Support Sierra Club

Sierra Club

Friday, May 29, 2009

Heads Up! Father's Day is Coming.....

If you're anything like me, its best that you think about holidays a bit before they actually get here. So, you have less than a month to consider what you're going to do with this one.

Me? I'm going GeoCaching of course! And I'm using the holiday as an excuse...

My dad and his wife live in Franklin, NC. So Beth and I are going to hop into her Dad's truck and head down there for a visit. And, to entertain ourselves and enjoy a little escape time, we will attempt a few caches. We are also going to try out the "Route" feature on This feature allows you to enter start and stop coordinates, then pulls up caches along the route. Pretty cool, eh? I'll let you know how that goes.

Now about gifting. Dad's can be a little hard to buy for. Well, not my dad. I'm taking him six packs of Vienna Koegel HotDogs which his ex-wife/my mother delivered to me last month. (Wow, I was way ahead of the game this year!) Anyway, these are the dogs used in all the little greasy diners in Flint, Michigan, to create the famous Coney Island Hot Dog. Dad loves them. They provide me a bit of nostalgia from my childhood.

Back to gifting. A GPS could make a nice gift. Prices start at $100 and go up, the sky isn't even the limit for the heavy duty ones. But you could do what Beth and her siblings did, they split the cost on a Garmin Nuvi for Pop's birthday. I'll let Beth blog about how its working out for him, but I thought it was a good gift.

First, you need to ask yourself how the recipient will use the GPS. Does he or she (yes, some father figures are female) travel and will they use it as a highway navigation tool? Will he want to locate points of interest along a route, such as restaurants, shopping, etc.? Then the typical GPS found at WM might just do the trick.

If the giftee is more outdoorsy than that, a more technical type GPS might be needed...a low cost one is the eTrex, by Garmin. I know nothing about this, except the price that I looked up online. So I'm not endorsing here, just throwing out a suggestion. They have golf GPS's too. Again, I know nothing. But they are out there.

Now, let me interject here. Apparently in the Caching world there is a bit of bias about what GPS is used. I'm suspect its some ego related thing, but I'm not really sure as we are basically newbies at this hobby. My suspicious arose when we were at the Roanoke Event and someone complained that a flyer for an educational program pictured a Nuvi. My not-so little ears latched onto that. I didn't ask questions, as I basically don't care because we love our Garmin Nuvi 500 (most of the time). So much so, you'll recall, we've named her Ms. Garmin. We respect the lady.

First of all, she fit our budget at the time. Second, she has cool graphics and cute little icons. For example, when we are on a trip or on a way to a cache, we put in a cute little 4X 4 truck. It keeps me entertained so Beth can concentrate on the driving.

And while her voice (Ms. Garmin's, not Beth's) can grate on my nerves sometime, overall, she's any good date should be. She keeps track of our found and not found caches. She can pull up a restaurant when we get hungry. She found me a nurse practitioner once when I was in desperate need. And most of the time, she gets us within 20 feet of caches.

I think the hardest part of getting into this hobby was figuring out what we needed to get started. I did not enjoy researching GPS's. I found it a bit overwhelming. That's why I put the Search for GPS widget onto the left bar. If I would have had this when I was doing my research, it would have been nice. I read "Geocaching for Dummies". I like the dummy books..cause I are one sometimes.

Ok, maybe a GPS for dad is a bit out of your price range, or your siblings are deadbeats, or whatever. Understandable. There are some great books on geocaching. We are even starting to see short stories and novels written. There is even a country western song. No Kidding.

I put up the Amazon Carousel to the left too. I'll put some of our favorite picks there from time to time. The really cool thing is if you hold down the up or down button, it spins the products and looks really cool. Sometimes I log onto the blog to just play with it. Try it.

And yes, we are affiliates and if you buy something we get a little kick back. So what? You buy stuff anyway, why not contribute to the financial well being of a blogger.

The weekend is almost here...time to cache..... or at least think about it.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Life Is Good

We received the ultimate compliment in the past two days. Several of our readers have decided to give this geocaching thing a try. That's super cool. When you find a good thing, you want to share it and it is always a nice plus when the people you're pushing it on are actually interested!

Seems if we didn't scare Marie off, and that she is still asking for a GPS for her birthday, although, she does not want to wait until November to get it. From what I understand, if she really likes a birthday gift, she won't stop playing with it...wonder if she remembers how much she loved her Barbie Ride-On Car....her mother does, I've now heard the story. I'm certain that Marie will ditch the flip flops for more sensible caching footwear, now that she bad, I suppose.

On Memorial Day I got a surprise call from my sister, Beverly Dawn. Apparently they recently have gone out and bought a GPS. Her and hubby, Craig, were on their way to their first cache when she called. Again, super cool.

Now these folks need cool caching names. Wonder what they will choose? 'Tis all so exciting.

We kinda stumbled into DragonOx. It's our Chinese symbols...I'm the dragon, she's the ox, and yes the traits really do match us perfectly. And its cool. It's the year of the Ox, in case you didn't know....and I think Beth is pleased with how her year is going...especially when she got called back to work if we just hit the lottery tonight....things would be SWEET! I haven't checked out the caches in Richmond, but I sure will if we have to make a road trip there to collect our winnings.

I've been working on our pathtag.

Here is a rough draft...I can see this developing into a tattoo...only with the Tao symbol worked in...

Oh my, I feel inspired...hey, maybe I'll videograph our getting our geocache tattoos and upload it here...using ChiroWork's new Flip Camcorder...

Oh ya, that's it, the tats will be a blogging project. Research. Hmm...That's It. Sounds like a plan.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

We're Pirates!

As I've said before, Geocaching is a great activity for families. A couple of days ago, we took Beth's daughter and grandson on their first caching outing. We told little 4 year old Richard that we were all going on a treasure hunt and that we were Pirates. This would come back to bite us later in the day.

The night before I preloaded Ms. Garmin with what I thought would be some fairly easy finds with easy terrains. After all, I didn't want to be delivering little baby Allen, as that is way out of my scope of practice as a chiropractor.

Marie showed early, so we knew she was excited to see what this crazy hobby was all about. I donned Richard with one of my fishing hats and we piled into Beth's Dad's truck for the adventure. Weather was perfect!

First stop was a cache called "Hey Mom, Look What I did!". Its a nice kid friendly cache, very colorful and wide open for running and playing. It was a mini cache and we finally learned what a "nano" the next time we pass through New Castle, VA, we'll score the one that previously got away.

After this cache, it was off to the next, located in a local cemetery up on Bunker Hill in Pearisburg.

The hint given by the owner of the cache was "Two woods not the same".

Richard and I were on this one! We just left Nana and Mommy on the southwest side and we just started walking the wall...low and behold, there it was!

But we let mommy and Nana log the cache. Note: When taking someone caching for the first time, inform them about proper footwear.

Ok! Now we're two for two. This is looking like a good cache day. Pirates always find their treasures, right? Well not exactly........

Next we headed to King Johnson. We totally struck out here, but Richard really loved the playground, and that's what it is about, having fun.

We also struck out at alwa artma of earisburgpa . Yes, this listing was really in pig Latin. So time for a drink. Water for the two middle aged ladies, DP for the youngster. A short break...back on the road.

The next cache was at The Inn at RiverBend, an upscale B&B in Pearisburg, overlooking the New River...oh what a view! This was a really great hide. We were only the second people to find, but that doesn't really count for anything. The cache blended nicely into the landscape. We may have tainted the experience for some other cachers behind us, as Richard had pocketed the Travel Coin we wanted to place in this cache. When the others drove up, he informed them in his cute little Richard way that we were pirates looking for treasure! So now they knew why we were there and exactly where the cache was hidden. Took away the thrill of the hunt for them I'm sure.

Last stop. The Pearis Cemetery. We were all getting a little tired and cranky.

Ok, I was getting tired and cranky.

All I could think about was what George Pearis, the founder of Pearisburg, would think about these strange folks tramping around his burial site. Think about eight month pregnant woman in flip flops, a middle aged woman with a pirate bandanna and broken bifocals, a wild bangie 4 year old pulling up grave site stakes, and me.. an overweight chiropractor/auctioneer/yogi gal in a Pride T....what would this dude from the 1800's think?

I found it amusing. What I didn't find amusing was the fact that Ms. Garmin had us going off into some insect infested, poisonous plant laden area....but I sacrificed myself for the good of the game and I scored! Our clue: Not firewood. Hmmm...could this be it?

It was. I am the Dragon Slayer! No, I'm the slayer of the Dragon Slayer! No, I am the Dragon! Whatever...I totally disliked Coach on Survivor....and I hate the fact that he's sucking perfectly good air...but I digress.

So all in all, it was an awesome day. And to top it all off, I got this totally sweet picture of my little buddy, Richard.

Ok, don't you think its time to get out there? You keep reading this blog...go..go already!

Beth's Perspective On First Event

Our first event! I was psyched. I had a plan that would guarantee us some gold buttons if not silver, but it appears that others had the same plan. There were ten cache points, each with one gold, one silver, and ten bronze buttons.

As people started coming in to register I began to think, oh boy, this is going to be hard. There were about fifty to seventy five people. My plan was to go after the middle caches working up to ten then dropping back to the first set. What I did not expect was that the streets would be listed on the paper. This gave the locals an advantage I believe.

We got our paper at noon and watched the people run to vehicles, jump in and take off. We stopped in a parking lot to enter all the coordinates and took off. I was cursing all the red lights while Pippa was decoding the hints and handling Ms. Garmin.

Our first stop, we are going for the gold baby, oops, there are cachers, damn. Looks like others had the same plan I had, so much for strategy. The excitement of racing through Roanoke Co. was strong and I kept thinking of the reality show, "The Amazing Race." wow what they must feel for that much money on the line and different countries.

We saw some beautiful areas, and some not so beautiful, as Ms. Garmin took us through some rough areas to roads that no longer exist. We saw some areas more than once since we were not savvy on the streets of Roanoke, we did a lot of back tracking. We made it to eight of the ten caches points and collected four bronze buttons in the five hrs. allotted for this race.
When we checked in, we were told this was considered a great feat since we were unfamiliar with the areas.

I insisted on going to one last point which was off the Blue Ridge Parkway. This would have been a much nicer drive if I wasn't racing twenty miles over the speed limit and trying to pass every car we happened upon. We found this cache but it was empty. Pippa was worried that we would not get checked back in on time, and I the adventurous fast driving person I am, told her not to fret, we would be there in time. We got back with only three minutes to spare, that was a little close, but we were able to turn in our find.

We won nothing but had a great experience and met new people. Got to see new areas and just have a great day for only $48, gas and food. Oh, and I got a Pirate Bandanna which will be my new geocaching fashion accessory. Looking forward to the next event.

On the way home, Pip got to see her first double rainbow. Interesting enough, my sister, Mary Dee also saw one in Harrisonburg, VA. It was a really cool day.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

From Brother Elliott

What do get when you cross a GPS and PMS???

A bitch that can find you ANYWHERE, ANYTIME, ANY PLACE.

Thanks to Beth's brother, Elliott, in Edmond OK and Best Friend, Kenny. Thanks Fellas! A good sexist joke is always appreciated....kinda.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Our First GeoCaching Event is Forthcoming!

As I said before, anticipation is a big part of this hobby. Planning, researching, strategizing....

Well tomorrow we are attending our very first Geocaching Event sponsored by Roanoke County's Parks and Recreation, Amazing County Treasure Hunt Caching in on Scenery Event.

The event begins at noon, when we are given the coordinates to 10 scenic or historic sites in Roanoke County Virginia.

Apparently there will be caches with colored coins of a specific value at each site, the goal being to be the first team with the highest value of coins to check in at the event's close.

I'm ready. Beth has her big knife. Ms. Garmin is charged. We'll take water and snacks. We also have a strategy, designed by Beth, which we'll not reveal here at this time.

And hopefully we'll kick some geobutts. We are going up against some highly experienced cachers...some have logged several hundred finds, one guy, moose something has over 2400. Beth and I just have 8...but we have enthusiasm!

I'll let you know how it goes. And did I mention it was free? That fits into our budget nicely.

Remember...weekends are for geocaching.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Greetings from St. Johns!

I (Pip) have had a wonderful stay on St. Johns, US Virgin Island. This is the view off the deck where we did yoga for about six hours every day.

I did manage to get away for a little geocaching, although I have to say that traveling around this little island is a bit scary. I thought the mountainous roads in Virginia were way....I will have nightmares for years to come, and I was just a passenger!

I had downloaded info for the Cruz Bay Cache into Ms. Garmin before leaving the mainland. During my free time from the yoga mat, I would play with Ms. Garmin, looking over caches, etc. This of course, sparked conversation with my classmates who politely showed interest in my strange little hobby.

I actually got to take one of my classmates, Amy Sand from Illinois, as a geo-hostage, when we went into Cruz Bay on a shopping excursion. We fired up Ms. Garmin and the hunt began. Now Ms. Garmin gets all technical with street names and such. But here on the Island, there are very few street signs, or stop lights, or the general traffic courtesies you find on the mainland. Side walks are few and far between. I think pedestrians are considered more of a nuisance than anything. And I'm sure points are rewarded in double digits here, and tourists probably carry bonus points, especially if you just scare the daylights out of them.

So here we are, Amy and myself, trying to get our bearings, when a voice behind us says..."Where ya goin?". I turn to find a tourist guide fella..and reply..."We're not sure"...and the nice man says..."If I were you, I'd go down one block and take a right".

We went back after we found the cache and thanked him and took this picture. I think he was expecting a tip, but I think just being featured on this blog is reward enough, don't you? If not, my Karma is screwed for sure.

Well the Nice Tourist Dude got us started in the right direction, and that seemed to please Ms. Garmin. The main clue we were working with was "look for the blushing fruit". Now we were thinking tropical drink...or Amy was thinking tropical drink...there was a good deal of drinking by my classmates on this trip....modern yogi's, these friends of mine...progress not perfection...that's a good motto...I stuck with the sparkling apple juice, thank you. But let me tell you about the Chocolate Lovin' Spoonful Cake that we had....oh my die probably had rum in the icing or something...cause it was just awesome.

So we are looking for blushing fruit, and some lady named Linda....and I'm thinking I want a cold fricken let's hurry this deal up....We didn't have to look far. One block down, made a right and on the left was the Pink Papaya. I went inside and asked a very nice lady if she was Linda. She was. She told us to go back outside, near the shudders and look up. Amy spotted it right away. And she found a step ladder when we realized both of us were too short to get the cache down from its perch. (Having short arms is an affliction that I bear the burden of on a daily basis, it is my cross to bear, I suppose).

Here is Amy

excited about her first find!

And here is me, anxious to break it open and see what's inside ...

And what was inside? All kinds of goodies...

At first I didn't think there was anything real exciting....but I kept digging and I found a Path Tag...I wasn't sure what it was at first, and am still a little confused...but it was was from I had to have it...

As you might remember, Beth and I found our very first cache in Georgia, visiting a friend, so this was cool. I did go onto Pathtags.Com, and recorded the find, but I've not really made head or tails of it yet. Once I do, I'll post the ins and outs of it.

So, I got to combine two of my favorite things...Yoga and GeoCaching. Life is Good.

Oh, and I bought myself a really cool T-Shirt that says "Find Your Latitude, St. John's"...I would tell you what I got Beth, but that would ruin the surprise if she reads the blog before I get home.

I met a few locals and got myself really grounded while in St. John's. Best working vacation I've had in a very long time.

Iggy, the local that chatted with me on the beach.

Grounded is Good!