggeration, I had goosebumps while walking through here.

First, we had a problem accessing it as both avenues were questionably legal. And then to climb out of the car to such quietude. It's called Mouth Cemetery because it was founded at the mouth of the bay and several of the graves are resting right at the edge of a cliff.

Pushing Up Daisies GCGY0G

Imagine my shock when I spied this at the back of the cemetery. Creepy, eh?


To lighten the mood we detoured to Lake County for another county find and then onto a 20-foot replica of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, MI

Hmmm... I thought it would be taller.

near White Pine Trail - Paris GC252C7
Speaking of oddities, no trip to the area would be complete without a stop at Newaygo State Park. In years past, this park played host to a very popular geocaching camping event. And, after experiencing several of its remaining caches, I can understand why.

Newaygo State Park's Kid Cache GC2X59T

How to Build a Better... Relocated GC29F60




Nothing says "Roadside America" like a Two story outhouse. If you ever find yourself in Cedar Lake, Michigan....

Two-story outhouse in Cedar Lake

Alas! The end of the road. Sunday evening found us in Alma, Michigan searching for the series final (and an open restaurant for dinner).

Shore to Shore Final GC6XN7

After making the find, the blue skies were out and the sun was shining down up on us.



It was a lovely end to a relaxing weekend, and now we look forward to receiving our commemorative path tags from TAZ.


Oh, and did I mention we nabbed a few more counties? Note to SJ: Yes, Van Buren county is going to drive me crazy!



Wishing all of you a safe Memorial weekend.  For those of you heading to Cincinnati, see you at GeoWoodstock! #gigastock



Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Banner Week for Geocaching

Geocaching.com is having a banner week with happenings and announcements!


GEOWOODSTOCK 2018

Cachers from all around the world are heading to GWS18 in Cincinnati, Ohio- America's first Giga event. Requiring at least 5,000 attendees, I believe the event will far exceed that with the draw of "first Giga" and the location of Coney Island. Interesting fact: 95% of Coney Island's traffic is at the waterpark versus the amusement rides. Use that as a deciding factor when selecting your park option with Saturday's rainy forecast.

Highlights on this trip with the fabulous WikidKriket and SnakeyLicks will be the Giga souvenir, taking our pictures in front of the GEOWOODSTOCK sign and the 30 lab caches. Regrettably we won't have the time for the two new geotrails but hope to do them this summer when the mega trail in Cincinnati is released.

Join the GeoWoodstock Facebook group and bookmark the very helpful FAQ if you are going.



NEW TRACKABLE PROMOTION

Yesterday at noon an email went out announcing the latest trackable promotion: DuckTales with Huey, Dewey, Louie and Webby. I posted to the Southeastern Michigan Geocaching Community (almost a thousand strong!) right away and POOF! It appears they ran out of the 5,000 commissioned. Now cross our fingers TaGeez or I will win one! No idea what they look like yet, but, as you can track them individually, they must be character-specific. I hope it does better than our Magic the Gathering trackables. 

#DuckTalesCache



NEW SOUVENIRS, TOO!

This last announcement elated me for about 5 minutes, but now I have mixed feelings. Complete an official Geocaching.com geotour and earn a special Geotour souvenir. Cool, right? But I completed the Smithonian Natural History Geotour and the Butler County Donut Trail and didn't receive one retroactively. Rumors are flying in the groups - the Butler County geotour now has 15 stops but only 13 when we completed it. The Smithsonian one (which cost us a fortune in time and expense) has since been archived. There's also a little bit of conflicting information on Facebook and the forums so I guess time will tell. 

Amazing how some people take a virtual sticker to seriously!


NATIONAL VOLUNTEER DAY

Today is National Volunteer Day and TaGeez & I want to thank DeRock, VanMan, Allenite, Rusty, and all the volunteer reviewers for all the hours you spend putting up with this craziness so that we can have geocaches to find. THANK YOU!



Wednesday, May 16, 2018

GeoWoodstock Offline Cachly Maps

Countdown clock is on and only a week until GeoWoodstock 2018! 

TaGeez and I spent that last two car rides to work listening to Geogearheads Attending Megas & Gigas and GeoWoodstock 2018 podcasts. Located at historic Coney Island in Cincinnati, we're heading to the amusement park with WikidKriket and Snakeylicks and looking forward to geocoins, virtual reality & gadget Lab caches, and, of course, the coveted GIGA icon!


Right now we're in the planning stages. Bought snacks and sunblock last night. Bookmarked lists of must-do's for the ride down. Checking out new reward Virtuals since our last visit. And preparing our pocket queries. Luckily we've been to Cincinnati several times recently so we've found many of the Favorited caches but experience tells us there are pockets of areas where we won't have mobile data (TaGeez has Spring, and I have AT&T).

Lucky for this iPhone user, Cachly has made available offline maps specifically for the surrounding environs of GeoWoodstock!

You can see where I have already saved these maps (gold star)

Cachly did it right - super easy!
  1. In the Maps tab, click the Map Types icon 
  2. Click Download Offline Maps
  3. Click North America
  4. Click United States
  5. Available maps will appear. Scroll down and click on Geowoodstock 2018 to install.
When you need to access these maps, click the Map Types icon again and select your saved maps under the Offline Maps section. Although only 87 MB, once you are done with these maps, you can slide your finger over the offline map entry to delete it.


Michigan maps are downloaded for our trek to the Thumb this weekend, and, HEY! Canada maps, too! Very cool as we live less than 10 miles from Ontario!



Tuesday, May 15, 2018

#hiddencreatures


I love it when something new crosses my feed! Just 42 days to find out what this is!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Sun On My Toes


Oh! I thought it was called "Robins NEST"!

Robin's Rest Stop GC7E3FX

That was the beginning of our adventure last weekend to Lake Huron. TaGeez and I had started the day intending to visit a quilt shop in Ann Arbor. Instead, with the need for the road under our wheels, we turned towards Port Huron and the fabulous Sew Elegant Quilt Shop. 

Really, though, it was just an excuse to continue north for a much-needed mini-adventure. I told TaGeez as we set off that I wanted water, people watching, sunlight, geocaches and a lighthouse.  He nailed it on all accounts!


100x5 Icon Challenge GC235MP

Have you cached along lower Lake Huron? It's about 30 miles between Port Huron and Port Sanilac. That's 30 miles of the bluest lake, cabins with funny names, and scenic pull-offs. Our main goal is Lexington, named for the famous Revolutionary War town in Massachusetts and once a Great Lake lumber port. Now its full of free festivals and quirky shops. 



And did I mention beaches? This was our view from Windjammers restaurant at the intersection of Main Street and Lake Huron. TaGeez and I enjoyed Alaskan cod and the best damnedest clam chowder. Poor TaGeez turned his back once and his chowder just disappeared!




After lunch (and listening to the Kentucky Derby on the bar TV), we moseyed over to the public docks and breakfront. 77 degrees, sunny with a light breeze. It sounds corny but you could feel the mantle of Winter left in a bag back in the car and the sun warming our very white toes. Too bad nobody informed Mother Nature - that water was 43 degrees and frigid! Holy frigid witch!





This sweet beauty is the mate of the one we spied from Windjammers. You may think this creature is the epitome of nature's grace, but, after we took this photo, it preceded to continually moon us. Asshole.




Windjammers on the right
Back up the hill and to the shops of Lexington. There are only 4 caches in and about town, and we just found the one outside the theater. We were surprised this little tourist town are headlining country stars like Lorrie Morgan and Kenny Chesney this summer.  I can't imagine where everyone will park.



Speaking of 4 caches... WE FOUND A LONELY CACHE! A multi/puzzle Spirit Quest in Lexington Cemetery unfound for TWO YEARS!  We were about to give up after fighting thorns, vines, standing water, and bugs, but we noticed a gold glint amongst the dead leaves. And this cemetery had a 'DEAD END' sign out front.

SQ - Lexington GC2RK6K

Back in the car and heading towards Port Sanilac, we pulled off at a number of scenic stops. Each conveniently had a scenic view and a geocache! Pure Michigan!

Secret Huron View GC5A8P1....

... and the view.

Port Sanilac is known for "a rich history with attractions such as the lighthouse built in 1886, the oldest continuously operating hardware store in Michigan, the Sanilac County Historical Village and Museum ... " 

Port Sanilac Lighthouse
We spied all three as we navigated to the beach for a little more caching. We happened upon geocache #1 of the Shore to Shore series and then one of Rattrak's Earth caches.

Shore to Shore #1 GC6W8T9

Admittedly, I don't seek out Earth Caches. Too many of them are cut-and-paste creations from Wikipedia, but we've come across some amazing ones in Ohio (Artesian wells, Berea sandstone castles), Iowa (limestone kilns, bedrock refrigeration), Massachusetts (dinosaur footprints), Washington DC (Smithsonian Natural History Museum). 

Great Lakes - Lake Huron Earth Cache GC127DA

So, when it presented itself, we acquired a clear bottle from a random trash bin, scooped some frigid water, and then stared at it on our washing machine for three days to see if it performed a trick. It did.



I think the coolest cache stop we've experienced this year is this SQ in Lakeport. Very cool bridge. It had a grated walkway with vines and ivy growing in. Luckily TaGeez was on his game for this one!

SQ - Lakeport South GC71EYR

After a long, glorious day it was time for a cold refreshment to counter the saltiness on our upper lips and the sand stowing away in my pant cuffs. We met a few new friends including an A&W Papa Burger statue and...


And Greg E. Normous Muffler Man! Yes, a Muffler Man SO close to home!


This trip was exactly the tonic we needed to take the edge off our cabin fever and stoke the road trip fires! One adventure down and two more to go this month!