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Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

5:46 pm - Rainy day Berks countryside, the mascot gig that wasn't
Saturday was a rainy day. Contrary to what one might assume, the better bet for geocaches was to get out to the countryside north of Pottstown because there were many cemetery caches that weren't too messy to get to in the rain. The most notable cache site was the graveyard of Robocop! Actually, he was a different Peter Weller from the 19th century. There was also a split lamb in another cemetery. The cutest geocache was a mini mailbox outside the cache owner's house.

On Sunday, I headed out to Point Pleasant Beach to do a mascot gig for a CFF Great Strides event. However, when I got there, I saw Miss GEICO and realized that it was a totally different event. Turns out that the CFF event had been moved to the weekend prior but they didn't bother to tell Hi-4. Oh well. This is the second year in a row that something has gone wrong with the gig, so I might not sign up next year. But no matter. The rain had stopped and there were plenty of geocaches around Point Pleasant Beach, Brielle, Wall, and Manasquan, especially the little power trail in Sawmill Tract. The most humorous cache of the day was Pepto Cachemo. One dose cures cache withdrawal symptoms!

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

2:44 am - Reading/Hamburg, Sourland Mountain
Saturday was a rainy day, so I mostly hit the quick and easy geocaches in the suburbs and countryside to the west and northwest of Reading. (Cumru, Wyomissing, Bern, Leesport) Many of those were cemetery geocaches, thanks to the "Lying In Wait" cache series. Later in the afternoon, the rain stopped, so I took a mile-long hike in SGL 110. Then I hurried back to the parking area since the rain started again just as I was nearly done with that hike.

Sunday began with some dinosaur adventures at the hadrosaurus site in Haddonfield. Then, there was a walk across a pipeline bridge. Although it seemed fine, I wasn't sure if the walkway was sturdy so I had to be careful. And then, there was a geocache on a pedestrian overpass in Collingswood. Not so much of an adventure there. Later in the afternoon, I headed over to Sourland Mountain Reservation in Belle Mead. There were two cache series there, Sweet and Sour, which combined into a long hike from one park entrance to another. The "Sweet" series had some funny caches, like this deer skull with bloodshot eyeballs. One of the stops in Sourland was an abandoned blue Corvair, where the "Dude, where's my Corvair?" geocache was hidden. This was challenging to access due to the overgrowth but there was a faint trail from previous visitors to the abandoned car.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

1:33 am - Lehigh Valley, Skillman
On Saturday, I'd planned to go to Allentown to get the latest "Play Anywhere" Wherigo caches, but how could I resist a little side trip to the Morton Morton house? Folks in Lehigh Valley have gotten rather daring with their geocaches. This big frog geocache, for example, is slightly hidden only because of the vegetation but I think they're really counting on no one venturing out to that side of the park. And then, there was the Tuma Butt geocache. And you thought geocaches couldn't be risque!

Sunday's trip was to the Skillman / Montgomery / Hopewell area since I wanted to visit MOOYAH Burgers again. As I discovered, this area is rather artsy. The parks are decorated with various sculptures and art pieces, such as historic house scale models, abstract sculptures, a mask, and a meditative figure. I spent most of the day though on the Skillman Park Geotrail, a collection of geocaches in Skillman Park, a relatively large park built on the grounds of a former state-run psychiatric institution.

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Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

1:42 am - Blue Marsh Lake, Reading West, Lawrenceville Jubilee
Saturday's trip was to the west of Reading to get some geocaches in the area of Blue Marsh Lake. I had no idea that April 30 was the last day before they started charging a park fee, so that was a bonus. After that, I continued westward to Heidelberg, Robesonia, Womelsdorf, Newmanstown, and Richland. It's an area with a series of small towns along Route 422, with ducks and lots of cows.

On Sunday, I went to Lawrenceville to do a mascot gig with Hi-4 at the Lawrenceville Jubilee. It rained the whole day so there wasn't much of a crowd and some vendors canceled, but the event still went on. TARDIS Kitty and I did the gig in the rain, which was a bit messy, although on the plus side, one can't feel the rain in fursuit. :) So we entertained the half dozen or so families who attended the event. After the event, I went a bit farther up route 206 to get some geocaches in Princeton, Rocky Hill, and Hillsborough, before heading to dinner.

The caches...Collapse )

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Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

12:54 am - South Jersey west side
This weekend was two days of geocaching up the west side of South Jersey since there have been many caches placed in this area at the onset of Spring. Saturday's trip was to Swedesboro, Thorofare (Riverwinds), Woodbury, Haddonfield, and Cherry Hill, and Sunday's trip was to Trenton, Hamilton, and Princeton Junction, hitting some of the big cache-filled parks like Veterans Park, Hamilton Park, and Mercer County Park.

It was a showcase of the funny, unusual and bizarre. There was an alligator cache, found in a sewer drain, naturally. Then there was a head in a barrel, which was funny but also rather shocking. And later in the day, I found a skull geocache that screamed when uncovered. Rounding out the creative caches were a Wawa coffee cup geocache, which was made from a real Wawa coffee cup, and a frisbee geocache.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

5:50 pm - Princeton, Reading, Hamburg
Saturday's trip was first to Upper Freehold, including Clayton Park, Assunpink WMA and Etra Lake Park, before heading over to the Princeton area. I wanted to get in some hiking to get some of the older geocaches in the area before going to the built-up areas for quick caches. A strange thing I found was a panda hanging on a tree. The strange part was it had nothing to do with the geocache, which was nearby, so sometimes one just comes across random stuff in the woods. Also, Clayton Park had a lovely purple field. On closer examination, I saw that it's a dense patch of purple deadnettle. And the flock of guinea fowl in Etra Park in no way hampered the cache search, although they were very noisy.

Sunday's excursion was to get the new geocaches in Leesport, Shoemakersville, and Hamburg, although I did stop in Morgantown, Wyomissing, and Reading along the way. In Centerport, I arrived at a fork in the road! The town has a good sense of humor.

The caches...Collapse )

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Thursday, April 14th, 2016

5:00 pm - Fur The 'More 2016
This weekend, I was at the Sheraton in Tysons Corner, VA, for Fur The 'More. This time, I shared a room with Laser Wolf from the DC area. He's a good roommate and great for conversation throughout the weekend. Also, I do prefer splitting a room 50/50, rather than three or four ways, because then we have more space and one bed per person. The running gag this weekend is I would stumble into the room in fursuit at 2 o'clock, and Laser would be in bed. This happened not just at 2am but also 2pm! :) This year, our room was on the first level, which due to the layout of the hotel, is actually half a level below the lobby level. That was quite convenient for fursuiting though because I didn't need to take the elevator to get to either the lobby or the panel rooms from my room. Just a short walk and a couple of steps up/down, and I was there!

Even in its fourth year, I find Fur The 'More to be overall an enjoyable con. I like that they try new things every year to keep it interesting. The program schedule wasn't overly packed, which is nice because I like to take breaks from attending panels and events for general fursuiting mayhem and shenanigans. However, of the scheduled programming, I did enjoy the screening of Office Space, the fursuit parade, the fursuit games (Furlympics), the fandom rant panel, the assertiveness/self-confidence panel, and the charity (Frisky's Wildlife Sanctuary) presentation. I also played about a half-dozen rounds of One-Night Ultimate Werewolf in the gaming room because it was that good! Also, handing out woven silk ties to fursuiters as fursuit tags was a wonderful idea and fit perfectly with this year's Cubicle Jungle / Office Space theme. Of course, then we found out that most folks hadn't tied a tie in years but I helped a few fellow fursuiters with their ties once I remembered how I used to tie a tie.

The only issue with the hotel was inadequate parking. Both the hotel perimeter and garage filled up on Friday and Saturday, and some people had to park along the street and side lane. Fortunately, I didn't need to drive out the whole weekend. The nice thing about the location is there are a couple of restaurants and a Walmart next door to the hotel. That's great for when you can't spend too much time on lunch or dinner because you have to get back to a con event. However, I did walk farther out (about 1/4 mile) on Sunday to try some new restaurants about two blocks down Leesburg Pike. Gotta write more Yelp reviews, you know! :)

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

5:55 pm - Maryland, Pottstown/Reading
Saturday's trip targeted a group of geocaches in Abingdon that had been placed for a recent geocaching event that I didn't attend. After that, I continued towards Baltimore, going around the northern part of it. The surprise of the day was the Hampton National Historic Site near Towson. The National Park Service doesn't usually allow geocaches, but I soon realized that the ones on the property were placed by Hampton NPS themselves. Anyway, those were quite nice and took only a bit of a walk around the estate grounds.

Sunday's geocaches were in Pottstown, Birdsboro, and Reading, mostly along the Rt 422 corridor. I decided to do a bit of hiking to get some caches along the Schuylkill River Trail because it wasn't raining. "Everybody Talks" was the interesting one of the day. It's a geo-mob cache, where the first part requires 3 people at the given coordinates to have their phones open to a website. When the website server detects that there are indeed 3 viewers at that spot, it spits out the final coordinates. What I noticed was there was Xfinity WiFi at that location, so I could get away with not having 3 mobile lines. I was able to do it with 2 phones and another spare phone on WiFi. (Of course, I could've also set up a WiFi hotspot but that's against the AT&T GoPhone terms and conditions, last I checked.) The funny cache of the day was "Piece of Mind". I thought that was a misspelling at first but the cache did look like a piece of brain.

The caches...Collapse )

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Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

10:57 am - New Castle County, Quakertown
On Saturday, I remained local to round up some of the geocaches that had been placed in my area recently. First came a few caches in Bear since those were closest to breakfast. Then I got more caches in Delaware City and Newark. Most unusual place was a spot under Route 9, although I'd been there before for another cache. Where I hadn't been before was to the side of this dam on the White Clay Creek. I think that was in Coverdale Park and only accessible via a 0.1-mile walk on a towpath.

Sunday's trip was to the Quakertown area, including Pennsburg, East Greenville, Richland, California, and Perkasie afterwards, since I hadn't been there in long enough. Most interesting spot was the South Perkasie Covered Bridge, which had been relocated from the road to a park for historical preservation. Which is why it isn't over a river any more.

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Thursday, March 24th, 2016

2:51 pm - FursonaCon / ROFCon 2016
I bought an early bird membership to FursonaCon in May last year because it's a first-year con within driving distance and I wanted to give it a try. Also, at the time, they were planning to hold it during my birthday weekend and I thought it'd be nice to go on a trip then. Then last September, they made an annoucement that they would be merging with Ring of Fire Con. Unfortunately, that meant the con dates had to be changed to mid-March, which would therefore not fall on my birthday. Oh well.

Truth be told though, I thought it would be a disaster. Would ROFCon, which is a mix of sci-fi, fantasy, anime and gaming, mesh well with a furry con? I needn't have worried. Once I got to the Hampton Roads Convention Center, I saw that they had it well in hand. FursonaCon had its own Dealers' Den and Headless Lounge, while the two cons shared a ballroom, gaming rooms, video rooms, panel rooms, and an art show. The big advantage seemed to be that two cons pooling resources can afford to book a hotel and convention center (well, half a convention center. We shared space with a gun show.) instead of just a hotel, so there's a lot of room for everyone. Plenty of room to grow, in fact, since the rooms and halls were not filled to capacity that whole weekend. Plus, the convention center had a lot of wide-open areas for costuming and photography. What about the people though? Generally, the sci-fi/anime folks seemed very accepting of furries. I walked around con space in fursuit, raccoon by day and husky by night (not planned, that's just how it worked out), and got many requests for hugs and photos.

The hotel bears mentioning too. Every room in the Hampton Embassy Suites is a suite. So in addition to the usual bedroom and bathroom, I had a living room with sofa, chairs, and another desk! The living room was a good staging area for laying out my gear and getting into fursuit. Also, the hotel provided a complimentary breakfast buffet, saving me a lot of time since I didn't have to venture out for breakfast. If that wasn't enough, they also had an evening reception every day, with drinks and light snacks. (finger food like chips, trail mix, and assorted veggies)

Geocaching wasn't as great in the Hampton Roads area, so I mostly got those on the Delmarva Peninsula, on the way to and on the way back from the con. There were a lot of Munzee though, around the convention center and at many stops along the way. Enough special Munzees to get me over 3000 points, 3 levels, and 2 badges.

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Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

5:15 pm - Bucks County, Schuylkill Canal
Saturday's outing was a round-up of geocaches to the north of Doylestown and in Buckingham, an area that I kept getting sidetracked from previously. Got lots of Taxman caches, which are pretty much the bread and butter of the area. Towards the evening, I headed over towards New Hope and Newtown. Dinner was at the new Panda Express in Trevose. I remember that this chain was in all the mall food courts at one time before they all disappeared. Now it appears to be coming back to the area in the form of standalone restaurants. The food is still served mall food court style (i.e. dished out from steam trays into two or three-entree platters), although it isn't bad.

Sunday was mostly a visit to the Schuylkill Canal Park area in Mont Clare, starting at the Lock 60 recreation area. There were geocaches all along the towpath and also on a few of the side trails going into the woods up the hills. One neat thing about this area is the rocks are in the shape of horizontal slabs, so streams form cascades all the way down from the hills to the river. Early in the day, I also took a side trip to Yellow Springs and saw some spring houses and strange artifacts.

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Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

10:56 pm - Macungie and Lancaster LXVIII
Saturday's trip was to Macungie in Lehigh Valley for the "¿ I ɯɐ ʇɐɥM" cache series, which I didn't have time for the previous weekend. Each puzzle cache in this series had a riddle, which I figured out at home so I wouldn't have to do the research in the field. After that, I went for a group of caches around the Rodale Velodrome in Breinigsville.

On Sunday, I returned to the Lancaster area mainly to target the caches on the other side of Lancaster City. The "CLUE TOO" series is a murder mystery in which each cache has a clue that's a suspect, a weapon or a location. It's kind of like the "Star Trek" series that I did in February, except the clues here seem a bit more obscure. I got the more interesting caches early in the day. "147429" is a travel bug hotel inside a rental storage unit. It was the first time I'd seen one of those storage units being used as a geocache. "Night Before Christmas" is a Wherigo cache at the National Christmas Center, one of the many tourist attractions between Gap and Lancaster. The funniest cache of the day though was "A Cheap Officer". I was wondering what the title could possibly be in reference to until I saw that it was behind a Dollar General!

The caches...Collapse )

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Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

12:11 am - Leap Day Weekend
After 4 years, February 29th, the Leap Day, was once again upon us. There were special geocaching events and souvenirs for Leap Day but this time, I decided not to take the day off for that day.

Saturday's trip was to Allentown Southside in Lehigh Valley to get the Logos Wherigo geocache series. The completed series produces a piece of geo-art, in this case an outline of the Wherigo logo. Most geo-art series thus far have used mystery caches to provide a layer of indirection so that the physical caches don't actually need to be laid out like the artwork. This series, however, uses Wherigo. Whereigos are data cartridges that one can play on certain Wherigo-enabled Garmin GPS models. There are also smartphone and Pocket PC apps for Wherigo. So here, the series used 32 Wherigo cartridges, each providing the location of one of the caches once it is solved. They were all easy one-shot questions about a corporate or product logo. (Well okay, I did have to do image searches on the web for a few of those. I don't know everything! :) ) So that was the layer of indirection. Anyway, I found most of those caches quickly. A few were tricky to navigate to because I was unfamiliar with entrances to shopping centers and the one-way streets in that area. One of the caches was missing but there could have only been one place for it, so I replaced it with a preform tube from my bag of spare parts. Also the same day, I did the "Dogs Playing..." series and the "Characters" series. The latter was also a series of Wherigo caches.

Sunday's trip was to Lancaster. Two issues kept me from considering a trip to Lancaster for a couple of months: the Route 41 closure and the snow. Both of those issues were over and there were new caches, so it was a good day for that. I completed the "GP" series at Gap Park in Gap. Each of those caches was related to one bird and had information I needed to find the final bird, which was a bit away from the park. It was a somewhat challenging day though. I had to wade into the water for two of the caches. "Birds Eye View" was in a flooded area. It was just 50 feet from the parking area but the last 20 feet was into the water. No problem. I rolled up my pants and went in with sandals. The water was cold but not too cold. The problem with "Guarded Water" is the cache got stuck in a bridge crevice so one couldn't pull it up by the string on which it was hanging. So once again, I had to wade into the stream water to get close enough to get the cache unstuck with a pair of pliers. This water was a bit deeper but still not up to my knees.

Monday was when I attended 3 Leap Day geocaching events. The first one was "Ha-Ha It's Leap Day" in Talleyville. It was a lot earlier than the time I usually go to work, so I had time for two geocaches and a quesalupa breakfast afterwards. Then at lunchtime, I went to "New Castle Delaware Leap Lunch" at Mary's Kountry Kitchen in Stanton. I decided to get a second breakfast. At dinnertime, I went to "New Castle County Leap Year Event - 2016". It was great having 3 events in one day in this area.

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Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

1:55 am - North Wales / Hatfield, Pottstown
Thanks to rain and higher temperatures last week, most of the snow is gone. So this weekend's trip was back into Pennsylvania to sample some of the winter-friendly caches that the locals had placed. Saturday's trip was to Bridgeport, the Gwynedds, North Wales, and Hatfield. The most surprising geocache of the day was an owl and there were some good views near the boathouse and fish ladder in Bridgeport.

Sunday's trip was to Pottstown, Limerick, Royersford, and Boyertown, where there were actually a lot more winter cache placements. Cute caches of the day included the hamster and the puffer fish, and "Why Not? - (a view of 2 towers)" had a good view of the Limerick Generating Station cooling towers.

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Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

12:51 am - Cape May
There had been a bit of snowfall during the week, but I figured anywhere below my latitude, especially near the beach, would be snow-free. So Cape May was a good choice for a little geocaching trip. Saturday's trip was mostly about getting some geocaches in Franklin, Buena, Estell Manor, Corbin City, and Petersburg, since I hadn't been to that area in a very long time. The one thing I thought was funny there was the reflector face at "First Smiley".

Finally hit the beaches on Sunday in Cape May, Avalon, and Sea Isle City. "Welcome to Cape May!" was a field puzzle cache, even though it was classified as a traditional cache. This one had a combination lock and required an Etch-A-Sketch to get the four-digit combination from the given instructions. Unfortunately, the Etch-A-Sketch that was supposed to be at the cache site was missing. While searching the web for a way to do this online, I got the idea of looking for a phone app instead. EtchPad did the trick! "Compass Rose" was another Cape May field puzzle. It required looking for tags in 7 compass directions to get the final coordinates. This actually seemed rather onerous to do in 18°F weather. I only found 6 of the tags but luckily, that was enough info to use an aerial photo to make an educated guess about the final location.

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