Category Archives: Geocaching

Thursday Doors: Nordrhein-Westfalen

OstrichBabies
Ostrich mother and babies

My husband was born in the German Bundesland of Nordrhein-Westfalen (or, in English, North Rhine-Westfalia). Although the Rhineland has a long and storied history going back to the Roman Empire, my experiences visiting this state have been more mundane: they involve soccer, golf, geocaching, ostrich farms, you know, the usual stuff.

Ostrich farms? Yes, there is an ostrich farm in Essen, near Duesseldorf. The same organization also offers soccer golf, and “Swingolf,” something like regular golf but with larger balls. We spent a fun morning and early afternoon there with friends.

SoccerGolf

But this is Thursday Doors, and there aren’t a lot of doors out on the fairway. (And ostriches can’t open doors anyway). Germany’s first game in what would ultimately turn out to be a disappointing showing in the World Cup was on TV that afternoon. We watched it, surrounded by cabinet doors and other game day paraphernalia.

CabinetDoors

The whole neighborhood was rooting for the home team. Too bad they lost.

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Later we went to find some more geocaches with unusual doors associated with them. This cache was hidden at a church, attached magnetically to a downspout. It was not on this door, but I liked the colors of the door anyway.

NightCaching

And this cache, which we found on our way out of town, was elaborately and cleverly hidden in an old phone booth, now solely dedicated to housing the cache. Superman has found other places to change.

PhoneBoothCache

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post and then sharing it, between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time), on the linky list at Norm 2.0’s blog

ThroughTheGate

Follow my European trip with this and previous posts:

October 11, 2018: Landschaftspark

September 21, 2018: Pattensen

September 6, 2018: Birdhouse Cache

August 30, 2018: Achtung, Baby!

August 16, 2018: Ku’Damm

August 9, 2018: Berliner Dom

July 20, 2018: Berlin Walk

June 13, 2018: Thursday “Tors”: Brandenburg

June 7, 2018: Germany

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Thursday Doors: Landschaftspark

The Landschaftspark in Duisburg was a steel mill and blast furnace in the previous century, but is no longer used and has fallen into disrepair. It is now an unusual public park, a heritage site commemorating the industrial past of the German Ruhrgebeit, where my husband grew up. Surprisingly, it is a source of unusual doors.

14WholeBuilding

I don’t normally like graffiti, but I found these doors interesting and attractive in a run-down sort of way.

And this windmill was closed and no longer working, a giant silhouetted against the sky. It also had a door, keeping out the tourists.

While we were visiting there was also a concert going on, so we wandered through the old buildings, climbed the hill, found geocaches, all accompanied by a faint techno-beat in the background.

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Cement wall with gate to nowhere in particular

It was an interesting juxtaposition of the modern and the historic, of old and new technologies.

01LWPDoor

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post and then sharing it, between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time), on the linky list at Norm 2.0’s blog

ThroughTheGate

Follow my European trip with this and previous posts:

September 21, 2018: Pattensen

September 6, 2018: Birdhouse Cache

August 30, 2018: Achtung, Baby!

August 16, 2018: Ku’Damm

August 9, 2018: Berliner Dom

July 20, 2018: Berlin Walk

June 13, 2018: Thursday “Tors”: Brandenburg

June 7, 2018: Germany

Mundane Monday: Light and Dark

Even though it was taken in March, this seems like a good picture for October: it’s orange, brown, and black. The sun is setting, evoking the shortening days. The leaves are long-gone in the picture, though, whereas now they are just turning their bright colors. Dr. KO took her Mundane Monday picture on the Bainbridge Island Ferry. It has water, a reflection, and a lot of blue.

I took this sunset picture around the time I was inspired to start this blog: on a long geocaching trip in the Washington DC area with my husband. We drove along a lot of deserted roads, finding caches placed 0.1 mile apart. The goal in this case was numbers, not cleverness of hides, or even sightseeing. This is called a “power trail.” My husband has done a lot of these. I did it this once. That seemed like enough for my bucket list!

TreesSunset

 

 

 

Friday Doors: Pattensen

Pattensen is a small town in Lower Saxony, near Hannover. (I’m including that detail because it makes it sound less like a “Kaff“). We passed through Pattensen on our way to visit friends and found a multicache that took us around an old church building and associated structures.

PattensenOverview

The sky was such a bright blue, leaving strong shadows. We had to find numbers on the sides of buildings (such as dates) and then do calculations to find the final coordinates for the last stage of the cache.

This process, like Thursday Doors, always forces me to slow down and look at things I would otherwise miss. Two things especially impressed me about this area: the brickwork, and the ivy around some of the doors.

Our teenage children were not particularly into this activity. They looked briefly at the buildings and then mostly stayed in the car, on their phones. Admittedly when I was a teenager I had much the same reaction to car travel and “sightseeing.” I slept a lot to prevent getting carsick, and then was groggy and cranky when I got out and had to look at something.

And even as an adult I sometimes struggle with my role while traveling. What’s interesting and what’s not? When I get home, will I wonder why I even have all these pictures on my phone? Is it the digital equivalent of clutter?

Participating in Thursday Doors for the past couple of years, and geocaching, have given me an organizing principle for some of these photos. They are collections.

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, has an interesting take on collections and photographs (and collections of photographs). “Taking photos,” she says, “is a common way to incorporate a mission into traveling. Not only does this help keep memories vivid, it also makes you more attuned to your environment while traveling.” She also mentions the competing truth that “for some people, taking photos can become a barrier to experience; they get so focused on getting the photos that they don’t enjoy the reality.” Both of these can be true, even of the same person; but I think the anti-photo viewpoint gets more airplay these days. I like acknowledging the other side too.

Thursday (or Friday in a pinch) Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post and then sharing it, between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time), on the linky list. This week our fearless leader, Norm 2.0 is on vacation and Mexi Movie is generously hosting the blog hop. 

ThroughTheGate

Follow my European trip with this and previous posts:

September 6, 2018: Birdhouse Cache

August 30, 2018: Achtung, Baby!

August 16, 2018: Ku’Damm

August 9, 2018: Berliner Dom

July 20, 2018: Berlin Walk

June 13, 2018: Thursday “Tors”: Brandenburg

June 7, 2018: Germany

Mundane Monday: Line up (in SoCal)

Things don’t really line up in Nature. Usually. They did this week in Dr KO’s Mundane Monday Challenge #175: Line Up, an adorable line of geese.

My photos are all from a trip we made to the Santa Barbara area in 2016 for Thanksgiving. At the time we visited a few schools in Southern CA for our daughter (now a sophomore at Willamette University in Salem OR).

TreeMountainLineUp
Line of trees silhouetted against the mountain

I have to say, I really don’t know why she didn’t want to go to school down here. I mean look at it!

PalmLineUp
Line of Palms at Mandalay Beach, Oxnard

But she preferred Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. She’s happy at Willamette and it’s a good school, so I’m not going to second guess her.

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Signal

While we were there we also found an unusual geocache. Up in the hills of Santa Barbara, in the Riviera Neighborhood, there is something called the Frog Shrine. Back in 1989 a plastic frog was left on a wall and people have been adding frogs to it ever since. The mascot of geocaching is named Signal the Frog, so naturally this was a good place to hide a geocache. It took a lot of frogs to find the prince . . . er . . . geocache, but I finally did. At least I didn’t have to kiss them!

FrogLineUp
Line of Frogs at the Frog Shrine in Santa Barbara

Thursday Doors: Birdhouse Cache

It’s Thursday! Summer is really over now: this past Monday was Labor Day, and my teaching job is starting up. But it’s nice to remember the summer through blogging.

Last week I showed the door of an unusual geocache in Germany. That wasn’t my favorite cache of the trip, though. This one was.

BirdhouseFromBelow

The first stage of the geocache was to find a tool and assemble it. This was in its own container, a pole; you didn’t have to supply your own, although some hard-core geocachers drive around with various things like this in their cars. But even if we were that crazy, it wouldn’t have fit in our luggage!

Smiling
Okay, now what?

My husband gave it a try first:

Husband
How do you get the cache out of this thing?

The pole had threads on one end, and the bottom of the birdhouse had an opening that you could fit the pole into, and screw it in to tighten it.

MoreGettingTheCache
This is pretty high up!

Once I had the pole attached, the bottom of the birdhouse cache came off pretty easily, and could be lowered to the ground, where you can finally see the door (the only door in this post):

And then there’s getting the whole thing back up there again:

GettingTheCache

I have hidden a few geocaches around my neighborhood but nothing like this. It amazes me the ideas people come up with.

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post and then sharing it, between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time), on the linky list at Norm 2.0’s blog

ThroughTheGate

Follow my European trip with this and previous posts:

August 30, 2018: Achtung, Baby!

August 16, 2018: Ku’Damm

August 9, 2018: Berliner Dom

July 20, 2018: Berlin Walk

June 13, 2018: Thursday “Tors”: Brandenburg

June 7, 2018: Germany

Thursday Doors: Achtung, Baby!

While regular doors on buildings are a staple of Thursday Doors, I have also liked varying the theme a bit, especially to include doors on other structures, such as trucks, little free libraries, electrical boxes, or porta potties. Or geocaches. Germany is the place for elaborate geocaches, in places and containers and behind doors you might never expect.

For example, what would you think of if you saw this box?

DoorClosed

It looks electrical, and like something you should avoid, right?

Well, in fact, it’s a geocache. Something called a “Travel Bug Hotel.” Travel Bugs are items with a tracking code attached that you can follow online on the geocaching site.People pick them up and drop them off, and they travel from cache to cache. Sometimes they have a goal, a specific place they want to get to. In some cities people set up large caches that can hold many travel bugs at once for drop-off and exchange. These are known as Travel Bug hotels.

Open this door, and this is what you see:

DoorOpen

No danger of electrocution, but unfortunately there were not as many travel bugs as we hoped. The owner appears to have been expecting more too. We dropped one off and took one. And then visited more hotels!

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post and then sharing it, between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time), on the linky list at Norm 2.0’s blog

ThroughTheGate

Follow my trip with this and previous posts:

August 16, 2018: Ku’Damm

August 9, 2018: Berliner Dom

July 20, 2018: Berlin Walk

June 13, 2018: Thursday “Tors”: Brandenburg

June 7, 2018: Germany

Mundane Monday: Windy

When I saw this week’s Mundane Monday prompt, “windy,” I immediately thought of these pictures. They are from a vacation our family took in Hawaii in 2014, and a geocache we found there.

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This geocache, called Nu’uanu Avalanche, is a subtype called an Earth Cache. Earth caches highlights certain features of the earth and you have to answer questions in order to log them. Many Earth Caches are about geology, particularly rocks and rock formations. This one was about wind. You had to print out a wind gauge, bring it along to the cache, and estimate how strong the wind was going to be. Then you needed to take a picture of yourself holding the wind gauge to show how strong it really was.

Windiest spot on Oahu

Here are my daughter and I holding the wind gauge my husband printed out, which is basically useless in this much wind. The little string that is supposed to be displaced proportionally to wind strength has blown all the way over to one side. But you get the idea if you look at our hair. This is the windiest spot on Oahu!

MeHawaiiCliff

This spot is also at the top of a cliff with a spectacular view. A landslide formed this cliff, and a historic battle was fought here, in which King Kamehameha defeated the forces of Maui and united the Hawaiian islands under his rule.

Battle

 

 

 

The Geocaching Community for #WATWB

I started this blog with a Geocaching theme, although over the three-and-a-half years of its existence, it has strayed from those original roots. Geocaching, or the “global treasure hunt,” as it’s sometimes called, can be a metaphor for many things. For things lost and found. For the quest and the hunt. For “finding yourself.”

For this Blogfest post, I want to focus on the geocaching community, which is a group of some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. There are over 3 million geocaches hidden worldwide and an estimated 451,316 active geocachers in the United States in 2017. When we moved to California, geocaching was a great way for us to meet new friends.

My husband finds more caches than I do. To do so, he likes to go to some out of the way places, and this past spring, he and one of his friends managed to get their car stuck in the Yuma desert. A quick post to a Facebook group and local geocachers who were on the scene in Yuma came to the rescue.

DesertRescue.png

They weren’t in serious danger, mostly inconvenience. But this story, Canadian geocachers rescue stranded camper in remote woods, is a great example of what the community can do in more dire circumstances. Without these geocachers out looking for their First to Find, Robert would have died.

Geocaching events are a rare place in which folks of different ethnicities, income levels, gender orientations, and political persuasions come together and share an activity and friendship (at least this is true in the United States; worldwide Geocaching is still heavily concentrated in wealthier industrialized countries). Geocachers also organize regular CITO (cache-in, trash-out) events to help clean up local parks and waterways.

The featured photo for this post is a picture from a virtual geocaching souvenir called the “World Turtle.” In order to earn this souvenir, I had to find 100 caches between June 27 and July 25th. I finished just in time, on the last day, by attending a lunchtime geocaching event. There were 13 souvenirs to earn in total, called “Hidden Creatures,” most of which were easier and required finding fewer caches than the turtle. I found most of them while I was on my trip to Europe. (I like the Hippocamp especially because, as a neuroscientist, I am reminded of the hippocampus!)

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Hidden Creatures Geocaching Souvenirs, and the number of found caches required to earn them

The World Turtle was the most difficult one, requiring 100 finds in the time period. A turtle carrying the world on its back is a creation myth in Hindu, Chinese, and Indigenous Peoples mythologies. Here’s an interview with Roxxy, the artist behind this World Turtle. The geocaching community is truly a worldwide phenomenon, and I think appropriate for a “We Are the World” shout-out.

WorldTurtle

The We Are the World Blogfest seeks to spread positive news on social media. Co-hosts for this month are:
Peter Nena,
Inderpreet Kaur Uppal,
Shilpa Garg
Roshan Radhakrishnan
Sylvia McGrath
Belinda Witzenhausen

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.

2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity and brotherhood.

3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing good newst. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.

4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.

5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

6. To signup, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List below.

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

We are the World Logo

 

 

 

 

Thursday Doors (on Friday): Berlin Walk

BerlinerBaerHi! I’m back (if anyone is still reading this blog!)

I didn’t intend for my break from blogging to be this long. I was on a trip to Europe, then I visited my parents, then I had a really busy teaching week. I can see how one gets out of the habit, especially with a full-time demanding job. And then all of the sudden you look up and a month has gone by.

I also have a bad case of photo fatigue. I showed my parents the pictures from the trip on TV and it took two 2-hr sessions to get through everything.

A couple of years ago I started participating in a weekly photo challenge called Thursday Doors, now run by Norm 2.0. Thursday doors goes back to 2014 in Montreal. and it now includes weekly links to posts from all over the world. I find that doors provide a unique view of a place: doors show not only the architecture but the street culture and the history, the way neighborhoods cohere and don’t, and what people find important at the moment.

Although Norm tends to show closed doors, I have been surprised at how often the doors I am trying to photograph are open, leading to posts that are more about Thursday doorways. And I have wrestled (but not too hard) with the question of whether a gate is a door (answer: for blogging purposes, yes!)

So, for this Friday’s version of Thursday doors, I’m continuing what I started in Berlin at the Brandenburg Gate.

Weather in Germany is different from weather in California. I’m biased, but I like California weather better. In the past when we have gone to Germany in June and July I have felt cheated out of a real summer. It’s just not summer when your normal clothing to go about the day comprises long pants and a jacket. IMO.

But that is Berlin for you. Like many European cities, most of the buildings in Berlin are made of stone. The trappings of modern commerce, especially around and in the doorways, manage to look both dignified and out of place at the same time.

This effect is especially apparent to me under a gray sky. Gray to match the buildings.

On this day it rained a little bit, too. It wasn’t even enough water to make real Germans think twice.

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We were still a bit jet-lagged and tired from the 9-hr time difference, but we were getting out there because we were in Berlin and we were supposed to. So the experience felt a little surreal, wandering through alleyways (because that’s what these stone buildings make the streets feel like) in search of food and a geocache.

What is this man doing? Laundry? No, someone hid a geocache in a sock in the middle of a street in Berlin! It’s not a door, but I thought it was still worth showing. I’ve never seen a cache like it before. I’ll also point out that he is 6’4″ tall and still had to reach up pretty high to retrieve it. I probably couldn’t have gotten it on my own.

My husband finding an actual geocache hidden in a sock
My husband finding an actual geocache hidden in a sock

We had surprisingly good luck just finding places to eat, and this was a nice restaurant, a cozy place to eat and wait for the rain to stop.