Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Caching Trip to Grand Forks

Erin had been able to get a Monday off, so we had a long weekend.  We've known about it for a while now, but didn't really make any plans. As it approached we came up with the idea of heading to Grand Forks to do a little caching. I looked for a fun place to stay, but Grand Forks doesn't seem to have anything like that, so I wound up booking a hotel through the day before we left. Since we didn't really care where we stayed Priceline seemed to be a good option.  I'll definitely keep it in mind for future trips.

Saturday morning we headed out and took a roundabout way North, grabbing some caches along the way. We made it to Grand Forks early afternoon, and just grabbed a snack since we were meeting some friends for supper.  After ice cream at Culvers we hit a couple more caches until we could check in. I had a headache, so we stopped by Target to pick up some drugs.  After that we went back to Hanging At The Pepper, a cache we had missed on previously.  With the hint we picked up a few weeks back we made the find easily. Then we headed into East Grand Forks to do the Avian Adventure cache there. At the first location someone overheard us talking about coordinates and asked us about caching.  We probably spent 10 minutes getting to know this other cacher and swapping stories before continuing to find the rest of the cache. From there we cleaned up East Grand Forks as much as possible. There was something going on down by the river, so we skipped a few caches near there.  After that a few more in Grand Forks before hitting up Pizza Ranch for supper with the Pirates.

Matt, Zoa, and the kids have a frantic sort of energy about them that always makes get togethers fun. Over supper we traded a few stories and told each other about how the day had gone. After we finished eating we decided to grab a cache.  Erin and I aren't much for night time caching, but the pirates seem to do their best work when the sun goes down.  Not wanting to miss out on the opportunity to have 18 eyes looking for a cache we decided to go for one that was a bit tricky. Oliver was the first to spot the cache, when we found it we discovered that although the cache description was perfectly accurate it was also misleading.  That sort of misdirection makes caching fun.  From there we walked over to a cache that they had found before, but that some of the kids hadn't seen.  Again this one was tricky, especially with the sun already set. Simon pointed out that the cache wasn't in the right spot, and after he put it back, the rest of us made the find quickly. We walked back to the vehicles, and talked some more before finally calling it a night.

The next morning Erin and I had breakfast in the hotel.  Nothing special, but it wasn't bad.  We tried for a few caches in town before heading North. Instead of a cache I found a family of mice at one location. I was leaning in to look behind a tree and under some bark when they startled me.  We decided to move on after that. I was able to solve Larry's Cache with an item that we had in the car.  I felt really good about figuring out how to get into that one. After that we headed out of town to the geocaching Mecca that is Gilby North Dakota.  Erin and I had gone last year and found about half of the caches in that area and were excited to go back.  Trycacheus puts a lot of thought and effort into all of his hides. We had a great time finding unique and exciting caches, but got a bit tired of solving a cryptex to sign some of the logs.  We also discovered that very few of his caches are as easy as they look. After clearing out the caches in that area, and adding a few new towns for a challenge cache in Fargo we headed back to Grand Forks for a few caches near UND.

When we finished caching for the day we hit up a grocery store to grab a few items to bring over to Matt and Zoa's farm. They had invited us to stop by for supper on our way home. Since we had GPS coordinates finding their place was easy.  When we got there the boys had setup some geocaches on the farm they wanted us to find. We got a tour of the farm, and found some very challenging caches.  After that Annie showed us the animals. Since I'm the typical city kid that doesn't know much about these different animals, I found this all very interesting. After that we had supper and chatted until Erin and I needed to hit the road and head for home.  It was a great weekend.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

2013 Vacation Day 6

Again we awoke to the sound of raindrops on the tent, not many but enough to let us know what was coming.  It was a bit early to be waking up on vacation, but we had looked at the weather the night before and rain was in the forecast. Without much talking we both started packing up our stuff.  With as many storms as we've dealt with camping we've gotten rather good at tearing down in a hurry and about 15 minutes after we started everything was packed up in the truck.  The heavy rain was still a ways out so our stuff was just a little damp. With nothing left to do in the park we headed out.  Our first stop was the rest area for bathrooms, and to get the Garmins loaded up with new caches.  After that we started off in the general direction of Duluth.  We found a place to eat in Brainerd that seemed to have a number of elderly regulars and had breakfast.  After that we hit the road with the intention of caching all the way to Duluth.  By now the heavy rain had caught up to us and after stopping a few times and getting wet we decided we'd saving the caching for Duluth instead stopping in the small towns along the way. When we arrived in Duluth we stopped at the visitor center at the top of the hill.  I think the view would have been amazing, but the rain and fog prevented us from seeing much beyond the windows. We decided to head to Grandma's for lunch since that was one of the places we were both looking forward to.  Lunch was fantastic even if the weather wasn't.  After lunch we tried to do some caching, but the parking meters all over town had us discouraged.

Our room at the B&B
Eventually 3:00 rolled around and we could check into the Firelight Inn.  When we checked in we got a tour of the mansion, since we were the only guests at the time we got to see the other rooms.  I was happy that our room, the Superior Suite appeared to be the best.  We brought our stuff up to the room, and bummed around for a bit before heading downstairs to figure out where we wanted to go for supper.  The bed and breakfast had a number of menus from around the area that we looked through before narrowing the selection down to just a few. One of the owners, Joy came out and we talked through our selections before deciding on a place I had found online, Va Bene.  Erin had seen a pizza in the menu that peaked her interest. It had pear, gorgonzola cheese and candied walnuts. I ordered a pasta with shrimp and onion.  My pasta was good, but Erin's pizza was far better. Fortunately she shared with me.  After supper we returned to the B&B and relaxed before bed.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

2013 Vacation Day 5

The next morning the rain had stopped and it was looking fairly nice out.  We had breakfast at camp and then set out for some more geocaching from the bikes along the Paul Bunyan Trail.  We did find a bunch of caches, but we typically do better so it was a little frustrating.  Eventually the heat and bugs got to be too much and we headed back to the truck.  It happened to be around lunch time and I had no problem talking Erin into going back to Rafferty's for pizza.  Lunch was a good as what we had the previous night and after that we went to Pirates Cove for 36 holes of mini golf.  I dominated the first 18 holes, and Erin squeaked out a victory in the second 18, but overall I won by a few strokes.  The course was a lot of fun with it's pirate theme.  There was a dungeon in a cave that had a motion sensor that played an audio track of a prisoner whenever someone looked in, and there was a cannon that fired periodically causing an air driven splash in a pond.  One of the holes was even on a small pirate ship.  When we had finished golfing we decided to take in another movie, Man Of Steel.  We both enjoyed the movie, despite Batman being was cooler than Superman. When the movie was over neither of us was hungry so we headed back to camp.  When we arrived we found the stakes I had lent our neighbor the previous night on our picnic table, as well as some left over firewood that he had.  It was a nice surprise. We also had some new neighbors in that same spot, an older couple who came over to introduce themselves. Tom and Lorena were from Canada on a several week trip to Colorado and back.  We invited them over to our campfire and sat around sharing stories until it got dark and was time for bed.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sometimes the fun isn't in the cache

Thursday night Erin was having some friends over, so I was on my own for a cache. After the 1 year streak of finding a cache everyday I still haven't given up and I'm hoping to make it through August.  The cache I chose to go for was about 5 miles North of Argusville on highway 81.  Definitely a bit of a drive, but from the satellite view I could tell there was a place to park and there shouldn't be anyone around to chase me away. Arriving at the approach I parked and started my search.  I figured it would be on the small sign near some power equipment, but after looking all over I knew it had to be somewhere else.  I looked over the power equipment before spotting the cache, not on the equipment, but near it.  The cache was well hidden and I felt lucky to have found it.  I signed the log and headed for home.

I got on the interstate heading south and was almost to Harwood when I heard a loud noise and the steering felt odd.  Pulling over the the side of the road I poked my head out and saw that the front driver's side tire didn't look much like a tire anymore and smelled a bit like burned rubber.  I was close to a bridge and was able to back up and angle myself to get a bit more room between the car and traffic. Damn, this sucks. Almost on autopilot I got out and looked in the trunk for a spare.  I'm not that handy and didn't really have any idea what I was doing.  The in the compartment with the tire was some rudimentary instructions on what to do.  I knew the jack needed to be in a specific spot to actually lift the car, but wasn't quite sure.  Crawling around I found what appeared to be a good spot to put the jack.  It wasn't.  I looked again, and found a better spot and repositioned the jack, this time the car was actually lifting. It was progress.  After getting it jacked up I figured out how to get the tire off.  I needed to lift the car a bit more to get the spare tire to fit, and once it was on I tightened the lug nuts in the order described in the owners manual.  I was feeling good about what I had been able to do, knowing it wasn't that much of an accomplishment but being proud nonetheless.  I packed up the jack and tire iron as well as the remains of the tire and headed for home again. Distrustful of the spare tire, and my handy work I kept the speed very low on the way home.  It was a nerve wracking drive but eventually I made it home safely. So much for just a quick park and grab.

Friday, July 26, 2013

2013 Vacation Day 4

Sunday morning was sunny and beautiful. We debated going into town for Sunday brunch after our bad experiences with restaurants in town the previous day and decided to chance it.  There was a local place that had a bunch buffet that sounded good.  We arrived a few minutes before they opened at the parking lot was completely empty. When they finally opened we decided since we were here we'd give it a shot.  When we walked inside there was no one around.  We waited a bit and finally someone noticed we were there.  I asked if they were open and they said yes and seated us.  It was really weird having a giant buffet table loaded with food with just the two of us there, but the food was good. It was a good mix of breakfast and dinner items and Erin and I both wound up eating a bit too much.  It was nice finding a restaurant that didn't suck after the previous day.  After brunch we hit up the Paul Bunyan Trail for some geocaching.  We cached a couple of miles of the trail before deciding it was too hot and we needed to do something else. After returning to the trucks and packing up the bikes we didn't have any idea what we wanted to do other then get out of the heat. Fortunately the trail head was close to the movie theater and we decided to watch Despicable Me 2.  It was a good movie, and the theater was cool.  After the movie we wandered around the  nearby mall while trying to settle on a place to eat. We had come up with a few ideas, but I had noticed a pizza restaurant in the mall and was trying to talk Erin into going there.  She thought pizza sounded good, but wasn't sure about this place.  We walked into a store and asked where the best place was in town for pizza and the clerk answered without hesitation Rafferty's, the place in the mall.  Erin was finally convinced to give it a shot.  We had some onion strings to start with, and they were great.  I had a small pepperoni pizza and Erin had the Lucky Chicken pizza.  It was a little odd because it had Lingonberries on it but she really liked it. I enjoyed my pizza as well. We were 2 for 2 on picking restaurants today!  After supper we headed back to camp and had another fire.  As we sat around the fire we noticed some woodchucks scampering around the area.  We tossed out some licorice, but they ignored that.  Then we tossed out some popcorn and they loved that.  They would timidly dance out from the tall grass and grab a piece and start chomping away.  It was very cute.  After a while someone pulled in a neighboring campsite on a motorcycle. Within a couple of minutes we could hear the rumble of thunder so we went over and offered to help set up. Our neighbor was camping with a hammock and had a tarp to throw over the top, but nothing to stake it down with.  I lent him some stakes and we got things tied down just as it started to rain.  I put out the fire after that and it was off to bed.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

2013 Vacation Day 3

From Erik: "What is the sound of one hand clapping"
 and "I guess this is Minnesota naughty"
Saturday morning we woke up around 8:30 to the sound of rain. We had some muffins we brought along from home for breakfast and decided that we would cache from the truck today instead of biking the Paul Bunyan Trail. On our way out of the park we decided to try for the multicache again.  This time I had the 98% DEET bug spray that helped tremendously.  With the right coordinates we quickly found the cache to start off the day. Just outside the park is a visitor center that had a cache, so we stopped for that and I was inspired to take a picture of Erin and Paul Bunyan. I wonder how many other people have a similar picture? From there we drove into Brainerd cache along the way until lunch time.  At the information center we had picked up some brochures about local restaurants and decided to try the Sawmill Inn.  I figured I couldn't go wrong with ordering pancakes in a place called the Sawmill Inn, but I was mistaken.  Erin's food wasn't fantastic either, but it filled us up and we were back to caching in the rain again. After getting most of the caches around town that weren't on the bike trail we decided to go to the Bolder Tap for supper. From what we had read about it, they specialized in burgers and seemed like it would be a great place.  Unfortunately it didn't live up to our expectations.  We ordered cheese curds, but I don't think they have any idea what cheese curds are supposed to be. What we got were large blocks of a not particularly great cheese that had been fried.  Ok, I could have read the menu a little more closely and avoided this, I'll take some blame.  Then the burgers came out and they were awful. I think it was because their meat wasn't very good quality, but it's hard to pin down exactly where things went wrong with it.  It's rare that I don't finish a hamburger, but this one wasn't worth eating.  Wow, we had done a great job of picking restaurants.  After supper we came back to camp and got a fire going.  The strong bug spray seemed to do the trick, and we sat around the fire snacking until we decided to get some sleep.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

3rd Anniversary Run and Caching Trip to Jamestown

Matt, Rick, Erik, Ray, Jon
Erin, Cassie, Heather, Lynette, Kristy, Rachel, Connie
The day started early, I rolled out of bed just a bit before Erin's alarm went off.  We had been out the previous night watching the boys and neither of us wanted to be up at this hour.  We got dressed and I checked on the carmel rolls.  They were rising nicely.  It wasn't long before people started showing up and our kitchen filled up with the goodies that everyone brought for breakfast.  When everyone was finally here we headed back outside for Rachel to take our picture before the run. I wanted to get back early to ensure the camel rolls were coming our of the oven in time, so I biked.  The pace the group found was faster then I was anticipating.  It was fortunate I wasn't running or I would have slowed everyone down.  I biked along talking to Matt until the route turned back towards the house.  Then I hustled home and started baking. I probably should have headed back sooner, or the group should have run a little more slowly.  Either way they were back a little sooner then I was planning on.  Erin handed out our homemade race medals and the group came in for breakfast. We had fresh carmel rolls, an egg bake, bacon pastries, orange juice and fruit. Breakfast was great, and it was run catching up with everyone.  Heather's husband Doug showed up with their daughters, and I got to hold Violet for a bit.

Donvil, Ellis, and Former Hawkeye at the event
After breakfast we cleaned up, and Erin took care of the cats we're watching while I loaded up the Garmins for a road trip out to Jamestown. The first cache we tried for was in Valley City.  It was one that I had looked for previously and missed.  This time we were determined to make the find.  After looking all over a evergreen tree I finally made the find. From there we headed south down to highway 46 and cleaned up some more caches we had missed on.  We had nice weather and were finding everything, much more fun then our recent vacation.  There was a high terrain rated cache that we stopped at, but we had been fortunate to bring a telescoping marshmallow toasting fork which made quick work of retrieving and returning the cache. After cleaning up most of the caches south of Jamestown we headed north in to town for the event.  I was thinking we'd be a bit late, but we made it right on time. We had fun talking with the other geocachers and the food was good.  While we were eating Chad got a call from the pirate family saying they were out of gas on the interstate.  After finishing his meal Chad was going to run some gas out to them, and I decided to tag along.  We borrowed a gas can and headed out to find the pirates. As we drove Chad showed me a text from them with their coordinates and a brief cache description.  I enjoyed the joke they made out of their situation. We found them and got them refueled and made it back to the cafe in time for door prizes.  Erin got a matchstick container and I got a christmas themed towel. We chatted a while longer before heading out with Chad to get a couple of caches. The first one we tried for was a harder difficulty cache that required a bit of a hike.  We made a wrong turn and did some bushwhacking, but made the find.  From there we made an easy find at the Pipestem dam office before deciding it was getting late and heading for home.  One the drive back I started kicking around ideas for some fun caches to place up North. It was a great way to spend our Saturday.

Monday, July 22, 2013

2013 Vacation Day 2

The next morning when I got up I was treated to some new logs on the Monopoly series.  Our favorite pirate family had been in town for the fourth and had been finding them.  Unfortunately I should have added a bit of information to the final cache to help clarify something because they had been unable to find it.  It was still lots of fun reading about their adventures from the previous night. I started packing up the truck and we were on the road to adventure shortly after 8:00am.  Around 10:00 we stopped in Wadena, MN to do some geocaching.  There is a bike trail from a park in town to a nearby golf course that has caches every tenth of a mile or so.  After unpacking the bikes we set out to see what we could find.  Our first stop was a big old willow tree with a high terrain cache.  We circled the tree for a bit before I tried unsuccessfully to climb the tree.  When I came back down I talked Erin into giving it a shot.  She was able to get up into the tree, but couldn't find the cache.  It was a bit disappointing but we decided to move on. On the bike path we weren't having much more luck. I think we missed about a quarter of what we tried for. Sometimes Mosquitos would drive us off, other times we put in a good search and just couldn't make the find.  After we finished up on the bike trail we decided to grab lunch in town at Harvest Thyme. The service was a bit slow and the food was just ok.  I had some pepperjack mac and cheese with bacon, and Erin had a salad.  After lunch we drove around Wadena grabbing a few caches before hitting the road again. We stopped every time there was a cache along the highway and even found a place to grab some ice cream along the way. Eventually we made our way to Crow Wing State Park and set up camp. After getting things setup we decided to try for the Avian Adventure multicache in the park.  We drove to where it started and set out to make the find.  We didn't notice there were 2 sets of coordinates on the sign starting us off and thought it was odd how this cache seemed to have a historical theme to it.  The mosquitos were awful and the heat was unpleasant, but we found the final.  It seemed odd there was no log to sign, but we were happy to be heading back to the safety of the truck. When we got back Erin hit up the bathroom and I checked the sign to discover we had gone after the wrong thing.  With the bugs as bad as they were we decided to try for the cache again another time. We drove back into town to grab some supper and wound up at Bonanza which was surprisingly good before stopping to pick up a hatchet and some stronger bug spray. That night our neighbors in the campground stayed up late and kept us up until around 1:00am with their loud stories before I went and talked to them.  After that they quieted down and we were able to get some rest.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

2013 Vacation Day 1

The fourth of July started off somewhat lazily, no alarm clocks but I was still up early. I lounged around and checked email and realized that in addition to our 19 caches that were published the previous night, another cache had been published in Moorhead.  I checked the cache page and no one had logged it. When Erin finally rolled out of bed I checked it again and still no logs.  I told here and we decided to start the morning with an attempt at a first to find.  We thought our chance were pretty good for this one. It was a holiday, the person hiding the cache was the one who normally beats us to caches so he wouldn't be logging this one, and people out for FTFs might go after one of ours.  When we pulled into a nearby parking lot we had the place to ourselves and a minute later we were signing the blank log.  What a great way to start our vacation!  This cache marked day 367 of our consecutive day streak.  After grabbing the days cache we hit up the grocery store on the way home to get supplies for buffalo chicken dip. After making the dip and lounging around for most of the day we headed over to Cassie's place for fireworks. Around 10:00 the bugs got to be too much for me and we headed home.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

2013 Vacation Day 0

Paul from work sitting in front of us.
The past few years Erin and I have been taking a week long vacation in early July. It started before we got married and has continued ever since.  This year we kicked things off earlier than most years on July 3rd with a Barenaked Ladies concert in North Fargo. While I was waiting for Erin to get off work I put the finishing touches on a series of caches that we had been working on with a Monopoly theme. Just before we left I submitted them for review. When we got to the ballpark we found a place to sit and Erin went off in search of food. While I was waiting I spotted a buddy from work who was playing around with a quadcopter that he had recently purchased. It was neat seeing how small and maneuverable it was. One of Erin's coworkers (our geocaching buddy Lindzee) met us at the concert with another friend and they sat with us. The concert started off with a lone singer whose name escapes me. He was really funny, and towards the end of his set he got a few of the Barenaked Ladies to come out and play with him. After that the band Guster played. Erin and I weren't that impressed with them, but there was at least 1 song that I enjoyed. Linzee didn't seem to enjoy them all that much either.  Around the time that they were playing our Monopoly caches were published and I think she was more interested in going to look for them.  Finally Guster finished and we moved on to the main act. The Barenaked Ladies put on a good show with playing most of their hits and a few new songs. For me the most interesting moment was when they started playing the theme from the Big Bang Theory, it really clicked for me just who was playing for us. I really loved the show and wish it had been longer, or at least more of the Barenaked Ladies and less of Guster.  After the show we packed up our chairs and headed towards home. On the way we decided to stop at Applebees for half price appetizers. I'm not sure we had the right wing sauce or if it was our imagination, but the food just wasn't as good as normal that good that night.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Homemade Race Medals Part 3

After painting and drilling
For this years race medals we decided to use round pieces of wood from Michaels. We painted them with a blue sparkly spray paint left over from a previous project and drilled holes for the ribbon.  We found a silver cord that was elastic, which is working great for the ribbon.  We finished them off with text in silver sharpie. These were much faster to produce than our first homemade race medals or even our second anniversary race medals. They could have been a bit larger to include more text, but I think they turned out well.

The silver elastic

Homemade race medal
The finished product