Sunday, January 1, 2012

Searching for a new hobby...

Recently, Chris told me about a geocaching trail with caches near or within a day's ride of our house.  Last month, Chris bought a new GPS unit - a Garmin Montana 600 - and while we've talked about getting into geocaching before, it wasn't until we had this new unit that geocaching would be easier.  Our old GPS unit was just that - old.  The maps were outdated, the memory was limited, and the functionality was quite basic.  This new unit offers multiple profiles and can store geocache data.  

Anyway...back to this geocaching trail (the Legacy of Conservation Geocaching Trail) is the work of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and is a collection of 30 geocaches in the "Pennsylvania Wilds" region of the Commonwealth.
The idea behind the trail is to put you on some of the best sites the Pennsylvania Wilds has to offer on state lands (State Parks, State Forests, and State Game Lands) and significant conservation locations. Each geocache on this trail will have a collectable “Legacy of Conservation” card, featuring one of Pennsylvania’s notable environmental heroes/heroines. (DCNR website)
The other day when we were discussing our Friday educational sojourn and what we might do this weekend, I mentioned to Chris that I thought we should start 2012 by starting on the DCNR geocaching trail.  He said he'd had the same idea!  (Great minds!!!)  So that's what we did this morning...we set out for Bald Eagle State Park to find the first of 30 geocaches.

Chris is ready to go in search of our first geocache.  He's even wearing his Garmin hat!

We've got the location dialed in and we're headed in the right direction.
The description for this geocache directed us to Bald Eagle near the new Nature Inn.  The title of the geocache was "Room with a View" and the hint was "...for the birds."  We found the geocache in a bird box along the park road.  Don't worry...the hole for the bird box was plugged; it's not an active bird box. 

Yay!  Success!!!
Inside the bird box were two snap-lock containers.  The first one held the log for the geocache where we recorded the date and our name.  It also contained the collectible cards; the environmental hero for this geocache was John J. Audubon.  The second snap-lock container held the trinkets for this geocache.  At many geocache locations, the cache contain little trinkets; you take a trinket and leave another in its place.

Here, we decided to take the LOTR button and leave the mini-flashlight.
After swapping trinkets, I put the two snap-boxes back into the bird box and replaced the nail that held the bird box closed.

Back at the car, Chris logged our first geocache as "found."

On our way out of the park (and on our way to a second geocache), we drove past the Nature Inn at Bald Eagle State Park.  It is gorgeous!  It is very "green" and they were giving tours last year that showcased all of the green practices in play at the Inn.  I hope they offer those same tours again this year since I didn't get to attend one last year.  

Another geocache was located nearby on PA 144 above I-80.  I suggested we take PA 150 back to Milesburg and hop onto I-80 to Snow Shoe and then head north on PA 144 from there...or take PA 150 to US 220 to Wingate and take PA 144 all the way from there.  Chris foo-foo-ed both of those ideas in favor of a "back road over the mountain in Beech Creek."  (It was a turrrrrible idea.) 
Why is it?!?  Why is it that men are opposed to taking the most direct route?!?  Why does everything have to be the long and winding way to get there?  Particularly when the long and winding way is a DIRT ROAD with potholes so large I feared for both my car's suspension as well as my fillings because both were rattling!!!  (Love ya, babe!)
We made our way to the second location (finally), but did not realize that the cache information that had downloaded to our GPS was incomplete.  We were missing the second half of the clue to help us determine the exact latitude of the cache.  We milled about for a little while hoping we'd happen upon the cache through pure luck, but then the rains moved in and we abandoned the cache.  We had to log this attempt as "did not find."

Even so, we had a great time getting started with this new hobby.  We're already making plans for future cache hunting; we've even talked about taking Oscar with us for some of them!  We also realized we should probably keep a stash of trinkets in my car and Chris' truck in case we happen upon some other geocaches in our travels.

After our unsuccessful attempt, we decided to stop at Wal-Mart to purchase our 2012 fishing licenses.  Between geocaching, fishing, and the hiking/backpacking we've been talking about...not to mention our motorcycle rides...2012 promises to be quite the outdoorsy year!

Happy New Year! 


  1. The long way, over the mountain, dirt road, potholes? I'm still not seeing the problem here.... ;)