Sunday, December 10, 2017

They Worked!

I thought I had everything in place in time for the geocaching events in Apache Junction. After I prepared the last blog post, I got a call from the Fire Department asking me to move two of the three caches that they'd approved on their property. The end result was it bumped one of the other caches because of proximity issues, but I was able to move them to new locations that kept their crews happy.

We had 26 people show up on Wednesday morning to help with road cleanup around Prospector Park. In less than an hour, we filled my truck and BJ's Outback full of garbage bags of roadside trash. It's always nice when we can leave an area better than we found it.

The new caches were scheduled to publish at 10 a.m. but some folks decided to team up and tackle some of the other caches in the area that they hadn't visited. It took eight people and some luck to figure out where the birds had roosted.

I was fortunate enough to drive by a couple caches as people were enjoying their success

"Is this one of those caches that you need to read many times until clues pop out? Yep! Tricky, tricky, tricky."
or trying to figure out the figures. This group was the only group to admit to attempting this one on the day of publication. It's been visited by one other group since then and I suspect there will be other people out making the rounds today.

"After gathering what we needed at the other 2 caches, we did some math and ended up here. Hmmm...now what? So we kept reading the description over and over and over again until things started to make sense. Luckily for us, the CO arrived on the scene to watch us sweat. Offering no advice except to "move that hand", he let us work through it. When we had a possible code, he blinked, I think, and then we were in."
The day ended with a meet & greet event at a local Mexican restaurant hosted by another geocacher. While I typically geocache solo or with BJ, I think it's the creative side of building caches, and the social side of events that I enjoy the most.

No more new caches for awhile although I do have a meeting on Tuesday about another place that might be willing to host a cache...


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Gadgets

In mid October I posted a blog post about Patience. Finally, on November 30th, I got an email approving cache placements at some of the locations, just in time for a Geocaching event scheduled for December 6th. This would be the same event that I was hoping to do in early October. Doesn't matter - it's still going to be fun!

Since I don't think any of my local geocaching friends read my blog, here's a bit more about the special caches that I've built this fall in preparation for this event. Five of them are 'birdhouse' style structures. This one has gone through four color iterations as it's likely placement wandered around the community. This one is called Lights & Siren. There is a series of switches inside the side door that do various things including operating the flashing light on top and a siren inside the structure. Deciphering what the various switches do should result in the code needed for the lock to gain access to the cache container.

This one uses a similar side-loading structure. It was going to be titled Magnetic Attraction and talk about arson, but now it's going to be placed at a church so I changed the subject. It's now called Old Testament Survey - since the New Testament doesn't have enough books. Three of the books are written over magnets inserted into the structure. Figuring out the ordinal number of those three books provides the numbers for the combination.

This one has the lock underneath it with the door nearly half way up inside so the lock isn't obvious and it's protected from the weather. This one was going to be titled Loose Connections and talk about the importance of electrical safety in fire prevention, but when the department backed away from their earlier commitment, this one was retitled and placed near a hardware store. There's a similar assortment of hardware on the right side of this one. Touching the correct pair will make the box buzz and light up three colored lights inside. The colors are decoded to provide the combination for the lock.

This one is a bit more challenging - I'm hoping it will be fun rather than frustrating, but only time will tell. It uses a magnetic latch for initial access, a 'useless box' switch as a decoy, and a puddle lamp that shines out the back when you press the right button. The puddle lamp reflection can be decoded for the combination.

These caches are designed to be mounted to parking lot poles like this one. If I hang them in trees they disappear!

Those were fun, but these weren't the ones I was really anticipating!

The pile of plywood in the last picture of the last post turned into this cache. It's actually listed as a letterbox hybrid, and uses a wireless doorbell to locate the final from the initial coordinates. It uses a child safety latch to release a tube with the combination for the lock. No sense making it too easy!

This is the container that started it all. Actually this cache was the result of finding a highly favorited cache elsewhere that used a fake fire hydrant.  I bought a surplus hydrant and rebuilt it, installing a false floor just below the steamer port. Access is through the steamer port after unlocking the padlock. Combination is derived from finding three other caches. This one, False Alarm, and Lights & Siren survived the FD review and are going in place in time for the event. The others have been repurposed and I've found homes for all but one. I have feelers out to several other locations for the last one (that I didn't show you) but don't know if I'll have it in place in time for the event or not.

These are all way overkill, but I have fun building them and dreaming up new ways to create challenging access methods. I've got at least three others in the mental queue but don't know where they might go.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

This & That

While a bunch of my time has gone into doing mods for Jeff's RV, I've taken time out this month to get ready for a geocaching event to be held early next month. In the process, I spent some time talking with the Lost Dutchman, but he wasn't willing to tell where all the gold in the Superstitions is hidden.

I've been out to hunt for a handful of caches, including one First To Find on a wannabe stormy afternoon. The reality was that it was cloudy, but it never produced. I did find the cache, though.

My favorite time of day is to be on the trail at sunrise. I'm ahead of most hikers, the day is quiet, and sometimes the colors are beautiful. I've found I really appreciate the opportunity to wander through the desert watching it come alive.

The biggest  chunk of my time this month has been in the shop, building a series of  'gadget' caches. They'll all be finished and placed before the geocaching event, but it's too soon to publish more about that...

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Just Chillin'

A couple months ago our air conditioner showed signs of distress and wasn't keeping up with our 100 degree+ weather. We called our son-in-law's cousin to check it out. He was able to get it working temporarily while we got a new unit on order.

Josh, and his helper, Josh showed up with a trailer load of new gear.

They started at both ends of the system - removing the old air handler & furnace combination and the really strange angled return air duct.

The pile in the front yard grew taller. It took ALL day for the two of them,

but by later afternoon the compressor was in place and the system was charged with freon. This unit uses a current version of freon which is supposedly safer for the environment.

By 7 p.m. or so they had the new furnace and air conditioning coil in place as well as new transition ducting. This return air box includes a filter at knee level instead of filters at 'top of the ladder' level like the old system. The supply duct is insulated like the old one should have been.

We selected the Goodman system because it is built in the US and is very basic in nature, making maintenance calls much easier. We should be good to go for years to come.

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I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We gave thanks for having a new air conditioner as we enjoyed a 90 degree day.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Too Much Ruckus

One of the cool items that was stock on Jeff's Vista XL is a set of automatic hydraulic levelers. So much nicer that stacking up boards or Lego blocks.

The manufacturer requires that the jacks are deployed before the slides can be extended. The engine must be running to deploy the jacks or slides, BUT... they're very concerned about someone driving away with the jacks still deployed.

They installed a warning light, but their ergonomics engineer was absent when they did the design. It's not at all visible when an average height person is in the driver's seat.

You must lean significantly forward to find the light shining brightly, but totally hidden behind the steering wheel.  It's just a light, installed in a hole in the plastic dash. Apparently no one has ever considered moving the light to a position much more obvious to the driver.

Since the light is essentially useless for its intended function, they also include a horn. The horn should have a warning to not use it near a cemetery because it will wake the dead!. It's so loud that it becomes a safety issue because you rush to get everything closed up so you can kill the horn. Of course, the horn is buried just about as deep as possible, forward of all the circuit breakers by the driver's left leg.

Removing the fairing around the circuit breaker panel provides hand access, but it also makes the horn more painfully loud while you try to locate it.

Removing the hydraulic leveler control panel gets an angle so you can get some light into some of the darkest recesses of this corner. It's fair to say access is neither easy nor comfortable.

Yup, it's this little critter that is making so much noise it can be heard 200' away with the coach door closed. We debated about removing it entirely, but decided to try a muffler first. I constructed a housing out of 1/2 inch foam that went over the horn. It's still loud, but at least it's not painful. He's going to use it a while and see if that's enough or if it needs even more muzzling.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Lost Dutchman Testing

It was a first for us. We've enjoyed our Scamp for over seven years, but we'd never stayed at Lost Dutchman State Park. BJ spent many hours in the park and surrounding area as a member of the Search & Rescue group, but we'd never camped there. Too close and usually too full.

Since Jeff is leaving his new rig in Arizona for the winter, they came down for a long weekend and we managed to reserve a couple sites right across the road from one another.

We both had to suffer with this view. In our case our large back window framed the mountain while in Jeff's case the front window provided the best seats in the house.
We did work on a couple mods for his rig, but I also got a chance to go geocaching with our grandson for a while one morning until the heat got to be too much.

Always nice to be young - makes the tree climbing easier!

I even loaded up some charcoal and brought a dutch oven for one of our dinners.

Pot roast - the easiest thing to fix - was excellent. Our daughter and son-in-law came out so we managed to have everyone together in one place. The pot was empty when we got finished!

We enjoyed great weather, excellent time together, and beautiful sunsets. No wonder valley visitors rave about Lost Dutchman State Park!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Memorials


In spite of living in Arizona for 27 years, I'd never visited Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza until a couple weeks ago. The plaza is essentially surrounded by state government buildings that house civil servants and not-so-civil elected lawmakers.

The plaza is home to a large memorial to the men of the battleship Arizona. The anchor from the battleship as well as a couple of the gun barrels are part of very moving memorial to men who gave their lives for our freedom.

What I didn't realize until my visit, was the large collection of other memorials at this plaza.

The day was nearly overcast and occasionally spitting a bit of rain. The light made for poor photos, but I enjoyed my time reflecting on each and every memorial. This one was for the Navajo code-talkers who played an integral part in the war in the Pacific.

The spot I'd selected to park was near this gateway leading to the Korean War memorial.

The one that hit closest to home, perhaps because of my age, was the Vietnam memorial. In addition to the sculpture, there was a timeline of the major events and a listing of the Arizonans who lost their lives in Vietnam.

The most colorful memorial was to the people who served in Desert Storm.

In addition to all the military memorials (I've only shown a few,) there was a memorial to slain peace officers and a very large memorial to fire fighters.

It wasn't intentional, but the visit certainly got me thinking about Veteran's Day and all the people who have died in service to their country.

 


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Nose Job

I've been visiting a dermatologist annually for several years. Last year he punched a hole in the top of my head. This time he decided to take a sample of my nose. Turns out the sample was a basal cell carcinoma so he refered me to a Mohs surgeon. If you get queasy, you might want to just skip the rest and make an appointment with your dermatologist instead.

We managed to sneak in the river trip between the initial biopsy and the surgery so the initial cut had healed leaving just a little divit. The surgeon's assistant marked their target.

The anesthetic was excellent. Quick and easy. I was a bit surprised at how deep they went, wondering how much more they would take if they needed to go back for a second or third pass.

They determined that they got all the nasties on the first pass, so it was time to visit with the plastic surgeon who would do the closing. She drew an even larger teardrop on my nose.

She stretched the skin down the nose and added a whole bunch of little tiny stitches.

The finishing touch was an obnoxiously large bandage. Glad BJ came with me because my glasses sat too high to be very usable for driving. A week later, the incision is essentially healed.

I guess I've become a fan of annual (dermatology) inspections.