Monday, August 29, 2011

Westport Loop

We decided that since we had not visited the Westport area yet this summer, it would be a good to head that way for on a geocaching run.  I figured out a route that would take us one way and bring us back another, and then created a pocket query for the leg of the route we had not covered before (well, we had, but there were lots of new caches that way, as well as plenty we still had not bothered to look for). 

Well, the first cache along that route was down a side road we never even saw, so we'll look for that another time.  The second one had us stopping at a place where people could launch their boats.  There were picnic tables there, and a decent view, so we may go back someday for a picnic. We've never been there before, but of course, have driven by it many times over the years.  That's what I like best about geocachingt.....finding these nice places you never would have found otherwise.  And the treasure, for me, at this stop was a flower growing in the water by the dock.  I'm used to water lilies, but I've never seen this flower before.  I have no idea what it is.  If you recognize it, please leave a comment.

After that we happened upon a flee market at Crosby.  I  have shown you pictures before of the delapitated looking shelters that we thought used to be used for a flee market. Well, apparently that flee market is still in business, and one of the vendors told us that the stalls had been repaired a lot over the past few years.  It was a very interesting market, and the prices were lower than at most such places.  I got a casserole dish, to replace one that had it's lid go missing a few years ago. It's in excellent shape and only cost $5.  I also got a bag full of metals (or whatever) for a buck. I'll likely put most of them in caches over the next couple of months.  Only two of them were duplicated.  I think at least one of them will find itself in some artistic creation someday, but otherwise most of them can go be cache trinkets.
The Flee Market was at the turn off to a little village called Newboro, where there is a big store that I often hear people raving about.  I had never been to the store before, so after tryng to find another cache (that may be missing since the last couple of people didn't find it either) we went to check out the store.  It is quite large, and there is everything imaginable in there, but none of it is cheap.  Up on the third floor, where the furniture was, we found an interesting structure.  It was set up like a pioneer home but roped off so you could only see it from above. 

After we were finished looking around there, we decided to skip the rest of the caches in that village (though we discovered we had actually done two of them before, and never logged them) and go find something to eat.  We headed for Westport, and had a lovely lunch at Steve's Restaurant.   

Then, rather than head to the cottage by our regular route, we scooted back to Hutchings Road near Newboro. We had never been down that road before, but it had two caches hidden along it.  The first was easy to find, and I was able to leave a travel bug at that location.  That was probably making it travel in the wrong direction but I didn't want to hold onto it any longer.  This road was very scenic, with lots of hills and twists and turns.  The second cache was hidden somewhere on a hillside, with lots of big trees, close to the corner of Perth Road, near Bedford Mills.  We never found the cache, but I enjoyed seeing the big old trees.  If you happen to venture down this way, do turn left onto Perth Road and pick up another couple of caches very near by. I'm sure you will enjoy the short loop around the mill pond.  Some good scenes.  

We went from here to the cottage, visited for a very short time with my son and his family (it was about 4:30pm by then and they were packing up to go home anyway). Then we continued our tour, stopping at a few more places on the way home. We went home by the route where there were more caches than on the route coming in, but didn't do them all anyway.  That's okay though, as most of the ones we didn't look for were at the end closer to home and we can go there more easily sometime when we just want to go treasure hunting.
Four of the ones we did do on the way home were at various points along Grants Creek. Each time it was at a place where the road crossed the creek, which meant we occasionally had to go down a side road to get to those places.  Again, the sights were worth the trip. 
Actually, there was an old mill at one of these locations too.  I do wish someone would find a use for this building as it looks to be in good shape, other than the broken windows
At the other end of that road there was the usual cemetary to explore.  That cache was easy enough to find. The graves were not as old as most grave yards these geocachers tend to take us too. The church was built in 1856. 
It was well after 7pm by this time, so we decided we had had enough for one day, and went home.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mapping in Uncharted Waters

We did do some more geocaching while on holidays, but life got so hectic I didn't have a chance to post anything about any of that.  

Since then I have acquired a new GPS.  I have a cyber buddy who recently became interested in geocaching, after listening to me tell my tales for the past 4 years.  When he showed me some screen captures of what his gadget could do, I knew it solved my problem.  Normally, when we go geocaching, I print off a stack of pages for the caches we want to find.  Sometimes we don't do all of them and I store the left overs in a binder.  The binder has become rather full, and really, that's a big waste of paper and ink if we never go looking for those caches....or if I get frustrated looking for the right ones and print off new ones. 

My friend's new GPS is a paperless model. That means that he can see whatever is on the web page, right there on the GPS.  He does not have to print off a hard copy like I have had to do.  He also downloaded some more detailed maps, and I can tell you that the maps that come with these units don't show any of the back roads we would normally be travelling, or for that matter the highway that runs through my village.  Oh sorry, it's now a county road....but still, it should be on there.

I had been considering getting either a laptop or a tablet, so we could look up caches where ever we might be.  Of course, you can't always get a signal, so I was hesitating.  Until my friend showed me his Dakota20, I didn't know you could get a paperless GPS.  He had told me what he paid, and thought he got a good bargain.  Then suddenly GPS City was advertising the Dakota20 for a lot less than even my friend paid. And the sale was only good for a couple of days.

Well I have a GPS, so at first I ignored the sale.  Then I thought a bit, and realized the main reason I wanted a tablet, or whatever, was so we could go geocaching where ever we might be.  The GPS was certainly a lot cheaper than a tablet or a laptop, and it would save me a fortune in paper and ink as well.  I quit hesitating and ordered it.

Then the fun began. My friend insisted that I would find the Dakota20 a lot more useful if I downloaded a better map.  There are some you can buy, and there are some you can get for free. I opted to try a free one first, but the Canadian ones were no longer available for direct download so it was suggested I get one by something called Bit Torrent.  What the heck is that?  I went to watch the video that was supposed to guide me though that, but it started out by trying to get me to download the thing that had been disabled.  So much for that.  My friend jumped in and sent me a couple of map files to try, but he didn't tell me how to load them, no matter how many times I asked.

Now, let's consider that I have found at least 209 caches so far, without the aid of a fancy map.  That includes the 4 I've located since this new gadget arrived this week.  We could carry on as we always have, and I'd only have to print a map of the area we were about to cover.  That still saves a lot of paper and ink.  But I'm stubborn, and decided to keep trying, just to see if a fancier map would really make that much of a difference.

Today I finally figured out how to do it.  It took me 3 days....and I used to think I was pretty good at this technical stuff.  When I opened that map though, it wasn't any different than the one I already had....other than that it didn't have the geocaches I'd loaded onto the other one.  Back to square one. But at least now I have a clue how to get the maps to show up on the GPS.  I'll try the other map file tomorrow. I hope loading and deleting multiple maps doesn't fragment the drive on the GPS as that could slow things down.  This is new territory for me, so if you have any advise, I'd be happy to listen.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

No Stone Cold Creamery, But Lots of Stone

According to Tim Hortons website, Elgin, Ontario, is one of their locations with a Stone Cold Creamery. That isn't true, (see A Bit of False Advertising Leads to Adventure).  We suspected we wouldn't find a Tim Horton's there, but decided to go geocaching in that direction, just to check it out.  Elgin has no Stone Cold Creamery and no Tim Hortons, and is, as always, just a quiet little village where you wouldn't expect to find such things anyway. 

There are 4 churches there, and a library, and we had to visit each of those in our search for caches.

I must point out that one of the churches now appears to be a home. Can you imagine living in this lovely place?

The library had a cache of it's own, which wasn't hard to find. The dates found at the churches were used to plug into a puzzle to give us the location of the actual cache. Unfortunately, when we got there, there was too much poison parsnip along the trail and I refused to venture in.

A few other caches in the area were down the Cataraqui Trail.  While we found no Stone Cold Creamery that day, we certainly found lots of stone.  When poking about in the rocks in this area, be prepared to come across snakes. I see from some of the cache logs other saw lots of snakes. I found a rather large snakeskin.  While I kind of like snakes, I was just as happy not to have been surprised by the previous owner of this skin.  Anyway, it's a pretty trail to walk, and I'm glad we got the opportunity.

We also gathered caches at the usual couple of graveyards.  We met up with some other geocachers at one near Crosby. ( GC1NMC8 )  They were from Ottawa, but had biked to the cemetery from a cottage in the area.  It took a real team effort to find this cache.  I didn't understand the term "degrees true" in the instructions, but one of the guys had a GPS that showed that.  Mine does not.  So that helped, but still nobody was having any luck locating the actual cache container. 

That's when I let go of the GPS and decided to use my "Spidey Sense" to locate it.  That worked well for me and I amazed everyone by finding it with seconds, even though others had looked in that location.  Sometimes you have to stop thinking so much and just go with instinct.

It was a good day, even if we didn't get any ice cream.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Carleton Place Adventures.

We had been at the Bridge Street Festival in Carleton Place, and then decided to go hunt down a few geocaches. 

The first one was at the end of a long bike trail from Ottawa that likely used to be a rail line.  It wasn't too hard to find, but we had to be careful of the poison parsnip in the area.  That stuff can leave you with a nasty burn.
( GC2BJ4F )

The second and third were down the lovely McGregor trail in Beckwith Township.  There is a place where the rocks come to the surface. That sort of thing always gets my attention and I'd have been happy to have spotted that even if we had not found the cache along the way. 
( GC2ZHVD ) & ( GC2GYV8 )

Further on there is an area where you can see a fairly new barn on one side of the trail and an old log one on the other side.  I like the contrasting sights there too. 

We knew the third cache along this trail was at the other end, so, rather than walk the whole way and then have to come all the way back, we went back and got the car and drove to the other end to look for the cache there. If we go by the clue given, there are darn few places where it could be hidden, but still, we were unable to find this one. I have a sneaking suspicion that I know where it is now though, and we will check it again next time we are in that area.  ( GC2ZCJC )

The fifth, and final cache of the day had us going through some dark pine woods.  This cache also had us hunting a little harder than anytime earlier in the day, but once I eliminated all our tracks so I was no longer confusing myself, I was able to head straight for it.  ( GC2J84B )

Reminder to self..... don't go geocaching in shorts and sandals.  You know better!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fine Weather for Exploring

It was a nice day on Saturday, so we went exploring. We started off by visiting a couple of Farmer's Markets. The first one was just a little one, in Merrickville, but I had discovered, by way of Twitter, that Louise Ingram was going to be there. That’s the lady that makes lampwork beads and had the famous Merrickville Monkeys go into space on the last flight of the Atlantis a year ago. I found her on Twitter originally when she mentioned that Monkeys were loose in Merrickville, and I had to figure out what she meant by that. I’ve been talking to her, online, off and on ever since. It was nice to finally meet her.

The second market we visited was in North Gower (that’s Go-er, not Gow-er) and the lady with the buttermilk pies was there again. Oh, those things are sooooo good! But we were not headed home and it would have been too hot in the car all day, to take a pie with us, so we just bought some date squares to have as a treat with our lunch further down the road. While we were there I won a draw and got a cute little hand made stuffed doll. Luckily it’s a boy doll as I only have grandsons.

While in North Gower, we went looking for a geocache ( GC1PEP9 ) at a nice little park we had never seen before. This is why I like geocaching. We drive through this town fairly often, and stop to shop mainly at the Farmer’s Market and the interesting shop across the road, but we’ve never really explored the village itself.
This park was along Steven Creek. It’s not big. There’s a picnic table, a swing set and a memorial but I would never have seen the cute little doggie in the swing if we had not been hunting for the cache. His owner would give him a little push now and then and the dog really seemed to enjoy swinging. He sat there quite contentedly except for once, when he saw a squirrel. It was a good thing he was tied to the swing as he got all excited and took a flying leap out of it.  By the time he reached the end of is leash,  he had the swing stretched out to it's limit.

 The cache was not too hard to find, though the wind had blown it off it’s usual perch. Actually that may have made it that much easier to find since I just wondered what that was on the ground and went closer to look.

From there we headed to Manotick where Dickinson Days was in full swing. It was expanded this year as they even had the main street through town blocked off. And I do believe there was a Flash Mob dancing while we were there. I heard the music and I saw there was a large number of people moving in unison, while others climbed on whatever they could find to get a better view. Other than that, I guess I missed the performance.
I had a listing for a cache ( GC27BEG )on Manotick’s Long Island (which is what Manotick actually means in Ojibwa anyway) so we went looking for that. Without a GPS I could imagine getting lost on that island. We stopped to ask directions when our twists and turns in the car had us headed in the wrong direction, and eventually found another park where this cache was supposedly hidden. The clue said "No swimming required," but the area the GPS took us to had water at the bottom or a rather steep embankment. We had a good look around but didn’t find it, and since I was more worried about slipping and taking a sudden swim, I called a halt to this search. We had, after all, seen that this island was bigger than imagined, had some pretty good hills and several rather nice parklands. I didn’t need to find the cache to feel that the adventure had been successful.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Meeting on the Street

The other day there was a woman and a small group of girls of assorted ages coming down my street. This got my attention as I didn't know any of them and they kept stopping and doing something.  Little girls were running up onto doorsteps, but didn't seem to be knocking on doors, so that also seemed curious. 

When they got in front of my place, I saw that they had a spray can, and a stencil.  They put the stencil on the road and sprayed it, then carried on to another spot near the end of my driveway.  That was all I could take. I decided to go out and see what they were doing. 

The stencil was that of a fish with the words, "Fresh Water Only" on it, and the woman seemed quite pleased that I had come to find out what they were up to. She directed one of the girls to try to explain it to me.  Basically, they were putting these signs next to the storm sewer drains to alert people not to pour toxic substances down them as the water flows into the river and my kill the fish.  I gathered that they were Brownies, Guides and Venturers.

I asked if it was the Guides or the Scouts that placed the Geocache just down the road. The oldest girl beamed and said it was the Venturers, and she was one of them.  I told her about my Christmas Eve first to find expedition and she was trilled as she remembered reading my comments. She asked if I took and left something, or just signed the book. I said I usually take and leave things, but since there were travel bugs in that cache at the time, and I wasn't going caching again until the weather was more cooperative (like lately) I decided not to take anything that time.  I didn't want new travel bugs to stall right off the bat. 

I told her that I have shown other local people how to find this cache, so that they may become interested in geocaching too.  She liked that idea.  I didn't happen to mention that I blogged about it, but I'm sure she'd have loved that. 

Nice to meet someone on the other side of the fence.  I really must place a cache myself one of these days. I know just the place too.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Off and Running

It was a lovely day on Sunday so we decided to go treasure hunting again. With the current price of gas we didn’t really want to go too far though, and by the time we actually left, it was just as well that I had picked out a few nearby geocaches.

We started out in Oxford Mills. There is a little dam there and the cache was in that area. There were some guys launching canoes into the fast flowing water so we watched that for a while before proceeding to hunt for the cache. It’s always a good idea not to have extra people around watching what you are doing when searching for a cache, but it didn’t take long for them to be swept off down the river.

That cache ( GC1YXVZ ) wasn’t difficult to find at all, and we picked up a handy dandy tool that will now live in my geocaching bag. It is built like a jack knife, but with screw drivers and other tools on board instead of just knives. I’m sure it will come in handy sooner or later.

The second geocache ( GC2G52Y ) took us to an area we had never explored before, just on the edge of Kemptville. The Agroforestry Education Center, which is part of the Kemptville Campus of the University of Guelph has a Maple Sugar Shack which is open to the public during sugaring season. We were, of course too late for that this year, but the sap lines are still in place. We may make a point of going there next year to purchase some syrup. The trails through the woods are well maintained and there are several different loops to follow.
Currently both Trillium and Dog Tooth Violets are blanketing the forest floor. This cache was also easy enough to find, though it was off the trail a bit.

The third cache ( GC2HCX3 ) we looked for was not so easy. There were some obvious places to look, but we didn't find anything. We eventually gave up as I was getting tired. We decided we could go back some other time. I took a few photos of that area which I won’t show you. When I looked at them at home I knew exactly where the cache was. Funny thing was, I actually looked at that spot while I was there, thought it strange, and then didn’t actually investigate it as well as I should have. I’m now sure I know exactly where the cache is hidden, but I will have to go back to figure out how to get at it.