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Monday, January 9th, 2017

1:07 pm - Snow weekend - DelCo, Plymouth Meeting, North Wales, Lower Providence, Franconia, Perkasie
It was snowing lightly on Saturday morning but there was enough time to get a few geocaches and take a short walk on a snowy bike path in Brookhaven before the heavier stuff started coming down.

By Sunday, the snow had stopped. Roads were okay, although most parking areas hadn't been cleared. I figured a thin layer of snow would not shut down most park parking areas, so I hit the cache factory area. (Plymouth Meeting, Lower Providence, North Wales, Franconia, and Perkasie this time) Didn't have many caches on the list -- mostly a bunch of new caches and a few that I skipped over or could not find on previous trips -- but winter conditions didn't really allow for a lot of driving around. Since temperatures had been in the 20s and below for a while, there were a lot of ice cascades but hopefully no dootie. "anatidaephobia" was one that I couldn't find previously because it was missing. I made another attempt since it's in the same park as one of the new caches. Thank goodness it was findable this time despite being at ground level and very small. That spot happened to be on the side of the log with less snow.

The caches...Collapse )

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Monday, January 2nd, 2017

1:24 pm - New Year's Weekend
New Year's Eve and New Year's Day fall on the weekend this time but I had Friday off too. Friday's trip was to Lancaster County since I hadn't been there in a while. Tried to get a few more geocaches on the Manheim and Mount Joy side of the county since I'd skipped those on previous trips. The most interesting location was the circle of rocks, like a small Stonehenge, in Manheim.

Saturday's trip was first to Morgantown, to finish the "Morgantown Overlook" multi-cache. I got the first 3 stages last weekend but I could not complete it then because it got dark. After that, I hit the Reading, Leesport, and Lenhartsville areas with a stop in the oddly-named Virginville. For the day, there were some unusual caches and a mysterious stone artifact.

And finally, Sunday's outing was to Hammonton, Egg Harbor City, Laureldale, and Mays Landing in South Jersey. I hadn't been to that area in quite a long time so there were lots of new caches. The view of Lake Lenape in Mays Landing was pretty clear on a winter's day.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

9:30 pm - Christmas Weekend - Cache Factory Area, Horseshoe Trail, French Creek, Hot Chocolate Flash Mob
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day fell on a weekend this year but I took Monday off to make it a 3-day weekend. Saturday's trip was to the area around Norristown, Lower/Upper Gwynedd, North Wales, and Colmar, where remarkably, there was still quite a bit of cache placement activity going on. The "phobia" series of caches was once again entertaining and disturbing, as one can see from this baby head, which was the "Pediophobia" cache. Since my itinerary wasn't too packed, I took a chance to do the two mile-long hikes on either side of the Gwynedd Nature Preserve.

Sunday's trip started with a long hike on the Horseshoe Trail for 9 geocaches. After that, I went to French Creek State Park, which I'd never visited before, for JQ004 - French Creek, a 15-year-old cache! It's in remarkably good shape despite its age. Just a bit rusty along the edges. Handheld GPSes weren't as good back then so the original coordinates were somewhat off. Fortunately, someone posted better coordinates in a recent cache log and I used those to cut down the search.

On Monday, I hit the areas to the North and Northeast of Baltimore again to get some caches that I hadn't had time for on previous trips. I visited the Jerusalem Mill section of Gunpowder Falls State Park, where the covered bridge stands. Elsewhere, in Parkville, there were a few neat caches, like Leaping Lizards. (although leaping was not recommended because it's up on a wall) In the evening, I went to the "Aint The Chocolate Hot Flash Mob # 8 Straight!" geocaching event at the Hunt Valley Towne Centre. It's an annual event but this is the first time I attended. Although it's an outdoor event during the winter, it was kind of nice by the fireplace and holiday light decorations.

The caches...Collapse )

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Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

9:04 pm - Local and Long Neck
Saturday morning's weather was ice pellets followed by rain. It's the kind of weather that didn't encourage traveling out too far, so I stayed local and geocached around Middletown, Odessa, and Wilmington. The last cache, "Not Your Typical History Lesson", was a 17-stage multi in a cemetery near downtown Wilmington. It was the perfect day to get that done since I had the whole afternoon for it and walking around a cemetery with an umbrella is no problem. The only issue was I had to brush some ice off of some of the tombs to get the information, but once I had the numbers from the first 16 stages, the final stage was an easy find.

On Sunday, I took a trip out farther to Southern Delaware to get some caches in an area I didn't get a chance to check out on my last few trips there. I got a few caches in Georgetown, more in Long Neck, and a half dozen in Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island to end the day.

The caches...Collapse )

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Monday, December 12th, 2016

6:00 pm - Christmas Coffee Cup Clash / NJ Christmunz Party and NE Baltimore
Saturday was a big day because I had a combined geocaching and Munzee event in Allentown, NJ. The geocaching event was "Christmas Coffee Cup Clash" and the Munzee event was "NJ Christmunz Party". Both were held at the same time in the NJ Fire Museum office. The museum wasn't actually open for visitors yet but we had permission to enter and view the exhibits during the event. They have antique teletype equipment on display in the office and vintage fire trucks in the barn. Anyway, I've been to lots of geocaching events before but this was my first Munzee event. Munzee took center stage this time. There were a lot of codes to capture in the building and out on the museum grounds. There was also an Eventzee scavenger hunt. It was a cold day so thankfully most of the scavenger hunt items were available in the fire museum office.

After the event, I went geocaching in Crosswicks, Wrightstown, Cookstown, and New Egypt. The area is mostly small towns and countryside. Fortunately, there wasn't any hunting going on at the Crosswicks Greenway, so I was able to take a walk around the pond. There were also cows in Cookstown and hairy tree lumps in New Egypt.

Sunday's trip was to Glasgow, Edgewood, Middle River, Rosedale, Overlea, Parkville, and Towson, going from Northeast Baltimore to North Baltimore. I'd been to the area not so long ago but there were enough caches that I wasn't able to get to on previous trips to make a full day. Now that the foliage is down, it was the perfect opportunity to go for "Clayton Road Park Bushwack". There were a few other wooded areas that were dense and would've been a problem in the summer too. "Carmaggedon" was the interesting cache site of the day. It's at the top of a parking garage in Towson with free parking. Hardly anyone uses that parking garage on the weekend so it was fun to drive round and round all the way up.

The caches...Collapse )

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Monday, December 5th, 2016

3:32 pm - Northern Edge, Lake Towhee, Memory Lane
Saturday's geocache outing was to Exeter, Fleetwood, Lyons, Bowers, Topton, Maxatawny, and Breinigsville, pretty much at the Northern edge of my range. (for now) The caches were all rather conventional, except for the cat and the ten commandments tablet. What's amazing about this area is the way some caches don't get stolen even if one might think those are way too obvious. "Falling Forrest", for instance, is a regular-sized cache that is near a road, just sitting on the grass in an open area. There are notes in the log book from people who have found it by accident.

Sunday's trip was to Quakertown, with the intention of hitting Lake Towhee and Memory Lane. (SGL 157) Geocaching around Lake Towhee was somewhat of a dud. I noticed that the first few geocaches were not in hiding spots that the coordinates, hints, and log entries all clearly pointed to. I tried all the other caches around the lake and they were likewise not to be found. It looked like the work of someone who had a vendetta against this particular cache owner because I did find one cache placed by someone else that was still safely in place. After that, I moved on to State Game Lands 157 and had better luck there. It's the area that Taxman calls Memory Lane because he used to go hunting and target shooting there in his younger days. Now, he has a bunch of caches there.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

6:12 pm - Thanksgiving Weekend - The 4-Days 4-Directions Tour
I had a 4-day weekend. This time, I decided to go a different direction each day even though I thought some areas had enough for more than a day of geocaching. So there was a variety of environments, terrain, and geocache placement styles. Common thread throughout the weekend is there wasn't enough daylight to do more than the quickest, simplest caches but I mixed in some short and medium hikes in places where there were several caches along the same trail.

Thursday's trip was southwest to Maryland via US-1 to Rising Sun, Bel Air, and Jacksonville. The donut was an unusual character. The hike of the day was in the Sweet Air section of Gunpowder State Park. This area had two challenge caches. I had doubts about one of the two (difficulty/terrain grid bingo) but it turned out that I qualified in 3 different ways. I ran short of daylight on this one and wasn't able to get to the mystery caches in the deepest part of the woods, so maybe next time.

Friday's trip was southeast to South Jersey in the areas of Woodstown, Franklin, Sicklerville, and Williamstown. The hike of the day was at Owens Park in Monroe Township. It had been renamed "Mystery Park" and now sports a series of 7 puzzle caches. None of those puzzles were difficult but it's nice to have some non-traditional caches.

Saturday's trip was northwest to Pottstown, Sanatoga, Pottsgrove, and Amityville. I noticed that cachers in this area have started placing tricky caches, but fortunately I've seen those tricks before. Only the first one took longer to find because I didn't expect that kind of hide in the Pottstown area. Experience is not always helpful. You may have seen it before but you still figure out somehow that it's what you need to look for.

Sunday's trip was northeast to North Wales, Doylestown, and Quakertown. The hike of the day was in Covered Bridge Park, New Britain, for a group of 3 caches. I did also make it to Peace Valley Park, but it was late in the afternoon by then so I had to limit my scope to 3 caches that weren't far from two of the parking areas.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

1:34 am - Honey Brook, East Earl and Shady Maple; Florence
Saturday was the day I tackled the group of 10 geocaches in Birch Run Preserve in the Coatesville area. The first cache nearest the parking area was "Barkley's First Shed", a Wherigo. I figured the Wherigo cartridge would take me pretty much all over the park, so I kept that running while I found the other caches along the way. Incidentally, "shed" here refers to a cast off deer antler, not a small storage structure. Barkley is a dog so until I got partway through the cartridge and saw that the shed was a deer antler, I was wondering what he wanted with a wooden hut! Anyway, doing both the regular geocaches and the Wherigo at the same time worked beautifully, even if I had to make two big detours for geocaches that were somewhat off from the main trail. All in all, the whole hike took about two hours, leaving plenty of time to get more geocaches around Honey Brook, Narvon, East Earl and New Holland before it got dark.

The last stop of the day and dinner was at Shady Maple Smorgasbord in East Earl. Shady Maple is the biggest buffet hall in the area and I'd always been intrigued by this enormous building, a Mecca of Overeating, that rises above the Amish countryside. I felt that I had to experience it at least once and since I was in the area, I went in. The place was packed! There were lines of people, like at an amusement park, just waiting to check in to the buffet. Past the cash registers, it was an old-time affair with curious dioramas and 3-D paintings. Shady Maple boasts of 200 feet of food but it's actually 100 feet of food repeated twice. The first 100 feet of buffet tables is a mirror image of the other 100 feet. I preferred the grilling stations though. I thought the crab cakes were the best but I sampled the seafood and meats from all the grilling stations. Of course, I saved some room for salad (with bacon dressing!) and dessert, which was ice cream cake! Anyway, I thought it was a worthwhile experience but maybe next time, avoid going there on a Saturday evening. I was told that the crowd isn't as bad on other nights.

Sunday's plan was fairly simple. I went geocaching up the New Jersey side of the Delaware River, through Pennsauken, Riverside, Palmyra, Willingboro, and Burlington, towards Florence, where I would end the day at the "Fall Get Together 2016" geocaching event. There was some good river scenery and a nice visit to the Palmyra Cove Nature Center along the way.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

2:45 am - Half of the Longest Geocache
After finishing off a few new geocaches in Pike Creek and Hockessin on Saturday, I went to Kennett Square, Marlborough, Unionville, Downingtown, and West Brandywine, generally heading northwards through Chester County. I hadn't been up that way in a while and so I took the opportunity to finally get some of those caches that were placed for an event months ago that I didn't attend. I also finally finished a few Wherigo caches. "Poker Run #2 2016" was one that I only noticed that day, but I downloaded the Wherigo cartridge using mobile data and it was a quick solve. (Only one question about poker hands!) "MEET EAT & GREET" was a far more difficult Wherigo but I'd already solved it 6 months ago and still had the coordinates and notes I needed to find the cache. Although the area is hilly, there were a number of scenic ponds and lakes, such as Broad Run Pond and Chambers Lake.

The real purpose of Sunday's trip was to get "Halfway! (to Delaware's Longest Geocache)" in Central Delaware. It's a long walk on an old road out into a marsh. I found Delaware's Longest Geocache a few years ago and that was 2.6 miles from parking, so halfway would be roughly 1.3 miles. There were two other caches along the way but for the most part, it was a long walk in a quiet area with a bit of variation in scenery. Aside from that, I also found clusters of geocaches in Glasgow, Milford, and Seaford. The caches down by Seaford were somewhat amusing. There was a wolf geocache, a rat cache, a pumpkin cache, and a cache on a giant chair.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

2:24 am - GIFF Screening, Essex / Dundalk / North Point, Warminster / Newtown / Yardley
On Saturday, the plan was to head down towards the Dundalk area to attend a GIFF Screening event for this year's GIFF souvenir. I actually went quite a bit farther to North Point State Park and Sparrows Point before turning back around for the event. Originally, I thought it was going to be a backyard screening but the event was actually in a geocacher's living room, which was a better idea since it got cold in the evening. So I met a few local cachers. We sat and talked geocaching for a bit, but I didn't have time to stay to the end.

Sunday's trip was to Ambler, then Willow Grove and Warminster. The geocaching wasn't so good in that area, so I decided to switch things around and capture the Munzee trail in Warminster Community Park. It was a bike path with over 50 Munzees and 1 geocache along the way. After that, I picked a few more geocaches in Newtown and Yardley to get before dinner. One that I was surprised to find was "Not For Kiwi Birds" in the Newtown area. It was damaged and hadn't been maintained or visited in a while. I didn't think I was likely to find anything but gave it a shot anyway. After some diligent poking around, I noticed the attachment wire lying on the ground near a tree. Then it took more sweeping of the leaves in the vicinity before I recovered the small container. I'm not sure this kind of needle-in-the-haystack search is ever worth doing but I'm glad to be done with it.

The caches...Collapse )

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Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

3:59 pm - Metro Gathering 2016
This weekend, I went to Northern New Jersey for Metro Gathering 2016, a geocaching mega event. (A mega-event is an event with at least 500 attendees.) Just like the previous year, there was an overlap between a furry con and this mega event. Last year though, FA United and Metro Gathering were both in the same general area so I was able to attend both. That's not possible this year, since Furpocalypse, the furry con happening this weekend, is much farther away in Connecticut. I had to pick one and Metro Gathering was it because I've already had enough furry cons this year. Hopefully next year, there won't be an event conflict.

There were actually two events. The "Pre~Metro Gathering Mega Meet and Greet" was held the night before at the Mt. Allamuchy Scout Reservation. It was a pot-luck dinner, with the addition of Halloween candy and some spooky food items. Saturday was the day of the main event at Waterloo Village. Since it's the Halloween weekend they had a "haunted village" theme. The sign-in log was a skeleton. There was a spider lair, a bat cache, and a werewolf, among other things. It was also an opportunity to see some interesting gadget caches that were on display. Also, a large bison tube was at the entrance. After finishing the caches in the village and chatting with some of my friends, I went for a hike along the Morris Canal Greenway and in Stephens State Park to get a series of caches that was placed for the event. All in all, it was quite a day!

Aside from attending the pre-mega and mega events, I also took the opportunity to find caches around Hackettstown, Rockaway, Dover, Denville, Ledgewood, Wharton, Succasunna, and Roxbury. Cache sites ranged from suburban and downtown areas to fishing areas and streams in the countryside. In addition, I hit the Bridgewater / South Plainfield / Piscataway area both on the way there and on the way home.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

1:44 am - Perry Hall again, Northeast Philly
Another week goes by and another group of geocaches appear in the Perry Hall area. So on Saturday, I went for those. Also went a bit farther to Lutherville, Hunt Valley, and Jacksonville, where at least a few geocaches were outside of the urban sprawl, for a change of pace. Placing geocaches high up on lamp posts and signs is becoming a trend in the area. "Wrong Way, SubPar" and "Snowplowing the ManBear" were both placed that way. Fortunately, I didn't need a ladder this time. With a bit of work, I was able to get both of those down with a walking stick. "Key Lime Pie" was the best cache of the day. It's a two-stage multicache in which one has to find the lime, with attached key, and take the lime over to the pie to unlock it.

Sunday's trip was to Philadelphia, Northeast Philadelphia, and then Bensalem, Langhorne, and Levittown. It's not my favorite area but enough time has passed that there are lots of new caches around. First, I made a visit to Pier 68, one of the piers in the city that has been turned into a park. Later, there was an ampersand bench at another river view. The Veterans Memorial Park was nice too.

The problem with the Levittown / Oxford Valley area appears to be cache theft. I read the cache logs and noticed a number of notes about caches getting stolen and replaced a bunch of times. I tried to find a bunch of geocaches in that area anyway. Some were still there but I had no idea about the others. I logged my DNFs and by the next day, I saw that the cache owner had archived some of the missing caches. This is not the first time I've seen this problem. Sadly, nothing much can be done except wait for the cache thief to get tired of stealing caches. Thankfully, it seems to be fairly localized to a small area.

The caches...Collapse )

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Monday, October 17th, 2016

6:10 pm - Perry Hall again, Eagleville, Ambler, Willow Grove
Last weekend, I could see the "Just An LPC Cache" geocache in Perry Hall but couldn't retrieve it because it was very high up on a lamp post. On Saturday, I returned with a ladder. It was still somewhat out of reach but with a walking stick, I was able to slowly slide it down until I could get it.

Sunday's trip was to Eagleville, Skippack, Ambler, Horsham, Willow Grove, and Abington to get most of the recently placed geocaches in the "cache factory" area. One series of geocaches was all about the phobias: Swinophobia, Taurophobia, Musophobia, and Chiroptophobia, which would be the fear of pigs, cows, mice/rats, and bats, respectively. The last one had an interesting placement. The "bat cave" was a hollow tree and one had to crawl into a tree hole at the base and stand up inside the tree to retrieve the bat. So it was essential to bring a flashlight for this one. The last interesting find of the day was a dragon sculpture in the middle of the woods of High School Park in Cheltenham.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

2:11 am - White Marsh, Pottstown Earthcache
It rained almost the whole day on Saturday but geocaches around the shopping and residential areas in White Marsh and Perry Hall were still doable without getting too messy. Not all mall parking lot geocaches are easy though. There were at least 3 for which I'll have to return with a ladder. One was about 30 feet up a lamp post and two more were high up in trees. Among the ones I did get, "It's all connected" was the most unusual cache container. It's tricky but the dead giveaway was it wasn't part of the fence on which it was hooked.

Sunday was International Earthcache Day. Rather than finding a physical cache container, you log an earthcache by visiting a site and answering some questions about the geology of that location. I knew there was an earthcache near Pottstown that I hadn't done, so I went to Ringing Rocks Park. The boulders in this area have an interesting characteristic. When struck with a hammer, some of them will produce a ringing sound like a bell. Not all the rocks rang though. I had better results near the center of the rock field and with some of the flatter slab-like boulders. The unusual cache of the day was Message in a Bottle. I thought that was pretty neat. I'd be concerned about a fragile glass container out in the woods, but the cache was located in a safe enclosed spot in a gazebo so hopefully it'll last.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

12:28 pm - FSC completion
Took another two trips to Southern Delaware to finish the First State Challenge. I actually only needed 8 geocaches to qualify, so it may have been possible to get them all in a day. But I thought it would be a better idea to take my time and get some of the other geocaches and Munzees down that way and spread it out over the weekend.

So Saturday's trip was to the western side of Sussex County: Bridgeville, Seaford, Trap Pond and Dagsboro. There were some well-crafted caches, such as this birdhouse geocache, which looks like one of the nearby church buildings. I also saw the gratitude boxcar, a gift from the French for aid during World War II. And there was the No Trespassing House, which is probably not a tour site. :)

Sunday's trip was down the east side of Sussex County to Lewes, Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, and Ocean View, with stops at Cape Henlopen State Park, the Wolfe House, and the Indian River Lifesaving Station. The last cache of the FSC was at James Farm in Ocean View. While I was there, I also found "FSC-2015 James Farm" from last year's FSC. I skipped that one last year because I didn't need all the caches to qualify for challenge completion but it's good to finally complete that set too. Last stop of the day before dinner was a visit to the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk. It's the off-season but there were still some stores and restaurants open. The advantages of visiting now are parking is free and the town is a lot less crowded.

The caches...Collapse )

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