Saturday, March 28, 2009
While scrolling through the caches I had saved, Hunter paused at one called Fifteen Goats on a Dead Goat's Chest. I was all for finding Dread Goat Pirate's treasure until Hunter read to me what was saved in the part for a cache description; See printout. Apparently the story behind this cache was too long for the space designated in my handheld, so I printed it out...but forgot to put that paper along with other longer details in our geogear bag.
We'd have to attempt Dread Goat Pirate's hunt another day. Instead, Hunter chose one called Send More Cacher's because inside the description Hunter read that the mosquitoes in the area needed more cachers to come and give them their blood.
We pulled into Burton Memorial Park, but I wasn't sure where to leave my van. There was a bulldozer and back hoe in a small area that was made even smaller by their presence. I parked as far away from the machinery as I could, put my geocacher placard on the dash and grabbed our gear bag. When we looked at the handheld we were surprised to see there were actually two caches in these woods. One called Mosquito Haven was actually closer than the one that brought us here, so we focused on that one and off we went.
Yeah, that's my fingertip in the picture of the trail head. I couldn't find my digital camera so the pics in this story were taken with my camera phone.
We followed a trail made up of crushed asphalt and then a more natural dirt and leaves until we reached the namesake for the two caches these woods hide; a muddy, leave crusted, murky pond. The perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. We had yet to see any of those blood suckers, but we had only just begun....
As we continued on we could see where trees had been cut down, wood stacked and other trees targeted with orange X's. There isn't much to this park and why it's even called a park I don't know. It's just a walking path that bends back and forth like a snake trail in sand. Maybe the heavy equipment and clearing away of trees means good things are in the future for this place.
We weren't that far past the mosquito breeding ground when my handheld told us to hang a right. If leaf free trees make my GPS bounce around so much, then what's the signal going to be like in the heat of summer when I'm out there in the woods under heavy canopy cover, like a giant storm cloud had suddenly blew in to rain on my day? I stood at a tree marked with one of those orange X's long enough for my GPS to tell me I was probably within 20 feet or so of the cache. I told Hunter we were going to have to rely on our eyeballs and brain muscle to find this one.
He did start to look around, but when it comes to looking for something, be it in the van, in the house or there in the woods, Hunter doesn't put much effort into it. Even when I tell him to bring me something that is right there on the dining room table, but because I tell him I think it might by on the kitchen counter, the kitchen counter is where he'll look and no where else.
So we're in the woods looking for a box that, by the rules, can't be buried in the ground. It might as well be to Hunter, though, because I saw him staring at the ground like he could see through all the way to the worms borrowing below. As I look in stumps and under logs on one side, I cue Hunter to look at the next possible place to his right or whatever.
I've been giving us 20 minutes for a find and when that time runs out and we're still searching, we sigh and accept the fact that we have to log a DNF. We left that part of the woods and head over to another area where the first cache, Send More Cachers, is supposed to be. Will we find it?
Nope. I had the same trouble with my GPS but I thought I knew the general area. We even found a toy Dalmation dog that I had read about in one of the Internet logs, but no cache in any stumps or under any logs we looked at. Neither of these caches offered any hints. It's my opinion, and I will keep it in mind when Hunter and I hide our first cache, that if the hiding spot is in a place where GPS signal is iffy, INCLUDE A HINT!! :P There was just way too many places someone could hide something in there.
We left with nothing new in our possession and returned to my van. We drove to the nearest gas station for a potty and snack break and then drove to Punderson state park. Besides some geocaching fun, this park offers boating and fishing on its natural lake, a lodge, family cottages, a golf course and scenic campgrounds. There are many trails but it seems it's at its best during the colder months as it's considered a premier Ohio winter sports park for sledding, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.
Richard took us a mile past the front gate and to the parking lot of the main lodge. I could see a sign for the Iroquois Trail, the closest starting point mentioned on the cache information page. As you can see, the trails were what you'd expect in the spring. Hunter and I walked along the sides and tested our balancing skills by crossing over standing water on green clumps of grass. Both of us felt the touch of the water through our shoes, a cold burn spreading out across our toes before we quickened our pace to make it stop.
The first cache in our sights had a seasonal theme. It was called Easter Basket and was the only cache we've found that wasn't camoflauged. Before we got there though, we learned quite a lot from the numbered posts along our route. The post in the picture with my for once wonderfully cooperating model spoke of the lake while others we paused to read told us of marsh lands, animal dens, how huge boulders got to where they were and more.
It was a beautiful day with just a little chill in the air, so we weren't surprised that there were other people out enjoying Punderson's paths. We greeted quite a few couples and two groups of families. One family with four kids was nearby when my GPS told me the cache was directly to my left, just off the trail.
Hunter and I sat on a log bench, one that fit perfectly into its natrual surroundings. It was a large shortened tree trunk trimmed of all branches with the top twelve inches or so of one side shaved down to allow tired visitors to rest a spell. Maybe the cache creator puposely planned it out this way, to have a bench so near to his cache. I am all for taking my find away from its hiding place so people won't wonder what I'm doing and come back to look around where I was, but as you can see in the picture below, this cache would have been seen even from a distance! First, to the right is where it was hidden. You can see how unnatural that wood looks, at least to a geocacher looking for something Mother Nature wouldn't do. If you were able to magnify that shot a few times and look to the right of the pile you'll see the crinkly, bright green cellophane shredding that is recognizable as the decorative grass used in Easter baskets. Only after I spied the grass did I see the wood in a row next to it.
With just the removal of one stick we found a cache that screamed, 'Look at me!'. As I said above, this is the first cache we've found hidden without any disguise. Clearly seen inside the plastic container was the grass and the bright plastic eggs. I understand the effect of the Easter Basket idea for a cache wouldn't be the same behind a masking cover, but there was no way I could take that thing over to the bench and go through it without someone wondering what I was doing. The cache was only maybe ten feet away from the trail itself. I told Hunter we had to be quick. I heard another group down by the dock we had taken a picture by. He took the two small items inside a purple egg, put the egg back as the cache creator requested and then added his trade, which was a glow stick. While he did that I signed the log and kept looking toward the family I could hear but couldn't yet see. We closed it up tight and put it back into the hole among the wood. We covered it so no one could see the colored plastic and then I told Hunter to head toward the trees, away from the path. We walked in a half circle and returned to the path away from cache. The family was about 20 feet from the cache when we came out of the woods ahead of them, but if they were curious what we had been doing, which I doubt they were, they wouldn't have found anything at the place they first saw us.
After that quick find we back tracked and took another trail toward the second cache in the park. We crossed a simple bridge on our way and then over the road we came in on until we were in a drier and quieter part of the woods. The only thing we saw on this walk was the blur of a chipmunk as he raced across a downed tree and disappeared. The only thing we heard was the crunch of dried leaves and broken sticks underneath our own feet. I tried giving Hunter a lesson on how he can minimize the racket he was making, but I think my words disappitated in the wind before even reaching his ears!
We turned off the trail and Hunter was so close on my heels that he bumped into me when I stopped. He was playing with one of his small toys again and I told him to put it away because we were close and he couldn't make a trade if he didn't help me find it. Honestly, I was a bit frustrated and impatient with him because on the other caches he was so close to me and focused on his toy then, too, that it was like he were walking blind in a cave and was tethered to me by a rope for safety. I told him about my feelings and wanted to know if he really liked to go geocaching with me. I want to do this with him because it gets us both out of the house and into the fresh air for some excercise and an escape from his brothers. He said he did like to go, but the driving is long and the walking tiring, but he liked doing it. I'd rather not have him playing his Nintendo DS or reading a book on the way to the caches, but he's even quieter than me. Next time I'll let him do one of those things to the first cache, but then we'll play a word game or something to the second cache. We'll decide before we leave what caches we'll do and find out if Kit can come. Having her around might make the walk more enjoyable for him.
Looking at the cache information page before we leave is probably a good idea. If I had done that for Mosquito Haven, then I would have realized it had been deactivated! Actually the word is called archived. When a cache has been archived, it usually means the box has been muggled; stolen or vandalized in some way and won't be found out in the field anymore but is still there to be viewed on the website. Muggled wasn't the reason listed for this cache though. The owner wrote, 'Beware the ides of March. And now for something completely different.' I have heard that phrase before, but to understand it completely I Googled it, don't ya love Google?, and found this definition, courtesy of The Phrase Finder - From Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, 1599. 'Beware the Ides of March' is the soothsayer's message to Julius Caesar, warning of his death. The Ides of March didn't signify anything special in itself - this was just the usual way of saying "March 15th." Each month has an Ides (usually the 15th) and this date wasn't significant in being associated with death.
The cache owner archived his cache on March 15th and sounds like he'll put it back in a different spot, maybe with a different theme at a later time. I hope it's in the same park because that was a nice, quiet place to walk and we can bring Kit along.
We can also return to Punderson with Kit because there is an Earth cache there. I saw the icon on my handheld and it was back up by the Lodge. As Hunter and I walked back from our successful hunts I read through the Earth cache information I had saved and almost cuffed myself on the back of the head (sorry, early childhood memories :P). This visual cache wasn't by the lodge, but it started on the same trail we began on. I had forgotten that, like with the Virtual cache I did a few weeks back, Earth caches also have tasks set by the cache creator for the finders to do. Remember the informational posts I told you about, the picture of Hunter by the number 6 post in front of the lake? Well, on some of those posts was information we needed to collect. We'll save that for another time. We were tired and ready to head home after about four hours of being out. Despite what I mentioned about Hunter, I enjoy doing this with him, but if he tells me he doesn't want to do it anymore, I will push for it because he needs to get out of the house, but if he insists, then it'll be OK. (Devin will take his place!)
Friday, March 27, 2009
I explained to Devin we were going to go to a park where there would be 'mama treasure boxes'. I told him the difference between my kind of box and his, was that my kind were smaller and didn't have any toys. I told him that while I was looking for my treasure box, he and Bryce would be running around and having fun. He was all for that and in this setting it worked out.
When we first pulled in about 10:00 A.M., there was a car parked in front of the pavillion. I was hoping to avoid any muggles, but it looked like there would be some. My plan was to let the boys play and wait for the person or people to leave.
As I got the boys out of the van and then unfolded the stroller (still looking for that all terrain wagon!) there wasn't anyone in sight. Devin went around, over and under the playland for a bit while Bryce played in the sand. Eventually I coaxed them toward the back of the park where a rusty chicken wire type fence seperated public land from a private farm. Come summer there would be sweet corn a fingers length away from the fence. There were three pine trees close enough together that their boughs overlapped. They were the only grouping of trees in the entire park. I saw a single one here and one over there, but trees were far and in-between in that place.
The coordinates put me at the tree farthest back. Even though I had saved the hint in my handheld, I didn't look it up. I knew the cache was a micro, but I felt pretty confident I was standing right on top of it. There isn't anywhere else really to hide a cache here. I scanned the thin branches, avoiding an eye poke here and there, but saw nothing. I looked for holes in the trunk and the base of the tree, but still nothing. Then I saw something among the dried needles blanketing the ground. On the ground is where I found the pill bottle shaped, camo taped cache. It had a green wire hooked on the top of it's lid and I assumed it had fallen from one of the branches above. I brought it back out from under the tree toward my boys who were running around the tennis court.
It's very important to take your find away from its hiding spot. It takes a bit of time to sign the log and sort through any tradeable items, especially with kids. Hunter likes to look at each and ever item before he makes up his mind. Therefore it's better to do all that a few feet away, somewhere not so conspicious looking like being a single adult under low hanging trees while young children run amok further away. I wold have preferred a bench, but none were nearby, so I had to make do in front of a toddler I rounded up and strapped back in his stroller so I could sit in front of him and appear to be interacting while looking through the log.
Bryce was conveying to me quite loudly how he felt about my chasing him down and making him immobile, so I pulled out my extra pen and let him play with that while I signed the paper log and wrote down the clue. This micro cache was actually one of seven in a series. There are six micro caches in my county called 70's One Hit Wonders. Each of the six has an additional name that goes with each individual cache. This particular one was Overlook, for the name of the park in which it was hidden. Once found, you copy down the verse contained inside of a Top Ten song made famous by a One Hit Wonder in the 1970's. My task was to identify the song and discover what year in the '70's it became a hit. Armed with that information, I can replace a letter substituded in the final cache cordiatnes with a number. For this cache, the formula was, C = 197_. The verse I wrote down that day goes as follows:
We walked behind and past this building and toward two fairly good sized trees. The first one had a wider trunk, bigger overall and had caught my eye for the possible hide location as we walked toward it on the road. The second one though had two trunks from a single base as wide as the trunk of the other. The opening in-between was about the size of the plastic purple bucket Devin has been using the past couple years for Halloween candy. The hole wasn't as deep as it was wide and I could see another pill bottle sized cache. This one was also camoflauged in the special tape hunters use to cover shiny and reflective parts of their guns. Now geocachers also have a need for it to keep unknowing muggles away from their hide and with practice you grow an eye for spotting it. Devin was very excited for me, that I had found my Mama Treasure Box. I wasn't sure when I started out how he would do with not finding his own treasure to sort through, but he didn't behave like the selfish little boy I often see at home! I signed the log inside, closed it up tight and tucked it back into the crevice at the bottom of the tree. I've always been able to see that tree from the road, but now it holds a few different meanings for me.
Back at home I had to decypher the song verse I had rushed to write down. I think chicken scratch would have been easier to read! I wrote down only the first line and it goes...
Now first it wasn't easy...of how I learned a lesson....that day. (That was how I rushed it down.)
Hmmm...let's see if Google can tell me anything. Umm, no. I'm not going to find the answer in an interview about how someone learned to stop hating their mother.
I added the word 'lyrics' to my search and the song Play That Funky Music came up. I wasn't seeing a year so I asked Google, 'What year did Play That Funky Music top the charts?' The first result was 1988 by Roxanne...no.... Ah-hah! 1976 by the band Wild Cherry. Now I know that the letter P in the fake coordinates is actually a 6!
I'm enjoying the micro caches, but there are many people who avoid them because their size ups the difficulty rating.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
In the middle of the picture above, you can see a white line that goes up at the end. (The square with numbers and letters is the cache site.) That line is actually a thin cement wall that leads to the top of a large drainage pipe. We walked down and along the right side of it, among the bare trees and the trash covered ground. That was the most trash I have seen around a cache and could not believe the cache owner or previous finders didn't pick anything up! When we left and my kitchen sized garbage was pretty full, I thought maybe they did but couldn't pick it all up. There was still a lot of trash.
I tried to let him find it himself, but as he seemed to look everywhere but by his feet, I started playing the Hot and Cold game. He finally moved some of the wood, and there it was! He complains about the drive, drags his feet along the walk, but boy, oh boy does his face light up with the find!
You can see, he's not all that thrilled!
The second one we attempted we thought from the description would be a quick find. We found ourselves in a good sized park with a playground, basketball and tennis courts and two baseball fields. My handheld GPS brought me to the right side bleachers between these fields. What? Bleachers?? There was no hint, just the title of Bleached Pirate Bones. Bleached meaning bleachers and the pirate theme is because the team who hid this cache has a thing for pirates. All their caches have something to do with buccaneers. I could believe a hide on these small, aluminum bleachers if it was a micro, but not so much a small, which is about sandwich size. We felt along all the grooves of the bleacher seats, hoping for a small something stuck underneath with a magnet before I realized a magnet won't stick to alluminum. Our time was soon up as a father and son appeared out of the parking lot to play catch on one of the fields. We had to leave with a DNF (Did Not Find).
The last one was a wonderful walk along a trail that used to be a railway. The owner of this cache wrote up a great poem that talked about the cache and also told us how we might find it.
Not far past the silo we went over a boardwalk and soon came to the sign post pictured above. If you can't read it, it says, "From 1899 - 1925, the Cleveland & Eastern Traction Company operated an electric-powered interurban railway which carried passengers, freight and farm goods between Cleveland and the Geauga County countryside. This trail leads to the site of the C&E junction where the track split into two branches; eastbound passengers could continue onto Chardon or baord a connecting trolley to Burton and Middlefield."
This is the part where I messed up. I was enjoying the view of duck houses, goose and two minks that were two fast for my photo lense, Hunter was busy stimming with the toys always in his hand, that I forgot the line, "Stop where a small trail comes in from the right...". I didn't look for a trail from the right. I followed my GPS into thick trees and ended up walking too fast for it to catch up. We ended up entering the woods in the wrong area and didn't realize my GPS was having a hard time until I had made a half circle around. I slowed down but still couldn't get a good reading. While waiting for my GPS to tell me where I was, Hunter and I looked under fallen logs and in some stumps. While searching we came upon an interesting tree Hunter wanted me to take a picture of. But then I goofed again! I forgot the hint, Birch Stump. If I had focused on those two words we may have found it, but instead we used up more than the time we planned and had to run back to the van and pick up a pizza and get back home. We were 45 minutes later than the time I told Tim, but my gosh, guess what happened? He, Dev and B survived! (Sorry for the sarcasm, my love! :P)
So, Hunter was bummed about all three of our caches; two DNF's and one disappointing find. After I signed the Internet logs I sent a message to my sister Karyn and said that she and the kids must stop by here on their way to Michigan in June so she can help me find this cache!
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
When I got home my husband knew I hadn't just been grocery shopping. I had been gone about two hours, but the amount of groceries in my possession did not warrent such a long trip to town! I'm glad I took the time to take even that short walk in the woods. There are a couple caches off some nature trails I can probably take Dev and B too.