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A little about me

My name is Mike and I geocache under the name Teamtailwagger.

We chose the name Teamtailwagger because our dog at the time, Domino, had won a contest as the best tailwagging dog in the city. Domino, who looked like a small Dalmation, passed away Oct. 30, 2018, at age 18. On April 11, 2017, Kinsler, a German shorthair pointer, came to live with us. On the way home from picking him up, we took him geocaching. We bought him a trackable for his collar and gave hime the geocaching name of Capt. TailWagger.

Capt. TailWagger doesn’t come on all of our geocaching adventures. Sometimes, it’s just too hot for a dog to be comfortable. Sometimes, we’ll leave Capt. TailWagger at the kennel if we’re going to be out of town for a few days. But for the most part, Capt. Kinsler is with me when I’m out and about looking for those hidden treasures.

If you’re unfamiliar with geocaching, I’ll give you a quick primer: Geocaching is often said to be using billion-dollar satellites to find Tupperware in the woods. Well, yes and no. Geocachers are using billion-dollar satellites to find all kinds of hidden containers. A geocacher hides a container, gets the cooridinates and posts it on geocaching.com. After a volunteer reviewer checks to make sure the new geocache meets the guidelines, the geocache is published and geocachers begin the search, often using a smartphone with a geocaching app on it or using a handheld GPS receiver. When the geocache is found, the finder signs a log sheet inside the container and places it back where it found for the next person to find it. That’s it.

This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.

Year of the Hide

Geocaching HQ has decided to dedicate this year to the Year of the Hide. After all, if people don’t hide and maintain geocaches, there is no geocaching. So, to reward people for hiding caches, anyone who hides a cache between March 1 and December 31 gets a souvenir. I hid a multi in early March and have the souvenir.

Souvenir I received for hiding a cache after March 1 this year.

We get only one souvenir, not matter how many caches we hide. Geocache Talk Network has a challenge out there for its listeners to hide each of the different cache varieties this year. I have ideas for Wherigo caches, I just have to figure out how to set one up. I also want to put out another letterbox hybrid. I’m not even sure where to begin when it comes to placing an EarthCache. I was not awarded a virtual cache this most recent go-around, nor was I awarded another Adventure Lab credit.

In April, Geocaching HQ began a new 12-month souvenir promotion: Signal’s Labyrinth. The idea is to find geocaches to help Signal get through the Labyrinth. Every two months the points reset. I have already earned the first souvenir for the current labyrinth, but I have yet to do enough geocaching this month to get all the way through.

The first of a potential 13 Signal’s Labyrinth souvenir

Another souvenir coming up at the end of this month and the beginning of next is Blue Switch Day, when Geocachers around the world commemorate the day in May 2000 when the Clinton administration removed Selective Availability from GPS technology.

Meanwhile, we’re in the midst of CITO Season 1. No one has organized a CITO in our area. At present, I really don’t have the time to organize one myself.

Finally, I really hope to make this blog a higher priority. I have been geocaching. I successfully completed Reach the Peak by the end of February. And I got my first FTF in quite awhile last week.

Bonus souvenir for successfully completing the Reach the Peak promotion

I hope you, loyal reader, are getting out geocaching too.

Hello 2022

I’m getting a late start on my recap of 2021 and look-ahead to 2022.

In 2021, I found 484 caches, my second-best year in terms of number of finds. In 2017, the first year I was a premium member, I had 567 finds. Among the highlights:

Cached in four new states: Wisconsin, Texas, West Virginia and Connecticut.

Found oldest caches in Illinois and Connecticut.

Attended 19 events, including two megas, two CITOs and the GPS Maze.

Hosted three events.

Looking ahead to 2022

This year I plan to attend the WorldWide Cache Fest, a mega scheduled for mid-July in Memphis, Tennessee. On the way, I hope to cache in seven states in one day: Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. I’ve never cached in Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi or Tennessee.

I also hope to complete the Indiana counties challenge. I have 25 counties to go.

My Indiana county map. Shaded counties are counties in which I have found a geocache. Indiana has 92 counties.

And I’d like to get closer to completing the Ohio county challenge. I have found caches in 41 of Ohio’s 88 counties. In June, I’d like to go to the Ohio Geo Clash in Warren, Ohio (Trumbull County). Trumbull is in the northeast portion of Ohio, and if I go, depending on how many days I can get away, I can pick up several new counties and maybe even sneak into Pennsylvania and get Pennsylvania’s oldest.

My Ohio county map. Shaded counties are counties in which I have found a geocache. Ohio has 88 counties.

What about you, dear reader? How did 2021 go? Any big plans for 2022?

Goodbye Capt TailWagger

When I started this blog, I dreamed of our beloved German shorthair pointer going on many geocaching adventures with me and the rest of our family for many years to come.

Capt TailWagger at Lions Park in Fort Wayne, about three weeks before his death

That dream ended Christmas Eve when Capt TailWagger crossed over the rainbow and went to big dog park in the sky. Capt TailWagger came to live with us in April 2017, a few months after the S-Dog died. The S-Dog was also a GSP and had lived with us about four years.

The S-Dog. She loved to chase squirrels, even trying to climb trees to get them.

During our time together, Capt TailWagger and I spent many hours looking for geocaches. Him, not so much, really. He was more interested in eating mud and stalking geese or squirrels. I even took him to the first CITO event I ever attended, in Kokomo, Indiana.

Well, my geocaching name since I’ve been geocaching has been Teamtailwagger. We’ve always had a dog living with us during that time. After Capt TailWagger’s passing, I suggested to my wife that I change my geocaching name. She said I shouldn’t, I agree, I shouldn’t. So, Teamtailwagger lives on, even if there is no dog to lead the team right now. Someday, we may bring another dog into our home and hearts, but for now, we’re without dog to amuse and keep us company.

Finding another oldie

When I listen to the radio, I consider oldies those songs from the 1960s. Others might consider songs from the 1990s oldies. In geocaching, I consider caches hidden before about 2005 as oldies. I restarted geocaching in 2015, so those caches hidden in 2005 and sooner were at least 10 years.

A week or so ago, we went to Connecticut for a niece’s wedding. She got married at a beautiful spot in Fairfield County, just north of Danbury. Before we left Indiana for Connecticut, I used Project-GC to see what potential Jasmer Challenge caches there might be in Fairfield County. GCE4 Another Brick in the Wall is not only in Fairfield County, it is also the oldest cache in Connecticut. And according a recent Whereisitnow Podcast, it’s the most favorited cache in Connecticut.

I suggested to my wife that we go look for this cache on our way to Danbury. So after spending the night in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, we took the Pennsy Turnpike east toward New Jersey. We cut across on I-78 to New Jersey then took I-287 to the Tappan Zee Bridge across the Hudson River to the Merritt Parkway into Connecticut. We found the park where the cache is hidden. We made our way out from the parking lot to look for the cache that was about 500 feet from where we parked. My wife read the hints and past logs while I used my phone. After what seemed liked forever, she made the find.

On the way out to Connecticut, I found my first West Virginia cache. It was in Weirton, West Virginia, a town on the Ohio River across from Steubenville, Ohio. The cache GCMXFM Hollidays Cove is in a small park. It was hidden February 2005 and has 25 favorite points. I had to read the hint about about 100 times before I finally realized what it was saying.

On our way across the Pennsy Turnpike, I picked up a virtual cache GC8FCF The Future of Power — PA. When you got to GZ, you counted the number of wind turbines you saw and sent in the answer. Easy smiley. I took no photos of that cache, otherwise I might give away the answer.

Along the way, I completed the October Reach the Peak requirements. Finding a number of highly favorited caches sure helped.

Monday, the Reach the Peak points turn over. The emphasis will be on Mystery caches, which will be worth 700 points apiece, and Multi caches, which will be worth 600 points apiece. To achieve the Mount Kilimanjaro souvenir, you need to find 5,895 points.

How has your caching been? Reach the Peak? I’d love to hear from my readers.

A word about geocaching podcasts

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy listening to geocaching podcasts. Podcasts give me tips on finding caches, ideas about hides, places to go. Whenever they have guests, those guests add insights to aspects of geocaching I might not have known about.

As far as I know, the granddaddy of all geocaching podcasts is the Podcacher Podcast with Sonny and Sandy from Sunny San Diego, California.

Others podcasts I frequently listen to are the Geocache Talk Podcast with Gary and Jesse, the Geocaching Podcast with scottburks, TAZ427 and shortyknits.

I’m listening to Podcacher as I’m writing this. Sonny and Sandy are recounting their recent trip to New England. They have a guide — Retired Guy — taking them around. I’d love to have a guide whenever I go to a new location.

Geocache Talk has several programs. The Sunday show is the one I listen to most often. Others of their shows are Puzzle Talk (which specializes in geocaching puzzles), Challenge Talk (which specializes in geocaching challenges), Gadget Talks (which specializes in building gadget caches) and Geocaching with Kids (which offers tips for those parents who take their kids geocaching). All of those except Geocaching with Kids is available live on YouTube.

Like Geocache Talk, the Geocaching Podcast is also live on YouTube. It airs on Wednesday nights. What sets it apart from others is that it’s a call-in show. I rarely listen live, and I’ve never called in.

Two audio-only podcasts I’ve recently discovered are Whereisitnow with Whereisitnow and Geocache Adventures with Shadowdragn1. Both of these are audio-only podcasts.

I know there are other podcasts out there, and I’m sorry for not mentioning them.

What I need to do is put an app on my phone and listen to all of these podcasts while I’m driving. I’ve gotten bored with local radio.

Time for an EarthCache

I write this today, Oct. 8, the day before this year’s International EarthCache day. A year ago, I wrote about it and how I find EarthCaches a bit intimidating.

Besides tomorrow being International EarthCache Day, Geocaching HQ has put an extra emphasis on EarthCaches for this month’s Reach the Peak challenge, with 750 points given for each EarthCache found.

Since last year’s International EarthCache Day, I’ve tried to make it point to find EarthCaches whenever I travel. I’ve looked at glacial erratics, limestone buildings, earthen dams, fossils, seeping wells.

End of September! Already?

Well, here we are at the end of September. Where has the summer gone? For me, summer really began in May when our family went to the Indiana Geocaching Spring Picnic at Charlestown State Park in Clark County. We followed that weekend trip to Southern Indiana with a week in Illinois. It was our family vacation.

From there, my son and I went to a new mega event — the Ohio GeoClash and Festival — the first weekend of June in Mount Vernon, Ohio. It turned out to be the only event I attended in June.

Finding GC8FR0G, the Signal locationless cache at the Ohio GeoClash and Festival mega event in Mount Vernon, Ohio

July came, and so did the events. I attended seven in all, including Midwest Geobash on July 23 and 24 in Wauseon, Ohio. I also had more finds in July than in any other month of my geocaching life — 106 finds. I know there are some geocachers who find 100 caches or more in a day. I just don’t have that kind of time right now. On July 24, I had an 11-icon day, including my first Webcam cache and the GPS Maze.

In August, I hosted an event on International Geocaching Day and put out a couple of new caches near the event, and went to an ice cream event to celebrate a local cacher’s 1,000th find. I also went to events in Elkhart and LaGrange counties in Indiana, putting me two counties closer meeting a challenge connecting 10 counties with events. I have connected Wells, Allen, Noble, Kosciusko, Marshall, St. Joseph, Cass (Michigan), Elkhart and LaGrange counties.

Ice cream event in August

Now September is closing out. No events this month. It seemed to fly by. My aunt died in the middle of the month and I made an unscheduled trip to Texas to attend her funeral. While in Texas, I found three geocaches, all within walking distance from the hotel.

In addition to the trip to Texas, I completed the September Reach the Peak goal of reaching the Vinson Summit of 4,892 points. In August, I reached the Puncak Jaya Summit. The October peak is Elbrus, the tallest mountain in Europe. It requires 5,642 points, by far the most points so far in the Reach the Peak promotion. Elbrus begins Monday.

What about you, dear reader, any memorable events or geocaches this summer?

Mountaineering

Geocaching HQ started a new souvenir promotion this month called Reach the Peak. It will last several months, with a new peak each month. This month’s peak is Puncak Jaya, the highest peak in Oceania. Geocachers are awarded points for each cach found, and the goal is to get 4,884 points. A Multicache is worth 600 points, a Mystery 500, an EarthCache 450, an Adventure Lab 350 and any other find 325.

As of this writing, I have 1,550 points. I’ve found two EarthCaches and two traditionals. After I found the first EarthCache, I had the first souvenir for the Puncak Jaya basecamp.

Souvenir for reaching the Puncak Jaya basecamp

In September, the points will reset and a new peak will be summitted.

Although Fort Wayne is called the Summit City (it was the highest point on the Wabash-Erie Canal), I don’t plan to go to any actual mountains this month. But I do like this promotion. It should not be too hard for most people who cache regularly to achieve. If a person finds just 15 traditional geocaches, they will reach this month’s summit.

Back-to-back big months

I know as I write this, there are geocachers out there who find 100 geocaches in a day or over the course of weekend. For me, a 75-find month, followed by an 80-find month is a big deal. They are the two most productive back-to-back months of geocaching I’ve had since January through April 2017 when I had found 62 each in January and February and 76 in March and 69 in April.

So what gives? One, I went to Southern Indiana in May and picked up several new counties in addition to completing a couple of five-stage Adventure Labs. Later in the month, we went to Illinois, and I picked up several new counties there. Then in early June, my son and I went to the Ohio GeoClash and Festival mega. We found a number of caches on the way to the event in Mount Vernon, Ohio. The event organizers put out several dozen new caches for the mega, and we found 20-some of those.

Completing GC8FR0G, one of two locationless caches available right now.

After we returned home, we continued to geocache regularly, including an Adventure Lab based on a War of 1812 battle in Grant County, Indiana. Thus, 155 finds over the course of those two months.

In addition, we went to two weddings in June. One of my many nieces got married in Greenwood, Indiana, and on the way to the wedding we found a challenge cache GCGGF1C Reviewer Challenge: Bronze and a traditional cache near a church about 2 miles from the church my niece got married in. A Brood X cicada decided to land on my suit pants.

Cicada likes dark gray suits, I guess

The following Saturday, my brother got married in Bloomington, and on the way down, we took a circuitous route. We got caches in two new Indiana counties — Montgomery and Putnam, in addition to finding caches in Boone and Monroe counties.

Now here I am in July, and suddenly, my geocaching has hit a lull. Capt. TailWagger and I got two DNFs on the two caches we looked for Tuesday. One appears to be in a spruce tree, and spruce trees irritate my skin, so I tend to do the bulk of my looking with eyes and don’t move around the branches. The cache could well be there. I didn’t see, so I didn’t find it. The other was in some thick foliage. If I remember, I’ll try again in the fall after the leaves fall.

In a couple of weeks, I plan to go to Midwest Geobash in Wauseon, Ohio, and I suspect my geocaching will pick up again. Midwest Geobash is a mega I’ve been to three times before. In addition, the GPS Maze will be there. I know of people who are going to go for a 14- or 15-icon day on July 24, the main day of the mega. The nearest Webcam cache to the mega is here in Fort Wayne.

Beverly — Illinois’ oldest cache

In May, geocachers around the world celebrated 21 years of geocaching. The first caches were placed in May 2000, beginning with Dave Ulmer’s GPS Stash in Oregon. The oldest active cache, of course, is GC30 Mingo, hidden on May 11, 2000.

I have yet to find Mingo. In fact, until this year I had just one 2000 find, GC93 Indiana’s First, hidden Oct. 23, 2000. On a recent trip to Illinois, I found GC28 Beverly, hidden May 13, 2000.

GC28 Beverly, hidden May 13, 2000, just two days after Mingo, the oldest active geocache in the world.

Beverly was an interesting cache to find. The cache page recommends boots and long pants. It warns of poison ivy. I sprayed some DEET on my shoes, arms, legs and neck in the hope of avoiding ticks and went off to find Beverly.

A well-marked trail gets you to within about 300 feet of the cache. From there, it’s a bushwhack. I followed what appeared to be a deer trail back to ground zero. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for until I saw a gallon jug with camo tape hanging on a tree. I opened the jug and there was a nice, well used log, along with what I presume to be the original log book. Its pages were stuck together.

Between the parking lot and the cache are several other caches. Along the way, I found GC1VTYY Blammo! and GC2JM5E Little Diversion.

After finding Beverly, we started the drive back to Indiana, but first we stopped and found caches in DuPage, Kane and Will counties. In the days prior to finding Beverly, I found caches in LaSalle, Ogle, McHenry and Lake counties.

The first cache we found in Illinois was GC516QC Radium Girl. The radium girls worked at a watch factory in Ottawa, Illinois. They painted the glow-in-the-dark paint onto watch faces and licked the paint brush, thus ingesting radium. I did not know their story until I came to this cache.

We took a nice hike at Starved Rock State Park in Illinois to an EarthCache in St. Louis Canyon. After we left Starved Rock, we drove up to Oregon and Lowden State Park, and learned about Lorado Taft and his sculpture of Black Hawk.

Black Hawk overlooking the Rock River, Oregon, Illinois

In addition to finding a number of caches in Illinois, we made a trip to Kenosha, Wisconsin, to walk around Carthage College. Although there are no geocaches on campus, we did manage to find two in Kenosha, including GC7B8MD Rosebud, a virtual cache at the gravesite of filmmaker Orson Welles’ mother. This was my first Wisconsin find. I ended up finding four caches in Wisconsin, two in Kenosha County and two in Walworth County.

I’m looking forward to a summer of geocaching, with plans to go to two mega events. What about you, dear reader? What’s the oldest cache you’ve found? What interesting places has geocaching taken you?