Wednesday, January 30, 2013


The Space Coast Geocaching Store, Merrit Island, FL is home to Florida's favorite geocache.  It has been gifted 327 "Favorite" awards by cachers.  That's Sue signing the cache's log book with its pen; also suitably scaled.

The cache fronts the store which is small in size but loaded with goodies sufficient to keep any geocacher stocked with material and supplies for his or her favorite hobby. 

Proprietors Dale and Barb were on hand and ready with friendly smiles and good advice to many cachers who stopped by during our recent visit.  Click here! for their web site.

If you are headed that way the cache is here:  N 28 21.316 / W 080 41.835.

It's alias is GC15RQB and its common name is A Cool Cache.

That it is!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Imaginative Creations of

World-renowned Flamework Glass Artist

Hans Godo Frabel...

presented by The McKee Botanical Garden,Vero Beach, Florida

...and the Bamboo Pavilion at night

Photos, tw

Thursday, January 24, 2013

This milestone in my geocaching career happened Jan. 21st in Vero Beach, FL.  The cache name was Australia.  We were curious about that name until we noticed, in the fenced field to my left, lots of horses and--an ostrich, or more likely an emu which is the largest bird native to Australia.

Should have looked closer to see if there was a kangaroo or two loitering within the herd of horses.
The cache, to which I am expressing my appreciation above, was a small tube attached to a stiff wire; both covered in camouflaged tape.  It was hiding in a crevasse in the trunk of the little palm tree behind me and was concealed by scraps of the tree's woodsy debris.
Our Garmin Oregon 450 GPS is in my left hand along with a very handy Mini-Maglite flashlight.  We use the car GPS to find our way from cache to cache then zero in on its specific location with the hand-held model.  The flashlight is a big help in illuminating the often dark hidey-holes cachers seem to enjoy using.
Saturday we take a brief break from geocaching stories to bring you a nice photo display of glass art at the McKee Botanical Garden in Vero Beach.  We hope you stop by and take a peek.    

Sunday, January 20, 2013

And the beat goes on; continuing...

Another recent geocaching adventure in the Vero Beach area involved this cache by the name of Godzilla which was being closely guarded by its own version of that very scary creature.

This outing also involved an encounter with a platoon of teen aged warriors heavily armed with toy guns looking amazingly like their real, grown-up counterparts, AR-15s.  The outing also convinced me caching via bicycle is not advised when it involves looking for hides in the jungle-like perimeters of some city parks.

My outing that day involved a run of five caches hidden fairly close to our winter digs on the south side of Vero Beach.  It was my first time out on my bicycle with only the hand-held GPS for guidance--a test of sorts.

The bike is a fine way to travel the city's streets but it is cumbersome to drag along when trying to negotiate the heavy, sub-tropical undergrowth on foot when bushwhacking your way through overgrown pathways.  Even dragging the bike far enough into the undergrowth to hide it while on the search for the sometimes very elusive caches is challenging. 

Encountering the young "warriors" was more humorous than threatening.  I had heard their noisy hi-jinx and saw a few of them scurrying through path intersections so I knew they were in the area.  The pair I encountered I had surprised with my silent bicycle from behind and alarmed them when I announced my presence.

Both whirled around.  One was happy to learn I was not an "enemy".  The other, more serious of the two, seemed confused between being relieved and perhaps, happy to discover he hadn't inadvertantly relieved himself.

I wished them luck as I rolled on my merry way.

*          *          *

On another recent caching outing Sue and I encountered two very creative hides about 1/4 mile apart in Vero Beach.  The first one was this Master Lock chained to a Cyclone Fence around a city park.  It was hard to verify it was, in fact, the cache we were seeking until Sue discovered the magnetized back would slide off.

When the back slid off a cavity appeared where some guts of the lock had been removed and there was a machined brass tube which unscrewed, revealing the log.   That's it in Sue's hand, not to be confused with her gold ring.

The second dandy hide was a 5 gallon-type, drywall bucket well hidden in a palmetto covered waste area near a series of dry canals.  With the lid off, the contents were revealed to be a plastic bag which contained the trinkets and about 10 "smiley faced" tennis balls.

A slit had been cut in the balls and squeezing the balls revealed each contained a plastic baggie with paper inside.  All but one of them contained the phrase "Keep Looking".  The correct one contained the cache's log.

With Sue's recent experience with a small snake, you would be safe to bet she remained in the car while I scrambled through the undergrowth.  Both of these very creative caches received a "Favorite" award from me--Geocaching's system for rewarding folks for very creative or highly enjoyable hides.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

And the beat goes on; continued

Geocache containers come in a wide variety of sizes and designs.

A "micro" sized cache is less than 100 milliliters; about the size of a 35mm film container.

A "nano" sized cache is a sub-group of the micro's but is 10 milliliters or less in size.  Now we are talking about something near the size of the tip of your little finger.

That's a nano in the photo (left) we recently found in Florida.  It has an opaque plastic tube about 1/4 inch in diameter with a waterproof, black plastic cap.  The white visible in the tube is a paper log where there is barely room for the geocacher to write his or her caching name and date.

This cache was stuck in one of the holes stamped in a metal sign post at ground level and covered with sandy debris.

We also found a nano sized cache recently in the towing structure of a WW-II canon in a cemetery.  It was a finely machined tube about 1/2" in diameter and 3/4" long with its own magnet and stuck in a hole in the canon.

Small caches range from 100 Ml to less than a liter.  They would be the equivalent of a sandwich-sized plastic container.

Regular caches range from 1 to 20 liters; something about the size of a shoebox or metal, ammo can.

Large caches would be larger than 20 liters; about the size of a large bucket.

In addition to these size variations caches come in about a bazillion different manufactured designs.  Add to that caches hand-made by creative cachers and the variations become limitless.

Recently we found a toy, plastic zebra attached to the branch of a brushy growth.  It was hosting a nano in a waterproof hole in its belly.

The largest cache we've ever found was about 2 feet square and 8" deep; a flat plastic container like you would use for storage under a bed.

We've also found caches posing as watering nozzles in landscaping.

Recently we've been finding caches made from 2" x 2" plastic, zip-lock type bags covered in camouflaged tape.  These can be folded or wrapped around some difficult to find locations. 

Imagine trying to find a cache which is in a tube, hiding in a hole drilled in a piece of limestone and lying in a pile of limestone rip-rap.

True, a GPS does a fine job of guiding you to the latitude/longitude coordinates of the location you are seeking, but, it does not guide you to THAT particular folded plastic bag or rock.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

And the beat goes on

There is a whopping difference between Ohio and Florida geocaching and much of that difference lies in the variety and complexity of the foliage, southern style.  Most everything in the sub-tropics is thick, and luscious like the jungle of growth surrounding Sue (above) along the intercoastal waterway.

If you look closely you will see the cache we have just found.  It is to the right of her, head-high.  See the little patch of green with two black lines through it.  That's a transparent plastic water bottle held in place by bungee cords.

In Ohio caches of this size are fairly common.  Down here, after a week of caching, this is the only one we have found of this size.  All others--all of them--have been of the micro variety, extremely small, and difficult to find in the always thick and often unpenetrable foliage and undergrowth.

This one also is now the new home of Sue's oldest travel bug.  It's our first local find that was large enough to hold it.

Travel Bugs are a delightful component of the hobby.  They are small items with a unique number attached.  This one looked like a friendship ring accompanied by a dog tag.  It was launched in Germany.  Each time someone finds it and moves it to another cache that movement also is logged on-line so its original owner can sit home and watch as it makes it's way around the world.

Another huge southern difference is the marvelous weather.  We've had temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s each day.  You hardly ever see luncheon photos like the one (right) in Ohio this time of year.  That's sunny, blue sky above and the Atlantic Ocean to the right.

We posed the lower photo as a small gift to our geocaching partners, Mark and Nancy Meinzer, currently stranded in Ohio.  It also shows a geocache we recently found; this one in a tiny tube lurking under the white sea-shell beside the riser on which she is sitting.

Hotel officials (where they stayed during last year's visit-background) confirmed their room is waiting with car arrangements included! 

Actually, I am surprised and grateful Sue remains my geocaching partner.  If you know Sue's life-long fear of snakes you will understand.

Yup, we were working our way down an overgrown path in the Oslo Road Conservation Area when she encountered a small black one of those critters.

She was in the locked car promptly, covering her 50 yard escape path in 3 seconds flat.

...and the beat goes on.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


The Racketeer by John Grisham

Another dandy offering by one of my favorite authors.  This one involves a heist of 8 million bucks worth of pure gold...with a federal judge who benefits...and is killed...with a lawyer who is jailed wrongly...who pals with some really slippery folks...some of whom enjoy sex...and go off into the Caribbean sunset...I think.  Regardless, it’s a thoroughly entertaining read; as usual.

The Last Refuge by Ben Coes

This one involves Iran’s nuclear ambitions, the kidnapping of the grandson of a former Israeli prime minister which angers his buddy, a former army ranger, who does what former members of the elite forces do which gets the attention of the Iranian secret service, all with a little sex mixed in, well, you get the picture.  I can hardly wait until I find this author’s first novel, Power Down.

Power Down by Ben Coes

Found it; and what a dandy!  It is Coes’ debut novel and those tend to be great reads because the then aspiring author has had his lifetime to ponder the tale he wants to write.  This one involves embedded terrorists who launch an incredibly deadly attack on America’s energy and transportation infrastructure.  They are met by an equally determined and long retired Army Ranger and Delta warrior.  WoooHooo, what a wild romp of a read!

Round About the Earth by Joyce E. Chaplin

I treasure travel stories and this one is about the ultimate.  It briefly chronicles man’s effort to circumnavigate the Earth from early explorers like Magellan in the early 1500s to orbits of the space age.  Remember many folks believed the Earth was flat in Magellan’s time.  Then explorers encountered the perplexing problem of dealing with what later became the International Date Line.  Space age orbits took a few hours to accomplish what it took the early seafarers 3 or 4 years to do.  Mesmerizing read.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Ridiculous to sublime

It was 4 degrees when we left Ohio January 2nd and headed south.  It was 74 degrees when we arrived in Vero Beach late the following afternoon.

That pretty much sums up the reason for the term "snow birding".

The highlight of our two day road trip was a visit to the Appalachian Trail for a geocaching stop.  That occurred in Virginia where the AT crosses I-77 near a town called Bland.  It was a short detour off the interstate and a quick climb to an elevation of 3,000 feet above sea level where we quickly found this delightful cache.

The cache is in Sue's right hand in the picture below.  Note the "miniature" semi truck passing by far below under her left arm.

This cache was appropriately named "Acrophobia at 3,000 feet" and contained a few small souvenirs for folks who like to trade such things.  We also signed the log; the all important evidence of our visit.

Note the sharp edge of the cliff behind Sue.  It was pretty much a vertical drop to that far below highway.  Some folks have described the look on her face as sheer terror.  I like to think she was simply in a hurry to get back to our warm car.

We scored caches in all five states we passed through on our journey to Florida; WV, VA, NC, SC and GA.

We told the ladies at the welcome center near Parkersburg what we had been doing in the far rear of their parking area.  They were relieved to learn about the geocache hidden back there.  Previous visitors had aroused their fearful suspicion.

A day or so after our arrival in FL we added that state to our growing list.   Now, we will enjoy the sub-tropical winter by working toward the milestone of finding our 1,000th cache.

We found the camper in fine shape and quickly had it operational except for a time consuming interior scrubbing to rid it of mold that resulted from the area's extraordinarily wet summer and fall.

Now begins the pleasurable task of rejoining our friends the Weeks' from Syracuse and the Shafer's from Bellville in pursuit of mutually enjoyable local activities and, no doubt, a continuing barrage of  blog stories.

Our publishing schedule may be relaxed to the point of being erratic.  Sorry.  Prolonged vacations where the surf is gentle and light winds dance through the palm trees will do that to retired writers.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


One of the highlights of our year 2012 was getting involved in Geocaching.  Sue's and my good friends, Mark and Nancy Meinzer, were responsible for introducing us to that delightful activity.  So, today's blog is our way of saying "Thank You" to Mark and Nancy by sharing with them, and you, one of my last geocaching experiences of last year.

Here is a little string of three caches I enjoyed finding one afternoon just before Christmas.  Geocachers could find these and enjoy a very nice ride in the country in about an hour or two from the greater Mansfield area.

Here's the first one entitled "Little Girl's Treasure Box at Sandridge".  It's Geocaching number is GC2760F.

This cache was hidden along the perimeter in the delightful solitude of this country cemetery. It was hidden by a family's 4 and 5 year old daughters and celebrates the lives of relatives buried there.  It was a small, food storage-like container which held things little girls would enjoying trading.

I took a peek then just signed the log with appreciation for this family and their participation in our hobby.  As you might imagine, a gentle walk through this burial ground was pleasing to the soul.

Just a few miles down the road, generally south of the Mohican State Forest, I came across this cache site named "Brothers Don't Shake Hands, Brothers Gotta Hug."  It's number is GC3Y77Q.  These numbers, by the way, will be meaningful only to Mark and Nancy and other Geocachers and is the means by which they are cataloged on-line.

Here is where I found that cache:

It was a small, magnetic container hidden somewhere in this photo.  To reveal its location would spoil the fun for Mark and Nancy.  The cache name came from two brothers who placed it while noting they did not get to enjoy as much time together as they wished.  I could imagine their pleasurable, hug-able, outing while the splashing stream continued my soul-soothing afternoon.

Just a few miles further along I found a cache simply entitled "Castle" and numbered GCXBER.  Imagine driving around in hilly, forested, wilderness-like area then coming across this:

It's like taking a detour into a fairy tale.  Of course, locals know this as Landoll's Mohican Castle, an exquisite dining and lodging facility deep in the hills south of Loudonville.

In this case the cache was hidden in the woods up over the hill to the left, with permission of the owners, of course, and just downhill from another unnamed country cemetery.

So, this has been an unrehearsed sample of what can happen when you put your usual, more mundane amusements aside, grab your Smartphone or GPS and go Geocaching.  You never know what you might find around the next corner.

Speaking of the next corner we have a bunch of those ahead of us as we soon trundle our way to another winter of southern snow-birding.  We're not sure when we will next visit via the blog but it's not likely to be too far in the future.

We hope you will stay tuned.