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Monday, August 25, 2008

Spending Quality Time in Cary, NC

What a great day daughter Geoness and I had on Saturday. We fully intended to blow our current number of finds record off the map. Our intentions were straight forward, get as many as we can and the sky was the limit. Go - Go - Go nothing was going to slow us down.

The plan for the day was sure simple enough. I created my cache raid list for the day with an over zealous one hundred possible caches to choose from. We would start about 9:00 am and go until sunset. Even started off with a nice breakfast then packed a picnic style lunch so we didn't have to stop anywhere to eat. Finished off with some munchies and a cooler full of water. Ready - Set - Go! Voom...
I had a feeling by our very first cache that it would set the over all pace for the day. We started by doing some hiking on the available greenways in southeast Cary, NC. We parked near Johnson Lake Park and was just going to hit one or two nearby caches then move on. It was so scenic and the weather was perfect for taking a long stroll. There were people everywhere and you can tell that this was one of the first times after a long hot summer that people could come out into the pine scented air and really enjoy it. Geoness went nuts with the camera and very quickly the fervor of finding the most caches possible quickly turned into "would you look at that" and "stand over there so I can take a picture". Did I mention the weather was perfect out? We mozied to our first cache which happened to be an ammo box under a log. With the trees being rather thick I found myself quickly playing the ever popular follow the bouncing arrow game. Walking off the path and bushwhacking towards what I thought would be a logical place for the cache I hear in the distance, "Found It".

"Doh!", I squeak from under my breath. "Your kidding right?", I hear giggles so this can't be good.

"Nope, I have it in my hands", my daughter says with that nanner-nanner pre-teen tone.

Sure enough there was the ammo box just asking to be investigated. We made quick work of signing the log and checking for any worth while treasures then the green painted cache was put back in it's hiding spot and we were back on the trails.

Before I could ask if Miss Geoness wanted to go back to the car she asks me if there were any other caches we could find. Because I was going by the Cache Raid list I had not done much research on nearby caches but it was worth a little walking to the next one. I mean how much time could another cache take or another and another... before we knew it we ended up picking up a few more before we actually did stop.
**Note - because there are so many caches there we will be going back to Johnson Lake Park real soon, would love to see it in the fall.

Eventually we made it to the car and continued on to our next cache on the list. I didn't realize it at the time but we ended up on the north side of Johnson Lake. We found a spot in a nearby parking lot and took a shortcut to the greenway in hopes of finding a couple of Horsegeeks caches. The view at this end of the park was no less spectacular with the lush greenery and shining water through the trees. We walked for about a quarter of a mile and came up to a very nice boardwalk that went over a more swampy like terrain. We had found our next cache location and after seeing the ground cover I told Geoness to hang back a bit and let me find this one. She agreed and I started up a small hill in the direction of the cache. I was instantly startled when I realized that I had walked right smack into an Orb Spider web. There is not too many things that will get your blood pumping more than looking eye to eye with such a large spider. Fortunately I had hit the lower part of the web first and the beautifully yellow, white and black colored beastie made it up to a large leaf. A bit shaken I continued my journey towards the suspected cache site. My suspicions were confirmed as I gazed down at the medium sized lock 'n lock box. I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when I realized what I would need to do next. You see the cache was placed inside a hole that two twin trees had made between them. The hole was about a foot deep and another foot wide. Perfect spot for a snake den. Leave it to me to go on the one hike in a wooded area without my trusty backpack. This would have been a perfect time to use my grabber tool which was, say it with me now, in said back pack. Instead I did the next best thing and prodded the hole with my walking stick and after being mostly sure nothing was in there I held my breath and reached.

My head instantly wandered to the visions of a fellow cacher who recently was bit by a copperhead. This of course caused me to miss the cache at first grab and actually took a couple of heart pounding tries before I managed to get the prize. Much to my relief I brought the cache back down the hill to my daughter who commented how much I was sweating. I smiled and said that it must be getting hot out and we can stop for a liquid refreshment break soon. After signing the log for this thrill filled cache I was happy to put it back for the next finder and move on.

The rest of the day consisted of several other green way hikes. I think we must have walked about five miles overall. There were several series that were fun including a lot of bison tube hunts. By the time it was getting dark we both were pretty bushed and we ended up with 18 finds for the day. Not the biggest amount when it comes to the numbers game but when it comes to the amount of quality time that the two of us shared it was priceless.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pete the Parrot Is Partying Down In Marmaris, Turkey!

Well Pete the Parrot wanted to see exotic lands and he found them in Marmaris, Turkey.

I received an email from Exile who stated that Pete was saying goodbye to the US of A and heading overseas. I just checked my logs and Pete now has 5605.6 miles under his belt and is currently being a true party animal just off the Mediterranean Sea.

I wish my party guy all the best and can't wait to hear of his adventures as he travels the world.

Party Hardy Dude!

***UPDATE*** - Apparently Pete has made some new friends as we have received word that he is now enroute to Norway!! - Will give further information when available.

Post From HeadHardHat's Phone

Cache Found! Raleigh, NC.

TimMcGrawlookalike and HeadHardHat Meet Face To Face, Finally!

Okay all you conspiracy theory people out there. Better sharpen your pencils because I finally was able to meet up with TimMcGrawlookalike today.

Conspiracy you say? Yes we've heard the stifled whispers in the hallways, the finger pointing from the other side of the room and those off hour phone calls when fellow cachers ask, "What gives?". Okay maybe not the finger pointing so much but I was recently asked if TimMcGrawlookalike and I had an ongoing plan to gain the most FTFs by feeding off each other's new caches. I can say with great certainty that we do not and it just seems that way. You see up in the Oxford, NC area there are not a whole lot of regulars. Much to TMGL's and my amazement once either one of us put out a cache it tends to just sit there for a day or three. When we finally go to work we will pick them up but for the most part they are not picked up as quickly as other areas. The pattern is usually the same, he would put a cache and I would go find it. Then I would put out a cache then he would be the FTF.
This has happened so often that people apparently noticed. That’s okay I love FTFs and will gladly race for whoever places caches along my way to work and back.

What gets me pumped though is when someone else puts out a new cache, then it really gets interesting. There are four regulars in the Oxford area when it comes to Geocaching. There is TMGL and I who get up really early for work so that seems to give us a slight advantage. Then comes Ringer2410 an Oxford native and a creative hider in his own right. Last but not even close to least is mobettamerf. Now I am pretty sure that mobettamerf sleeps with an early warning system under her pillow when a new cache gets published. Because there are times she will go out in the middle of the night to get a FTF. TimMcGrawlookalike is in law enforcement so he has all sorts of cool gadgets like night vision goggles and stuff. I would swear he has a bat cave nearby but I am still looking into that. On that rare occasion the planets are all in a line a real race happens.

There have been times we all have missed each other by minutes. Not hours mind you but minutes. There is nothing like a look on a FTF hunter when they see you waving goodbye in the rear view mirror and they just missed the prize. Muhahahaha, sorry I digress. This happened today as a matter of fact, I put out a new cache yesterday called Lunch Bucket #1: Butner Snacker. It published and both TMGL and mobettamerf went for it first thing. I won’t say who beat who but she must have been book’n from home. Apparently the other unfortunate cacher missed it by 45 minutes! Man I love this sport, hobby, obsession… That’s how it goes in the world of caching.

Well that was a long way to go for the main reason I wrote this article today. After emailing for such a long time I really wanted to meet up with TMCL since we never actually met face to face before. Unfortunately we did not have a lot of lunch time to spare so we decided to meet at one of my favorite Oxford hides, Playing on the Train Tracks #6. There we took a little stroll to see if it was still in good shape or not. While trying to avoid the tall weeds and falling off of a railroad bridge we were able to talk about a host of other caching adventures and ideas. We confirmed POTT #6 was ok and it was put back in its happy hiding spot. After completing our hike there was just enough time to trade some of our geocoins. TMCL liked one of my pathtag Sherpa coins and I went for a Horsegeeks personal coin and a Coinfest Event Coin from last year. Very cool.

Pressed for time we had to end our conversation but I don’t think it will be too long before we see each other again on the caching trail. TimMcGrawlookalike really gives the impression of being a top notch guy and I hope we can do some caching together sometime soon instead of going for that elusive FTF. Not that there is any fun it that!

Monday, August 18, 2008

New Geocoin For My Collection: The GEOCAC Geocoin

I love geocoins. I love the weight and feel of a well made coin as I pick up and hold one. I love the 'ping' noise it makes when I flip it in the air with my thumb. Over the weekend I received two new coins in the mail and I thought I would give you a peak of one of them.

This first caught my eye because of a project that is going on right now in regards to putting an official geocaching benchmark in every state. I liked the thought of just having this very large coin for my collection but there is a bonus of some of the proceeds going to the project itself. Below is the only write-up currently out now. Since it was a pre-order and it was just shipped there is not much more information available.

"GEOCAC Geocoin:
You can be a part of geocaching history! By purchasing one of these coins, you will directly contribute to the setting of permanent government recognized benchmark disks directly representing geocaching. Eventually, all 50 states may have one of these benchmark disks set in their borders. The GEOCAC coin was developed as one of the fundraisers and as a commemoration for this extensive project. We are proud to take on this fundraiser and help support benchmark hunting and settings. This coin is 2.25" in diameter and 4m thick. It has a 3-D design showing early surveyors climbing to the top of a mountain to set a benchmark. "
You can find more information about this coin at CoinsandPins website. For now click on the pre-sales graphic but I would assume it will be in their regular collection soon.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Adoption Cache Cleanup or My Afternoon in the Swamp

Had a great afternoon today. Started out by driving over to Fuquay-Varina, NC with the hopes of finding and if need be repairing some newly adopting caches.
My first stop was a bridge hide and before you start writing to me of the evils of such hides it is in the middle of nowhere. I too have seen the news with irresponsible hides in plain site of muggles under public bridges. For those who do this I can only remark " DON'T ! ". With this day and age of potential terrorism that strategy is pure stupidity. This hide however is on a back road with nobody for miles. The cache itself has been missing for months and I had already known it needed replacing. Since it was categorized as a micro I decided to go with something simple yet trustworthy. So my cache of choice was a 35mm canister with a magnet hold. I feel it will do the job and still give a slight challenge for those who seek it's smiley.

Next up was a cache that I originally did not feel comfortable going for earlier this year. It's called The Air In the Swamp is Terrible and at the time the thought of going deep into an unknown swamp by myself just did not set right. It is set near Terrible Creek and the satellite shots I had observed in Google Earth showed extreme swamp terrain nearby and I was just not ready for that yet. Fortunately for me I did go for it's sister cache The Swamp King and that was enough swampish fun for me.
Now that I have cached for a while I was actually looking forward to this afternoon hike. After parking in a convenient spot near the trail head I put on my calf high boots, donned my baseball hat, took my favorite walking stick then trotted towards the little micro in a swamp. My GPS had a fresh set of batteries and I made sure that tracking was turned on. Which was a good thing because after a few hundred feet in the trail turned into pure bushwhacking. The ground was moist but not nearly as bad as I had anticipated. There were relatively few bugs shy of a dragonfly or an occasional mosquito. There were however a huge amount of spider webs everywhere and I ended up using my walking stick more like a light saber than for prodding the ground. The smell of the area was dank and the humidity seemed higher than by my car even though I did not see all that much open water. It was amazingly quiet and I could hear all sorts of wildlife around me. To my left and above my head I heard a distinctive "who-who-whooooooo" which repeated several times. Then in the distance it was repeated again. For an instant I had the privilege of spotting a Great Horned Owl in the upper branches of a tree. Apparently there were two of them and they were calling to each other. Very cool.
I continued on and eventually walked up to ground zero. I looked everywhere and after about an hour I made the decision to simply replace the cache. While still at the original coordinates I found an acceptable cache host and placed the micro in it's new home. For a moment I thought of actually putting a larger cache at this site but only six people have gone for it so far. If more interest is generated I may put one out there that rivals Swamp King. We shall see.

Speaking of The Swamp King, on the way back to my car I stopped off to check on this very cool cache. As the royal keeper of the swamp it is in perfect shape and ready for it's next finder. I really hope they have as much fun looking for these caches as I had today. What a grand little adventure and something I can add to my treasure trove of memories.
I must admit as I exited the canopy of trees and felt the pathways open up there was a moment of relief. I absolutely love taking long walks in the woods but there really is a difference when you walk in a swamp. You have to be much more cautious where you walk, where you put your hands and taking that extra step of safety. Not because there is something waiting to get you around every corner. I know there are snakes, spiders and other creepy crawlies out there. You just have to use some common sense and poke those unknown areas with a stick. Above all you also need to get past your fears and do some honest to goodness exploring. How many times do we get to do that now-a-days? Enjoy these moments that caching provides to us. They will be the stories we tell our grandchildren and the memories that will help to keep us young.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Adopted Cache Found! Durham, NC

Adopted Cache Found! Durham, NC

I just recently adopted about thirty caches in the Raleigh and surrounding areas. One of the first things that I wanted to do was get the ones that are either missing or damaged replaced. Today I had a chance to check out a couple of them and replaced Pretty Too and checked out Hippyism.

Pretty Too was recently destroyed by being in the path of a control burn area. It has now been moved to a safer location about 70 feet towards a stream. Hippyism is in the same park/trails area and was in great shape. I will be hitting all of my adopted caches in the next month or so..

Stay Tuned...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Help Keep The Spirit Alive By Adopting A Cache

It's so true when they say your first 100 caches are the most fun, enjoy the adventure and the secrets they bestow you. I personally started geocaching in early 2008 and I still can feel the incredible newness of it all. The anticipation of the hunt and the promise of the mystery it would reveal. Caching pushed every one of my geek buttons and I could not wait for what lie ahead. Though in hind sight, I did have to get past a phobia or two.

My second caching find ever was a Hippopotamama cache known as “Welcome To Wake 8”. It was a grand total of two miles from my house and partially in a wooded area. At the time it might as well have been buried treasure stashed deep in an impenetrable forest. My imagination ran wild as I chased the arrow on my GPS screen into the darkening seclusion of trees. “There could be things out there”, I thought as the first bit of pine needles crunched under my feet. Growing up in Michigan the worse I had to worry about was an enraged squirrel or maybe a very rare pygmy rattler but nothing really serious. Here in North Carolina there are tons of things just waiting to make their presence known and I read about each and every one of them. Snakes, spiders, ticks – oh my, but even those were not going to keep me from finding my goal. So ever so carefully I headed towards ground zero. A rustle of leaves to my left gave me a start as a banded skink dashed away with it's turquoise blue tail flashing in a patch of sun. “Whew, that was close”, thought I as I learned to watch the GPS and my direction at the same time. Moments later I was standing at ground zero and remembering in my head about the description of the cache and of course the hint. Looking behind trees and around stumps then before my widening eyes there it was – the cache. Sure it was just a blue Tupperware lock top but at the time to me it was my treasure find. Excitedly I wrote my name into the logbook. Making sure it was dated so everyone could see that I was actually there. Adding to my delight was a couple of swag trinkets that I was able to trade for and the extra bonus of my first travel bug find, JACKPOT! Holy cow this was cool and there it was a Diabetes Travel Bug for me to record on the website. Pictures, must take some pictures, quickly I snapped some off from the digital camera I remembered to bring. With it now time for me to leave I carefully made sure everything was put back in place, locked tight and hidden just as I found it. How magical is an experience like that? Though now with hundreds of caches under my belt I can hit a dozen spots in a shot but they rarely have the same “Umph!” like the first ones gave me.

So why the trip down memory lane? What is so important to me now after I have already recorded my smiley? A month or so back a host of caches in my area went up for adoption. The reason for it is becoming more common place. With the price of gas and the abilities of the owner to keep a cache in shape changes over time. When these particular caches became available I was glad to give a hand and adopt some. It was even more meaningful to me when I saw Welcome to Wake 8 was one of them.

The adoption process is extremely easy. The cache owner puts the cache up for adoption by telling geocaching.com the name of the cache and who they wish to adopt it. An email is sent to the adopted owner and they simply accept the offer; ownership is then transferred. Once ownership is in your name it is up to you to find the cache and make sure it is in proper shape. Several of my new adoptions needed maintenance including WTW8. According to the logs the cache was soaked and the items inside were pretty much mush. This was not a problem for me mainly for the surplus of caches I keep in the back of my car. I remembered the approximate size of WTW8 and had a very nice lock 'n lock container that could be used if needed. Time to take a quick road trip up the street.

Oh how things change, back when I started caching this adventure took me into the woods of North Carolina for the first time. Now after being in countless woods, swamps and forests within five states I didn't give a second thought as I stepped on the now familiar path. No need for the GPS really though the terrain was different in the late summer as to early Spring. Using my tracking pole to prod around the cache area I heard the resounding sound of my pole bouncing off of plastic. “Ah, there it is”, I said as I picked up my old treasure. Looking down I could not help but notice how small it now seemed to me. It was beat up quite a bit with a hole in the top and covered in mud. Inside was the remains of a homemade cross and the logbook in soggy tatters. I drained out as much water as I could and put the container in my backpack. Then replaced everything with the new cache I had brought with me. “Back in business”, I said as the last coverings were put in place and I walked back to my car then on towards home. Hopefully something could be salvaged from this trusty cache, but from first glance I pretty much thought it would be a total loss. Yet one thing I have learned and that is these caches are always full of surprises.

After getting home and pulling out all of my geo-stuff from the trunk of my car I started a little recovery project in the hopes to save some of the original log book. Welcome to Wake 8 had been placed back in late April of 2007 and if there was any chance of getting a few pictures of the logs then some of it's history could be saved. This was not an easy task, the log book consisted of two golden magnets as covers which held the log sheets together. A great idea but unfortunately when completely wet all of the paper sheets smooshed together. Surprisingly I was able to find my original signature pretty much in tact, date and all. The rest of the log book was unrecognizable except when I pealed away to the very first sheet. There was the buried treasure I was looking for. It showed the FTF who happened to be harley_hound, followed by horsegeeks, akinsclan, science_geek, we4ncs, geo13, hunster and a few more. I quickly snapped some pictures of the log book. I am glad I did that when I did for as the hot sun dried the sheets they quickly darkened and became so brittle they simply disintegrated. Fortunately I had what I wanted and I cleaned up the cache and the few trinkets that survived. I am happy to report that the first owner of the cache is getting the photos I had taken and it is my hope they enjoy this little keep sake to remember it by.

Currently I am still going down the list of adopted caches. There are another handful which need maintenance but I am getting to them. As I replace or repair each of them I have found a comfort knowing that I am helping to keep someone's essence alive. I realize that a lot of thought and down right creativity goes into cache placement and preserving it for others to enjoy means something to me and the original owner. For mine in particular the owner referred to them as their babies. To be looked after and maintained which only shows the attachment they can bring. Who am I to do any less than show the same respect I would want if I ever had to leave my caches in someone else's hands? To me as a member of the caching community it is important to help keep the spirit alive.


Monday, August 4, 2008

DogsGo2 Do A Switch-A-Roo To Grab FTF

A couple of days ago I placed a rather nasty little cache entitled Krazy Pooh and a Good BM (GC1ET94). Yeah I know what you are thinking and in part you are correct, The cache which was made from a Krazy Glue container and uniquely cammied ended up looking like a little turd. For starters I created three of these but I have a feeling there will be more. Must be the potty humor tickling my funny bone. Long story short this little cache was hidden in a nice shady spot with a valid Bench Mark nearby. So if you go for this cache you get two finds in one.

When I originally placed Krazy Pooh I was not entirely comfortable with the coords that were generated. So to be sure I took the long car ride out (okay it's less than a mile from my home) to re verify everything. I do this because I personally can't stand having a very well camouflaged cache 60 feet off and I did not want to do that to others; so off I went.

As I walked to the cache site I noticed someone already walking around. Without even clearly seeing them I shouted out "Did you find it yet"? I knew for sure it was cachers when I heard a muffled set of giggling coming from the other side of some young pines. That was when I introduced myself to Andy and Cindy a.k.a DogsGo2.

I really am glad I showed up when I did because it was clear to me the coords were off quite a bit and a general point helped get them looking in the right direction. As they searched we talked about our caching adventures and I found out that the caching couple live fairly close to this area. Zeroing in on ground zero they jokingly remarked that they did a switch-a-roo on everyone so they could get this FTF. It turns out on the same day Krazy Pooh went active they just published a dozen or so new caches west of us. Great tactic I thought to myself! Sure it was all coincidence but it is fun coincidences like this that make caching fun. With the sun slowly setting they split up and it was Cindy who found the cache. They have a great rivalry when it comes to caching and I think if she had an extra couple of seconds she would have loved signing the log, putting the cache back and let Andy struggle a little while longer hunting. Oh sweet victories, but Andy noticed she had found the prize. After putting back everything in its proper place we headed across the street to their first Bench Mark. As we looked in the tall grass the benchmark was found in short order and I showed how they can identify a benchmark by it's designated name.

With the sun now in it's last glimmers it was time to walk back to our vehicles and I smiled realizing how nice it was talking with DogsGo2 but it was time to say our farewell's. We of course traded cell phone numbers for that sometimes necessary PAF's and I would like to go caching with them sometime as well. I do so love being able to talk with fellow cachers. Putting names with faces makes going to events that much more enjoyable and you never know when you can invite nearby friends for a road trip. I wish Cindy and Andy all the best on their caching ventures and look forward to talking with them soon.