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!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Openmaps: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Apparently Google started charging for the use of its maps now, Groundspeak has elected to move over to Openmaps, currently powered by Leaflet and tiles provided by Mapquest. What are the benefits and disadvantages to cachers?

The New Maps
The picture above shows my favourite part of this transition: Clickable caches from long distances. In the above picture I can see all of southern Ontario and still pick out caches and see the cache information. It still even gives you a choice box when you've selected multiple caches. It also still keeps the basic features of the old maps with selectable cache types, pocket queries (which seem faster to me) and the advantages of openmaps (trails and other user added features).

The bad is the load times, which seems to fluctuate and are at time not even noticeable. Reportedly Groundspeak is going to host the maps on its own server which should knock out the load times. The ugly is also shown in the first picture. Gaps in the satellite imagery which might not even be gaps as it could be loading times as well.

Overall I would call this a great improvement over the old maps. I miss the look, but still the ease of viewing caches is just amazing.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Holiday Edition 2011

The end of the year is upon us. Santa was great and brought me some geocaching supplies including an iPhone (for which I bought all the available Geocaching apps, reviews incoming), snowshoes, and headlamps. Sharon12 also received a Magellan Explorist GC from Santa. So I'll try to get her opinion on that. Have a happy New Year every one!