Monday, January 25, 2016

The Geobears in Seattle Part 1: British Columbia

In May of 2015 at the ASP Geobash/GeoWoodstock I was invited by a trio of cachers to join them on an epic adventure to Seattle, WA for the final Groundspeak Block Party. This quartet was made up of myself, Ally&Joe and Pixie&bones. We decided to call this group... The Geobears.
  • Flight

We took a morning flight out of Toronto a few days before the event. It was kind of tiring but getting through security quickly and having some Tim's before the flight was nice. The flight itself was fine, one movie and a few drinks later we were landing in Abbotsford, B.C around noon. This was actually my first time ever in British Columbia (I'd been to the Columbia Ice Fields, that was as close as I'd gotten).

Looking back at our plane in sunny Abbotsford
After looking around the tiny Abbotsford International Airport, we went out and got our rental car. We just barely were able to pack ourselves into the car and posed for a photo at the local "Welcome To British Columbia" sign before continuing on.
  • Mission

Since this was the first time most of us had been to B.C. for caching we decided to spend our half day caching around B.C., our first stop, Mission. You might now Mission as the home town of Canadian singer/songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen. So we did a quick look around downtown and grabbed a cache. Then we headed over to Frasier Heritage Park where we had lunch at the Blackberry Kitchen where we had a beautiful patio view of the surrounding mountains!

Nice view for lunch!
When then did some caching in the park, getting a letterbox on the same trails Carly Rae hiked on as a kid. After that we went and visited the Heritage Park Middleschool that Carly Rae went to as a teen (and performed in her first couple musicals) and then saw the Westminster Abbey Church. I hid my own cache nearby as well.
Clark Foundation Theatre, where Carly Rae Jepsen did musicals

Before leaving we stopped at the Mission welcome center to pickup some souvenirs.
  • Virtual

Our first stop in the Vancouver area was GC3347 - King of the World virtual. This virtual was located in Harbourview Park, which was a unique park, as it was merely a strip of land along the Lynn Creek. There was a paved trail along it which led to the waterfront and a elevated lookout point. There was a wonderful view of Ironworkers Memorial Bridge and Vancouver harbour. We got our answers for the virtual and then attempted the traditional cache that was there but came up empty (it was indeed missing).
The view of Vancouver Harbour
  • Bridge Wherigo & Bridge

We then headed north, up along the Lynn River to Lynn Canyon Park for the Wherigo GC1Q84F - Race to Place a Cache. The difference between the ditch-like Lynn River we saw at Harbourview Park and here with the canyon is amazing! People were in the river going down a natural slide. Because of a lack of parking, Ally and Pixie stayed with the car while Joe and I ventured on. 

Crowded bridge at Lynn Canyon
The Wherigo was a logic puzzle which was kind of tense and not for those with a fear of heights! We ended up having to cross the suspension bridge more than 10 times and one wrong answer would have forced a restart. Thankfully Joe had everything figured out and we made the find without a problem! While we were gone the girls made a find on their own too.

In the trees at Capilano
Next stop was another bridge, the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park which crosses the Capilano River. The park is a little pricey to get into but is really fun. In addition to the bridge there's a tree top canopy tour and a neat suspended walkway. Even though there's no caches, I'd highly recommend stopping by if your nearby. 
Suspended Walkway
  •  Stanley Park

Our next place was Stanley Park, this massive almost island-like park was fantastic. We first went to Prospect Point, which had a amazing view of Lions Gate Bridge and North Vancouver. There we got our first earthcache in BC and a traditional cache. A struggle was trying to get GC51KDK - Flash and Dash to the Cache, our first mob-style cache. That website was buggy for us and took a lot of trial and error to finally get everyone online. The cache was thankfully a quick find once we had the coordinates.
View from Prospect Point

We continued down the road to GC3R2R1 - The Hollow Tree - Big Red for pictures before heading to GC3P382 - Deep Thoughts - In the Cathedral for our first multi-cache in B.C. While doing this one Pixie was attacked by a viscious banana slug! Okay, not really attacked but we all got a good laugh. Our time at Stanley Park was far too short, as we probably could have spent all day there!
  • Canada Place

Next up was GC3WQYC - CPC (Canada Place Cache). Located at Canada Place, the cache is the most favourited geocache in British Columbia. The cache is fun and we were treated to a beautiful sunset over the harbour. We also got to enjoy a little bit of downtown Vancouver. Definitely need to come back sometime in the future.
Sunset at Canada Place
  • Treehugger

Our final cache in the Vancouver area was GC1DD - Treehugger, placed on February 2nd, 2001 it's British Columbia's oldest geocache. By the time we got here it was the dead of night so we brought out the flashlights. This was actually a pretty tough climb but we got to the GZ and started searching. Since it was in the bush it was a tough find, I eventually saw there was a hint and after that it was a quick grab. 
  • Border and Dinner

After that we headed straight for the border. We missed the Peace Arch Virtual unfortunately. We kept on the road until we hit Birch Bay (an outlet mall area) and stopped at a Jack-in-the-Box for dinner (my first time there!). We had a tasty dinner and grabbed a few nearby caches before continuing on to Seattle!
Goodbye Vancouver! On to Seattle!

  • Statistics

Total Caches in British Columbia: 16

Cache Types:


Total Cache Types: 5

Monday, January 4, 2016

2015 Year End Review - New Posts in 2016!

Happy 2016 Everyone!

It's been several years since I last made a post and I've made a New Years resolution to start up again! 2015 was one wild and crazy ride. Some of the Geocaching Highlights:

  • Going on a Geocaching tubing trip down the Credit River outside of Toronto!
  • Attending the ASP Geobash and Geowoostock in Maryland! I did 15 States or Provinces over two days and got the oldest caches in New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts!
  • Passing 8000 finds!
  • A day in Washington D.C. with over 30 virtuals!
  • Travelling to Montreal on a fun Rush roadtrip!
  • Finding all 81 D/T in a month!
  • Attending the final Block Party in Washington State! With my new group, the Geobears, we also went to British Columbia (and got the oldest cache there!) and Oregon (got the oldest cache there too and visited the Original Stash Tribute Plaque). We went on an HQ tour and went to the Going APE Mega!
  • A ton of fun events including the Lennox and Addington Mega-event, GHAGAFAP and 2015's GIFF!
  • Crossed a Lake on a Jet Ski to get a cache on Long Point!
  • Got my most finds in a year with 2016!
  • Met a bunch of amazing people! Including a certain special someone...
2016 looks to be an interesting year as well! New places to explore and caches to find. It's a Leap Year so that is going to be fun! There's the issue of Challenge caches and how Groundspeak will deal with them will be interesting too! 

Stay tuned for more posts in the coming weeks!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

From the Bash to the Stock Part 2

Day 4
Early in the planning of the trip I had to make a decision: Pittsburgh or Cleveland. Both cities were good candidates but the thing that made me choose Pittsburgh was that to get through to Indiana we got to geocache in West Virginia. Which, other than the single strip going up by Pittsburgh, is totally under Pennsylvania and Ohio so I'd likely never have the chance for a long time.

So for Day 4 we started off and headed to Washington. No, not Washington D.C., Washington, Pennsylvania. We made a few finds and a DNF before getting back on the road to WV. We got off the highway near West Alexander to make sure we got a proper photograph.
We continued down to Wheeling, West Virginia, right on the border of Ohio. We picked up another cache before heading across the bridge and grabbing a few in Bridgeport, OH. We had a few more historic stops before Columbus including the "S" Bridge virtual (GC71EA) and a cache in Old Washington, where one of the northern most battles of the American Civil War happened,there is even a Confederate marker in the cemetery nearby. (GCRMJ8)

Next was probably the second most painful part of the trip. Our third Wherigo ended up being a bust as some sort of glitch prevented me from finishing. (Others have had that problem on their iPhone since then so at least I'm not the only one) even worse is that the only other cache I had in the area was 20 ft up in a tree so the entire hour or more detour was a waste.

Finally we get into Columbus and visit one of the coolest topiary gardens at A Sunday Afternoon Cache (GC897E).

We explore the city for a bit before our parking meter expires. After that we check-in to our room, where we begin researching places for supper. The Spaghetti Factory turns out to be just down the street! We have one of the best dinners ever before packing it in for the night.

Day 5
Remains of Union Stations across from Nationwide Arena
We only had a half-day or so to see the rest of Columbus so we started early at the Arena district. The district features the Nationwide Arena, home of the Columbus Blue Jackets. We manage to grab a few caches (and a couple DNFs) before heading back downtown.

Statehouse of Ohio

We do a cache which takes us on a tour of Columbus including the state capitol and Ohio's Supreme Court. We even see the site of the First Wendys.

Soon enough we're back on the road and on to Cincinnati. However we take a short detour to Dayton, Ohio which is famous for the Wright Brothers. We admire the monument nearby before grabbing lunch and a neat earth-cache. From there its straight south to Cincinnati.

In Cincinnati we did another Wherigo (GC2Z5TT) which was a neat tour through the history of the area. We then tried to make a mad dash to a cache hidden at the top of a skyscraper only do come up 5 minutes late! Oh well. We go to a Reds game which is much fuller stadium this time.

The game was great as we watched a nail biter and ate hot dogs. Todd Frazier came up at the bottom of the 9th (his theme was Frank Sinatra's Come Fly With Me so I was rooting for him) and then this happened.

After that it was down south to our hotel.

Day 6

Now we're almost there! We being onward to Louisville, Kentucky. We make one stop on the way, Kentucky Speedway. Since I'm both a NASCAR fan and it had a virtual, this was a no brainer for me.

After that is was straight into Louisville. My first stop was Tom Sawyer (GC39E) which has been around since March 2001. The second major cache I wanted was The Muggles Take Memorial Wherigo cache (GC24G61) which was another great Wherigo.

Jen and I on the left

From there we went to the Churchill Downs for our first flash mob in this area. We then went in with everyone else to see a race. Not every day that you get "right at the finish line seats" at the same track the Kentucky Derby happens at.

After the race we scooped up a few more caches before heading to Taco Bell for lunch (where I was introduced to the Dorito Taco for the first time. Amazing.).

After that we went into downtown Louisville for another flashmob. It was a pre-event of sorts to the wedding that would be happening at GeoWoodstock.We stuck around for a few more caches before grabbing a bite to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe. We then headed back for the motel which was a journey itself (every highway on ramp was closed). We needed our rest for Day 7.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

New Years Resolutions 2013

New Years Resolution #1: Post More.

Ha ha, what a crazy year it was. 2012 had some really epic geocaching moments for me looking back at it:
  • Caching in new areas such as
    • The Bahamas
    • Quebec and Northern and Eastern Ontario
    •  US states Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, and Kentucky
  •  Getting to 3 Mega Events: GeoWoodstock, the ASP Geobash and COG Spring Fling
  • Filling my 81 D/T Grid
Looking forward to many more to come!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

From the Bash to the Stock Part 1

Day One
As far back as this time last year I began planning a theoretical trip down to GeoWoodstock. When I realized the Geobash was only a week before I suddenly started looking at a roadtrip down to the Woodstock from there. It wasn't until maybe a month or so before the Geobash that I took the idea seriously and dropped the hammer, buying the hotels, one in Erie, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Cincinnati, Louisville and Toledo. I was able to successfully recruit my sister to join me (she is not a Geocacher and doesn't really care for it). I figured if it's reccommended you have a partner while caching even close to home, having a partner in a foreign country on a weeklong roadtrip would be a good idea too.

So the day before the Geobash I convinced Jen that we should go down that night, rather than in the morning as we had originally planned. This was so I could grab a nightcache that was there and hopefully get to the pre-event camp fire that was being held. We got over the border fine and made are was to the Allegheny State Park. We stopped in Salamanca for some Subway and gas before we went down the winding (and dark) roads of ASP.

Once there we went out to grab the night cache which Jen actually enjoyed. After that we settled into the Geomobile and dozed until sunrise. And by dozed, I mean freezing my ass off trying to sleep. So finally sunrise comes and we are starving. We venture off when we see a person setting stuff up at the event site.

The man turns out to be one of the organizers and we chat a bit until he mentions there is a food truck open. My sister and I can barely contain our excitement when we order a pair of breakfast burritos (which were amazing) and then set off to grab a couple of close by caches. One of which is at a covered bridge which are always neat to see.

By the time we get back others have started to arrive and we head over to get signed in.  We take a look at the shops before caching grabbing my first Wherigo at the ASP Zoo cache. After a successful bunch of caches we have lunch and go to the group photo before heading to Salamanca for the Flash mob event.

With the events over we head to one of the oldest caches in Pennsylvania, Cache In The Marsh (GC211E), which is on state game lands. While I went for the cache Jen waited in the car. Unfortunately for me, although the map showed only 1000m to the cache, it did not show me the large marsh and winding trail. I get to the spot and remember that this is a projection cache and get my projection app working. Bang! A gun shot goes off in the distance. Yup, that projection looks good now! I find the cache and go back to the car (Jen probably thought I got shot or something).

After that we head to the hotel for some rest and chow to end day one.

Day Two
Today was going to be our first  major driving day. After grabbing a few caches around our hotel we head down to the first webcam cache of the trip, The Boro Web-Cam (GCN8GZ). I was of course worried as to how I was going to take the photo (with roaming and what not) luckily there was an open network nearby (library or something) and I was able to grab a picture:
 After that we grabbed a few more before heading for another oldie, the Stone Wall Stash (GCFF). We managed to find the cache with some work (mostly getting over a stone wall, go figure). We continued making stops at other caches like the Springfield Falls cache and Earth Cache, (GC45A8 &GC3CCBH) and an interesting stop at an simple parking grab where we watch a bunch of skydivers come down.

Finally we get to Pittsburgh (don't ask about the 20 minute detour we had to take!) and check into our room. After a little charging for the iGPS we head out. My #1 objective for Pittsburgh was to ride one of the incline railways and it was a success. We took the Monongahela Railway down to the city where we got out second Wherigo cache of the trip, Just Visiting (GC283K9). While down there we grabbed the Jailhouse Rock cache which is a neat puzzle dedicated to Elvis (GC22HPF).  Not wanting to push our luck (and rock climb up) we went back the incline. While Jen went to put some more change in the meter I went off to grab a nearby cache and met two wonderfully nice newbie cachers.

Yup we found it!
After that me and Jen grabbed a bite to eat and packed it in for the night.
Day 3
Day 3 started off with a bang. I sat my sister at a Dunkin' Donuts (free wi-fi) and headed down to get Uneven Pavement (GCB7D3), my 2nd webcam of the trip.
Possibly the worst picture ever. Thanks Jen! (That's me in the centre)
We then grabbed a series of caches in Schenely Park (including some challenges). Finally we decided to grab one more cache in the area before heading downtown. A virtual a tiny bit out of the way but it has almost 30 Favourites, Walk The Block (GCB22C). As we drive up my sister gets too close to the metal curb and POP! A broken piece of metal pierces the tire. And the spare is broken. The Geomobile ain't goin' anywhere.

After a couple kilometres worth of walking, some (roaming) calls, $200 dollars and a TON of luck we were back up and running by 5 PM. Unfortunately that makes the rest of the day a geocaching bust. On the bright side we could still attend our night festivities. We head over to the famous Primati's for a bite to eat before catching a Pirates game which was certainly a highlight of the trip.

After that we spent the night at our hotel before moving on to Columbus!

End of Part 1

Sun setting on Pittsburgh

Monday, August 13, 2012

Official Geocaching App iPhone Review

The Geocaching App for the iPhone is one of the easiest ways to go Geocaching now. It's added hundreds and hundreds of people to the game. But is it worth the price?

1. Accuracy

Since January I have found over 700 caches using the Geocaching App and have rarely had issues with accuracy. In fact it probably is more accurate than your standard GPSr when considering how long it can take a GPSr to get a signal.

2. Mobility

The Geocaching App benefits from being on the iPhone because it has a data plan which allows you to download caches on the fly. This has worked for me several times  (including just last week) when I stumbled upon a cool spot while driving or I'm stopped with friends or family during a roadtrip and want to see if there is a cache nearby.

Having a Premium account is even better since you get the Pocket Query functionality. This lets you save your data (and money) and save the caches and required maps to your phone, with this I was able to cache in both the Bahamas and US with ease. No looking up a ton of maps to add to your GPSr.

3. Maps

The maps for the Geocaching App are great. You have the choice between the Terra maps, Street Maps and Google Satellite maps. A downside is that you cannot download the Google maps to your iPhone.

 4. Logging

A great feature of the App is logging your caches. As long as you are a fast iPhone typer, submitting logs while out in the field is simple and you can even submit photos!

5. Trackables

One of my favourite features is the trackables, simply type in the tracking number and you get the goal, recent logs and the ability to discover or pick up a trackable. Really useful in the field.

Overall the Official Geocaching iPhone App is a great buy, especially when tied to a premium membership. Well worth the $10 A great buy.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

I'm Back Update

What a crazy few months since my last post. With school and work, I haven't been able to post as much as I would like. Thankfully summer classes are over so I have some spare time. What am I going to cover?

  1. Review of Geocaching app for the iPhone (finally!)
  2. Review of my Geocaching roadtrip from the ASP Geobash in New York to the GeoWoodstock mega event in Indiana!
  3. Review of the Central Ontario Geocacher's Spring Fling Mega Event!
  4. Caching in the Bahamas!
  5. Geocaching News!