Category Archives: Geocaching

Mundane Monday: Reflection

It’s the last Monday of 2018! And it’s not so Mundane, since it’s New Year’s Eve. It’s approaching midnight on the East Coast, the ball is dropping. Here I have 3 more hours. I may or may not make it until then. I’m pretty tired and my eyes are feeling dry and sandy.

This week’s theme for the Mundane Monday Challenge is appropriate for this time of year: Reflection. I am starting a new full-time job in January. I will blog more about the exciting changes this will bring to my New Year when I have the mental energy to do it justice. But right now I am reflecting on how my life is going to change in mundane, daily ways after I start working full-time again.

Reflection
Power Lines, Smoky Sky

I took this picture one day in early November of this year. It was also during the weeks of terrible air quality in the SF Bay Area during the Camp Fire. I was driving home from one of the schools where I worked, and I stopped to find a geocache in a park near the water, as I did many days for my daily geocaching streak. I have been finding at least one geocache a day, every day, since December 31, 2015. Some of these cache stops in parks on the way home from school have been beautiful. This one was too, in a way. But it was also dystopian and strange. I hope it isn’t the new normal for California.

The air is much better now, but I still had a rough day today. Just before Christmas, my husband and I decided to do a 12-days-of-Christmas geocaching challenge and today was day 10. This means we had to find 10 caches today for this challenge. And, rather than being fun, it was a pain in the neck. I’m not going to stop the challenge now that I’m so close to completing it, but I am ending my streak in two weeks, and days like today have convinced me that it’s definitely time for it to end. No regrets!

I am also not making any New Year’s resolutions, other than to survive the transition back to full-time work. Earlier in the year I took Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies Quiz and I found out that I’m a Rebel. Rebels resist expectations, inner and outer alike. (Rebels are also the smallest category, apparently, so I’m feeling overlooked and in the minority.) With respect to resolutions, Rubin has this to say about Rebels:

Rebels generally don’t bind themselves in advance, so a New Year’s resolution might not appeal to them. They want to do what they want, in their own way, in their own time — not because they promised themselves they’d do it.

And I have to say, this sounds a lot like me. If I make a resolution, I may be less likely to do whatever it is, not more. And then she goes on:

On the other hand, some Rebels love the challenge of a New Year’s resolution: “My family thinks I can’t give up sugar for a year? Well, watch me!” or “Starting January 1, I’m going to work on my novel, and I’m going to finish by December 31st.”

BINGO, again. Why did I start this geocaching streak in the first place? I started it because I thought my husband, a serious cacher who was once ranked #10 in Massachusetts, thought I couldn’t do it. But now I’ve been doing it even longer than he has. And I will probably even miss it a little bit when it’s over.

I am celebrating the end of the streak in 2 weeks with a geocaching event at a donut shop. A couple of people have already written to congratulate me, and one mentioned that his streak had become a crushing burden by its end. I’d rather quit while I’m ahead: I’ll make an intentional decision to end the streak on my own terms, surrounded by friendly faces and donuts.

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Friday Doors: Grand Place, Brussels

This blog normally participates in Thursday Doors but yesterday was a holiday in the US and I took a break from blogging. (Which followed my >2-week break earlier this month, but who’s counting?)

I’d first like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! This is a picture of me, my husband, and our 15-year-old son, taken by our friend who was a guest at our table this year. This shot shows the persimmons from our backyard, the candles, and has the least amount of teenage eye-roll. It also demonstrates conclusively how I have become the shortest one in the family in recent years! Our college-age daughter is visiting a friend on the Oregon coast.

Thanksgiving

And now on to the doors!

Belgium is not the first country we think of when we think of Europe. I’d venture when asked to name a European country, most US Americans would say France, Germany, Spain, or England (not necessarily in that order). And maybe the Netherlands. Because, you know, windmills. But, our visit to Belgium had some of the most beautiful European architecture around. And Brussels is the de facto capital of the EU.

On our way to look for chocolate and beer, I still didn’t fully realize what I would be seeing in minute. The alleyways are narrow . . .

If you only have a limited time in Brussels, the Peeing Statues are fun (and there’s even a dog now), and the 1958 World’s Fair site is pretty cool too, but I’d still recommend the Grand Place before any of that.

I’m including a panorama from wikipedia because I don’t have the photographic skill or equipment to do it justice. If you think back to the Middle Ages, or even the Renaissance, this square would be the most amazing thing that most people of that time period would ever see in their lifetimes. There were no IMAX movies, no National Parks, no World Heritage Sites, and no planes, trains and automobiles to get you to them.

The Brussels City Hall was built between 1401 and 1455, and made the Grand Place the seat of municipal power.

06CityHall

Around the square there are many very detailed doors with different features, such as a swan or a trumpeter:

And there was even a geocache puzzle that asked finders to identify different features of buildings around the square. When solving the puzzle, I was happy to have already been checking out the place for Thursday Doors!

It’s not hard to find somewhere to eat Belgian food, either:

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:

November 1, 2018: Belgian Beer and Chocolate

October 27, 2018: Dutch Whimsy

October 18, 2018: Nordrhein-Westfalen

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

 

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.

GermanFlag

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

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.

15NotadoorbutPretty
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