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Monday, September 26th, 2016

3:58 pm - Deep South Jersey and FSC start
The First State Challenge geocaches were released early Saturday morning. I decided not to go for those right away and instead went to South Jersey to get some of those geocaches that have been piling up over the summer months. (I'd been avoiding that area because of the chigger infestation problem, although I'm not really sure how many of those cache sites are actually in the problem zone.) Anyway, this trip took me through Salem, Alloway, Stow Neck, Bridgeton, Vineland, Buena, and Millville. Most of the cache sites, including the TWD series, were at cemeteries, but there was one hidden on a tractor!

On Sunday, I started doing the FSC caches in Newark, Bear, Smyrna, and Dover. I wasn't interested in qualifying this year so I took my time and got 6 out of the required 10 in Northern DE and 2 in Southern DE, mixing it up with some non-FSC geocaches along the way. All the caches were small or regular sized and some were nicely decorated. There were some FSC cache sites that were new to me, like the DASEF brontosaurus, but I think some, like the concrete pier ruins at Port Mahon, were repeated from previous years. "Wilson Meets Holly" was a cache that I was glad to finally find. It's in a residential area very close to someone's garage, so I was wary about searching for it. But as soon as I found out that the neighbor knew about the cache, it wasn't a problem. He was outside doing some yardwork, so I asked him about the cache. He told me which side of the group of trees it was on and then I saw it in a few seconds. I'm so glad some of the locals are helpful.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

11:34 pm - Birthday weekend - New London, Rising Sun, Conowingo, Royersford, Pottstown, Boyertown
My birthday was on a Sunday this year, so I didn't take a day off from work for that. Still it was a packed weekend. Saturday's trip was relatively local because I wanted to use the Golden Corral coupon and the only convenient Golden Corral location was not far away in Elkton. The day started with the Pokemon No geocache, a funny one in New Castle Battery Park, near home. The cache owner was just poking fun at the hordes of Pokemon Go players recently in Battery Park. To be honest though, I really haven't seen too much of that activity myself. There are small groups of players here and there but that's about it. Then I went to New London to get a set of new caches, and then to Rising Sun. Then I did a 2-mile hike on the northwest side of the Conowingo Dam. That was a lot of walking in hilly terrain but well worth doing for a set of classic cache hides that were all ammo cans. As planned, dinner was at the Elkton Golden Corral, where I did feast on various foods dipped in the chocolate fountain. (No one can tell which of those lumps are the broccoli and cauliflower. :) Chocolate-dipped strawberries are pretty good.)

Sunday's goal was to get the birthday Grand Slam at Denny's. However, Denny's is a 24-hour restaurant and I didn't necessarily have to get that for breakfast, so I was free to venture out to the wilds beyond Pottstown and come back later for it. So it was a fun day roaming the countryside of ducks, barns, covered bridges, and municipal parks with strong opinions about dogs. Despite all that, I still made it back to the local Denny's in Newark in plenty of time for a not-too-late dinner.

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Monday, September 12th, 2016

5:07 pm - Pottstown/Collegeville, Norristown/Lansdale/Perkasie
Since it's birthday coupon season, both of the weekend's trips were planned to more or less end in an area near a restaurant where I could use a birthday coupon. Saturday's trip was to Uwchlan and Pottstown, before veering off to Sanatoga, Trappe, and Collegeville. It's one of those opposite days where the high-difficulty caches took less time and effort than the "easy" ones. I was sure I'd previously checked the exact spot in the rocks where "It's not like the others..." was hiding but didn't see it until this trip. "Singing Frog Pond" looked almost impossible to access but in the end, I only had to push through the vegetation the right way to get to the frog. Dinner was at Texas Roadhouse in Royersford and the birthday coupon got me ribs.

Sunday's trip was to Norristown, then Lansdale, Harleysville, Sellersville, and Perkasie. There were a lot of cemetery caches that day. The "Coimetromania" and "Night of the Dead" series were both located at the many cemeteries scattered around the countryside and suburbs. "Oh No My Toe" is a pair of geocaches placed for a geocacher who had toe issues. "Udderly Ridiculous" deserves mention too. It is a two-stage geocache with the first stage at a tree with cows and sheep hanging from the branches. I needed to find all the cows (but not the sheep) to get the coordinates to the final stage. I could only find five of the six cows but thank goodness I had sufficient information to figure out the last number and the coordinates. And finally, dinner was at Perkins in Doylestown to get a free Magnificent Seven.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

11:17 pm - Labor Day Weekend - Phoenixville, Pottstown, Annapolis
It was a 3-day holiday weekend. The first two days were trips to nearby areas where I noticed there has been some cache placement activity. Saturday's trip was to Exton/Uwchlan, Phoenixville, and Pottstown, with a hike into the hills of the Lock 60 Recreation Area. Sunday's trip was to East Goshen and the Sugartown ruins, and then to the Reading area for a set of puzzle caches, including this frog geocache.

Monday's trip was a long one to a new area. Every year, I try to use the Chevys birthday coupon. The nearest Chevys locations are all on the other side of Baltimore. Last year, I went to Arundel Mills but that mall was way too busy, so I figured I'd try Annapolis instead this year. And of course, it's a good excuse to get some geocaches on the way to and in Annapolis before dinner. Annapolis is actually a decent bay town with a lot of river and bay scenery, good sculptures, and cheeky parking signs. I also stopped at Kent Island along the way and saw some unexpected cartoonish murals. Animal encounters were a theme for the day as well. There was a grasshopper who stayed still long enough for photography. And that night, a small green snake fell on my head when I brushed up against a bush. Which was a surprise because I didn't think such an urban location would have a snake in the bush.

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Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

12:02 am - White Marsh / Pikesville / Reisterstown, Lancaster LXXI
It was the third and last Mission GC weekend. This time, I needed to find a mystery geocache for the souvenir and the very first cache on Saturday, "A really old Smarty-Pants", fit the bill. It wasn't a very difficult mystery cache, so I'm surprised I hadn't gone for it yet. All the information you need comes from a historical marker (that you can look up online, but don't tell the cache owner! >.> ) and it's pretty much a park and grab once you have the final coordinates. So once I was done with that, everything else was gravy. There were some challenging caches and a weird one, Hungry Roach. Mr. Charles was a nice character, although his geocache took some looking to find.

Sunday's trip was to Lancaster again to find some new geocaches, both traditional and puzzle, that had been published during the week since my last visit. There was a new Pokemon-themed series, although I only did two of those. Then there was a short tour along the Susquehanna River for a bunch of caches in Washington Township and Columbia, including this turtle cache. The interesting thing about Lancaster County is the locals archive and replace sets of caches every now and then to keep things fresh. I was sure I'd finished the caches along the Enola Low-Grade Trail two years ago but there was a new set of caches, which I may return to when the weather is cool enough for a longer walk.

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Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

12:25 am - Lancaster LXX and Lehigh Valley LVG GEM
Another trip to Lancaster on Saturday. Tried to clear out geocaches in Lancaster County Central Park, which I didn't get to on my previous trip. There was a long walk along the bend of Mill Creek and an Ursine Urn. Also a rat geocache. Moved farther westward to Landisville and Mount Joy, and the cutest geocache there was a zebra, even if it was a bit dirty from having sat under the bridge.

Sunday's trip was to Lehigh Valley for the "LVG G.E.M." geocaching event at Weggies in Hanover Township. Of course, I took the chance to grab some cache series before the event. Two of those were the "Characters" series, a set of play-anywhere Wherigo cartridges, and the "PBURG MALL" series, a ring of geocaches around the Phillipsburg Mall. Easily the best cache of the day was this Nintendo geocache, over on the Phillipsburg side.

The caches...Collapse )

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Thursday, August 18th, 2016

10:16 pm - FA United 2016
FA United was in Herndon, Virginia, this year. It was at the Hyatt Regency, just across the highway from the Dulles International Airport. I have to admit I had mixed feelings about the con moving to Virginia. For one thing, this would be my third trip to Virginia this year, after Fursonacon and Fur The More. Is it an overload of Virginia-ness? Also, I figured the con would have fewer attendees this year because I heard many folks from New Jersey who were regulars at FAU weren't planning to make the trip south. Still though, some of my friends were at this year's FAU and I recognized some folks from Fursonacon as well.

The new location is both good and bad. I thought the hotel was terrific! Every room in the hotel is a suite and somehow, FAU negotiated a group rate that is lower than what I paid at most other cons. So it's a win-win. Plenty of space to lay out my gear. This is the first hotel I've stayed at that uses RFID keycards. Instead of slipping the card into a slot, you hold it against the card reader on the door. Possibly for security reasons, the keycard is also needed to activate the guest floor buttons in the elevator. On the last day of the con, I realized that I could simply keep the RFID keycard in my handpaw when fursuiting. It was kinda neat and cute when I activated the elevator reader by pressing my paw against it. Two downsides to this hotel though. First was parking was inadequate. On Friday night, the parking lot was nearly full by the time I got back from dinner. Because of that, I didn't even drive out for dinner Saturday night. Instead, I got takeout earlier in the afternoon and kept it in my room for later. The other problem, of course, was the hotel wasn't within walking distance of any stores or restaurants. It was about a mile to the nearest strip mall and the oppressively hot summer weather wasn't conducive to walking that distance.

FAU didn't have a whole lot of scheduled programming that was of interest to me. I was in the fursuit parade (which thankfully did not go outside in the 100°F weather!) and the fursuit games. I also attended Majik's sewing panels, where I made a red star squeaky toy and an ice cream cone. I also went to the Majik Mystery Loot Brawl, where my prize was a corgi ear and tail set. This game is similar to white elephant gift exchanges at some holiday geocaching events. At each turn, the player can either pick and unwrap a gift or steal someone else's already-unwrapped gift. I didn't get my first choice of gift but this was good enough.

So those events were basically it for me. The upside though was I had plenty of time between events to get meals and find geocaches and Munzees. I went for the "Virginia Trains and Roads" multicache early in the morning (before it got hot) to qualify for the weekend's Mission GC souvenir. Geocaching was actually only so-so in that area. Munzee, on the other hand, was amazing! There is a very active Munzee community there and the Munzees are well-maintained. Out of the hundreds of Munzees I went for, I think only three were missing or worn out. That is excellent because I've been to areas where the failure rate was up to 50%. I also used these games to decide where to eat. Every time I went out for a meal, I took a look at what special Munzees or geocaches were out there. I went and got that, and then took a look to see what restaurants were nearby. That led me to some interesting local favorites and ethnic restaurants. (That's another nice thing about the area. The DC Metro area has a lot of good Middle-Eastern and Indian restaurants, and most of those places are good for tasty but moderately-priced takeout food.)

Will I be back next year for FAU 2017? Probably. Can't say for sure because a lot can change in a year, but I did enjoy the hotel and the area, and a smaller convention with less programming is a nice change of pace after Anthrocon.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

1:57 am - Around Baltimore - Rosedale, Essex, Dundalk, White Marsh, Towson, Northern Baltimore
This weekend was about retracing an arc around Baltimore, to the east and to the north, to get some of the newer geocaches in those areas. The only part that was new to me was Northern Baltimore, just south of Towson, but even then, I'd been to a slice of the area a few years before. Saturday's trip was to Rosedale, Essex, and Dundalk, with the goal of hitting the "HBWLADS" series, which was placed for a recent geocaching event at North Point. When I got there though, I realized that I'd been there before for a previous cache series and some, if not all, the hiding spots were the same as the previous series. Still, it was a good revisit.

Sunday's trip was first to White Marsh, for some geocaches near the mall, and then on to Towson and south into Northern Baltimore. Kept heading south until the parking problems got too annoying and then turned around, back towards Towson. I couldn't believe that even on Sunday, parking was such a problem in that part of Baltimore but apparently, the roadsides, whether in residential areas or near businesses, are close to 100% filled with parked cars. For the day, there was another cache series, "Schmenards trail". There were 5 caches but for some reason, it was missing #4. The one thing I didn't like was two geocaches, "The Trash Cache" and "The Pearly White Cache", seemed to be intentionally hidden in the trashiest spots possible. The former was between a Jersey barrier and a fence, where litter accumulates and in all likelihood, never gets removed. The latter was hidden where people smoke outside the doors of a building and was literally sitting in a bed of cigarette butts, which made the cache name ironic. I hope it isn't the start of a new trashy cache trend but if it is, perhaps I should go to a different area or just play Munzee there, which is a very active game in the White Marsh area.

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Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

10:40 pm - Quakertown, Lehigh Valley, Northeast Harford
The only goal for this weekend was to get the first of the three Mission GC souvenirs. There was a secret message that I decoded a week before and all it said was I needed to find a geocache with 10 or more favorite points to get the souvenir. That's easier said than done though. Geocaches with that many favorite points are few and far between. I had a couple of caches in mind and a backup plan for Sunday in case I couldn't get one on Saturday. Fortunately, it worked out. After geocaching my way up through Quakertown and Bethlehem, I arrived at "The Art of the Cache" on the Lehigh University South Mountain campus. Once I got there, I could see why it got favorite points. It's at a sculpture garden with some rather weird sculptures!.

On Sunday, I intended to go to Dundalk to get the caches that were placed for an event I didn't attend, but then I noticed that the northern and northeastern part of Harford County, Maryland, had a bunch of good countryside geocaches. (including this cow geocache) So that's where the trip ended up. I even got a few geocaches in Delta, PA, in the corner of York County I'd never explored before. Saw a lot of frogs that day. They were camouflaged among the leaves and I'd never have noticed them if they hadn't jumped around.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

1:30 am - Doylestown and Lancaster
Two hot summer days this weekend. Saturday's trip was up to Warminster, Hatfield, Doylestown, and Plumsteadville. Didn't skip past the difficult caches this time because I figured the remaining easy caches were getting way too far away. It's a matter of trying your luck sometimes. "The King of Doylestown", in particular, was a micro cache with 4-star difficulty in dense woods with poor GPS reception. It took a combination of a bunch of different things to find it: I had a feeling about a certain area and I found a pen that a previous cacher probably dropped that turned out to be pretty close to the hiding spot. With some indication that I was on the right track, it was just a matter of poking around until I got it. "Prickerland II" was a different kind of challenge. The biggest hurdle was finding a way to get through a wall of overgrowth into the woods. I guess that could've waited until winter but what the hey?

Sunday's trip was in two parts. I got some local geocaches before heading over to Lancaster for the rest of the day. Once again, I didn't avoid the difficult caches. "Gardening in Pike Creek", although not an easy search, turned out to be something I'd seen before. Of course, I started from the wrong end of the row of bushes so it took a while. "Otters Cache 1" was a long walk in Wolf's Hollow County Park but the trail was mostly pretty good. The cache locations in Lancaster covered the usual assortment of quaint and historic sites, such as a covered bridge, Boehm's Chapel, and the Byerland stone meeting house.

The caches...Collapse )

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Monday, July 18th, 2016

6:03 pm - Montgomery/Bucks
Saturday was another trip up Montgomery County, to Gwynedd, Lansdale, Hilltown and Perkasie, for some of the newer geocaches. Took a break in the early afternoon for some Munzee because it got too hot for any kind of walking, but resumed geocaching afterwards. Issues with brush and overgrowth were not as bad as last weekend, although there were a few where the going was tough. "Veterans Day - 2015" was the hardest to access. My approach was across a weedy field and a, thankfully, dry creek bed, and then into the thorny wooded area. Even the cache was in a fairly nondescript brush heap in a place with lots of bushes, so it took some work and quite a bit of luck just to catch a glimpse of it. "Lake Shore Drive" was funny because when I checked where I thought the cache would be, I saw only a frog under the bridge, sheltering from the rain. The actual cache hiding spot was a lot cleverer.

Sunday's trip was to the area east of Saturday's trip, specifically to Hatboro, Warminster, Jamison, Richboro, and Southampton. I tried to get as many of the geocaches that I'd skipped over on previous trips because I assumed those would be difficult or time-consuming. Some of them were, but some, like "Deep in the Jungle Gym" and "Undercover Cache", turned out to be fairly quick. Sometimes, it's just by chance that you happen to look the right way upon arriving at the cache site. "A Spot in the Nasty Woods" lived up to its name. It was a tough bushwhack, so I'm a glutton for punishment for doing that in the summer. "Come for the Cache, Stay for the Prickers" was just as bad a bushwhack, although not as deep into the woods. "The Evil That Men Do Lives After Them", on the other hand, wasn't as evil as I thought. I got a tip in the cache logs on the best way to approach the cache site and once there, it was just a matter of looking around. "DemonAnus #1", the cache whose name may kill this journal's G rating, wasn't as difficult as I assumed. I read enough of the cache logs to know what to expect and then it was a matter of being observant.

The caches...Collapse )

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Friday, July 15th, 2016

12:53 am - KoP, Plymouth, NW Philly, Willow Grove, Abington, Jenkintown
This weekend, I once again made circles to the west and north of Philadelphia to get the newest batch of geocaches. Saturday's trip was to Upper Merion, King of Prussia, Plymouth Meeting, and Northwest Philadelphia. Got some trail hiking in Northwest Philly because of a few series of geocaches going short distances into rugged Wissahickon Park. The most interesting caches of the day were near the Green Goats project in Bob White Park, Upper Merion. This project uses goats to get rid of invasive plants and poison ivy, and the goats are fun to watch because they move around and eat a lot.

Sunday's trip was to Willow Grove, Abington, and Jenkintown, focusing on the area south of the Pennsylvania Turnpike but north of the city. The most interesting cache site of the day was in the sculpture park at Alverthorpe Manor.

The caches...Collapse )

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Thursday, July 7th, 2016

4:59 pm - Anthrocon 2016
So that was it! My 20th Anthrocon! It's quite a significant milestone since there aren't too many things that I've been doing every year for 20 years. Geocaching and Where's George both started after the first Anthrocon. Of course, over two decades a lot has changed. The con has grown up significantly and in a sense, so have I. The con moved to another city (twice) and so did I. Can we look forward to another 20 years? I don't know. Let's take it one year at a time.

Once again, I shared a hotel room in the Westin with Marauder and Gatorman. (Well, Gatorman skipped last year but this arrangement was the same for the previous couple of years before that.) We arrived on Wednesday but this time, we stayed until Tuesday so we could spend July 4th in Pittsburgh. I didn't do too much at Anthrocon this time around. I was at the Recess fursuit games, the dances, the fursuit parade, and a couple of panels. I missed a lot of con events because the scheduling didn't mesh well with my plans or I had to go out for meals. Most of it is not the fault of con programming. However, when I answered the con survey, I pointed out that signup for the Team Fursuit Games was too early in the morning. 8:30am on Sunday morning was tough to make, especially after going to room party and a dance on Saturday night, and so I had to skip that event. That aside, the con is still very well-run. Panelists and guests were interesting and good speakers in their fields of expertise. Aside from the usual elevator line and fursuit badge line, I didn't notice any problems at all.

Sorry to say but conditions in Pittsburgh have deteriorated. This started on the day of my arrival when I saw that someone had a violent confrontation with an aggressive panhandler right outside the Grant Street bus terminal. It was an incident that required paramedic and police response. Walking around the city myself, I noticed that there were far more panhandlers than in previous years and some were more pushy than others. I heard from a friend too of an incident where he was accosted by a group of homophobes. It's scary if you're walking on your own in the city, especially at night. In addition, there was a shooting on the night of July 4th near 7th and Liberty, which is just a few blocks away from the Westin and DLCC. Luckily, I opted to watch the fireworks from the DLCC waterfront instead of going to Point State Park. However, my roomies were much closer to where the shooting happened at that time. And finally, I saw that someone had scratched my car on purpose with a coin or a key. However, I didn't notice that until the day after, when it was pointed out to me. So without further proof, I can't say whether it happened in Pittsburgh or anywhere I stopped along the way home. (Monroeville, Breezewood) My car has plenty of scratches already, so I didn't mind too much but again, it's another sign of the way things are going down the drain in that area.

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Monday, June 27th, 2016

5:30 pm - Limerick, Pottstown, KoP, Upper Gwynedd, Souderton, Perkasie
Saturday was one of the days when I intended to head into the Cache Factory area towards Doylestown but got sidetracked way off. It's all good because it shows that there are new geocaches everywhere and more than enough to make a day of it no matter which way I go. Anyway, I started in the Plymouth Meeting area. Instead of going northeast as intended, I hit groups of caches in Audubon, Collegeville, and Schwenksville. Once I was on the west side of the Perkiomen Creek, that side looked like it had more caches, so I continued onwards through Limerick, Pottstown, and Pottsgrove.

Sunday started in roughly the same area (King of Prussia) but this time, I did go the intended way to Whitpain, Gwynedd, North Wales, Lansdale, Hatfield, Telford, Sellersville, and Perkasie, although there was a little sidetrack to Skippack for a set of geocaches in Heebner Park. ("HP" series) Geocaches of the day were the lizard and the snake. The snake was only a decoration. I think it was meant to be coiled around the cache container but got separated. The two items are back together under the bush. I also found a real snake inside a hollow tree but it moved away too quickly for me to photograph it.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

2:07 am - More local geocaching, Mercer-Bucks
Saturday was another day to get some geocaches in my area, to the northwest and northeast of home. Went from Newark to Pike Creek, London Britain, Kemblesville, Kennett Square, Concordville, Springfield, Newtown Square, and Lansdowne. Attempted some of the tougher geocaches as well, which meant tackling the overgrowth on some of the less-used trails in DelCo wooded areas. The funny cache of the day was "Class of 3:16", which came with its own action figure.

Sunday's geocaching trip started in Penns Grove and Logan Township, before venturing north to Trenton, Ewing, and Pennington. However, any area that even suggested picnic or swim hole was packed with people and parking areas were jam packed. Moreover, traffic was crazy on the New Jersey side. So, after getting a few geocaches, I decided to head over the river for the relative calm of Bucks County, PA. There were a lot of new geocaches, mostly from Taxman, in Newtown and Bensalem. Also, I was finally able to find some caches with which I had trouble in the past. "Cry Baby #5 * 8 - Newborn" was one such problematic cache. I'd been there before but encountered a vagrant hiding behind the fence, which really discouraged me from returning for a while! Finally found the cache this time and it turned out to not be that difficult, except for having to deal with the overgrowth in that unused slice of land next to the Wawa parking lot.

Couple of interesting geocaches on Sunday. The first was the cow-spotted box, which was furry on the inside! "Shadowy Span" was near an unusual sculpture of an armored horse. What the camera didn't capture very well was a golden heart behind the bars in the center of the horse's body. So that's some neat symbolism. And the last cache before dinner was a gnome, which ties in to the puzzle in "Where's Dog VII - Follow Your Gnome".

The caches...Collapse )

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