Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Hello out there.

Just wanted to put out a holiday message. I've been very busy lately and not active with blogger. I have been reading my favorite blogs. (That means yours)

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving. And for those readers in Canada, (You know who you are) Happy Thursday.

Here's a dumb YouTube video. Try not singing this while cooking today.

Later, Jive Turkeys.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Geocaching on Hick's Power Trail

Some geocachers do not like power trails. Well, I do. So I made one. Don't judge me, it's how I play my game.

I like to store containers that would make nice geocache containers. Since I like to go to the gym and I like to take supplements, I had a few containers that needed to get out into the wild. I had some empty protein, creatine and fiber containers. A little flat black spray paint and we've got some geocaches on our hands.

I had seen an old tree that was just begging to have a geocache placed near it. On my quest to locate access to the tree, I found a nice public trail that parallels a flood control channel. I decided to make this trail "Hick's Power Trail". There may be some slight ego issues going on there but that's between me and myself. And me.................................................And I. me.

There were so many great hiding spots along this trail that I got a little carried away and put 8 new caches along the trail. I figured that's okay because there are 5 regular sized geocaches, 1 small and 1 micro. It's not like I just went and hid a bunch of altoids containers.

I put an unactivated geocoin as a First To Find prize in one and loaded the others up with some trackable items I had picked up in Canada. They didn't all get published at once due to my own problems with my listing requests so a few geocachers were able to score some FTF's.

A bunch of new geocaches, a bunch of trackables and a bunch of great hiding spots. That just screams fun.

The stars represent the geocaches I own.

Friday, October 31, 2008

My First International Geocaches

My travels recently took me to Alberta, Canada. I stayed in a city called Grande Prairie. This part of the country looks a lot like The Midwest of the US. It was very flat and all that was missing were the water towers announcing the town's name.

I had a bit of trouble with customs while I was trying to enter the country. They actually sent me into the immigration office to have me better explain my reasons for visiting Canada. The immigration officer was looking me up in whatever database and asked if I had ever been fingerprinted. I replied that I had. He ask why and I told him I had been in the Marine Corps. I guess that's why they were worried. It would only take one motivated Marine to take over the entire country of Canada.

As usual, I didn't have a lot of free time to go geocaching but I did manage to squeeze a few in. I found several within a mile or so from my hotel so I went for a walk one afternoon. My GPS was a bit jumpy and I did a lot of walking in circles.

I found myself in a little forest looking for a small geocache. The trouble with my GPS turned out to be too much for me and I had to DNF one. I then went for a travel bug hotel near "The World's Largest Sundial". It was hidden near the edge of a little pond. Again, I went the long and difficult way but eventually made the find. There were no travel bugs inside but I was able to drop off Flat Oprah that I had picked up in Massachusetts.

I've since found out that several places around the world claim to have the worlds largest sundial. Since I have friends in Canada, I'll trust that this is, in fact, THE largest.

A local cacher named Tons of Fun saw my find on one of his caches and offered to show me around some local geocaches. Unfortunately, I had spent all of my caching time. He had some geocoins that he wanted to travel back to the US so I did meet up with him. We talked caching for bit and we walked over to mystery cache he owned that the final was a couple hundred feet from my hotel. It was nice to meet him and wish I would have had more time to geocache.

On my last day in Canada, I noticed that someone had dropped a bunch of travel bugs in that TB hotel I had been to. I went back and grabbed my first yellow Jeep and a few geocoins.

Canada was good. It was a bit cold for this California boy. (Yes I know I'm from Illinois, but you loose your resistance to cold quickly, trust me.) It got below freezing and while it was fun to experience, it was nice to come home.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Miramar Airshow in San Diego

On Sunday, The Boy and I went to the Miramar Airshow in San Diego. We got there pretty early and had no problem with traffic or getting on the Marine base. Rather than wait in line for a shuttle bus to drive us the mile and a half to the tarmac, we got a pedi cab. Brody thought riding on the back of that three wheeled bike was one if the most fun things he's ever done. (Funny, we were just at Disney last week)

Once on the tarmac, there were tons of things to do and see. There were also plenty of ways to spend your money. We spent some time exploring the static displays. We saw lots of aircraft. We got to walk all the way through a C-5 Galaxy. We checked out the helicopters, UAV's and many many aircraft.

We made our way over to the fence protecting the runway from hoards of crowding fans and set up our chairs. The first act we saw was a bi plane doing stunts that would have made me pass out. They had some stunt parachute guys and a tactical assault by the Marines on a completely unsuspecting patch of grass along the runway.

The Marines showed off the impressive maneuverability of the F-18 Super Hornets. They did multiple low altitude, high speed pass by's. They seemed to be only 100 feet off the ground and on the verge of breaking through the sound barrier. As they passes you could see a cylinder of condensation forming around the center of the aircraft. It was impressive and it was loud. The F-18 also displayed the ability to maintain control at speeds below 100 miles per hour.

My favorite part of the event had to be the F-22 raptor. This is the newest addition to the United State's arsenal of military aircraft. The first thing I noticed about the F-22 was it's size. This is a big jet! It's noticeably larger than the F-18 and Much larger than the F-16. The next thing I noticed was how loud it was. This thing puts out some serious noise. The vectored thrust allows the F-22 to be as nimble as a ballerina. This ballerina just happens to have stealth technology and be armed to the teeth.

The Boy's favorite was the Blue Angels. They put on a spectacular show, as usual. It's amazing to see 6 F-18's flying at high speed and have only 18 inches of clearance between their cockpits and wing tips. The Boy kept screaming, "Awesome!" the entire time.

The end of the Blue Angels marked the end of the Airshow. By this time the San Diego sun had been beating down on us for several hours and we were tired. We joined the thousands of people in the march back to the parking areas. As we were walking, the pedi cab driver passed us with no fare and a flat tire. The lack of a repair kit had to have cost him a couple hundred dollars. The lines for the shuttles was out of control, so we walked the 1.5 miles back to the car.

It took The Boy about 2.7 seconds to fall asleep once we were in the comfort of the air conditioned car. I had to stay awake the 45 minutes back home. The Airshow in San Diego is fantastic. The Boy is already talking about plans for next year. I got a bunch of pictures printed to make a display in The Boy's room.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

My New Geocaching Style

When I first started geocaching I wanted to try and get as many geocaches as possible every time I went out. I've settled into a new style of geocaching that I think works better for me. I kind of figured this out during my recent trip to Massachusetts. Instead of loading a ton of geocaches in an area and focusing on finding them all, I like to find a couple of caches in an area that I'm visiting and focus on the area rather than the caches. This worked out nicely last weekend when my brother came to visit from Illinois.

We spent the first day at Disneyland. I think there's a cache or two there but I forgot to look and we go to Disney all the time anyway. The next day we went to Point Loma in San Diego. Geocaching in San Diego is always a great time, however I wanted to enjoy the area rather than race around looking for caches. We had my two kids and my brother's wife and daughter.

We started out by visiting Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. There is a regular sized geocache just outside the cemetery walls. We spent some time paying our respects to the many fallen heroes laid to rest in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We walked over and found the geocache and signed the log. Then we walked across the street to a memorial to the USS St Lo. My Grandfather was on the St Lo in WWII when it was struck by a Kamikaze. Grandpa made it off, however many men did not make it to safety before the ship went down.

Next we headed down the hill to the Tide Pools. We took off our shoes and walked around looking for sea life. The weather was perfect. The Boy and I were first to walk to a nearby beach area which gave many others the inspiration they needed to do the same.

We put our shoes back on and went back up the hill to the Cabrillo National Monument. I was pleasantly surprised to find the 10 dollar entrance fee was waived for the day in honor of newly naturalized citizens. The view is breathtaking. The monument is at the very end of the upper portion of Point Loma. You stand and look out at the great Pacific Ocean. To the South is a great view of the San Diego Bay, Downtown San Diego, and Coronado/North Island. To the North you see fantastic beaches lined with cliffs.

We walked from the Monument up to the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. The Light sits 422 feet above the water. That must have seemed like a good place for a light when it first began operating in 1855. 36 years later they decided that the low clouds and fog were often too dense and a new lighthouse was opened closer to the water. The Old light has been restored by the National Park Service and is still and iconic symbol representing San Diego. There is a virtual cache in the area which I had to answer a few questions to claim the find.
We finished the day with dinner at the Fish Market in Seaport Village. If you're ever in San Diego, make sure to stop by this great restaurant at least once.

It was a great trip and I enjoyed spending the majority of our time viewing the attractions with a few geocaches sprinkled in. There are tons of new caches popping up around home and I suppose I'll go after them eventually. For the most part, I'll go after caches that are near places I'll be visiting for reasons other than geocaching.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My First "Out Of State" Geocache Finds

As many of you know, My new position at work allows me to do a bit of traveling. I recently spent two weeks in Eastern Massachusetts. I was working at Smith College in a town called Northampthon. This was an old college town, (Old to me, my English Co-worker kept laughing at me for thinking the buildings were "old") I was certain that most of the places I saw had to be haunted.

I didn't have a ton of free time but I did manage to squeeze in a few geocaches. The first one was about a half mile from my hotel along a trail made along an old railway line. I decided to walk to it. I actually had to walk about a mile to get to the entrance to the trail and then about 3/4 mile to the cache itself. It was a fun walk. The trail was surrounded by trees and I felt miles from civilization. The cache was a cammo tupperware and it had a travel bug inside. I decided to take Flat Oprah back to California with me.

Flat Oprah was started in Maine by an elementary student in a geocaching program at school. The Travel Bug had spent it's entire life moving slowly around Massachusetts. Her total mileage before I picked her up was just over 200 miles. Thanks to me and American Airlines, Flat Oprah, now has 2859 miles. I'll be taking her with me on my next trip to Canada.

I found a couple of other caches while in Mass. One on the college campus and a few more about town. Now I can get one of those stat maps that shows the states I've found caches in. I know two states isn't much, but it's more than one state and there are more to come.

P.S. If you haven't read about it yet, head over to PJ's place. He is having a travel bug race. It should be fun. Join in!
I tried to upload more photos, but Blogger is not being friendly with me.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Geocaching In San Francisco

Here's a nice video I ran across this morning. Doug McConnell of OpenRoad.TV joins TeamAlamo in the Bay Area for some geocaching. (TeamAlamo currently has over 29,000 cache finds)

I like this video because it shows a variety of caches from a memorable urban cache at Lombard Street, to some out of the way caches with some of the finest vistas San Francisco has to offer. This video also does a pretty good job of showing what the game is about and gives a nice intro for those looking to learn about geocaching.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Boy Turns 7 Today

Today is The Boy's birthday. We went to Ruby's for breakfast and then went bowling. We are having some friends over for cake. It's been a great day.

The highlight of this birthday has to be the card from my Grandma Decker. Grandma Decker is the sweetest woman I've ever met in my life. If you met her you would love her instantly. Grandma Decker sent The Boy a birthday card and he opened it and read the cute little message inside. Her notes always end with "XOXOXOXOXOXOX." Awww, we love you grandma.

It wasn't until this morning that The Wife read the front of the card and noticed what the message said. We are still laughing about this one and the card will be saved forever. I know that Grandma Decker just saw the cute sock puppet on front and thought, "That's a cute card." She has no idea what it says and that's part of why it's so funny. If you knew her, you'd understand. God bless that woman. I snapped a picture of the card and posted it below. What a classic!

So in the spirit of this wonderful day, I'd like to say, "Happy F***ing Birthday, The Boy!" Enjoy your seventh year of life in this great country of ours.

Thanks, Grandma.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bogus Logs On Geocaches

I have a watch on Chomolangma. It's a 5/5 geocache on Mount Everest. It is labeled as "The Highest Geocache In The World", and has yet to be found.

This morning I was surprised to see a "Found It" log in my E-mail for this cache. It was a bogus log. The people responsible for the posting have since deleted the find so I won't out them. I will, however, share their log entry. It reads as follows:

Log Date: 8/22/2008Visited via Google Earth on a windy friday afternoon with my Son Matthew, it was quite chilly but the view was amazing, ate some sandwiches and had a bottle of pop, (frozen)tried some Yaks milk ice cream too (Yuk).Was late home for tea.

I don't know if they intended on leaving the log entry there, and were met with resistance or if that's just something they like to do. I posted a note about it in the GroundSpeak forums and as of this publishing, there has been no response.

The forum topic did inspire Vinnie & Sue Team to head over to Chomolangma's listing and leave the following DNF log:

Log Date: 8/23/2008

Attempted Just a few hours hours after the fraudulent find log filed on this cache by a European cacher, and largely due to the emergence (and subsequent erasure) of the hoax find log, I attempted to visit the cache hide site today using my not-yet-completed, but still somewhat-functional time-space portal. Target landing site was a relatively flat area about 110 feet SE of GZ. Was able to partially engage target site, but then ran into very serious technical problems with the portal and was forced to make the rather painful decision to abandon the effort. Temperature was about -29F, unexpectedly low for this time of year, but then again, it was about 2 AM local time. Winds were also unexpectedly high for summertime, with blowing snow. And so, here is yet one more DNF for this cache. Thanks for having made the effort to hide this! I may try to return someday in the portal. --Vinny of Vinny & Sue Team.

I personally don't wouldn't leave either type of log entry unless it fit in with the theme of the cache or was done so with permission of the listing owner. I'm not judging, That's just me.

What do you think?

Edit: 8/24/08: This morning this geocache was was archived by the owner. The archive note is written in a lanuage I don't understand. I can tell that the last line is a message to the owners late friend, whom the cache was dedicated to. That's too bad.

Pictures were shamelessly stolen from the geocache listing.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Nice Article On Geocaching

As I've said before, I subscribe to a lot of blogs. One that I really like is call Wise Bread. They have several authors that all write about ways to be frugal. I noticed an article in my reader today about Geocaching.

I like the idea she mentions about leaving American type swag when geocaching outside the US. I think I'll look for some "California" swag to leave on my travels. It also mentions Letterboxing and Orienteering. Here is the bit about Geocaching. You can read the entire article here.

Geocaching (geocashing)

Geocaching is a little more complicated and can be much more challenging than letterboxing, but it's still an inexpensive activity. To get started, you'll need access to a GPS devise, a notebook, and a few treasures to leave at boxes that are designated treasure caches.

Geocaching is a recognized sport all over the world, and some of the caches are quite elaborate. If you plan to visit a cache in another country, try to leave something American, such as a Boston subway or San Franciso trolleycar token.

Like letterboxing, the website has all the basic information and search help you'll need. Just enter your search parameters (can even be latitutde/longitude figures), then enter the given coordinates in your GPS, and you're good to go. According to the website, there are currently 635,478 active caches worldwide including one recently placed at the Beijing Olympics!

Geocaching often involves more remote locations and rugged outdoor terrain than letterboxing does, but it is an excellent teaching activity and is now part of the math curriculum in many American middle and high schools.

Thanks to Mary Webber for the article.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Who's Your Blogger!

Here are all the blogs that I commented about in my last post. I do read more than this, however I can't claim to be short on time and then go bragging about all the blogs I read! (I hope I got them all right) If you don't already read some of these, go check try them on. If I read them, they have to be good!


That's a bummer about your travel bug, I told you it was too cute.
NorthWoods Geocats

I see you had a bump in with the law, glad it turned out OK. I hope Brooklyn works out.
A 'lil HooHaa

I hope the Tadpole is feeling better, too bad the trip was cut short.
Electronic Breadcrumbs

You have a beautiful family, Little one's dance was great. Don't be too lonely.
Rake The Table

The Best Western Adventures have been great.
Ramblings of A Lost Mind

Glad to see some hummingbirds showed up, get that camera ready.
Gather: Articles by Marianne R.

I like the "This week in Geocaching" articles.
Geocaching Online

The road to Mt. Shasta is a long one and I'm enjoying the trip.
Geocaching with EMC of Northridge, CA

You and Lost Guy and Auld Pro always have such great hikes.
Musings about Geocaching

Blog ya later.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Remember Me?

Hi there, My name is Hick. NIce to meet you. Boy, Have I been busy. I'm really enjoying my new position at work, and it is taking up all my time. By the time I get off work, commute 60 miles, hit the gym and head home, I'm exhausted.

I haven't been geocaching in a long time. I even had to drop a geocoin off to a geocacher at work because I had it for too long. It has been way to hot here for me anyway. Today was triple digits and the humidity is over 50%. That's dang tropical for us.

I have some travel coming in a few weeks and hopefully I will find a few spare seconds to grab some geocaches in other states. I'll be near Dallas Texas for a week and then two weeks in Central Massachusetts. Then I'm home for a few weeks and back in Texas for a month. I don't know how much geocaching time I'll actually get because I'm flying home on the weekends to see the family.

I know I haven't been posting here lately, I figured since I hadn't been caching I didn't have anything on topic to talk about. I've been trying to keep up to date on all the geocaching blogs I read, however I haven't been commenting on them. Here's some comments for my regulars. You'll have to sort out who they belong to.

That's a bummer about your travel bug, I told you it was too cute.

I see you had a bump in with the law, glad it turned out OK. I hope Brooklyn works out.

I hope the Tadpole is feeling better, too bad the trip was cut short.

You have a beautiful family, Little one's dance was great. Don't be too lonely.

The Best Western Adventures have been great.

Glad to see some hummingbirds showed up, get that camera ready.

I like the "This week in Geocaching" articles.

The road to Mt. Shasta is a long one and I'm enjoying the trip.

You and Lost Guy and Auld Pro always have such great hikes.

There are more but that's all for now. See if you can guess which blogs these came from. I'll post links later and tell you who's who.

Blog at you later.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Honestly, Officer......It's A Geocache

I got my buff cache back in place last week and until today, no one had found it. I got an E-mail notice that Team Geo-Rangers (TGR) had found it today. I'd like to mention first that TGR's said "Great Cammo." Then they said that the Sheriff stopped by. They explained what they were doing and showed the officer the geocache. The officer was impressed! That's cool!

I have a large geocache that I want to go hide soon. I'm waiting for some geocoins that I ordered to come in. I got the "Mystery" deal from GeoSwag. I got 5 random coins for like $4.50 each. They will all be trackable at the Geocaching Website, but I won't know what they are until they get here. I also ordered a Signal FTF (First To Find) coin that is trackable and has a blue ribbon FTF icon. I want to give one of the coins as a FTF prize and then decide what to do on the rest.

I thought it would be cool to go ahead and register the FTF coin and have its mission be to be placed in new caches and whoever gets the FTF can take the coin and put it in their new cache. We'll see.

I've been trying to do a good job of taking pictures of other peoples trackable items and add pictures to my logs. I think I did a pretty good job on this coin. I added four pictures of the coin near the cache site. Here is my log entry:

Retrieve it from a cache 6/30/2008 Hick@Heart retrieved it from Dining at the studio California [visit log]
I stopped by a cache near work looking for a place to drop this coin. I went over to a cache near the neon-lighted Studio Diner. It's an authentic trip back to the '40s -- in the middle of the Kearny Mesa Business District. Wrapped in chrome, the diner is a welcome roadside stop. And, fittingly, it's set on the lot of a working movie and TV studio, Stu Segall Productions. (Remember "Silk Stalkings" and "Renegade"? Currently filming "Mythological X".)

The diner was recently featured on the Food Network on "Diners, Drive ins, and Dives" The episode was called "Open 24/7"

You can see part of the movie lot from the street including a tower with a helicopter sticking out of the side. There is also what looks like a large fishing boat wheelhouse. The satellite image of the area reveals an airplane fuselage! I love casting days at the studio. People line the street for blocks hoping to get a chance to be cast in a real movie.

Alas, the cache was too small for the geocoin, but I got a few pictures for you. Summertime in SoCal means lots of small caches for me, but I'll keep telling stories until I find a good enough cache for your coin.

I would be very happy to have someone log an entry like that on one of my geocoins. The geocache near the area had recently been muggled. Fortunately Kwvers had been there the day before and they just happened to have a spare cache container to replace it. They saved me from the DNF. So here is a special shout out to Kwvers for being well prepared geocachers looking out for the rest of us. Thanks Kwvers!

We are just taking it easy for the holiday. It's pretty warm and we are enjoying the AC. Have a great holiday. For my readers outside the US, have a great weekend.

Here's the pics I put on the geocoin page.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

There Are Good Geocaching Days and Then.................

My geocaching weekend started off well enough with my FTF on Friday. Saturday went pretty well and Sunday was, well, not so great.

Saturday was beautiful. It was in the upper 80's and I went out in the evening for a little fun. I needed to replace my Buff Cache because the landscapers took it when they trimmed the tree it was in. I made a new container and headed out. I stopped by another one of my caches to rescue a really cool geocoin.

My first stop was to redeem a DNF from a couple weeks ago. The cache owner actually sent me a note so I knew right where to look. Have you ever tried to sign a log right next to the front doors of a supermarket on a Saturday afternoon? I used my "skills" to look natural and did just fine. I'm starting to notice that people don't really pay attention to what's going on around them. Muggles just seem to wander around and never look at anything.

The next three caches were Mystery Caches. The idea was that you are playing a game of Geo-Golf. You are given the coordinates of where to start and then the direction and distance to the hole. There is a chain link fence that borders a trail for a couple miles. The geocaches were each under a fence post lid. Once you get to where you think the cache is, you start checking under the lids. However many tries it takes for you to find the cache is how many strokes you take for that hole. The first cache was a par 4 and I found it on my 5th try so for that hole I was one over par. I scored a hole in one on the next two thanks to some crooked fitting post lids. That was fun.

I DNF'd a cache that is supposed to be really tricky. It's rated 3.5 stars for difficulty and there were just too many hiding places for me to lock onto it. I found a couple more including one that is called 3900-Temecula. This cache was on a bench that had been made out of recycled grocery bags. That's pretty cool. They took 3900 old grocery bags and made the plastic for a bench.

I liked it so much that I went over to 3900-Murrieta. This time there was a muggle on his break sitting on the bench talking on his cell phone. I thought if I sat next to him, he would get annoyed and go somewhere else to talk. No such luck. He just turned his head and kept talking. I thought it would be funny to hold my camera off to the side and snap a picture of the two of us. He never even noticed. I took a look behind the bench to see if it was the same type of hide as the other. I didn't see it so I claimed the DNF and went home. (Looking at the picture of me from the side reveals facial wrinkles that I don't normally get to see. Bummer.)

Sunday was a different story. It was 95 degrees today so that added to the fun. I started off by returning to 3900-Murrieta for a better look. This time I had the freedom to look really well. I found nothing. I looked all over that bench. After giving up, I was driving away and wondering if maybe it was one of those little nano capsules and not a hide a key like the other. If it's a hide a key, it's gone. If it's a nano, I could have easily missed it because my mind was focused on the hide a key.

Next I headed over to a cache in a Temecula park with views of Palomar Mountain. You can actually see the observatory from way down in Temecula. This one I knew was one of those nasty little nano geocaches. I looked all over the bench at ground zero. It was hot and kneeling on the ground was not comfortable. The only thing I found was a big old black widow. I messed with that for a while trying to get a good picture. Keep in mind that the green stuff in the spider picture is the part of a park bench where your butt goes. Makes you want to check before you sit doesn't it?

I headed to another park and made my only find of the day. My GPSr had me about 15 feet away from the cache. No one else had mentioned the coordinates in their logs and I was beginning to question my Garmin. I guess 15 feet isn't bad, but I like when it hits zero and I look down and there's a geocache. Call me spoiled.

Next I went to a cache that is along a small pond. I took the wrong trail and ended up on the other side of the water, 150 feet from the cache. I walked forward to see if it was a loop trail but it seemed to go on for as long as I felt like looking. I turned around and headed down the other side of the pond. I was walking along a concrete drainage ditch and the cache listing said there was no need to leave the concrete "trail" to retrieve the cache. The GPS was pointing 25 feet straight down a hill towards the water. I looked around but came up empty. Now that I go back and read the logs, it sounds like the cache is down that hill. No thanks. I spent an hour walking in the 95 degree heat around that so called pond.

I had three DNF's and I was getting hot. When I got back to the car and saw the info for a nearby multi cache looking at me, I thought that I'd had enough and headed back home. I never found a suitable cache to put that geocoin in. There's one near work in San Diego that I might put it in next week.

The day ended up good in the end because we all went to Ruby's Diner and got fat on some good old diner food. I finished my fish and chips off with a nice root beer float and life is good.

Watch where you sit!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Lazy Cachers Give Me The FTF

On June 22 I got the e-mail notice of a new cache 9 miles from home. I didn't go after it because it had already been published for an hour and there have been some FTF parties going on lately. Also, I've been reading Dan Brown's Angels and Demons and man it's good. It's hard to go after an hour old cache when you are immersed in the nonstop action of this book.

Well, that day came and went and the cache had still not been found. No DNF's or anything. I'm still too busy reading to go. Another day and another day pass and this cache is still sitting there yelling at me.

Finally, today, 5 days later, I decide to go grab the cache after work. I just printed out the coordinates because I can't install Garmin drivers on my work computer. I find the road I need to turn on and pull off to the side to enter the coordinates in the GPSr. Once the numbers were in and if clicked on "Find" I was only 53 feet away. Nice shootin' Tex!

Just then a muggle van pulls in front of me and just sits there. I swear these people are sent to test me. The name of the cache is Almost a Winchester Mystery House. It's near a really odd looking house in the city guessed it, Winchester, CA. I snapped a few pics on my phone to try and look like I was just looking at the house. Finally the van pulls away.

I didn't spot the cache right away. The hint said, "Another term for love in tennis?" Stupid me, I was thinking love meant the score was tied, so I'm looking for a railroad tie or something tied to the fence. (That's the tennis knowledge you get growing up poor in Central Illinois.) I finally spotted the cache just before giving up. After seeing the hide and having The Wife correct my tennis foul, the clue made some sense. It was still a bit too cryptic and wouldn't have helped me in the hunt.

Once I saw the container, I realized that it was swag from one of my caches that TGR's made into a cache of their own. That's the second time I've found a geocache made out of geoswag from one of my own caches. That's always a good time.

Anyway, I got the FTF. The log was too tiny for me to compose my custom FTF message but I put a big old Hick@Heart on there for the world to see. Who knows why this cache had not been found, but I'll take it.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

It's H.O.T.

That's right, a new acronym just for you and it was coined by yours truly. It's H.O.T. Horrible Out There. H.O.T. I can't bring myself to go find a geocache. And the new mystery cache published by S&R is still making me pull my hair out. They added a clue that says, "Lbh pna "pbhag" ba hf; jr jba'g yrg lbh "ebg" njnl nybar." Oops, let me decrypt that for you, the clue says, "You can count on us; we won't let you rot away alone." Then, about a week later, they posted a note saying they updated the clue to make it easier. They put quotes on the words "count" and "rot". This might have helped me if I had not already been focused on those two words. It makes me think of ROT 13, or ROT 5, I even tried ROT 47. Nothing.

RoxieMama hid a new cache that I wanted to find on the way home from work but The thermometer in my car said 113 and I was not about to exit my extremely cold vehicle.

You may have figured by reading some of my past posts that I am not a fan of bumping into rattlesnakes out in nature. This is the time of year that I like to stick to the more urban caches and avoid venom in my leg. Below is a log entry on one of my caches posted by Holeva6.

June 8 by holeva6 (496 found)
Made the grab with the six year old, can't do that kind again with him. All was fine getting up there and getting the cache. getting down was a different story. come down a grade with a six year old on your hip because the rattling sounds are to many and you your stick and child on board are working your way down by going around the sounds. Get day for caching not so good a spot to put your self in. These will have to wait till winter or a day I don't give a dang.

When I read that, I imagine thousands of snakes lining the trail just rattling away and waiting for me to make a wrong move. I was planning on hiking up to that cache to rescue a travel bug that's been stuck up there for a while, but that poor bug might just have to wait until fall. I know some of you are thinking, "Just be careful and if you don't bother the snakes, they wont bother you." Well, thank you very much, and I'll make sure to not bother them by staying off of that hill.

So, It's one of those "trapped indoors" kind of weekends. It was already over 100 degrees when I left my gym this morning at 11:00. I do need to make a new M&M tube geocache to replace the one by the gym. As I was pulling up the other day I noticed the tree had been trimmed. I went over to see if the cache survived and sure enough, it was gone. That's my first cache gone missing. It hurts my heart to think of it being tossed into the wood chipper with all the rest of the trimmings.

Hopefully this heat wave will end soon and life can go back to normal. Until then, I'll keep trying to find indoor activities. I actually painted The Girls toenails. Ha ha, I'm not very good at that, but it was fun.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Hick's Big Announcement

I have something I'd like to share. I've been offered and have accepted a new position at my job. My new job title will be Technical Trainer. My job will be to train our customers and field service rep's on how to operate and repair our equipment.

One great thing about this new position is that I will get to do some travel. I will travel throughout the US and Canada as well as do some international travel. I will average about one week a month on the road.

This will be an excellent opportunity to do some geocaching in new areas and fill in those stat maps with all the places I visit. It will also be fun to really get to put some miles on some travel bugs. I really enjoy moving these trackables and posting pictures on their pages.

Rest assured, I plan to bring my camera and post my adventures here to share with everyone. I start my new job on July 1st, however I don't know when or where my first travel will be. I'm really looking forward to this new challenge.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

PQ's: Finding Geocaches Along A Custom Route

I'm still learning about all the cool features available to me through and GSAK. Last week I was planing my short vacation and I was asking myself, "How do I create pocket queries along a route?" I didn't want to find caches along some auto generated driving directions. I wanted to find geocaches along a route that I made up. Well believe it or not, I actually figured something out and it worked! I wanted to share it with you because I love my readers. (It's getting thick in here!)

The first thing you need to do is install and open Google Earth.

  1. In the tool bar click on "Add" and then "Path"
  2. The new path window will appear where you can title it and edit the appearance of the line you are creating .
  3. The mouse pointer will turn into a square target box.
  4. Hold the left mouse button and drag it to trace your path. (You can let go of the button to move the view and click it again and keep going)
  5. When you are done, click "OK" in the new path window.
  6. You will now see your path name n the "My Places" area on the left side of the screen.
  7. Click on the new path you created and then on the tool bar click File, Save, Save place as.
  8. Make sure to change the file type to .KML (Not .KMZ which is the default.)

Now to create the Pocket Query.
  1. Go to
  2. Click on "Find Caches along a route"
  3. Click on "Upload GPX/KML"
  4. Browse to where you saved the file and click "up load"
  5. Your new path will appear on the screen. Click "Preview" to see it on the map.
  6. Select the path by checking the box and click "Save"
  7. Click on the "Your created routes" tab and click on "Create Pocket Query"
  8. Select how far from your path you want to see geocaches and select the other filters as you normally would.
  9. Click "Submit information"

That's it! you now have all the caches within your custom path in a pocket query. From the manage pocket queries page, Click on "preview in Google maps" to see them.

You can see how this allows you to only grab the caches that you want and eliminate a lot that are too far from where you are going. (Unfiltered view below)

You may need to play with it a bit to get the points in Google earth down. It also seems that there is some difference in the location between Google earth and the Google maps on You my be able to correct this byadjusting your zoom level while creating the path.

I hope this is helpful. If you know of a way to improve on this process, feel free to link to this post and let us know.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Mount San Jacinto Summit Trip

I was excited for my 200 geocaching finds milestone. The virtual cache at the summit of Mount San Jacinto was going to be the perfect opportunity for a memorable experience. This trip did not disappoint!

The In-Laws are in town and The Kids stayed with them. The Wife and I left the house around 6:45 AM and made the one hour drive to the Palm Springs Ariel Tramway. There was no one in line and we were quickly at the loading area for the next tram. We made up two of the three total passengers on our way up to the 8,516 foot elevation of the upper tram station.

We only had 2318 feet to go to make it to the 10,834 foot summit of this second highest peak in Southern California. No problem, right? We hiked over to the nearby Long Valley Ranger Station and picked up a free yet required wilderness permit. I took this time to unzip the legs off of my pants and remove my long sleeve fleece shirt. The temperature was around 55 degrees and I warmed up quickly on the trail.

We followed the Southwest trail towards Round Valley. The trail was somewhat rustic and had lots of boulders and fallen trees to negotiate. We were in a beautiful forest of Jeffery Pine and huge White Fir. We followed the Round valley stream up towards the Western end of Round Valley.

We continued past a seasonal ranger station and a couple of campgrounds. We saw a beautiful meadow that just seemed out of place over 9000 feet in the mountains. The last chance for drinking water was a piped spring near the camping areas that said to filter the water before drinking. I'll stick with the 2 liters of water I brought in my Camelbak.

We had been in the forest for the first couple of hours and soon came to our first mountain viewpoint. Spectacular! There was a large granite outcrop that provided a nice place to sit and look out as far west as the haze would allow. We sat for a few minutes and had a snack while taking in this teaser of what was yet to come.

As we kept climbing, we started seeing more snow left over from the winter. There were thick snow banks hiding from the sun in the shade of the trees. We began to see the summit. It was WAY up there still. The forest opened up into thick fields of chinquapin dotted with large boulders and the occasional lodgepole pine. We started up the steep switch backs leading to the summit.

The snow became more frequent and we actually lost the trail for a while. It wasn't hard to figure out where to go. Up. After a few wrong choices we were soon climbing over the huge boulders that make up the summit of Mount San Jacinto. I could finally see the sign marking the feat and found other hikers taking in the views and taking off their boots.

A group of hikers decided that right behind the summit sign would be a great place to relax so it was tough to get pictures without them in the background. We soaked in the views and ate lunch. That PB&J tasted great up there. It was amazing to look to the West and see the green of all the vegetation and then look East and see the desert created by the very mountain we were sitting on. The Eastern slopes are a straight drop 9000 feet down to the valley floor. It was kind of odd standing there.

I had a whole bag of travel bugs that made the journey with us. I took a picture of each one on the sign at the summit. It took a long time to upload each picture to every bug's page and I hope the owners enjoy it.

Soon we were on our way back down. We found where we had missed a switch back and lost the trail. I soon realized that down is tough. My legs were tired. those steps down the trail and off of rocks hurt every time. We didn't take the time to search for any geocaches up there because we need our hotel room to save us.

The trail down seemed to take forever. It seemed so much more steep going down and we wondered how we ever made it up in the first place. The whole way back we kept talking about how great it was and about how badly our feet hurt. The mileage on the GPSr counts off very slowly when you are traveling along switch backs. We retraced our steps and finally made it back to the tram's Mountain Station.

The Tram ride down was full of people and I was imagining my feet soaking in the hot tub. We grabbed some take out and limped up to our hotel room. Second floor, go figure. We did a lot of sitting that night. When I zipped off my pant legs I forgot to put sunscreen on my legs and got a nice little sunburn on the backs of my legs.

We had done it. We made it to the top. The hike was no joke. 11 miles of steep rugged terrain. I was over packed and my knees were letting me know. The views were the best Southern California has to offer. We could see all of the other mountain ranges of SoCal as well as spectacular coastal and desert views. We hadn't even reached the tram and The Wife was planning our ascent to the highest peak in Southern California, San Gorgonio. I think the best investment I made for this trip was a pairs of Thorlos socks. They kept my feet dry and I'm sure I would have had some blisters without them.

The next day was going to reach 100 degrees in Palm Springs and our legs were not ready for the desert hikes and geocaching I had planned. We went for a walk near our hotel and picked up 6 finds along a nice bike path. That 4 mile walk was all we could handle and we surrendered to relaxing and activities that include sitting. While we were walking along a golf course back to our hotel we were watching two large coyotes looking for food in the wash. One of them was on the fairway for a bit. A woman was walking three small dogs in front of us and when one of them barked, the coyotes quickly approached. The woman was unaware of the danger her pooches were in. I got to where the coyote was stalking the dogs along the path and yelled at it. The coyote retreated and I warned the woman that her dogs were being watched.

This has been my favorite trip in the outdoors so far. While I did log the San Jacinto Summit virtual cache, the summit benchmark and an earthcache, the remaining traditional caches on the mountain will have to wait for another day.

I took way too many photos to post here so check out the rest at my Flickr page.

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