Sunday, February 16, 2014

28 September 2013 Bradbury and Tryon Mountain

We wanted to visit Bradbury Mountain State Park since it was a park we had not visited. The warm fall day seemed to bring everyone for miles to the park. The trails to and from the overlook near the peak were fun and there was a long view from the peak, but the park never clicked for me. Besides lots of people on the trails who looked as if they rarely visited a park, a number of the caches were in areas better left without hides. There was one near a children's playground and one in close proximity to a pair of pit restrooms. State parks often have enough real estate that the less desirable areas can be left cacheless. We found a number of the caches here on a long loop trail along with orchids that had bloomed and a nice snake.

Our visit to nearby Tryon Mountain made the day. There were a number of good trails and lots of mice and quartz. I had a great time playing with the transparent sheets letting sunlight pass through. Ali also spotted a well hidden tree frog near one of the caches. We didn't stay to hunt the night cache, but had plenty of time to enjoy the trails here and a few caches.

Friday, February 14, 2014

27 September 2013 Eartha

Our day included a stop at DeLorme Headquarters to see Eartha, the world's largest globe. DeLorme is an iconic brand to many geocachers, but our ties to the company's product go back to many years before the satellites were turned on. When we first got together, we spent days and days exploring back roads and new places with the DeLorme map books. Since I am terrible with maps, Ali usually managed the DeLorme while I made the turns. We had great days then just exploring roads and places where the DeLorme took us. Eartha was amazing, and we found the caches hidden on the grounds.

So, the weird guy in Indiana was right. Someone can manipulate the earth's axis rotation. ;-)

Ah, those wonderful maps... and memories...

While we were hunting the caches on the grounds, Ali threw me over for this big, quiet guy. I thought he was a little wooden. My image of them together made the Geocaching blog, and Ali did eventually agree he was too quiet.

Our next visit was the Bayview Estuary Preserve which protects a salt marsh on the Royal River. We enjoyed a walk in the woods and along the river and were treated to different ducks, and some long-distance egrets.

I was surprised to realize I took no pictures in Freeport when we stopped at the L.L. Bean complex. I'm certain I left the large camera in the geomobile so I didn't look too much like a geek. It was a warmer day so I probably had no place to put the small Fuji which left me with the Iphone. The Iphone is great if you have no other choice, but the picture quality on phones is always disappointing. Too bad, because the ginormous boot is a site to see.

We had fun in Freeport. It was relaxed and a very different contrast to the clogged, unhappy mess of Manchester, Vermont. Ali's a big Bean fan. I found a hoodie, but not in my size. I was very happy to find a new, unboxed Garmin Vista HCx for $60. I no longer cache with my existing one, but it is my routing gps when I travel. My current one is wearing out after six years of heavy use so I'll be happy to the new one for my future travels.

Our last big stop was at Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park. It's a very attractive park with trails running through the woods and along the shore line of Casco Bay. It features a small island just off shore which is an osprey sanctuary. We could spot a few now-unused nests, but it was the wrong season for osprey viewing. We were treated to a mass of fish jumping along the shoreline. The water looked like boiling bubbles with all the activity.

A view of the osprey sanctuary from the shore

There's something about a sailboat that makes a place more tranquil. Maybe it's the lack of a loud engine or the graceful lines. This one was just off the shore in Casco Bay.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

26 September 2013 Meeting Friends

The opportunity of meeting friends from Ali's time in graduate school sealed our vacation plans for Maine and surrounding states. Three of us had gathered in Portland a few years prior. This year, Ali was able to spend some time with both her grad school friends.

One of the friends has roots in Ogunquit with a family home that traces back to the first residents. We were lucky to visit the home and share its history before spending the day visiting the shore and the beach. The years have flown by and too many have passed since we were last all able to visit in San Francisco. The day was too short, but it was a perfect day in Ogunquit to spend a day being a tourist with friends.

It was fun to see the pedestrian lift bridge in action.

I'm not a big lobster fan, but the scallop roll was really good.

We looked for the cache at Webhannet Falls, but missed the find. We settled for a visit to the park and falls.

Our last stop of the day was a waterside find along the shore at Webhannet. The park seemed as though it was deserted but the cache was a fun chance to explore and be by the water.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

25 September 2013 Mine Falls and Pawtuckaway

It's a good caching day when you visit two parks and both have enough caches and trails to spend the day. After breakfast at the diner, we started our caching day with a walk along a rail trail. Ali had solved one puzzle on this trail before our trip, and we had found the answers to a second puzzle with a walk around the town square the day before. We enjoyed the walk, but were really impressed with one hide.

Can you spot the ammo can?

Can you see it with a closer look? Neither could we which is why we liked this hide so much.

Mine Falls Park features New Hampshire's oldest cache, very nice hiking trails, and lots of caches. This was a really busy, large urban park so muggles were a problem, but the caches were fun finds. There were a number of herons in the park. They seemed accustomed to human presence and were easy to photograph.

Puffball Fun

By the time we reached Pawtuckaway, the blue sky was gone and rain was threatening. We were both impressed by the trails at the park. They were challenging with terrain changes, climbs, and lots of big rocks.

Both parks deserve a return trip. If we have to choose on a future visit, Pawtuckaway will win because it is more remote and has more challenging trails. It's much better to end a day wishing for more time at two parks than wishing there had been one nice visit.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

24 September 2013 Ascutney and Vermont's Oldest

Our two plans for the day were to revisit Ascutney State Park for the other older cache in the park and to hike and find GC86, Vermont's oldest cache. I don't know how long the Lebanon Diner has been open off the town square. We didn't eat here at our last visit, but stopped by each day were in town this visit. It was a quiet place with standard breakfast items done well.

After breakfast, we walked the town square park and the outer ring of the town square to find the answers to a solve on site puzzle cache. The town square park is as clean and inviting as it was the last time we visited. We had to make a stop at the fire department for one of the answers. The fire department has an old fire alarm posted outside. These are getting rarer, and this one is in nice condition. Ali solved the coordinates for the final, but we held finding the cache back for another day.

It seemed as though we saw fewer covered bridges on this visit than our last visit. We stopped by this one for a cache find.

The Ascutney hide was a 4 1/2 terrain. The terrain may be that when there has been heavy rain, but this afternoon we quickly made it up the trail and across the falls to the hide. There was very little flow in the falls so we had an easy crossing near the cache. It was a fun journey and another old cache (2001) found.

The interesting gate below marked the entrance into a very old historic cemetery. There was a cache nearby outside the stone walls of the cemetery, but the cemetery was a place to visit.

I missed the turn for the parking area to take us to Vermont's oldest cache, and we drove to Manchester, Vermont. I usually don't form big, negative opinions of towns, but I left Manchester with no positive thoughts. The town appears to have been swallowed and turned into one big outlet strip. There are cookie-cutter outlet stores everywhere. The city streets are narrow and have the new terribly designed tiny roundabouts. If you add to that a multitude of cars looking for parking and wandering shoppers, you have a good impression of Manchester through my experience. We made two quick stops and met with crabby, unfriendly employees.

We were both cranky from our Manchester visit by the time we finally got back to the parking area for Vermont's oldest cache. It was a nice hike up to the cache with good views in the area. The cache is multiple-stage, offset multi. The stages of the multi are all in wooded areas and the cache was placed in 2000 with old gps technology so the offsets are not very accurate. We tried to find the cache using the offsets for each stage, but looked a long time with no luck. We were fairly certain of where the last offset ended so I finally went to that area and walked along the last heading. I checked four or five spots before spotting the ammo can.