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Archive for December, 2010

Breaking in the Little Black Jeep

Oh sure, I have a Jeep. Now what do I do with it?

Break it in, that’s what. But gently.

13 Mile Creek Trip

(click on the link for a quick video of the little black jeep in action)

And by that, I mean we packed up Aquacache & the original Geocache Command Center and headed out to do some cachin’ and jeepin’ outside of Ripley, WV.

We started off super easy. As in we left the jeeps at the bottom of a hill and hiked up to get the cache.  Which is strange, since I thought this entire having a Jeep thing involved less walking and more driving. Shows what I know. Maybe I needed to loosen my clutch foot up or something.

After that there was considerably less walking. And much much more driving.  After watching Aquacache take his (lifted and so forth) loaded Jeep up a slightly questionable trail – questionable to a newbie jeep owner – I overcame my early misgivings and decided I was going up there and I was not doing it via foot.

I was pretty happy with myself when I made it to the top without freaking out or looking (as far as I could tell) ridiculous.

Coming down was a little daunting since it sure looked steeper from the driver’s seat than it did standing. But what goes up must eventually come down, especially if I wanted to go home. So Chad went down to take photos of me (I’m hoping he wasn’t thinking he’d need it for the life insurance claim – or perhaps he was somewhat frightened by my driving).

I made it down to the bottom in one piece, so did the Jeep and I didn’t even manage to run Chad over. Not too shabby.

Most of the day passed without incident, until we entered the bypass portion of the trip. And by bypass portion I mean we hit an area so riddled with fourwheeler holes, ruts and obstacles that I almost got physically ill. Almost. I was holding it together pretty well until we got out to see if we could fit through the trees and take an alternate, less rutted, less mud-o-rific route. Through the trees. Did I mention that? And having decided we could make it through the trees (Aquacache having done the deciding) we did a little trail maintenance (by we I mean Aquacache because Chad won’t let me use my machete). At which point I got back in my poor little black jeep. You know the one I had owned a mere 32 days and tried to not get physically ill.

Because he did the deciding, Aquacache got to go first. I got to sit in the Jeep and try not to get ill. And Chad handled the video production portion of the trip. Sometimes Chad is smarter than I give him credit for. After managing to slide into a tree (and yet do no damage) the first jeep got through.Which left me sitting there on the verge of completely freaking out.

At that point my choices were as follows:

1. Freak out completely.

2. Get out of the jeep and tell the guys that one of them was driving it through the slalom of manglement.

3. Barf

4. Man up and drive.

I had a little talk with myself that went like this. “Absolutely NO barfing in your jeep. Now man up and drive.”

Having thusly motivated myself. And with my spotter and videographer in place, I started forward into the slalom of manglement. And got royally stuck.

I tried to rock forward. Still stuck. Rock back. Still stuck. Look up and Chad is walking toward me taking photos. As you can see by the time he reached me, I probably did not have to tell him in no uncertain terms that taking photos was NOT helping me. I didn’t have to, but I did. Wise man that he is, he put the camera down.

And so I was back to my original position of trying really hard not to freak out and barf in my own jeep. Which was about the time that Aquacache came over to assess the situation and advised me that one of my wheels was no longer in contact with anything and I happened to be on a mud-covered pipe or tree or something. AWESOME.

With not much else to do, I gave the rocking another try and managed to get enough purchase to pull free.

My spirits buoyed and the desire to barf partly quenched I was ready to take on the actual slalom of manglement.

Not only did I manage (with help from my spotter) to navigate the slalom of manglement, I missed the tree that he slid into. which was good, because I was not sure how I was going to explain to Dad that I was probably going to need a new _______________ (fill in the blank) only one month into my career as a Jeep owner.

Breathing a sigh of relief, I was happy to turn the keys and steering wheel over to Chad so he could have some fun. Also, I needed to let my heart rate get back to normal and to unclench my jaw. I was in danger of my teeth fusing together.

Chad seemed nonplussed about the entire driving through rutted out, mud hole-filled, crazy slippery “roads” (and believe me, the word roads needs every bit of those quotes).

And as we headed down a rock strewn “road” he seemed not to notice when we hit a rock with the jeep’s oil pan area. Me, I winced like I was hit. And from the walkie talkie I heard “It’s fine, you’ve got a skid plate.” Gee, thanks for the words of encouragement. Nothing like having the peanut gallery in front of you.

At the end of the day we emerged covered in mud, geocaches found, photos taken, exhausted and undamaged.

So yeah, I’m totally glad I gave up the Triumph for the Jeep. Best Decision EVER.

chris on December 28th 2010 in Geocaching, Vehicles

Night Caching

It’s tough having a December birthday. It’s either too cold, too snowy or too booked up to have a proper party. After a few years you’d think I’d be over it. But nope, not me. This year I was pushing for a Pirate Theme party, but that seemed somewhat not quite right when the temps had been WAY below since the beginning of December, I went with my strong suit and issued a call for cachers.

Why have a party when you can drag your friends out in the woods in sub-freezing temps to look for caches that may or may not be buried in the snow? And if you’re going to do that, why not entice them to hang around a while and go after a night cache? Why not indeed.

And so it was that our merry band of MAGPI numbering 10 strong made our way from Morgantown toward South Park up in Pennsylvania caching along the way. The cast of characters being: me (of course), sidekick, Aquacache, Knight Who Says Ni, thebuddhaman, Dolphy, Rock_Rat, Gentleman-Carpenter, pbump & mrs. pbump.

We rolled into the park and met up with 89SC & egroeg who, it seems, had been waiting for us. 89SC had already managed to find quite a few caches and since egroeg was a local, he had cleaned out the park. Lucky for us then, since we were a bit under the gun to get to our food rendezvous with Purple Monkey Dishwasher, sidekick engineer, Colecops & Deizelsmommy.

Never being a group to shy away from following the arrow we soon found our group slipping apart and wandering aimlessly around, even though we had coordinates & two guides. It’s not a MAGPI group cache until we get confused, disoriented and make a few bad decisions.

After a proper rendezvous for food & libations our group was now at 14. And many thanks to egroeg for the suggestion of Barley’s & Hop’s for the food was delicious and the libations excellent. Amazingly enough we were only running about 30 minutes behind our tentative schedule. And so out into the cold we all went again ready to rendezvous at the parking for The Darkside. Which is where it got a little dicey since no one was familiar with the area and several of the GPS units were refusing to navigate or having some other snit. HOWEVER, and do go ahead and be shocked, we were prepared. Yes, I’ll type that again. We were PREPARED for such situation, because we had walkie talkies for each vehicle. It was a rare instance of forethought that happened to work out.

So there we go, all 14 of of us trooping our way up to where 89SC and wvhunter had parked their vehicles (some people being a little too impatient had already gone off and finished the cache) when headlights appeared behind us. Oh yes, it was the Allegheny Police Department. Seems our rather large collection of vehicles caused a little stir. But never fear….as pbump so eloquently noted, “Good thing we travel with our own sworn police officer…helps in situations like this.”

After convincing him that while we were a very strange bunch.  Trying to make us seem less like we were up to something, thebuddhaman made semi-introductions, “I pilot a boat on the Mississipi, she hands out money, they’re from West Virginia, she’s an MRI tech, they came in from Canada….:”  Which caused the police officer to ask, incredulously,  “They came all the way from Canada to get this?”   Ok, so maybe not the best way to make us seem normal, but it probably worked with the not up to no good portion of the day. After observing all of us bundled up to the gills and (acting silly) the very nice police officer declared that there were too many of us to hide a body and keep it quiet. And then he decided to join our merry little hunt!

Being at the tail end of now 20 people (89SC, Greenie333, snowXracer & wvhunter having reappeared) made finding the reflectors not too much of a problem. Or maybe that was because I bothered to put in my contacts, either way I didn’ t get lost or wander off into a field of thorns….no wait, I did do that latter. I always do that.

Many thanks to renruts for putting out a fun cache and for the motley crew for braving the elements.

chris on December 28th 2010 in Geocaching