Sunday, January 20, 2013

Getting back to things

I've finally had my schedule free up a little bit, and have been able to get back to Geocaching, Waymarking, and just generally get back outdoors.

Osprey nesting platforms near the first cache
Earlier today I decided to tackle a new Geocache series that was placed along a local bridle trail. I had been out here previously for a cache called A View With Music.  I enjoyed that cache when I did it, and was looking forward to taking a nice little hike today.  Overall the trail is in good shape and provides nice views over Alum Creek.  There are a few ravines out there.  The very first one is the most difficult, but even then it's not very bad.
A confluence of confluences

I ended up visiting the first cache a total of four times while I was out there.  The first time was to sign the logbook.  The second time was after finding the rest of the caches.  The series includes a "bonus" cache that you need to get numbers out of the other caches to piece together coordinates.  I forgot to get the number out of the first cache.  I decided to just try to figure it out when I was done with the rest of the caches.  That plan ended up not working, so I went back to look at the number.  After I got back in the Jeep, I realized a TB had dropped out of an earlier cache without me knowing it at the time.  I decided to drop it off in that first cache since it was nearby, making my third visit.  I then realized that I forgot to write down the TB number in  order to be able to log it, so a fourth trip to the cache was in order.

As I mentioned, I was unable to grab the bonus cache. When I was done I was missing one number, obviously, but it was to where I was able to piece everything together. I tried the first spot and it took me to a likely area. The problem was I didn't know for sure. In the back of my mind I was thinking, "This could be the right spot, or I could be searching for no good reason." I tried different coords, and those also took me to a reasonable area. A third set of coords didn't make sense, so I went back to the original place because it seemed the best, but I still had that doubt in the back of my mind and gave up. After I got back to the first cache, I realized that I had been in the right area. I just had no way of knowing it, and that doubt kept me
from searching too hard. That just means that I have another hike to look forward to.

Trail along the edge of Alum Creek

View Winterhawk Trail Hike in a larger map

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Not much of an update

I figure it's been far too long since I've last posted here, and I did some pseudo-Geocaching activities today so...

So far January has been terrible in terms of weather. For the past couple of weeks it's been very cold, and more recently very snowy. For about a week straight we were only seeing highs around 10-15 degrees, with lows well below zero (-17.9 was the coldest that I recorded on my home thermometer). We have been having a little snow here and there, but gathered about 6"-8" last week. According to the local weather reports we've had about 20" of snow for January, which doubles our normal average.

Today though was very nice. We had a high around 50 and the sun was shining brightly. Dewgrl and I decided to head out to check on one of my caches. Normally this cache requires a boat, but there have been a few logs recently stating that it was accessible by hiking. We had a rather dry summer, so the water levels are far below normal.

We went to check it out, and sure enough we were able to walk to it without crossing any water, or ice. Unfortunately I forgot to bring along some wire to tie it down, so I'll need to head back out there. Once spring hits the reservoir fills back up, and usually floods. If the ammo can isn't tied to a tree, then it'll float away. The original wire I used lasted about 2 years before it rusted through. This past summer I tied it up again using some nylon string, knowing it would only be temporary. When we arrived it appeared the string was chewed through (there was also bits of an Osage Orange on top of the cache, so I assume some squirrels were picnicking there.). I'm thinking this time I'll try some small gauge chain as a more permanent solution. I'm hoping to get out there in the next day or two while I can still hike to it.

I know, it's kind of worthless without pictures, but there wasn't much to see anyhow. Everything was still pretty well snow covered. Maybe when I run out there again I'll bring the camera along.

Friday, October 24, 2008

New Gps?

Recently I've been having some trouble with both of the GPSrs that I currently own. I have a Magellan Explorist 600, and a Garmin GPS V.

For a while the Magellan hasn't been holding much of a charge. Shortly after that happened, the screw where the power/data cable attaches stripped out. That has left me using rubber bands to hold the cable onto the back of the GPS while attached to the car charger. It's a pain when I need to remove or reattach the cable.

The Garmin suddenly started freezing on me. It did this in the middle of Waymarking a nearby cemetery, and the 30+ Zinc headstones there. I've done some reading, and it sounds like it's a somewhat common problem. There are also a variety of "fixes" out there, some work for some folks, others for others.....none for me. I have read that while Garmin no longer supports this unit, they are looking into releasing a patch to fix it. I assume they must be getting many complaints about it.

So this leaves me nearly GPSless for the time being. They both work, but not well, and it's really not worth the frustration of trying to get any waypoints marked.

This past August, I bought myself a motorcycle. Since then I've been thinking about a GPS solution for it. I mainly want a more accurate speedometer, and to be able to record my tracks. It'll also be nice to have along for any impromptu Waymarking and Geocaching.

After giving it some thought, I think I'm actually going to downgrade, rather than upgrade, so I've bid on a Magellan Meridian Platinum. I had a Meridian Green before the Explorist 600, so I'm familiar with the unit. I always like the Merigreen, but I thought that I would like the Exp 600 better. In the end, I really don't. The Merigreen never had any problems, even though I Geocached, and hiked a lot with it. I dropped it countless times, and had it out in all sorts of weather. So I know they're pretty rugged, and I also still have the handlebar mount for the Merigreen that I can easily transfer to the motorcycle to hold a Platinum. The Platinum has a little larger screen, and larger leather glove friendly buttons. Plus I still have the Topo software, so I can load detailed maps into the Platinum. Can't really beat the price either. Since they're old tech, monochrome displayed, antiques (in terms of tech gadgets), no one really wants them much so they're inexpensive!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Townhall meeting 9/3/08

So in tonight's townhall the following has been discussed. This is a real-time rundown, so I apologize for grammatical and typographical errors:

- Phoenix has been backburnered
- The first priority for Waymarking was the forums, which are now fixed so priorities are being rearranged.
- There is still work being done to improve both Waymarking and Geocaching via incremental fixes instead of the one fell swoop of Phoenix
- Another priority is a .GPX solution for Waymarking
- .GPX will not have thoroughly detailed info at first, but will work easily with GSAK and its ilk. Variables will likely be appended to the long text description in the .GPX. Though details are still being hashed out. May work more along the lines of the "My Finds" query in
- "Garmin Content Toolkit, Orphaned Waymarks" (Garmin content toolkit was not discussed beyond this)
- Plans to aid communication on the site such as private forums
- Ways to search archived/invisible Waymarks will be addressed along with orphan Waymarks
- Setting up an "orphan queue" would require ALL variables to be optional. Variables may be switch over to a function of visiting rather than posting.
- Concern was discussed over lazy waymarkers putting out weak marks and having other folks do most of the work by filling in variables. (more discussion later, concerns are to be posted in the forums)
- Increased photo size
- Photo storage (temporary)
- Links directly to Flickr/Photobucket
- Kudos (awards one can give to other Waymarkers)
- Activation button at the end of the new cat creation wizard
- Cross linking photos to end multiple uploads when cross-posting a Waymark. Something like a bucket in which photos are dumped, and then one would be given an option to pull from that bucket when creating a WM. With possibly a 7 day "decay"
- Photo bug when U/Ling larger photos is still not fixed, but is being worked on.
- lobot mailer specific to Waymarking
- Deadbeat leaders/officers - GS may monitor how often they log in for a start. Or display average approval times on the cats
- New games (Nothing was discussed in detail, just mention that Nate and Sean have been working on new games, such as "scavenger hunt, and mini bingo". For instance, a list is generated for 10 or so nearby Waymarks based on one's own favorite cats. One then visits all in that list and earns an award. A number of these scavenger hunts could be on going in various states of completion, with a bingoesque format overall
- Removing closest Waymarks found from the list was broken with the last upgrade,

This list are just some of the ideas being kicked around over at the lily pad. They are expecting implementation of these ideas within the next 6-12 months at this point. Personally, it sounds like some great ideas upon which to build, along with some great ideas as listed.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Balooning Waymarks

Have you ever noticed how Waymarks can balloon into more Waymarks? Today I decided to travel down to Columbus for a little Waymarking. I originally intended to mark a 3d advertisment for the upcoming category. I thought it had been approved, but now I see it's not listed yet. Regardless, I wanted to photograph it before it gets taken down. After that I went up a few blocks to Waymark the Greater Columbus Convention Center. While walking back to the car I passed The Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral, and marked it too.

After that I visited the Ohio State University to mark the Wexner Center in the Great Buildings category. I've been meaning to get out there for a while now, but just never had occasion to be in the area.

I began by posting the Wexner Center first, and the moved on to the convention center. While posting them, I noticed that they were both designed by Peter Eisneman. I clicked back into the Great Buildings website to read more about Eisneman, and noticed a reference to Deconstructionism. Before now I never really looked into the Deconstructionism category. When it was first approved, I didn't recognize any of the architects names being used locally, so I didn't think there was anything around here. After learning more about Eisneman, and the Deconstructionism category, I realized I could post both the Wex, and the convention center in there.

Today was largely an effort just to find a few new icons, and I even ended up with a few new ones that I wasn't expecting.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Touring North Central Ohio

Copus Massacre Memorial.
Originally uploaded by Mr. 0
I'm just finally catching up on some Waymarks that I gathered over the weekend of July 26. It happened to be Dewgrl's birthday, and I had been promising to take her up to Malabar Farm State Park, which was once the home of Pulitzer Prize winning author Louis Bromfield. The farm was used by him to develop and teach new ways of sustainable farming. It, along with the Pleasant Valley area also were the inspiration for several of his books. These include "Up Ferguson Way," "Pleasant Valley," "Malabar Farm," and several others. Dewgrl had been up there once when she was little and has wanted to go back for a long time. I've been up there a few times. Once before Geocaching and Waymarking, once for some Geocaching, once...uhhh I can't remember why (it was cold and snowy, but I don't remember actually having done anything while I was there besides walk from the car, to the farm, and back) and another time just to Waymark the here.

We started the day by visiting our favorite
farmers' market in Mt. Vernon. After picking up a few things, we decided to hit a couple of caches nearby. They happened to be in cemeteries, so we Waymarked those, as well as a few Zinc headstones there. After the caches we worked our way north. I wanted to revisit a memorial that I knew was out there, not far from Malabar Farm.

I posted about the memorial in the "what did you learn today" thread. I originally visited the memorial as part of a multi-cache. I had to get some info off of it, and that was all I did. I stopped, wrote down what I needed, then left to find the cache. I knew it had to be significant in some way, so I wanted to go back to see if it could be Waymarked.

Along the way we stopped at various locations that could be Waymarked, and managed to squeeze in a visit or two as well. Most of the spots consisted of cemeteries, but we did get a few bridges and such as well.

So we finally get to the memorial after being chased down the road by a couple of little dogs. They chased the car for probably about a half mile from their home to the memorial. I wasn't worried about them, except that they might try to get under the tires. I just took it slowly until I got past them. They trotted up a few minutes into us looking at and taking pictures of the memorial. They weren't unfriendly, but they wouldn't let us get closer than about 10 feet either.

Upon leaving the memorial we stopped at another Ohio Historical Marker that we saw on the way to the memorial. We then made our way to Malabar Farm.

We stopped for a late lunch/early dinner at the Malabar Farm Inn just up the road from Malabar Farm. It was an 1800's stagecoach stop. In addition they sell fruits and veggies grown at Malabar Farm next to the inn.

We weren't able to spend a lot of time at Malabar Farm as it was getting late. In all we ended up with about 50 separate waypoints in the GPS, a few of which could be cross-posted. Many of them are cemeteries which I haven't posted yet. Some of the highlights include the barn linked above, the grave of Louis Bromfield, Pugh Cabin which was featured in the opening scenes of "The Shawshank Redemption", and about 5 new icons just from Malabar Farm

I finally got around to posting the Copus Massacre Memorial in the Wikipedia category, since I couldn't find another good fit for it. It's not quite 10 feet tall, so it wouldn't fit in the Obelisks cat, and I'm not sure where else it might go....any ideas?

The best thing about it, is that I finally learned what it's all rather gory detail. The Ashland County Historical Society has a very detailed account of the events that occurred here. I mostly paraphrased that information, and removed some of the details to make it a little more "PG."

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Finally posted a barn

An old barn in a wheat field
Originally uploaded by Mr. 0
Ever since the barn category came about, I've had a tough time getting one Waymarked. It's not that there aren't any around or anything. I mean this is rural central Ohio. There are tons of barns around here. As a matter of fact you can see probably 10-15 of them from the barn I Waymarked. The problem has been finding something interesting enough to Waymark. Maybe because there are so many of them around, and I've lived in the area for most of my 30 years, I've become somewhat jaded about them. A lot of the barns are scenic, and historic, but they're just like another one right beside it.

The barn I W'marked is right on a busy road, and one that I've passed probably thousands of times in my life. I've always known it was there, but I never paid much attention to it...until this year. I happened to be going by when the farmer was planting his crops, and I noticed that he was putting in wheat. So I knew it was going to be a good year to shoot the barn

Most area farms rotate between corn and soybeans, but will occasionally throw some winter wheat into the mix too. This year it seems that more farmers than normal have switched to wheat. I imagine this is because there were so many problems with corn last year.

Last year many farmers planted corn because it was expected that it would be very profitable. There was talk of at least two Ethanol plants being built in Ohio, and regardless of that corn was supposed to sell at huge profits due to the Ethanol "boom." As many probably remember, Ethanol was suddenly touted as the answer to all of our fuel worries. Even though it has been mixed with regular gasoline for many years, and used exclusively in some vehicles since the late 90's, it was being talked about as though it was a brand new idea. Unfortunately this really didn't pan out, it seems. There is little buzz about it, at least locally, and Ethanol has dropped back to the status quo. It's still slightly less expensive than the dino-fuels, but it still provides less fuel efficiency. In addition there are worries about diminishing world food supplies.

This year I think many had the same idea to plant wheat. It is easily planted using no-till techniques, and it can go in right after the corn is harvested in the fall. Plus it's something different than normal which could prove profitable in the long run, and it adds additional nutrients to the soil for next year's planting.

I waited until just the right time to take some pictures. I knew that it would need to be a week or so before they would harvest the wheat, it needed to be sunny, late in the afternoon, with a few clouds in the sky. Given Ohio's weather, this is a lot to expect in the short time between the wheat turning from green to brown, and the harvest.

Luckily I got just such a day. I drove out here not expecting much as it was actually a little stormy and very overcast during the 10 minute drive up. I was going to settle for it though since I knew I didn't have much time. Many of the other wheat fields had already been harvested. Just as I pulled into the adjacent elementary school, the clouds broke a little bit and gave me exactly the sky that I was looking for, and the quality of light I wanted to highlight the barn and field.

The picture posted here was taken with the Kodak V570. It's actually an HDR image. Essentially a blend of 5 different exposures taken at 5 different exposure values. Basically normal, a little lighter, a little lighter than that, darker than normal, and darker than that. This allows a for more contrast, and an image that is supposed to appear more like how the scene looked in real life. I don't like to use HDR images for most purposes as it feels a little like cheating to me. I guess I'm somewhat of a purist when it comes to photography. I don't like a lot of post-processing personally. But I made an exception for this one.

I went with the intent of posting the Waymark, but once I got home, I decided against it. Once again, I looked at the photos and said to myself, "This is just like any other barn." I finally did post it though, partially because Hikenutty commented that I should post it. I guess it just took an unfamiliar eye.

In addition there are several other barns around that I have in mind to Waymark. They, like this one, will require a specific light though, so I've not gone out to shoot them yet. One in particular is going to be rather tricky. There is a very short period of time during which the sun will be high enough to clear some trees and hit the barn, and when the sun will be directly overhead, or behind the barn.