Sunday, October 27, 2013

Renaissance Festival: 2013 Edition

Yesterday we took the family to the Charlotte Renaissance Festival for some trick or treating fun, and general shenanigans.

Especially the shenanigans.

We've been to the fest the last couple of years, so I'll spare you the details of the festival itself, and just cut to the pictures, except for this story:

Zeke carries a shark bucket to carry his halloween candy in.  Picture a grey bucket with a gaping shark mouth as the opening, and you'll get the general idea. Many folks commented on his bucket - it seemed to be a hit.

As we were walking around through the crowd, the bucket got jostled, and stuck on something.  When we looked closer we found that the leg of a passerby got stuck perfectly in the open mouth of the shark. Apparently Zeke's candy is safe and sound, and under the protection of an attack shark (I'll have to remember this before I raid his candy).

Later on in the day as we were walking out of the park one of the performers was walking past us.  She turned and looked at Zeke and exclaimed "You're the boy with the shark bucket!  I've heard about you!"  Apparently Zeke is now Renaissance Festival famous.

We all dressed up for the occaision.  My wife, +Debbie DeBaeremaeker went as Little Red Riding Hood, Zeke was a butterfly, and Abigail was a princess.
The festival is full of bards, mistrels, and other musical acts.  This group was singing sea shanties.
Apparently the Ren Fest is not an accurate recreation of days of yore, but is a fusion of many points across history.  It leads to some interesting scenes, like this one.
This happy little scavenger was part of a bird handling presentation.  Other birds were falcons, and owls, neither of which I managed to get good shots of, so you get this jaunty fellow.

Apparently vultures are nothing to fear as their beaks are often not sharp enough to break through skin, and their talons are neither sharp, nor strong enough to carry much more than a feather.
For me the day was most notable for hats.  I went as The Cat In The Hat(-ish), but I tried on several other top hats.  The steam punk looking at on the right came home with me.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

2500

Today I found my 2500th geocache. To celebrate I bought a new car battery.

I was geocaching in a park, and my wife stayed back in the Geo-van Of Destiny with the napping kids.

I had walked the perimeter of the park and ended up at the main entrance, where I grabbed my milestone cache. I texted my wife to come pick me up (since she had to drive by the location anyway, it seemed logical for her to come to me, instead of me to her). When I did she told me the radio stopped working, and the car would not start. Looks like I was walking anyway.

 When I got back to the van I heard the tell-tale clicks of a dead battery. I needed a boost. A quick call to AAA to get some help, and an hour later, and I had a new car battery installed in the van (AAA guy ran some diagnostics and determined the battery was the issue.). We were back on the road. It was too late to keep caching, so we headed home.

I am just thankful the battery died where I had excellent cell coverage, and was close to a quick responding AAA mechanic.  I cache so often out of cell range, in out of the way places, it could easily have left me stranded for a long, long time.

I normally like to make milestones like this memorable by picking an interesting cache.  I didn't plan ahead this time, so I ended up with a simple pill bottle hidden at the base of an electrical pole.  I still ended up with an interesting story, tho, so its not all bad.

It is a rare day geocaching when I don't end up with a story to tell, even when the cache itself is mundane.  Life is funny that way.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Library Of Gallifrey

I have unleashed a new geocache unto the world.

About a year ago I started watching the British sci-fi show Doctor Who, and since then I have become a fan (or Whovian, if you will).

Fans of the show will (hopefully) instantly recognize the blue box. Those that are not fans may wish to know that it is a TARDIS, which is the time machine the Doctor uses to travel to various places in space and time. It is based on a British police box.

Being the shape it is always made me think that it had a great deal of potential as a geocache container.  So with the help from my father (who owned the tools, and has actual wood working skills) we designed and built a TARDIS replica to use as a geocache.

The TARDIS is famous for being "bigger on the inside".  I tried to figure out a way to make this true for my cache, but lacking the ability to bend the rules of space-time, I couldn't make it work properly.

I compromised by making the cache an in-field puzzle. Finding the cache is just the first step. The finder then needs to figure out how to open it.

I paired the cache with a similar themed ammo can(which is bigger than the TARDIS on the inside, if you see where I am going with this...) that is locked.

The method to unlock the ammo can can be determined once the TARDIS is found, and its mysteries solved.

Just to give it a little more interest I made the cache a book exchange. Inside the ammo can are several paperback novels that finders can trade for.

This cache is now deployed and waiting for finders.  If you find yourself in western North Carolina, perhaps you will stop by and check out the Library Of Gallifrey.

Allons-y!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Quilt Design: Opinions Requested

The auctioned quilt we wish to ripoff, cause we're jerks, thats why.
To Whom It My Concern,

I request your opinion. but first, the all important interesting backstory.

At the recent NCGO Fall Fling geocaching event (see details here), a geocaching themed quilt was up for bid at the silent auction.  We (my wife and I) tried to win it, but alas it was not meant to be, and we went home empty handed (at least as far as quilts are concerned).

Fortunately my lovely wife +Debbie DeBaeremaeker is a handy dandy real life experienced quilter.  A bona fide lady of the pieced cloth. She has graciously offered to make me a replica geocaching quilt of my very own.

This morning we went out and purchased some fabric to make said quilt.  (yes, I actually went into a fabric store with the intent of coming out with fabric I personally spent my own fun money on.  Crazy eh?)

I also came up with some design ideas. Problem is that I like several of them.

Below are four of my designs. Three are variations on a theme, and the other is a direct rip off of the Fall Fling quilt.

I am asking you (yes you!), dear reader, to toss in your two cents (via the comments section) which design you think is the better one.

So here are the designs:

Design #1:  Hiker, two satellites, geocaching logo.

Design #2: hiker and single satellite

Design #3:  Solo hiker


Design #4:  Geocaching logo


So what do you think?  Let me know in the comments below.  I will be posting pics of the quilt itself when it is finished, tho my wife is currently working on another quilt, so it may take a while... stay tuned!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Case In Point

I have often said that it doesn't take a great deal of effort to make a mediocre geocache hide into something a little more special.

A good cache has an interesting location, or an interesting container. Bonus points for both.

Last Saturday I found a cache that helps underline this idea.

The first thing that makes this cache interesting is the location. The location is the edge of a semi-rural road.  It is busy, 45MPH or so, and along the side is what appears to be rough brush land - nothing special right?

Wrong.

Stepping just a few feet into the woods brings you to an old Civil War era cemetery.  This cemetery is not visible from the road, and there is no driveway - you have to walk to it - so there is no reason why anyone would ever visit... unless you are a cacher.

The second thing that makes this cache interesting is that the cache owner took the time to make the container a little bit special.  They attached a bison tube to a small statue of Death.  They used JB Weld - I bet it took no more than 10-15 minutes to produce - but they ended up with a fun and unique cache that was thematic for its location near a cemetery.

So very simple touches.  Nice location, interesting container.  Simple things but the result is that, instead of a random, boring, bison tube randomly placed in the woods, we have a statue in a secret Civil War ceremony.  In other words, instead of a cache that has been done a hundred times, we have a cache that is worth writing a story about.

This one got a very enthusiastic favourite point.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

International Earth Cache Day: Trash Can Falls Edition

Sunday was International Earth Cache Day.  To celebrate I headed up the mountains to find a couple earth caches, as well as few traditionals.

If you are not aware, an earth cache is a special type of cache.  There is no container to find, rather the object of the cache is to learn an earth science lesson.

The most spectacular cache I did was also the last cache of the day.  It was at Trash Can Falls, which lies 10 minutes west of Boone North Carolina, deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

From parking the falls are accessed via a small path, which was annoyingly hard to locate.  Once on the path it is a quick walk to the falls themselves.

To claim an earth cache one has to answer a series of questions. One of the questions required the finder (AKA me) to measure the temperature of the water.  I, of course, being a well prepared geocacher, completely neglected to bring a thermometer.

I stuck my hand in the water to get a rough guesstimate of the temperature, but the idea of not being able to answer this question accurately bugged me. I started formulating an excuse in my head, hoping the CO would let me log it anyway.  It was quite the quandary.

I sat beside the waterfall for a good 30 minutes and puzzled this quandary until my puzzler was sore.

Something was nagging at me.  A salient detail I was overlooking... but what was it?

Suddenly the solution dawned on me.

You see, a few years ago I bought a small compass to use as a backup navigation device.  The compass was attached to an emergency whistle and... (pause for dramatic effect here) a thermometer. Ding! Ding! Ding!

When I bought the compass I figured I'd never need to use the thermometer so I promptly forgot about it.  Turns out I was greatly mistaken.

Excitedly I grabbed my measurements, took some photos, then headed back down the trail towards home.

Before I left I was sure to grab a few pictures, like this one, which is the top of Trash Can Falls:
These trees were growing out of the rocks that made up the far bank of the river. I dunno why, but the sight of trees clinging to rocks like this always makes me stop and think.  Maybe it is a sign that you can't stop nature.  It does what it does.  Life finds a way.
This is the creek just above the falls.
As I mentioned earlier I spent part of my trip grabbing some traditional caches.  There is a series of caches around Boone that highlights some of the silos in the area.  This one was a two-fer, as ground zero overlooked this picturesque mountain scene:

Just down the road, around the next curve, was this interesting barn. You could actually see parts of it through the trees from GZ, but taking the drive gives one a much better photo op.

I spent just a few short hours in the mountains, but I found 7 caches, including two earth caches.  Not to shabby, if I do say so myself.

Did you get out and find an earth cache for earth day?  Let me know about it in the comments below.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Have A Hotdog On Me

As you may know, I am a Canadian expat now living in the US. October marks the 5th anniversary of the date we first crossed the border from northern North American to the land of southern North America.

To celebrate this epic anniversary, or Americaversary if you will, we (my wife and I)  held a geocaching event in my back yard.  We served the most american of foods I could think of:  hot dogs.

We called the event "Have a Hot Dog On Me, My Friends", after the Arrogant Worms song, who's chorus goes like this:

"Have a hot dog on me, my friends
It's made from animal odds and ends
Have a hot dog on me, my friends
Its the particle board of meat."

Despite this, many people came out to celebrate:

Here's hoping we'll do the same at the 10th Americaversary. Maybe then we'll add some apple pie as well.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Creative Geocache Containers Part III

This is the third installment of my series on creative cache containers.  All of these containers I have found in the wild at some point or another.

The first is a bit of footwear that prooves that Bigfoot exists, and is breeding in the wild woods.
This is very simple camo, but it was highly effective.  It was basically out in the open, but it took me 10 minutes to locate.

This owl decoy is repurposed as cache camouflage.

This cache is based on the story of King Arther, and drawing a sword from a stone.  The sword and stone are made from PVC pipe, and to retrieve the cache one has to first remove the "sword".

This is basically a lawn ornament turned into a cache.  It was extra special since I arrived on GZ via mountain bike.
The treasure chest at the end of a 4 stage multi cache.

This cache is one of the largest I have ever seen.  Finding it required solving a tricky puzzle.

You can check out the rest of the posts in this series by clicking here: Creative Cache Containers: The Series.

Monday, October 07, 2013

How A Toddler Prepares For A Geocaching Trip

Some awesomeness from my son, Tonka Tyke, geocacher extraordinaire.