Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Hike In Haldimand County

A couple days ago I went on a hike on an old railway that was converted to a hiking trail in Haldimand County, located on the northern coast of Lake Erie in Ontario, Canada.  I started the hike just before 4PM, and was out until the sun set an hour later.

 After the hike I toured an old cemetary, then spent some time by the Grand River just as the sun set.

The following are the photos that resulted from this trip.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Geocaching Adventures: 12 Mile Creek

 Today I explored parts of 12 Mile Creek, a river that flows through the Niagara Peninsula.  It was an adventure that held a lot of surprises.

I started the day going for a cache with a lot of favourite points in the Short Hills Provincial Park.      I pulled into the parking lot, and grabbed my gear and headed down the trail.  I went about 100ft when I realized that I has forgotten something, so I headed back to the van.  When I arrived the person who was parked beside me was getting out of his truck. As I was digging around my van he said "hey, are you a geocacher?  I noticed the caching badge on your bag".

It turns out he was on the hunt for the same cache, so we decided to join forces and head out on the hike together.  During the approx. 1 mile hike to ground zero we talked about all things caching, and he pointed out that this cache was Ontario's oldest active cache, which added some interesting colour to the cache.

We parted ways at GZ, and I continued on my way down the trails to complete a 3.4 mile loop.  It was an interesting, but very muddy hike.

I then moved east a few miles and went on the hunt for a cache that looked interesting.  When I got to GZ it turned out that the cache was way above my physical abilities, and rather than risk certain death I decided to settle for  a couple of what appeared to be less interesting caches in that area (appearances are deceiving - these were awesome caches in their own right), so off I went down another muddy trail through the woods along the edge of 12 Mile Creek.

It turns out that area used to be a town here, long since abandoned (who knew?). There isn't much left but some old bridge abutments, and some support structures for a grist mill.

I walked for a couple miles along the creek, trying to get a cache at an abandoned bridge.  It soon became apparent that the cache was not available from this side of the creek, and a pedestrian bridge does not exist.  So I hiked back to the van and headed across the creek to my final destination: Morningstar Mill.

The mill is an access point to the Bruce Trail, a 560 mile trail that runs from (essentially) Niagara Falls north to Georgian Bay. So off I went down the (yep, muddy) Bruce Trail.

This section held a couple surprises for me.  First off the Decew Falls.  I had no idea that these falls existed.  At 73ft high, and 20ft wide, they are one of the more significant waterfalls I've seen in Ontario (aside from Niagara Falls, of course).  What make this more interesting is that my wife lived just a few miles from here before we were married.  I have driven this road many many times, yet I had no idea this large waterfall existed just a few hundred feet from the road.

 The second surprise was that hiking the Bruce Trail to the cache involved descending the Niagara Escarpment.  The Escarpment is a very steep one-sided ridgeline that runs for many many miles.  At this location it is 250ft high, and it drops that 250ft in about 75 linear feet.  So, pretty darn steep.  To make things more interesting, the mud (remember the mud?) made things a tad bit slippery.  Luckily there are a lot of tree roots and rocks to act as stairs.  A fair amount of billygoating later, I was at the bottom, and enjoyed the 1/2 mile hike along the creek's edge to the cache.

Getting back up the escarpment proved to be much easier (its always easier to climb up hills than down).   Once I got to the top I had a sense of euphoria - I had tackled an amazing challenge and I came out victorious.

I hiked 7.5 miles today, most of it on muddy trails, and only found 5 caches, but it was completely worth it.  The scenery was amazing, and the caches themselves were all top notch.  Definitely a day well spent.

I'll finish this post off with a slideshow of the rest of the sights of the day:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Geocaching Adventures: Millenium Cache

 Well, its official.  I have found my 1,000th geocache.

 Often cachers will pick a special cache for their milestones - often they are epic hikes, difficult finds, classic caches etc.  So you may wonder what cache I picked to be my Millenium Cache, and you are right to ask.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know that I am not exactly a traditionalist (also, I'm sorry for the pain I've inflicted on you through my writing).

So to answer your poignant question: instead of going epic or classic, I went sentimental.

The cache I picked, "Lake Erie at Esplanade Park", which is a micro in a small park.  What makes it special is that it is the closest cache to Port Maitland Pier.  In August 2006, at the end of that pier by the lighthouse, is the location where I proposed to my wife.

Since I popped that all important question we have shared a wonderful life together, explored Europe, moved to North Carolina, had one kid and have a second one due in April.  We have also had a lot of awesome adventures together, many of which are documented elsewhere in this blog.  It seemed fitting to head back to this place and sign a logbook to commemorate an activity that has helped shape many of those adventures.

Debaere and Wife.  Note the lighthouse in the background.
I spent the morning finding the last few caches I needed to get to #999.  Then after lunch I put on the t-shirt that my wife got for me to mark the occaision (isn't she awesome?), left the offspring with the in-laws, piled into the van and headed over to the cache, made a quick grab of it, signed the log, and took some photos. Millenium Cache accomplished.

We enjoyed being out caching so much that we spent the next couple of hours exploring my wifes home town (nearby Dunnville), and found 6 more caches together, before finally heading back to her parents place (where we are staying) and settled in for the night.

It has taken me 3.5 years to find 1,000 caches.  It has taken me to many places I never imagined I would be, and many, many (many...) places I never knew existed, even ones in my own back yard. I am proud to have reached this milestone, and I can't wait to find the next 1,000 caches.... where is my GPS at?

Geocaching Adventures: Millenium Quest

 A often celebrated milestone in geocaching is getting 1000 finds.  It is typical for a cacher to pick a special cache to count as their 1000th.

 I realized a while ago that a confluence of events was transpiring which would allow me to reach my own 1000 find milestone, or what I have dubbed my Millenium Cache, in my homeland of Canada.

When we set off to Canada, a two day trip from our current home in North Carolina, I had 25 finds to go. We had 600+ miles to make up (with a toddler in the car no less).

This post documents in pictures my Millenium Quest to find enough caches so I can get my Millenium Cache.

Sadly this post does not include my actual Millenium Cache... that is deserving of a post all its own, but  happily these events have brought me to a find count of 999:

So which cache will be my 1000th?  Will it be an epic journey through the ice and snow of the Canadian frozen north?  A grueling 10 part multi-cache through the streets of Toronto?  A park and grab at the local Tim Hortons?  Perhaps a scuba cache in chilly Lake Erie?  

To find out, Tonka Tyke says:

"Stay tuned, eh?
It's gonna be a beauty."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Geocaching: The Beginning

A TEDx talk from Jeremy Irish, one of the founders of Groundspeak, the company that runs geocaching.com. It covers the beginning of the obsession known as Geocaching (at least as it relates to geocaching.com)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Google Parties

Some pics from the two Google parties I attended.  One on the USS Hornet in Alameda CA, The other at Grove Park Inn in Asheville NC:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Geocaching Containers Ready For Placing

One of the traditional geocaching containers are Lock & Lock containers.  On October 22nd I purchased a set of 14 containers from woot.com.

<-- As can be seen in the pic on the left, the set came in a variety of shapes and sizes

Since then I have been working on giving these guys some camo paint jobs (I posted about my technique a while ago here).

Some got a cement-ish look for urban hides, but most got a variety of forrest camoflage.

I had a few extra tupperware containers lying around so I painted them as well.  I also have a variety of bison tubes, match stick containers, and various other container types of my own devising.  So watch out, ye cacher inhabitants of the foothills of North Carolina.  These containers are coming soon to a GZ near you:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Delorme Challenge: What is it?

A snippet of atypical Delorme Atlas page
I have mentioned in several posts that I am attempting the North Carolina Delorme Challenge.  Many of you have posed the question: "What the heck is that?".  This post is intended to provide that answer.

Delorme is a map company.  Among other things (GPSs etc) they publish paper atlases, including one per state in the US.   The Delorme challenges require a cacher to claim finds for all pages in a given state.  Once that happens, they are given access to the coordinates for the final cache.  Once that log is signed, the challenge is completed.

To give you an idea of the scope of the challenge, here are some stats for the North Carolina challenge: Each full page covers 24.6 x 35.5 miles, tho some "pages" are smaller than that.  There are 78 pages covering the state of North Carolina, 77 of which are required to complete the challenge (the other one doesn't have any caches in it, so its a freebie).  To claim a page one needs to find any cache except event caches.  Caches found previously to accepting the challenge also count towards pages, so odds are you already have some pages claimed and didn't even know it yet.

These caches are a great way to explore your own home state, and I highly recommend trying the challenge in your state.  A complete list of challenges is here.

Go forth and explore!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Geocaching Adventures: Cache Run By Favourite Points

Recently I was in a new area and I only had a few hours to do some caching.  So I loaded up a pocket query for all caches with a 10 mile radius, sorted by favourite points, and started going down the list.  The following slideshow is some of the best of that cache run. (note: If you didn't get any of that, just translate to: "Here is a bunch of caches other people liked a lot")

**SPOILER ALERTS** If you live in this area, or are planning to travel to this area, you may not want to view these.  However since you don't know which area, and no one lives in this area (not to mention that if you were a cacher who did live in that area you'd have found them already), this shouldn't be a problem. At least for me.  Maybe for you, but thats your problem, not mine.  I am not your mother - go solve your own problems.

I present you, a few hours of caching in [UNDISCLOSED LOCATION]:

Geocaching Adventures: Redwoods

One of the amazing natural features of northern California is the giant Redwood trees. These giant trees can grown over 300ft tall, and can be 30ft in diameter at their base. So, ya know, not your average pine tree.

One of my goals for my trip to California was to go hiking among the redwoods.  On Sunday this is exactly what I did.

During the week I ran into a co-worker, who suggested that we (him, his wife, and baby daughter, and I) go on a hike this weekend.  What is interesting about this for you, my torturedloyal readers is that he is a cacher.  More importantly he is the one that got me started in caching when we were both in Belgium in the summer of 2008.  So you can blame my obsession on him.

I found my first cache with him, and the next 4 with him and his wife (we also accidentally ended up in France one time, but that is a story for another post).

I have not had a chance to cache with him since, so it was really awesome to close the loop and go caching again with the guy who showed me this awesome thing called geocaching.

Hiking among the redwoods is a fun experience.  The majority of the foliage is well above you, so you spend a lot of time looking through a forest of tree trunks.  You don't get a lot of magnificent vistas, but you do get the sense of walking among giants.

If you ever get the chance I highly reccomend giving it a go.

I didn't take a lot of pics on this hike, but I leave you with one last view of the giant redwoods of Big Basin State Park:

Hrm... I wonder where this path goes...

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Geocaching Identification: Et Tu Muggle?

When is a muggle not a muggle?

I am out in California for work.  Now that the weekend is upon me I decided to go for a hike in the hills to the south west of San Francisco Bay. So I loaded up some caches into the GPSr and headed off to Castle Rock State Park.

The first cache of the day was a mile down the trail at an overlook with an amazing view of Monterey Bay and the hills surrounding it.   I spent a decent amount of time enjoying the view, a celebration of a hard climb up the trails.

The first rule of muggles is that if you encounter any muggles on your caching hunt they will be at ground zero.  Today was no exception.  As soon as I finished taking in the view and was ready to start my hunt a young couple arrived at the overlook.  Gah!

 Determined to wait them out, I sat down on a nearby bench, drank some water, and tried to look awkward and creepy (with the theory that being awkward and creepy leads to people leaving early so they can get away from the awkward creepy guy - its a good trick, try it!).  The gentleman was teaching the lady how to read maps with a compass, and they were there a good 15 minutes.   The only thing I had to do today was go on a 3 hour hike... I don't have time for this!

Eventually they started to leave, but instead of taking the trail they started a bushwhack right over to GZ.  This was unusual.  I had been watching them, looking for the tell tale signs of a cacher, the biggest clue being the use of a GPS, but I didn't see anything.  These guys screamed muggles.  So I watched them a little while longer... they were definitely looking like cachers on the hunt - doing the bee dance, looking under and over every log they could find.

 My curiosity piqued I finally asked "excuse me... are you by any chance geocachers?"  His response "Why yes I am, are you?".


It turns out we both mistook each other as muggles and were playing the waiting game before hunting the cache.  They were also new cachers, with only 8 finds, and they lacked a GPSr.  He was trying to use a map and compass to find the caches (a method once perfected may serve him well).

We joined forces and used my GPSr to locate the cache, a nice ammo can under some logs.

They happened to be going on the same trail loops that I was so we headed off on the next leg of the hike together, me providing the coordinates, and them providing a lot of interesting information about the trails, and the park (both are locals and have been in the park many times).  We ended the 5 mile hike with 5 caches under our belt, including 3 that they were going to skip due to the difficulties in getting bearings under heavy tree cover.

So when is a muggle not a muggle?  When he's a cacher.

Cache-A-Maniacs Interview

My interview with the cache-a-maniacs podcast has been published.

Cache-A-Maniacs is a podcast that interviews cachers from around the world. They asked for volunteers so I raised my hand.

So if you want to know more about Yours Truly as it related to my caching experience in audio format, check out the link below:
Cache-A-Maniacs Interviews debaere (click on the Pod)

When finished, if I haven't scared you off, subscribe to the podcast and listen to the other fantastic interviews from cachers around the world.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Geocaching Yanksgiving: Unusual Suspects

The events of this post happened between 12:00AM and 11:59PM on November 27, 2011. 

This is the last day on our family American Thanksgiving (aka Yanksgiving) weekend road trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, exploring Eastern North Carolina in the process.   Today we drove from Greensboro NC to Charlotte NC.  Each day has had its own flavour as we explore different regions of Eastern North Carolina.  Today can best be summarized by the term "bizarre".

Many of the caches I found today ended up being unusual or odd in some way or another. What makes this more striking is that when I planned out these caches I picked them for their proximity to our route, and page location on the Delorme atlas (our trip is also doubling as a mission to gather pages for the North Carolina Delorme Challenge).  Often this leads to a series of LPC and guard rail caches, with the occasional ammo can tossed in, but today was different.

 We found 13 caches today on 5 Delorme pages.  Of those 7 were things I have not seen before. Without giving away too much details, I'll list some of these unusual caches:

* We saw an amazing display of wind powered art  by a nationally renowned artist Vollis Simpson.

* A cache that was a gallon milk jug full of cement, with just enough space at the top for a log sheet.

* A metal pot hanging from a tree. The hanging part isn't unusual, but the pot was. I have never seen that type of container anywhere, let alone in a state of arboreal suspense.

* A cache hidden as a power meter.  It was right out in the open.  It was magnetically attached to a utility box. Amazing camo job.

* A home owner had constructed a real train crossing as a gate for his driveway.

* The most unusual is a cache that was buried by ants.  The container was a film canister that was stuck in the ground at the base of a sign post. Over time a colony of ants moved in, and as they pushed sand from their tunnels, their ant hill buried the cache.  This one took a long time to find :)

And thus ends our caching adventure. This has been a productive trip.  We found 59 geocaches, and claimed all the Delorme pages on the eastern side of North Carolina.  We saw parts of the state that we now call home that we have never seen before. We also saw Zeke take some steps towards becoming an adventurer in his own right.

Thus this adventure ends.  So now I will sign off this series, and await the start of the next adventure.  I suspect I won't be waiting that long.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Geocaching Yanksgiving: Reflections

The events of this post happened between 12:00AM and 11:59PM on November 26, 2011.

As a father of a 2 year old I often wonder what influence I am having on him.  I want him to grow up with a sense of wonder and adventure.  Always wanting to know what is behind the next hill.  Always curious, and having the courage to explore his world and satisfy his curiosities.

These past few days I have been seeing signs of how I am influencing him.

We have been on a road trip for 4 days on a geocaching road trip to explore eastern North Carolina, and pick up some pages for the Delorme  Challenge for North Carolina.  We are a family of Canadians living in the US, and since this adventure is happening during Thanksgiving, and we celebrate ours in October, I have dubbed this trip: Geocaching Yanksgiving (it always helps to name your adventures - gives it a sense of purpose).

Todays adventure hass brought us back west.  We started the day on the Outer Banks, and ended up a hundred miles west, squarely safe on the mainland.  The landscape has changed from ocean beaches, to swamp land, and to rich farmland.  We've seen a lot of history, and a lot of cool nature.

I've also seen Zeke take some more steps on his way to become an adventurer.

Since the first day we left on this trip, Zeke has started each day excited to go caching.  He would sit in his car seat and say "cache!" over and over in his cute little toddler voice.  This is completely unprompted.  We didn't start the trip saying we were going caching.  He just seemed to know, and he got excited about it all on his own.

Now when we pull up to a parking spot and tell him its time to go get a cache, he practically bounces in his seat.  Today I had a couple of really cool experiences caching with Zeke.

The first experience was the first cache of the day.  We parked the car, and had a 300ft walk across a field to get to GZ, which was in the woods on the far side.  When we got to GZ I spotted the cache almost immediately - it was an ammo can sitting under a pine tree, but I waited to see if Zeke would spot it.  We walked into the woods a bit more and sure enough he spotted it.   Without hesitating (and just a little prompting from me) he walked the 6ft father into the bush, crawled under the pine tree, grabbed the ammo can (which is half his size) and pulled it out so we could open it. Not bad for a 2 year old.

Once retrieved, we helped him open it up and he looked through the trade items. I signed the log, and then he put it back (almost) perfectly. He handled the cache like he's been caching for years.  It was a great proud daddy moment :)
I am really starting to look forward to the next few years as Zeke gets older and can handle more hikes and exploring further and farther.  It is going to be a wild and fun ride.

Today we found 13 caches and claimed 7 Delorme Pages. We have one day left on our adventure.  Stay tuned!  In the mean time, let me leave you with these last pics of Zeke's great geocaching day, and another milestone in his development: Zeke signing his first cache log:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Geocaching Yanksgiving: Outer Banks

The events of this post happened between 12:00AM and 11:59PM on November 25, 2011. 

The sound of the pounding surf slowly invades your consciousness, bringing you gently from a deep sleep into the waking world.  You keep your eyes closed, desperately clinging to the joy of a deep slumber.  Other sounds begin to invade the peace and quiet of your mind:  Your wife breathing deeply beside you. The stirring of your son in his crib across the room.  The dog scratching in her kennel.

 Finally succumbing to the unavoidable morning your eyes flicker open and you see the sun peaking through the curtains.  It is morning outside.  You are in a hotel room. The world is yours for the taking. Adventure awaits...

Over then past few days we have travelled to the eastern coast of North Carolina.  Seeking fame and fortune and geocaches as we explore the eastern half of the state we now call home, and claim pages for the North Carolina Delorme Challenge.

Yesterday we made it to Kill Devil Hills, on the very eastern edge of North Carolina.  We are in the middle of the Outer Banks, a thin strip of islands that stretch down the majority of the North Carolina coastline.  Today we plan on exploring this thin sandy line, and see what interesting sights and sounds await us.

The first location of note is a field in Kitty Hawk NC, the very spot where mans first powered flight was flown.  There sits a National Park that memorializes Orville and Wilbur Wrights epic accomplishment.  It is quite amazing to stand in the spot that made all modern flight possible.

After Kitty Hawk, we drove south down the Outer Banks for a couple hours.  Our strategy was to get to the end as quickly as possible to ensure we claimed the Delorme pages we needed, then cache our way back north to our hotel.

The Outer Banks are a series of towns separated by long thin strips of sand dunes, sparse grasslands, and a lot of water on both sides. The landscape is broken from time to time with lighthouses, including the Hatteras Light House, the tallest light house on the eastern seaboard.

Some facts about our day:

  • I managed to pick up 11 caches today, including a webcam cache.
  • We claimed 2 new Delorme pages.  The pages are tall, and North Carolina is 4 pages tall.  Since we are limited to a thin strip of land going north/south, we don't have a lot of pages.  On the other hand, we have all of then Outer Bank pages claimed.
  • We completely avoided Black Friday.
    Aside from filling the van with gas, we avoided purchasing anything.
After spending a day on the Outer Banks I am ready to leave.  Oceans and sand dunes are a nice change of pace, but I am definitely a trees and mountains kind of guy.  Luckily tomorrow we head back to the mainland.

... crawling back into bed exhausted, you let your head hit the pillow.  Closing your eyes and taking a deep breath, settling in under the covers, relaxation sweeping over you.  The sound of the pounding surf lulls you into dreamland, bringing all the possibilities of the adventures tomorrow will bring.  Stay tuned.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Geocaching Yanksgiving: Where The Rivers Meet The Sea

The events of this post happened between 12:00AM and 11:59PM on November 24, 2011. 

 We are on a road trip to explore eastern North Carolina in celebration of Yanksgiving, a fresh Canadian take on the American Thanksgiving holiday.  We are also grabbing pages for the North Carolina Delorme Challenge.

Last night we stayed in Morehead City, so it seems reasonable, baring some issue with the space-time continuum, that today would start in Morehead City, and you would be correct.

We spend the day winding out way north eastward, exploring the inlets and roadways of the eastern North Carolina inner coastal waterways. Literally where the rivers meet the sea.

Our first cache of the day was just outside of the town of Havelock, just off a little road, and 150ft into light woods. A perfect cache for the whole family.  We parked about 400ft away and got Zeke and Bailey the wonder puppy out of the car.  As soon as we started walking Zeke started excitedly saying "cache! cache!" over and over again.

We wandered into the woods hand-in-hand (in the the manner that only a father and toddler are apt to adopt) and worked our way through the brush to GZ, where we were pleasantly surprised to find a rather large ammo can.

 Zeke loved exploring the contents of the cache.  Like most kids the swag is his favourite part.

We then headed back to the car, stopping along the way to pick up stones and explore the train tracks... typical toddler stuff.  We eventually made it back to the van and got everyone settled.  It was a perfect little caching moment, and a great start to the day.

We turned the van northward and headed up to Washington NC, where we explored some cotton fields. Neither my wife nor I have ever actually been up close to a cotton plant so we took the opportunity to check them out first hand.  Turns out a cotton plant feels exactly like... cotton.  How predictable.

From there we headed eastward through the marshlands that make up the western edge of Croatan Sound.  There we hit a wall of mosquitoes as thick as a wave of Tie Fighters in Return Of The Jedi, and about as effective (annoying, draws some blood, but easy to kill).   I have never seen so many mosquitos in one place before, and it turns out they were hungry and ready to feed.  Apparently I taste good.

We eventually got to the coast and crossed over  Croatan Sound to Roanoke Island, and grabbed a nice cache by a light house.  Zeke played at a nearby playground while I hunted down the cache at the end of a pier with the light house.  Along the way I noticed a pelican swooping around, and diving into the bay to catch  fish for food.  I've always been fascinated with pelicans, probably because a rhyme my mom used to say:
Wonderful bird is the pelican
Its beak can hold more than its belly can.

I've often tried to get close enough to take a decent photo of them, and failed miserably,  Today I got my best pics yet.  Not outstanding, but not that bad either, if I do say so myself.

 The light house was our last cache of the day, so we crossed the bridges over Roanoke Sound and arrived at our hotel in Kill Devil Hills NC.  After check in we enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving buffet in the hotel restaurant, a nice treat after spending so many hours on the road.

Some more facts about the day include:

  • I found 12 caches, none were suspended from trees.  Only One was suspended (from fishing line).
  • We claimed 8 Delorme pages
  • Zeke is really starting to get into caching, and was part of 3 finds, including this bison tube embedded in a stake
  • If there is a single person within 700ft of the cache, he will invariably be sitting at ground zero (happened twice today).
 If you look on a map of North Carolina you will see a long thin series of islands that extends almost the entire length of the state of North Carolina, shaped almost like a shield separating the ocean from the mainland.  The long islands iare called the Outer Banks, and it is where we will be exploring for the next couple of days.

Stay tuned!

Geocaching Yanksgiving: - An Introduction

The events of this post happened between 12:00AM and 11:59PM on November 23, 2011.  

A series of events have conspired to send me and my family on another geocaching road trip.

Event The First:  A while ago I convinced the wife (really it didn't take long) that we should attempt to do the Delorme Challenge for North Carolina.  It involves finding a cache in all 77 pages of the Delorme North Carolina Road Atlas.  We have all of the western half of the state, but only have a few of the eastern pages.

Event The Second: Americans celebrate Thanksgiving at the end of November.  We are Canadians who live in North Carolina, but we still hold onto some Canadian traditions, one of which being we celebrate our Thanksgiving in October.  So when the end of November rolls around we essentially get 2 days free vacation to celebrate a  holiday I refer to as Yanksgiving.

So putting the math together, and adding an additional vacation day to the mix, we decided to celebrate Yanksgiving with a 5 day road trip to the eastern half of North Carolina to fill out some more Delorme Pages.

We spend today driving across the southern half of the state to the coast, picking up 6 pages, and ending up spending the night in Morehead City NC.

Some highlights of the day:
    Action shot
  • I found 9 caches today, including one of each of the traditional sizes: nano, micro, small, medium, large, jumbo.
  • I found all the traditional hides (guard rail, fire hydrant, in prickly bush, behind sign) except LPC.
  • Two of the containers were suspended in the air. I've only seen this 5 times, so its odd to see two in one day.
  • Milestone Alert:  One of the ammo-cans-suspended-in-the-air caches was my 900th find.
  • One of the caches was at a winery.  After singing the log we went in and got 6 bottles of wine for the pregnant lady...


    ... before you get all panicky about the dangers about alcohol and fetuses, relax.  The wine is non-alcoholic, and will be used over the holidays by said pregnant lady to enjoy without causing my unborn child to grow an extra arm in-utero.

We actually ended up in Morehead City several hours ahead of schedule, so we decided to do a round trip to Cedar Island and grab the cache for that Delorme page.  This page is tricky as there is only one cache on the mainland, and it is completely out of the way.

Grabbing this cache adds several hours to our journey, so getting it out of the way now saves us significant time tomorrow.

Not to mention that it allows is to end our day with this amazing view:

Stay tunes for more adventures as a family of Canadians celebrate the latest holiday craze.

Oh, one more anecdote about the day.  When we packed Zeke up in the car this morning the first thing he said was, with an excited voice, "cache!".  I think I am raising my boy right :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Geoaching Adventures: The Toddler Videos

A couple videos taken today of Zeke while geocaching.  The first is just after we got out of the car...

Next at ground zero when Zeke locates the cache container...

slightly off camera:  proud daddy.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Geocaching Adventues: Lazy Sunday Edition

What did you do on your lazy Sunday afternoons? As for me and my house, we chose to have an adventure.

I have had my eye on some tricker caches in the area for a while, one being a tricky puzzle cache.  On Thursday night I had solved the puzzle with help from fellow cachers weightman and idajo2.  So with coordinates in hand I was anxious to get out on the trails and find the container.

On Sunday, like all good Presbyterians, we head to church for some preachin', teachin', and some good ol' rock'n'roll (you do have a rock band in your church, right?)

We get out of church at 11, and normally we head home for some lunch and napping.  This past Sunday I talked my wife into going geocaching instead.

So off we went to some parks in Hickory NC to tackle some caches.

The first couple caches were along the Geitner trail, a paved path that weaves through a wilderness area   The first cache on this trail was the puzzle cache mentioned above.  It involved some bushwhacking, but luckily the coords were spot on.

The second cache was further down the trail, and even more further down into a valley, 150 of bushwhacking on a slope.  The cache was 45ft away from GZ so it involved some hunting around, but I eventually came up with the grab.  Debbie and Zeke stayed up on the path and played.  On the way back to the car,  Zeke, ever looking for new sticks to play with, discovered the joy of Daddy's trekking pole (good thing I bought two of them! :). He actually got pretty good at using it correctly.

The next cache was at Hilton Park, just a mile or so down the road.  I have had my eye on this cache for a couple years now.  I tried to grab it once before but I was unprepared for the terrain.  The cache is called Hilton Wet Or Dry, because it offers you a choice: you can bushwhack to the cache over a half mile of bush (and this is North Carolina bush - chock full of thorny vines that would scare the devil himself), or ford a river that is 30 ft wide.  Which would you choose?

Myself I am picking the water. So with trekking pole in hand, and wearing freshly waterproofed hiking boots, I headed to the rivers edge and prepared to face my water nemesis.

The river is not actually that deep, perhaps a foot and a half at its deepest, so simply wading across is an option - but to my mind that approach lacks finesse.  So I slowly picked my way from river rock to river rock, and eventually made my way to the far bank and clambered up the sleep slope on the other side.  The cache was about 150ft through the fine North Carolina bush, and quickly made the grab.

Getting back was a bit trickier.  For one I had to slide down the steep bank to get to the waters edge, and the rocks were spread wider apart.  So it was touch and go for a bit, but with clever application of a trekking pole, utilization of low hanging tree branches as support from the banks, and some good old fashioned determination to not slip, I made it back across with out much incident.  The toes of my boots got wet, but my feet inside remained nice and dry - not to bad if I do say so myself.

I finished off the day finding the one other traditional cache in the park, then we headed home just in time for our afternoon naps.