Monday, October 29, 2012

Geocaching in Jamestown

This weekend Erin and I attended a geocaching event in Jamestown. We got up early on Saturday and headed out of town. Our plan was to get there before the event, find some caches, and then have lunch at the event.  We made it into town a little after 10:00 and went searching for our first finds of the day. There were 2 caches in a park near the interstate, and after some searching we found both.  We then headed into town for the third cache. As we were signing it a car pulled up and someone got out and greeted us.  We were introduced to Minot Ranger was in town for the event.  After chatting with him a bit we decided to team up for the day. We left his car where it was and he hopped in the truck with us. From there we picked up a few more caches, and then met up with a couple of cachers we had met the previous week in Mayville. With this group we found a few more caches until we ran across my manager and he joined the vehicle caravan.  The 8 of us picked up a couple more caches before heading to Perkins for the event.  Just after we arrived at the restaurant it began to snow. I didn't think too much of the snow as we ate and talked with our fellow geocachers.

Erin, Chad, with Mike and 1 of his daughters in the background
After lunch we had just enough time to grab a few more caches before we had to head out of town. I was watching the boys at 6:00 and needed to get back to town. The snow was coming down in large wet flakes at this point. We stopped by a cache we had previously found to help out the other cachers before heading into a park where we had been a couple of weeks ago to pick up a new cache, and one that had been missing when we came through. Jim had already found the caches in the park and was able to help us find them quickly. After we finished up in the park we drove back to Jim's car to drop him off and then we headed back to Fargo. Getting onto the interstate I slide around a bit before regaining control. It was more slippery then I realsed.

Scooping out the guts
That night I got to carve pumpkins with the boys. This was a bit of a stretch for me. I don't have much expertise with pumpkins. Fortunately the boys had done this before and had some idea of what they were doing. I was mainly there for moral support and to assist with sharp objects as needed. We finished off 1 of the pumpkins which looked pretty good when we lit it up with an upside down lamp. It was a fun day.

Taping the template down

One complete pumpkin

I didn't have anything better to light it up, so we turned a lamp upside down to see what it would look like

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Geocaching in the mist

Most people would describe the weather on Tuesday as unpleasant.  There was a thick fog all day and misted from time to time.  I really like this kind of weather and all day at work I was excited to get out.  Erin and I had planned to go geocaching with Krisann in Kindred and then grab supper at the bar. When I checked the Kindred caches I noticed 5 new caches Southwest of town that had just been added on some brand new trails. When I got home and told Erin about the new caches she was excited, and when Krisann picked us up we convinced her to give them a try.

It was starting to get dark as we drove. The parking area was a bit hard to spot, but we found it.  Immediately after leaving the car we had to hop a barb wire fence at a crossing and then we were off on the trail.  We brought along a couple of headlamps and a couple of flashlights which gave us enough light to follow the trail.  When we approached the first cache the Garmin's had us in the middle of a grassy area.  Krisann wandered near the treeline, where a mouse caught her attention. It was fortunate, because that was the tree with the cache. We signed the log and began to search for the trail to the next cache.  We went the wrong way before discovering that the trail was partially hidden in the trees.  A local boy scout troop had recently constructed a bridge over a small creek.  Stopping and listening to the water flow was very peaceful on this dark misty night.  We followed the trail until we hit a road, fortunately we found where the trail picked up again on the other side.  At this point the trail was between a raving where the creek was flowing and a corn field.  Soon we came across the next cache.  The Garmin's were a bit off on this one as well, but we were able to find it. From there we had to cross another fence and continued uphill for a while to the third cache, which we found as well.  It was hard to believe we were 3 for 3 in the dark.  Finding the trail after the third cache was a little bit tricky, but we managed.  The trail then looped around to the North where we found our fourth cache of the night.  Even though the Garmin's took us to the right tree this one took us awhile to find. From there we continued to follow the trail until we came to a fork.  Based on the description of the cache we chose the red trail and set out. The trail was narrower and steeper than what we had previously been on. After a bit the trail turned away from where the cache was.  The closest we came was about 500 feet to the cache. We didn't want to walk that far in the woods for fear we'd get lost, or stumble and get hurt in the rugged terrain, so we turned around and walked back to the car. The night was warm enough that we all felt overdressed. On the way back we stopped on the bridge again and turned off the lights and enjoyed the calm of the night.  When we got back to the car we decided to dry driving to where the fifth cache was.  The GPS took us to the edge of a field with no good places to hide a cache. We guessed that the coordinates were off for this cache and headed home.

The next day our suspicions were confirmed as the cache coordinates were updated, and I received an email with updated coordinates. I'm excited to get back out there and find the last cache, but I doubt it will be as magical as the first time we went out there.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Meeting the pirates

A musical stick, drop the washers and they swirl down the rod
Erin in a pirate mask
This weekend has been a busy one. Friday night we went over to watch the boys and stayed overnight. Then Saturday we had a geocaching event in Mayville. As we were preparing to head out, there was a quick change of plans when Sam decided to hang out with his soccer team, leaving Erin, myself and John to make the trip up north.  We arrived a little early to find some existing caches that we had missed last time we were in Mayville. We worked to find a couple of micro caches before heading to rainbow park.  There were lots of interesting things within the park. A kinetic sculpture immediately caught my attention as we walked through the park. We found a threaded rod with washers on it that made a musical sound as they slid down as well as an  herb garden that invited you to sample some of the plants. We found the cache fairly quickly in the park and then wandered around a rock maze before heading out. As we were leaving the park we spotted pirates in a park across the highway.  Figuring we were in the right spot for the gathering of the pirate counsel we headed over to say hello. The family that was hosting the get together were all dressed in full pirate gear. It was neat seeing how much they embraced the pirate theme.  The wind was fairly cold as we waited in a shelter in the park for others to show up. It was fun being able to put faces to some of the caching names we've seen in the past few months. When enough people showed up coordinates were handed out to some temporary geocaches in the park. We set out to find them with an older couple and a couple of the pirate children.  The group dynamic was very friendly. Finding the 7 caches took us about an hour. When we got back to the shelter we were shown travel bugs on several of the cars at the event. We enjoyed seeing how involved with geocaching everyone was. After the event in the park we headed over to a local restaurant to grab some supper and warm up. As we waited for the food, we took a quiz on various pirate phrases. I did fairly well, but was beat out by one person who got just a couple more questions right. Erin and John both won door prizes. On the way back all three of us took turns contributing to a ghost story.
A delightful cache

John holding a temporary cache for the event

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bismarck Caching Trip

A walking bridge over the James River in Jamestown
Erin on the trails near the giant buffalo
This past weekend Erin and I went to Bismarck so she could spend some time with her family around her birthday and so we could do some geocaching. Saturday morning we hit the road early and started off looking for a harder cache near the wheaton exit along I-94. We weren't able to find that, but we didn't let starting the day with a miss get us down. We were able to find several caches between Wheaton and Tower City and were enjoying the morning. Our next stop along the way was Jamestown. We started out in Mc Elroy park and took short walking detour up to the buffalo on the hill. As we were in Jamestown I remembered the run Erin and I shared when I was in town for my Grandma's funeral just a couple of years prior. That morning we seemingly covered all of Jamestown before the sun came up.  It was a little odd seeing vaguely familiar places in the light of day. After clearing out the park and grabbing a few more caches in town we hit Arby's for lunch on the way out of town. We made a few more stops on the way to Bismarck including Steele where we found a cache near a giant bird statue. Oddly enough neither one of us ever noticed this while driving back and forth between Bismarck and Fargo on the interstate. When we got into town we stopped by her parents house to unload our stuff and then the four of us when caching in General Sibley Park in South Bismarck.

The next day Erin and I headed out to do some caching along the Mandan side of the river. We found a neat mountain bike trail that ran between the interstate and the river. It was the perfect place to hide geocaches, and the caches there did not disappoint. Several cachers had put some thought into placing high quality caches in this park.  We found close to 19 caches that morning and walked close to 5 miles. The weather was perfect, a bit cool with a slight breeze. We enjoyed spending time in the woods in the fall.
A view of the path near the river
A bear we found

Can you spot the rat?
After lunch Erin's parents joined us for some caching out on the university of mary campus. We had mixed success, but enjoyed the view from up on the hill

Click to view larger
Monday morning Erin's Dad and I went caching and found about 10 caches around town before grabbing lunch. Here is a picture of a whale toy we found with Red Lobster in the background. After lunch Erin and I packed up and started heading for home. We had a few caches along the interstate that we wanted to grab along the way. We found this neat abandoned rest area near crystal springs. After finding the cache we did a little exploring. We finished the trip by finding the first cache we missed on the way out after getting a hint from the cache owner. It was a good weekend of geocaching.

An old fountian?

No one home

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

100 days

Erin and I hit 100 consecutive days with a geocache find last night.  It started out seeing if we could just get to 30 and we kept going. It's been getting harder and harder to keep it going, but we've both been motivated to see if we could get to 100. For the big day I decided we would finally check out MB Johnson Park in Moorhead.  I've wanted to go there for a while, but kept putting it off. When we arrived we were surprised by how much parking there was.  I think I saw 5 different parking lots.  The weather was cool and overcast with a constant breeze, I would catigorize it as a perfect fall day.  We found all 6 caches in the park fairly quickly and enjoyed some of the trails in the park.  I'm excited to go back to do some running, or biking there.

Speaking of running, The past few days I've done some very slow and short runs, but the ankle is making progress. I'm hoping it won't be too much longer before I can get out and log some miles without worrying about it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What kind of idiot climbs a pine tree

Cuts and scrapes
My battle wounds
There's a cache in town that I've been interested in going after for a while now, a 4 star difficulty and 4 star terrain.  Harder than any cache we've tried for. We had a somewhat open night, so we figured we'd finally give it a shot. When we arrived we quickly determined which tree to search, and Erin spotted the cache fairly quickly.  It was about 25 feet up.  Who hides a cache this far up a pine tree? Ok, a better question is what kind of idiot climbs up the pine tree to sign the log.  I guess this kind of idiot. I figured it had been found before, and someone had to have put it up there, how hard could this be? Just getting to the trunk was a bit of a painful process. I had to push away branches as best I could and squirm around others.  After reaching the trunk I had to pull myself up before I could get my feet on a supporting branch.  After that it was just a matter of picking the next branch to move to, grabbing it and realizing it was sharp and pokey and then getting poked by other branches as I moved up. Eventually I made it up to the cache and tried to open it. No luck.  Ok, maybe I'll unhook it from the tree and toss it down to Erin. Nope, it wasn't just hooked, the wire was twisted onto the tree. Somehow I managed to brace myself in a position to use both my hands briefly and I got the cache untwisted and sent it down to Erin to sign. This wasn't very comfortable, but sharing this with Erin wouldn't really help. I knew she was working as fast as she could. After she got it signed she tossed it back to me, or rather just a bit short of where I was.  Damn. It was hard enough just hanging onto the tree without turning around and trying to catch a small object. After Erin dug the cache out of the tree where it had fallen we gave it another try and somehow I managed to catch it. This is when Erin ran back to the car to get her phone to take the following pictures.  My arms were aching, and I still was trying to reattach the cache to the tree.  The wire broke off, so I needed to twist it back onto the cache before the tree. Eventually I got the cache put back where I found it and started down the tree. When I finally climbed out of the tree Erin told me I was bleeding.  It didn't hurt.  At least it didn't hurt any more than the rest of me which was just as scrapped up.  My arms were aching and I don't think I could have stayed up in the tree any longer then what I had, but we had found the cache and been able to sign it.  I guess this is what fun feels like.
An idiot in a pine tree
I think I've had enough christmas tree for a while

Monday, October 1, 2012

Geocaching Road Trip to Fergus Falls

Erin hiding in the trees at our first find of the day
For a while now Erin and I have been wanted to get down to Fergus Falls and do some caching along the Central Lakes Trail. This past weekend we finally had an opportunity to make it happen. We got up early Saturday morning and loaded up the bikes on the truck. We had planned on taking the road bikes, but on a whim I grabbed the mountian bikes instead. The drive was much shorter than heading out to Park Rapids and the Heartland Trail.  We drove through town and eventually found our way to Delagoon Park where the trailhead was. After unloading the bikes we started to hunt for caches in the park.
Click to embiggen

The central lakes trail
It was fortunate that I had grabbed the mountain bikes, because we were able to ride all over the park searching for caches, instead of having to leave the bikes by the road and walk to the caches. We found some neat caches in the park, including 1 stocked with VHS tapes for trade and another that used a pulley. After clearing out the caches in the park we hit the Central Lakes Trail. The trail was beautiful at this time of year, the leaves had turned, the lakes were perfectly calm and it was unseasonably warm out. The caches that were along the trail were not just quick stop and grab caches, a few of them Erin had to go after along because of ankle was still hurting.

Where's Waldo...  I mean... Erin
 After we finished the cluster along the trail near the park we decided to pack up the bikes and grab some lunch at Dairyland, a local Dairy Queen knock off.  We both had burgers with fries, and split some cheese curds. The cheese curds and fries were good, but the burgers were awful. I think we discovered where the lean finely textured beef(pink slime) went to that McDonalds no longer uses. After lunch we stopped by a park off of Hoot Lake to pick up a cluster of 4 caches before heading home. Fortunately there are plenty more caches in Fergus Falls we didn't have time to pick up, so we'll be back.

Erin and the top of a hill I was unable to climb