Random thoughts, rants, raves and photo opportunities

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)..

2014 - Post Alley, Pike Place Market, Seattle, WA

During a recent stay in Seattle, WA, we explored Post Alley. Located underneath the Pike Place Market, this area is famous for one of the most vile reasons; The Gum Wall. I had the area on my list of places to explore as not only is it a popular attraction, but somewhere on that disgusting wall of germ infested gum is a geocache. If you have eagle eyes you might even be able to spot it in the pictures.

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

2014 - Eagle Mountain, Cook County, MN

While in the area camping, I joined a gang of several geocaching individuals that grouped up to hike to the summit of Eagle Mountain. Eagle Mountain is the highest point in Minnesota at 2301' above sea level. The hike is 3.5 miles each direction with an elevation change of about 550'. The majority of the hike was over a trail of stones and boulders across forested rolling hills and the primary elevation climb does even really start until the last three quarters of a mile to the top.

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

2014 - Temperance River State Park, Schroeder, MN

As soon as school was out for the summer we hit the road with the camper. Our destination is to one of our favorite locations on the entire planet, the northern shore of Lake Superior. We spent four nights at Temperance River State Park. Located near Schroeder, MN, Temperance River is one of eight jewels along the north shore. Hiking along the shoreline and the cascades of the river is something everyone has to experience in their lifetime.

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

2014 - Apostle Island Sea Caves, La Pointe, WI

Last winter Nene, Laura and I had the opportunity to hike the Lake Superior ice out to the Apostle Island Lake Shore sea caves. During a trip to Madeline Island over memorial Weekend, Nene and I were afforded the opportunity to paddle to the sea caves on the south side of the island. We skirted our way through bays filled with icebergs and made our way to do some cave exploring.

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