Monday, June 30, 2014

COG Fling 10: The COG Cache Theory

Geocachers in central Ontario certainly know how to put on a great event.  Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending their annual Mega event: The COG Cache Theory.

Like all good Megas that I have attended the main event is on the Saturday, but it was really a full weekend of events, fun, merriment, and lots (and lots) of awesome geocaching.

The following is a breakdown of how the weekend unfolded.

The event was held in the Tottenham Conservation Area in Tottenham Ontario.

We (my wife and I - kids stayed with their grandparents) arrived at the conservation area at 2:30PM  on Friday and immediately set about then process of setting up camp.  This is the first time my wife had I have done tent camping in 5 years, since before my oldest kid was born.  We did manage to quickly set up the tent, and get the camp into a serviceable order.  I then headed out on my bike to grab the 23 caches that were placed as part of some geo-art (in the form of the geocaching logo).  The caches were placed along the neighbouring concession.  

2 hours, and 6.5 miles later I pedaled back to the campsite with 23 smileys under my belt (you may think 2 hours is a long time for 6.5 miles, but in my defense for a couple of those caches I was able to keep up with a gang of cachers in an SUV...)

After supper was the first event of the weekend, which was a series of party style games, leading to a grand champion).  Both my wife and I got eliminated from the competition on our first rounds, so we decided to try our hand at a nearby multi-cache.  It was here we learned just how many geocachers it takes to find a D2/T2 cache...

Answer: 25

It was at this event where I realized what sort of good time I was in for, and how awesomely crazy Canadian geocachers can be, as several cachers broke into an impromptu interpretive dance:

After the dance we decided to call it a night so we headed back to camp.  The next morning I started the day with a hearty outdoor breakfast.  Few things taste better than bacon cooked outside.
The theme of the event was the Big Bang Theory, so many of the caches were science themed, and of course, hanging out with the celebs.
The COG folks placed a lot of caches specifically for this event, and the ones I did were all great - some downright amazing.  I'll cover the caches in a follow-up post, but needless to say there were more awesome caches to be found than I could possibly have had time for. I gave out a virtual flood of favourite points.

Appropriately enough, the event log was a lab coat.
The event itself was quite simple: some opening remarks, a few meet-and-greet style games (geocacher bingo etc.), a "Meet the reviewer and lackey" panel, and a closing ceremony.  The rest of the time was free time so we could do some of the awesome geocaches in the area.  This worked out well as there were so many top notch caches, and some great scenery and trails to explore, that I really did want to spend most of the day caching.

Several of the caches were placed on a rails-to-trail trail that ran along the north side of the lake, opposite the conservation area.  As you can see, the scenery from there was beautiful.
This is a good place to mention the benefits of having bikes at the event.  I had brought bikes for my wife and I, and we used them a lot.  Over the course of the 3 days we were at the conservation area I biked almost 18 miles, and my wife did 6.  We rode to then majority of the caches that we did, which allowed us to enjoy the day a lot more than if we used the car, but still cover some miles, and not have tired feet at the end of the day.

Of course, like most Mega events, there were lots of impromptu cache parties at ground zero.  Unlike most Megas, however, I didn't play "pass the logbook" that often. This is likely due to the large number of caches for folks to find - spread out the crowd.   It is also nice knowing that the people you see walking down the trail behind you are not people you need to conceal the geocache from.
On the Sunday they held a CITO event, so I spent an hour picking up some trash to clean up the park - again using my bike to get out to the edges of the park quickly.  After the CITO I helped pack up the camp, then went caching for a few more hours.  We eventually headed back home at 2PM(ish).

This was a great Mega event.  A simple schedule, a great location, an awesome theme that was used very effectively, and a great deal of fun.  It was a perfect balance of socializing with fellow geocachers, and time to actually go out geocaching (which is, lets be honest, the whole point of the thing), all without feeling like I didn't miss out on any of the event activities.

All in all this weekend was, aggregately, the most enjoyable 48 hours of geocaching I have ever had. Many thanks to the organizers - they did a great job.

I am already looking forward to next year.

My World

Monday, June 23, 2014

Milestone: 3000

Today I hit a milestone:  3000 geocache finds.   Go me.

Another shot of the lucky cache.

I was riding the Geobike of Destiny at the time, so this shot also seemed appropriate.
Enough celebrating.  I'm off to find the next 3000! (This may take a while - don't wait up.)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Creative Cache Containers Part VII

This is the seventh installment of my creative cache series.  All of these caches have been spotted in the wild during my various cache hunts.  I hope that by sharing some of the awesome and creative hides that I have found over the years it may inspire others to build and hide their own creative caches.

Some of these are simple, some are quite complex, so hopefully the pictures and descriptions will do them justice.  So, let's begin.

The first is an example of a simple hide adding a little bit of camo and creativity, to a simple bison in a tree type cache, makes it something to talk about.
This is actually one of the first creative cache hides I ever found, way back in 2010.  It is an old Saguaro cactus that has died.  All that is left is wood (semi-interesting side fact: cacti are wood like when dried).  The cache is hidden inside the cactus, and is accessible via a door cut into the plant.
This hide is a faerie door placed behind a tree in a sea of english ivy.  East to overlook, but once spotted, adds a nice decorative touch to the surrounding area.  The cache was attached to the back with velcro.
This is an example of a very devious hide. Walking up that stump looks awfully suspicious looking. Move the stump out of the way reveals a post hole about 2ft deep. Look in the hole you see a rock... hrm... no cache.  Looking closer and you realize that the rock is a fake - sure enough... rock cache.
This is a spring activated cache. You pull down on the handle and let it go, similar to how one starts the ball moving on a pinball table.  The mechanism inside launches a bison-esque container up 20ft, and down to the ground.  If you are really good you can catch it mid-air (took me three times to catch it).

Hopefully this post has encouraged some of you to go out and build a creative cache.  If it has, let me know about it by dropping it into the comments below.

You can check out the rest of the posts in this series by clicking here: Creative Cache Containers: The Series.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fathers Day

Normally I don't give much of a care for Fathers Day, or Mothers Day, or any synthetic holiday (except System Administrator Appreciation Day - we fixed your email, we deserve Cheetos, dang it). I gotta admit tho, getting these from the kids was a nice touch:

First from Abigail:

Then from Zeke:

The poem reads: "Walk a little slower Daddy", said a child so small.  "I'm following in your footsteps and I don't want to fall.  Sometimes your steps are very fast. Sometimes they're hard to see.  So walk a little slower Daddy, for you are leading me.  Someday when I am all grown up you're what I want to be.  Then I will have a little child who'll want to follow me.  And I would want to lead just right, and know that I was true.  So walk a little slower, Daddy, for I must follow you".

And finally, a bag of salt water taffy (the best kind of taffy!) and 3 Lego minifigs (the best kind of fig!):
Definitely better than a tie.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Muggle Note

Saw this in a logbook for a cache placed along the Katy Trail in St. Charles Missouri. It was clearly left by a muggle who found the cache.

Just goes to show not all muggles are enemies of your geocache hide.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

TB Race Update: Portugal

The TB race has 15 of 16 participants placed in caches and travelling around the world (the 16th alien is hanging out with a cacher who had knee surgery, so he'll be late to the game, but since the race is time from first release to the time it arrives in Lenoir, he is still in the running).

The best part of this race, for me, is to see where my TBs end up.  Drones released in Germany are now in Isreal.  Drones from South Africa are in United Arab Emirates. The Drone from Michigan is touring Australia.  These things sure do get around.

hfilipe released a drone in Portugal.  He sent me some history, and photos, of his rather beautiful area.  The rest of this post is all from hfilipe - thanks!

Olá Dave!

To our country, Guimarães has a very special significance and it's known as the "Cradle of Portugal" because our firts king (Afonso Henriques) lived here and it was also where he won a battle against his own mother (Batalha de São Mamede in 24th June 1128) that proclaimed Portugal as a sovereign sate.

Portuguese people are also know as fearless seafarers that brought "new worlds" to the world in the XV and XVI centuries, by reaching India and the Far East as well as discovering Brazil.

So I thought our alien friend should see this and I took it to the beach in Vila do Conde and also on a small bike ride to Guimarães Castle and the World Heritage old city centre.

I think he was liking the stay in here but it's time for it to live Guimarães and try to go back to you. So, this morning, I dropped it on a cache with a nice view over the city. I hope it has a pleasant journey from now on.

I send you a few pictures from Vila do Conde (beach) and Guimarães.



 This is the view from the cache he placed the drone in:

You can follow the race from the tracking page here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Geobike Of Destiny

Frequent readers of this blog will remember that I tend to bike a fair bit.  I am also a geocacher.  Over the past little while I have been working on kitting out my mountain bike to be a better ride for geocache trips.  You've likely seen it in various forms in other posts on this blog.  Lately I've added a few additional features.

I took it out for a test hunt this morning and it seemed to work great. So I am ready to unveil my completed geocaching bike.  I present to you... the Geobike of Destiny:

The bike is a Specialized Hardrock mountain bike. The mountain bike isn't as fast as my commuter bike, but the fat, knobby tires allow me to go offroad, which is a requirement for geocaching.  I've already taken it down some trails, and across fields, with great success.

Some of the features I've added are:

A) A GPS mount for my eTrex 30, by RAM. It is on a swivel mount so I can position it perfectly while I am riding, and it is an easy on/off so I can transition from rider to pedestrian quickly.

B) Two bottle cages, so I can carry extra water for those longer cache trips

C) A trackable tag.  Wouldn't be a geocaching vehicle if it wasn't trackable.

D) A seat post mounted rack.  I'll be able to mount various trunk bags and panniers on this so I can carry even more water and supplies for those all day cache runs. 

E) Kick stand.  One of the more annoying things when using this bike for caching is that I had to find something to lean it against.  Now I can stop anywhere and not have to worry about it.

So that is the bike.  I expect a lot of good adventures to come from this kitted out ride.  If you see it on the trails, feel free to discover it.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

WWFM XI: Western North Carolina Edition

Yesterday was World Wide Flash Mob day.  

A geocaching flash mob is where geocachers meet in one spot for 15 short minutes.  Show up, do something, leave - in a flash, one might say.

I hosted a flashmob in Morganton NC.  It was joke themed.  Everyone who showed up cracked jokes for 10 minutes, then we took a group photo. 

I held mine a bit early so we could have time to attend one of the other WWFM events in Asheville NC.

That WWFM was a giant water gun fight.  We fought for 5 minutes, signed logs and chatted for 5 minutes, did a group photo for 5 minutes, then dispersed (aka went geocaching).  The following is a series of pics from the second event, starting with Abigail marching towards battle.

 The first shot was made by the host, OzGuff:
 Others enter the fray.
Yours Truly getting shot in the back... by my own son, no less.
 Its a full on water gun war now.
 OzGuff and Zeke having a stare down.
Zeke and Abigail giving it their all.  Despite being outsized and packing kid-sized weaponry, they did really well.  Both had a blast.
A soaked micro-combatant.
After the battle was over, we all settled in for a group photo.
This was a great deal of fun.  Water gun fights are cool (literally) a blast (metaphorically) and a great way to spend 15 minutes on a Saturday.  Thanks to OzGuff for hosting this event, and for everyone who showed up to either of the WWFM events on Saturday.  Definitely one for the memory books.

Long Way Round: Superman

The following post is one of many that documents the adventures of a family of bears as they turn a 10 hour road trip into a week long adventure while on their way to GeoWoodstock XII in St. Charles Missouri. If you are not up to speed, check out the introduction here.

Sometimes the best adventures are the ones you stumble on to.  A case in point:

During Geowoodstock I met a caching/travelling blog duo who go by the name +Peanuts or Pretzels. I mentioned my plans to visit objects celebrating Pointless America, like the twine ball. They mentioned they came across a giant Superman Statue.

I was intrigued, but didn't get to excited about it  We already had an extensively planned trip, and it likely wouldn't fit into it. Oh well, maybe next time etc.

We actually planned on doing the entire 10.5 hours in one stretch, to see if the kids were up to so much time in the van at once (turns out, they handled it no problem), so we were not planning on any side trips - I wasn't even planning on geocaching.

On Monday we were driving home from St. Charles.  3 hours into our journey, thru road-weary early morning eyes, like a beacon of hope and light, I saw a sign that said "Superman Statue Next Exit".

I immediately turned on my blinker and switched lanes to take the exit.

My wife was napping in the passenger side.  As I followed the "Superman statue this way blah blah" signs, she opened her eyes.  I said "Superman Statue".  She smiled approvingly.

The statue is off the interstate a few miles, in this pleasant town square of, appropriately enough, Metropolis Illinois.  It is, lets say, larger than life:
The statue is very well done.  Not only is the stand is on large enough for someone (like my wife, in this case) to take a photo without having to step into traffic, but it also includes a few steps up for the photographer to get a better angle.  Brilliantly thought out.

I figured such a location had to have a geocache nearby, but since I hand't planned on caching that day I didn't have anything loaded up.  However a quick online search showed one was 300ft away... an ammo can no less!  Couldn't be a more perfect impromptu experience.

It was a fun little outing, and it only took 15 minutes out of our way.  Just goes to show that sometimes stepping off the planned route can lead to some fun memories.

So this is the very last entry for Long Way Round. The only thing to add is that this evening we slept well in our beds at home.    Don't worry tho, we're already planning our next adventures.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more adventures of a family of Canadian bears exploring their world.

<== Bigfoot |  Back to Inroduction ==^

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Long Way Round: Bigfoot

The following post is one of many that documents the adventures of a family of bears as they turn a 10 hour road trip into a week long adventure while on their way to GeoWoodstock XII in St. Charles Missouri. If you are not up to speed, check out the introduction here.

<queue over-excited announcer voice>

Monster trucks!  Bigfoot!


On the sunday after GeoWoodstock it rained. It rained a lot. Go to the Ark sort of rain.  As a result we decided to drive around and see what we could see.

Turns out, when you are in St. Louis, you can see a bigfoot.  Specifically, the monster truck.   The Bigfoot team has a location here (it was closed so I don't know if its there headquarters or not).  Outside of their location they have one of their many trucks on display, as well as this funky tracked vehicle:
Zeke loves monster trucks, and he has several of them, so there may have been squeals when he saw the truck.

This is a simple road side attraction, so there isn't much more to say, except this:  I cannot claim to have seen a Sasquatch, but at the next tea party I attend I am going to be able to tell everyone with a straight face that I have seen a bigfoot - and isn't that reason enough to visit here?

<== Tiberius | Superman ==>