Category Archives: Geocaching

Catching up… GeocachingNews

Ok, it’s been months since I’ve typed anything into this spot so I’m way overdue (again). Today is probably not the best day to attempt creative (or accurate) writing as I’m recovering from a pretty bad bout of food poisoning. I wont go into details except to say that if Illness = Kung Fu, I was practicing the “Double Headed Dragon” for many hours yesterday. The final symptom was a fever coming in at a balmy 101.5° Fahrenheit. By that time I was able to stomach some dry toast – and cook it on my forehead.

The reason I haven’t written here is because I’ve been writing elsewhere, moonlighting if you will, albeit in the daylight mostly (Thanks, Daylight Savings Time!). I’m proud to report as of this month that CentralJerseyGeocaching.net is up and running. To date we have 59 users and lots of cool features that I consider cool even if you don’t because cool is subjective and all features are cooler when you identify/install/configure & manually tweak them all by yourself. Yeah, it’s been a lot of work but I’ve learned a more about PHP coding & a lot more about Joomla as a Content Management System. We’re not nearly done so I probably wont be writing here very much. Honesty == Refreshing.

Since my last writing I’ve had a few notable experiences. The first was the big trip to North Carolina to visit my Mom & check out (and volunteer for) the Storytelling Festival of the Carolinas. The festival is only in it’s 2nd year but they brought in 4 featured tellers of national acclaim and pulled off a wonder of festivality. To make things more interesting, a very large tree decided to topple (on Arbor Day no less) right onto the main tent. Now this was a Circus Quality Super Tent so the tree didn’t wreck it, but there wasn’t any way we could let people sit inside with a few tons of tree looming overhead. Some emergency management found a few guys with chainsaws & a bucket truck and the tree was gone within a few hours. The tellers put on an amazing show and I got to chat them up in between sets & after the performances. My only regret is that the festival took up large hunks of the days & I didn’t get a chance to just hang out with mi madre as much as I would have liked.

On the Geocaching front, the extra travel has netted me 3 more states & lots of finds. I’m at 560 finds as of this writing. I have 15 caches hidden (in 3 states) and 3 more caches right around the corner. My favorite is a cache honoring Capt. William Kidd. Disgraced & hanged as a Pirate, he was a actually a misunderstood privateer who simply ran afoul of his financiers. The geocache itself will be near Treasure Lake & is of the multi/puzzle variety. It will require you to piece together the clues that Capt. Kidd’s loyal crew left allowing Captain Kidd to reclaim his buried treasure one day. Gold coins were actually discovered in two spots less than a quarter mile from my home so I couldn’t resist putting a cache there. The contents of the cache are completely unique as well but I wont reveal the secret here! Kidd was hanged on May 23rd 1701 so this past weekend, exactly 307 years later, under the light of the moon, I buried Kidd’s Cache while Heather stood guard.

The most recent happening was the passing of my annual Continually Reoccurring Affirmation Period. This means I’m now 33 years old. For my birthday the most interesting gift I received was the food poisoning I mentioned earlier. Happy Barfday to meeee! Fortunately, we had done some celebrating earlier in the weekend. On Saturday night we went up to a comedy club in New Brunswick & saw comedy legend Gallagher. He’s the guy who is famous for smashing watermelons (among other things) to end his sets. Compared to other comedians his routine is very organic (no pun intended). He plays off of the audience &, in this small venue, interacted directly on several occasions. Not the least of which was allowing all of the folks who had a birthday to kneel before the smashing platform and receive some birthday cake at high velocity! Good times (and small bits of my birthday cake) were had by all.

That’s enough for today. Rest assured that other interesting things have happened and many random thoughts were thunk but until I decide that I’d rather be typing instead of jogging, caching, movie-watching, book-reading or web-community-developing… well, the postings will be less than frequent. Until next time!

This little piggy went to Old Bridge! Geocaching

Big Ed's PiggyLast night was my first attempt at co-hosting a Geocaching event. Marc (aka mblatch) was my co-hort & co-host. We set it up at Big Ed’s BBQ on Rt. 34 in Old Bridge. Besides having some fantastic ribs the place is just fun. There are giant cartoon painted wood cut-outs all over the property (example at left). It has ample parking & a front section that’s good for a larger group hanging out and chatting before getting down to some serious pigging out. The “piggy” theme was decided for us when I noticed that they sell Big Eds branded piggy banks that would make an excellent cache container. I bought the piggy bank, sealed the ‘coin hole’ with pink caulk, gorilla glued an ‘airborne’ tube inside the snout to hold a log book and hid it in the woods behind the restaurant with Heather a week before the event. Like the three little pigs this solo piggy made his house out of sticks. 🙂

Many little piggiesI also decided we needed swag so bought 2 dozen small pigs from the Oriental Trading Co. and started looking for pig themed geo-coins. I found a total of three. One I had to buy on eBay, one from a vendor in Germany and the third from a small store in the US. Unfortunately the US supplier only ships once a month and, of course, the coins didn’t arrive in time. I did manage to have the other coins present for the event and everyone got to ‘discover’ the one that had its own custom icon (Pig Icon). I wrote the name of the event & date on the bottom of all of the plastic pigs to give the attendees something to take home or use as trade swag. Last, but certainly not least, I hid a bonus cache in the parking lot of Big Ed’s – it’s just a small play-doh container made to look like a lost little piggy. I tried to time the publication of the two new caches to they’d coincide with the event. Alas, I caught the cache-reviewer on a bad weekend and the caches weren’t published in time. To compensate I printed out the cache listings and provided them to folks at the event. Tim (aka TheMadRussian) was the first person to run out to the parking lot to find the Lost Little Piggy. After the meal 7 people made the attempt at the same time. They were all lined up against the fence looking like a police lineup.

When all of the eating/paying of bills was accomplished someone (Ok, Marc) announced that we should all do some night-caches in the area. There were two available and, though one was archived, Marc & I had verified that it was indeed still there just the night before. So 9 of us piled into the 2 largest vehicles and drove the mile to the official parking coordinates. This particular night cache can only be done at night. There’s small reflective spots tacked to various trees and you have to follow the virtual trail they provide. The tacks are 50 – 150 feet apart and very hard to see in the fog but with 9 pairs of eyes and at least that many light sources the cache was easily found. From there we humped over the hill to Heather & my Piggy Bank cache. Again, they made short work of it but everyone seemed to enjoy the cache container & the hide. I basically made a log cabin for it under the roots of a tree. Philipe (aka CondorTrax) came up with the official First-To-Find and earned the Flying Pig geocoin I bought off of eBay.

Not enough boots!I knew of another cache that wasn’t exactly on the way home but with an “accidental” missed turn we found ourselves 150 feet from a 5th find of the night. This specific cache is called Whitetail Retreat and it’s on what amounts to an island in a marsh. Once one person headed into the reeds everyone quickly followed – regardless of what style of pants/shoes they were wearing. The mist wafted across the reeds. The water was cold. The mud was… odoriferous. The cache was found! Sheer numbers trump any good hide. AVGraphics took a great photo of our shoes when we got back to dry land. I’m the geek with the black shoe & his pants rolled up. The rolling didn’t help and I’ll probably have to “archive” the pants.

We returned to our rides on the easy to follow path that I conveniently missed the first time. Everyone seemed in high spirits and having such a good time that it was a shame the night had to come to a close. I can’t say for certain that this will become a recurring event, but I’ll say this… there’s another night cache within a mile of Big Ed’s. 🙂

Here’s the links:
This Little Piggy event
Lost Little Piggy
Night Vision
This Solo Piggy
Whitetail Retreat

Embarrased: Posting anyway GeocachingHealth/FitnessNew HouseNews

It’s been so long and I’ve been so bad at keeping up with posting here that I have no excuses. I’ll just say that I’m “righting” now and I’ll get “write” into it…

Having a house is a good deal of work. I was prepared for this but didn’t actually budget any extra time for unforeseen things like having to rake the front yard clear of pine needles. Those blasted trees dropped 4 giant yard bags worth of needles in under a week. Heather & I made the best of it by jumping in the giant pile of needles when we were done. It looked like a haystack. We found a haystack in the needles!

The inside of the house demands attention too of course and I’ve been just about ignoring the as of yet still packed boxes. We have to hurry up and get everything out of the way though… we have more stuff coming in! When Heather’s father moved into smaller digs we happily agreed to take some of his overflow stuff once we had the house. Well, we’ve got it and we’re getting it – even if we don’t know where we’re going with it! The big ticket item is a weight machine. The plan is to put it into the basement…. where we’ll never see it again. 😉

The cats are segregated. Poor Smechy couldn’t hack having the other two around and soiled the bed. Twice. We’re trying the Zero Odor stuff to get the stink out. The mattress is also covered with a rubber sheet & mattress pad. No stink is getting through all of that! Anyway, the kittens have the basement and Smech has the bedrooms. The rest of the house they time-share but never meet (unless a midnight storm blows the door open like this past Saturday). It’s creepy to be awoken from a deep slumber by the combined sound of gail force winds & cat growling. *shiver*

I’m still finding time to go Geocaching now and then. I’m up to 270 finds – including my first 5 star puzzle “Cloak & Dagger” which dragged me all over central Jersey finding urban micro caches, solving riddles, puzzles, ciphers & enigmas. I’m co-hosting my first event next month (This little piggy went to old bridge) & plan to launch my own puzzle soon. It’s still fun!

Besides that Heather & I have been getting up twice a week for a morning jog just as the sun comes up. Routine is the best way to stay motivated and having a partner makes it even harder to skip a day. One of us will mention how it’s pretty late and we should go to bed because we have to get up early for the jog (translation: can we skip tomorrow’s run?) and the other will invariably reply that yes we should get some sleep because I can’t wait to run in the morning! Teamwork … works. This has also given me the opportunity to explore the neighborhood a little more. I’ve discovered a back way into our neighborhood & a new park which is exciting.

That’s about enough for now. I’ll try to be more active on this site in the coming weeks. It’ll certainly be easier if it gets cold out but right now … it’s just too nice to say inside typing these words. Until next time!

On Melvin’s Mud & Sticky Chiggers Geocaching

On Sunday August 12th I competed against the mightiest Geocache of Middlesex County: Melvin’s Multiple Madness. It breaks down to a 7 stage multi-part through the title marsh of Cheesequake State Park. One branch of the Cheesequake Creek – Melvin’s Creek – is the focus & locus of the hunt. You can’t park within a mile of the first stage so your first challenge is just getting there. The best looking route by satellite images takes you through a NJ Superfund Site. Once you make it to the actual marsh you have to cross the Melvin twice and the mud/silt is deep & unusually viscous. What sinks into Melvin’s Mud stays in Melvin’s Mud. I sank up to mid thigh on the first crossing and even deeper on the return trip. I was fortunately strong enough to pull my legs out but, alas, I was stronger than my boots. The mud ripped them in half. Litterally. It took the sole right off of the leather upper and wouldn’t give it back. Henceforth I shall call it:

Melvin’s Creek – the eater of Soles.

Walking across a reeded tidal marsh full of mollusk shells and Superfund runoff in stocking feet was an adventure to be certain. You can read the full account of my adventure (and see the photos) by clicking here.

While not slogging through the marshes I’ve been busy hiding the Speedway Cache. It’s not published yet as this writing because I’ve been slowed down by work, rain & CHIGGERS! Otherwise known as the Harvest Mite, Chiggers are small (I mean small, dude!) mite/spider/ticks that cluster at the tops of tall grass or low branches and hop on as you go past. Its not uncommon to have dozens and dozens fall upon you at once. If they make contact with skin, like a tick, they’ll seek out a safe place to eat. Then, like Jeff Goldblum in “The Fly”, they squirt digestive enzyme and slurp up the liquefied you. Obviously the body doesn’t take kindly to this kind of treatment and responds with itchy painful red welts. Anyway, Nicol park, like most of New Jersey, is susceptible to chigger breeding and on my last visit I must have walked through a few hives because my right leg was covered with’m.

Not just a few dozen though.

There were HUNDREDS!

And they were HUNGRY!

And they don’t brush off!

And they don’t squish!

And they were making their way up and down my pant leg looking for MEAT!

And I, having popped out for some lunch time woods walking/coordinate verifying, was wearing my work clothing that I couldn’t shed without losing my job (and possibly freedom). What was I to do? First things first: Get the pants off! Done. Hide pants in trunk! Done. Get back in car before traffic on Rt. 34 notices me! Done. Drive back home, bathe in DEET-ful “Deep Woods” Off, Shower off anything I just killed, put on new clothing and drive back to work 30 minutes over my lunch break. Final step: work late to make up time. Oh, and itch all day for the thought of hundreds of mighty mites drinking my skin. One chigger is a nasty thought but two gross? Too gross.

Four days later the pants & shirts I was wearing that day are out on my back porch. I’m waiting for their short lifespan to pass before I go back out there. In the mean time I’ll scratch at my dozen or so potential chigger chomps and be glad that I noticed them before I got back in the car. *shudder* Mental note: Duct Tape or Lint Roller = essential late summer/early autumn caching gear!

Dang, now I itch again. Scratch these:
Melvin’s Multiple Madness
The Harvest Mite (Chigger)
Two Gross

Mighty Ericles Cache Spree of Summer 2007! Geocaching

On June 23rd I hit a cache in the parking lot of a Cabelas in Pennsylvania. The next day I hit one in Reading, PA on my way out of town. The day after that I snagged a tricky puzzle cache after work that I had finally solved earlier in the day. I had a mini-streak going but didn’t think much of it. I relaxed and allowed it to lapse the next day. Well, I planned to.

Out of the blue WWWW planted one near my place of employment and I ran out to try for FTF. I ended up 2nd, but the streak continued. Several times I quit but then I would just happen to take the scenic route home from work and oops! I did it again! FTFs are what really preserved the streak though… I’ve nabbed 5 in the past 4 weeks. Considering I only had 3 in the previous 5 months I think that’s one seriously lucky streak!

Lucky? Maybe. It’s hard not be superstitious in caching but I felt as though the streak was somehow charmed. I found everything I looked for without much trouble. Granted, I didn’t really go after the 5 star caches, but I picked off a few harder ones without trouble. I even found an unlisted benchmark! All of that changed when I got greedy with the 1st-to-find honors and picked up 2 in one day. After that my luck turned and half of the caches I looked for were simply not there. I managed to continue the streak for 2 more days but another trip to Reading this past weekend and a DNF up on a Neversink Mt. sunk the streak. I planted a new cache while I was there so I didn’t think it was a complete loss until I got home, logged my DNF and realized that there was another cache only 350 feet from where I hid mine! It’s currently “temporarily disabled” for maintenance which is why it didn’t show up on my listing but I can’t activate mine while that one is there. D’oh! I even dropped a coin in there as a FTF prize and now it’s stuck until the other cache either goes belly up or I make the pilgrimage to get the cache back. Double D’oh!

So, am I cursed? Nah. I’ll just let a few others grab the First honors for a while and go back to enjoying destination caches for a while. In the end my streak stats look like this: 28 days, 44 physical finds (5 FTF) & 2 events.

Not bad for something I basically started by accident. This will be my last attempt at a streak until I move to a completely new area. I pretty much wiped out my neck of the woods. 🙂

Profile for ericles

Quad Cat Info Blast! Brain DrippingGeocachingNew HouseNews

I’m filing this one under just about everything because it contains one pertinent bit of info from most of the categories. Whee! Here we go:

News: I’m upgrading my computer so my connectivity is somewhat limited. I dropped in a second video card to complete my SLI upgrade path & swapped out my old Athlon 64 3000+ for a shiny new Dual Core Athlon 4400+. I would have went with the 4600 but couldn’t find the part on the cheap. I ran some benchmarks before and after and it looks like my (synthetic) FPS scores nearly doubled in games while my gigaflops (processor speed) actually increased by a factor of 2.4. Very nice and well worth the upgrade. Just wait until I start cranking some multi-threaded apps. 🙂 The downside is that Windows was horrible unstable when I got done so I’m reinstalling the OS and it’ll be a few days before I’m fully productive again.

New House: We’ve passed another “final” deadline on gettig bank approval. Then he attorneys went on vacation. Now we’re waiting (over a week now) for the seller’s attorney to return the phone call & emails that our side has been sending. In the mean time we’re looking at other houses. The bank’s delays have now cost us over 5 grand in interest (over the full term of the loan) thanks to the ever-increasing rates.

Geocaching: Heather & I woke up at 4:30 AM this past Saturday to make it to the “07/07/07 at 07:07” Event down near Cherry Hill. The turnout was unbelievable! Any cacher who’s missing out on events is missing out on a lot of the fun of the sport. Afterwards we teamed up with 7 other cachers and hit 7 additional caches. Funny how that worked out, eh? We took off for South Jersey after lunch and ended up meeting a cacher from the early days of the sport at the family BBQ. We’re everywhere! Also, for the past 17 days I’ve had a streak of geocache finds. I’ve set a new record and I’m still going! Check out my statistics at It’s Not About The Numbers.com.

Brain Dripping: I hate to see news like this. In a nutshell, someone named Eric Dalton got shot in the chest in Winston-Salem NC. If Sarah Connor had paid more attention to the news she could have beat feet before The Terminator found her and killed her friend. But seriously, I hope he’s Ok. I’ll keep ya’ll posted if I can dig up more news.