Thursday, March 31, 2005

Wordfried's Wonderful Ways

I've been meaning to make the trip to Shenandoah County for some time now to see the countryside and hunt the many letterboxes placed by Wordfried. Today it seemed that the stars aligned and I set off for the mountains.

I wasn't disappointed. The terrain is breathtaking and today low clouds were breaking over the ridges, which added a touch of serenity to the scene. Wordfried took me to public parks in small villages, an historic covered bridge, and a hanging suspension bridge that made me feel like Indiana Jones as I made my way across.

Each of the letterboxes is unique, not only as a hide but also because of the hand crafted logbooks inside. The logbooks are beautiful, and they make the cache series intriguing - I just couldn't wait to see what the next one looked like!

There are still a bunch of letterboxes left there for me to find, and that's a good thing. I love that area of Virginia and I look forward to getting back for the rest of these wonderful caches. I'll have to shop around for a stamp to use on my next visit!

*GULP* You mean I have to cross this hanging bridge to get to the cache?

The view from the bridge was excellent. In the top of the picture is a concrete bridge - one lane - for cars. It is just inches above the water and there is not guardrail, which made driving across a thrill! This picture has been reduced, but you can still see the two white geese who honked at me as I crossed the bridge - they are white spots in the water.

Here I am... the intrepid explorer - hanging on for dear life! Note the sign; every single step that you take makes the bridge sway and ripple! This was the first pedestrian hanging bridge that I have crossed, and it was REALLY fun!

Monday, March 28, 2005

What Dreams May Come

I arrived in Chicago quite early today and decided to set out on a cachin' adventure before work. The day was incredible: 70 degree temperatures, no wind, no humidity... I was in heaven!

I started by taking the 'L' to the North Side and Wrigley Field. When I was a kid growing up in Vermont, I used to lay awake at night in the summertime with my bedroom window open and my AM radio tucked under my pillow. As I watched the stars and the large evergreen outside, I would tune in a Chicago radio station and listen to the Cubs play. The night had to be clear for this to work, and when it did I would fall asleep listening to the sounds of baseball in Chicago. I vowed to someday see Wrigley Field with my own eyes and now, some 30 years later, I had arrived.

I was numb as I approached the front gate... all of those memories came flooding back, including the night my Mom found me listening to the radio and grounded me for a week! (It was worth it, and she gave me the radio back when the week was up:)

After exploring the area in and around Wrigley, I set out for the Oak Park suburbs where I nabbed a few more caches, found the birthplace of Ernest Hemingway, and made my 400th find - and it was an earthcache! Yahoo!

I drank this day in like I would never drink again, and I'm glad that I did. It was filled with perfect moments.

WOOWOO! A dream come true! This is the entrance to Wrigley Field, and on the other side of this sign is home plate.

This statue of famed Cubs announcer Haray Caray stands on the south side of Wrigley Field.

I was really lucky today! I walked around the outside of Wrigley Field and discovered a truck entrance to right field where workmen were busy preparing the park for Opening Day.

I struck up a conversation with 'John', a Wrigley employee who was guarding the entrance. The day was beautiful - about 75 degrees - and we talked for a bit while watching the activity inside the park. John allowed me to venture to the edge of the grass, which was beyond my wildest dreams! I never thought I would be standing inside of Wrigley Field in this lifetime!

Here I am on the first base line looking toward home plate with the Washington Nationals TB in hand.

This is John (seated) who told me that he has been working at Wrigley 'every day of my life'. He was an interesting character and I enjoyed chatting with him.

I found a cluster of Victorian homes while walking through Oak Park, IL which counted as a locationless cache. I liked this one the best of the three. The pictures were challenging to take because a homeless guy was yelling 'GET BACK TO WORK!' at me over and over from across the street.

My first Earthcache! I never knew that the Continental Divide was in Illinois... I kind of figured that the Rockies were the divide. See? Ya learn something new every day!

This is the house where Ernest Hemingway was born in Forest Park, IL. There is a cache hidden quite cleverly nearby.

This stone is just in front of the house.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Hagerstown Revisited

I was a solo act this afternoon and decided to try Washington County for some cachin'. There is an excellent series there by Snurt which takes you to some beautiful historic stone bridges. I enjoyed the series immensely; unfortunately I didn't get any photos of the bridges because of the steady rain.

As I got closer to Hagerstown, the hides became more 'urban'. There is a park that I will be returning to which has so many large carp in it's pond that you could probably walk across the water on their backs!

Hagerstown is really a pretty town and I look forward to my next visit up there.

These were growing trailside in the mountains near Hagerstown. Aren't spring flowers great? This is Periwinkle, which was an introduced species in early America that has escaped cultivation. It's been around a while, and ironically not many folks grow it in their flower gardens anymore. You'll find Periwinkle flowering through April and May.

I haven't identified these spring flowers yet. They are very small, each blossom is the size of a BB and the stalk is no longer than your pinkie finger. I almost missed them entirely and used a telephoto lens for this picture.

This beautiful water feature is in a park in Washington County, MD. I wish we had one like this where I live!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Milwaukee, then Nashville via Dallas

I started the day in Milwaukee today on our 'long' overnight and decided to brave the bitter cold blustery day to do some cachin' before heading to the airport. I walked about 6 miles in total, finding 5 physical caches and one locationless.

As time started to become a factor, it became clear that I would have to use 'plan B' to get back to the hotel in time to shower and pack for the airport. 'Plan B' was to ride the city bus back from the last cache, and I was pleased to find that the driver was quite courteous and the bus was spotless.

While I was sitting in a seat playing with the screen selections on my 60C, the bus stopped in front of a high school where a half dozen students got on with a couple of adults. One of the adults smiled at me and said hello, and then asked if I had found any of hers! It turns out that she was the owner of two of the caches I found while walking... what were the chances?!

She didn't stay on the bus for long, as she was accompanying the students and their stop was just a few minutes down the road. I gave her my signature item and sat in a rather dazed state as her party left the bus. Every once in a while the gods turn your world upside down just see if you're paying attention, I think.

Later that evening we arrived in our next hotel in Nashville, where I hurried out and scored a quick find just 1300 feet from the front door! SWEET! I love it when I can hit two states in one day!

My first find of the day - a virtual dedicated to war heroes. This was a very nice monument.

This was my first physical cache find in Wisconsin - it seems easy enough, but the GPS was bouncing all over the place and it took a few minutes for me to make the find.

Find number two in the same park... I dropped my pen along the way and wasn't able to sign the log, but I exchanged TBs and left a signature item as proof of the find.

I stumbled upon this locationless cache find while walking from cache to cache near the Milwaukee airport.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

A Locationless Sunday Afternoon

With so much to get caught up on at home, I could only sneak out for a short time today and decided to find some locationless around town. I found a couple of interesting sites, and even got to enjoy some freshly brewed beer later on the evening while having dinner at the neighbors!

CCCooperAgency's 'Gettin' Hitched' locationless cache. These horsies aren't going ANYWHERE for a while!

The Lion locationless cache: these lions are guarding the Lightfoot Cafe, one of the fanciest restaurants in Leesburg.

Enter, be ye strong of heart!

This was the tastiest cache yet: a locationless that sent me looking for a microbrewery - I just HAD to sample the goods!

Saturday, March 19, 2005

The Road To Hagerstown

I was afforded an unexpected day of cachin' madness today and decided to head up to Hagerstown, MD for a change.

I never made it there.

There were so many fun caches along the way that I never quite got to H-Town, but I did see the city lights at the end of the day! I racked up 17 finds between Frederick and Hagerstown and had a blast. One of my favorites was a hide at a Cracker Barrel Restaurant - the hide itself is on the 'porch' just inches from where people are eating (and watching) on the other side of the glass. It was a fun challenge!

Perhaps my next trip to this area will result in my actually arriving somewhere within the city limits...

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Water Please?

This week was a busy one in the sky, which made for slow caching. I only managed one find while flying - in Milwaukee, a virtual on the way to the hotel - which was very frustrating.

We had two damaged airplanes this week, which was somewhat exciting. Our first was in Houston, where we pulled in and asked for the potable water system to be filled ( this is the water that you wash your hands with in the lavatory sink.) The ramp tech didn't open the relief valve sufficiently, so when he turned on the water and walked away, the tank overfilled and flooded the lavatory/cabin with 30 gallons of water.

3 hours later, we ferried to Dallas where the airplane was taken to heavy maintenance.

The second event was in Little Rock, where a service vehicle struck the tail before we even got to the airport from the overnight hotel. Lots of paperwork later we ferried this one to Abilene for an inspection and maintenance.

I was able to fire up my GPS on one of the ferry flights and recorded the stats below... WOOWOO!

Hopefully next week will be a little smoother.

WOOHOO! 571 mph over the ground as we sped this broken bird back to base. I wonder if there could be a virtual created for speeds, with photos like this of ground speeds...??

Sunday, March 13, 2005

MGS '05 Meet & Greet, Frederick MD

This was a very well attended event hosted by the Maryland Geocaching Society - and everyone had a blast! My group(s) nailed all of the caches - 13 on the day I think - including a tough puzzle cache with an interesting twist!

As mentioned in the previous log, I am quite far behind in blog postings but will be updating as I find the time.

Rufnredy (standing), kevmikwa (on the ground), and Baja Clan (kneeling) round up the clues for Carroll Creek Crypto. I was the only member of the team to make the find, due purely to being present at Jerry's while everyone brain stormed the clues. Thank you CCCA for taking me along with you! Isn't the auto-routing feature sweet?

Caching legend Fergus - a man of many talents and wide experience. I really enjoyed chatting with him at the end of the day.

In the presence of greatness: Seamus, Fergus, CCCA (2), and company discuss the day's events.

Friday, March 11, 2005

San Diego Chronicles

This week went by in a flash! I arrived in San Diego on Monday morning to sunny skies and 70 degree temps - which could only mean one thing: shrug off the jetlag and GO CACHING!

I was able to get out on three occasions and knocked down 14 caches of various types. They were all good hides, and I'll be adding pictures as I get caught up (I was staying in the one hotel in San Diego that had very poor internet access!)

Thursday, March 10, 2005

CVN 68 at night

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

A California poppy in the sun

Monday, March 07, 2005

SDPD's finest! The officers were nice too!

A penny for your thoughts?

I love the lines here!

These birds were everywhere

This amphitheater has a cache just behind it!

Is this haunted?

The eternal bridge

Cherry blossoms?

These little guys were everywhere!

Blood and Guts in San Diego

Pretty as a palm tree!

The Museum of Man in Balboa Park

A typical street in San Diego

My first Peregrine spotting!

A wild rabbit at Watership Down

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Nightengale Rolls By 13 In Style

It's not every day that you have a landmark birthday, and Nightengale was remembered by friends and family on her 13th with an all out celebration including roller skating, lazer tag, and tons of pizza. We had a GREAT time, and I am a VERY proud father!

Roller skating rinks really haven't changed much since I was kid...

Nightengale and her Mom broke bad during our game of lazer tag!

What 13 year old's birthday would be complete without a couple of pizzas?

All Gone Key In

This was my last cache of the day with my friends, and boy, it was a challenging one!

We hiked in via GPS direct (bushwhacking) to the cache area, where we were met with a steep snow covered slope. The view was spectacular - it's unfortunate that I was too focused on the cache to take a picture of the Potomac River and a sprawling mansion on the opposite shore.

The mixture of wet leaves and melting snow was a real worry - I was very concerned for the entire party as we slipped all over the place. We were on site for about 30 minutes, covering a very broad area along a 100' vertical slope. My own GPSr was wandering a bit, but kept bringing me back to a certain spot- which is usually an indication that the cache is nearby.

Even though I had seen others search a root ball earlier, I decided to scope it out again since we were running out of ideas. At first I didn't see anything, but a few seconds of poking and prodding produced the hollow metallic thunk of an ammo can - WOOHOO!

CCCA was at the bottom of the cliff (probably contemplating a DNF, since we were all thinking the same thing) when I hooted, and she scrambled straight up where we opened the cache and signed the log. This was my ONLY 'FTF' today, and man did it feel good!

Time spent with good friends always goes by too quickly, and as we hiked out I snapped the pics below. I can't wait to go cachin' with my friends again - thank you so much for sharing the day with me here in Virginia!

All Gone Key In: This is the hide that took us the longest today - the terrain was to blame, I think.

All Gone Key In: Kevin, Carl and Molly strolling in the long shadows of late afternoon.

All Gone Key In: CCCA stops for a quick photo on the hike out.

All Gone Key In: Geo Nina comes running down the trail - what a cutie!