Sunday, June 26, 2011

Geocaching Adventures: Return to Hibriten Mountain

My caching/hiking gear enjoying the view of Lenoir
from the top of hibriten Mountain
Back in December I went caching up Hibriten Mountain, the largest peak in the area.  I escaped from Hibriten Mountain, but I didn't find the cache.

Today, 6 months since the last hunt and 7 months since it was last found, I returned to the mountain to hunt for the cache again.  I was determined to get this sucker, called Dreams Of Flight, off my todo list.

It is a 2.5 mile hike to the top of the mountain, 2.5 miles back, and I spent a good mile getting to ground zero and hunting around.

The top of the mountain is mostly rugged terrain, with lots of fallen logs, dead leaves, and a lot of rocks to climb over.   It took me a good 45 minutes of clambering and sliding around, but I finally found the cache and with a great sense of victory I signed that log.

On the way back down I ran into a friend and cacher who goes by the cacher name clevernickname.  I gave him some tips on the find, and he managed to make the find as well.

I am really proud of myself for finding this cache.  It was by far the most physically demanding cache I have done. Two years ago I would have never had the energy to accomplish this. It appears my hiking and biking to work is starting to pay off :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Geocaching Adventures: Indian Fokelore Edition

I had a few hours this morning to kill so I decided to snag a couple caches that have been sitting in my todo queue for quite some time.  Both are a bit out of the way, and have a higher terrain difficulty.

As it happens both also have an indian theme to them (feather not dot).

The first cache, Light Of Indian Grave Mountain, is near an old indian burial site.  Apparently the bodies were dug up in the 50s and sent to Washington, DC.  The cache is located 200 ft up a waterfall, over which a small creek flows.  It was difficult in spots getting a foothold on the wet stones, loose wet earth, and rotting vegetation.  More than one tree was knocked over as I vainly grabbed for handholds :)  After a bit of clambering I made it to ground zero and located the cache after a few minutes hunting.

On the way down I met a husband and wife caching team, some of whose caches I have found in previous adventures.  It is always cool meeting other cachers on the trail.

The second cache, called Twin Poplars, is a monument to peace.  The story goes that back in 1737 two Indian tribes, Cherokee and Catawba, had a territorial dispute which led to an epic week long battle.  At the end both sides got tired of fighting, so they declared peace.  To mark the occasion they tied two poplars together, which have since grown together into a rather cool looking arch.  For more information on the story check out this article from the Caldwell Heritage Museum: Twin Poplars.

The cache hunt itself starts at a parking space located at the end of a narrow bumpy country lane.  A path 0.2 miles long winds through the woods to the bottom of the hill where the twins are located.  From there it is a slippery climb as the hill is fairly bare, and muddy.  Once you are up to the twins you can proceed 30 feet farther and snag the cache.

Even if you are not a cacher I recommend checking out these areas as they are worth the hike by themselves, especially the twins.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fathers Day: Lets Go Caching!

It is Fathers Day today, and against all odds, I happen to be a father.  As a present I got two things: A geocaching shirt, and a geocaching adventure up in the mountains of North Carolina.

The t-shirt, viewable <-- there, has a version of the classic geocaching slogan "I use multi-million dollar satellite equipment to find tupperware in the woods".    I received it at breakfast, so I wore it to church (cause thats how I roll), and afterwards we headed up to the mountains.

You can see me in the middle - look for the
orange shirt ;)

It was raining for most of the two hour drive to the first cache, and was still raining quite heavily when I started the hunt.  I rarely let weather stop me, especially after travelling so far.  The tricky part was that this cache involved climbing up a steep dirt slope, which was now slick with rain.  Determined, I made the ascent, found the cache, and made it back down to the car without wiping out.

The second cache presented its own problems.  The terrain was relatively flat woods, but my GPS reception sucked due to the rain so I had a 100ft search radius (normally its 14ft or so).   It took me about 20 minutes of searching, but I finally managed  to come up with the find.

Luckily the rain stopped before the third cache, so Zeke and Debbie were able to join me on the remaining hunts, as can be seen in these next few pics.

Zeke loved walking in the woods, and spent a goodly amount of time hunting his favourite prey:  sticks.

All in all we hunted for, and found, seven caches in total.  Not to bad given we only had a single afternoon, and spent 4 hours of it driving.

It was a fantastic good time, and an awesome way to spend a Fathers Day.

Oh... Before I let you go... here is a WTF? pic my wife took while on the hunt for cache #6... it is a doorway... and nothing else.  It backs onto what appears to be a parking lot. Why?  Who knows :)

Until next time, this was this time, on Caching With Dave.


Monday, June 06, 2011

DYI: PVC Bike Rack

I used to be a one bike family, so finding a place to store it in the basement was easy - just pick a free wall and lean the bike against it.  I recently purchased a bike for my wife, and a kids bike trailer for the offspring.  The biking is great, but it leaves me with a minor dilema... namely I really only have one free wall in my basement, so where do I put the other bike?

The obvious answer is to acquire a bike rack.  One issue, they are either a) expensive, or b) poor quality, and in either case they are c) no where near large enough.  The bikes are put so close together they want to occupy the same physical space and one has to fight with them to get one bike out.  I don't know who actually designs multi bike racks, but they obviously never had two bikes in the same room at the same time before. (To be fair I only looked at the local WalMart and the local hardware store so there may be brilliantly designed bike racks out there, but in my small town I didn't find any good ones).

It was clear that I had to build my own rack, so I headed off to the local hardware store and purchased some 3/4" PVC pipe, a bunch of connectors, and locked myself into my shop and started building my own rack.  The following are the results of my exploits.

The rack before painting.  It holds two bikes, far enough apart that the handlebars don't touch each other, but close enough that it fits into my basement properly.  This is basically the original design I mentally came up with before I started assembling pieces.  The two things I did differently was to narrow the slot where the bike tires go, and to angle the back braces to save floor space.  Before I angled the braces the bike tire was 14" away from the wall. With the angle it is 6".

A paint job later and it is looking pretty spiffy, if I do say so myself.

The rack in its final spot.  Looks like it will serve our needs perfectly.

Some things I learned:

  • You need more PVC than you think.  I ended up using about 34' of the stuff.
  • The slot where the tires go really must be the right size - too big and the bike just flops around.  This was the main mistake I made with my original design.
  • Spray paint is annoying.
  • If you don't ventilate your work space properly, the PVC glue fumes makes your wife angry, and requires one to make it up by providing snacks.
  • PVC glue is unforgiving.  You have 3-4 seconds max before it sets, and it won't move again.  Be quick and accurate.  
So that is my bike rack.  It was easy to make, and hopefully will last me for years to come.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Keeping Your Google Passwords Safe

Take steps to ensure the safety of your Google accounts by turning on 2-factor authentication.  More details at the Official Google Blog: