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 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 - For Your Eyes Only Named Cache of the Year

My geocache For Your Eyes Only (GC47072) has been named Minnesota's Geocache of the Year for 2013 by members of the Minnesota Geocaching Association. An astounding 50 votes were cast overall with my geocache taking 64% of the vote. It's always nice to get a bit of recognition but for me, the best part of the game is reading the Found It logs by those that have found the cache. For Your Eyes Only currently has 30 finds with 26 favorite points awarded (87%). I am glad that my fellow geocachers were able to get some enjoyment out of my efforts to the game.

Click here to read more about the history and making of this geocache.

2013 - Bart Finds 8000th Geocache

A few years back I was perusing the Wisconsin Geocaching Association forums and read a discussion about favorite geocaches in the state. The one that stood out the most to me was Twin Bluffs Cave (GCXWPM) by Shrek and Fiona. I knew at that moment that the geocache would have to go on my short list of caches to complete. Unfortunately, being on the short list does not equate to pursuing the cache in a timely manner.. the cache remained unfound.

I had been planning for quite some time to find a special geocache for the milestone of my 8000th find, which I estimated to happen late December. With Twin Bluffs Cave still in the back of my mind, I knew this had to be the one. It was now or never. After some logistical planning, a three hour drive to Lyndon Station, WI, I finally made the find along with daughter Laura, Doublemoose, and his daughter Geohockey,

The most impressive thing about this adventure was not the geocache, but the impressive nature of the geological feature hiding here up in the bluffs. As you approach the cave entrance, it looks like nothing more than a narrow fissure in the side of the cliff face. But as you explore more, you soon discover that this is the entrance to a fairly expansive system of caves. At the inner room of the cave, I would estimate the ceiling to be nearly 30' high, expansive enough to hold a small disco party. The primary cave easily goes back 80 to 100 feet or more. Off the inner room of the cave, there are two caves headed in each direction normal (perpendicular) to the primary cave.

One thing that was clear to me was how similar this system is to the littoral caves on Byllesby Lake in Cannon Falls, MN. I suspect the wave and current action from melt water following the last glaciation period is what created this system, where each cave is caused by the erosion of fissures within the layers of sandstone.

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

2013 - Broken Toe Island (GCKG14)

Broken Toe Island (GCKG14) by OlysGirl

I've had this geocache on my to do list for several years now and finally decided to go for it. I figured I'd better not paddle the mighty Mississippi solo so Doublemoose graciously joined me for the adventure.

I loaded up the watercraft, a red 16', 2 man-power, Old Town Camper canoe. We parked at the public water access at Prairie Island. As the crow flies, it was .79 miles. But we all know crows don't fly in straight lines.. going around the bottom end of the island, and it was easily a mile each direction. Luckily, the open water was calm and only a couple of heavy boats sped by so we were able to take in the wake safely and made it to the island without getting wet.

After fifteen minutes of searching we scored the little bugger. We did the dance and fist pumped to celebrate the find of this lonely cache. Then snooped around on the island for a bit before paddling back to the landing.

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

2013 - Minnesota's 6th Annual Canoe-in Geocaching Event

Minnesota's 6th Annual Canoe-in Geocaching Event was held today, Saturday, August 17th, 2013. For six years running now, the weather was spectacular and the crowd of geocaching friends has grown.

Like all previous canoe-in geocaching events, the 6th annual was held in Dakota County's Miesville Ravine Park Preserve, which is located about four miles south of Miesville, MN and six miles northeast of Cannon Falls, MN.  The majority of geocachers paddled the Cannon River from Cannon Falls to Miesville Ravine, a 6.7 mile stretch of the river that is just gorgeous.  Others biked the Cannon Valley Trail from Cannon Falls, MN to Welch, MN.  And some geocachers just stopped in for the picnic.

I would like to thank the following:

  • My geocaching mother Norvina, who sets up and mans the shelter while we're on the water.
  • Nosnow and Shadow's Friend, the MNGCA, and Dakota County Parks, all of whom provided door prizes.
  • And especially thank you to all of whom attended this event. Without you all it just wouldn't be as much fun to be on the river.

Final attendance numbers as of September 13th, 2013:

  • There were 45 RSVPs.
  • 50 have logged the event Attended.
  • 64 signatures were listed on the written log.
  • Physical headcount during the picnic was in excess of 65 attendees if you count infants and canines.
  • 7 dozen ears of sweet corn served along with a pound and a half of butter.
  • In years past, we've filled two park barrels with trash. This year, we hauled out two of our own trash barrels leaving the park with only a minimal amount of cleanup.

I am always reluctant to say there will be a followup event in the following year. But with a gang of friendly geocachers that grows every year, it's easy to say, see you at the 7th annual event next year.

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

2013 - Collier Seminole State Park, Naples, FL

We finally managed to accomplish our goal, which is to hike Collier-Seminole State Park to find Florida's oldest active geocache. Located near Naples, FL, this was the southern most point on our excursion. For those of you that don't understand Florida geography, Naples is located on the northwestern corner of the everglades. There are so many dangers in this park that you are required to check in at the ranger's office, even for a day hike.

Alligators, snakes, panthers, mosquitoes, the heat, and many other dangers lurk here, any of which can really ruin your day. Even having hiked the swampy side of the park, the only issues we encountered during our hike were the swarms of mosquitoes and the heat. Once we checked out of the park and explored further south, we finally encountered a 10' long man-eating gator.

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

2013 - Captain Kidd's Treasure (GC1WKE4)

Geocaching friend Sparkyfry had visited what he thought was an awesome geocache during his visit to Traverse City, MI, back in August of 2011. Captain Kidd's Treasure (GC1WKE4) by GeoPirates....ARRGH!, located just south of Traverse City about 10 miles, is a pirate themed geocache that is the cream of the crop in geocaching terms. Sparkyfry insisted that I would get a kick out of it, not just because of how fun and out of the ordinary it is, but because it had an amazing similarity to a geocache that I had once hidden, Halloween 2008 BONUS: Coughin Up A Lung (GC1H32A), back in 2009. If you search flentje.com, you will find out more about my geocache. But in the meantime..

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

2013 - Power Island Beach Party, Traverse City, MI

As an avid geocacher, I am not so much interested in finding the typical urban geocache but love finding geocaches that take you on an adventure. One of my goals as a geocacher is to find as many of the oldest, original, stashes that were hidden back during the early days of the activity. One such geocache is located on Lake Michigan's Power Island (originally known as Marion Island), appropriately named, Power Island (GC35). It was hidden July 16th, 2000, and is Michigan's oldest active geocache that is only accessible via boat.

When I began planning my itinerary to Power Island, I thought it would be a nice idea to host a geocaching event. It would give others that share my goals the opportunity to complete the adventure and to join in on the camaraderie and fun of geocaching as a group. I listed the event as the Power Island Beach Party (GC462H4) and really didn't expect more than a handful of interested adventure seekers. How bad did I underestimate the interest of the event? By the time the event concluded, there were seven boats in the armada consisting of over 45 known individuals that signed the log, not including some children and canine companions.

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