Monday, August 6, 2018

Travel Tip #4: PDF It!

Leave the bulky guidebooks and printouts at home by combining all your important travel information into one easily-accessible document. This saves you from fumbling for paperwork looking for hotel addresses or paid-for services, finding the right pages in the heavy guidebooks, trolling souvenir shops for maps...

Top suggestions to include:

• Travel Itineraries
• Rental Car Agreements
• Hotel Reservations
• Park Maps
• Subway and Bus Maps
• Top Restaurant suggestions or reservations
• Geocache or Geotour Cache pages
• Roadside America or attractions
• Travel Guides

Combine your files into one document. I save mine as a PDF to edit out unwanted sections/pages and add personal comments. Another advantage to saving as a PDF is most mobile devices will display it in its original format and not reformat it to fit your screen.

Then upload to a Cloud service or app to view documents offline on a smartphone or tablet (because sometimes there's no cell service. Shocking, right?) I use a free version of Dropbox, which allows me to securely save my document online and view it in my iPhone and iPad apps, TaGeez's Android, our laptop plus the Kindle Fire.

Did you know that many libraries offer you free access to travel ebooks, and you can save sections of them offline to your own Google account? (Disclaimer: I know because my company supplies the libraries). Also, many popular attractions (including the National Parks) offer downloadable travel guides. That'll save a dollar or two!

Friday, August 3, 2018

Travel Tip #3: The Loads on Our Back

In the Victorian era, young elite would take grand tours of the continent with their steamer trunks filled with clothes and toiletries and guidebooks.

Taking a clue from that, if you're road tripping with a loved one and staying at multiple hotels along your route, consider a $20 trunk from Walmart versus toting large suitcases each night.

In the morning fill a small tote (“go bag”) with the essentials for tomorrow. When you pull into the next hotel, grab your overnight bag & shower kit and head to the registration desk. Next morning, repeat - replacing old clothes for new. And if you decide to stay a few days in one spot, one end of the trunk has wheels for dragging.

Not only will you save your back while hauling your worldly goods, but you can haul a greater variety of clothing. Handy for areas where weather can vary 40° from day to night or you plan to bushwhack to some golden oldie caches or your weather app informs you of torrential downpours during the next few days of your trip.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Travel Tip #2: A Needle in a Haystack

Ah! Rental cars! Unlimited miles, bounding out on backroads. And impersonal as heck - which makes it very hard when your black SUV rental looks like all other SUVs at the rest stop or National Park.

So add a tag in the front window (this one re-used from Midwest Geobash) or one of those magnetic decals on the back.

TaGeez has not tried to climb in the wrong car once this trip.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Travel Tip #1: Leave the Anxiety at Home

Ever stress about "Did I turn it off? Faucet dripping? Door locked?" You may not be forgetful, but others in the house might be.

Solution: Snap a quick pick of all your worry points. Then, when you hit the road and your mind starts to wonder, you have proof that everything is A-OK.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Clowning Around in Wauseon Ohio

Was the circus in town or is the geocaching community made up of a bunch of clowns?

I guess it's a little of both! "Circus" was the theme for this year's Midwest Geobash 2018!

TaGeez and I rolled out early Saturday morning for a little geocaching fun. This is the first time in seven years Team Free Range Lobsters wasn't parked in a corner camping spot due to a few scheduling conflicts. I was feeling their absence but also looking forward to the upcoming adventure.

Never fear, though, because it wasn't long before the caches cheered me up! 

I don't normally do this, but this post is full of spoilers. Be warned! They are a hoot!

Hmmm... not sure where to begin looking

We arrived before the campgrounds truly stirred so we grabbed a cemetery cache, a new Virtual, and then hit the event caches along the outer perimeter.

Kudos to the hiders this year for sticking 100% with the theme.

One of my faves was Team Doxie's TB Hotel. It looks small, but it probably stood around 4" high!

Here was a highlight of the day! Met this Sweetie from back home in the swag picnic line. Caching Fire looks like he enjoyed meeting her, too. 

A fun group. I think these cachers will go far :)

Not much swag this year. We bought the usual package with the souvenir t-shirt, but we missed most of the trackable and pathtag trading. We also missed out on seeing Signal - apparently his costume went missing in transit so, somewhere, there's a naked geo-frog roaming around.

Outside the event store and trackable tables were several of the LAB caches. There were 2 sets of 10 new ones this year, and I think I enjoyed them best so far. I'd love to see this one as a geocache (again).

Hey! More like-minded weirdos! Did you notice Fire's dashing clown collar? Yes, I'm a weirdo, too.

rootee2t, y2kcompliant, and Team GMMP with Caching Fire on the midway

More lab caches and geocaches. I could feel the stress of the prior weeks seeping out of my fingertips and dissolving into the beautiful, blue day. Of course the year we don't camp the weather was stunning!

We stopped by Madame Fortune for a quick fortune and LAB cache answer. TaGeez won't tell me what his cards mean, but he stepped away with a joyous glint in his eye. Hmmm....

TREASURE HUNT! Best deal in town!

We ran into June17 and Hawaii Vi for the second time that morning so we joined forces to clear out the rest of the fairgrounds. We didn't notice any clowns walking around without shoes, though...

There's a reason this camp site won the decorating contest. Profile picture time!

We struggled over finding the last LAB cache. No, I didn't add the arrows. They were there, and we still almost missed it. Here's my geocaching hat.

Unbelievably, by around noon we had picked up our swag, cached out the campground, finished 20 LAB caches, completed the Treasure Hunt, perused the vendors and had that amazing brisket baked potato from the Outlaw BBQ food truck. Now what? We had hours until closing ceremonies so we loaded up the car and headed out for some cemetery geocaching.

After all the crowds, it was peaceful seeking out the many historic cemeteries under the big blue sky.

See? Scrapcat really DOES do it in cemeteries!

Back in time for the closing ceremonies! But first, one more geocache...

scrapcat, TaGeez, and BOBO

Geocaching is about the amazing people you cross paths with. We were blessed to run into so many old and new friends today.

Yellowjeeperman celebrating a milestone!

And the Mr hanging with his bud

Time for the group picture!

The kids had fun decorating Fire
We had a great time! Looking forward to being back next year!

15th Midwest Geobash
July 25-28, 2019 in Wauseon, OH
Renaissance theme "Birds of the Round Table"

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Great Parks of Hamilton County Geotour

The Clinton County Barn Quilt geotrail only took 5.5 hours so we decided to head over to the Great Parks of Hamilton County Geotour(s) on Sunday. With both a kids/beginners version and an intermediate version, these had a greater variety of locations including waterfalls, grasslands, gardens and hilly hikes. 

But, first... a final cache in Wilmington. Fun!

CD Music Exchange GC2WCTY

The first tour is for all cachers and spread several miles across Hamilton County. To complete the tour, you have to find 10 of 15 caches. We started with a new friend at Sharon Woods. I think TaGeez had a handle on this "guardian of the cache".

Ancient History GC7NRAM

Next stop along the river in Sharon Woods is the other tour for children and beginners. So, of course, we had to do it. Some of these hides were even harder :)  But they were just as beautiful as we followed the winding path along several progressively impressive waterfalls.

Don't Miss at Sharon Woods GCA691

GPGT Kids Trail - 03 Gorge Trail Waterfall GC7NRA2

With an eye on completing this tour in a timely manner, we were slowed by the beautiful scenery along Glenwood Gardens. This beautifully landscaped park includes a 1.0-mile paved trail and the 1.6-mile Wetland Loop nature trail and formal gardens, prairies, forests and wetlands. 

Exploring the Discovery Garden GC7NRA9

Doing a little more research after the visit, we really under explored this lovely place. It's worth a trip back to visit the 12-acre Highfield Discovery Garden inside Glenwood.
  • Frog & Toads Garden - Look closely between those lily pads and you’ll see they are surrounded by frogs.
  • Wizard’s Garden - Pass the purple hat, don’t wake the dragon and take the bouncy bridge to the fairy garden.
  • Trolley Garden - Four small scale trains run on tracks surrounding some of your favorite storybook characters.
  • Vegetable Garden - Raised beds will put you eye level with common and not-so-common vegetables.
  • Grandma’s Scent Garden - You’ll be surrounded by smelly plants for your pretend tea party in this garden.
  • Morph Garden - The caterpillars in this garden are huge!
  • Butterfly Garden - This garden is shaped like its favorite resident.

Glenwood Garden Trails GC7NRAA

We spent the next several hours driving the outskirts of Cincinnati visiting parks and grabbing caches. These were rather unique as all the containers were identical and OUT IN THE OPEN! Literally. Chained to signs and park benches. Which means that several were missing (like the one below). As we were nearing the end of our list I was worried we wouldn't make the 10 we needed for the more advance tour.

Catch and Release GC7NRB0
Nine caches down, and we reached the southwest corner of the county. That left the famous Shawnee Lookout cache, one of (or "the") oldest cache in Ohio.  It really did look like a short walk from the parking lot.

It probably would have been if the walk was as the crow flies. Instead it was a climb, climb, climb (and the accidental detour didn't help - LOL). Luckily along the way, ShelleyJean excelled at solving several multis to pass the time.

Although a little humid (and brisk), it was a lovely walk to this oldie. I'm glad we didn't hike it during GeoWoodstock - we enjoyed the peace, the views, the joy of discovery.

Shawnee Lookout Cache GC31A -- Feb 2001!

Sticky and satisfied, we returned to the car and decided to turn for home. As we had to pass Dayton, we decided to make a second attempt at a Virtual downtown. We missed it Saturday by minutes - a series of fountains that run a few minutes before and a few minutes after the hour.  According to the Nuvi, we risked missing it again, but ShelleyJean did her best Nascar impression on the freeway. We made it minutes to spare!

Peace and Light - Five Rivers Metropark GC7B92C

We ran to the water's edge, pulled out our cameras for the required selfie and COLD! Hey, the water spray moves! And it was so cold and felt so very, very good!

We, of course, stood waiting by the rail hoping it would happen again. Fave point!

Refreshed, successful, relaxed, we decided to detour for Calvary Cemetery - the home of a series of geocaches amongst the city's founding fathers.

Calvary Cemetery GC3KQGA

And so ends another lovely weekend with the two best geocaching compatriots I could ask for!

GPHC Geocoins

As we started the tour, we called the Sharon Centre gift shop to make sure they still had geocoins for each tour. They directed us to customer service who gave us a name and address to mail our check for the cost of the coins plus shipping. We were warned that the coins are on backorder so there's no guarantee we will receive them. I appreciate the popularity of the tour during GeoWoodstock could've caught them by surprise but, as an official geotour, you would think they would reorder, wouldn't you? Fingers crossed.  Either way, it was a lovely tour.