Mediterranean vacation for our geocoin

Georgia (Appalachian Trail) On My Mind, Trackables No Comments »

Wow, I hadn’t realized how far our geocoin, trying to get to the country of Georgia, has gone! I get an e-mail when someone logs it or writes a note, but I must have missed a few.

Just a reminder, "geocoins" have a unique serial number engraved on them so that people who find them in geocaches can verify that they indeed have the coin and they can be tracked to see where they go. That’s our coin in the picture; a tribute to the Georgia section of the Appalachian Trail. Also, there are dog tags with a serial number that you can attach to just about anything to make it a "traveller", "travel bug" or "trackable"; more general terms.

Optionally, you can give your trackable a goal. Our is to go to the country of Georgia (the homeland of my brother’s wife) and then return to home, the state of Georgia. We’d asked people to take pictures of it wherever it went, but that hasn’t happened much.

A cacher named The Lost Patrol picked it up in Oregon in January. One of the things you can with a trackable is to just say that it “visited” a cache. It’s not dropped into the cache, but it does get those miles logged as you go around from cache to cache, and this guy/group took it all around Oregon, logging a few hundred miles.

Then on February 27th, he must have taken on a Mediterranean vacation, because it next sees a cache in Vatican City in Italy, and over the next month hits Spain and Greece as well, ultimately being left in a cache in Turkey named “Ephesus spontan”. (It’s a premium members only cache, so I can’t get the exact location, unfortunately. I haven’t sprung for the premium membership.) I thought that seemed like a lot of travelling, and perhaps the cacher just logged it at these places without actually being there. But it has since been picked up from Ephesus by another cacher, who appears to be from Finland.

With the 6,000 miles from Oregon to Vatican City, and the hundreds since then, our little coin has racked up over 12,500 miles!

So our coin really does have a chance to get the first leg of its journey completed, to get to the country of Georgia!

Down the Main Drag

GC2D8RY LACking Nothing, Georgia, Hides, United States No Comments »

I’ve sent 2 of the kids off to their 1st and 3rd years of college, the oldest was out for the day, so I took the youngest on a geocaching adventure down Lawrenceville Highway, the main artery through our little suburb that some folks use to get in and out of Atlanta.

On our way there, a new cache had been place near us since the last time we went out, so we stopped by that first. The software that I use on my Android phone to look for geocaches (c:geo) was having some issues with talking to the official geocaching website (so I found out after I got home). Compounding that was the fact that my phone’s GPS receiver was responding very slowly, so we had to rely on the description more than directions from the phone.

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But after a short amount of searching, Adam came up with the find. The description of the container in the description didn’t match what we found, but the most recent (damp) paper log entries matched the ones for the cache, so we were pretty sure this was it. (I read down through the earlier log entries and noticed that some had said they replaced it.)

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We then went on to Lawrenceville Highway. The first stop was behind a Kroger grocery store. It seemed like it would be a simple find (all the recent entries said it was easy), but we came up empty handed. Just before we left, reading through the logs, I found that, again, someone had replaced the cache container because the one in the description had been broken. So we had been looking for one thing (a magnetic hide-a-key container). Still, even with the hint, we didn’t find it.

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Onward to the next stop. This was a relatively new cache as well. Adam got out of the car, saw the fence staring at us and couldn’t imagine where in the world someone could hide a cache at that spot.

 

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Well this time I found it, and quite quickly I might add. It was a very small "nano" cache; a cylinder about as tall as my thumb, and about half as wide. Yeah, tiny. I’d post a picture with me victoriously holding it, but then that would be a spoiler. Suffice to say I felt good about finding this one.

The next stop was a cache in a row of trees between a shopping center parking lot and a church.

 

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According to the cache description, it’s higher up than usual (though I don’t think climbing would be involved). Combine that with the many trees that it could be in, and we gave up after about 5 minutes. Couldn’t see the cache for the trees.

Finally, with all the heavy (and light) rains we’ve had here this summer, we thought we’d check on our cache, which is also along the same road. It’s rained almost every day, to some extent, for much of July and August, though the good news to that is temperatures have been kept down, and we’ve not had as many 90+ degree days as usual.

We got to our cache, opened it up, and was amazed at how well it withstood the water. There was a paper Varsity hat that was not damp in the least, just to give you an idea of how well the ammo can has held up. We used to have a "waterproof" container, but after it got waterlogged a few times, we swapped it out. Great idea.

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Having reassured ourselves that all was well, we put it back and went home. Today’s geocaching stats are 2 found and 2 not.

Memorial Day Excursion

Georgia, United States No Comments »

With all the kids home, between school being out and before the summer jobs start, Memorial Day was a beautiful day to get out of the house. Instead of Six Flags or a water park, or something else, the kids decided they wanted to go geocaching, since it had been so long since we’d done it as a family. I was thrilled.

We were also going to give the game of Munzee a try as well. I’d heard about it on geocaching audio podcasts, and had found a few near my workplace recently, so I thought I’d see what the kids thought of it. It’s another GPS game where, instead of a container with (at least) a log, you scan a barcode and "capture" the Munzee. You get points for captures and hides, as well as some other special events. It’s just scanning a barcode, so not nearly as interesting, but for some that don’t want to go rooting around on the ground, often Munzees are in easily-accessible places, often clustered in an area. So, different strokes for different folks.

We started off by going to a cache placed last year on Memorial Day in a small cemetery that, over the years, has been encroached  upon by the widening of the street and the interstate that it is on the corner of. I’m not giving much away when I say that the cache was a a huge tree that is just barely safe from the interstate. Since it was placed on Memorial Day, and apparently had been placed along with a ribbon around the tree, the cache is aptly named "Tie a Yellow Ribbon…". (See here for more information on this tradition and the song that made it generally popular.)

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There were signs of the patriotic ribbon that had been placed there, along with staples that must have held it in place.

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We signed the log and tried to put in a small toy car that we had, but that was just barely too big for the container.

 

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Next we tried a couple of Munzees. The first one was a the entrance to a miniature golf place we used to take the kids to. We searched all around but didn’t find it.

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There was another one nearby at an abandoned Ryan’s Steakhouse, and this one was rather simple; the Munzee equivalent of a lamp post cache.

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Right near the bottom is the barcode you scan to make the capture.

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Now, you may be saying, "By posting that picture of the barcode, couldn’t someone else just scan it from the picture and get credit for the find?" But the answer is no, because the Munzee app, which you must use to get credit, checks your GPS location against the location recorded on the website for the Munzee. If you’re not reasonably close to it, no credit.

The next Munee looked like it would be another lamp post one near an old movie theater that has been closed for quite some time.

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But this one was laminated and tied to a tree instead, requiring actual searching to find it.

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Also in the nearby Fry’s parking lot, there was a geocache, an actual lamp post cache (often referred to as an LPC). A quick find by the kiddos.

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We tried one more Munzee near the Fry’s, but didn’t find it. It was then that, while it’s interesting, the kids decided they wanted to hunt geocaches the rest of the day.

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Around the nearby mall there were a few caches. We made quick work of one by Sears.

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But the one near J C Penny gave us trouble and we logged our first DNF (Did Not Find) of the day.

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Not having gloves, we didn’t want to paw around in the prickly shrubs.

There was a nearby "mystery cache" where you had to solve a puzzle to get the coordinates. The puzzle was designed for kindergarteners, so it was simple, but it was fun and gave us another nice find, with a regular-sized cache with stuff to trade. And the location, the tree it was near, was truly beautiful.

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It was here that we realized we’d misplaced the caching goodie bag, so we took nothing and left nothing. We figured out that we’d left the bag at the cemetery, so we started back. After picking it up, we hit some caches back towards home.

At one office building, someone had hidden one at a picnic bench just outside the building. Well, "hidden" is putting it loosely; it was just sitting on the ground next to the bench, though it looked like it could have been hung from a hook on the bottom of the table at some point, but there was no obvious hook.

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The next find was at Home Depot, and was a rather ingenious hide. It took us a little time, but one of the girls finally tried looking in something (and I don’t want to say what so that cachers looking for this don’t get spoiled), but didn’t look…close enough, let’s say. The other girl tried a little harder and did find the cache, so a team effort here.

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Going further towards home, we stopped by a Chinese restaurant that  used to be a BBQ place, and picked up a quick LPC.

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We finished on a DNF, unfortunately, and ended like we had started; in a cemetery, near a small church. A few fire ants and lost of poison ivy held us back a little, but we did made a good search but found nothing.

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We hit 9 caches (7 finds) and a couple Munzees, which, I think, was our biggest geocaching excursion ever.

Golden State Finds

California, Locations, United States No Comments »

I took a business trip to California. First time I’d been there (unless you could a layover in LAX decades ago, which I don’t). Of course, one thing I look for are geocaches near the hotel, and this time there were 2 very close by.

One of them was very nearly across the street, in the back parking lot of another hotel. I came by and tried to extract it (the cache page says to bring a "tool to extract" but doesn’t say what kind), but to no avail. I did take a picture of it to show that, yes, I had indeed been there.

(This picture might be considered a spoiler, but once you get to the coordinates, it’s pretty obvious where to look.)

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There was a family sitting outside in the back, so I didn’t want to spend too much time getting their attention while trying to get this out.

I went further down the street to find another cache, and the coordinates took me to the end of the sidewalk.

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This time, I found it and could actually get at the small container.

 

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And so we get our first two finds in California. It’s been a while since I had done some caching on my own, and it was good to know I hadn’t lost my touch.

A Church, a Cemetery, and Some Strip Malls

Georgia, Locations, United States No Comments »

We took the afternoon to visit some areas of higher cache concentrations to try to pick up some that we’d missed before, as well as some new ones.

We started at the Antique Mall that my youngest son and I visited last June, but it had just rained and neither of us wanted to get too wet, assuming that the cache was probably in some bushes that were drenched. This time, my two boys and I started searching in earnest.

The actual GPS coordinates are inside the antique store, so it was worth looking near the building, as well as other common cache hiding spots.

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Turned out that the film canister was in a dry enough spot that we could have nabbed it in June without getting soaked. This time, I found it. We brought it back to the car and signed the log.

 

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The second cache was right across the street. We were clearly at the right place because the name of the cache, "Write or Right Cache", is a pun on the name of the business in who’s parking lot it’s located. We made short work of the find and signed the log.

 

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One thing I’d done at the first cache was find it, walk away from it, and announce that I’d found it to the other guys. Then they would try to find it based on where I’d been recently, so it gave us all a chance to "discover" it. This time, my older son found it and did the same thing with me.

Moving on, we traveled up the road to another intersection that has a number of caches but where we’d been not so successful in the past. The first one was behind a Kroger strip mall, and was a cache placed on the birthday of the hider, "Flamingomama". She’s hidden over 60 caches (so far) in this part of the county. Some we’ve found, and indeed the previous 2 finds were of her caches as well.

My phone’s GPS was not really cooperating today. It would sometimes be 2 or 3 minutes before it would update my location, so we had to go more by the Google Map of the cache location and just eyeball it. So we were all over the area trying to find this one.

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But the boys eventually found it, bearing the familiar pink flamingo logo.

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The log was signed, and we hit the road.

Next stop was a Lutheran church, which we’d also visited on the same trip last June. In the interim, the cache had a number of players who were unable to find it and so it had recently been replaced. Still, after scouring the area near a storm water drainage area that has quite a bit of litter around, we gave up one more time.

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Our last stop was at a Primitive Baptist church cemetery. The name of the cache is "Bryan Was Tall", so my oldest son, as soon as we pulled up, immediately homed on the tallest monument he could see, and sure enough…

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Back to the car for the final log signing, replacing it, and off we went in search of supper. It was good to get some of these finds in areas that had often given us difficulty.

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