Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Geocaching, St. Peter Style

Apparently it takes me two days to do anything. So I'm going to mention that I went to breakfast with Erik this morning, just so I can blog about something the same day it happened. We had a good breakfast at Junior's, although they didn't open until 30 minutes after we wanted to start breakfast and it was incredibly cold in the restaurant while we were ordering. The grill provides a lot of the heat, and if you're the only two in there other than the two children of the cook, who are obviously going to have heart attacks by age 8, the grill isn't running at full capacity.

Also, my sister is pondering urban chickens. It's not often I can find something I can come down firmly against, but urban chickens appear to be one of those things. Dirty. Lots of work (she only thought a poodle was a pain in the ass). Expensive (small animal license). Dangerous (disease and 744 hits on the med site related to beak injuries). Flashbacks for my father (who grew up in an incubation room). Neighbors (who shouldn't approve and have veto rights if you're within 100'). And readily available organic eggs in about a million other locations in Minnesota. On the positive note, maybe my sometimes sensitive niece will be excited when chicken harvesting season comes around.

So, Sunday I went geocaching. All day. Ming, Kyle, Logan (1st Grade) and I traveled down to Jordan where Kyle lost his geocaching virginity at Riefsgraf Lion's Park. Here are Ming and Logan celebrating Kyle losing his virginity. It was good that Kyle found the first cache, even if it was a micro instead of something more fun, as it proved the efficacy of his new GPS. I sent him a route pocket query that I imported and exported using the Geocaching Swiss Army Knife (gsak at http://www.gsak.net/). That's an excellent piece of software, and it allows me to export in a format I like, including the terrain difficulty, cache size, find difficulty and last four find status values. I think the only issue I bumped into were a few missing recent caches because the area I tagged (Eagan to Mankato) had over 500 caches, so it throw out the most recent ones. Easily remedied by using two overlapping pocket caches. Klund gave me a few of the ins and outs about using the macros, and it may be one of my better purchase decisions in quite some time.

We ate breakfast at Cindy's in Belle Plaine where we met Klund and Eli (grade 2). Apparently, the developer who sits 10' away from me - Robin - grew up in Belle Plaine and the owner of Cindy's graduated a year ahead of her. This didn't save it. Klund turned up a review that listed Cindy's as a 1. My food wasn't a 1, but a 2 might have been generous, particularly as the tables and chairs were covered with dust when we sat down (and perhaps a few bits of food) and Logan stated at one point, "This isn't a very good pancake." It's hard to f-up a pancake for a first grader - you pretty much have to try. The primary problem was the food hit the table about four minutes before it finished cooking. Bleah. Even so, it was better than Emma Krumbee's, which we hit at Belle Plaine on the way back. Wow was that bad. The service was bad, although that didn't stop the waitress from telling everyone it was because it was sooooo busy (it was busy, there were people waiting outside, but it wasn't that busy, and the real issue was that she couldn't take orders from multiple tables at once. It was a very asynchronous operation with one table getting water, then an order, then a delivery, then the rest of the delivery that was missed). The food was bad. My burger was sort of gray, overdone, and had visible bits of fat. The Canadian bacon was obviously boiled. The apple sauce was not a sauce (Logan's observation). NEVER AGAIN. Next time we'll soldier it out until we get to House of Wu up by 35W.

But on a positive note, Bob's Apple Barn was still open when we drove past, and we had assumed it would be closed. I had the weirdest barley-based root beer I've ever tasted, and Ming went wild buying candy, but no pie. Which is really strange for him as he's got a sort of piemania.

Back to Belle Plaine in the morning, after the breakfast at Cindy's. We went in search of a few caches in Belle Plaine, a surprisingly historic little town. I know it's historic because this house says so. Watch out Kyle. That looks like a Willie E. Coyote trap.

That house sported a two storey out house. Watch out below. There's one like it in Deadwood (South Dakota), but I didn't realize I didn't have to go that far. The cache is nearby, but not in the outhouse itself.

Belle Plaine also has the Church of the Transfiguration. That means they take your geocache and turn it into nothingness. Six people looking and this was our only Did Not Find of the day. Someone noted that they'd parked and walked right to it. Dicks. I had my arm up to the shoulder under the church, braving squirrels, raccoons, and spiders. Only the power of Christ compelled them not to bite me.

Neat looking roof. All those wood shingles must be a pain. One of them is probably the geocache as the hint recommended praying.

Here's the church from the front so you can read all about it if you like. Don't skip the part about the generations of angry geocachers whose prayers weren't answered.

We finished up Belle Plaine at the Veterans' Park where they have a nice virtual cache with a Huey helicopter. I'm not going to post a picture of the sign, as you might be able to get credit for the cache. But here's Huey the Helicopter. That's Kyle in the cockpit, trying to fly away from Cindy's.

Proof that geocaching can be a very communal activity. I suspect there are pictures out there by Diane Fossey that look awfully similar(sans all the GPSes).

After Belle Plaine, we hit a rest stop just a few miles south. Two of the caches were straight forward, but the third led us to a chasm and coordinates that seemed to place the cache about 68' out into the chasm. Which was strange. Because the difficulty was 1.5 (out of 5) and the terrain was 1.5 (out of 5). Nonetheless, every GPS pointed downward, so we hit the leafy hill, sliding and slipping into the ravine. The first tree Kyle grabbed, about six inches around and 20+' tall, cracked and almost fell on his head. Ming kicked loose a log as big as I was that tumbled toward me like something out of an Ewok trap. And Eli kicked loose a rock about twice the size of my head that tumbled down so fast it gave me a real-life appreciation for what an avalanche looks like and why it kills you. We looked about, struggled back to the top, and then found the cache about 10' away from where we'd left our things.

Kyle, Ming and Logan. That cache is down there further. Just a bit. It's so close...NOT.

Ming and Logan struggling to the top. I saved Logan's life shortly after this by helping him up the final few feet. If I hadn't, he'd be there still.

An idea of the slope. Picture yourself at the bottom with a head caved in by a rock and a log on your chest. Not too far away I a.) took a picture of the earth cache, despite that I despise them, and b.) picked a pod from a tree that Kyle was sure was going to get me in trouble with the guy with a sherrif's badge. But he just wanted to know if we'd found the cache.

For our last several caches we hit 7 Mile Creek in St. Peter. There are about 25 there, so it was a good spot to do some hiking. We went up, and down, some big hills. There's a geocache near this spot. It's a mint tin, and it looks like a piece of trash. Ming set it on the bridge and ignored it for a while because there was so much rusty water inside it couldn't be a cache. Nasty. And Kyle almost got bit by a squirrel, so it was a tetanus danger zone.

Horses fording the creek near where Eli tried to get us to cross.

I took a picture of Kirby Pass just to make sure if they never found our bodies, and only my camera, they'd know where we'd been. All Blair Witch like. Shortly after this pass, we hiked up a monster hill to find two of the caches. Klund and I flanked the cache while everyone else assaulted the front. Neither way was easy. At the top I tried to take a leak, but Kyle told Eli I had the GPS Eli wanted. So I ended up trying to pee away from him, explain where the GPS was, and cease my sharking of two nearby hikers. The end result is a nice picture of Eli standing next to me while I pee on Facebook.

The final cache of the day.

We finished out the day, as previously mentioned, at Emma Krummiebees, and by whispering all the way home "Shhhh, Logan's asleep" and asking "Logan, did you make a skunk in your pants?" after smelling some pigs. Logan's response was to yell at us, "I'm not asleep!" It's surprising that you can get an hour's amusement out of so little material.

Fourteen caches found, one not found! Excellent day, and thanks to everyone who went!


klund said...

Another macro for GSAK: All Purpose Statistics Generator. Latest macro version here:


It gives you way, way, way more stats about your found caches than you could ever want. It looks a lot more cooler on a person with 10,000+ caches than my piddly amount, but that's OK with me.

BTW, I found a cache in the IKEA parking lot today.

klund said...

This time it's hot-linked! (for your clicking convenience)

Anonymous said...

It's not wonder Logan was tired.