Geocaching Anniversary #1

As of today, I have been geocaching for one year!  I started this hobby last year with my son, StAggie99, and we found Downtown Snook, a little film canister that had been right there in my little hometown for over 2 years.  I have since adopted it from the owners who have moved out of state.

This morning, I picked up my 44th FTF on a cache called Trash to Cache and received a nice FTF geocoin that I will put in my next hide.

Over this past year, I have logged the following:

NameCount
Total Caches Found*750
 Traditional Cache683
 Multi-cache7
 Virtual Cache21
 Letterbox Hybrid1
 All Event Cache Types20
 Event Cache18
 Cache In Trash Out Event2
 Unknown Cache15
 Earthcache3
 NGS Benchmarks9


Benchmarks don't count in the total. Dang it! :(  I love the virtuals and I'm so disappointed in Groundspeak on dragging their feet bringing them back.  On the bright side, I have found Opencaching.US and they allow virtuals, webcams, guest books and other items that Geocaching.com does not.  There are not as many OCUS caches since it's fairly new, but I hope it catches on as I enjoy doing both.  I have found a few actual Letteboxes outside of the Hybrid listed above and I really enjoy them. I wish there were more Letterbox Hybirds out there because I really enjoy finding the stamps and creating a journal of ones that I have found. I have hidden a few of these myself and I hope others will follow suit.

Over this past year, I have met several wonderful people that I consider to be good friends now that I would have probably never met otherwise. I really look forward to our Brazos Valley Geocacher get togethers and CITO events. It's always nice when my son joins me on the hunt and we get to take our dog with us. I enjoy the family time outdoors.  I have had fun doing the "Park N Grabs", but I really enjoy the ones that involve hiking or biking on trails out in nature. When I can combine geocaching and camping, I'm very happy. I had a blast at my first Texas Challenge just a couple of weeks ago in Huntsville, although I think I overdid it on one of the bike runs to pick up one of the evil hides afterwards.

I look forward to a new year and new adventures and new YAPIDKAs!

My Yard is Blooming

My roses are going crazy right now and other things are blooming as well.  The one pictured here is "Old Blush" and it's taller than I am.  It's been in the ground about 3 years.  I had gotten it from the Antique Rose Emporium in Independence, TX and has turned out to be very hardy. I don't prune it. I don't spray it for bugs. It's perfect. It blooms most of the year, but this first bloom of Spring is always spectacular. Near it is one of the Hardy Amaryllis that is blooming in bright red and around in front, the Texas Orchid Tree is blooming.  The Bumblebees really love that one.

I found a Blue Curls blooming and it was such a shock. I had planted them several years ago and then they died. I didn't expect to ever see them again. I love the way the flowers curl around underneath and the blooms that look like they explode out of the top. More pictures of the yard can be seen on my Picasa album.

10th Anniversary of the 1st Ever Event

It started right here in Texas! A few early geocachers got together 10 years ago and decided it would be fun to have a gathering. And so, the Event cache was born. 10 years later, over a hundred of us met in Manor's Ghost Town for food, fun and mingling. There were a few games including the Waypoint Madness game facilitated by Mrs. Captain Picard.  "Meet Your Local Geocacher" was a game by Bigguy In Texas which was fun and everyone took home a few ready-to-place caches.

I started the day with my son, StAggie99, and our friend, flower71. After leaving Snook and heading through Lexington on FM 696, we stopped at our first cache of the day Lexington Landmark at a roadside park.  Problem was...the park is no longer there.  Everything had recently been bulldozed flat to just fresh dirt.  The historical marker was still there, but we didn't find the cache.  That's a terrible way to start the day. Then we continued down FM 696 on the other side of Lexington and came to the alphabet series this side of Elgin which was placed by Joey & Deb. We started at Zara/Zach and worked our way to Inez/Ignacio (which turned out to be another DNF.)

We needed to get on the road to Manor, so we'll save the rest of the series for another day.  We got to Ghost Town and met up wtih Bigguy In Texas and ckpetrus, owner/editor of FTF Geocacher magazine. Frozen Buns of GxProxy was there as well. We had met her at the Texas Challenge a couple of weekends ago.  She graciously gave us several items to use as door prizes for the Brazos Valley Geocacher's next CITO event (Coming Soon).  We got something to eat and it was good food at a cheap price - my favorite! Tip to the outdoor eater: Honey bees LOVE open sodas, especially Root Beer. You had to keep something covering the opening or you'd end up with a mouth full of bees. Colton, of course, had to check out the Jail and the Maze out back.  Some of our Brazos Valley Geocacher regulars were there as well.  agnav, Manofsteel73, Four Across, and scrapnphotos. It's always good to see our Austin-area friends acclanman and grn beret 2b, who have both come to at least one of our BVG events.

We found the cache on the Ghost Town grounds, signed the log and got our goody bags. We also got a geocoin (not trackable) donated by LordBritish, owner of the Necropolis of Britannia Manor III (which needs to be a MUST DO on every cacher's list). Then we headed over to Bigguy In Texas's game. We each got a black bag that had 2-3 ready-to-hide caches in it and we all stood in a big circle. She would call out a phrase and if we matched that, we would go to the center of the circle, introduce our self to someone else there and trade bags. "If you have been to a Texas Challenge". "If you have found an Earthcache". "If you have found over 500 caches"..."1000"... and so on.  At the end of the game, you got to keep the bag you ened up with.  The big winner was a nice bunch of plastic grapes with a little bison tube mixed in.  I'd love to see where that gets placed!

Lots of door prizes were handed out that were donated by a variety of vendors and/or individuals. We traded a few pathtags and stories. Then we walked over to watch parts of the Waypoint Madness game.  We ended up leaving during the game so we could get on the road and pick up a few caches on the way home before dark.  It was a great day!  Thanks to all who worked so hard to put this event together.

I'm a Bronze Earthcache Master

Since I found an Earthcache in Louisiana this past weekend, I am now a Bronze Earthcache Master.







Bronze Earthcache Master
Visit and log three (3) or more Earthcaches in two (2) or more states/countries.


To learn more about Earthcaches, visit http://earthcache.org/ or http://geocaching.com


I have found:
GC17E2W Pittman Creek Fossil Beds in Texas 8/7/10
GC1D6GF Father's Day Series 2008 #1 - Inner Space Caverns in Texas 10/10/10 (Don't you just love the date?) 
GC2GVED Got Hydrocarbons? in Louisiana 3/17/11

Weekend of March 19

My youngest cousin on my Mom's side is getting married! My son, my Mom and my brother headed out for New Orleans on Thursday morning. Along the way, we stopped in Vidor, TX for lunch and a challenging cache nearby. The Italian Stallion was a rusty nano and it was my Mom who actually spied it first. After we crossed over into Louisiana, we stopped at the visitor center and picked up one there. DeLorme Challenge, Champions, States and Owners was a small container and we left a wooden nickel there. Then we made a stop at the Oil and Gas Park in Jennings, LA to pick up an earthcache, Got Hydrocarbons? and a traditional micro Waters Edge. This one had me teetering on the edge indeed. I came eye-to-eye with a Mallard drake and I'm not sure who scared who first. I kept my balance and kept dry. While we were in the park, we had to take Colton by to see the alligators and we got to hold one of the babies. The lady that was there showing us the gators was very knowledgeable and we learned a lot from her. We continued our journey and stopped at a Starbucks in Gonzales, LA and grabbed the nearby cache Chill Out. Final destination - Jesuit Bend, LA. It was good to see my aunt, uncles and cousins again. With extra stops along the way, it was a long day, but worth it. We picked up a few caches and I checked in several locations on Gowalla.

Friday was a day of relaxing and visiting. My brother, son and I took our California cousin down the road from my aunt's home to find her first cache. This was Refresh Me and was a small container well hidden under a log. The path was protected by some poison ivy and I was careful not to touch any of it just in case. I've only had ONE breakout in my entire life and it was not something I want to repeat. We found a travel bug and it's ultimate destination was to go to California, so she's going to take it with her. Perfect!  We went to eat lunch at Salvo's and got some seafood. I had the boiled shrimp, some got po-boys and some got oysters on the half shell. UGH! I just can't handle the texture of raw oysters. There was a cache outside, but there were men working on the roof right above the location, so I'll try to catch it another time. Friday evening was the rehearsal supper at Vincent's Italian Cuisine in Metarie. Open bar, choice of 3 entrees and then bread pudding for dessert. MMMMM! Lots of stories about about Matt & Amy from family and friends and it was a really nice evening.

Saturday morning, my aunt and I went to "get beautiful" at a local hair salon. My brother and one of my cousins went to to the French Quarter to check out some of the artists around the Square. We did a few errands and picked up a cache along the way and headed back to the house to relax and visit before heading out for the wedding.  The wedding was at the Esplanade at Central Park in New Orleans.  It was great weather for an outdoor wedding.  There was a cache right there and I took a quick peek, but didn't see it right off.  Any other time, I'd be kneeling down and poking around, but I thought I'd stay clean for the wedding. After the ceremony, many of the pictures were taken right at GZ, so this cache will have to wait for another day. We walked down to the 2-story building where the reception was held. Waiters brought around trays with several types of shrimp, oyster, mini mufalatas and other goodies throughout the night and there was an open bar. There was dancing and there was music for all generations. They had a photo booth there where guests could go in and take pictures. The guests got a little strip of 4 pictures. Matt & Amy will get copies of all the pictures. It was a popular attraction and had a line most of the night.  After the reception, most of the wedding party and some of us cousins went down to Bourbon Street.  It was packed everywhere we went, but it was a fun night that lasted until 2 am. I'm starting to feel that tickle in my throat. NO!!! I can't be getting sick!

We got up around 7 and some got up a little later. We ate breakfast, loaded up and said our good-byes. We were back on the road about 10:20 headed back for Texas. Yep, I've caught someone's cold, so it was going to be a long day. Somewhere along the way home, we saw a Bald Eagle flying around. Cool! We didn't stop as many places on the way home, but we did pick up a quick LPC near the Burger King in Breaux Bridge at lunch. My dog was really glad to see me when we got to Scott's house to drop him off. His roommate watched Dixie while we were gone. Thanks John! We got home, unloaded the van and I crashed on the couch for the rest of the night running fever and sleeping off and on. All-in-all, it was a great weekend, though.

Texas Challenge 2011

I have not blogged in a quite a long time since I regularly post to Twitter and Facebook, but this weekend's events have made me want to start up again.  I started geocaching on March 30, 2010, so I'm coming up on a year of this most wonderful hobby.  This was my first large-scale event to attend and it was nothing short of AWESOME!  My son, who is known as StAggie99, came home from school at noon on Friday and I took off work early and headed home.  We loaded up all of our gear and hooked up the pop-up GeoLodge and headed out for Huntsville State Park.  This was my first time to ever camp at this park and it was just beautiful.  The Redbuds and Dogwoods were blooming, so there were bright flashes of color amongst the brown trunks of the tall pine trees. Part of the Park had undergone a very recent controlled burn, so there were areas of blackened ground as well.

We set up the camper in site 148 with a little help from our cacher friends, theboggi, who were in the spot across from us. The camper is a 1989 Jayco that we got from my aunt and uncle in New Orleans (yes, it survived Katrina) a year ago and it's still going strong. We had a nice view of one fork of Lake Raven and we were really close to one of the restrooms/showers, which was handy. Once we were set up, we all got on the bikes and headed over to the Raven Lodge for the Texas Challenge 2011: Friday Night Meet and Greet to get our registration packets, pathtags, tshirts and geocoins.  After saying our Howdy's to several cachers there, we came back to the site to wait for the jjball's to show up since they were going to camp with us. We are all part of the Brazos Valley Geocachers from in/around the Bryan/College Station area (also known as Aggieland). We broke out the computers, mifi, gpsr's and phones to make sure we could load items to/from GSAK. Yes, we are high-tech campers. We made a fire and cooked hot dogs for supper and enjoyed some fermented grape juice. There was just a slight chill to the air, so it was perfect.

Saturday morning, we woke up early due to one obnoxious frog or bird that would not shut up. We had a light breakfast and headed over to the Lodge to get ready for the main Texas Challenge 2011 event, computers and cables in tow. There was a brief welcome and some scheduling announcements and then the team captains were given the thumb drives with the GPX file and the PDF's of the puzzles and such.  Let the loading begin! Several laptops were going to load each of the different kinds of GPSr's. Those of us that had our own laptops and netbooks quickly copied the files and passed the thumb drives along.  Ten o'clock and almost done...and THERE's the whistle!  The game is ON! Each of the 4 regional teams broke into smaller groups to head to different areas of the park to let the hunt begin. A good sized group of the Brazos Valley Geocachers headed out together. In addition to our little camping group, there were also the DotsonFamily and GrumpyTX (and daughter). For the next 4 hours, we hunted in various areas of the park - in the brush, in trees, in culverts, under logs and so on. The harder ones earned more points. Each cache had a unique-shaped hole punch in it with which to punch the cards on the appropriately numbered space. As the day went by, the punchings on the ground helped zero in on the cache's location (except where the previous finders were clever enough to drop "clues" a little distance away). We averaged around 15 finds each for our team.We turned in our cards to the judge at the nearest Aid Station near 2 o'clock and called it DONE. As we headed back toward the Lodge, we stopped at one of the welcome signs for a photo op. The judge actually stopped by to take the picture for us. We headed to the Lodge for a well-deserved BBQ dinner. I also completed my Geocaching 12 of 12 for March and loaded the pictures on Picasa online.

After we ate, there was an announcement made that 9 of the 20 Evil Caches were not found. Anyone that wanted to volunteer to go back out and pick them up (with the aid of a specific description and/or photo) would receive an item from DeLorme. Our BVG group picked up a couple and one turned out to be one that we had spent quite a while searching out.  Armed with the specifics, we headed back to the log pile and StAggie99 made the find. Evil indeed!  Jenny and Jim (jjball) went to turn in this first find. The other one was "just" on the other side of the lake across from our campsite. Just?! JUST?!!!  My son and I and theboggii headed out on our bikes. OMG! I really am out of shape. By the time we road over sandy paths and pine tree roots and ups and downs of the trail, my thighs were yelling at me. The clue? "Hollowed out broken stick".  Seriously?  There's lots of that around GZ.  Eagle eyes Colton, made the find again.  Good job, son!  May and Al (theboggii) went to get another one another mile up the trail and we headed back to deliver this cache. We dragged into the Lodge just a few minutes after the announcement of the winning teams. All we got for the effort was a cap and a sore butt :(  Our Central Texas team got 3rd. Oh well, we still had a blast. It was a beautiful day.

There was a silent auction and there was a bingo game. Cards were handed out to everyone at the Disco Is Not Dead, It Has Just Taken A Vacation event and the winner would receive a free PN-60w donated by DeLorme. Numbers were called out and it went for a while with no winners.  Then N-46!  EVERYONE shouted "BINGO"!  It was great!  Then they did a drawing for the number on the back of the card.  Some people were gathering to go find some of the local night caches, but most of us headed back to camp to rest our weary muscles and look over pathtags from the day. We also built a fire and made s'mores. Since most of us were using smartphones as alarm clocks, we didn't have to worry about setting our clocks up, but we would miss that hour of sleep.

Sunday morning and we started gathering up a few things around camp. We headed over to the Lodge for the pancake breakfast. MMMMM! It was good! We finally got a chance to sit down with AgNav and Scrapnphotos, our friends that were on the registration committee. After breakfast, the Texas Challenge 2011 CITO began. We signed the log and got a trash bag. We folded up chairs and tables and stacked them in groups and then walked the grounds around the Lodge to pick up trash. There wasn't that much to pick up. Good job, geocachers! Then we went back to camp to pick up and pack up the trucks and the GeoLodge. We went with the jjball's to find some of the actual caches in the park and then hooked up the camper to leave the park.

We stopped by the HUGE Sam Houston statue for a traditional and a virtual cache there. We stopped to get something to eat and grabbed a couple more caches.  Our last stop was I'd Rather Be Geocaching in Rather Park in Huntsville. It was my 700th find!

All-in-all, it was a superb weekend - good weather, good camping, good friends, good times. Found geocaches and checked in various places on Gowalla.  Next year is going to be in North Texas, so I'll start making plans now. Thanks to all the volunteers who gave countless hours in planning and carrying out this great event(s).

IAAP Summit 2018

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the IAAP Summit in Austin, Texas this year. The event this year was close enough for me to dr...