I’m starting late this year

Insofar as today was my first geocaching session of 2017. Just had time to find 4, plus 1 DNF.

The last two years have been pretty slim pickings, albeit for very good reasons. This year I am determined to do much better.

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Puzzles

Recently, I have been mainly solving puzzles. And finding some of them.

I first looked at 1321 many moons ago but didn’t get anywhere with the puzzle. However, a recent conversation with the Cache Owner gave me a hint as to how it might be solved. So, here’s a hint from me, gratis. Try googling RFC1321. There you go. 😉

As is often the case with me and puzzles, all did not go smoothly to begin with, as I spent a long time trying to do the wrong thing. Eventually (with more hints from the CO and a lot of perseverance) I was rewarded with a ‘Yes’ from geochecker.

Having offered my daughters a lift to their equine activities I was ideally placed to visit this cache. No coincidence.  Skye and I were soon enjoying a longish walk through parkland to the cache location. At GZ I had a good GPS signal and soon narrowed the search area down, and I was working my way through the likely places when, unexpectedly, I got a phone call from Daughter.2 requesting a pickup. “Darn”, I thought, “I haven’t found the cache yet”. Just then I looked down and spotted the cache peeking out from its hiding place! Result!

Then, this Wednesday, I decided to collect a puzzle cache I’d solved the coords for in 2014. I really enjoyed solving 6 Degrees, this was a film-based puzzle featuring the  well known premise that every Hollywood actor can be linked to Kevin Bacon within 6 steps. Once again I learnt some (probably useless) information as a direct result of geocaching.

The reason I’d not gone for the find after solving the puzzle was due to the long running saga of my eye problems (documented elsewhere) but, with my eyesight now back to normal, I’d started to work through my list of solved but unfound puzzles, so here we are.

I’m not going to give the game away re. location, etc., but I took the precaution of running  my coords through geochecker once again just in case the cache had been relocated in the intervening years. Thus reassured,  I found a good parking spot for me and Skye to head off for an enjoyable walk in the autumn sunshine. No spoilers, but this was an ingeniously created hiding place and well worth the trip.

Then, later on the same Wednesday (2nd Nov) the estimable Dr. Solly published a new cache. Now, his puzzle caches are always worth a look and I find them especially interesting as the puzzles are often technology-based. This was no exception. If you look at the cache page for GC6WBNZ you’ll see he hasn’t given you a lot to go on. As I said, it’s a “techie” cache and, while I had an idea, I did do a bit of research to check I was on the right track. So, I knew what I had to do, so I employed that method and…

Nothing!

This was not what I expected. I checked with my mate Bob, who also being very techie, had arrived at the same method as me.He couldn’t get it to work either. The same day, another cacher FTF’d it. Hmm. By now I was somewhat puzzled. Maybe I had got it wrong. I decided to leave it for a while and yesterday evening, in a random moment, I gave it another go. Imagine my surprise when the coords appeared on my screen. The very thing which didn’t work before, worked this time, and I had the coords! The only explanation I’ve got for this anomaly is that either some sort of technical issue befell Dr. Solly’s servers, or The Elders of the Internet were having an extended tea break.

I contacted Bob who confirmed that he too had obtained the coords. Itchy geocaching feet or not, we weren’t able to go for it that same evening. This afternoon we both had a free slot in our diaries so we made the trip over to GZ, where we were rewarded with a typically enormous container crammed with loads of Dr Solly loot. Second to Find. Happy with that! 🙂

 

 

Valley of Gold

View - The Golden Valley panorama

As part of this summer’s Geolympix event, the team set some caches in the gorgeous ‘Golden Valley’ on the Ashridge Estate. Landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown, the Golden Valley is a lovely place to walk with magnificent views of Ashridge House.

Well, I missed the Geolympix due to eye ops, and today was the first chance I’ve had to start the huge, hopefully enjoyable, task of seeking out all the geocaches set for the Geolympix. I thought I’d start small with this mini series of 5 caches. Having said that, I started with a cache which had nothing to do with the Geolympix, a cache placed recently by my mate Bob – GC6P5ZD A Fine Pair #652 – Little Gaddesden. The national ‘Fine Pair’ series is all about combining a red telephone box with a red post box (more info on the cache page). That was an easy find so then Skye and I set off the the Golden Valley.

View - back along the valley

Aiming for the first cache, GC6K9ZE – VoG1: The Valley of Green, I arrived at the waypoint to find I hadn’t. What I was expecting wasn’t there, which was a bit puzzling until I realised I was at the second stage of a different cache. I must have selected the wrong WP! Knowing I would eventually need it later, I made a note of the information before plugging the correct WP for VoG1 into my GPSR and off we went again! VoG1 was itself a multi-stage and so first we had to get to its first stage. Once there I spotted an AAND which to be honest, based on the hint, was not what I was expecting. So I duly worked out the coords for the final and off we went again!

Finding the final was easy enough and I then thought, well I have part of the info I need for  VoG5 so I may as well pick up the rest. I had planned to do the caches in numerical order but what the heck! The second stage of VoG5 required me to find a plaque but arriving at the general location, a substantial brick-built bridge, there wasn’t anything which ‘leapt out’ at me. Skye and I spent a while scouting all around the bridge before I finally spotted the plaque. That gave me the info I needed so it was then time to ‘do the arithmetic’ and obtain the final coords.

view of the valley from an old bridge

Off we go again! From the map it was clear that this cache was not in the general direction of the remaining caches. I didn’t have time to do all of them on this trip so I decided to complete VoG5 and return for the others another day. And so it was that I arrived at GZ for GC6KA4R – The Hill of Pain. I have to say that yes, it was a steep hill but no, it wasn’t painful to climb. Maybe because I hadn’t walked the entire route. Whatever, the wet grass did make for a sometimes interesting ascent but, once we were on the flat once more, it was an easy walk to GZ. Now you know that I don’t include spoilers in my caching tales. Following the hint I homed in on the location. Low down in what I can only describe as a very bushy tree, there was the hint item and a convenient dark hollow. Which was empty! Casting my eyes around and about I spotted another likely hiding place and was rewarded with a tupperware box. Yay!

So that was it for today. It’s a great location and I now have to come back to get the other three caches.

 

So I’m not the master of timing…

In our local geocaching circles, the Geolympix 2016 has been a long time coming and has been something I have been looking forward to. As it turned out, something better has taken priority in the form of the NHS. They gave me a date of Thursday 28th July for my second cataract operation which, for me, was fantastic and not something I would postpone for anything. It’s so good to get my “proper” sight back but it’s a pity that I can’t sensibly attend the Geolympix. The hospital’s do’s & don’ts mean it’s unadvisable to risk damage or infection by going geocaching, plus there’s the issue of regular application of eye drops, etc…

So I’m reluctantly going to be missing out on this Mega Event. Once I’m “allowed out” again I fully intend to mop up all the new geocaches the Geolympix team have placed specifically for the Mega. It will be fantastic to be able to search for caches using the unbeatable “Human Eyeball Mk I” once again!

By the way, there was another special moment this evening:  an excellent overhead pass by the International Space Station which I was able to see with my newly restored vision. Haven’t seen one of those for a long while. Fan-bloody-tastic!

Anyway, in case this is the first you’ve heard, here’s a last minute plug for my dear friends’ Mega Event:

Geolympix banner

If you haven’t heard and fancy going, see these links:

The GC5XXYY cache page and the official GEOLYMPIX 2016 web site

And if you know nothing about the Geolympix or Geocaching, there’s this on the BBC.

Oh, and if you are interested in reading more about the saga of my retinal surgery, etc., you are welcome to visit my eye surgery blog, see the link towards the bottom of the sidebar under “Quite Interesting”.

 

 

The 4th Element

So this evening the oven element went U/S. Luckily we had just turned it on and hadn’t put any food in. I’ve ordered one for next day delivery so at least we will be able to cook stuff but what about the long term future of this piece of kitchen crap?

I’m not happy, TBH. The original element failed and was replaced under warranty, then that one blew last December.Now its replacement has gone. So this latest replacement will be the 4th element. Time to junk the oven for something more reliable? Or just wait for the 5th element?

5th element

Too busy to cache

Well I haven’t done any caching since the middle of May. Many other things occupying my time, even including doing some interior decorating (still not completed!) which I was determined to get underway before my latest trip to the eye surgeon.

Then there has been my recent procedure to remove the cataract from my right eye, which now means I have to be careful (no poking my face into bushes in search of tupperware) and I can’t drive for a week, either. Hopefully once all this eye stuff is out of the way I can get on with some serious geocaching. Once I’ve finished the decorating…

 

Geolympix 2016

Geolympix banner

This is a plug for ‘our’ very own local MEGA Event. Created by a dedicated team of super Beds, Bucks and Herts geocachers, this year’s Geolympix will carry on where the first Geolympix (Oxford 2012) left off.

With more than 300 ‘Will Attend’ logs, the event has already been awarded ‘MEGA’ status. It promises to be an awesome day so if you can make it I hope to see you there!

Here are a couple of very useful links:

The GC5XXYY cache page to log your ‘Will Attend’.

The official GEOLYMPIX 2016 web site – with more information, how to get involved and more.

 

 

A Village Sign

Today we went looking for a nearby Village Sign cache. With a similar concept to the  Church Micro, Village Signs, as the name suggests, involve – sometimes tenuously – village signs erected in, um, villages. These signs tell the visitor something about the village. I think that just about covers the idea of this cache series!

OK, so we went to Potten End to find VS#73 (GC51PA8). Many VS caches are Multis, like CMs, and this was one such. Problem was: whilst we could find one of the objects needed to obtain the required numbers, the other (a dedicated bench) was missing. We did, however, manage to work out the missing numbers and figure out the coords for the final. While we sat in my Freelander working out the coords, a spot of googling unearthed the information that the bench ‘in absentia’ was due to be replaced. I think the locals had formed a committee to deal with the matter. Meanwhile I think the CO may have to update her cache page!

Anyway, off we went in search of the final which, once we’d waited for a muggle to finish her phone call and move on from GZ (!) was soon found. I guess it just goes to show that no matter how well the CO researches and prepares their cache, elements of a Multi can always go missing without notice. Of course with our huge brains we were able to deduce the required info anyway! 🙂

A bit of geocaching

At last, I can report a bit of geocaching by yours truly. On Wednesday I attended a BBHBR event (one of our local group’s events) and found a couple of caches. Those were the first finds of 2016 for me and the first event I’ve been to since one back in July ’15.

That made me check my matrix and I decided to see if I could fill in the remaining blank days for this month, so on Thursday & Friday I found a local trad each day, then today I went hunting for a couple of nearby trads which had been bugging me last year by sitting defiantly on my GC map. I hadn’t bothered with them last year because they had a bit of a reputation for being in a poor location (see my post which explains why I dislike and often avoid poorly executed urban caches), in addition one of them had very dodgy coordinates. This particular one had: as many DNFs as finds (11), not been found since April ’15, a knuckle-rapping from our local reviewer.

So as you can imagine, I didn’t hold out much hope with that one but I decided I’d have a quick look before moving on to another cache with better prospects. One cacher who had found it – last January! – had posted revised coords. He’s someone I know well and, with very many finds to his credit, is worth taking note of; so instead of going where nearly everyone else had gone, I went to the suggested coords and used my cacher’s instinct to search close by in a likely spot. Even I was surprised when I spotted the cache after a couple of minutes searching.

So in summary, this week I have: broken my 2016 duck, built up a 4 day streak and filled in 3 matrix days. Very happy with that.