Saturday, October 22, 2005

New Cachin' Rig Hits The Back Roads!

After 14 years of faithful service, I finally decided that my Honda Accord had more than given it's all and I started shopping for a new car. One with some cache-a-bility. I'm kind of partial to Honda's high build quality, but I did shop around for the best deal on a small SUV.

Honda once again delivered the solution: a 2006 CR-V. I got a great deal after negotiating for a couple of days, and my new rig has been just awesome. Gas mileage was a prime concern, and I'm happy to report that the CR-V has met the EPA estimates (21 city, 29 hwy) dead on with consistent readings of 25 mpg in mixed driving. I am also concerned with emissions, and all Honda vehicles meet ULEV 2 (ultra low emissions vehicles) standards. The features are too numerous to bore you with, but I must point out the picnic table, a standard feature, as one of the coolest items. It serves as the cargo area floor when not in use, and it is quickly set up with seating for 4! WOOWOO!

All I need now are the 'AIRSFTY' plates from the old car!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Mysterious Cacher Discovered In Virginia

At a recent gathering, I spotted this suspicious looking character on the fringe of the crowd. Sure, he looks decent enough, but how can one be sure? He seems to walk with a slight limp, and even the most indirect mention of 'buzzards' or 'vultures' in conversation appears to make him uneasy. Does anyone know the identity of this man?


Sunday, October 16, 2005

Psycho Urban Caches X 7!

Today Nightengale and I joined forces with FlyingMoose and PyroNorm for a REAL caching adventure: the Psycho Urban cache series in Frederick, MD. The series includes both multi-caches and regular micros, only the hides are in places that one doesn't normally encounter in geocaching.

Our party met up for the first of the series in a small park, where we chowed down some donuts and coffee before making the short trek. This first cache was a hide style I had seen many times before, and it was a great way to slide in to the series. As our day progressed, the caches became more and more 'interesting' and we all had a blast doing them.

Highlights of our day included the invasion of a homeless colony; stooping, crawling and sliding through a number of water works; creating interest in passing utility employees; coming face to face with cockroaches the size of your forefinger; meeting an unusual Japanese dog; shopping for specialized equipment; tree climbing and much, much more!

I highly recommend this series for thrill seekers, nonetheless I must caution anyone who is not in at least average physical shape or fearful of confined spaces to occupy themselves with a nice tupperware-in-the-woods cache... this series requires a little grit and determination.

I can't wait to see the new Psycho Urban Caches that are in the works!

Norm and I thought it would be funny to camp out in the dark a few feet down from here and make spooky noises after some unsuspecting cacher showed up... but then we thought better of it... LOL!

Moose took the lead here at one cache site, which had a slight twist, and we cheered him on. The caches get more and more challenging as you go, as you'll see below.

Norm gives some thought to this particular cache site. This was a very narrow opening and what you can't see is Moose inside of it yelling back to us. Great fun!

We all had a good chuckle at this particular cache site because the cache container wound up making contact with the sidewalk at a high rate of speed, shattering in to the pieces that Moose is holding. Norm and I field dressed the cache and replaced it - good luck, ye who dare follow!

Here I am going in to one of the psycho storm drains. It was a tight fit - I soon resolved myself to a belly shimmy for 75 feet or so. Nasty...

This is a shot from the start of my journey in a claustrophobic's worst nightmare. I had to take a couple minutes to pause here because the walls get mighty close once you realize that there is very little to be done other than go forward or backward inches at a time...

Easy does it, as I back out of the tube with bleeding elbows and a real appreciation for fresh air! Man, that was a toughie!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Apple Harvest

Nightengale and I were finally able to get out in some beautiful weather to pick apples for the table. Our farm of choice is Crooked Run Farm, which you may recall from a previous post of mine that detailed my first place win for preserves at the Loudoun County Fair. Crooked Run Farm is owned by Sam and Uta Brown, and the farm has been in the Brown family for 250 years! You'll find the farm at N 39 08.070 W 77 41.622, and they operate a farm stand year round where you can buy organic farm products from around the county.

Well, the farm was mobbed today so we didn't get to visit with Uta like we usually do. Instead, we made straight for the orchard and picked a 'case' of table apples. We'll come back next week after the crowds die off to cull ground drops for apple sauce. This is a GREAT deal at $5 a bushel, and we'll make enough apple sauce for the year. I might even try apple butter for something different.

We had a great day, and even though we didn't grab any caches I can promise that if you visit, you'll find fantastic treasure!

This is Uta Brown, co-owner of Crooked Run Farm in Purcellville, VA. You'll never meet a more interesting soul, I promise. Uta had a career as a geneticist before joining her husband Sam to manage this 250 year old family farm. Uta is a sharp as they come, and she's a great conversationalist. I always enjoy seeing her when I visit.

Uta hands over the goods to some young children who will no doubt carve their new pumpkin with sheer delight. Uta has a real gift with kids!

These flowers are grown on the farm and they are just spectacular. Uta was so busy with guests that I didn't get to chat with her to find out what these are, or catch up on the latest county news.

Closeup of the flowers. I goofed on the setting, so this shot isn't as rich as it should have been, but you get the idea.

Our quarry: Braeburn apples at the height of ripeness - a height we had a hard time reaching!

Nightengale and I brought our own box for apple picking, which got a couple of looks from the 'civilians' and high praise from Uta. Hey, re-use, reduce, recycle... right? We did all three with our sturdy box!

We almost stepped on this woolie monster on the way out of the orchard. This was the first day that we spotted these emissaries of autumn.

Our friend was defintely on the move somewhere and he wasn't wasting any time getting there! In an attempt to assess his navigation skills, we turned him around and he went right back to his previous heading. How do they do it? He mowed a straight line through the grass jungle without pause... We think he's using the earth's magnetic field, but no one really knows.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Hot, Hot, Hot!: The Caches

I never thought this day would arrive! After weeks of planning, replanning, rethinking and yet more replanning, I began to doubt that today's event cache would actually find a place in reality. You know how it is... things take on a life of their own sometimes and the process starts to feel like the result.

You can imagine my sheer delight when the weather turned out to be picture perfect and all of the various caching activities went off without a hitch! WOOHOO! We had a great turn out, and everyone came away from the activites with new finds, new stories, and most of all new friends.

I had decided early on to lead the hike along Goose Creek, as this is one of my favorite area hikes. We had the company of a photographer from the Washington Post who was shooting for the story that you may recall a few posts earlier. She was a real trooper, as she really had no idea what we were going to do until we dragged her through thorn and thistle, over hill and dale, over dead trees and under falling leaves... She had a blast and actually hiked most of Goose Creek with us just for fun!

I can't thank enough my co-conspirators for this event: 2Wheel'in, GLM, and Gaiter Man. They put heart and soul in to this day, and they did an amazing job. Thank you guys!

The bike gang takes a break at the quarry overlook near 'All American Box Reprise'.

The biking team used every trick in the book to find 'One For Dave'.

'I just know it's here somewhere!' (Our Gift To You)

'Hmmm... there's GOT to be a cache in here somewhere!'

Easy now! Stumblefoot and our Washington Post photographer carefully find their way down the ridge at Goose Creek.

Our Washington Post photographer enjoys a cool beverage with JPatton, Cache Detectives and Stumblefoot under the cedars.

"... and they called it puppy loooove..." Stumblefoot takes one right on the kisser!

Hot, Hot, Hot!: The Event

After a long day on the trails, we all converged at Tijuana Flats for some hot food, cold drinks, and tall tales! At my estimate, around 50 people made the event at the restaurant. I really enjoyed seeing so many familiar faces, and I got to meet many new friends as well.

After the chow was consumed and folks started kicking back, 2Wheel'in held a couple of drawings for all kinds of loot: unactivated TBs, many sizes of cache containers, zipper pulls, geocoins, tattoos (GLM was the lucky winner here!), Donbadabon's signature coins,and much, much more. Almost everyone won somehting, and it was great hearing folks say "WOW! I never win anything!" as they came to collect their loot. Well done, Bill - folks will be talking about this for a long time to come.

Thanks to all who attended, and a special thanks to Gaiter Man, GLM, and 2Wheel'in for helping to make it all happen!

The TB table, in all of it's glory. At one point you couldn't see the table itself under all of the TBs!

Gaiter Man espouses the merits of truly righteous hot sauce to GLM. After listening to Gaiter Man, I'm pretty darn sure that he'll win any hot eating tourney hands down!

I don't know everyone in this photo, but I can point out GLM in the ball cap, Maryland Steelers Fan in the white shirt, and Nittany Lady (who I finally got to meet today after reading 100's of her logs in various caches.)

These are two of THE nicest folks you'll ever meet: JPatton (L) and CacheDetectives(R) who, after my pleading (I think they just wanted to hear me grovel a little!), agreed to a quick photo.

2Wheel'in is caught here sharing some tales from the trail.

My daughter Nightengale shows off our new DV camera and her winning smile.

Donbadabon listens intently to Huggy_D1 while GoGayleGo enjoys a cocktail.

(L to R): PyroNorm, Koz and Rufnredy smile for the camera.

Now THIS is a fiesty group: (clockwise from left) PyroNorm, Kosarin, Rufnredy, and Baja Clan discuss their caching adventures.

2Wheel'in enjoys some heat with MooseMaMa and friends.