Sunday, June 28, 2009

Geocaching Megablog - Part III

Geocaching Megablog - Part III starts in the Green Ridge State Forest. I did not get up early on Sunday to go geocaching. I did not get up before noon. I left my house for the final two geocaches at around 3:30 p.m. I did not get to the state forest until 5:00 p.m.

I took a direct assault approach to finding the geocache here. I do not know if it saved any time or not. I had to crawl down the side of a mountain to get to a trail that runs along the aptly named Fifteen Mile Creek. Once I was on the trail, though, it was great!

Along the trail, there was this trail registry.

Here's the latest page of the trail registry! Or at least it was at the time! I had not signed it yet. I recognized at least one of the names as another geocacher!

There was also this helpful sign, showing me I was near nothing.

Oh. Here's the other side. Again, nothing is close by on this trail! Unfortunately, even though I made really good time at Fifteen Mile Creek, I had started way too late. I did not reach the trailhead of the final cache site until after dark. I started to make my entry into the forest in the dark and got about a tenth of a mile in to my three-quarter mile (at least) hike when a coyote howled at me. At that point, I was just too tired to deal with an aggressive coyote. Or a startled coyote. Or several of them. I just was still too tired to press on in the face of that. So I decided--even though it was going to take me two and a half hours just to get back to the trailhead, that I would work it out somehow since the party was the next weekend and this cache site was probably going to be four or five hours away from the picnic site.

I returned to Hoye Crest a few days later, on Thursday. After around two and a half hours on the road, I arrived at the trailhead around 6:00 p.m. At some points there were markers like this arrow made out of rocks and a stick on the ground to let geocachers (and others, maybe) know which way to go. It looks kind of dark in this picture, but it was just very overcast.

The Hoye Crest cache is so far west in Maryland that I actually had to park in West Virginia to get there. This is a state marker that is on the mountain ridge.

Onward to Hoye Crest.

Here is the view at Hoye Crest. Fortunately, the rain held off while I was hiking up the mountain. Unfortunately, it started to come down right after I took this picture. But fortunately again, I knew it was going to be raining and I was prepared!

Making a rare appearance in my own blog, here I am standing next to the mailbox (I don't think it's on any carrier's route!) and the sign proclaiming Hoye Crest the highest point in the state. What does it take to get there?

This is what it takes! I parked my car at about 2700 feet there. The next 700 feet up were all up to me and my feet! I guess it was about a mile up to the top along the trail. But happily, shortly after the peak there, I found the last CAM cache, and I had all of the coordinates to the picnic that was in two days!

I made it down off the mountain just as the last remnants of light were disappearing into the cloudy sky. People were always warning me about encountering bears after dark. I found one!

Me versus the bear!

The picnic was very well attended! I slept in late again, but I made it to the very end of the picnic. Next year, maybe I will be able to complete it sooner and I will be able to rest up and get there earlier!

The CAM 2009 picnic event was held in Sandy Point State Park, so here is an obligatory picture of kids playing in the sand on the beach.

After the picnic, of course, I went for some nearby geocaches! There is one here at this little guard house!

The week after the picnic, I volunteered for CRS at a fund raiser called the Bonanza Extravaganza.

I spent Friday night with these young ladies manning the prize wheel you see behind them. All that money they're flashing used to belong to someone else . . . but it's for a good cause.

The event was held at the Hagerstown Speedway, a dirt racing track. Nobody has seats this good at race time!

You know I am back to geocaching now because here are some more bones.

The bones were not on display at the next cache site I went to.

But I am sure there are some here!

The bird posed remarkably still for this picture. Like very, very still, if you get my meaning. How does a perfectly good looking bird fall right out of the sky?

Well, these might have had something to do with it. Again, scale here is hard to appreciate. If you look just below and to the left of the center of the picture, you see two small gray lines that come together. Well, the large blob is a tree and the itsy-bitsy tiny white speck is a car. I think it's actually kind of neat to be standing up on top of the mountain here looking down. I am not offended by the transmission lines. They make a nice clear path to see down the mountain.

There was also a cell tower here.

Of course, you might not want to stand here too long. The funny thing is, it was hot this day, and I could hear the air conditioning kicking on in this facility, presumably to keep all of the electronics cool!

Here's what you see looking to the opposite side. And what is over that ridge?

That's right. More transmission lines! But it is a nice wide open path cut along the mountain!

Off in the valley, there were houses.

I moved to a better vantage point and zoomed in on the landscape here.

There was also some weird ashy soil. It reminded me of something like lunar soil.

I climbed all over the mountain, including reaching a spot here called Cat Rock. Maybe someone saw a cat here at this rock.

Some things seem to be inevitable in my geocaching stories here. One is I find tracks--maybe not so clear in this picture, but instantly recognizable as the shoe of a bipedal member of Homo sapiens.

Bones, of course, are a given.

And . . . what's this? Is it a mole? A piece of dirt?

No, of course not.

Here it next to some type fonts for size comparison. It's about the size of a 24 point font period. Oh well. At least I found it.

There was supposed to be a cache around this flat car. I never found it.

Not for want of trying, mind you. Here I am taking a picture of the cachemobile from underneath that flat car!

The following weekend, my friend Dan was able to join me again. Here he is in a tree at the geocache site. The cache was a multistage cache that required people to climb up into the tree. While I was complaining, Dan jumped up in the tree!

That's probably for the best. I stayed on the ground and here is what happened to me.

I am caught up to June now with my photography and stories here! We have reached the end of the Geocaching Megablog!

Sunday, June 28, 2009 

Category: Life

Geocaching Megablog - Part II

Geocaching Megablog - Part II begins with an injury!

Isn't the zoom feature on my camera neat?

I was in Myersville, in a micro-park next to the building with this plaque on it.

Believe it or not, I used this to help me find a cache container. I needed it to pry open a water meter lid that was actually covering up the cache container instead of a water meter. In case you don't recognize this, it's the original hood release mechanism from the engine compartment crossmember of my Intrepid that was smashed up when I wrecked it. The one I pulled from the junkyard had one, too, so I took this one off of the crossmember and kept it just in case I would need it. And so I did! Although this was not exactly what I had in mind.

Not to be outdone by Rockville, Frederick has a big pink tree, too! I was picking up the MML caches in Myersville and Frederick.

I got up the next Saturday morning in the dark (!) so I could get an early start on geocaching that day. You might remember from "Geocache Megablog - Part I" that the CAM 2009 series has a deadline. As it stood, I had two caches down and the picnic was the following Saturday! I had to get a move on or else I wasn't going to find all of the caches in time! However, I was also collecting my MML caches, which is what was here in Easton, to try and wrap that series up, too.

From Easton I drove to Trappe, Maryland for another MML cache.

Trappe is rural, huh?

Guess what is in this bird feeder! If you guessed bird seed--well, you're partially right, because some was used to camouflage the cache container. I thought this was the cache, but I couldn't figure out how to get it open at first.

I think this was the newest playground I've ever seen. And the stuff they have covering the ground was like a giant foam pad. Kids are going to have to work pretty hard to get themselves hurt here!

I killed about an hour in the Trappe park looking for a cache that wasn't there. Oh, I should not have done that. But I thought I had plenty of time! Next up was Great Marsh Park in Cambridge for another MML cache.

Just a picture of the bridge I came over on.

After I found the MML cache, I decided to try for one more in the park. This is a picture of it in the tree (it's on the tree branch).

A picture of a very secure flag. Government installation? No. Wal-Mart. I was just, umm, stopping by the Wal-Mart out of necessity. No caches in there!

I headed to Salisbury to pick up the final MML cache I needed to get the geocoin for the MML series! Whew! It was located at Poplar Hill Mansion.

This is Poplar Hill Mansion. They actually asked people in the description for the geocache not to try to locate this one at night because there is an attendant who lives there and they did not want to scare her with people coming in at odd hours to find the cache! Fortunately, I was here before lunchtime! Even more fortunately, I had the entire place to myself! And once I found it, I went and claimed my geocoin! Hooray! I was done with the MML cache series! That is, I had found enough of them to earn the geocoin. There are still some more sprinkled throughout the state, but I have all the time in the world to get to the rest of them now that I have the coin.

I was trying to be artsy with this picture. It really didn't work. But you get to see it anyway! There was supposed to be a cache here, but I never found it. But remember when I said I had to finish up all those CAM 2009 caches? And do you remember how I have not said I have found any of them today yet?

And remember how I said I had all the time in the world to find the rest of the MML caches? Well, no time like the present. This gazebo is in Delmar, Maryland, and if you have photo editing software and can boost the gamma of this picture, you will just be able to make out the cache container under the gazebo.

OK. No more goofing around. Time to head after some CAM caches. First stop was the Nanticoke River Wildlife Management Area. You're going to see what the difference is between the MML caches and CAM.

For example, you might not recall any pictures of rib cages caked with gray mud in the MML cache pictures. That's because there weren't any. Oh, and this rib cage laying out on the edge of the road . . . that's just on the way in!

The rib cage was long gone when I finally arrived at the parking area.

And the geocache was almost a two mile walk the other way. I probably could have driven my car in another quarter mile, but I did not do that. After that, my car would not have been able to go any further. A jeep might have been able to get a little further in.

So into the management area I went. I walked and walked and walked some more, until I came to this spot, guided by my GPS. Guess what's here.

That's right. A geocache! Remember, I started before dark, and I have now just found my first CAM cache--at around 3:30 in the afternoon!

From Nanticoke, I drove to Conquest Beach. I expected a beach. Silly me. What I got was swampy, mucky, tick-ridden mess.

It didn't help my mood any to come across silly things like this, which appears to be a deer pelvis on a stick stuck into the ground.

There were more bones scattered around the base of this tree.

What's in the tree? Oh, a deer skull and a couple other bones. They're actually very hard to see in this picture. But trust me, they were there!

I had to cross this log to get to the cache. Standing between me and the cache was one very unhappy bumble bee. You can just barely make him out in this picture to the left of the tree.

Here is a close-up of the bee. I had no choice but to walk out on the log because there was deep muck underneath it. And I was not going to be forced to come all the way back to this spot for the sake of one bumble bee. There was some mighty angry buzzing and flying going on, but I managed to get the letter code from the cache and sign the log. Because the cache was also tied to the tree, I had no choice but to stand there and get everything I needed and sign the log while the bumble bee was buzzing around my head.

I managed to wade through the muck and the ticks to get back to my car just before the rains came. That was a lucky break! I also managed to pick 27 ticks off of me at this site. What a horrible record! And then when I got home hours later, I found number 28! This cache was pretty much a horrible experience.

I did get a couple of nice pictures of the sunset, though. I couldn't decide which was better. So I've shown both. Remember what nice sunsets mean--I am running out of daylight! In this case, I had only found two of the roughly 9 caches I had remaining when I started, and I was running out of daylight!

This kind of looked like an eye in the sky, so I took a picture of it.

To wit . . . notice the absence of light behind this sign. Technically, it was 10:00 p.m. and this park was only open until sunset. But technically, I did not see any signs there that said that. Later, I was informed in a geocaching forum by the property manager that there was indeed a sign there that said that. I guess there was, but I didn't see it. So in I went. Because this park is near some houses, I decided to try to hurry. That accomplished absolutely nothing, because as I was getting ready to leave the park, I realized that I had lost something in the park.

Here's the something, exactly as I found it as I retraced my steps back through the park. A vine had pulled it out of my backpack and I was crawling under it on my way to the cache. Unfortunately, this had happened about one quarter of the way into the search for the cache, so I had to retrace about three-quarters of my effort. Walking through a park, following an electronic breadcrumb on my GPS, trying to find something that had fallen out of my backpack. I didn't give myself good odds of recovering the machete. I was starting to have a bad feeling about ever finding it since I was getting closer and closer to the point where I started. But like I said, about three quarters of the way back, I found it here, hanging up in mid-air! Unreal!

I left the Woodlawn Wildlife Area at around 11:00 p.m. I traveled then to Oregon Ridge. I got there around midnight. No pictures really turned out from there, so here is a picture of a deer with glowing eyes standing along a road looking at me! Oregon Ridge was dark, wet, slippery, and treacherous, but thankfully, it was not that long of a hike in and I was able to get the cache relatively quickly compared to other sites.

Last up was Gillis Falls. I took this picture at around 2:00 a.m. It was getting late! But there was still one more cache I had to find that night, and it was here!

I found the cache, and on the way out, decided to go take a picture of some of the frogs I heard.

There were a lot of them here. Or at least it seemed like a lot. It's a lot more frogs congregating than I had ever seen!

I suppose I was in a frog nightclub!

Well, the frogs may have felt like continuing to party hard at 2:00 a.m., but I was pretty exhausted! Just about everything in this blog happened in one, approximately 21 hour day, give or take. It was a long day! But I had all but two of the caches and those were both in the western part of the state. I figured it would be no problem to do those two in one afternoon . . . but I was wrong. This is the end of Part II!

Sunday, June 28, 2009 

Category: Life