Saturday, April 19, 2014

Indiana Jones And The Avian Abode Adventure

Hey kids, its story time! Gather round...



Tough.  I'm gonna tell one anyway.

As you may know (or not know, to be honest I really don't know your entire back story)  Indiana Jones is the most famous and hard core adventurer in the entire world (who isn't a Hobbit).

Last weekend whilst I was hiking up a rocky face on the amazingly appropriately named Rocky Face Mountain, I came across the path of Mr. Indiana Jones.

So I followed him.

With a camera in my hand.

Like a creepy stalker professional journalist would.

Indiana was off on another whirl wind adventure in search of hidden treasure.  In this case the First to Find on a birdhouse cache on the other side of the rocky face.  He had a long way to go, over the rough strewn rock, crawling over things, ducking under things, crawling over some more things.
As he approached the woods on the far side he climbed up on a log to get a good look over the land. Looks like his destination is east north east, about 100 yards! (authors note: while that distance may not seem impressive to you or me, in Lego minifig scale it is the equivalent of 2.1 miles)

He kept crawling over things, and under things, and over more things, until he got to the base of a gigantic 15ft tree.  He could see his goal, but it was out of reach.  There was no choice... he would have to climb up the monster tree... without rope... or flexible hands... or knees... what could possibly go wrong?

Crawling and scraping his way up the massive trunk to the level of the birdhouse, he started crawling along the wide sweeping branches.  Despite the dizzying heights he pressed on, all recklessly macho like.
Inching ever closer to his goal, he took a risk and climbed along a thin branch.  It is probably not worth mentioning that at this point the level of peril our plucky hero was insanity itself.  Hairy stuff. The very definition of 'holy crap!' His insurance agent sent him a tweet  to discuss increasing his life insurance premiums.  A feeling of suspense and dread is very appropriate at this point, so if you are feeling that, you are feeling good things. (If you are not feeling that, what on earth is wrong with you?!? we can discuss your epic jadedness later, this is about Indy right now.)
Indy finally arrived at the point where the birdhouse attached to the tree with a massive rope support system.  There was no going back at this point (he thought about it, but he didn't want to risk his reputation with the ladies. I'm sure you understand) so he slid down the ropes and finally set foot on the roof of his goal.
Once he was firmly standing on the steep peaked roof he stopped for a quick break and to shoot a boyish smirk to the camera (not shown).  After a few minutes, and uttering a very manly confident quip about "finishing this" (exact words not shown for reasons of copyright),  he slide over the side, opened the cache, and crawled inside.   He quickly looked at the log and...
Someone named debaere unnamed had already signed the log just minutes before him.  Gah! Such disappoint! This was just like that time when he got away from that guy with the artifact by being clever on a train, only to have it taken away by the constabulary and kicking off what would become the story arc for the Last Crusade (if you see where I am going with this...)

Yeah, its exactly like that time, except no trains, fewer Nazi's, and we won't find the Holy Grail in this story.  We will, however, get to learn a valuable lesson. Which is this:

All is fair in love, and First To Find races.

"Nuts to this!" Indy exclaimed, then rode off in the sunset in an airplane that conveniently came by to pick him up. Last I heard he hung up his fedora and became a professor of archeology at Marshall College in Bedford Connecticut.

Somehow, I suspect, we haven't quite seen the last adventure of Indiana Jones just yet.  

Did you like this story?  Let me know in the comments below.  Hate mail also accepted.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

TB Race: More Aliens Have Landed

Two more alien drones have hit the ground!

Drone #8 landed near the Podcacher Studio in sunny San Diego California.  Drone #9 landed in GilkerscleughCache's front yard in southern Scotland.

Drone #11 hit the ground last week in Michigan, and is currently getting his kicks on Route 66.

You can learn about the race here, and keep up with the stats on the score board.

Which one will make it first across the finish line?  Place your (friendly) bets in the comments below!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Climbing Rocky Face Mountain

On Sunday I learned exactly why they call it Rocky Face Mountain.

In February I bragged online about clearing out Rocky Face Mountain Park...  a week later a local caching couple by the name 2IceHikers published two more caches there.  On Sunday I made my return to once again clear out the park.

I walked the trails as close as I could to the first cache.  I had to go off-trail, and walk about 200ft along the edge of a large rocky outcropping, to get to ground zero, but I soon had the cache in hand and the log signed.

It was at this point that I had a choice.  To take the trails to the next cache would be well over a mile of trail hiking, however the cache was only 0.4 miles as the crow flies. The shorter distance was almost straight up (400+ft elevation gain), and 100% bushwhacking (tho the description said the woods near the second cache were 'light').  The trails would be longer, but much easier.  I had hiked those trails several times in the past, so I decided to man up and bushwhack over to the second cache location.  

Adventure awaits!

So I started to ascend the seemingly endless rocky slope.  As it turns out the rock face goes up at a fairly steep angle the entire 400ft elevation (not sure how far inward it goes, but when I got to the top I was only 1/10th of a  mile closer to my goal).  

It was a heck of an ascent - lots of 45deg slopes, and some logs and trees to navigate around.  I was about half-way up when this site came into view.

 The sharp eyed among you will notice the large bird coming over the horizon.  My first thought was "cool! Eagles... or... vultures... or... something." ... so it turns out my bird identification sucks.

My next thought was that I was in the company of, assuming I was watching eagles, food, in the form of my dog.  Now I don't know much about eagles, so this is likely all very silly in retrospect, but at the time I was rather concerned.  I knew some eagles have been known to attack animals as large as deer, so my 40lb dog was no match for such winged beasts.  Also I had just read The Hobbit, in which giant eagles featured heavily.  All this is to say I felt a tad bit of fear for my trusted companion, and kept her close, as I continued on up the rocks.

There were a half dozen of these winged beasts in the air, and I got lots of views like this one:
I must confess, by the time I got to the top I felt like Gandalf leading the hobbits (aka Bailey) to safety from the wraiths - I may be a grown man, but there is *nothing* wrong with my imagination, thank you very much. (I wish I could say the same for my bird identification skills).

Once I got to the top I took a moment to admire the view, and to take a selfie (notice that Bailey is on leash, and kept close to me).
Since I was near the summit, I headed laterally across the mountain into the woods to bushwhack the 1500ft or so to GZ.  I quickly found the cache.  Mission now accomplished I located the nearest path, and took the longer, easier way, back to parking.

It was a grueling climb - I can feel it in my legs today - but I am glad I did.  I didn't see a solitary soul on the way up the side of the mountain, but I must have passed 30+ people while walking back to the Geovan Of Destiny.  A solitary hike through nature is much better for the soul than a crowded one.

So now Rocky Face Mountain Park is clear of caches once again.  Your turn, 2IceHikers.  I await your next move.

Zeke's Flower

Yesterday, as I was getting into the Geovan of Destiny to go hiking, my son Zeke gave me a flower.  I told him I'd bring it with me.

This was taken half-way up Rocky Face Mountain:

GeoGearHeads Guest Hosting

Last Thursday I had the pleasure of recording as a guest host on the GeoGearHeads podcast, which is a podcast about the technology that appeals to geocachers.

It was a randomized show where we talked about a great many thing, including my Garmin Monterra review, the latest USB spec, paper map caching and tools brought into then field, and geocache being the new scrabble word.

I also recorded some extra content which is available as extra content for Patreon subscribers.

You can check out  the audio, and the show notes here, and the video of the podcast below: