Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Short, But Sweet!

We got the Alaska contingent back to our house from the airport just as the sunrise was painting some pink on the clouds.

It didn't take long for Turk (our dog) and Winston (Spencer's dog) to both find a spot on BJ's lap.

We celebrated Thanksgiving at our daughter & SIL's house. For some reason, I didn't get any pictures of the spread, but it didn't take long for the sound of silverware and plates to be the predominate sound.

Spencer and I went out geocaching a couple times, visiting some new caches that have been recently placed in the area.

Saturday morning, I hosted a geocacher's gathering to introduce Spencer, and appropriately named the event "It's His Fault." We were amazed by the turnout. Lots of our winter visitors are back, and several new geocachers attended as well. It was a great opportunity for folks to share hints and thank Spencer since many of the caches in the local area wouldn't have happened if he hadn't introduced us to the sport.

We headed towards the airport at 10 p.m. Sunday night, with a slight detour so Spencer and I could pick up a First To Find on a cache that published minutes before we left the house. They left on a midnight flight headed north, getting home a couple hours before Spencer headed off to school.

We're sure glad they came. It was great fun to have the whole family in one place for a while.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Reasons to be Thankful

For some reason, I've been much more reflective about Thanksgiving this year.

I was especially thankful this morning to enjoy a freeway, just for me.

And a cell phone waiting lot at the airport that didn't have any flights on the screen.

Terminal 2 is a flashback to the past, but remains our favorite local terminal. Yesterday evening all the local news programs were highlighting the hordes of people at the airport. This morning, it's all peaceful.

The carousels sit idle, but not for long, because the Alaska contingent is arriving on the all-nighter. First time in a number of years that we've had all the family together for Thanksgiving.

People that know me well know that I'm an introvert at heart, loving quiet and solitude. That said, I find that this year, I'm especially thankful for all the people in my life. Some, I rarely if ever see, others I see regularly, but to all the people in my life, I'm thankful for your influence.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Building Smiles

Last spring, a couple fellow geocachers asked me about my background, wondering where I came up with ideas for my caches. It took months of thinking about it, but I recently created a series of 13 caches that I called my autobiographical series to try and answer their innocent question.

Each of them are puzzle caches - a least one, and in some cases, two puzzles must be solved to determine the final coordinates of the cache.

Each of the puzzles starts with an online jigsaw puzzle that was built from a collage of personal pictures. Each cache listing told a part of my story, and the online jigsaw puzzle (when solved) provided the final coordinates or pointed to the next puzzle to be solved.

I tried to make cache containers that were congruent with the jigsaw puzzle.

I especially liked this one since it took the most searching to come up with the old pitchfork. I could easily get a new pitchfork, but I wanted an old, gnarly one. I finally found this one in an antique shop in Payson and got a super good deal on it because it wasn't useful anymore. Little did he know...

I did one about trucking, since working with Dad was where I first was introduced to planning and was the biggest influence on my leadership style.

Amazingly, this simple cache is the one that people seem to like the most.

I did one that was intended to recognize the influence of teachers in my life. I think of my high school wood shop teacher nearly every time I go out to play in the shop.

I thought this one would be the most popular cache of the series, but that's not how it turned out. Sometimes I come up with something simple that turns out to be very popular, other times, not so much.

I thought I was out of ideas with this series, and then a friend made a passing comment about a picture I posted to Facebook that has my mind buzzing with possibilities. One never knows where the next idea will come from.

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying building smiles one cache at a time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

One Step at a Time

Since there aren't any direct Boise - Phoenix flights with the right color paint, I was all lined up in time to check in for the first flight to Portland. SEA-PHX flights looked clobbered for several days, but Portland looked reasonable. I was early enough that I beat the crew to work so the bag and I cooled our heels for a bit.

Apparently there's sometime special about the carpet in the Portland airport so I took a picture to prove I got that far. I'd been watching the one PDX>PHX flight go downhill all morning for reasons I didn't understand.

By the time the doors closed, I was still 6 down on the standby list. Turns out, someone in Seattle reservations was running in a race in Phoenix and a bunch of their co-workers were headed to Phoenix to cheer them on. Doesn't happen too often, but now I had some time to kill.

Found a nearby hotel with space, dropped my carry-on bag and headed for the train, wishing I'd put another layer into my carry on bag.

Wandered around some portion of downtown, including a visit to the world's smallest park. The sign was bigger than the park! They're doing a good job of keeping Portland weird!

During my wandering, I ran across a place with shepard's pie on their menu. MUCH better than my version.

I'm a light rail fan. I don't get to use them very often, but it sure makes it easy to get around, especially for a visitor to town. Seniors could ride all day for about the price of one regular round-trip ticket.

All in all, not a bad trip home - just 24 hours later than I expected.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Left Turn On The Way Home

Continuing standby roulette, I got to watch the sun rise about half way between Anchorage & Seattle. Had I waited for a later flight, I don't know how many days I would have waited. This way, I had some options. The option I selected was a left turn out of Seattle, headed towards Idaho.

With Alaska ticking the box for my ninth state on a couple challenge caches, I wanted to spend a day doing some geocaches in Idaho in hopes I could make it my tenth qualifying state.

The little town of Grand View, Idaho caught my attention because of a long series of challenge caches on both sides of the Snake River. In addition, there were several earth caches in the general area.

I ignored the train geoart located south of town. There are over 1000 caches to make up this art form. The last person to complete it said it took them 7 1/2 days. I didn't have the time or the energy to even think about it.

I started out working on the four earth caches I needed to finish qualifying for the 5 earth caches in 10 states challenge. This one sounded interesting but didn't look like much.

The ladder leads down into a lava tube. The tube extends a fair distance in both directions, making for some interesting exploration. From the graffiti on the walls, it's clear that some artists have visited.

I'd tried to rent a compact pickup, specifically for ground clearance, but ended up with an Impala which had the ground clearance of a roller skate. The end result was I did more hiking than I expected.

The features and impacts of the volcanic impacts on the area were both obvious and interesting. There were whole areas of rocks that looked like petrified watermelons.

The views of the Snake river were beautiful, both from the cliffs and from water level.

In a few areas, I had to watch out for the trucks hauling sugar beets. It was pretty obvious where they'd gone around a corner a bit too fast for their load, leaving some huge sugar beets in the road.

Most of the challenge caches were easy to find, which was what I was hoping since I needed to find 81 caches to finish qualifications for the one of the other challenges I'd been working on.

The hint for many of them was 'urp' which I took to mean unusual rock pile.

Some seemed to be missing the rocks, but did have the log to sign.

Occasionally, one would be found in a very unlikely place. This one was spot on the coordinates, which put it out in the open, inches from the tire track. I signed it and put it back where I found it.

This one had an URP hint. There were several dried piles, but I didn't think they were unusual. Apparently, it only takes one rock to make a pile.

Not all rock piles had a cache. This pile was spot on the coords, but the cache was found 15 feet away, leaning against a fence post.

I didn't find everything I looked for, but I did get the earth caches I needed and found 84 caches during a VERY busy day, finalizing my qualifications for that challenge cache that has been tantalizing me for nearly a year - 10 states with over 100 finds in each.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Geocaching Alaska

I've been working on qualifying for a couple challenge caches all summer. I 'need' 10 states with at least 100 finds in each state. Another one needs at least five earthcaches in each of 10 states. My plan was to try to get at least 5 earthcaches and at least 51 total additional caches while in Alaska to make Alaska my 9th qualifying state. I tried to concentrate on easy to find caches since I had limited time.

I quickly discovered that Alaska sizes and terrain ratings were suspect. This was supposed to be a wheelchair accessible, regular size. Instead it was small, located 15 feet up a wooded slope.

This one was supposed to be a small, but was a micro lying loose in a hole under the tree. Apparently they don't have problems with pack rats carrying away small shiny things. I logged it and then replaced the old leaves that covered the hole.

This one was supposed to be a "park and grab." I parked, but didn't grab. :-(  I'm sure it's there somewhere...

I do think that caching Alaska in the fall might be easier than any other season. There were some bugs, but not many. The devil's club had died back, making access to some cache locations easier than it would be at other times of the year.

I loved the sign, but it was obvious that the dogs couldn't read. I saw quite a few dogs with their jogging or bike riding  owners, but never saw one on a leash.

Most of the time I was caching alone while Spencer was in school or at hockey practice. I was pretty cautious about the areas I elected to visit.

Never saw a bear, but did see three moose, including one that was closer than I needed to be. I came back to this cache later in the day!

There were some excellent earthcaches, including several that were clustered fairly close together. Each one involved more time and more hiking than I'd expected, but each of them was very interesting and educational.

Spencer and I visited Potter Marsh before one of his hockey games. We were supposed to observe the mountain in the background - not the visible hill, but the cloud shrouded mountain...

Several of the caches were related to the earthquake in 1964. Trees have grown up, camouflaging some of the details but the results are still visible when you know where to look.

I really enjoyed a series of caches around the approach end of the Anchorage airport. Not only were there caches to be found, but you could also do a landing gear inspection on the aircraft as they flew by.

This picture is less about the cache than the Alaskan cacher's attire. These oversize bison tubes were a popular cache container.

We didn't have much time to cache together, but Spencer did manage to get an earthcache and enough other caches to earn a couple souvenirs. Note the difference in desert dweller clothing as compared to the local. The termination dust on the mountains made for chilly temps, I thought...