Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking towards 2010

December 31st, 2009

Another year is coming to an end. For many this year has been especially hard. So will 2010 find renewal or more suffering? How much darkness must we pass through before the light at the end of the tunnel is finally revealed? Or can you see that light and so keep walking, hoping that the light will grow bigger and brighter, finally revealing the escape so longed for?

For me, I feel like I'm sitting at a cross road. I feel I am so close to the end of one journey that something as light and gentle as a breeze will topple everything. The point of the knife is narrow and sharp. But I am so close, to lose hope now would ruin me. To lose faith in that there is something else waiting would crush me.

Let me tell you a thought I had the other day. I am the type that when asked, "Where do you see yourself in five or ten years?" I would always stare blankly. To me the "future" was no more than a year away, and to look to far ahead was to see only darkness. I am in awe of those who actually have a plan, have a vision, have a goal that they can see and work towards. Because that is not me. I have no goal, no vision, no desire, no ambition. I know I shall never make a lasting mark upon this life. I shall not say or do anything that will survive past the memories of my friends. I'm no one. My future is dark and has been for a long while.

The sense of urgency begins to take on a whole new meaning when one views it in the light of time running out, doesn't it?

But then, I realized that maybe what I had always viewed as a physical end may be more of a spiritual end, or at least an end to one life and the possible beginning of a new one?

Could it be that the sense of urgency was not to hurry up and race to the finish line, but get my affairs in order to cross the starting line? Maybe the sense of disconnect, the overall lack of caring, and the cutting off and isolation from what was is merely the shedding of a skin that has grown far to small and dried out. Scorpio, snake, eagle, phoenix, rebirth and renewal. Maybe I have just held on for far to long.

So this year I have a few resolutions. The most important is to satisfy this beast and begin wandering as much as possible. To that end, I've already begun working out and once it warms up, I'll hit the trails and start walking.

I will hike at least a full section of the Tahoe Rim Trail by summer's end.

I will go camping at least once a month.

If this is indeed a rebirth, then I will not fight it but embrace it. I must have faith that once I reach the other side I will emerge stronger and more at peace with myself.

Happy New Year, ladies and gentlemen. To your health, happiness, and prosperity!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Archy in a Box

Yesterday I found a really cool idea at World Market. It's a terra cotta Archer from China's First Emperor of Qin's Terracotta Army.

Only, it was sealed in a clay block and tools for excavating it are provided.


So here's a series of pictures as the archaeologist in me went gah-gah and I totally had fun. Click on the picture, it's a link to my Picasa album.

Terra Cotta Excavation

Monday, December 21, 2009

Diabolical Revelation

One year ago, I unleashed upon Carson a journey unlike any that I had seen in geocaching before. It had taken years to make it from my head to physical form.

Combining ideas that really impressed me and fresh ideas that I believed were new. It took awhile to complete, each stage growing and evolving as time went on. Finally, the last piece was in place and my Diabolical cache came to be.

For the cache itself, see Now *This* is Diabolical

But, evil is fleeting. It's been one year and time has come to lay this demon to rest. So, dear Reader, since I believe that geocaching can only grow through cachers talking and sharing those caches that truly stand out, allow me to share what has become my masterpiece.

First though, my sincerest thanks to everyone who came out and braved the dark. My heartfelt gratitude cannot be expressed in mere words.

Stage one:
From the parking coordinates (those listed upon the cache page), the cacher would stand in a dirt clearing where two roads cross. By shining their flashlight around, they soon would spot a square reflective marker off in the sage brush. The reflective tape is on the face of a thin post wired to a piece of rebar and supported by rocks. The curious cacher will always try moving the rocks or pulling the post up - neither of which gets you anywhere. Once they've exhausted the usual methods, the cacher will eventually remember the point about the UV Light. Shining the light upon the post reveals the coordinates to the next stage a quarter mile away.

Stage two:
While not intended, the easiest route to the coordinates causes the vehicles headlights to shine upon the reflective marker. The cacher investigates the post using UV to reveal the message "Feeling at the end of your rope?" Looking closer, a 35mm attached to the rebar is discovered. Opening the container shows a string wound around a spool with a black disk at the end. Eventually, the cacher will realize that they need to walk out to the end of the string ad begin walking in a circle until the next step is found. A PVC pipe is tied into a nearby bush and removing the cap, the cacher can see another 35mm at the bottom. If the cacher hasn't wrapped the string back up, and if they aren't equipped with an extendable magnet, the black disk (magnet) can be lowered into the tube and the 35mm removed. Inside is a black piece of paper that UV light will show the next coordinates.

Stage three:
After parking, the cacher discovers the reflector further up the hill than expected. Once there, the UV light reveals two columns of numbers. Every possible idea is tried, from UTM to spelling to adding to anything until it becomes clear the number is a phone number written top to bottom left to right. So row one was 87, row two 76, row three 87, row four 74, row five 70 (don't try calling, I'm cancelling the number shortly after this publishes). That number was bought through and costs just under $10 per month. I had my friend SKWERL record the message that provided the coordinates and cachers were welcome to leave a voicemail. I got some really entertaining messages from that stage!!

Stage four:
Parking provides a spectacular view of Carson City at night. The reflector lies downhill a bit and has the UV message 340, 89'. This is an offset stage, cachers can either use the GPS Project Waypoint function or manually figure it out. The location is a pile of rock that was there with an ammo can inside. The final location is on a hill with a clear and unobstructed view of the city. At night, one can see all the city lights and if the moon is full, the surrounding mountains. But it is dark enough to enjoy the stars above.

So there you have it. My pride and joy. Feel free to borrow any ideas that may help you create a truly wicked cache. I want to thank Team Alamogul, westycrew, and Team GeoDragon for inspiration and help on this one.

My second journey is still out there is you dare:

A Diabolical Journey

Sunday, December 20, 2009

On a quest for 1000

Dad and I started caching the same day, on August 3rd 2003. But because of work schedules, and degree of obsession with the game, I racked up the numbers while he enjoyed a more sane pace.

But today he was within 10 caches of reaching that great milestone of 1K. So while testing out the new setup, we started picking up a few. Then it became we picked up enough to set him at 999.

Oh what to do?

I sent out a Twitter request for suggestions and was soon standing beside Catch the Wave, a water cache that I'd heard much about. We looked, headed down to Chevron to get the needed supplies, and were soon back at Ground Zero.

Teamwork got this cache in hand with only a half gallon rather than the usual gallon and cheers went up for his 1000th cache find.

Not a bad day at all. :-)

Today, 12/20/2009, we found:

Sign Of The Times 4 (FTF at 12:21p)
A Partridge in a Pear Tree
Two Turtle Doves
Three French Hens
Four Calling Birds
Five Golden Rings
Six Geese A-Laying
Seven Swans A-Swimming
Catch the Wave

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A journey of a thousand miles....

As Legolas said, though referring to something else, "A shadow and a threat has been growing in my mind..."

A bit of back story first.

A few years back, I got the idea in my head to just drop everything and go wander. Drift wherever my feet or interest or roads take me. When I run low on money, simply stop and get a basic job to build funds up again, then head off.

That got put on the back burner due to many obligations that have come up, but still, it's there. I'd follow with interest other vagabonds, who took the ultimate act of courage and struck out for a new life. Amtrekker being one that I had the pleasure of meeting.

But then, about a month or so ago, the shadow began growing. It swelled in size and strength, until it weighed upon me like the chains borne by Marley. I couldn't get it out of my head and the utter sense of urgency, the sense of NOW, could not be shaken. For once, my life was beginning to line up in such a way that the whole thing was possible.

My credit cards could very well be paid off this month, a big hang up as wandering acquires no income. School semester has now ended, leaving me with the choice to continue on. And... well, let's just say that the other big responsibility in my life doesn't have quite the hold it used to.

Could I do it? Could I drop everything and just Go. No destination, no goal, no objective, just put on a backpack and let the wind carry me off. As the Master wanderer said, "It is a dangerous business going out your front door."

Well, not exactly. Still enough ties here to hold me back. But, to appease the monster that has been dominating my concentration and focus lately, I figured I'll start by taking steps.

One idea I have is to actively blog my journey/adventure/whatever. Now I do have my phone, an HTC Touch Pro 2, but typing to type anything of length is almost nightmarish. And lugging around the laptop is just a bear. So, the solution? A netbook!

I've been wanting one of these for awhile, and seeing habu using it to navigate to caches and then seeing nvsrvyr's Mission Control set up really really made me want one. And what better little device to haul around and blog and surf and whatever while on the road??

So, I have now taken step one.

I'm currently writing this on my new Samsung N130 and it's rigged up to go fully mobile cache wise and totally mobile for recording my journey for whatever adventures lie before me.