My first virtual and avenging another DNF

My geocaching crew and I took a day trip to Orillia today to visit a friend.  Of course, why not go geocaching too?!  I suggested stopping at the Oro African Methodist Episcopal church since 1) it is part of the local history of the Underground Railroad, and 2) it has a virtual geocache!  And there’s a traditional one just up the street for releasing travel bugs!

The Oro African church was restored last year after years of vandalism and no upkeep.  So we got to see it all new and still smelling of freshly-cut wood.  We chatted with the two employees running tours of the church during the summer months about the church restoration, the property, the history, and about geocaching.  The Underground Railroad is still a bit of a vague concept to me, so I will need to do more reading up on that.

Memorial cairn

In order to log the virtual geocache, we had to take a photo of the “main structure”.  Selfie time!

Then we drove up the street a little to the traditional geocache in the nearby 19th-century cemetery.  The camouflage of the cache was great because I walked right by and thought it was part of the tree stump.

When we got to Orillia, we avenged a previous DNF!  It was a tube on a string hanging in a grate.  Even knowing beforehand that it was in the grate, it took me a while to stop focusing in the wrong areas.  Next was a stop for the others to add their names to a geocache I had found on a previous trip.  Then we managed to stop at the bus station at a time when there were no “muggles” (non-geocachers) around.  I got up into the garden bed to get the festively-decorated geocache hanging in the tree.  It didn’t take very long for the tree needles jabbing my legs to activate my dermatographism!  This is exactly the reason why I want convertible pants that zip off into shorts.  Pants for the geocaching part and shorts for the tourist part.  Next, we learned how flexible toonies ($2 Canadian coin) are when one got caught in the van’s folding seat, and went for lunch.

Then we strolled the main street and a bit of the waterfront to view the maple leaf art installation.  It is this year’s Streets Alive! art project celebrating Canada’s 150th.  There are 50 metal maple leafs but we did not see all of them.  This is just a few of the ones I liked.

But I love this one the most:

I love how the glorious summer day blends with the scenery painted on the metal maple leaf!

And since we were already at the waterfront, what’s a few more feet to a spontaneous geocache find?! 😀

It was a full day with stunning sunny weather, good company, and lots of fun!  I had a great time!

Adventure on,

Paula

Mary Hyde, week 1

In order to get the first piece of the treasure map (digital souvenir) in the pirate-themed “Mary Hyde” summer geocaching challenge, each person on our team needed to find at least one geocache this week.  Because I recently adopted 9 of the ones here in town and I’ve found most of the others, I’m running out of ones to find locally.  Luckily, there is a geocacher placing new caches in the area so my options are looking up.  But I only have until Sunday to log a find.  So today I went to find a geocache I had previously DNF-ed (Did Not Find).  I’m actually glad I didn’t find it the first time just because I needed it this week.

I only started geocaching this year so I’m also new to spending so much time outdoors. I’ve given my friends a hard time about only talking about the bugs in their logs. Well, today deserves it. I had put lots of bug spray on but it didn’t keep the mosquitoes at bay at all. I was so determined to find this cache, and the mosquitoes were swarming so bad, that I ended up choking on one that hit the back of my throat. Ewww! When I got near GZ (Ground Zero), I put my raincoat and geocaching gloves on for extra bug protection. When I finally focused on looking for the cache, I found it so easily that it made me feel silly for not finding it the first time. I have learned a valuable lesson about how your environment and state of mind influences your ability to see things right in front of you.  And then we rushed back to the car just to be away from those damn mosquitoes!  I now have a blood stain on the side of my brand new hat from squashing one that was sucking my blood at the top of my ear.  My “Take a hike” hat now has battle scars!  I’ve got a brand new tube of After Bite in my geobag and bug-proof rain pants have moved to the top of my wishlist.

Live on,

Paula

My first Cache Crate

I admit that I was too eager for my first Cache Crate box  in May that I went to YouTube to view an unboxing so I could find out what I was getting before it arrived.  Then I was even more excited to get it!!!  Why?  Because it had a pair of waterproof phone pouches in it!

There have been two times in the last two years when I have needed one and didn’t know they existed.  And now I’ve got one.  It is submersible and comes with a rope for tying it to things or using as a shoulder strap.

I could have used it in June 2015 when I went to the MEC Paddlefest and tried out Stand Up Paddling.  I wouldn’t have been able to get any pictures on the water because I wasn’t very successful at it but at least my pictures of us in our awesome PFDs would have been clearer.

If I had had a waterproof pouch for my phone, I would have been more relaxed when I went sunrise canoeing in August 2016.  I was so afraid my Ziploc-bagged phone would fall overboard and I would be lost without it.  Yes, I am fully aware of my dependence on my phone.  It was a glorious morning that I treasure, but I would have been calmer.

And now that I have one, I keep forgetting to use it when there’s any possibility of rain.  I must put it in my geobag and I’ll always have it handy when I need it.

Live on,

Paula

Clearview Canada 150 Geocache Challenge, part 1

Despite living in the area for over 30 years, there’s a lot I don’t know about it.  Having recently fallen in love with geocaching, of course I want to do the Clearview Canada 150 Geocache Challenge.  The challenge requires you to find 10 of the (currently 11) geocaches hidden by Clearview Tourism in order to receive a prize pack.  These are spread across the entire township and requires a fair amount of travel.  Therefore, we decided to split it into two trips.  Today we did the lower 5 and we will do the other 6 in August.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to Creemore before.  I didn’t realize it was nestled in the foothills of the Blue Mountains.  It’s a very quaint town.  We parked at the library, which just happened to be right beside the building where the geocache was hidden.  There is a statue of a girl on roller skates with a book in her hand.  At the time, I didn’t notice the meaning of the statue but I did find this article with the explanation.

After finding the cache, we also checked out the historic jail next door.  We took the obligatory cell photos.

This is a compilation of 3 photos.

We took a lunch break at Affairs Bakery & Cafe and had a lovely meal.  They had gluten-free bread and even gluten-free butter tarts!  We then toured Creemore a bit more.  There is a sculpture garden on the main street.

And I got a new hat!!!

The last cache of the day was at the Minesing Wetlands.  I would like to go back there again in another season (when it’s not quite so humid and leafy) to see more wildlife and more of the river.  I think I was pretty creative in getting us all in the photo!

Not all of us climbed the lookout tower. 😉

The monument and lookout tower

I learned previously to take multiple group photos in case of blinking, etc.  Today, I learned you get bigger smiles in your picture if someone burps before you take it.

It was an exhaustingly fun day.  It was hot and humid and not at all rainy like predicted.  I look forward to the next round!

Live on,

Paula

Vindication

In everyday life, it is called trusting your intuition.  In geocaching, it is called trusting your geosense.  I’m still learning how to do that.  The first time I tried to find one of the local geocaches back in April, I couldn’t find it and chalked it up to recent tree damage.  I DNFed it.  But it bothered me and I wanted to try again.  So I went back last night after work.

I made a new acquaintance while I was there.  Yes, I startled a frog while looking in the wrong spot.  It didn’t go very far so I think it was rather patient with me while I looked in the wrong spot.  Did I mention I was looking in the wrong spot?

When I saw the bright white very round hole, I thought it was unusual and it set off my geosense.  But I was in long wet grass and brambles and it was slightly drizzly.  Do you hear the slight whine in that?  So I kept looking elsewhere.  And then I gave up and came back to the round hole.  And contemplated.  And when I took a step closer I heard an unnatural sound.  When I looked down and moved the grass and brambles out of the way, I discovered that I had found the geocache by accidentally pressing it into the soft muddy ground with my foot.  Luckily, the container was unharmed except for a bit more natural camouflage.  I signed the log and put it back where it belonged and made sure it was secure.  And then I rolled my eyes and gently chastised myself for wasting far too much time looking nearby instead of investigating the ground under the tree.  I have garden gloves and kneeling pads with me so it’s not like I couldn’t have done it without getting dirty.  Sometimes the feeling of urgency and the weather conditions are not friends.  But I feel vindicated!!  And it’s extra special because it is my 20th find!!

Even in miserable weather, it is possible to see beautiful nature.  My feet and legs were drenched by the time I got home because of the rain shower on the walk home.  But I was only mildly uncomfortable and not far from home.  I will be better prepared next time.  And I’ve added waterproof trekking pants to my wishlist.

Live on,

Paula

 

Topography, socks, and a travelling geocoin

The geocoin with the Vimy sacred soil

A fellow traveller on the cache where I released the geocoin. 😉

Last week I found a geocoin that had been stuck in a geocache for months.  Today I released it back into “the wild” in a more populous area in the hope that the geocoin will actually do more travelling.  The goal of the geocoin is for it to travel as much as possible and to have its photo taken at nearby landmarks.  So I picked the new Vimy war memorial since the Prime Minister of Canada himself came to the dedication ceremony.

One lesson I haven’t quite learned in geocaching yet is how to read a topographical map (or where to get them).  Today we were going for lunch at Red Lobster after looking for a geocache.  According to the satellite map, the cache looked like it was just inside the park so I didn’t bother to bring the trekking poles because I thought it would be a quick park-and-grab.  Boy, was I wrong!  What you can’t see from overhead is that the ground drops out from under you as soon as you enter the trees.  Also, I haven’t figured out the secret to deciphering the Terrain levels especially when a local cache that requires walking through tall grass and one in the neighbouring town with a steep incline trail are both listed as 2.5.

It was a steep walk to get it but we found it!

I also haven’t learned how to find the “right” route to a geocache.  Quite often, after I’ve found it, I then discover the much easier route to get to it than the bushwacking or more difficult route I chose.  Because of this, I discovered today the importance of moisture-wicking, not-cotton socks.  Walking through wet short grass, wet long grass, and wet forest meant that my shoes got wet.  I am grateful I wore my moisture-wicking socks so that my feet never got uncomfortable.  Now I just need to get more of them!

Live on,

Paula

Burrs and bugs

 

 

Every geocaching expedition I go on teaches me something new.  Like things I forgot to bring and things I don’t know.

Today I found four geocaches in one hour!  And one was such an ingenious hide that I gave it a ‘favourite’ point.  However, I did forget bug repellent and the mosquitoes were so bad.  Luckily, I managed to get away with just one mosquito bite.

At my third geocache, I noticed I had somehow encountered some burdock and had burrs on the elbow of my shirt and on my side.  I spent some time during the rest of the hike picking them out of my sleeve.  Eventually I just found a secluded spot and changed out of my shirt and into my athletic jacket because the burrs were driving me nuts.  Later, when I got home, I discovered that burrs activate my dermatographism.  Great, another thing to watch out for.  I didn’t know before but now I know how to get them out of clothing (hint: use a comb to scrape them off).

One of the things I love most about geocaching is how much more you get to see, especially of the area you have lived in for years.  I found a trail in town I didn’t know about before and it’s actually a network of trails that interconnect.  I look forward to exploring them more.  I look forward to seeing more new places in my hometown.

Live on,

Paula

Zombie hunting

A geocacher commented on the cache called “A Grave Encounter” with ‘I’m not a Zombie fan but there was a lot of effort put into this cache.’  And another said, ‘Hmmm, not a fan of the Zombie hoard.’  Yet another said, ‘When I opened it, the ghost protested being disturbed by making some haunting sounds.’  So I decided to take my three zombie-loving friends with me in case I got scared.  Because, yes, I am a wimp that way.

Walking along the railroad tracks on a bright sunny day…doing the “Stand by me” theme song on our way to find a ‘dead body’.

It was a strenuous but fun adventure to find this geocache. There are some steep hills hiding in the forests around here.   And a couch?! When we found the area the geocache was located, we had to figure out how to get across the creek.  A maple tree sapling prevents the timid from crossing at the easiest part which is the narrow section between the fence and the top of the culvert.  However, there was a spot further downstream that was manageable.

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But all four of us made it over and we all made it back.

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We found the geocache!  It wasn’t as scary or spooky as I was expecting, perhaps because it was such a sunny day.  If ever there was a noise that came from the box, it must have stopped working long ago.  Either that or the “ghost” was too entertained to be upset at being disturbed.

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I was very excited to find my first geocoin!  This is a trackable item that travels the world by geocachers passing it from one cache to another.  I find it particularly special that this geocoin originated in New Zealand in 2009.

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Instead of going back the way we came, we decided to walk the easier/flatter route through the new subdivision.  We stopped at the local splash pad to cool ourselves off and take a break.

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The most valuable lesson I learned today is that satellite map images are helpful but can’t be relied on for up-to-date information as we walked home through the subdivision that doesn’t exist according to Google Maps.

We all had fun on our adventure!  I’m glad we had such beautiful weather for our excursion…even though two of us now have sunburns (oops). 😉

Live on,

Paula

There’s a new trail in town

Today was the official opening of the new Rippon branch of the Pine River Trail.  A friend and I went to the 9am ceremony, followed by a walk of the trail with community members knowledgeable in local flora.

The trail currently has two segments: Nottawasaga Community Park to LeClair Park (1 km) and Nottawasaga Community Park to Peacekeepers Park [Rippon tract] (1 km).  The plaque at the entrance gives some history of the town, the environmental conditions that lead to the forest, and its current size.

When I walk/hike trails, I usually don’t take as much time to look around and see all the variety of plants.  Because this was a slow-paced walk, I noticed my surroundings more.  Among the greenery were the ever-present official flower of Ontario (trillium) as well as Foamflower, Partridge Berry, Starflower, Wild Sarsparilla, Wild Strawberry, and Ferns.  And mushrooms in the middle of the path.  The mosquitoes were also abundant in the forest but not as vicious as they will be later in the season.  I seem to have escaped with only one bug bite.

The walk ended at a sugar maple tree that has been ceremonially planted in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary this year.  The area around it will be turned into a meadow, perhaps with benches and picnic tables.  Because of current construction being done on the road and bridge nearby, the Rippon trail doesn’t officially meet up with the Pine River Trail yet but it will eventually.  While everyone else walked back the way we came, my friend and I crossed the muddy temporary clearing and continued walking the Pine River Trail.  We later took a break at the lone picnic table.  From a few feet away, KathyM noticed a snail on a thin reed plant.

We finished our day’s hike with a cold beverage at the Tim Horton’s.  We walked 2.5 km in total.  It’s a really nice trail and I look forward to seeing future developments.  I am eager to walk this trail again, especially during the autumn colours and next spring when the fiddleheads are ready!

Live on,

Paula

 

Travel personality lessons

I am not much of a world traveler by any standards (yet?).  However, I do like to travel.  I like how it gets you out of your comfort zone and you temporarily leave your everyday life behind.  I like the adventure of it.

However, I am an anxious traveler.  I do not relax until I’ve reached my destination and then again once I have returned home.  The act of traveling makes me anxious the most when I am on a schedule.  Catching flights or buses and appointments make me anxious because I am the type of person who prefers to be early or on time rather than late.  Being on time, though, is very close to being late and that’s why I prefer early.  Because being on-time doesn’t give you any wiggle room.  That’s how I missed my bus.

On Monday, I traveled to Toronto via public transportation since I don’t own a car.  Although I had one appointment at 2pm, I had to spend the whole day traveling.  My first bus left at 9:15 am and I caught two connections that would get me to downtown Toronto three hours later, then a subway ride to the street I needed to be on.  I had 1.5 hours for eating lunch, my appointment, and a geocache down the street.  My first bus home left at 3 pm and my two connections would get me home 3.5 hours later.  Unfortunately, buses that run on-time don’t account for heavy city traffic and that’s how I missed my last connection.  Luckily, I had enough money on me that I could afford a cab to drive me the last leg of the trip.  Although the trip was a successful one personally, it was also a stressful one because the connecting buses don’t leave much time for layovers.  As I learned with the last bus, all it takes is just a few minutes for you to miss your connection.  I would never want to rely on the bus system on a regular basis.

This trip made me realize just how stressful traveling is for me.  It won’t stop me from traveling in the future, of course, but I will add in time buffers from now on.

I like traveling because you learn about yourself as well as the places you’re going.

Live on,

Paula