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Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

11:59 pm - Howell, Ocean City
It'd only been one week since the winter storm and piles of snow were still everywhere. However, I noticed that there was a geocache series, Tour De Howell (TDH), in the town of Howell in Monmouth County. I figured those were all urban cache hides in or near the many shopping centers along US-9. Indeed, most of those caches were findable. I only used the shovel once and skipped a few caches that were probably too deep in snow piles. (When there's limited time, one has to limit one's snow-digging to only the most likely candidates.)

Sunday's trip was to Ocean City, MD, although I got some caches in Milford and Millsboro, along the way. There wasn't any snow on the ground that far south, so it was possible to take a stab at even the most difficult caches. Indeed, I found every cache in Ocean City and also completed the "OC - Vacation Challenge" challenge cache, which really only needed 20 or so caches to qualify. Anyway, among other interesting things by the beach, there was a nice walk on a long pier and part of a VW bus.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

2:22 am - Snow weekend
The snow started falling Friday evening. It wasn't too long before it became thicker and roads were closed because of blizzard-like conditions. The snow and wind continued on Saturday, so it was a day at home. Made use of the time by getting a bit of (really early) spring cleaning done and got started on my tax return. (although I didn't have all the forms yet)

Sunday morning's work was shoveling snow off of the driveway and sidewalk and brushing it off the car, so I could get out. It was actually less than a foot of snow but the wind had blown the snow around into snowdrifts that were quite a bit higher. Had a late start but I picked a bunch of geocaches in Paulsboro, Mount Laurel, and Jamesburg that didn't require too much digging in the snow to find. Funny thing is I also had to do some shovelwork to get a Munzee. There, a snow plow had left an enormous pile of snow around the lamp post and the QR code sticker was at the base of that lamp post, deep in the snow pile.

The caches...Collapse )

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Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

1:14 am - Martin Luther King Day weekend
Saturday morning, I went to the "Sofiecat Memorial Hike" geocaching event at Connie Batdorf Park in Pottstown. It's an event for a geocacher who passed away recently and also a group hike on the nearby Horseshoe Trail. Our group had a few vans and large vehicles, so we decided to shuttle everyone to the trailhead at the far end. Then those vehicles were parked at the other end of the trail so the rest of the group would only have to hike one way. It was only about a 3-mile hike but the Horseshoe Trail was hilly with lots of ups and downs, so it's still a workout. With a large group searching though, none of the 17 geocaches along the trail took very long to find. After the event and hike, I continued onwards to Morgantown and Reading for more geocaches, with an eye to finishing off any puzzle caches I had already solved. There were some neat caches, such as the reindeer, the teeth and a Marsha figurine.

Sunday's trip was to Maryland to get the latest collection of geocaches in the Hunt Valley area. It snowed in the afternoon but not enough to cover anything. I also took the opportunity to take a loop hike around Meadowood Park for the 4 caches there. I'd visited that park earlier in the year but it was too hot in the Summer. Wintertime, on the other hand, was just right, especially since the plant growth had died back enough to make those caches easily visible.

Monday was Martin Luther King Day, a Federal holiday. I had the day off but it was a cold day, so I decided not to travel out too far. Still, there was plenty to do around Pike Creek, Hockessin, Kennett Square, West Goshen, Frazer, and King of Prussia. There was a frog geocache. ("My name is not Kermit!") Also took a hike into McKaig Nature Center and saw an old furnace. And at the end of the day, I saw the 9/11 memorial near the King of Prussia Mall.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

1:43 am - UTT again, Chestertown, Eastern Shore
Saturday's trip was to Allentown, NJ, to take a 5-mile walk and get another set of geocaches on the northern part of the Union Transportation Trail. This section of the UTT is not yet connected to the section I walked on last week. I hope they'll one day finish converting the railbed into a bike path and join the two sections. Ran into SanMar again during my walk. This time though, they were a bit earlier and were on their way back as I was walking towards the end of the path.

Sunday's trip was to Eastern Shore Maryland, around Still Pond, Chestertown, Quaker Neck, and Rock Hall. The problem with this area is the land is made of many peninsulas and fingers out into the Chesapeake Bay and there aren't many bridges. So the whole day is basically spent driving down one of the 10-mile peninsulas, and then back up and down another peninsula. However, it had been a very long time since I visited that area, so there were enough geocaches to make it worth the trip just going down a few of the larger fingers of land. There is a lot of beautiful scenery by the bay and water features. Unfortunately, after the heavy rain late that day, there was quite a bit of flooding in Rock Hall. I noticed that the bay water was pretty much already up to the level of the road and some of the docks and platforms are in danger of getting washed away the next time there is a superstorm. When I saw that, I decided it would be a good idea to just detour around the flooded areas and leave.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

11:21 pm - New Year's Weekend - Lehigh Valley, Delco, Mt Holly, UTT
Hot on the heels of Christmas weekend came another 4-day weekend for the new year. Thursday's trip was to Lehigh Valley to attend the New Year Eve geocaching event, "Bye, Bye 2015", at Wegmans in Bethlehem. This event was in the evening though, so there was plenty of time to get the "12 Days of XMas" cache series in Allentown and Bethlehem. Most of those caches were easy except for the one in the bus stop. For that one, I had to wait a few minutes for the bus to arrive and pick up the person who was sitting directly on top of the cache!

Didn't plan on going very far on New Year's Day, so I just got some geocaches locally and in Delaware County. (Springfield, Upper Darby, Narberth, and Bala Cynwyd) The most interesting cache of the day was "Listening for Nora's Ghost", a Garmin Chirp cache. Until that day, I'd never used the Chirp receiver in my Garmin 62s because chirp caches are so rare. Chirp is a wireless beacon placed out in the field. For this cache, the description had directions on where to go, starting from the given coordinates, to find the beacon. When I got close enough to the beacon, my handheld GPS picked up the info and then it was just a bit farther to the physical cache.

Saturday's trip was to Mt Holly. Most of the new geocaches in that area were pretty straightforward, except for the multi and mystery caches in Historic Smithville, but it was just an additional step for each. Mill Dam Park was a nice stop at the beginning of the day.

Sunday was the big day for the weekend. I'd planned to walk an 8-mile round trip on the Union Transportation Trail to get 33 geocaches. Fortunately, despite the time of year, it wasn't as cold as I thought so the walk was quite doable. Midway through the walk, I ran into SanMar, geocachers from South Jersey. So we joined forces and finished the remaining caches. Remarkably, there was still daylight after we were done, so I got a bunch more geocaches around Cream Ridge and New Egypt before heading off to dinner.

The caches...Collapse )

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Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

1:50 am - Christmas Weekend
The weather was really strange over the 4-day weekend. It was 60 to 70°F and rainy. Thursday had the most rain, so I decided not to get too far from home. Fortunately, there are always nearby geocaches I'd saved for... a rainy day. After finishing the caches around Newark and Pike Creek, the next stops were in Kennett Square and Downingtown.

Christmas Day was a good time to continue exploring up the southwest side of New Jersey, through Cherry Hill, Burlington, Bordentown, and Chesterfield. There were a number of caches in the "Stay and Play Awhile" series that I had no idea why I skipped on previous trips up this way that turned out to be easy. It's likely that I simply didn't think those were doable during the Summer because caches in that series are all near playgrounds. The most interesting find of the day was an old car in the woods in the Ramblewood area. It's in an estate that was turned into public land. For some reason, they removed the house but not the car.

Saturday's trip was more of the same area, in Mount Holly, Chesterfield, and up to East Windsor. Finished off the remainder of the "Stay and Play Awhile" series in Mt. Holly. Also got the "Frogger" series, plus the bonus cache "Squish!"

Sunday's trip was to Upper Merion, Lower/Upper Gwynedd, and Hatfield to get some of the newest caches up that way. The most interesting part of the day though was a stop at the Nor-view Farm in Upper Merion for the Big Chicken. Although a public park, the place is run as a farm with horses, goats, and ponies.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015

10:22 pm - Delaware Christmas Caches, South Jersey (Mansfield, Cookstown)
Saturday's trip was to Central and Southern Delaware for two sets of Christmas-themed geocaches. On the way, there was a geocache site next to Frightland, where I saw the skull silo and downed jet. I haven't been to this haunted house attraction before but the downed jet was always an odd thing to see from the highway. The first set of Christmas caches was in Smyrna. There were 10 caches, one for each reindeer and one for Santa Claus himself. All were pretty straightforward. Then there was another set of caches down by Ellendale, including "Fa-la-la-la-la", "Christmas goose", and "Holly Jolly Christmas".

The only real problem of the day was an encounter with two crazy rednecks, a few miles outside of Bridgeville, who apparently didn't like people parking by the side of the road to look for the cache. I'm guessing that was the reason since I wasn't on private property and they didn't actually say what was wrong. My experience with such encounters told me to not escalate the situation and they'll go away after a few minutes, which is pretty much what happened. Aside from that problem though, the day went pretty well. Dinner that night was at the shiny, new Panda Express in Dover. I wasn't even planning to go there but I happened to see it while driving up US-13 and remembered that I had an online coupon. What's funny is I only just got a cookie fortune the previous night that said, "you will meet a panda". Who knew it was prophetic and actually referring to Panda Express? :)

Sunday's trip was to the Florence / Mansfield area in South Jersey to continue where I stopped the previous weekend. "The New Rules Almost Killed Us" series of caches was pretty humorous. Each one was at a cemetery and anyone who dealt with the new NJ State Parks policy would understand the reference. Most of the afternoon was spent around the Mansfield, Cookstown, and New Egypt area. I hadn't been to that pocket of New Jersey in years, so there were quite a lot of caches I hadn't found yet and it'll be worth another trip or two.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

1:45 am - All South Jersey weekend
Hit South Jersey twice this weekend, although in a different direction each day. Saturday's trip was to Elmer, Buena, Vineland, and Millville. This area was actually pretty scenic, with lakes, ponds, rivers, and unexpected things.

Sunday's trip was to the northeast, towards Florence for the "Fall Get Together 2015" geocaching event at the pizzeria downtown. Got a number of geocaches in Pennsauken, Delran, Willingboro, and Columbus, along the way. The best part of the day was a walk around Amico Island for the 4 out of 6 geocaches that were findable. It's actually a peninsula now because a strip of land connects it to the mainland, so I didn't need a boat to get there. A wide trail loops around the park.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

9:21 pm - Baltimore area, South Jersey
Geocaching trips get shorter and shorter this time of the year because of lack of daylight. On the plus side, there's more time for dinner. Saturday's trip took me down from Newark to Aberdeen, Edgewood, White Marsh, Hunt Valley and Towson. The best view of the day was from the top of the hill at the Agriculture Center and Farm Park, but the sun was already setting so there was only time after that for a few urban caches near Towson University.

Sunday's trip was into South Jersey, through Glassboro, Stratford, Berlin and Marlton, mostly picking up some caches that I'd passed by previously. Schadler's Pond was nice.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

4:57 pm - Thanksgiving Weekend (including Lancaster LXVI)
Mostly hung around my home region on this four-day weekend because unlike last year, I didn't see a reason to travel out. One thing this allowed me to do was snag a few choice deals on Black Friday, although for the sake of sanity, I did avoid the shopping areas late Thursday evening and Friday morning. It seems to be the one time of the year the mall parking lot is packed all the way to the edges!

Thursday's and Friday's trips were a return to South Jersey, around Greenwich, Woodbury, Mantua, Sicklerville, Erial, Haddonfield, and Berlin. The Riverfront Trail was very quiet Thanksgiving morning. There was a dragonfly geocache and an alligator geocache, and Haddonfield had some cute tile art.

Saturday's trip was to Lancaster. Route 41 was still closed for bridge repair but this time, the detour route had new geocaches. One interesting thing is of the day's cache list, 6 caches had titles in Ukrainian and 1 cache was Chinese. The area has gone mutlicultural! :) The only issue was my automotive GPS couldn't render those characters, but I could still search for those by GC code.

Sunday's trip was mostly close to home, around Chester County and parts of northwest Philadelphia. Best view of the day was from the top of a cliff down to a lake in East Whiteland, at "Acapulco, No Diving". I also wondered why the Willistown seal, which I saw at a park entrance, had a fox head, but an old news article has the answer.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

5:27 pm - Return to South Jersey, Bensalem/Newtown
I hadn't been to South Jersey much since the State Parks geocaching policy debacle earlier this year because I was waiting to see what the impact would be and truth be told, I wasn't fond of the way it was handled. However, months later, I see nothing much has changed. Many caches remain out in WMAs and state parks, and some New Jersey geocachers have been placing new caches, although mostly not in state areas. So a trip to South Jersey was warranted. This time I went to Penns Grove, Logan Township, Greenwich, Williamstown, and Sicklerville. Best views of the day were at the inlet and floodgate in Greenwich.

Sunday's trip was to Bensalem to hit some new Taxman geocaches and then to Wrightstown for some older caches at the Middletown Grange that I could not seek previously because my last visit happened to fall during the weekend of the Middletown Grange Fair. I am not sure which other weekends they use the fairground but it was deserted this Sunday and parking was not a problem.

The caches...Collapse )

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Monday, November 16th, 2015

5:30 pm - Newark, Perry Hall, Audubon, Horsham
Saturday's trip was first to Newark for some new geocaches and then to Perry Hall and Edgewood, in the northeast Baltimore area. Sunday's trip was to Audubon, the Gwynedds, Horsham, and then Abington. This is the time of year when the days are short and geocaching activity slows down. That doesn't mean there aren't any caches to find. It's a good opportunity to go back over the map and pick out the caches that I couldn't do over the summer because it was too hot and humid to hike or because the park was too busy. Indeed, Lukens Park in Horsham, which was packed every Summer weekend, was very quiet this Sunday and I was able to get in quickly and find the cache. And walking to "Hundred Aching Feet Woods" and "Get Low at Windlestrae", in Windlestrae Park, is pleasant when it is 60°F instead of 90°F.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

5:17 pm - Morgantown, Reading, Lancaster LXV
Saturday's trip was northwest to Morgantown and Reading since I'd solved some puzzle caches up that way and wanted to log the physical caches. One nice thing about heading out that way on Saturday was the libraries were open for at least part of the day and I was able to get two library geocaches. Both of them, "What the Dewey" and "Bear Tales The Sequel", were set up similarly, with a Dewey call number outside the library and a hollowed-out book placed on a shelf in the library, among the other books. Other noteworthy items seen on Saturday were the Bondsville Mill ruins and an eyeball. (really a nicely-painted Halloween pumpkin)

Sunday's trip was to Lancaster County. One major problem there was the Route 41 closure. This road closure forced such a long detour that I don't think it's a good idea to take any more trips that way until the bridge reconstruction is completed. Anyway, this trip focused on Southern Lancaster County, mostly around Strasburg, Willow Grove, Quarryville, and Fulton. Among the various sites I visited was Robert Fulton's birthplace. He was an 18th century inventor and engineer who developed a commercial steamboat. I am still wondering about the soap on a rope in the tree though. Several of those were in Lancaster County Central Park and may or may not have something to do with the memorial under that tree.

The caches...Collapse )

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Thursday, November 5th, 2015

2:00 am - Furpocalypse 2015
This past weekend was my annual trip to the Crowne Plaza in Cromwell, CT, for Furpocalypse. I've had mixed feelings about this con, and FurFright before that, for a number of years, but still kept attending, probably out of force of habit. Furpocalypse seems to be having a tough time setting itself apart from the legacy of Furfright but I see they have made numerous small changes: making the registration line go the other way, new security, more pizza, fursuiter tags, new hosts for the quiz hour, and probably lots of other little things I didn't notice. I thought the con itself was just fine this time around and if I didn't do as much there as I'd intended, it was my problem for not pushing myself hard enough to do those things.

The problem this time was I wasn't too fond of the hotel. The Crowne Plaza has lots of problems, The first night, when I tried to check-in, the front desk staff, who seemed to be a bit lacking in training, took a long time trying to look for my reservation on the computer and had to call someone else to help. Then JBadger and I noticed that the room keys demagnetized rather rapidly by themselves. The keys didn't last two days before failing to open the door, so it was annoying having to go to the front desk multiple times during our stay to have them redo the keys. And finally, the layout of the hotel is downright confusing, although by the end of the con, I started to remember some useful shortcuts to get down to the lobby from the room. The other problem is I'm again noticing some rudeness among con attendees. Aside from the loud expletives that I heard here and there in con space, which I try to tune out anyway, I saw people rushing into the elevator before anyone inside had a chance to exit. What's the deal with that? I saw that happen a number of times, although not as much towards the end of the con. On the plus side, getting drunk-groped and drunk-clinged while I was in fursuit only happened once this time.

But enough ranting. At this con, I attended the usual events: fursuit parade, fursuit games, Saturday Morning Cartoons panel. I watched a movie (Guardians of the Galaxy), which is a change from past years when I typically ignored the movie room. And I attended the "Being a Good Social Potato" panel, which I assumed from the panel description would be a workshop on socializing better, but somehow it turned into a rant-fest on certain types of annoying people in fandom. But it was a fun panel nevertheless. I was also in two fursuit music videos by chance because I was in fursuit in the main hallway when they were asking around for participants. Aside from con stuff, I also took a few trips with JBadger outside the hotel for meals, geocaches, and Munzees. So it was a pretty full weekend with a variety of activities. Only slight regret was I fell asleep early and missed the night dances, but I certainly can't do everything.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

9:25 pm - Another Taxman run, corner of Berks
Saturday's trip was another run for mostly Taxman geocaches in Ambler, Horsham, Hatboro, Southampton, and Northampton. Sunday's trip was to a new area, up through Pottstown, Boyertown, Earl and Oley. I'd been up as far as Boyertown before, so the part that was new to me was westwards towards Oley. I was surprised at the pace of development in that area. Seems like a bunch of strip malls and a new Wawa store have sprung up since the last time I went that way.

The weekend was almost the best part of autumn. There were a lot of fall colors, such as around the hidden lake in Upper Pottsgrove and in an office parking lot in Warminster. Also, temperatures had gone low enough that one would not work up a sweat hiking on some of the longer trails.

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