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Monday, June 29th, 2015

3:00 pm - Verizon Fallen Cable Kafkaesque Adventures, Northeast Baltimore
Didn't go out on Saturday, until that night, because the weather looked bad, with flood warnings and all the trimmings. Also, I had an appointment with Verizon to get a fallen cable removed from my backyard. No Verizon field tech showed up on Saturday because it's Verizon. They didn't keep an appointment 6 years ago when I tried to order DSL, so why would they start keeping appointments now? I wasn't going to stay home on Sunday too, so I told them I'd leave the gate unlocked and the field tech can come by any time and remove the fallen cable. Sunday night, when I got home, the fallen cable was still there. Funny thing is I got a notification from Verizon that they have removed the cable. So field techs lie in their job reports?

On Monday, I sent pictures of the fallen cable on the ground, with one end still hanging from a Verizon box on my house and the other end hanging from the utility pole, to Verizon Twitter support. I got transferred to Verizon Live Chat, where support insisted that they'd actually removed the cable. After some back and forth, there was no further response from Live Chat support and the session timed out. So we're back to square one. Whatever. I'll deal with the fallen cable myself, either by chopping it up myself or propping it up on a tree branch. I was simply letting Verizon know, in case they wanted to help with the problem, but they don't seem interested.

My parents are staying at my place for a while, so on Sunday, I took them geocaching in northeast Baltimore, Towson, and Garrison. We went to a lot of cache sites, including some parks, a cemetery, some urban mall and shopping areas, and a historic octagonal bathhouse. They helped a lot at finding some of those urban cache hides, especially those difficult cache hides where multiple people looking from different angles can really cut down the search time. However, I got most of the caches where one had to hike out a bit farther from parking on my own, since they are still recovering from that long and terrible plane ride.

The caches...Collapse )

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Monday, June 22nd, 2015

10:03 pm - York XIV, DelCo
I think a reasonable daytrip would be capped at around 100 miles from home. York Township is already at the 80-mile point, so there isn't much new geocaching territory left. So on Saturday, I thought I'd revisit Southeastern York and take a stab at geocaches that I'd skipped previously for various reasons and also geocaches that were confirmed missing and replaced. Also, there was a collection of puzzle caches around Red Lion that I solved since my last trip there. It was a mixed day. Some caches really were difficult. Others were difficult but I knew the tricks. "The river view 2" had 6 DNF logs in a row. After looking around for a while, I figured it was not in the obvious spot where the last six visitors were probably focused on. Sure enough, it was actually a bit beyond the wooden posts and bush at ground zero, and not in a spot that stood out. "The Cybermen", which also has a few DNFs, is tough to access in the summer but I saw it among the undergrowth.

"Ma & Pa Heritage Railroad Village Cache" was the most interesting location of the day. Obviously, permission had been granted for the geocache because it was placed inside one of the historic buildings and the trick was to figure out what I could actually open, once I was in there, to reveal it. Anyway, some tourists came by just as I was almost done with the cache. I talked to them and told them plainly that I was putting the geocache back in place. They didn't question it. They just looked at some of the antique stuff in there and shuffled off to the next building, so they might've simply assumed I was doing maintenance work.

On Sunday, I went to Marple, Springfield, Radnor, and then farther north to West Norriton and Center Square. I was again going for a mix of caches I skipped over or couldn't find previously and some new ones. "The Brotherhood catapult" was a challenging one. It's in a tree branch overhanging a parking lot. Many cachers mentioned using a tool or parking under the cache (and standing on the car) to retrieve it, but I decided to try just pulling on the branch, starting from near the trunk. To my surprise, the tree branch wasn't as stiff as I thought. I gave it a tug and followed the branch hand-over-hand towards the cache. When I was done with the cache, I released the branch and it sprang back to its original position. I've seen this kind of cache placement a lot on young pine trees in the pine barrens, so the only surprise here is I was able to use the same retrieval technique on a non-pine tree. "The Willows Two-Step: Step 1" was a cache I couldn't find years ago because of poor GPS reception in the thick woods. I revisited the cache site and had the same problem again. However, the new hint helped and after criss-crossing the area for a while, I stumbled across the cache.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

12:52 am - Harrisburg, WWFM XII, York XIII, Primanti Bros York
Saturday was the day of World Wide Flash Mob XII, where there are geocaching events all around the world at the same time. (Actually, I noticed that some WWFM events were at times other than 1pm EDT, but I just picked one.) This time, I chose the flash mob event at Penbrook Park in Harrisburg, reasoning that I'd have time to get some geocaches along the way there. I was actually a bit early so I helped with the setup. Then it began. The theme for this one was "Bring Your Hat", so I had my fox hat on. After that, I went geocaching around Eastern Harrisburg, Swatara, and Penbrook. Most of those geocaches were fairly straightforward, although there were a few with a bit of a twist and some creative ones.

Sunday began with a bit of catch-and-release at Goddard Park in West Grove. The cache page had a short poem to help you figure out how it was placed, but I didn't figure out the clues until I actually saw it out in the pond. I doubt it'll last long though. The plastic container is not watertight enough and had already taken in some water. Still, it was fun. After that, I hit a bunch of geocaches around Lancaster before heading to my actual destinations in Northern York County. Newberry and Lewisberry had a fair number of urban cache hides because of the built-up area near I-83, but I took a few short walks into the woods too. There was still time after that so I nipped over into Cumberland County to get a bunch of caches in New Cumberland. This town claims to maintain a small-town atmosphere despite being close to capitol city Harrisburg. I'm not so sure about that but it's a bit less busy than the part of Harrisburg I visited the day before.

That night, I headed back south to York to try the newest Primanti Bros location. This is a Pittsburgh-based restaurant chain that makes sandwiches where coleslaw and fries are stuffed into the sandwich. I first heard of them when Anthrocon moved to Pittsburgh and ever since I tried one, I'd been waiting for this chain to expand out my way. So I tried a Colossal Fish Sandwich, and yes, it really is just like the sandwiches at their Pittsburgh locations! At around 77 miles from home, York Primanti Bros is not quite in my area but I travel out that far for geocaching anyway so I definitely can return a bunch of times per year.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

10:55 pm - Lancaster LXII, Lancaster LXIII, and Hershey/Palmyra
Yippee! Another trip to Lancaster County. It was a day of scenery, gardens, frog, and ruins. Actually, the garden area, next to Donegal Presbyterian Church, had interesting history because that's the location of the Witness Tree, where Reverend McFarquhar and congregation vowed to join forces against the British in September of 1777, upon hearing news that the British army had left New York to invade Pennsylvania. Anyway, the Pastor Tom saw that I was getting information from the plaques and offered a short tour of the church. There are some unusual things about this church. The pews were made from window shutters donated by the community, an 18th-century example of recycling and also they couldn't get enough wood back then. Also, the bones of a horse are buried under the church. They found those while doing renovation work about 25 years ago.

On Sunday, I returned to the same area around Elizabethtown in Lancaster County for some geocaches in the Elizabethtown College area. It's kind of neat that they formed a geocaching club at this college. After that, I continued to Middletown and Swatara. I went for some geocaches along the Swatara Creek Trail before giving up because the area was rather overgrown with vegetation. So I pushed onwards into Hummelstown and Hershey. (I didn't really go to Clown Park but I thought the sign was funny.)

The caches...Collapse )

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Thursday, June 4th, 2015

2:56 am - Fur The 'More 2015
So this weekend, I attended Fur the 'More 2015. (I think I've had the apostrophe in the wrong place before but I checked the website this time!) It is strange that a convention whose name is a play on Baltimore was held in Tysons Corner, Virginia, this year, but I was assured that it was due to circumstances beyond their control and they're still looking to return to Baltimore eventually. However, I thought the new location was excellent! The Sheraton is right next to two building complexes with lots of restaurants and a Walmart. Because of the variety of food choices, both fast casual and sit-down, within walking distance, I didn't need to drive out anywhere the entire weekend. (although I heard that one group went out for tacos 20 miles away, which, for that much driving, had better be some pretty amazing tacos!) The hotel itself isn't so amazing though. Air conditioning was a tad weak for the lobby area, the layout was weird, and the elevator button panel on my floor was loose and ready to fall off if I looked at it wrong. This time, I shared a room with Panzer the cat and JBadger. (who joined us on Friday)

Wall of text!Collapse )

Overall, I thought Fur The 'More 2015 was an enjoyable convention and I plan to be there again next year. There were some issues here and there, but I don't expect perfection and I'm sure the con and the hotel will eventually fix those. What I like about this con is their willingness to add new ideas to the mix every year. This will ensure that it doesn't stagnate.

The caches...Collapse )

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Monday, May 25th, 2015

11:47 am - York XI - Hanover Finally, York XII, Lancaster LXXI, and the bad brake
On Saturday, I headed up towards Hanover again via I-83 from Baltimore. There were still a bunch of geocaches to do before getting to Hanover. Those were mostly in Codorus State Park, itself a notable destination judging by the crowd and the two wedding receptions that day. (While looking for a geocache near a parking area, I overheard someone giving directions: "Go down the road. You'll see a Wedding sign but that's not ours...") After that, the next stop was Hanover town. Finally! It was everything I expected. The HGT series of caches is the Hanover Geo Trail. It's placed in a style similar to the Spring Grove GeoTour and highlights historic and other notable sites around Hanover. I got most of those caches in a day, although there are still enough for another trip out to southwest York County.

On Sunday, before continuing on to York County, I hit some downtown Lancaster geocache sites. There were a bunch of caches near some interesting public art sculptures: the lion fountain (the cache was actually hidden in his... uhh... no-no spot. :) ), bronze kids and dog sculpture, and Silent Symphony. (kinetic sculpture that spins in the wind) After a few more caches around the Lancaster suburbs, I continued onwards to York County. I got up to York Haven when the right rear brake locked up and the wheel wouldn't move. Fortunately, the car was on a quiet street when that happened. So I left it there and took a walk around York Haven for a few geocaches before calling AAA for a tow back home. The tow truck driver suggested that simply disconnecting the brake line may release the brake.

The caches...Collapse )

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Monday, May 18th, 2015

4:52 pm - Still not getting to Hanover and the mascot gig that didn't happen
On Saturday, I still didn't quite get to Hanover, although I have to say that it's been fun not getting there and I've already found many times the number of geocaches in Hanover on the way. This time, I visited two areas. First was the White Marsh / Parkville / Towson / Hunt Valley area to pick up a few new geocaches since last week and get some others that I missed on last weekend's trip. Interesting cache sites included the one where I snuck up behind the Korean War Memorial Highway sign on Route 43 and another near a stone goose whose costume changes by the season. The weird cache in the collection was the zombie hand.

After that, I headed to northern Baltimore County to Parkton and Freeland. There were a number of creative and funny geocaches in that area too. The funniest one was the outhouse geocache. Which was occupied. Oops! :)

On Sunday, I went to Point Pleasant Beach to do a mascot gig for CFF Great Strides. Or attempted to do a mascot gig, rather. When I got there, I found that the event organizers did not have the key to the bandstand, which we were supposed to use as the changing area. No changing area meant no mascot gig because we can't just get into costume outside and we'd have nowhere to rest and cool off between sets. So we had to call it off. Oh well. Still, I had fun and danced, out of costume, to a few songs the DJ played. It's an outdoor party, after all.

There wasn't any point in staying to the end of the event so I left at around noon and went for Plan B. I hit a bunch of geocaches in Point Pleasant, Lakewood, Brick, and Toms River, focusing on the areas near Route 88. Got a decent number of geocaches before dinnertime despite fighting the Sunday shopping traffic along that corridor almost the whole time.

The caches...Collapse )

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Monday, May 11th, 2015

5:26 pm - York X: Southern York, North/Northeast Baltimore
This weekend was two days of not quite making it to Hanover, PA. Which is good because I need to make York County geocaches last a while longer so I don't keep going out farther and farther. On Saturday, I headed up through Maryland, first to Jarrettsville and then to Stewartstown, across the state line. The real treat though was Spring Valley County Park. It's a rough part of York County, full of unpaved roads, but the geocaches were good. A bit of a hike away from the parking area was a 13-year-old geocache, which is in surprisingly good condition. They don't hide those like they used to. Coordinates were rather soft, probably because those were read using a handheld GPSr from back in the day, but the cache was in a very likely spot so there wasn't an issue finding it. There was also a gnome house geocache. It's up a steep trail but worth the effort to see that.

On Sunday, I again planned to go to Hanover. However, when I took the White Marsh exit in Maryland, I saw that there were so many new geocaches since my last visit (I don't go to that area very often because of the $8 toll) that I decided to make a day of it. What's funny is geocachers here seem to love populating cemeteries with geocaches. I visited 3 cemeteries and quickly found all those caches, which were mostly short hops from cemetery roads.

I got my car back from the auto body shop on Friday, so it took only 3 days longer than the repair time estimate. It's like getting 1/3 of a new car since they had to replace quite a number of pieces in front that were damaged in the deer collision. I also noticed that they cleaned the interior and washed the floor mats, even though I didn't ask for that. So detailing must have been part of the repair package.

The caches...Collapse )

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Monday, May 4th, 2015

11:28 pm - Binky Lee, Abandoned Rails, Lawrenceville Jubilee
Since I had a mascot gig the next day, I decided not to venture out too far on Saturday. There were some single-park clusters of geocaches in Chester Springs and Phoenixville, which were good since I could park the rental car in one place and do a loop hike. The Binky Lee Preserve had the first set of caches. (BL series) It's a nice area with mostly grassy paths. Not all of the 14 geocaches there were easy, although with some effort, I found them all, plus a short centipede. Getting to the next set of caches proved a bit tricky because a street fair closed off half of Phoenixville and there was a closed bridge on the alternate route that I thought of taking. Eventually, I did get around to the other side of the Schuylkill River to Mont Clare for the "Abandoned Rails" cache series.

Sunday was the Hi-4 mascot gig at Lawrenceville Jubilee. This is the town that treats us well when we do the gig. We used their Main Street office as a break / changing room and it was stocked with drinks and donuts. This year, I did the gig with Zokki the hyena and Phil E. The latter was not part of Hi-4, but represented the Philly Pretzel Factory. Anyway, the event was a street fair that is two blocks long this year, a bit bigger than the year before. There was a fairly big crowd with some turnover so we didn't see the same people each time we headed out from the break room.

The gig ended at 5pm, so I still had a few hours of daylight. I noticed some good trails near Lawrenceville, so I took a walk along the Lawrence Hopewell Trail and the D&R Canal towpath for a dozen geocaches. It's funny that I never knew about the side entrance to the D&R Canal towpath all those years I lived in New Jersey. Better map data does help a lot.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

12:59 am - Red Lion Road CITO, DE Furbowl 57, Deer Accident
Saturday morning, I joined Delaware (and some Pennsylvania and New Jersey) geocachers in the "Red Lion Road Adopt a Highway CITO XII". It's a geocaching event to clean up Route 71 near Lums Pond. We met up at the start of the road by our "Adopt A Highway" sign. Then we split up into groups of 4 or so and each group took a 1/2-mile section of the road. It didn't look like there would be that much litter at first but I saw that whenever I went down the embankment from the road a bit, there were a lot of bottles and cans all over. So that's what I mostly did - I went up and down the embankment, filling up my trash bag multiple times. Then we trucked all those bags of trash back to the meeting spot and piled those up for DelDOT to pick up later. We put in about two hours of work but 30 people can pick up a lot of litter!

The rest of the day, I found a few local geocaches. Hiked a few miles in Middle Run, visited a scenic railroad bridge fishing area in Conowingo, and waded in a storm drain. (a geocache where slippers / flip-flops were useful) Then in the evening, I went to Delaware Furbowl 57. It's pretty amazing that a regular bowling meet has turned into a mini-convention with attendees from hundreds of miles away making a weekend trip of it. Had the opportunity to meet up with some folks I hadn't seen in years and also some new acquaintances I'd only contacted over Twitter before that. So that was fun.

On Sunday, I tried going to York via Maryland instead of via Lancaster, but actually spent most of the day in the Maryland countryside, around Jarrettsville, Monkton, White Hall, and Parkton, to the north of Hunt Valley where Fur 'the More used to be. Prettyboy Dam was the most scenic spot of the day and the red brain was the weirdest geocache of the day. Generally, I like the countryside better than the urban areas near Baltimore. People seem nicer too. Near the end of the day, I talked to someone living on a rural road, whose property was across the road from the cache. He seemed genuinely impressed by the assortment of caches in the countryside and the nearby town of New Freedom.

The incident of the deer in the middle of the nightCollapse )

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

5:52 pm - York VIII - Southeast, York IX - South
More exploration of York County this weekend. On Saturday, after entering York County via the smaller Route 462 bridge to Wrightsville, I hit Sam Lewis State Park, Windsor, Red Lion, Yoe, and East Prospect. This part of York County looks the most like Lancaster County, with farms (but without the Amish) and views of rolling hills. Also, traffic seemed a lot lighter in this section so it was a pretty nice area.

Sunday's York County trip started with a few more geocaches from the Spring Grove Geotour. "SGGT14 - Past & Present" was the most unusual one this time because it needed jumper cables. I had a portable jump start battery so I used that instead and a motor popped out the geocache as soon as I clipped the connectors together. So it was the same idea as the previous week's motorized geocache, except with a 12V car battery instead of an AA battery. Instead of continuing the geotour, I went east to Seven Valleys. The town got its name because you can see 7 valleys from there. I wasn't sure about that but there was a bit of a view from the railroad bridge downtown. Then I continued on to Loganville. Brown's Orchard was an interesting stop here. There was a geocache at the honey house, which looked cute except for the live bees inside! For the rest of the day, I continued southwards to Shrewsbury, crossing the state line briefly to Maryland Line, before returning to Pennsylvania for dinner.

York is far west enough to have some Western Pennsylvania restaurant chains. I noticed Quaker Steak & Lube on the previous week's trip but decided to find out more about the chain first before trying it on Sunday night. It's a theme restaurant, the theme being motorsports and auto garage. So there's an old-fashioned gas pump outside and motorcycles hanging from the ceiling inside. I had dinner under a car! I thought the food was really only average (although I haven't tried the wings, supposedly their specialty), but the fun theme is probably the main attraction.

The caches...Collapse )

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Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

12:28 am - York VI, York VII, and Spring Grove
Saturday's trip started with a few geocaches near Strasburg and Ronks. Then I went to West York. I actually didn't think York was that great, especially when I got closer to the downtown area. So I decided to head out to the countryside. Spring Grove was more to my liking. There was a big collection of geocaches, all placed for the Spring Grove Geotour, and most of those were rather creative. The most remarkable one was the motorized geocache. I only needed to bring an AA battery to use the gadget to retrieve the cache and log. There was also a dinosaur head geocache (yes, just the head), a multi-room travel bug hotel, and a funny geocache warning sign.

Went to the York area again on Sunday. I decided not to skip ahead to areas beyond Spring Grove, so I went northwest from York to Shiloh, Weigelstown, Dover, and Wellsville. It was a mixed day with some hiking and some difficult geocaches but nothing remarkable.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

5:55 pm - South Jersey - Glassboro - Berlin, York V
For Saturday, I noticed a collection of new geocaches around Mullica Hill and Glassboro, so that's where I started. And the rest of the day was a trip around Turnersville, Williamstown, Waterford Works, Atco, and Berlin. I didn't intend for this to be a Weird NJ tour but that's how it went. There were a living room furniture set in the woods, a giant lumberjack (Mr. Bills Restaurant in Winslow), and the abandoned Atco drive-in.

Sunday was another trip to York after finding an Easter geocache in Lancaster. This time, I was on the north side of York, including Emigsville, Mount Wolf, Manchester, and part of West York. Easter was the perfect time for geocaching in York because nearly all the stores were closed for the holiday, so traffic wasn't so bad. On the other hand, it was a terrible time for getting dinner after geocaching because nearly all the restaurants were closed. So thank goodness there was a Chinese restaurant near the last geocache.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

5:51 pm - LVGC Breakfast 2015, Lancaster LXX, York IV
This weekend was a breakout event after a snowbound winter. Other than a few patches of stubborn ice on the ground, all the signs of winter were gone and geocaches were once again revealed to the world. Saturday's excursion began with "LVGC Breakfast in the Valley 2015", a breakfast geocaching event at Borderline Restaurant in Bethlehem. After an eggs benedict and some conversation, I headed out eastwards into Bethlehem, Easton, Palmer, Forks. There was the "WPBP" series on the Wilson-Palmer Bike Path, which I started last year but didn't have time to finish. Well, I got nearly all of it on Saturday! Also, there were lots of geocaches placed in that area within the last six months, including the "Farmers view" series and the "Holiday Shopping" series. And I also got the "Challenge Park" trio, which I thought were all pretty easy challenges, except probably to new folks who haven't found enough caches to fill the requirements.

On Sunday, I started with some geocaches in Mountville and Columbia, to the west of Lancaster City, and then decided to expand my territory into York County. I'd actually been there a few years ago but thought that it was too far for a day trip. It actually isn't, compared to Lehigh Valley, except that the roads aren't as good so it feels like a longer trip. Since I hadn't been there in a while, there was a variety of geocaches, although mostly clustered around some shopping centers and a few major parks in East York, Springettsbury, and Spry. My overall impression of York is it isn't as interesting (in terms of culture, scenery, and variety of geocaches) as Lancaster but I haven't seen the other half of York, which may change my opinion. I loved that they got permission for those geocaches. I stopped at a fruit/vegetable market in Hallam to look for a geocache and the friendly store owner, who already knew about it, came out to say hello even though the store was actually closed on Sunday.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

12:40 am - Mount Holly, Penllyn / Lower Gwynedd / Horsham
Early Saturday morning, I headed out to the Rt 38 Diner in Mount Holly for "March Meet & Greet". Although this breakfast geocaching event was a tad early for me to travel out to, I'd still have made it on time if a truck hadn't overturned on the NJ Turnpike and tossed construction material all over the highway. Apparently, there was an icy spot on the southbound side and half of the truck flipped over the center barrier. But it was only a 15-minute delay so I wasn't too late. After breakfast, I went out to find some geocaches that were placed for the event. (Mount Holly Rail Trail series) I ran into Stews Crew and Lusophile on that trail, so we got those caches as a group. It's funny that I go 40 miles into New Jersey, only to meet up with geocachers from Chester / Delaware County, closer to my area. For the rest of the day, I focused on finishing groups of geocaches in some parks around Mt. Holly, Hainesport and Lumberton. The ground was snow-covered but it wasn't too bad.

On Sunday, I decided to hit the Montgomery County Cache Factory area, but this time, I started in Audubon, Norristown, and Penllyn before hitting Lower Gwynedd and Horsham. The whole area was rather wet and mucky from melting snow, but I wasn't wearing the good shoes anyway so I just splashed around everywhere. That's how I found "Rock Pile (2)". I spotted the cache at the exact moment I sank ankle-deep into a puddle. So I called that the "Mud Hole of Seeing". It's part of a series of caches but I didn't know it was connected to "Wow, That Took Me A Minute (1)" until I noticed that there's a tunnel under Route 202. Relatively long walk but it was great to get caches on both sides of the highway without moving the car. Incidentally, "Wow, That Took Me A Minute (1)" would've been very difficult in the Summer because it's in the middle of a thorny thicket, past some neck-high weeds. (A tough search in July and August, as one can see from the cache logs.) So it was good to get this cache when I did, before the Spring growth kicks in.

The caches...Collapse )

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