Sunday, October 21, 2018

GeoSwag Giveaway Geocoin

Wanted to share what I won in the Facebook drawing. Pretty fun and (rumor has it) May glow in the dark! We'll see tonight.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Pure Michigan Color Tour


TaGeez and I on the road in upper, lower Michigan for the Fall color tour last week! Weatherman forecasted overcast skies, but any day on the road is a good day!

First stop is Ogemaw County. Nothing like a rural cemetery off of an old logging road to get the heart racing! This was the last county TaGeez needed to color in his lower Michigan map. 

MLT Omegaw Springs GC4DW0X

Afterwards, the skies the limit! Over these two days, we aim to hit the Autumn hot spots along Lake Michigan including Traverse City, Charlevoix, Petoskey, and Mackinaw City. With no commitments in sight, we took many scenic routes which meant crossing paths with more rural cemeteries and horse pastures.

Excelsior Township Cemetery GC3WXQV

The colors are golden and rust and blaze orange. Even with today's technology, we couldn't capture the Fall palette so we decided to sit back and enjoy the view. Lovely drive from I-75 to Traverse City and up the Old Mission Peninsula. 

No trip to the area is complete without a stop downtown. TaGeez bought us Mooney's ice cream, and we tasted samples at Cherry Republic. If you get a chance, try their Smokey Cherry BBQ Dressing - we took their recommendation and made BBQ chicken tortillas with it. 
  1. Bake out chicken breasts
  2. Cool, shred, and add to a small crockpot
  3. Dump in half the bottle and let simmer
  4. Serve in lettuce wraps or small tortillas. Smoky and not overly sweet! Yum!
Still early afternoon, we headed towards Petoskey with a stopover in Charlevoix. I think the Fall colors are always most beautiful in cemeteries because it's so untouched. We parked our car and walked to the GZ with the last of the sunlight peaking through the trees. 

You know that perfect Fall sound... the one of leaves crunching under your feet? Yes, it was like that.

"Can't Take it With You" GC1JM9B

See nearby

We reached Petoskey and checked into the second worst hotel of our experIence. Room still not clean by 7pm. Room still not clean after the staff "finished the room". Broken TV. Rednecks shouting off the balcony. Everywhere else was booked. This is why we always travel with an oversized blanket in the car boot.

So, off the dinner. My brother, Jim, recommended the City Park Grill, site of one of Ernest Hemingway's summer haunts.
From the 1910s – 1920s, Ernest Hemingway made northern Michigan his summer home. The Annex was one of his favorite places where he would sit in the second seat from the end of the bar and write his ideas for short stories and books. The short story “Gentleman of the World” makes mention of the Annex.

Prohibition was established in Michigan in 1917. However, [Frank] Fotchtman [owner] did not abide by it and illegally served alcohol. He went as far as to build secret underground tunnels to the Cushman Hotel and the Grill Café to export alcohol. These tunnels are no longer in existence because of sewers and other city infrastructure, but the doors and openings are still visible.

Decorated for Halloween

Can you believe there's no cache at this historic restaurant or the Hemingway statue next door.

It's kinda funny. Normally on these trips we have so much to see that we don't truly take advantage of our hotel. On this trip, with no real agenda, we had planned to sleep in, but we were early up and out the door. There was nothing keeping us at this hotel. ((shudder))

With extra time on our hands, we decided to head out to MI-31 and Alanson for Earth Caches. Normally not a fan of EC's (lots of copy/paste Wikipedia entries and confusing verification questions, for my taste), it is International Earth Cache Day (weekend). 

Alanson Flowing Artesian Well GC1D6FW

We spied 3 Artesian Wells along MI-31, and two of them are Earth Caches! I LOVE Artesian wells! And the water here was so tasty! As we were visiting the first one, a local pulled up with 3 gallon jugs in hand because "it makes the best coffee"! And this sweetheart let us time her fill rate for the EC!

Oden's Flowing Artesian Well GC22YFD

Then we had decided, since we had time before meeting a friend, to grab some EC's in Petoskey. You can't go to Petoskey and NOT search for Petoskey stones! Even in 39 degree weather!

We had help from another local. He collects Petoskey stones and polishes them for resale. He told us the trick. You bring a 5 gallon bucket and fill it with water. Then you walk above the water line and dump it on the dry rocks. The distinctive markings of the Petoskey stone are most visible when wet, but other collectors tend to target those along the water line, overlooking the ones washed up higher on the shore. He also suggested we target dry rocks near bushes as people tend to avoid rocks not easily accessible. IT WORKED! We found five of them!

Petoskey Stone EC GC1VY4A

This site was a two-fer. The CO had another Earth Cache about a half mile down the coast, but he allows finders to perform the same tests here. How could we not?

The Sands of Little Traverse Bay EC GC1YH77

We passed the first of two Indian Missions as we headed away from the beach. Can you imagine this view of Lake Michigan on your doorstep?

Indian Mission

It's time! Next stop is the Charlevoix Apple Festival and our good friend, Sara (RomanTwins)! She and her husband were vending their fabulous wooden spoons. 

RomanTwins and Scrapcat

Aren't these beautiful? They feel as beautiful as they look. We bought these two and are shopping for more in their Etsy shop. Sara said they take little upkeep - they could be periodically treated with Mineral oil like you use on wooden cutting boards. We have started to purge our cheap spoon collection for a few quality pieces.

After a quick visit, Paul recommended King's Orchard (vending off the main street) where we bought the most delicious Honeycrisp apples and plain donuts. A festival on the bay, donuts and apples, and surrounded by trees bursting in color. It definitely added to the Autumn experience!

Can you see the whirligigs? I don't have an awesome picture, but we found out later a coworker of mine was vending in the next booth over.

Yes, we bought one. TaGeez did minimal damage (imagine 'bull in a China shop') walking up and down the aisles with this and sampling in Cherry Republic! This one whirls horizontally versus vertically. The designer's wife said he was inspired by the movie Twister (I've always wanted one of those whirligigs!).

We left Charlevoix and headed to the Tunnel of Trees. You'd think we'd have more pictures, but cameras aren't doing it justice and most of the ride was in other's taillights. So many others had the same idea. 

On a whim, we detoured down the South Lamkin Road. No idea this was here! It's a road that runs parallel to M-119 - lower down on the cliff  and level to Lake Michigan. It was so quiet and untouched and solitary - beautiful stately homes along curvy roads all to ourselves!

If you are caching in the area, St. Ignatios Historic Mission GC1H2J8 is a must-do! Off the beaten path, it's a historic church, Indian mission and cemetery right on Lake Michigan! 

St Ignatios Historic Mission GC1H2J8

To find the cache, you have to skirt the cemetery and follow a path to an overlook. Look at this view!

One more Indian cemetery further up the road (Corpse Village GCF895 hidden by "a pack of dead things") and then off to Mackinaw City.

Corpse Village GCF895

Dinner at the Keyhole Bar & Grill (featured that night in Food Network's "50 States of Seafood") and then one last Virtual and Earth Cache (in the cold and rain). Wanna guess what each one featured?

Mighty Mac Virtual GC7B89P

The Mighty Mackinac Bridge

Straits of Mackinac EC GC19GN2

The weekend may've been overcast and ended in rain, but the colors & adventure still warmed the soul. Hopefully this will assuage the road trip urges enough to get us through the Winter.

No Log?!?

The message said "no log". You think they could've mentioned that half the container was missing, too? 😜

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Geoswag Halloween Giveaway

Geoswag posted a giveaway - post some "fun Halloween Geocoins you have received over the years!"

How could I not post one of my favorites? The North Central Massachusetts Cemetery series!

And they selected mine (I'm assuming randomly) as winner! No idea what I've won, but it's already on its way!

That's my kind of treat!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Great Parks of Hamilton County Geocoins

In July, TaGeez and I had a great time - one of the most fun - with ShelleyJean to Hamilton County, Ohio. We had just finished the Clinton County Barn Quilt tours, and we had a full day to fill so we targeted the Great Parks of Hamilton County Geotour. Beautiful parks with natural wonders - one of the few park systems we'd like to relive. It was a day filled with nature walks and rapids and scenic hikes to Ohio's highest point.

Upon completion of both the primary and the kid's trail, we reached out to the park about the coins. The free ones were gone, but we were willing to pay for them. We were told the coins were on backorder - no guarantees we'd ever receive them - but we mailed in our checks anyway. Hope diminished when we heard the geotours were archived by due to mismanagement. 

And, then, LO! Look what arrived in the mail this week!

Thank you to the Great Parks of Hamilton County! 
We look forward to wandering around your nature trails again!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

#DiscoverTheForest Trackable

A big THANK YOU to ShelleyJean! She was one of the lucky recipients of the #DiscoverTheForest trackable promotion and was generous enough to give it to me! She knows my weakness in watching them travel (and disappear) into the great geocaching void.

This Discover the Forest trackable is provided by Discover the Forest, an initiative from the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council. This campaign aims to encourage parents and caregivers to help their families reconnect with nature by experiencing it first-hand.
TaGeez and I plan to tread lightly through some forested areas this weekend and hopefully find a good geocache to release it in!

Friday, October 12, 2018

GeoBox #1

A special box? An exclusive Geocoin? Limited edition? I missed the first round but happily forked over my $50 when's "Geo Box" came back in stock!

It arrived in 2-day mail in a custom box. Inside is a quick program detailing the box's content with the description and price of each item. The geocoin & trackable weren't inspiring, but the Alchemy Goods pouch (made from upcycled rubber tires) is my favorite item - quality stitching, solid craftsmanship - will be great to hold my coins at events.

The box included 2 - 1 month premium memberships. Sounds like a good giveaway on here or the Southeastern Michigan Geocaching FB Community.

Labeled number 1, the site promises another new box next month. But, like Cache Advance's Cache Crate, I'm not sure it's worth the monthly investment.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

A Conscientious Cache Owner

We used the first cold snap of the year to pull our archived caches along the TD Trail today. Lovely walk. We gave up this trail so Puzzler26 could hide his new gadget series here.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Lake Michigan: A Last Summer Hurrah!

I've been trying to post this for weeks, but TaGeez and I have been pulling double shifts and double duty, which has left little time except for the daily cache.  Now that cold weather is setting in and the days are darker, earlier I'm enjoying reliving this post-Labor Day adventure.

What started as a family adventure turned into a couples-only weekend after PopLob took ill. So, hotel book and rental car at the ready, what to do? What to do? Well, geocache. Right? 


Our initial plan was to take PopLob for a weekend of cider mills, white fish dinners, and beach views from camp chairs. Now with no need to stay close to interstate restrooms, we decided to detour to some of the sites off the beaten path. First stop is Fort Customer National Cemetery.

Avenue of Flags GCGZRX

Did you know we had German POW's during World War II? Why did that take me by surprise? I guess I assumed we were too far from the action.  It was moving to see the row of German headstones so far from home. 

Our open itinerary means we could tick off some personal goals including caching in the last three lower Michigan counties we needed.  Chief Noonday is in the middle of farmland north of Richland.

Chief Noonday's Grave GCB030
Afterwards we headed south through Kalamazoo to enjoy the newest geocaching Virtuals, most of which were located in cemeteries. Unfortunately, to avoid the spoilers, I can't share too many pictures.

Look at these! Old marble protected by stainless steel caps! We're seeing more and more steel in cemeteries lately.

Typical Cemetery Cache GC495EP

Several more cemeteries, a Viking Muffler Man plus the Paw Paw Wine & Harvest Festival, we finally made it to South Haven in time for dinner.


Hampton Inn in South Haven was affordable, very close to downtown, and made a fabulous recommendation for dinner....


South Haven is a quaint downtown is shops and restaurants and (thankfully) not many tourists the weekend after Labor day. So relaxing strolling hand-and-hand peering in shop windows and groping park benches for geocaches. 

Downtown South Haven GC34JQD
We had a relaxed, prolonged dinner people watching in Clementine's. Still a little restless, we decided to cruise down for a glimpse of the local lighthouse only to realize we happened upon Lake Michigan at sunset! I think the pictures speak for themselves.

GORGEOUS! We were back the next morning. 

South Pier Overlook GCJYR1

Happy as can be we packed up and started heading North - visiting cemeteries and lighthouses, geocaching and dipping our toes in the cool, blue water along the way. It couldn't have been more perfect. 

Ode to Eleanor GC73WJ5


Holland is known for its windmill and annual tulip festival, but you can't neglect a visit to Big Red. Look at all that sand and so few people!

Big Red GCP7TK


Next found us in Grand Haven where we spied two lighthouses as well as several other geocaches.

Grand Haven is known as Coast Guard City and hosts an annual Coast Guard celebration. No surprise the Coast Guard station is the site of one of the new Virtuals.

Virtual Reward - Coast Guard City USA GC7B8J9

We turned into town for lunch at the Dee-Lite Bar & Grill. We were given a choice to wait for a table in the dining room or immediate seating in the bar. TaGeez ducked out to the men's room, and the couple at the next table openly laughed at me when I ordered a round of water. Little did we know when we were seated in the Theater Bar that they were famous for their Sunday morning Bloody Mary drink buffet. You can see the lady over TaGeez's left shoulder making up her next round!

The food was delicious and worth the trip back.


This stop in Muskegon was much different then the last. Sunny and blue, water as far as the eye can see. Plus we practically had the beach to ourselves.

Light House Park GC4BMNE

Confession time: I have a water video library. I have videotaped the sounds and sites of the surf from various Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean (North Carolina to Maine). I find it a great de-stresser at work. We added quite a bit of footage on this trip, but these contained lighthouses in the background!

Unfortunately, there wasn't much Roadside America or Atlas Obscura stops along this route. So close to the USS Silversides, we felt we had to stop. Well, that's all we have to say about that.


And final stop North is Whitehall. We enjoyed this stop earlier in the year with Shelley Jean, but this time the summer warmth was with us.

Feeling blessed because we live in Pure Michigan!

Even TaGeez kicked off his shoes!



It's finally time to head home, and we have a few more stops in mind.

Caching Down in Germantown  GC7AA6N

If you ever make it to Grandville (southeast of Grand Rapids), you most definitely need to try the celebrated caches by hoekfam. One was guarded by a platoon of skeeters, the most favorited was MIA, but Updraft will definitely be my favorite of the trip. Want to see this amazing cache in action, check out my Facebook video!

Updraft GC5931G

We missed PopLob, but it was the tonic for a very trying year. Hopefully these memories will get us through the Winter ahead.