Category Archives: Geocaching

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.


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. 


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).

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!

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.


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!

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.


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!

Okay, now what?

My husband gave it a try first:

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.

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:


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


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?


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:


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


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.


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!


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.





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.


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!)

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.


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


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.


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.


Mundane Monday: Sand

Sometimes the Mundane Monday photo challenge is a challenge–I do it on Tuesday, or it’s not really mundane, or I use it as an excuse to write about geocaching, or I search my photo library for something that kinda fits and get creative–whatever. Since Jithin at photrablogger stopped doing it each week it has become a little more free form, which fits my style anyway. But, this week it all comes together with this picture:


Yep, that’s my sandal-clad foot next to some sand.

IMG_3783This is actually a geocache near Leuven, Belgium. My family stopped there on our way to Brussels. This is a subclass of geocache called an “earth cache,” which teaches you something about geology. In order to log an earth cache on the geocaching website, instead of finding a logbook in a container and signing it, you have to answer some questions about rock formations you find at the site.

The sand is incongruous. It doesn’t seem to belong here in the forest. This particular site is completely dry, but if you look closer there is evidence of a former sea bed in the area, with fossilized worm holes in the rocks.


When we were in Paris 2 years ago we found a number of earth caches there too. Many of the big cathedrals and city halls of Europe are built with stones containing fossils, fossils left when the old sea beds dried up.



Mundane Monday: Line of RVs

This road lines Rengstorff Park in Mountain View, where I live. There was a nice little geocache in the park that I found with my daughter today. But I want to call attention to this line of RVs parked here, stretching back as far as the eye can see.


Unfortunately this view has become all too mundane in recent years:

The Mundane Monday Challenge is under new ownership. Check it out at K Ottaway’s Rural Mad as Hell Blog.