Wednesday, December 31, 2008

We just can't stop!

Welcome to the Rainbow Bug Motel!

We had some things to get at a bigger store than what Bellaire provided, so we, meaning me, Karyn, Tiffany, Hunter, K'ryn and Kyler, climbed back into Karyn's van (she has a better DVD player and heated seats) and headed to Gaylord. Tiffany and I were looking at the caches in this city, just in case, and found a travel bug (TB) motel! We knew it was very possible to find in the snow because it had been logged as a find the previous day!

One thing though. This cache was not the usual cache. It wasn't created to trade the small items Hunter carries in his soft purple sack, it was for trackable items (bugs and coins) only. Well, it just so happens that Santa had given me three TB's for Christmas, and Karyn, as kcgraham fellow geocacher, had given me one more! While in Wal-Mart I picked up a couple key chains to attach to my new TB's. Hunter chose a small globe that floats around like a compass for this cache.

It wasn't snowing, but it was COLD! The children were smart and said they would stay in the warm van, although their attitude may have changed had the cache been their kind of treasure. Karyn calls her TomTom GPS unit Max. So Max took us past I-75 and out toward K-Mart, the other side of Gaylord we rarely visit. As we came closer to the finish line on Max's screen, we realized that the cache was probably at a business. I had read back on that the location was someone's property, but if we had a GPS in hand, it was a free pass thru.

We didn't see the name of the business until the end. Had we not been staring at Max's screen and been looking up and around, we would have saved some time and our cold fingers! A sign out front said Rainbow Plaques and the cache name was The Rainbow Bug Motel.

We ended up pulling into the business next door and it took us a bit to orient ourselves with our GPS's, finally realizing where we wanted to go was behind the business next door. The cache creator had said if a flag was up, a TB was there, flag down, no TB. As we left the van Kyler changed his mind at the last second and followed us out into the packed snow. We didn't know what the cache owner might be referring to until we saw a mailbox in a place where no mail would ever be delivered, facing the back of a building. There were the abbreviations GC on it with a few numbers. We interpreted the first two as meaning geocache and the numbers after as the numbers the geocache is listed as the database.

Tiffany and I rushed over there. Karyn had taken Kyler back to the van after he had fallen and gotten all snowy. On the flag were the words, Flag up, TB here. Flag down, no TB. I was bummed the flag was down, but I added my first travel bug I called A Small World to the cache.

On my TB's home page I wrote for its mission the following:

I would like my Small World TB to travel the big world. More specifically, go somewhere out of the United States...somewhere warm...with no snow...and easy access to tropical drinks.

Karyn came around the side of the building long enough to sign the log and snap the photograph you saw at the top. Another cache found!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Getting the nieces involved!

Hunter (with his brothers) and I visited my sister Amanda at her home in Charlevoix. It was the third day of overcast skies but no snow and not so cold temperatures. It was coming back though, predicted to that day actually, but I invited my neices Rayne, 8, and Randi, 7, to go geocaching with Hunter, sister Tiffany, Kit and I. They had no clue what I was talking about, but after explaining it, they decided to give it a try. They ran to their rooms and choose a couple small toys they wouldn't mind passing on. Randi is going to make someone happy with the Beanie Baby she chose! We climbed into my van and entered the coordinates of a cache I had researched before heading their way into my GPS.

The first one was called Sunset Ridge and was located along the shores of Lake Michigan. We didn't have to worry about being sneaky because nobody was on the shores that windy and getting colder by the minute day! As we parked the van over a dilapidated snow bank, it began to snow. I had explained the function of a GPS and we headed down a path, looking for the answer to our hint, Watch Your Steps.

As we followed the numbers in the display, we arrived at the top of steps going down toward the beach. A few steps later and we were just about in line. We just needed to go a bit more to the left....

I climbed to the top of a steep hill and spotted right away what I thought was the hiding place. The girls followed by Hunter climbed joined me and Rayne was the first one to spot what I thought was the hiding place; a pile of sticks underneath a tree who's roots had lifted its base at least six inches above the ground.

Rayne reached under and pulled out what looked like a paint can with a plastic lid. Tiffany opened it up and passed me the log book and handed the bag of goodies to the girls. They made their switches as did Hunter, Tiffany signed the book and we placed it back just the way we found it and ran back to the van to warm ourselves up!
I told the girls I had the coordinates to one more if
they were up to it. They said they were so we
entered them into Richard and repeated the process. He led us to a dead end road next to the cement plant on the lake. We followed a path along the fenced property line and after locating the right spot with the GPS, we fanned out from there and looked around. The hint was, In the Shadow of a Saint. I didn't realize the cement plant had Saint in the name, so we were looking for trees or logs/sticks in the shape of a cross, something like that, but we found nothing. The only thing unnatural we discovered was a large pile of bread.

The girls agreed we could try again and do some others when Hunter and I return in the spring.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Geocaching in Northern Michigan!

Here we are, home for the holiday!

Hunter and I haven't been able to do any caching over the past couple weekends. I made a quick trip up here two weeks ago for a funeral and then we both traveled up here for the holidays and have been busy and enjoying our time with family. But yesterday we teamed up with my sisters Karyn and Tiffany(kcgraham and tifranta) and did one together!

What we chose was unique and one I think I'll create back in Ohio. It's called Shopping and Caching and inolves two steps and only a log book; no trades, so no treasures for Hunter to find. The first set of coordinates took us to a grocery store where I had split the list provided by the cache creator before hand and divided it up amongst Hunter and his two younger cousins, K'ryn and Kyler. Our dad tagged along with us, his first geocaching experience!

Geocaching invloves a bit of stealth, which is very possible inside a grocercy store. However, not so much so when the adults bought groceries the previous day and the only thing intended to take away from the store this trip was the aisle numbers of certain products! To help us fit in a bit more with the shoppers, grandpa grabbed a cart.

On the list were items such as Wheat Thins, Lean Cuisine and Bailey's. Since the children would be doing the looking, I changed the wording around to something they were more likely to understand. Wheat Thins became crackers, Lean Cuisine turned into the kid version and Bailey's, at $21.00 a bottle in this small northern Michigan town, became cheaper botteled water.

Armed with their lists, we went up and down the aisles, calling off products to help them cross of their selections, jotting down each aisle number we found them in. I snapped a few pictures along the way and I'm sure I got more odd looks in my wake!

We left the grocery store in a bubbly rush and
climbed into Karyn's van. Tiffany called off the
items from the list and when the children read from their papers what aisle it was in, Karyn entered the number into the GPS. Then we were off to find the actual cache!

The GPS led us not far from the parent's house.
It looked like the cache was off the walking path.
We decided to go back to the house and get in cold weather gear and pull the younger children in a sled to the end.

We had a couple warm days that packed down the snow and the snowmobiles on the walking trail packed it down even more, making for an easy walk and a great ride for the kids in the sled. My ten pound rat terrier, Kit, came with us as well.

We got to where one half of the coordinates matched our grocery list puzzle and decided to leave grandma with baby Bryce. The rest of us entered the woods in the direction of the other coordinates with hopes of finding the hidden cache.

The snow in the woods wasn't so easy to walk in as the path we left. Devin and Kyler, three and five, kept up with us pretty good with just a little help now and again.

When we got to the river, we didn't know what to do. Our GPS's were saying our destination on the other side of the waterway. Even if it were in the middle of the summer heat, I doubt the cache creator would be sending us across a river...but maybe he would!

We headed back to grandma and Bryce who were lounging in the sleds. We returned pulling the exhausted children back to the house. Karyn sent an inquiry to the cache owner and we're hoping to hear back from them before our return to the U.P., Georgia and Ohio.