CacheCrazy.Com: October 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pirate Again?

So the big question is "what are you dressing up as for Halloween?" I've decided to go as a Pirate once again. Actually I wanted to dress up as a mountain man, but I really don't have a choice in the matter this year.

Today, at approximately 9:00 AM, I will be having my right cataract removed. For those of you who did not know it I had my left cataract removed on April 1st.

Yes that's right, on April Fools Day.  No they did not pull any April Fool's jokes on me, but they did send me home as a pirate. Then on July 31st I had my heart surgery. I'm starting to feel like the 6 Million Dollar Man.  Now on October 31st, yes Halloween, I will be having my other eye done. I asked if I had to dress up and they said "no" because they would send me home again as a pirate.

Okay, enough with the surgeries. I'm starting to feel like a pin cushion, or maybe an experimental practice dummy. On second thought don't go there. I'm glad I've been able to have this all done and I know that it will get me back to normal; well as normal as normal can be.

My biggest worry was that this would happen and I wouldn't get to go hunting again. Remember Thanksgiving Day 2011? That was not a fun time and I really hope that never happens again. At least this time this surgery is planned and I will not have any problems hunting. As a matter of fact I can't wait for this eye to be done since it is my dominate eye. They tell me that once this eye is done I won't need to carry binoculars with me anymore. I'll just zoom in with my new eyes and I'll be good to go. LOL.

I appreciate the kind words given already and I'll be sure to keep you updated. It's so nice to finally be able to see what I've been looking for... Geocaches. That's one reason we have not done a lot of caching. It was just too hard for me to spot the caches and I was getting really tired of all of the DNF's. We'll see what happens after this surgery.

SEE you soon,

Big Al

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Why Not Wednesday ~The Big Black Hairy Monster under my Table

This is such a great story and it was our runner up for the Fright Week last year. I wanted to share it again with you. It just goes to show that things aren't always what they seem. Enjoy! BH

The Big Black Hairy Monster under my Table


This is a true story, so beware - It was a late evening and I had spent the day out geocaching to such a degree that I was tired and exhausted. Unfortunately, since I retired from the rat race called work, I tend to stay up until midnight, or as my Mother used to say in the old days, "You've stopped up until the dot on the TV disappeared".

I have the same routine for retiring to my "Boudoir", via the "Salle de Bain" that's the bathroom and bedroom to you mere mortals. I always keep the lights dimmed, probable not wanting to catch sight of myself in the mirrors as the birthday suit does need a bit of an iron. So after stripping off I noticed that my bedside water container was empty and needed topping up, so I made my way to the kitchen through the dinning room just feeling my way around the furniture.


Suddenly I froze, fear gripped me and I took a large step back, there in the semi-light, just under the table was this big hairy monster, I could feel my body chill and my breathing quickened and I know I had to do something. Yes it was the biggest "Aranaide" I have ever seen, this monster was the size of a tea-plate and there was no way I was going to share my little house with it. We are talking S_P_I_D_E_R and I have a total fear of these creatures whether small or large. What on earth do they get up to while we are asleep, do they have wild parties and spin webs while grinning at us all snoozing away in the darkness.

I have a rule in life, I do not kill anything because I think God has a clipboard for all of us and slowly ticks off the creatures we kill. Example (Heather) - 1 fly, 1 ant, 3 spiders and so on. When we finally meet him, out comes the clipboard and depending how many ticks you have he then designated your area of goodness.

I needed to get this monster outside but I had to catch it first. I decided that the large tankard and coaster plan would work so grabbing the largest appliqué tankard and quickly slammed it down on top of this thing. Why appliqué you may ask, well I didn't want it looking at me, I was naked remember, and I didn't need to look at it, horrible thing. I found a large stiff coaster and slid it underneath with a sighed of relief.

Reproduction in daylight.
I needed to go and get some clothes on as I share a courtyard with two other families, I'm sure they wouldn't be impressed if they spotted a naked old pension prancing around outside at 12.30am. in fact they might even order men in white coats to come and take me away. All the time I was dressing I was sure this monster would be lifting up the glass and escaping so I dressed as quickly as possible, haven't a clue what I had put on or whether it was inside out or back to front.
I lifted the glass tankard and coaster at arms length and carefully made my way to the back door, oh dear I had to put this monster down again to get the keys. Walking outside I jumped as my security light flashed on and with the count of : one, two, three, I throw this creature as far away as I could. Usually they have the audacity to run straight at me so I was all prepared. I was getting worried that I might have hurt it, possible trapped one of it's legs under the glass rim because it didn't move at all. I reached for a long stick and prodded my foe but again it didn't bat an eyelid, do they have them?
It looks peaceful in daylight, but not in the darkness.
I was worried now that another big tick was coming my way on God's clipboard, so I went inside to find my glasses that I had taken off ready for bed. I left the stick pointing towards the large spider so that I could locate it. By now it was a quarter to one in the morning so returning to the moonlight yard I got closer and closer, my heart was beating faster and faster, but then I suddenly realised:

I had spent 3/4 hour getting dressed while in terrible fear of this large creature I had caught, I had en-prisoned it, thrown it away without a parachute and finally prodded it to death. Why hadn't it moved became clearer when I found that I had actually captured a large ball of black cotton with strands that had looked like a monster spider. Moral of my story: 

DON'T WALK AROUND IN THE NUDE, WITHOUT YOUR GLASSES ON, WHEN YOUR TIRED.

Written by: Heather C

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Mineola Hotel and Lounge

Kim placed 3rd in our Fright Week event last year. I loved the story so much that I had to bring it back again. Enjoy! BH

The Mineola Hotel and Lounge
A couple of weeks ago I did a blog post on the Mineola Hotel and Lounge.  But I didn’t tell you the rest of the story.  I was saving it for the Halloween post here at CacheCrazy’s Fright Week series, because this is the type of tale that will fit right in over here.  If you missed that post, you might want to go back and read that first so you understand the background of what I’m about to tell you.

The Mineola Hotel was a well-known hideout of gangster Al Capone during the Prohibition Era.  It was reputed that he and his cronies would stay at the hotel and spend hours drinking and gambling in the Mineola lounge.  We drove to Fox Lake on Labor Day to see the closed up and condemned hotel.  And that’s where this story begins….



While everyone else walked around to the front of the hotel, I noticed a small passageway behind the rear entrance and walked down the crumbled steps to investigate. 



Original bricks, stacked on top of foundation rocks, still supported the building frame.   



A weather worn door stood to the left and when I turned the doorknob I was shocked that the door swung open.  I could hear the faint tinkling of piano keys and low laughter coming from deep inside the building.  The hallway smelled of mildew and stale cigars.  I reached into my pocket and pulled out my tiny flashlight.  Snapping it on, I could see water stained walls shrouded in darkness and cobwebs dripping from the doorways.  When I looked down, milky tendrils of fog curled around my ankles and snaked down the hall, like thin boney fingers beckoning me to follow. 

Cautiously I followed the music and voices up the wooden stairs and entered a massive lounge.  The laughter and music had ceased.  A cracked mirror hung behind a huge oak bar that spanned the length of the room.  Over-head, crystal chandeliers lined the ceiling and across the room stood a series of floor to ceiling windows that spilled out over the lake.  Rays of sunlight streaked over the top of boarded windows, illuminating dust particles that danced and swirled in the air. 

A warped piano sat in one corner, keys cracked and dingy with age.  I could imagine the songs of Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Al Jolson filling the room while Al Capone sat at the corner table, facing the doorway, drinking whiskey, playing poker and smoking cigarettes.  I remembered reading an article claiming that Scarface, as he was frequently called, had a secret passageway leading from the lounge to his bedroom suite 3 stories above.  I lightly touched the top of the bar and as I dragged my fingertips down its length, I could feel a slight tingling and hear a low hum.  Something about the wall at the far end of the bar caught my eye and as I slowly walked down towards it, I instinctively reached underneath the countertop and felt a small button.  When I pressed it in I heard a faint click and a small section of the wall slid open before me.

“Whoa, what’s this?”  I aimed my flashlight beam into the yawning darkness and stepped across the threshold.  Soundlessly, the door slid shut behind me, and I was enveloped in darkness except for my faint beam of light.   Heart pounding loud enough so that I could hear it in my ears, I took a step forward and bumped into a stair.  Shining the light downward I caught the tail of a mouse as he scurried into a hole.  I shuddered and slowly began to climb upward. 

Again my ears caught the distant melody of music and hearty laughter. Were there other people in the hotel?  The building had been condemned in May and I was clearly trespassing.  But then, the back door had been left unlocked….



The wooden stairs beneath my feet were narrow and steep.  At one time they had been covered with what looked like a deep maroon carpeting, probably to muffle footsteps as Al made his way from the bar to his room above.  I could almost hear the wail of police whistles when they made their raids and I felt certain that Capone hid behind the walls, smug with the knowledge that he eluded them once again.  Now the carpet had been gnawed away in huge chunks by mice and slowly deteriorated in the damp, confined space.

Higher and higher I twisted up, counting the landings as I went.  Finally I reached a wide wall and a dead end on the fourth floor landing.  There was no visible doorknob so I ran my hand over the walls until I felt a small hook protruding on one side.  Grasping it, I yanked backward and another door rumbled open, revealing a bedroom.  Once again, as soon as I entered the room, the door glided shut behind me.

I stood still for a moment and let the weight of the room settle over me.  Off to one side sat a queen sized bed, the mattress ripped and springs sticking up in all directions.  A simple chest of drawers stood against the far wall and when I inspected the framed photo hanging above it, I recognized Al Capone standing among a group of men.  Peering around an open doorway, I glanced into the sitting room, where all that remained were dust bunnies littering the floor.  I crossed the room to the single window and fingered apart the thick yellow curtains.  Peering outside I could see the water of Fox Lake shimmering in the morning sun. 



Four stories below me was my car, nosed against the curb.  Louie and my parents were sitting on a stoop near a huge anchor, chatting and pointing at various spots around the hotel. 



I heard the faint creak of a floorboard behind me and instantaneously felt the temperature in the room drop.  The hair at the base of my neck prickled up and sweat ran in a thin stream down the center of my back.  I could smell a cigarette burning but I didn’t stay around long enough to discover the source.  As I spun around, my flashlight flew from my hand and rolled under the bed with a loud rattle.  Light from it bounced crazily around the room and there was no way I was reaching underneath that bed to grab it.  I bolted from the room and dashed down a hall, praying I was headed in the direction of the main staircase.  Once I saw the stairs I took them two at a time, rounded the first landing and clattered down two flights of stairs.  Just as I reached the last flight of steps my feet flew out from under me and I crashed through the frail banister.  I landed with a thud at the base of the stairs with broken splinters of wood imbedded in my knee and elbow.  Far above I could hear deep laughter, but I didn’t dare look up.

The lower half of the main floor windows had been boarded over, so I pulled myself up and headed towards the front door.  Grasping the doorknob with both hands, I rattled it frantically, but it was locked and nailed tightly shut.  Turning to my left, I headed towards the far wall and realized that one window was open about an inch.  I shoved it upwards and flung myself out, landing on a side porch.  This particular area had a low railing, so I vaulted over it and dropped onto the wooden steps that lined one side of the building. 



I grabbed one of the support posts and tried to steady myself.  I gulped at the fresh air and hastily brushed off my knees and arms, noticing that my left knee was dripping blood.  I rounded the hotel and started across the parking lot, hoping I didn’t look as freaked out as I felt.  By then, everyone was sitting in the air conditioned car and waiting for me.  As I opened my car door, Louie asked me where in the world I had gone.

“Oh, I was just nosing around,” I replied.  But before climbing in, I glanced nervously over my shoulder and peered up at the center tower on the fourth floor.  My skin prickled when I saw my flashlight propped between the yellow curtains and the window.  I swear I could see the glow of a cigarette in the dark space between the curtains and soft strains of Al Jolson’s Mother of Mine, I Still Have You played in the wind.  I got in the car and slammed the door.




Written by: Kim S

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Garmin Nuvi

By: Big Al

This is about the Garmin Nuvi and how you can use it for Geocaching.









WELCOME TO THIRSTY THURSDAY! !
Grab a cup of coffee or tea, sit back and learn something new.


Well I did it. I finally found out how to load Geocaches (POI’s) into my Garmin Nuvi; that is a GPS for my car for those of you who don’t know it. This is going to be a really neat way to look for some caches as we travel around. I have always been one to want to do paperless caching, but I just never got around to it. I found a site that really explains how to go paperless with my Nuvi.  http://geocaching.totaltechworld.com/   It took several tries before I finally got it to work right, but I did get it to work.

My Garmin was not listed by the model number so I chose the model Nuvi 2XXW. Mine is a Nuvi 1350T. I was able to load 500 caches into it and then as I drove around it would point me in the direction I needed to go. It also tells me how far they are from where I am. This was really a test load so I did not actually look for any with this GPS. The real test with it will be this weekend. (More to come on that in a week or so.)

To be able to load these caches I used My Pocket Queries on Geocaching.com to choose 500 caches around my coordinates. This seemed to work so I then deleted those caches and then chose some near Harrisburg, PA. My wife and I will be attending a Homeschool Conference there this weekend and when we are not at the conference we will be checking out some caches; especially the one we could not find last year.
I also chose to have the alert status active, which is supposed to alert you when there is a cache near where you are driving. I can’t wait to see if that really works. When the caches, listed as POI’s, are up on the screen you can choose one and then click go and it will take you there via your on screen map. As you approach the cache area it will then state you need to go off road. My kids thought that was great when we tested it the first time. Again, we did not actually get out of the car and try it, but we will try it soon.

When you bring up a cache it gives you the GC code, cache size, and difficulty and terrain rating. Then if you chose “Go” the Nuvi will give you the turn by turn directions to get there. This includes how far it is and how long it will take you to get there. So with this all set for our weekend event I next turned my attention to my Garmin eTrex Vista HcX. This is my back up if the Nuvi doesn’t work. After a lot of reading again I found out how to put more information into my Vista. Boy am I excited. I now can have the GC code, cache size, and hints listed. Now for some reason in my notes section on the cache screen it only gives me 30 characters. I wrote Garmin to try and find out if that can be changed. As it is right now if the hint is a long one it won’t all be listed. I know some people say just get a new GPS that can give you true paperless caching, but right now that is not feasible. Besides, I like a challenge.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Riverside autumn walk


The trees are changing colour and they look beautiful.  It's a calm bright day so we decide to get out and see some of the countryside and grab a few caches.  It's supposed to get really cold later on in the week!   I don't mind the cold, it's the rain, wind sleet that is horrible.  At least you can wrap up against the cold.

Anyway on with our little caching adventure this morning.  Off we go in the car to a tiny place a few miles from home, it is years since we have been to this area, just a few houses and a street and that was about it.   Now we are in no way extreme geocachers, in fact my hubby isn't even a cacher, he just tags along but he comes in handy when I can't reach up into a tree for instance!  He doesn't mind searching in the base of trees, whereas I put on the disposable gloves and arm myself with a stick!  I carry a small shoulder bag which stashes all my geocaching things, gloves, tissues, spare batteries, spare log books in case I can help someones cache out if the log is too wet, then I can usually pop a clean one in, tweezers to help retrieve a log if it is stuck in a container, but most importantly I carry the great little invention of water less soap in those little containers, so so handy I have them in the car, in my handbags and of course for geocaching.    

Now the first cache takes us to a riverside and a field on the other separated by a huge long pipe, on reading the description we have to walk beside this contraption to get to the cache.  We walk along the metal walkway holding onto the rail on one side and then the huge pipe is on our right so we can hold on to it if need be,  ok I am making this sound as if we are 300ft in the air and over raging rapids crocodile infested waters, (guess who will not sleep tonight after writing that!???)........noooooo this is the river Irvine we are crossing and we are not all that high up, but high enough, and the river can be seen through the metal we are walking along.  This is the bridge and the pipe stretching out in front. 

I thought of the James Bond film at this point, didn't he hurtle along a pipe not unlike this one, only to step out the other end in his dinner suit?

We walked along the metal walkway ducking underneath supports, I told you this was extreme!   there is the metal we walked along with the water visible below, can you see the pipe?   On we walk to the other side, only a couple of minutes but the raging river is visible down below.



Once across we duck under the pipe (below) and turn left to continue along the riverside walk.

A short walk along, and after searching the wrong tree the cache is soon in our hands, this is when the waterless soap comes in handy! yuck.  But it has been lying hiding in a tree for months on end!

Then back along to the car, but first we to venture back onto the metal walkway.  I thought the batteries in my camera were flat as I tried to take a photo of the crocodile infested river below my feet.   But once off the brige the camera worked, so DH said "go back and take a pic" so I braved it and went again! 

Then off in the car to the next 3 caches, but we only managed to find 2 as the 3rd seems to have gone, unless it was very well camouflaged in the tree, we searched that tree for ages, a man walking by with his 2 little dogs even asked if we had found the "box" so he knew what we were up to, he even looked but it seems to be muggled.  Never mind we found 2 caches and pick a small bag of brambles, late in the season now for them but these ones were huge and still firm,  they are now washed and in the freezer ready to go into an apple pie at some point.   We found a nice small log which we brought home with the intentions of making it into a geocache hide.  So another nice walk along a different part of the river, very pleasant.  These are the photographs from the second part of our walk, the snail is the handle on the container, someone has made this container to look like a stone and attached the snail (hopefully it was a dummy snail!)



Location - Location - Location

by: Bloodhounded

Have you ever heard the expression “location, location, location" ?  It refers to a business and if the location is just right, the business will prosper. I think the same applies to cache placement. After 25 hides of all types of cache containers form mystery’s to micros I have found that location has a lot to do with how often your cache will be found.

One of the obvious facts is people either don’t have much time to spend on a long hike type cache or they are too lazy to do so. Maybe it’s too much work for one smiley while you can get 5 in the same amount of time? Hey, I’m not saying that being in it for the numbers is wrong, I am merely pointing out the facts and trends of my own hides. Check out the graph I put together based on 4 different types of caches and the amount of finds from January to date.

1. Cache and Dash – less than 300 feet

2. Traditional Cache – Less than ½ mile

3. Traditional Cache – More than ½ mile

4. Mystery/Multi – Distance varies















When I first started hiding caches I really wanted to get a lot of action but I also wanted to take folks to a nice place and give them an experience. What I found out in quick order is if you want a lot of action place your cache close to the road or parking area. If you want to offer a great experience, try to find an area with easy accessibility and a short walk. I really like mystery caches and multi’s but obviously I am in a small minority. If you hide one know that it will only receive a few hits per year but those are usually well received by the caching community. Same goes for a traditional with an extensive walk. It will get only limited action unless you can place it where other caches are and a cacher can get three or four for their efforts.

I have a great cache “The Water Dog” that is a traditional and an awesome walk along the Lehigh River. Those who have done the cache log positive comments but, it only receives 4-6 finds per year. It’s a 2.5 mile walk full trip which isn’t hard because the terrain is flat and scenic. To me it is a little bit of a disappointment because “I thought” I was providing exactly what a geocacher wants. On the other hand my “ Among The Dogwoods” adjacent to a urban resort that has a creek running behind it is just a quick stroll from the parking area. It gets weekly action and a lot of it from out of town folks either staying at the resort or in the area. Quick stops off of any major highway are also popular and get a lot of traffic from the traffic.

In summary, before you hide your cache think about what you want to achieve in finds. If you are looking for a lot of action and an average response, take my advice above. If you are looking to provide an awesome experience (scenic view, great hike, etc.) and you’re not too concerned how many people come to your cache but those who do really love it, you can do whatever you choose. The exceptions to these rules have to do with either the theme or/and the container which I’ll cover in future posts. A well placed “unique” container can make all of the difference in a C&D, trust me.

Whatever you choose, have fun. That’s the reason we all started this to begin with. Don’t belabor yourself with a high maintenance cache or place it with too many expectations. Our sport is new and really just catching on so as time goes by more and more people will be geocaching and your results will always be favorable if you maintain your cache properly and set it out with the intention to challenge the finder.

Happy hiding!

Friday, October 18, 2013

MAINTENANCE

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Why Not Wednesday? ~ Temporarily disabled during hunting season, really?


With hunting season upon us, many hunters will be heading out to the woods in anticipation of getting that big buck, turkey or whatever type of hunting you’re into. I respect the sport, I do not hunt with a gun myself but I know that many follow a lifelong tradition and enjoy the challenge, exercise and just being outdoors. I also noted over the past few years that there are a lot of hunters who are also geocachers.

Some of my hides are on state game lands and they seem to get an increased amount of action during hunting seasons. This tells me that there are hunters who are adding the fun of geocaching to their day so even if they don’t bag their game, they can still end the day with a smiley or two or more! I have also noticed that more and more cache owners are actually temporarily disabling their caches during hunting season. I guess their position is to let the hunters have the woods to themselves or from a safety standpoint, they feel better knowing that their caches are off the radar until it’s safe again?

I pose the question here today to our dedicated readers to try and get their point of view on disabling caches for hunting season. Do you think it’s a responsible thing for a CO to do OR, is it just a waste of time and a disadvantage to the hunter/geocacher. Remember, even though a cache might be temporarily disabled, you can still log the find. Should geocachers just stay out of the woods during hunting season? Is it really dangerous or is it more of a “respect for use of the woods”? I would love to hear your point of view no matter what it might be.

Happy hunting! No matter what you’re hunting, deer or a geocache or both, be careful out there and have
fun!

BH

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Illinios Beach State Park



We were out geocaching and took a little side trip to stop at Illinois Beach State Park in Zion.  I can't believe that we live so close and I've never been there.  The area has an interesting history - it was once occupied by 3 Indian tribes, then by trappers and hunters.  During the Civil War it was used as a Union prisoner of war camp and later served as an Army training center for World Wars 1 & 2.  Beginning in 1950, the area has been protected and was turned into a State Park.  The beach itself stretches for 6 1/2 miles and apparently it's the only beach ridge shoreline remaining in the state.  The park has something for everyone with dunes, marshes, plants and animals.  I'd like to go back and explore the hiking trails another day.

It's a short walk to the beach from the parking area....


It was a beautiful clear morning and we could see for miles out onto the lake.  And get this - there were only 2 other people on the entire beach!  I was shocked that it was that empty on a Sunday.



We kicked off our shoes and socks and started strolling along the waters edge.  Before I knew it, Chablis and I were cramming beautiful stones into our pockets.  It reminded me of being on Sanibel Island and snatching up seashells.....



The stones were all worn smooth and were available in a wide variety of colors and shapes...


While Chablis and I performed the "Illinois Beach Stoop," Louie went for a swim....


I didn't have my bathing suit and since we still had caches to find, I didn't want to go swimming in my clothes. But I was very tempted....


Even Snoopy enjoyed the beach....


Afterwards we headed up the road into Wisconsin and did a fun cache called "Pump It Up!"  I know the cache owner and we are very familiar with his hides, so we went prepared.  Do you see the cache?



Even tho we brought our extension grabber, we had to maneuver the car into place in order to reach the cache - it was still a stretch!


Another cache we did was called "It's About Time."  It was hidden near this Carillon Memorial.


This is the Carillon.  Have you ever heard of a carillon?  I hadn't.  Apparently it's a musical instrument that's housed inside a bell tower of some sort.  I thought it looked like a huge wind chime.  While we were standing there it started ringing and it was actually pretty nice sounding.


We searched for the cache and we found the log sheet and a pencil stuffed into some flowers, so we're guessing the cache got muggled.  We signed the log sheet, placed it underneath the memorial plague and when I posted my log, we notified the cache owner that he needed to replace his cache.

Our final cache of the day took us to "PI Prairie's Chiwaukee Prairie."  This geocache was placed in what is now the largest section of prairie in Kenosha County that was never touched by a plow.  It's right on the shore of Lake Michigan and we were happy to get out and walk along the beach again.




This section of beach didn't have as many nice stones as the earlier section did, but you can tell by my pockets that I still managed to find a few to my liking....


Many of you know how much I treasure things I find in nature.  Here are a few of the stones I picked up and brought home.  Can you see the one small stone on the bottom?  It's kind of blue and white.  I'm thinking this might be a piece of pottery and not a stone because of the strange color and design.  Chablis found that one.


I kind of like them all piled up like that.  Sort of relaxing, don't you think? Very Zen....


The stones all look much better when they're wet because you can see the deeper colors and patterns.  If anyone knows what I should use to polish them up so they stay shiny, please let me know. 

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