Random thoughts, rants, raves and photo opportunities

2015 - Sitting on a Spider (GC4113)

I was perusing the geocaching maps prior to a family trip down to Kansas to visit Jane and family. One cache in particular that caught my eye was Sitting on a Spider (GC4113), by barondriver. This cache stood out because it has all of the elements in a cache that I look for; it's an oldie, it is rated a 5/5, and it looked like it requires a bit of persistence and ingenuity. The only drawback to the cache is that it is located just south of Wichita, KS, which is just over 200 miles from where we were staying in Lansing, KS. Like Nene always says, since when does distance ever stop me from finding a cache? So Jane, Dan, and I headed south to try and score the find.

I had a couple of months in advance to think about how to get at this cache. I own climbing gear but anchoring and my inexperience could be a problem. The next best idea was a couple of ropes, a grappling hook, and a magnetic device, hoping for the best. The idea of bringing a ladder seemed like cheating so I put it to the back of my mind as a possible secondary idea.

Dan was the star at tossing the grappling hook but unfortunately, after a few attempts the ropes got tangled within the protruding bolts up top. My idea of using the grappling hook was a total failure. Luckily there was a hardware store within 10 minutes drive that just happened to be open on New Years Day. I am now the proud owner of a new 28' extension ladder. But we managed to score the find.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2014 - Molly Senior Pictures, St. Paul, MN

We can't believe how fast time is passing us by. Our gorgeous Molly has officially completed her senior picture photo-shoot. They were taken at St. Paul's Raspberry Island to give Molly the industrial background.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2014 - A Portrait of Anna, New Ulm, MN

Photographs of our Anna taken along the Minnesota River in New Ulm, MN.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2014 - Flandrau State Park, New Ulm, MN

The family headed down to Flandrau State Park for our grand finale to the 2014 camping season. We spent the four day MEA weekend enjoying the spectacular fall weather and gorgeous fall colors. When we weren't hiking or playing along the Cottonwood River, the proximity of the park to New Ulm, MN, gave us an opportunity to visit the August Schells Brewery.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2014 - Rappelling Ely's Peak, Duluth, MN

I cannot think of a better way to spend a spectacular Saturday afternoon in October than being in northern Minnesota on another adventure. I joined with a gang of about 40 other geocaching friends to rappel down Ely's Peak to find a cliff dwelling geocache named Cliff Hanger (GCQ6D4) by EskoClimber.

We were led by the cache owner himself. Scott Engstrom, who is a professional and expert climber rigged the protection, setup the ropes and belaying gear, and made sure each and every harness was inspected for proper use. Scott was patient and made sure that everyone that wanted to step off the cliff did so safely.

As for my own experience, I knew I had to get into the first group to rappel down the cliff. I know myself.. the more I sit there thinking about it the more likely I am to talk myself out of it. I managed to complete the rappel though not without much anxiety and cursing. By the time I made it safely to the bottom, apparently the adrenaline was running so high that I couldn't control the smiles.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2014 - Paddling the St. Louis River, Duluth, MN

I can't think of too many other ways to enjoy a crisp October Saturday sunrise than spending it with friends paddling to a geocache. That's just what I did today. Myself and four other geocachers took to the St. Louis River and paddled to Clough Island, which is located just outside the western edge of Duluth, MN. Our goal was to find a 4/5 rated geocache Cast Away (GC3RYRR). We scored the find with no issues and managed the entire 3.4 mile voyage in just under two hours.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2014 - Paddling Shawnee Mission Lake, Shawnee, KS

Laura and I made our way down to the Kansas City, KS, area to visit sister Jane and family. Being adventure seekers, we scouted a five star geocaching and paddling event that was scheduled to take place during our visit, I'm on a Boat (GC5ATZR). Located just a few miles south at nearby at Shawnee Mission Park, this was an event that we did not want to miss. We teamed up with Jane, Dan and Devon and attended the very fun event. We met many new friends and coincidentally, I met a existing friend at the event.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2014 - Fire and Ice (GC4TXB2)

Fire and Ice (GC4TXB2) by bflentje

Last year I hid a geocache that had several gadgets at various stages of the multicache.  These gadgets were electronic in nature and operated using Arduino microprocessors. As an offshoot of what I learn from that experience, my latest creation is similar but requires a bit more user interaction with the device in order to be successful.

Fire and Ice is a very short, but fun and family friendly, three stage multicache. Stage #1 contains nothing more than a marker in an attempt to keep the non-serious geocacher away from the device. Stage #2 is an Arduino driven circuit device which when successfully solved, directs the seeker to the final third stage.

The principle behind the device at stage #2 is simple; change the temperature of the device 40 degrees, one direction or the other, using any non-destructive means possible. The device contains two different temperature sensors. One is built into the device which monitors the ambient temperature. The other sensor is installed within the external probe in which the geocacher interacts. In order to unlock the coordinates to the final stage, the geocacher must change the temperature of the probe to be either 40 degrees hotter or colder than the recorded ambient temperature. This can be done with ice water, a slushy, hot coffee, or by other methods. In the winter, one could even just use the warmth of their body to make the change. One gang of geocachers even managed to get the job done by using the friction of a looped lanyard. The only method that is not recommended is the use of fire. Besides the possibility of destroying the probe, it is considered a violation of park ordinance.

Please note to all of those geocachers concerned about the geocaching guidelines that this hide has been granted explicit permission of both the hosting park system and from geocaching.com. Please do not assume that the mounting mechanism used here is for general practice.

SPOILER ALERT Do not proceed unless you want to completely ruin your fun.

Enjoy the photographs (click thumbnails for larger view)..

2014 - USA Synchro Nationals Synchronized Swim Championship

Anna and her team, the St. Paul Stars, qualified for the USA Synchro Nationals Competition in Federal Way, WA. Two different routines made the competition this year, their Trio Prince Medley and their Team Copa. While Anna's team only scored 19th out of 37 teams, it is still an astonishing accomplishment considering at the last national competition they came in last place. Watching these girls grow their skills and friendships over the years has been one of the most fulfilling moments for me as a parent. Congratulations Anna and team.

Enjoy the videos (click thumbnails for larger view)..