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Archive for July 14th, 2011

Road Trip: New England

I admit it. I’m a bit obsessive about geocaching. I’m also obsessive about things such as lists and maps. And so when I look at the map that shows which states I’ve cached in, I do not like what I see. I don’t like it at all. Lucky for me, pbump feels the same way when he takes a gander at his map.

There’s an easy way to fix that.



And so that’s why on June 15,  I found myself behind the wheel of the Jeep, loyal sidekick Little Wooden Boy in the passenger seat, as we hurtled East on I-68, close on the wheels of pbump’s rock red Jeep.  (Yes, in this instance we must identify our vehicles by their color.) Our goal, at least according to the three page itinerary for Day 1,  was to overnight in Wilmington, Delaware. But first, there was some caching to be done.

Our first stop was probably not a good omen. We pulled in to park. I got out of the black jeep and, according to the cache description that c:geo promised was the closest cache to me, started looking for a tiny cemetery. Odd since we were very near a restaurant. Also, no one else seemed to be the least bit confused by the fact that we were in a parking lot and nary a sign indicating a cemetery was to be found. So I said, “I wonder where a small cemetery could be around here….”

Which was about the time Chad, Bump & Rena turned to look at me like I was some sort of idiot. And Bump said, “Cemetery?”  I said, “Well yeah….Searsburg Cemetery….” (please feel free to imagine the look of disdain on my face, there may have been some minor eye rolling). To which Bump replied, “That’s in Vermont. We’re in Maryland.” This statement was accompanied by a look that clearly indicated I needed to keep my eye rolling to a minimum. “Ah, I see.” Which I really did not.

Does this look like a cemetery to you? Yeah, me neither. Because it wasn’t.

Just over an hour into our trip and I hit technology FAIL. Excellent.

It was pretty late by the time we rolled in to (what turned out to be a super swanky) Comfort Suites in search of lodging for the night. Not even a full day in and our Grand Tour of New England was already running slightly behind schedule. That’s fine. We tend to consider The Schedule more as guidelines really.

MARYLAND – done and done (although really we already had Maryland)

Grand Tour – DAY TWO

Worst night of sleep of my life. An exaggeration? Of course, I sleep horribly all the time. But did I feel like I had slept no more than 3 minutes? Yes. That is exactly how I felt when Chad told me he was going downstairs for breakfast while I was still, quite literally, face-planted in my pillow.

Food devoured. Coffee mugs full. Jeep packed. Me clean & dressed. Check. Check. Check. And Check. Let’s get this show on the road. Which is easier said than done considering that I was really not awake yet at all. Not Awake.

Day Two pretty much guaranteed to be our worst day before it even started. I knew it was going to be the worst day because travel through NYC was on The Schedule. And while we do really consider it to be more of a guideline than a strict rule, some things would have to happen for this route to be followed. And going through New York City was one of them. The good news was that today was a Thursday and if we were lucky we’d hit that sprawling mass of humanity before rush hour.

Stop numero uno was the site of an iron furnance and it’s surround which just happened to be in the middle of a residential neighborhood. How hard could that be to locate? Funny you should ask because the arrow & the map kept saying it was THERE! But THERE looked an awful lot like someone’s back yard and so we kept circling until I spotted the trailhead. Whew. Turns out finding the trail head was the easiest part because finding the cache was a bit of an adventure. You know, those moments when you go…it HAS to be here, this place is screaming for a cache and yet the cache is most certainly not and you realize that you’ve been hanging onto a gnarly old tree on the side of a hill and sticking your hands in places you’d rather not for no good reason. Yeah, it was that sort of day. Delaware was officially colored in on our map, with more to come.

From there we headed out and eventually managed to demoralize ourselves DNF’ing what were supposed to be relatively easy park & grabs at  Far Too Early O’clock in the morning (no muggles you see).

But wait! It was New Jersey to the rescue. Yes, really. New Jersey. To the rescue. I know. You could imagine our surprise. We happened upon a nice park that had a series of letterbox hybrids and a trail marked with arrows. Make that a paved trail marked with arrows. I guess people get lost a lot in New Jersey…especially in the woods.

So having a few caches under our belt (more than a few by this time) and having earned some good karma by maintenancing a few of the caches in New Jersey we headed out for Conneticut and into the traffic snarl from Hell. Thanks Chad, for taking one for the team.

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Which is to say we hit New York City traffic at 4:30. That’ll do.

Our goal for Connecticut (ok, pbump’s goal and since he was our trip planner it became everyone’s goal) was to knock off the four ROAD WARRIOR SERIES CT I-95.  (also to stick his head in trees) It actually worked out better than I would have thought because just about the time we were ready to explode from vehicular stupidity, it would be time to exit I-95 drive to a nice little spot and find a cache. We saw one spectacular park in Greenwich (I’m surprised they let us IN Greenwich), Martha Stewart’s first Connecticut home, some giant ant hills and one of the filming locations from Mystic Pizza.

By then it was night, it was super dark, we were hungry, tired and rather filthy (I was, I assume everyone else was also covered in grime). Onward to food & lodging.

DELAWARE, NEW JERSEY, CONNETICUT – check.  (That’s 4 states cached in this trip so far.)

Grand Tour – DAY THREE

Day three was the beginning of what would eventually become us saying, “Where did we spend the night last night?”  Heck, at this point I wasn’t even sure where we actually were, let alone where we’d been. Thank god I had the handouts to guide me and my trusty tracklogs.

It turns out we were starting in Rhode Island and our esteemed friend Aquacache had “suggested” (and I use the quote marks because it was more like – you really need to do these caches) we head to Breton Point State Park and find a super old cache (placed December 12, 2000) and enjoy the area. As we wound our way through the very picturesque and quaint little village surrounding the park, Chad noted that apparently the dress code was shorts & a pullover. What good fortune we all had our pullovers along. You’d hate to get kicked out for not obeying the dress code.

We hit the parking area after a minor detour (I still say we should have just driven over the stupid grass) and found ourselves clad in shorts/spants and pullovers & getting misted upon. The mist soon turned to rain.

And we had THE BEST time. Soaking wet, taking wrong turns on trails, unnecessary bushwhacking, the most unbelievable old ruined stable and garage I have ever seen in my life, a cool old stone observation tower and spectacular views. Honestly, I had no desire to leave despite being very, very wet. This stop earned Rhode Island the coveted “Must Return” status.

But all good things must come to an end and we did have a few other states on our list.

In 1987 Dad drove me to Boston so I could see the Red Sox play at storied Fenway Park. It was during the Big Dig and traffic was wicked bad…or worse. I was not old enough to drive at the time, so Dad informed me that one day I was going to have to drive through Boston in order to pay him back. He didn’t say drive him, he just said drive. So today, June 17, 2011, I paid my debt. I drove the Jeep through Boston. But the Big Dig is done and we hit town early. Sorry Dad, but we zoomed right on through.

And so we soon found ourselves on our way to Maine. And of course our first stop was a nano that we DNF’d. Demoralization here we come! If called to testify in court I would swear that our group gave the hiding area (which pbump had confirmed by the cache owner) the ultimate shakedown. I can not believe we missed it. What I do wonder is if the gaggle of people in the car parked very nearby had the cache in hand. Oh well, a DNF is a DNF no matter what state. And since the purpose of our trip was to find caches in each state we visited, it was time to move on and look elsewhere.

On to Fort McClary. While Chad took in the fort, the Bumps & I searched for the cache and very nearly DNF’d this one as well. The coords were a bit iffy, pbump himself got attacked by something itchy and painful (no idea what it was) and I smashed my finger. The usual. The sun had finally started to peek from behind the clouds and by the time Chad joined us we had signed the log and were well on our way to taking in the views of the sailboats on the water.

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From there we hit Wiggly Bridge. Which, quite frankly, was not very wiggly. At least not very wiggly when judged on my scale of  Otter Creek Not Wiggly at all Bridget  –  The Jug Wiggly Bridge of Doom. Still obtaining the cache was interesting to say the least.

A few more quick grabs and it was on to New Hampshire and Odiorne Park which was spectacular. Beyond spectacular. And it had an extra cache in it to boot. Yay for Chad using c:geo and live map. Because while the Bumps & I were hanging out enjoying a spectacular sunset Chad got bored and said he was going to look for the cache nearby. Cache? What Cache? There’s no cache. Yeah…he said dismissively, it’s right over here. Sweet.

I’ll leave our the epic story of our little misdirection trying to get to the salt marsh, but suffice to say one should read the cache page before one sets out. Also, looking at a map might be good too. Since we were all carrying very expensive maps (GPSr) with us.

And so it was time at long last to close this day. It was spectacular and fun and wet and long.

RHODE ISLAND, MAINE, NEW HAMPSHIRE – been there, done that (up to 7 states this trip so far)

Grand Tour – DAY FOUR

We were up. We were unsure what state we were in (physically and mentally). And we were not looking forward to more seat time. But when you wake up in…Vermont and you had previously been…well wherever and you need to end up in Connecticut (again) there’s not much choice but to saddle up and head out.

Our first stop was what we assumed to be a small park. There was a letterbox hybrid and it seemed like an easy grab. It would have been easier if we had figured out the proper place to park.

While I was doing my thing – signing the log, trying to rehide the cache better than I found it, Chad pointed out there were some other caches up the way. So up we went. First find…this critter. Which spooked us all at first. Really lifelike right?

Hot and tired we thought we were heading back to the car, but then Chad says, WAIT! There’s more! Ok. Huff, puff, sweat, huff, puff, sweat. Man they have some strange animals in these parts.

Bump asks if we can roll backdownhill yet. Nope says Chad more caches and only a short ways away (uphill). Huff, puff, sweat, itch, swat…repeat. Search, search, search. Why can’t we find this hide? Search, search, search. Read logs. Oh, look up not down. Search, search. Sweat, grumble, itch. AHA! Thank god.

Not yeeeet says Chad, there’s one more just a short hike away. Ok, says Bump, clearly defeated by Chad’s live mapping technology. One more. Up, sweat, huff, puff, itchy, repeat. And finally, for pbump the coveted number 2000. Man they really do have some strange critters in Vermont.

One more state down. And back to the blessed air conditioned jeep for the Bumps (us, we had the top down). Onward and downward to Massachusetts. Natural Bridge State Park here we come!

On this part of our journey I will be brief. Three hours to do three Earth Caches. Wicked cool spot, but my brain hurt.

We were fortunate back in April to have some Massachusetts cachers join us for a MAGPI event in Fairmont, WV. So we really wanted to go after a few of their caches. So we found ourselves in The Berkshires and on the hunt for The Berkshires: A Four-Season Destination! and since Pecks Falls was so nearby we nabbed it too!

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As we drove in I spotted this large object on the top of the hill. We couldn’t tell if it was a lighthouse or a monument or what. It was big and shiny but no information was to be had. After we got home I emailed gworol to find out about that thing on the hill. Her response was nothing short of hilarious since it was in fact a lighthouse that marked the highest point in Massachusetts and I had referred to it as a hill. Oops!

After finding a local food establishment which which to fill our bellies and slake our thirst we headed out to Connecticut (again) to pop in at an event cache. And then to lodging.

Another long day in the bag. A little more road weary and ragged. A lot more tired. Time to face plant.

VERMONT, MASSACHUSETTS (that’s 9 total now)

Grand Tour – DAY FIVE

 All good things must come to an end. And this trip was no exception. We were ready for our final push home.

With a quick grab in New York (more were to be had for the Bumps in a few weeks) and a rest stop nab in Pennsylvania our caching trip was now complete. It was time to head home to the mountains of West Virginia and the sweet relief of no more driving.

NEW YORK, PENNSYLVANIA (11 states cached)


11 states total

9 new states

1624 miles on the black jeep

1696 miles on the rock red jeep

chris on July 14th 2011 in Geocaching, Travel