Sunday, December 30, 2007

Raceway Woods Christmas Golfer

While at Raceway Woods, we picked up this Christmas ornament from A Pink Floyd Experience (GCGVG0). What better tribute to the raceway, and to our Christmas visit, than to transform it into a world-traveling bug. The Raceway Woods Christmas Golfer will be released in Minnesota as soon as we get back into the field.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Geocaching at Raceway Woods

Over the Christmas holiday, we visited relatives in the Chicagoland area and went geocaching at Raceway Woods - formally known as Meadowdale International Raceway. It was built in 1958 near Carpentersville, Illinois, some 40 miles northwest of Chicago - designed to rival the great race tracks of Europe. The track was 3.27 miles long, and had a variety of turns and elevation changes. Its signature feature was the Monza Wall, a 180 degree steeply banked turn that led onto the 4,000 foot main straightaway. Raceway Woods is open to the public for hiking, biking, horseback riding, picnicking and other outdoor recreation - including geocaching.

Here's a 1958 view of the Monza Wall.

Below is a view of the straightaway in 1968.

Here's what it looks like today.

Meadowdale International Raceway has a great website, chock full of vintage and contemporary photos. I encourage the reader to visit that link.

It was a beautiful Christmas day for geocaching at Raceway Woods. The skies were clear with temps in the mid 30's. With no leaf cover the GPSrs were spot on and the caches easy to find.

The nephews show the size of this hide.

And here's the whole gang at the wall.

Save the Silo!

The famous Pure silo that graced the early track was slated for demolition until racing enthusiasts and local residents got wind of it. A fund was set up to save the silo, the goal reached, and the silo is nearing complete restoration. The addition of benches, landscaping, and possibly a geocache will make it all complete. Click on either picture to read all about the restoration.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Coming Soon - Where I

The author of the game, using Wherigo Builder, creates rules that generate media events on a hand-held device. For example, when a person enters a game zone, the device can play a sound or show a picture. The author can also create virtual objects and characters that "live" within the zone for the person to interact with. A person could "talk" to a virtual character, "pull" a virtual switch or "give" a virtual item from their inventory to a character. Using rules within the Wherigo Builder the author can tell a story, create a puzzle game, or generate a tour guide.

Read about it here.

Listen to it here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

OCCCS - Obsessive Compulsive Cache Craving Syndrome

You know that you are addicted to Geocaching when... read more.

Sell Your Soul Geocache???

In recognition of what they claim to be the sudden and recent popularity of selling souls, and the fact that many geocachers nowadays are into the numbers game and will do lots of things in order to score a quick and easy find on a cache, Vinny & Sue Team proposed a cache called, Sell Your Soul for a Smiley! But it seems the reviewers don't really like the idea. My favorite quote in the thread is, Found the cache. The soul inside was wet, so I replaced it with a new one.You can read the entire thread here.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Geocaching in the Snow

Determined to make geocaching in the snow work for us, we did a query for winter friendly caches and headed out. We promptly logged two DNFs (did not find). Which leads me to ask the question, What makes a 'winter friendly' cache? Is it one that requires kneeling, crawling, or digging with your hands through snow up to 12 inches deep? Hmmmm? That may be winter friendly to a badger, but this is not Wisconsin! Not giving up, we pressed on to the next cache and hit pay dirt.

We went to Baylor Regional Park in Carver County. A great place! We wished that we had brought our skis along. In fact, we could have skied right up to the caches! Lots of folks out ice fishing today.

The temps got up to a balmy 20 degrees. The warmest its been in a long time. We ended the afternoon with four new finds that puts us at 192 finds. Just another eight and we will hit our goal of 200 by the end of the year. Many folks don't know that the wild west starts near here in Buffalo, Minnesota. Here's a couple of coyboys ice fishing in Wright County.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Rake The Table: Blog Worthy?

Here's a post from The Rake. After posting two DNFs in one morning, he asks the question, is it Blog Worthy? He's got some great photos, including a doll house built on a child's grave - completely furnished. Check it out.

Jeep Travel Bugs

Keep your eyes out for one of these little babies - Jeep TBs! Every year, Jeep releases a bunch of these into the geocaching community to be hidden all over the world. If you find one in a cache, take a picture of it - keeping with the theme of the month - and post the picture on the TB's tracking page. A new GPS unit is given away every month for the best photo. Here's some past winners. You can see, the competition is pretty fierce!

But don't wait to find a Jeep to enter a drawing for a new Jeep Commander. Anyone is eligible.

We just happened to find three of them in one week. The green one on the left is last year's. The red one on the right is this year's. The tag for the big one in the middle is this year's tag, but someone replaced the Jeep!

As with all Travel Bugs, record and keep a record of the unique number on the dog tag! You will need it to prove that you found it.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Geocaching in Education

It looks like we'll be seeing more and more young geocachers out there in the field as educators employ GPS technology for education. The idea was pitched recently at a meeting of the National Council for Geographic Education. (You can read more here.) Educators have been using GPS for some time now, but not on a national level. For example, the School District of the Menomonie,WI Area integrated the The Bjornson Education-Recreation Center into its regular educational program. There, educator and geocacher, mama kat, has hidden over two dozen caches on the property - and as you can read from a previous post - some of them can be very challenging! Local schools routinely schedule field trips to the property. What better way to combine geography, biology, and technology to keep kids interested in the world around us.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Electric Cache

Here's a quick park & grab micro. The cache is the small electric box attached to the large box with magnets. Figuring this one out brought a lot of satisfaction.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Caching Pump

That's what I'm talking about!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I ran across this entry on Selina Fenech's blog. She's getting geocoins made with her artwork imprinted on them. Geocoins, one of several facets of geocaching, are both trackable and collectible. Once a coin is registered or "activated", it has a mission to travel the globe from geocache to geocache. Coins that have not been activated, or do not include traveling instructions, can be collected and traded. Watch for them in a cache near you.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Ultimate GPS Buyers Guide

No, this is not a Google ad. It's a real site loaded with the latest & greatest information for those of you looking for a new GPSr. There's a Handheld Buyers Guide, GPS Reviews, and a GPS Comparison Page where you can do a head-to-head comparison of your favorite receivers. This site is a must-read for anyone looking to purchase a GPS receiver. To go to that page, click on the picture of the GPSr right here.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

DNF in the Snow

Well we tried to find a new cache just down the street from us. We would have been STF, but the snow was too deep for me to go crawling around in. The GPSr was right on one of those little playground thingies, but to get under would have required digging snow out from around it. Click on the pic to enlarge it, and you can barely see the thing just beyond the swing. Plus, I could feel a dozen eyeballs on my back from the muggle homes across the street. The FTF was over a week a go (before it snowed) and no one has found it since. It was a whole 3 degrees out, so what should have been a quick park & grab, turned out to be a DNF. Bummer!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Travel Bugs Gone Missing

Here's a sad story about lost travel bugs - some due to natural causes, some stolen. Miragee's blog post tells the whole story.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Wait Time at fixed!

Here's some great news for those of us that have had performance issues with (That would be all of us!) They've fixed the problems! At least until a million more people log into it. According to Jeremy Irish, founder of Groundspeak - parent company of, they've added 25 more hard drives to the back-end database and fixed a few - previously unknown - bugs that were causing performance issues. You can read the entire story here.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Geocaching Visit Cards

Leaving a unique, I found it card, in caches is either a brand new idea, or one that just hasn't caught on. There are a few geocachers in our area that always leave cards in caches they've found. And it's always fun for us to open up a cache and find a card that we recognize. EskoClimber has a card that we've seen a lot - even way over by South Dakota! So, we're going to order some cards to leave in caches.

Above is one idea we had. This card is from Vista Print. I'm not endorsing their product, because a person could create their own cards at home. A unique design would be fun - kind of like the unique stamp used for letterboxing. We haven't decided on a final design, so we'll let you know what we come up with.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

All the Leaves are Brown

All the leaves are brown
And the sky is grey
I went for a walk
On a winter's day
I'd be safe and warm
If I was in L.A.
California dreamin'
On such a winter's day.*

Matthew Greenwald, The Mammas & the Papas biographer, wrote, If this was the only hit song that the group ever recorded, they (still) would have made it into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Like most everybody else, I love this song! The harvest moon has passed, along with the hunter's moon. The next one, I think will be the long nights moon. It is indeed winter here!
We drove past the little park down the street, in which the new cache is hidden, and couldn't even get near it. Dad muggle was giving his little girl snowmobile driving lessons in the parking lot. So we opted for the local to watch the Vikings. A slow geocaching weekend!
Here's another version with better audio. Put on the headphones and do some California Dreamin.
*Lyrics written by John and Michelle Phillips

Geocaching in the snow?

With 20 MPH winds and often blizzard-like conditions here in Minnesota, yesterday was the first Saturday in a long time that we didn't go geocaching. And there's a new cache just down the street from us. We missed the FTF, but wouldn't have gone out anyway. We did all of our shopping the day before, and did all of our geocaching yesterday by internet.

In the Iowaadmin's Geocaching Blog, it's reported that only four new placements were submitted all day. You know the weather is bad! We'll get out today, for sure, and probably try our skills at geocaching in the snow.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

What to Get That Geocacher on Your List

Looking for a special gift for that special someone in your geo-life? The Granite State Geocachers Podcast site has the perfect list.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Good News for Geocachers

Here's some cool news for geocachers. We certainly could have used these on some of our excursions into the woods. Read this post from

Monday, November 26, 2007


Don't have a GPS device but want to hunt and find things in the woods? Try Letterboxing. Here's how it works. There are nearly 5000 small waterproof containers hidden in neat locations in North America. The boxes all contain a logbook and a rubber stamp. The hiders have posted directions or clues to the location on the letterboxing website. You go to the website, get the clues to nearby letterboxes, then go find 'em. (There are rules of etiquette, and protocols to follow, so read up before you take off.) But don't leave empty handed! Take along a pencil to sign the log, your personal logbook to record your finds, and your own rubber stamp. When you find the letterbox, you sign the logbook and stamp it with your personal stamp. Finding letterboxes is great fun of course, but like geocaching, the hobby will take you places that you never dreamed of going. There's even a book called The Letterboxers Companion on Amazon.
Most folks design & carve their own stamps out of those big pink rubber erasers that you played with in school. Beside a cool personal design that says, I WAS HERE, an X-acto knife is all you need. Now you can't use the lack of a GPSr as an excuse. Get out in the woods!
Click on the diagram to see how it's done.

Extreme Geocaching!

Okay, so it's not Mount Everest or the Amazon Rainforest - but for the Midwest, this is some pretty tough caching. We arrived at Bjornson Educational Center, near Menominie, Wisconsin yesterday armed with nothing more than our GPSr. Only after returning home did I get the clever idea to look at the topo map. Duh! This is some very challenging caching! (Click on the picture for more detail. The smiley faces are caches that we found.)

The creek floods regularly. Even during average rain events, you're not crossing that thing. The steep hills, some rising 250 feet from the valley floor, prevent any type of decent GPS reception. And with the slightest snowfall, those hills would be impossible without crampons.

While searching for one cache, our GPSr pointed straight up a hill. So like good geocachers, we followed it. And followed it. And followed it. When we reached the top, we got new satellites, and the arrow pointed us back down the hill. The cache wasn't far from where we had started. Brutal!

Now let me climb down off my rant. The Bjornson Educational Center is a wonderful place to hike, geocache, or just to enjoy nature. While there, we saw wild turkeys, white tailed deer, and the spring fed creek was brimming with trout. Overhead we saw a barred owl, a red tailed hawk, ravens, and a bald eagle riding the thermals.

Many thanks to mama kat, who placed all these great caches! If ever in this part of Wisconsin, Bjornson is a must see. But if you are geocaching, bring your lunch... and a topo map!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Camera Geocaching

Here's a new twist in geocaching. It's called a web cam cache. The idea is to stand in front of a web cam and have a friend at home snap a still photo from the internet - proving that you were there. The above cache is a combo micro/camera cache located on the campus of Bradley University in Peoria, IL. You can see the historic Robertson Memorial Field House in the background, incidentally, scheduled to be removed soon to make way for a new sports facility.

You can view the above web cam here.

For a little more challenge, try the five web cams geocache at Clemson University.
Clemson Web Cam 1 - Bowman Field

Clemson Web Cam 2 - Center Stage

Clemson Web Cam 3 - Cox Plaza

Clemson Web Cam 4 - Reflecting Pool

Clemson Web Cam 5 - Military Plaza

Dock n Grab?

Warning: This post reveals the location of a geocache on Lake Minnetonka.

Although we weren't boating when we got this one (boating on Minnetonka in November is a little tough) the geocache named All Aboard! is certainly accessible to boaters.

Boating on Minnetonka in November

In fact, if you know where to look, it's in plain site as you sit in your boat. The most difficult part of this find is waiting for your turn at the Excelsior public docks. The description claims that STEALTH will more likely be required. Duh! Excelsior Bay is probably one of the busiest areas on Lake Minnetonka.
See the smiley. Right on the dock! I used the Hey-I-have-to-bend-down-to-tie-my-shoe stealth. In fact, I was so sneaky that Wayfarer didn't realize I had made the grab right under her nose. Sweeeet! Interesting photo, though. There are no boats under way???

While grabbing All Aboard! one should take the short walk around the bay to look for one of Bikeathon series. (where we posted a DNF) It's right by the St Albans Bay bridge. The cache is just feet from the water, but not really accessible by boat at that point. Too much boat traffic under that bridge. There are slips available at Maynard's , St Albans Boat House, or The Bayside Grille. If you dock there,
you'll have to eat lunch to get the slip.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Flash Mob Geocaching

This is the craziest thing I've ever seen! It's called a Flash Mob. It's a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, do something unusual for a brief period of time, and then quickly disperse. Here's a time lapse photo series of a Flash Mob Geocaching event in Appleton, WI. Participants appeared like average persons-on-the-street until the posted time. The event lasted exactly 15 minutes, at which time, everyone just strolled away. But what was most impressive, is that this event was coordinated with over 80 others across the globe!

Off subject... There are flash mobs that do all kinds of things. Here's one at the University of Fla. It's a flash mob - BANG, patterned after a banned XBox commercial. View this Supermarket Flashmob. It's insane!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Geocaching in South Dakota

We took a drive over to South Dakota last weekend to score a new state. The caches we chose were just across the border and not too impressive. In fact, what we saw of South Dakota was not too impressive. What was cool though was Paul Bunyan's Boat Anchor.

We also found a letterbox near the cache. But letterboxing is a whole other game!

Five Star Terrain Cache

Here's a cache that has to be rated a Five Star Difficulty. Read the post. Go ahead. Try it.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Back to King's Point Landing

We erased a couple of Did Not Find (DNF)s today. One was Kings Point Landing. There was some talk on the website about the cache being muggled - then someone posted that the original cache was found partially buried. Who knows. But we went back today and found it in short order. Signed the log, and changed the status to TFTC. Whoohoo!

We also went back to Park N Grab on Stubbs, another one of our DNFs. And another quick grab. It's funny how we missed these before.

Earlier in the day, we'd gone up to the small town of Corcoran and scored 4 caches in a small city park there. As you can see from the aerial photo, the top and bottom caches are very close to houses in the neighborhood. We use the plastic-bag-picking-up-trash as cover. Hope we weren't seen. (Click on Photo to enlarge.)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Hard Walk Around the Neighborhood

We spent the entire day on one geocache! A Hard Walk Around the Neighborhood was a brutal one for us.

Listed as a ten-stage multi-cache, it should have been about three miles of walking. For us, it was eight miles. The idea of a multi-cache is to figure the second stage from clues at the first stage. Then find the fourth stage from clues on the third, and so on. The trail was through a neighborhood in Minnetonka, Minnesota - starting at the boat launch at Gray's Bay on Lake Minnetonka. (See photo above.)

Some of the clues were things like how many sliding boards are in the park, or how many reflectors were on a sign. But we had to backtrack because one of the downward-slanting bumpy things in the park was not a sliding board, and again because some of the reflectors have been broken and damaged since the cache started.

Anyway, we got to Purgatory Park where the final stage (the cache) was located. We walked way out of our way. Knowing something had to be wrong we walked way back and re-calculated the final stage. By the grace of God, we were delivered from Purgatory and were only 114 feet from the cache. We waded through the blackthorn and Bob's yer uncle, there it was. Anyone attempting this cache had better take their lunch along.

After it was all over, it was worth the walk. We logged three travel bugs in the cache and three geocoins. I now weigh 10 pounds less.

Our First Benchmark

We started something new today - finding benchmarks. Our first was the Mound water tower. But it appears that the original tower, whose finial was the benchmark, has been replaced by a new water tower. You can see the difference between the two in the photos.

So then we found a real benchmark. It is mounted on the corner of an old building in Excelsior, MN. Although finding benchmarks is not geocaching, the find is just as fun.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tonka_Boy's First Travel Bug

To celebrate my birthday, we dropped my first travel bug - the Lake Minnetonka TB. It's cute as heck and should be very popular. It's very appropriate, seeing as we are into boating on Lake Minnetonka. We dropped it in the Big Willow Travel Bug Cache near Minneapolis that has a lot of activity.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Classic Wooden Boats

We took a break from geocaching this week to attend the Classic Wooden Boat Rendezvous in Excelsior, MN. If you are a boating enthusiast anywhere near Lake Minnetonka, this is the boat show to attend. These boats are very popular on this lake, and can be seen running the waves on any given weekend.

The first photo below is the MER-NA. Although it has Seattle on the stern, her home is now on Lake Minnetonka. The current owner bought her and had her shipped here. We were invited aboard to have an look around. She even has a working steam whistle! Although the small diesel motor doesn't push her too quickly through the water, she's a true classic. (Click on any photo to enlarge.)

If I remember correctly, this boat took best of show.

A beautiful summer day, and here's how it started.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

First Cache Hidden for Tonka_Boy

Today we hid my first cache - The Mighty Gale Woods. It's a traditional ammo can with some cool swag. When at the park, we always say hello to Sampson. He's guards the sheep, but always has time to get a belly rub. While we were there, a calf was born. When that happens, the caretakers have to put iodine on its navel. Mother cow was having none of that! (Click on the pictures to enlarge.)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Geocoin in a Cabin in the Woods

We found the cache A Cabin in the Woods today and retrieved a geocoin commemorating Minnesota's first geocache. A note with it requested the finder to take a picture of the cache site. This is the one that we couldn't find in the dark last night. We thought we would get a FTF there, but it already had been scooped. The coin was worth the wait.

Tomorrow I will be saying, TGIM. I need all the scratches and scrapes to heal. My legs are on fire!

Another FTF at Baker Reserve

What a day! We woke up early (for a Sunday) and headed to Baker Park Reserve to snag a couple more FTFs. I could hardly keep up with Chris as she plunged headlong into the woods. We found one! And just as we were heading back to the trail, here comes a guy studying his GPS unit. I knew right away it had to be rickrich. I said, "Are you Rick?" He replied that he was. "Well we just beat you to this one." He didn't seem upset. (He has over 3000 finds.) We talked a while, took pictures, and all went on our way.

By the end of the day, we had walked 14 miles, logged eight new finds, a FTF, several STFs, picked up a geo coin, and scouted locations for our own geocaches. We came home satisfied with our fabulous geo-day.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Second First-to-Find (FTF) for the GeoCats

The NorthWoods GeoCats scored their second FTF today. After retreating from the blistering heat (and after four new finds), we watched a major thunderstorm roll by from the safety of our geo-home. During which time, Chris reported from her on-line geo-hunting that a dozen or so new caches had placed in nearby, Baker Park Reserve. People had already been out scooping the FTFs and the associated booty. But there were several left unfound. We guessed that everyone else had been forced inside by the weather.

So as soon as the storm passed, we headed out to score two of the new caches. Surely, no one would be out this late in the day. The sun was just setting as we reached the park. Luckily, the caches were not far from where we parked. Unluckily, a cop stopped us on the trail to inform us that we had parked illegally. Luckily, he let us leave the car where is was for our quick dash into the woods.

Chris was the first the first to spot it - a foot long, plastic tube attached to a tree branch with baling wire. When we retrieved it, it was full of rainwater from the storm. Not much swag, but the log was dry, in a plastic baggie. We were the first! I think this cache will be archived soon. Baling wire in a tree probably won't pass muster with the Park District. We tried for another, but the day had grown too dark. Our only reward at that point were scratches and scrapes. We will try again in the morning.

Sushi Travel Bug in Excelsior, MN

Here's a close up shot of Sushi, the travel bug we retrieved from a cache near Waconia, MN. Its mission in life is to visit sushi bars all across the world. So we took Sushi to Yumi's in Excelsior, Minnesota - right next to Lake Minnetonka. Yumi's was closed when we got there, but we took a photo of Sushi looking in the window. If you click on the photo, you will notice that we added Sushi's mission statement to the travel bug. That way, the next geocachers to retrieve it will know that Sushi wants to see sushi.

After our visit to Yumi's, we dropped Sushi in a cache near Watertown, Minnesota. Good luck, Sushi. We hope you accomplish your mission.

Hennepin Summit Cache

Here's Chris, digging through the large ammo box at the Hennepin Summit Cache. This was a challenging cache to find. First, we had to find a micro-cache that gave the final coordinates for the large cache. Chris found it - quite by luck. After that the large cache was pretty easy to find. The cache contained two travel bugs - one seen here in Chris' hand.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Kings Point Cache

Not all quests for the cache end successfully. Some searchers experience the agony of defeat. That was our lot with the King's Point Landing today. We followed the map as closely as we could, but when we got close to the cache, our GPS unit showed it out in the middle of the lake. Here's a picture of the launch ramp. There's one like this described on the internet, but we failed to find the right place. It may be just across that bay. We'll try again sometime this week.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Our First "Nano" Cache

Although nano is not an official designation of a geocache, we found our first in St. Bonifacious, Minnesota. The GPS unit took us to a very public place just packed with muggles, so we decided to stop back. Later, with no one around, the search began. According to the description, we were looking for a cache that was 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch in size. Pretty small. . . but large enough to have a log inside. You can see how small it is compared to the film canister in the photo.

It took a bit of looking around, but persistence paid off. It was indeed tiny, but once opened it did have a log inside. We were thrilled. After signing the log, getting it back in the container proved harder than finding the thing in the first place.

St. Bonifacious is the site of a former Nike missile base. Just west of Minneapolis , the site was developed during the cold war to destroy Soviet bombers attacking the Twin Cities. The attack never came, so the base now stands abandoned. One of the missiles is on display in the city park.

Watertown History Cache

The best multi-cache we've done so far - The Watertown History Cache - covers a portion of history of Watertown, MN. Comments left by some of the finders...

  • "AWESOME!!"
  • "What a great container!"
  • "Caches don't come any better than this."

The finder has to discover three separate caches; Tyler Got Old, Furrow, and Skinny Mills. Then the finder has to assemble & decode the clues taken from each cache. Those clues reveal the coordinates of the final cache.

When we had all the clues, we retired to the Luce Line Lodge (a must stop when in Watertown) to decipher them. I can't tell you how the deciphering was done, but it involves a magic decoder device. Even with it in my hands, I had no idea how to use it. But the revelation came to us like a bolt of lightning. It was brilliant! So much fun. One of the caches even included finding a birthday cake geocache.

Update: Furrow has been archived! The cache container, chain, pulley were all stolen. It's no wonder. This cache was in plain view of new housing in the area. It was only a matter of time.

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