Monday, October 31, 2011

Crystal Lake Park District Geocache Series

The Crystal Lake Illinois Park District has put together an outstanding geocaching series named the "90 Years of Fun Geocoin Challenge" and if you're in the area, you really should stop by for a fun day of caching.

The series of 12 caches was co-ordinated by John Fiorina, in celebration of the Park District's 90th anniversary.  John's duties include managing the Nature Center, nature programming and managing/restoring The Park District natural areas.

This is John, inside their large, well lit and jam-packed Nature Center.  See if he's around when you go in and be sure to say hello.  He loves to meet the geocachers!

John placed the caches along with the help of some very key people.  Local geocaching legend "Rocky is a Very Good Doggie" provided a ton of support and excellent advice in the planning of both of the park district geocaching series.  He also supplied ammo cans for some of the caches.  Another local cacher, "Zomarkaan," did all the work on the earthcache including the concept, research and cache page.  Rounding out the group was "Mtfish" who supplied invaluable help and has the fun job of passing out the geocoins at the Nature Center.  He showed us the ammo can full of the geocoins.  It's so heavy that I couldn't lift it.  You can see it on the desk behind him.

The concept is to go to one of the cache pages, (GC2YPXP for example) find the cache, and grab a geocaching passport out of the cache container.  The passports were designed really well, and each cache in the series is highlighted in the passbook, along with all the key information about the cache.

Inside each of the subsequent caches is a bag with a sticker unique to that particular cache.  You go find the caches, which are all located in different Crystal Lake Parks.  You sign the log, take a sticker and place it in your passport.

Once you find at least 8 of the 12 caches, you can go to the Crystal Lake Nature Center and exchange your passport for a gorgeous geocoin.  How much fun is that?

This is the second series of geocaches that Crystal Lake has sponsored.   We did the first group last year and enjoyed it so much that we rushed out as soon as we could to work through the 2nd series.  I have to tell you - they outdid themselves this time around too.  All the caches were well thought out, placed in fun locations, had spot on co-ordinates, were filled with great swag, and were a nice mix of traditional, small, multi, puzzle and earthcaches.

I'm going to show you some of the pictures we took over the course of our travels to the different caches.  I'm not going to tell you which caches they belong to because I don't want to give away too much information.

Ones of the caches is a locked box and you have to figure out how to open it!

I'm going to tell you a little bit about this cache because of the neat history about the location.    GC344DR  "Barry, Lisa and Nina"  is an old farm that the park district now owns.  The original owner of the property named his farm "Barlina Farm," after the combined names of his 3 children.  The buildings on the property are now used as storage for park supplies and some of the buildings house the Park Police Department and a pre-school.

One of the caches was a multi stage cache and we had to walk a frisbee golf course and gather clues from the tee boxes....

The park was huge and very well maintained.  They even have a nice dog park.  I wish I had my dogs along!

The foliage was spectacular....

On one of the trails we found dozens of these things.....  Does anyone know what they are?  Scroll down and I'll tell you!

It's called an Osage Orange.  It's from a tree that used to be planted as a living fence along the boundaries of farms. The name of the tree comes from the Osage Tribe and the smell of the ripened fruit.  The seeds are the only edible part of the fruit though.  Click on the link and go read more about it because it's really interesting.  The one I'm holding was huge and about the size of a softball.

John and I chatted for awhile at the Nature Center and I asked him what he felt was the biggest advantage of putting out the Crystal Lake Geocaching Series.

John:  There is a push today in outdoor education/nature programming for kids to spend more time outside engaged in "unstructured play".  The problem for me was how do you provide a program, which is structured by nature, that offers unstructured play?  The answer came to me while watching my kids hunting for geocaches.  I noticed, as we hiked to the cache that they were climbing on rocks, playing with sticks, running up and down hills, in other words they were engaged in unstructured play.  So in answer to your question, it gets people outside and enjoying our parks.

I also asked him if the park district was offering any instructional classes on geocaching as well.

John:  We offer a couple of paid programs:  one for families, one for Cub Scouts/Girl Scouts, and we have done a couple of fieldtrips for local schools.

Finally I wanted to know how well the new series was being accepted.

John:  The series has only been up for three weeks.  So far, it seems to be well received.  For example, one cache already has 50 logged finds.

The Crystal Lake Geocache Series is a perfect example of taking a sport/hobby to a new level.  I particularly like it because of how well it does interact with children as well as adults.  The folks at Crystal Lake have gone above and beyond in terms of implementing this program.  I'd love to see more park districts hop on board and do the same.

I'd like to thank John Fiorina for all his help and information on this post.  The best of luck to you and when you release the next series, if there is another one, you can bet I'll be out there!

For more information on our local cachers and their great geocaches, please click on the links below.....

Rocky is a Very Good Doggie currently has 86 cache hides to his credit.  His "Out of Sight" cache is one of my personal all time favorite caches!

Zomarkaan currently has 32 hides and his Quidditch caches are extremely popular.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Book Review - Following Atticus

Following Atticus is a delightful book written by a fellow blogger.  I purchased this book because it sounded so darn good.  And it was!  I’m writing a review simply because I enjoyed the book and I wanted to spread the word.  From one blogger to another….

With one eye on the trail and one eye on Tom, Atticus blazes the way up and down 48 different mountain peaks in New Hampshire.  Several times.  You might not think that's too unusual until you discover that Atticus, dare I whisper it, is a dog.  An adorable miniature Schnauzer, Atticus has a mind of his own, an iron will and a love of hiking.

Tom, on the other hand, is a middle aged, overweight newspaper editor who has an empty hole in his life and a yearning to fill it.  He just doesn’t know quite how to accomplish that.

Following Atticus is more than a true story.  It’s a tale of love and friendship between Tom and his canine buddy.  I thought it interesting that Tom never referred to Atticus as “his dog.”  They are equals and their relationship is forged on mutual respect and trust.  Most of the time Atticus confidently takes the lead, but their roles reverse as safety and weather conditions dictate.  Where you lead, I will follow…..

To me, it’s a story of blind faith, of putting one foot in front of the other and learning to love and believe in something bigger than you.  Are there obstacles along the way?  You bet!  Do they make their way up every mountain without struggle?  Of course not.  Are they sucker punched by bad weather, sickness, and even the death of a dear friend?  Read the book!

My favorite part of every hike is the peak, where Atticus perches like a little Buddha and serenely gazes out over the horizon.  Metaphorically, reaching those peaks is the reward for the struggles endured along the road called life.  I think Tom got rewarded beyond his wildest dreams by climbing those peaks. 

I’d like to thank Tom and Atticus for sharing their extraordinary journey with me.  I learned a lot while I was lost in the pages.  Check out their book.  I think you’ll get lost in the journey too.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Reaching 10,000 Hits

Wow - I just reached over 10,000 hits on my blog!  That probably isn't a lot of hits to most of you, but to me, well, it's phenomenal.  I remember being thrilled when I reached 100 hits.  It's a giant honor to have people come by and to develop a following.

I'd like to offer up a HUGE thank you to everyone who stops by to read my blog.  Since starting Snug Harbor Bay in March of this year, I've actually spent time with several amazing bloggers who have helped to make my life better and more enjoyable for having met them.  You Florida guys and gals all know who I'm talking about, each and every one of you!

I've also been honored to be a guest poster on a couple of blogs as well as had several amazing writers guest post here.  Thanks for your fun, informative and interesting posts!  I definitely need to have more of you guest blog for me.

I've hooked up with The Outdoor Blogger Network and their fantastic web of outdoor bloggers that stretches around the globe.

And, I'm now a co-author at CacheCrazy, which has one of the best groups of geocachers and all around nice-guys that I've ever had the pleasure to meet.

So thank you everyone for taking a few minutes out of your busy day to stop by here and see what I have to say.  Many of you have been really encouraging and always have something nice to say to brighten my day!  Blogging is even more fun (and more work) than I ever thought possible, but it's also one of the most rewarding things I've ever done.  And I'm having a blast with it!

Onward to 20,000 hits!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lead Ban in Hunting & Fishing Equipment

A hot button issue right now with certain lobbyists is the attempt to ban the use of lead in all fishing tackle and hunting ammunition.  What it all boils down to is this.....

Anti fishing and anti hunting groups want to ban the use of lead in fishing tackle and hunting ammunition.   Specifically, they want to ban lead use in the manufacture of bullets and fishing sinkers, based on a very small percentage of possible harm to different species of birds and animals.  Currently there is no credible scientific evidence to support this claim.  
The chances of lead in bullets and fishing tackle actually harming our wildlife are extremely slim.  The petitioners of this ban must prove that using lead products is having a significant negative impact on our birds and animals.  So far there is no concrete proof.  Yes, lead products can pose a potential hazard to individual birds and animals, but so far, that hazard is nominal at best.  To date there is no proven negative impact on Condors, bald eagles or anything else for that matter.
I think there are other options available - Hunters and fisherman can choose to use non-lead products in some cases.  However, there isn't always that option as some types of lead free ammunition are simply not available for certain weapons.  But, hunters personally can make a more concentrated effort to work with our environment by
  1. burying or removing the gut from the animals they shoot instead of leaving them in the field for birds to scavenge. 
  2. Make every shot count so wounded animals do not crawl off and die without recovery. 
  3. Use non-lead ammo if possible for target practice.

Funding for our conservation and wildlife management largely comes through the excise taxes paid on the purchases of ammunition. However, if lead is indeed banned in the manufacture of these products, it will result in much higher prices being passed on to the consumer. It is therefore highly possible that the purchase of ammunition and tackle will decrease, which will in turn directly affect the funding for our conservation and wildlife management.  I personally think that a decrease in funding will directly affect a larger group of birds and animals as a whole, rather than to the nominal amount that may be affected by the continued use of lead products.

Jeff Thurston at Bernard and Assoc. kindly forwarded the following Lead Ban report to me.  Please take a moment to read it and formulate your own opinions on this lead/no lead topic.  All opinions in the above post are my own and I am placing them here to open some discussion, pro or con, on the issue. 

Anti-hunting and anti-fishing interests are currently litigating against the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to force the EPA to expand its Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) authority in order to regulate traditional ammunition and recreational fishing tackle.
When the Act was established in 1976 Congress explicitly excluded from regulation any article subject to excise taxes -- including pistols, revolvers, firearms, shells and cartridges.
The EPA has already once declined a petition that asked the agency to prohibit the manufacture, processing, and distribution in commerce of lead for shot, bullets, and fishing sinkers because it did not have the authority to do so under the TSCA.
Anti-hunting and anti-fishing interests assert the EPA does have the authority and that a lead ban is necessary to address the significant impacts to wildlife populations that are resulting from traditional tackle and ammunition.
The assertions made by the petitioning groups lack credible scientific foundation, especially when seeking a blanket ban on all lead use. Outside of the California condor, where every death is significant, there is no evidence of a lead crisis at the population level – an entire group of one species living in a specific area.
The biggest threat of lead in wildlife is with birds that have gizzards, which hold on to and grind up food, rather than pass it quickly through their systems.
Proponents of the ban cite the impacts on individual raptors, such as Bald Eagles even though raptor populations are increasing across North America and the Bald Eagle was removed from the Endangered Species list as recently as 2007.
If a complete ban on lead in ammunition where achieved it would have a dramatic negative impact, because of the increased cost of alternative metals, on the cost of ammunition, and therefore participation in hunting and recreational shooting, which in turn is the engine that drives most of the funding for conservation and wildlife management through the excise taxes paid on the purchases of ammunition.
Sportsmen groups have rallied to push forward the introduction of the Hunting, Fishing and Recreational Shooting Protection Act (S.838 & H.R. 1558), which will amend TSCA in a manner that serves to protect and enhance our hunting, recreational shooting and recreational fishing heritage while concurrently facilitating the important benefits that the hunting, shooting and recreational fishing industries contribute to the betterment of our nation’s economy and treasured natural resources.
The Act is now being discussed and considered in committees. To learn more:

Please feel free to offer your opinions or suggestions in the comments area. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fright Week - Scary Roads

It's a Halloween Frenzy this week over at CacheCrazy!  Join in the fun and see what scary happenings are in the works.

In the meantime, if you dare........  join me on a trip down a few Scary Roads........

What would you do on a dark night while billowing clouds march slowly across a shining, full moon?

The kind of night where the wind howls and blows the trees so frantically that their leaves rain down like colored snow…. The type of night where creatures scurry in the darkness just beyond your line of sight, dogs howl and red eyes glow thru the blackness….. If you’re out in the middle of who-knows-where, with a bunch of people toting flashlights and GPS’ers, then you must be geocaching. And that’s exactly what 7 of us were doing last weekend as we attempted the Scary Roads multi-cache.

Scary Roads is a multi stage cache and it has to be done in the dark. The first stage co-ordinates take you to a dark and deserted back road, far out in the country. Plus, its directly in front of a cemetery. A cursory glance at the cemetery reveals no ghosts or goblins and we made a few wisecracks about Halloween and restless Spirits. From there we piled out of our car and began swinging our flashlights around until we located a fire tack on a light pole. A fire tack's about the size of a thumbtack and when a light hits it, it will glow and reflect back at you.

We quickly found the first fire tack and from that point started searching for a cache container. Off in the distance we could hear a dog howling. At least we hoped it was a dog howling….Once we found the cache container, we opened it up, got the directions to the next stage, and collected a clue for later on. 

It’s hard to read from the photo, but you need to remember that the message at the first stage warned us about orbs of light, mysterious electrical malfunctions, strange vehicles patrolling the roads, eerie howls and cries, and eyes peering out at us from the dark. 

Climbing back into the car, we pulled out onto the road and as we drove towards stage 2, Lou noticed headlights in the rear view mirror and watched as a vehicle pulled out from the cemetery and followed behind us. Slowly at first, and then picking up speed, the car was quickly gaining on us. Louie stepped on the gas and mumbled something about the ghost following us, and each of us turned and stared out the rear window as the car pulled up within 20 feet of us. That car stayed directly behind us for about 2 blocks, then suddenly slammed on its brakes, skidded to a stop, and just sat there, in the middle of the road. We sped along, eager to put some distance between us and him, until gradually his headlights faded away. What the heck was that all about?

We rounded a corner and arrived at stage 2, where we again scampered around in the dark, looking for the fire tack. We found the cache, read the note and gathered another clue. As we were replacing the cache we heard the distinct hoot of an owl from somewhere behind us. Mary and I both looked at each other at the same time and asked, “Did you hear that?” As we headed back to the car, the moon was shining brightly overhead and there was a strange, single light shining down the road.

No ghosts or mysterious cars followed us as we headed off for stage 3.

At stage 3 we found the next clue. In order to not spoil it, let’s just say the cache consisted of something that had to do with a pair of glowing red eyes. We got another clue, and we had to decrypt a message this time.

On to stage 4, which was my favorite stage. We parked next to a bunch of huge rocks and one was splattered with something that looked an awful lot like blood. (look closely and you can see it on the middle rock)

Just beyond that there were giant boulders placed like steps, leading up a hill to the remains of an old building foundation. Slowly we picked our way through the brush and climbed the steps. 

I kicked something that looked like a skull, which went flying thru the air towards Chablis and Nicki. I screamed “skull,” they thought I yelled “skunk,” and the 2 of them went shrieking back to the car. I can’t tell you what Mary saw, but her face should say a lot!

The cache and codes we needed were soon in hand and we were on our way to stage 5 after Chablis and I stopped long enough to take a phooning picture. 

At stage 5 we found a lockbox......

......... and a severed hand, which I won't show you becasue I don't want to spoil anything.  However, just as I was going through the lockbox and writing down our next clue, my flashlight went out. I gave it a shake, wiggled the on/off switch a couple of times, slammed it against my hand, opened it up and shook the batteries - nothing. My flashlight, which I had inserted brand new batteries into before we left that night, was dead. Enough said! Suddenly the cryptic message at stage 1 was becoming more and more realistic! Tom grabbed our code clue and we high tailed it out of there.

The 6th and final stage was interesting for many reasons.

We found the spot where the final cache was supposed to be hidden.

Mary, Chablis and I all circled the area, moving leaves, sticks and brush. No cache. Just then headlights appeared in the distance and a white pick-up truck rolled up, stopped, and the elderly driver leaned his head out the window and asked what we were looking for. We told him we were on a scavenger hunt and he just nodded his head and slowly drove off, eyeing us in his side mirror as he went.  Nicky, Chablis and I crossed the road, thinking the final co-ordinates might be off a little. We scampered up a hill, squeezed thru a fence and ran right into a huge headstone. Apparently we were in another cemetery. I veered off into the woods along the western property line while Chablis and Nicki cautiously moved among the headstones, looking for anything that might be the cache. I finished searching the wooded area to no avail and went to meet them back by the cemetery. Nicki was standing and shining her flashlight into the darkness. “What the heck is that?” she asked. It looked like a house window with a light on, so I slapped her hand down and whispered “That might be a house, don’t shine your light at it.” But when we looked back up, the light had disappeared.

Everyone else was still on the road searching for the final cache, so we re-joined them. We pulled out our notebooks and compared notes, doing some quick figuring to be sure we had calculated everything correctly. No mistakes, so we were in the right spot. We all headed back to where the co-ords put us. Lou Jr. walked up, bent over, picked up the cache and asked, “Is this what you’re looking for?” Really??? I’m telling you, it wasn't there when Mary, Chablis and I had looked earlier. I swear!

We opened the cache and signed the log, happy that we had finished the cache without too much difficulty. Well, not much difficulty if you don’t count the howling dog, the hooting owl, 2 mysterious vehicles, one strange green light, glowing eyes, a severed hand, and a dead flashlight….. Just like the message at the first stage had predicted……. And oh, yeah, Sweet dreams….. We saw this little message as we replaced the final cache……

So here we are, the happy bunch after a fun evening.  Be sure to scroll all the way down......

Here's the last picture of the night.  Can you see the green apparition in the bottom, middle of the picture???  It's faint, but it's there.

Happy Halloween!!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Geocaching Friday Lunch Club

A couple of local geocachers, who also happen to be good friends of mine, host a monthly "Friday Lunch Club" event.  They pick a restaurant, release an event page and any geocachers are welcome to come join in the fun.  You can stay for 10 minutes, long enough to sign the log sheet, or you can stay the entire 1 1/2 hours.  It's a great way to have some lunch, visit with your friends and meet new geocachers.  At the last event I went to, we had cachers visiting from Germany.  You never know who you may meet.

This month's Lunch Club took place on a Saturday, to sort of allow for cachers who work during the week to get a chance to attend. 

This is Tom, host of the event.......

And his wife, Mary.....

Now you're probably wondering why in the world Tom is posing next to a speed limit sign.  Well , that's because one of the cachers made a TB (travel bug) out of that sign.   Hehehe.  I thought that was pretty good.  We all signed the back of it and another cacher took it to move it along at another event.

There was a box to drop and retrieve TB's.....

About 45 people showed up, which was a pretty good turnout for a lunch crowd.  The food at Jasons Deli is really good.  I had a yummy bowl of cauliflower/cheese soup and a corned beef sandwich.  They even have an ice cream bar for FREE ice cream sundaes.  You can't beat that!

During the lunch a couple of new caches were released in the area, so a bunch of us ran out to do them....

Believe it or not, my dad is inside this tree, grabbing the cache....

Which was, coincidentally, my 1700th cache!!  Yeah Milestones!

So the next time you see an area event, you might want to stop by.  They're a wonderful way to spend the day and get to know your fellow geocachers.

CacheCrazy has all kinds of scary stuff going on over there for Fright Week.  Why don't you stop by and say Happy Halloween???
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...