Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I Love OC in the Winter!

At least once every winter, we spend a day in Ocean City (NJ) geocaching.  There are a lot of caches over there and more all the time. It's really hard to do it in the summer, too many cars, too many people and it's HOT! I really don't like hot.  

Look what Kathy found in a backpack!  It's a pipe!
Janet and Kathy W.
Most of the caches were along the Boardwalk and they tended to be under the Boardwalk, usually just along the edge.  On this first one, I dropped Kathy and Janet off just up the street from the high school and then I parked the car.  By the time I caught up, they were under the boards, searching.  I didn't bother to check the coordinates or read the clue.  As we're searching, Kathy found a backpack that hadn't been there very long, so she decided to check it out...OK, so I egged her on! Inside it, she found a detention pass, cigarettes, a lighter, a tin of chewing tobacco (which surprised me because I thought it was a girl's backpack, and I have problems imagining a girl with chewing tobacco), and a glass Hash pipe! She decided that she should move the backpack a few feet away and just to mess with him/her, she took the pipe out and put it on top.  It doesn't take much to entertain us!

When I finally decided to check the coords and read the hint, it was a quick find.  Right where it said it was.  It only took us about 1/2 hour to find it but most of it was spent playing under the boards.

I was surprised to see that stalactites were developing on the underside of the cement under the boards!  Makes sense, concrete has a lot of lime in it.  And who says there isn't science everywhere? I just have to figure out how to put it into my lessons.  There are going to parents who aren't going to be happy with me when their kids what to check out the stalactites under the Boardwalk.  We don't have any hills much less mountains with caves so it's the best I can do!  

I was covered in sand spurs when I came out!
It wasn't under there!
Cloudy winter day on the boards
For the most part, the caches were easy to find.  But there were a couple that took a while. We met the new cacher who has been putting out all the new caches over there.  He was walking the boards; we'd find one, hop in the car, drive down to the next one and he'd be there waiting for us.  He said it was the first time he'd met people caching and he enjoyed watching us hunt.  Of course a bunch of OWLs crawling around under the Boardwalk and stairs can be pretty entertaining!  Especially when we kept getting covered in sand spurs (they call them hitchhiker here).  We managed to get his phone number and after he left, we were able to ask for hints on one of the caches that we couldn't find.  We went back to it and still could find it.  I think it's gone.  Anyway, we had a good time entertaining ourselves at his expense. We ended up with 27 caches, not bad for a fun day!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Egg Harbor City, Clever and Fun Caching

On the first Friday or Saturday of each month, the South Jersey Geocachers meet up and go caching.  Once in a while it will be on Saturday afternoon but more often than not, it's on Friday night or Saturday night.  This month about 9 people and it was a beautiful Saturday night.  It had been 60 degrees during the day and very pleasant at night!  There was no wind! The sky was perfectly clear with a full moon!

Now a lot of people would think that it's much too cold to be going out at night, in the middle of winter, to the woods.  I get that but there are so many advantages.  Of course you need to learn how to dress, layering is the way to go!  I generally have a layer of Under Armour pants under my jeans and a pair of Merino wool hiking socks.  I love my winter socks, I wish I could wear them all year!  They are soft, warm and thick on the bottom.  My feet almost never hurt or get sore when I wear them and they stay toasty warm. 

On the top half, I have an Under Armour shirt next to my skin then a warm shirt.  That's usually enough to start the night but as the night goes on I have a few coats that I wear.  They are all orange so that I can wear them at during the daytime in hunting season and hopefully not get shot.  One of the coats was a present from Bill, my son-in-law for Christmas a few years ago.  When he gave it to me, he told me that he was concerned when I was out there during hunting season.  How sweet is that? So I hold it up to admire it and the girls and Joe burst out laughing!  He tells me to check out the back.  I turn it around and he's pinned a target to the back!  

The advantages to geocaching in the winter?  Well, there are no ticks or chiggers, you don't sweat and it's much easier to find things when the brush was dropped its leaves!  Bushwhacking is so much easier.  
Spoiler alert...I'm about to show pictures of actually caches.  I will not tell you the names.
 Below are some of the clever geocaches you can find in the Egg Harbor City.

The instruction below are from what's known as a liar's cache.  You tell a crazy story about your adventure finding it.  When you go to the cache page, you will find some really wild stories, none of them are true.  When you log it, you read the other cachers stories and add your own twist!

 This cache is part of the underside of the shelf fungus on the tree.  The fungus is attached to the tree with a magnet, it's not a natural part of the tree.

 This red jeep has a container on the front bumper.

 There is a stick balanced in the bush that has a container on the end of it.

 When you approach the tree, there is a piece of bark that is attached with a magnet and the geocache is under it. Once it has weathered a few months, it will be especially hard to see.

 There are so many creative geocache hidders out there! We like to give them a hard time about how much time that have on their hands and how they need to get a life, but we're really grateful!  The keep the game interesting!  Thanks to all of you!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Years Eve - Woods Style

Kathy Wade checking out the water depth

I've never really cared for New Year's Eve.  I don't understand a holiday, that at it's core is about getting drunk. I'm not much of a drinker, I don't dance and I don't like loud parties.  After my girls came and my mom started coming to NJ annually for Christmas, NYE was a family event.  The girls stayed up, we watched movies and at midnight we would go outside with spoons and pots to make noise and welcome in the new year.  When the girls started spending NYE out of the house, NYE became a private time with my mom.  We would drink eggnog and snack on all our favorite foods.  We would rent movies and wait for the girls to come home.  It was special and quiet.  When my mom was no longer able to fly and visit it was lonely but not nearly as lonely as the years after her death.  I tried to invite people over for a quiet evening but they either wanted to stay in their own homes or go out and party.

Last year, that all changed!  There is now an annual New Year Eve Event in Wharton for geocachers.  We start at the Pic (Pic-A-Lilli) in Shamong on the edge of the NJ Pinelands. They have great food specializing in wings.  It's the "unofficial" club house of the South Jersey Geocachers.  We have dinner and enjoy each others company.  After a while, usually around 2 hours, we head into the woods.  There are usually caches that have been put out just for the event. One of those is the Christmas tree on the right.  There is a ball on that tree that you have to find and it has to log in it!  Very clever and super special!

We all headed out with the intensions of forming a parade through the Pines grabbing the caches as we went. As usual, I jumped in with Kathy and John of the Aufbau's.  This becomes sort of a traveling party, lots of laughs and joking, running to see who can get there first!  We end up down tiny, narrow roads and then have to turn about 6 or 8 cars around in no space and head to the next.  Early on, last night, John, was at the head of the line and made a left when we should have gone right, he quickly realized his mistake when he hit a dead end!  One other car followed us.  We both turned around and tried to catch up to the rest of the parade.  Cell coverage was minimal at best out there.  I usually have coverage  if anyone does, and I didn't.  We got a call from Mollie (that's Mollie in the yellow jacket) that was broken up, telling us which way to go. We were told to stay on Carranza Rd.  In Wharton, roads are dirt, covered in pot holes and small ponds.  The roads aren't labeled.  I was on Google Maps following along, telling him where Carranza Rd. was and when it turned.  At one point the road bears off to the left, apparently we were suppose to bear right but that's not what we were told.  When we realized that we weren't heading for the cache, we found a road to follow back in that direction.  
Car/truck parade in the woods
We were being followed by  the Moliveris.  Last NYE, they joined us in their little Saturn. During last year's event, there was about a foot of snow on the ground and they got stuck at every turn, or so it seemed.  Finally, we got them out, took their car back to the Ranger Station on 206 and they jumped in with other people.  This year, they borrowed a relatively new Jeep Liberty for a friend.  Now, if you take your Jeep into the woods, it's up to you to decide if you're going to get it scratched or stuck in a puddle.  I was surprised that they would borrow a Jeep and really surprised that someone would loan a Jeep to go mudding.  

That's  a BIG puddle!
The front end of the Jeep is in the water
We were back tracking down this increasingly narrow road and they were right behind us, doing a fine job of keeping up with John! And that's not always an easy task. Finally we popped out of the road right near the cache and saw the rest of the cars!  Success! .... well, maybe not!

The other cars/trucks left before we caught up with them.  In front of us there was a huge "lake" in the middle of the road but it looked do-able.  John took off on the edge of the puddle and got through it with very little trouble.  We were now on solid ground and staring at a "puddle" that was probably 40 feet across in front of us and we couldn't see the sides of it.  Kathy got out and was wading around in it trying to determine if we should try it.  

yikes, the water is up to the door!
When you're in the woods they're 2 different kinds of risks, first, the risks you take when you're alone.  You need to know what your car can do and realize that you'll have to call for help and you will be there for hours before a rescue.  AAA is not coming out to help.  The second type of risk is when you're other 4x4's, you don't need to be as careful, there are people to pull you out. They enjoy helping and we enjoy watching!  No one enjoys being the one with their car stuck!  You're going to take quite a ribbing.

Joe Oliveri
Mudwhore to the rescue!
As we were trying to figure out how any of those cars/truck got across that lake, Mr. Moliveri came up to the our car and told us that they were stuck in the puddle behind us.  It seems that he decided to drive right through the middle of the puddle, he didn't even make it half way across.  The Aufbau's had cleaned their car inside and out for their son's wedding the night before and  didn't have a tow strap and neither did the Moliveri's car. It took many calls and texts trying to get the attention of anyone that we were with.  Finally we got in touch with Mollie and she told us that she would send the Mudwhores back to help!  Meanwhile, I went though the woods to get back to the Molivers Jeep to take pictures and discovered that they was a road to the left of where we were, a go-around for the puddle...the other cars didn't go through the puddle!  They took the go-around!  And about that time, the Mudwhores come flying down that very road!  Mr. Mudwhore got his tow strap and handed it to Mr. Moliveri to hook it around the hooks on the back of the Jeep...but there weren't any.  Long story short, Mr. Moliveri had to kneel down in the mud to connect it the "a structural member of the the car", per the user manual. The first time it wasn't solid, so he had to get back down and try again!  Now it was relatively warm last night but not warm enough to be kneeling in muddy water!  It was around 45 degrees.  Once it was connected correctly, it just took a quick pull and they were out.
Connecting the strap to the car!

While he was being pulled out, John went back to his Jeep to turn it around.  Kathy and I were sort of watching both events at the same time.  For a minute John and their Jeep disappeared and suddenly popped out of the woods up above.  He apparently decided it would be easier/more fun/quicker to make his own road! I wish I had  a video of it!  It was hysterical!

The Wharton Ball
It's coming down  10-9-8-...
We only had 10 minutes to get to Friendship for the dropping of the ball - Wharton style; it was about 3 miles away.  In the Pines that can be a quick trip or it can take forever.  The roads are always changing.  We headed off down the go-around. We made it with a few minutes to spare, but no sign of the Mudwhores or the Moliveris.  We waited and suddenly the Mudwhores came tearing down the road just in time!  But the Moliveris were still missing.

Now I know Times Square has their ball, but so do we!  Kevin and Mollie have a ball that is solar powered.  It is 2 clear Christmas bowls connected with a ball of aluminum foil and a string of Christmas lights inside.  It is suspended between 2 big trees and some how Kevin lowers it from a distance!  We were given noise makers, beads, and glow stick necklaces!  We had a count down and toasted with sparkly cider!
Right after the ball dropped, the Mudwhores got a call from the Moliveris, they had a flat tire and needed help... again.  I don't know the whole story but apparently they backed into a tree turning around and then their tire blew out on their way to the ball dropping.  Not a good night for them.  They've since decided that NYE in the Pines is not for them.  and they won't be back next year.  I hope they change their minds.  They should probably find someone with experience to ride with,  however.

Final cache found!

Cheryl and Doug
Jack and Debbie
A close up

As I said earlier, the Aufbau's had cleaned their Jeep for the wedding the day before. It was really clean and shiny!  But everyone knows that a dirty Jeep is much more fun!  The 2 pictures below show the remains of a great night in the Pines!  It was a lot of fun!
NJ mud is a very fine, light gray color

I know that this type of evening isn't everyone's idea of a fun NYE party but neither is a loud party with a bunch of drunk people! If you're interested in joining us next year, let me know...I might has other plans that will supersede but if not, I'll there!


Monday, December 26, 2011

Egg Harbor City

Monday, the day after Christmas, the OWLs met up in Egg Harbor City again to try and clean out the area of new caches...again.  Egg Harbor City is getting about 2 caches a day published lately and many of them are creative and fun!  We met at the train station, it's a great parking area where we feel that our cars are safe.

It was a chilly windy day but really beautiful out, as nice as you can expect this time of year.  As the day went on, it got windier and colder, though.  I had my new phone (Samsung Galaxy Nexus, that I love, by the way!) which didn't have a full charge on it and I left my camera at home.  The pictures I have here are thanks to Cheryl.

 First we went back to Geese Everywhere.  It's a fun cache with geese everywhere!  The CO (Cache Owner) has a field camera attached to a tree.  The first time we were there, we put on a show for the camera only to find out later that it wasn't operating the day we were there.  Today, we went back to "reenact" our antics.  Maybe I'll be able get a copy of the video and share it.

While we were there, we got notification that 2 new caches published and we were off to try to grab them first!  We got an FTF on the first one but by the time we got to the second one, 3K9amigos had just beaten us by a minute or two!  It was fun to run into someone while we were out! I haven't seen Tina in a few months!  It would have been more fun had we beaten her!
Next we were off to the area that these pictures were taken.  They are areas that you find all over South Jersey where sand was removed for construction.  They call them blue holes because the water is so blue.  Generally it is more of the turquoise color than these are.   I believe that it's because there is a lot of copper in the water giving it that copper oxide color (think the Statue of Liberty).  Most of the water in South Jersey is what they call "cedar water".  It has a lot of tannin in it causing it to be a very clear and clean root beer color, so when you come across these blue holes, they are quite a treat! Before I started geocaching I never realized there were any of these holes much less so many of them. This link is a google map of an area where there are a few in the same area.  I need to find out more about them.  All I've been told is that sand has been removed and this is what's left

I wish I had some pictures of the clever hides that we were finding!  The Mudwhores must spend a lot of time in the shop make clever  hids. The make containers attached to pine bark.  Sometimes that are reattached to the tree or are just laying on the ground.  The have containers made of all flashlight and other various containers.  We found a fake bird in a tree with a pencil inserted in his behind (that was a bit distrubing).  Below, Juan Pablo, Lost Amigo is one the to fun ones! When we got there, we found this closed outhouse.  When we opened the door, we found Juan Pablo complete with a container of goodies from the business at the location!

Terry and I had hoped to be out kayaking on Tuesday because the temps were going to be in the mid 50's but the weather turned bad and it poured all afternoon and night!  We went to lunch and a movie instead.  It was great spending the day with her but I really wanted to go paddling!  It will probably be a couple of months before I can get out again.  :-(

I have plans for caching on New Year's Eve, stay tuned!

Monday, December 19, 2011


I've been caching since October of 2007.  Very early on, Pooh, Blaze and I came across a cache that looked extremely interesting.  It had been awarded the coveted Recommended Cache Award. It was a night cache and  it had at least 4 stages and the second one had a black light in it that you need to read the clues at the subsequent stages!  We went to check it out in January or February of 2008.  We searched all over the place for the first stage and come up empty!  We went back several times of the years to try and find that first stage.  We tried in the light of day, the dark of night, winter in the snow, summer with tick and fall with leaves everywhere.   I've been following the cache page all this time and a couple of weeks before the annual Camp Sacy Christmas party, a group found the cache!  We had to try again. Blaze tells the story in her log on the cache page. 

Blaze's log account: 

Wow, where do I even start with this one? No story will ever do this cache adventure any justice. Maybe about 3 years ago, back when Keebs, Pooh, and I started caching, we set out from camp one weekend to hunt down this cache. It hadn't been found in a while, plus we were still relatively new, so we weren't completely shocked that we didn't find it. Some time later, we attempted this cache a second time. Feeling more prepared for the challenge, we were beyond a little annoyed when we once again came up empty handed. Was stage 1 missing or were we just blind and stupid? I think about a year passed and we tried again...I've lost track. Needless to say, we never succeeded. And then it was December 17, 2011...

We were at camp for the holiday party when Keebs, Bear, Pooh, and I decided we needed to sneak out for a cache. Now that there were 4 of us with thousands of finds under our belts, we were determined to find this cache! Well, things looked a little different now. The sign (which we had previously scoured every inch of)is gone and the coords were putting us in an area different from our past visits. Were we looking in the wrong place years ago? Had stage 1 been moved? We can so do this! We searched, and searched, and searched. We found a promising looking acorn, but after pounding it to death with a stick (it's the Girl Scout way) and grinding it to bits with a screwdriver (yes, we cache with a screwdriver), we determined said acorn could not have been stage 1. Tired, cranky, cold (yep, it snowed slightly), and frustrated, I don't think any of us wanted to give up, but we didn't know where else to look. "Maybe if we just walk the trail, we'll see reflectors or something." Pooh had already started walking down the trail in search of the lake, so we followed, sans cache.

Yep, we were just going to the lake, but our flashlights were all over the woods in case, perhaps, we should happen to stumble upon something relating to this cache. "Hey guys, check here. There could be something here." Something caught my eye, and upon investigation we determined that, though we could not find stage one, had no clue what the coords were to stage two, we somehow managed to stumble upon (yes, somewhere in the woods) stage three of this cache. "Oh no, we need a blacklight!" Pooh actually had one on her keychain, but it was back at camp. We tried all sorts of tricks with our flashlights, but nope, nothing worked. Keebs tried to see if there was a blacklight app (no, there is not, by the way) and even tried casting different shades of light onto the coords, but nothing worked. We needed an entirely different wavelength of light. Somewhere (SOMEWHERE!) in the woods around us was that blacklight that we needed, but it's the woods and who knows where it could possible be.

So we went and found a nearby cache so we could at least log some find for the evening.

On the way back, Bear came up with a theory. all we need to do is search the woods and maybe we'll find stage 2. Yeah, fat chance. We missed stage 1, accidentally found stage 3, and we actually thought we could come up with a plan to find stage 2?! Yep, we're Girl Scouts and that's how we roll. Well, we split up (in a buddy system, of course!). Two people searched this way, two people searched that way. Folks, we're looking for a needle in a haystack here. After a short while of searching, Keebler announced, "OH...MY...GOSH!" Can you believe it? We actually found stage 2!

We grabbed the light, bolted off to stage 3, finally were able to see the coords, then headed off to find the final. Could we have done it anymore backwards? We first found stage 3, hunted for stage 2, then got the final. And we still don't know where stage 1 is!!! The whole thing was completely wild! Who actually does that?! lol! It was awesome. I felt so accomplished at the end. It was a teamwork adventure and an absolute blast. TFTC, and thanks to my caching buddies for their determination! :)

Back to me.....

We also need the black light to sign the log.  The pen in the cache can only be seen with a black light.  When you look at the log book, you can't see anything on it, it appears empty.  When you put the black light up to it, it all becomes visible. You can see our log at the bottom.  12/17  Sacy's Holiday Party.

I still can't believe that we found Stage 2!


I am also so fortune to have friends who are as obsessed and determined as I am!  We may all be crazy but at least we're crazy together!  

This is definitely one of the most memorable geocaches that I've had the pleasure of searching for.