"When you go to hide a cache, think of the reason you are bringing people to that spot.
If the only reason is for the cache, then find a better spot."
.... Briansnat


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

10 Years of Caching and 2014

January ~ 115 finds

The winter was harsh, everywhere. Despite that, I was celebrating just being here and a new,effective medicine so I was willing to put up with any weather just to be outside and caching. The image above was taken at a PA state game lands on a raining, bone-chilling day.

February ~ 123 finds

It takes a brutally cold winter to convince me to walk across the frozen ice on a lake. We decided it had been so cold, we could venture across Mogadore for a few five terrain hides on the islands. The hides earn their rating for requiring a boat, but walking across the frozen water took much more from me. We ended the month with a visit to Athens, Ohio and spring-like temperatures.

March ~ 118 finds

Winter in the great north was breaking with snow melting and warmer weather. We celebrated with a fun-filled day at Allegany State Park in New York. The covered bridge above is one of the well-known sights in the park. Some of the park roads were still closed for the winter, but we had enough unfound caches to still enjoy a full, daylight-savings day in the park. The longer days also meant could spend more time after work in Spokane visiting favorite places for a few cache finds.

April ~ 173 finds

We enjoyed our February visit to the Athens, Ohio area so much that we made a return visit over Easter weekend. Besides a super day at Strouds Run State Park, we were able to make finds in two new counties and make a visit to the Moonville Tunnel and the older cache in the area. Athens was the perfect shot of spring with wildflowers everywhere.

May ~ 145 finds

ASP Geobash is always one of the year's highlights. It is one of the few days of the year where I get to just relax with friends, hike, and geocache. This year's bash was a little more interesting since the event committee wanted to have a reviewer panel. Since Ali and I are the only reviewers to typically attend the Mega, we joined a Lackey to make up the entire panel. The attendees were friendly and we had a great time. Afterwards we got to spend the day passing out trackables from Geocaching.com and hiking with our friend Chris K. The weather wasn't perfect, but everything else was.

June ~ 183 finds

Picking one picture for the month of June was nearly impossible. The month included Ali joining me for a trip to Spokane. Besides her first visits to my favorite places Dishman Hills and Antoine Peak, we spent a vacation with a long-awaited first visit to Mount Spokane, a new (for us) cave, a day in a British Columbia, a new state visited in Montana, and multiple days hunting caches in the picturesque Priest Lake region of Idaho. In the end, I chose an image from Mount Kit Carson. It was an unplanned gem we visited as part of my long-awaited visit to Mount Spokane. A super hike and wonderful views made it the highlight of the day.

July ~ 76 finds

Ali wanted to find number 12,000 before our tenth anniversary of geocaching. We made the find on a super afternoon of caching in the Parrish Rocks area. It was a long day with outstanding hiking through the rocks. At the time we didn't know this would be one of Gwen's last long hikes. We had a few discussions about easing her off the trail and big hikes the following year, but didn't realize that day would not come.

August ~ 74 finds

Visiting Ohio's prairie cemetery nature preserves to see the wildflowers and hummingbirds is an annual tradition for us. We used to make a long day of driving there and back. In recent years we've used the trip as the basis for a longer weekend and a chance to cache in newer areas we don't often visit. This year, we enjoyed some of the best wildflowers we have seen on these trips. We also set aside time for visits to Franklin and Licking Counties.

September ~ 126 finds

Besides this being the year of our tenth anniversary of geocaching, it was also our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. We spent our honeymoon at Shenandoah and have returned for each five year anniversary with a few additional wonderful visits in between. We've hiked so many trails here that each visit has a few new adventures mixed in with visits to old favorites. Five years ago we came and visited a few earthcaches which we never really logged. We lacked the page information to answer many of the questions. This year we were hoping to revisit those prior earthcache locations plus finally make the journey to Old Rag Mountain for the physical caches on the way and the earthcache at the summit. The journey was awesome!

October ~ 61 finds

We spent the afternoon of our anniversary enjoying a gentle afternoon of caching in Swine Creek. Gwen was a few weeks removed from emergency surgery for a ruptured spleen and needed to rest frequently, but we were able to enjoy the trails and make all the finds but one. Our numbers dropped off for the month while we became caregivers for Gwen as she recovered from the surgery and began to struggle with the cancer.

November ~ 45 finds

By Thanksgiving, we were left only with Phineas to join us on the trails. The three of us spent a quiet weekend in Pennsylvania including a visit to Rimrock and a hoped for multi find at Cornplanter's Cave. We found out at the first stage that Phineas did not like caves. We pushed the second stage off for a day with less ice.

December ~ 99 finds

December was a month of change for us. We were able to spend more time caching, and I was able to get away from work for a bit. My Christmas present was Lizzie, a red merle Australian shepherd. She's a little older and comes from a show kennel so there was an adjustment bringing her into the family. She's a gentle soul and a great trail dog for Ali. By the end of the month, she was with us on a long caching afternoon at SGL-109. I hope we can spend 2015 as a family and enjoy many trail adventures together. With a little luck, she and Phineas will become as close as Gwen and Eva were for so many years

After ten years of geocaching, stats pile up. We cache frequently, but aren't really power cachers. Since we are both technical people, we enjoy being numbers geeks. During the year, we reached 15 finds in each calendar day. We're hoping by this post next year, it will be 20 finds in each calendar day. Since I really don't like snow and cold weather and struggle in months with reduced daylight, this bit of personal challenge works well since it forces me to be outdoors on days where I might prefer to hibernate. In early February, we needed finds on 26 days to reach 15 per day. By the end of the year, our calendar looked much different.

We need 28 days of finds to make the calendar so at least 20 per day. We'll see how many of those we can meet this year.

Despite having goals requiring to cache on days we might otherwise have ignored, we have reached a spread of almost 300 more regular caches found than micros. :) In June 2013, we finally crossed over from more micros than regulars and haven't looked back. It makes finding local caches tough since a well-cached landscape is cluttered with commercial and road side hides, but the quality of caching for us has mushroomed. We'll still take find an occasional cemetery or small park micro, but our days of stopping at shopping centers have dropped to near zero.

Changing our caching style has increased our difficulty and terrain averages too. We were at 1.73/1.74 two years ago. This year-end those numbers were much different.

Changing our caching style also meant we finally filled our fizzy grid. We didn't really change our new dog's name. She came to us as Blizzard and became Lizzie, but Lizzie and Phineas now can cache together as Phizzie. ;)

In the end, we met about half our goals. Multicaches appear to be a declining cache type in the world of smartphones so we need to travel to find them. We also only added one new state, Montana, as a couple possible trips did not happen. I missed adding Minnesota while looking for a cache buried below 4-5 feet of snow and didn't add Oklahoma after missing a find on a cache hidden in a tree at a parking lot of a shopping center. 2015 should add a few more states. We won't be able to fit in the Mississippi and Louisiana birding and geocaching trip because of work commitments, but we hope to visit the Dakotas.

2015 will also be a different year for me as a reviewer. After over seven years of reviewing, I am reducing my workload. Our friend with whom I've split over half the state of Ohio has chosen to retire. With the changes, I'll be reviewing solo in a greatly reduced territory in my home area of NE Ohio. I will greatly miss the amazing people of SE Ohio and the Columbus region, but look forward to being able to focus elsewhere. Seven years is a long time of anyone's life.

Mostly, I hope to...

May your finds in the year be plentiful and may each bring a smile to your face.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

RIP Three-headed Geodog

After 1792 finds, Gwen, the last of the Three-headed Geodog has passed. With Gwen's death, we have retired the Three-headed Geodog. They started caching together with us in April 2005. During the next 9 1/2 years, the Three-Headed Geodog was with us for 1792 finds. They were wonderful companions.

The second geocaching adventure of the Three-headed Geodog in April 2005

I am sure dogs have no idea when milestones are reached, when beautiful waterfalls are visited, or when amazing trails are hiked. I am sure that these three dogs were forever willing and eager to get in the geomobile and join us for an adventure wherever we went. Their tails wagged (Gwen's stump wiggled). Their noses soaked up the surroundings. They eagerly lapped up each mile of the trail with us. They put up with our stopping to search for objects they would never understand. We in turn let them soak up the sights, sounds, and smells of the trails and protected them in every way we possibly could. It was a pretty amazing unspoken agreement.

They cached with us in rain...




They were amazing companions. We will forever miss the Three-headed Geodog.

Becky 1989-2006

Eva 2004-2013

Gwen 2002-2014

Friday, January 02, 2015

Cache Name

If we placed retail micros, Ali would have a cache at the local one called Linenz. I think the name is great, but it's still not enough to place a micro.