"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


Friday, December 30, 2016

Saying Good-Bye to 2016

We started our 12th year of geocaching at Hatch Run in Pennsylvania. Phineas the Geobeagle started the new year by slipping his leash at Hatch Run and sending us on a multi-mile chase through the woods and across icy cold streams.

Phin came home after a neighbor to Hatch Run called us about 2am. His condition was much less worse than his blood covered coat his kind rescuer found him wearing. Life is never boring, or quiet, with a beagle.

After Phin had time to rest and recover, we took advantage of a very mild winter to begin the Stark Parks GeoTour. It was relatively easy winter caching with plenty of trail time and finds.

The mild winter continued into February and allowed us the opportunity to visit some nice rock caches while I was burning a personal day I was about to lose at the office.

I made my first trip of the year to Spokane and was able to find a few Spokane GeoTour caches after work. The winter in Eastern Washington was also mild.

The March caching in Tulsa was easy with spring blossoms on the trees during my visit.

We found our 14,000th cache in Elk County Pennsylvania.

In April, we cached through some of the season's deepest snow in the ANF.

A few days later we were watching young eagles on the shores of Lake Erie.

I finished the Spokane GeoTour at the end of the month and made a first longer hike at Iller Rocks on a spring evening.

In May, we spent a very wet day with friends at the ASP GeoBash in New York.

We spent back-to-back days exploring Medina County as we completed the county's GeoTrail.

I took advantage of the latest sunsets of the year on a business trip to hike for an old cache at Keystone Lake near Tulsa.

We spent the 4th of July holiday time with visits to Sinnemahoning State Park and Shaggers Inn Pond where we were treated to seeing a nesting pair of ospreys on the water.

We spent a surprisingly enjoyable vacation exploring southern Ohio. Despite more than a little rain we enjoyed the sights and the areas and spotted our first five-lined skinks and their blue tales.

The trip was also filled with butterflies.

We also made a return visit to Mound City. It had been years since we last visited. This time there are geocaches there. :)

August was one of our most non-caching months ever as Ali spent the month managing the crews brought in to restore the exterior of our 1850 home. In car terms it was more of a resto-mod with some modern upgrades, but her efforts were well worth a nearly month-long hiatus from geocaching.

We were a little more active on the geocaching trails in September enjoying a late summer return to Hatch Run. Phineas stayed on his leash for this visit.

Sunsets were still late enough for me to hunt a few older Ranger Rick caches after work on my last business trip to Spokane.

Ali joined me in October for a business trip to Tulsa. We drove over the weekend through Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and used my travel day to make the last of the journey through Kansas and into Oklahoma. Our return trip home included brief visits to Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky.

While in Missouri, we visited our third section of the Berlin Wall while geocaching.

Sunset was fading as we stopped by the Kansas homestead of the Ingalls family. Ali hoped for a return visit when the buildings were open, but they have limited days. Hopefully we can reverse the trip on another journey

We stopped for a cache and a visit to this attractive old mill in Arkansas.

Our last big stop was Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. It was a super way to top the trip.

We didn't really expect to make a trip to Arizona in November. I try to have a member of my team visit a safety conference for molten aluminum every other year since many of our employees are on site at these locations each year. This year's conference was in Phoenix so I made time to make the trip. Ali joined me.

Phoenix was hot which made me very happy. Two visits to South Mountain Park gave me the opportunity to warm my bones and prepare for the inevitable Great Lakes cold. We were lucky to be in the desert at South Mountain as the Super Moon rose for the evening.

As much as I enjoyed the heat and the hiking at South Mountain, our visit to the Grand Canyon was awesome. Words and pictures cannot describe the sights of three days on the trail.

Winter weather and short days returned to the Great Lakes in force by December. Our caching was restricted to quicker finds until we reached the holidays.

Since geocaching is now all about the numbers, souvenirs.... I guess this post should include a few of them as well. We were hoping for 15,000 finds by the end of the year. We won't make that goal. I have no idea of how many we will still need because I am still logging July finds, but it seems we are around 14,850. A few years ago we had decided we had seen enough light posts and guard rails and began restricting our micro hunts. It worked as we now have many more regulars than micros and will soon have more smalls.

Being more selective continues to boost our difficulty and terrain ratings. We are up to 1.82 for terrain. We missed our double fizzy this year with two open squares remaining. We have six spots remaining for a triple fizzy.

We are now at 37 states with caches found. Alaska and Hawaii are looming nearer. The good thing as we get closer to finds in 50 states is all the amazing states still waiting for visits. New Mexico, Utah, the Dakotas, and Colorado are still there for visits. Nevada brings the promise of maybe a trip to the northern rim of the Grand Canyon. Louisiana and Mississippi are waiting as possible birding adventures along the Gulf Coast. It's been years since I visited Iowa, Nebraska, and Wyoming. There's so much to see still and ever fewer years...

2017 will be a decision point for me as a reviewer. I'm in my tenth year of reviewing and starting to wish for the chance to garden again. My career is busier than ever and I find myself reviewing more and more geocaches which hold no interest for me as a reviewer. I also can't remember the last time we got out of the house on the weekend or a holiday or left the motel on a vacation day before noon or later when the reviewing was done. I've met all the reviewing goals I had with the exception of reviewing ten years. The next few months will see. If the end is near, I will mostly miss the reviewer panels and getting to know so many great people.

Go out and find a cache to toast the new year. They are out there waiting for you. Try turning off the micros and maybe even the smalls and go for a walk to hunt a nearby ammo can or tupperware. Better yet, head out with a snap lock or a clean peanut butter container and place a new hide for others to find.

Happy New Year! May your geocaching memories in the coming year be many and may your DNF's be few.

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