Monday, March 29, 2004

Career Enhancement Day 

Just a note to announce that I'm changing jobs. I've accepted a senior geologist position with Shannon & Wilson, an engineering consulting firm in St. Louis. Here is a link to their website, if you're interested:


I was getting pretty bored at Mississippi Lime and there was no opportunity for advancement. Shannon & Wilson plans to use my mining experience on a sewer tunnel project in south St. Louis county. Here's a link to that project, in case you're interested:


I may be assigned to other projects from time to time, but I think this will be my major area of concentration for the next couple of years.

I'm excited about this new opportunity and wanted to share it with you.

Back to the Future 

Some recent notes on MIGC and other geocaching related stuff:

We concluded MIGC 2004 with a review of comments from participants and staff. We have made some decisions for MIGC 2005. It looks like MIGC 2005 will be at Meramec State Park on April 9 - 10, 2005.

Tim will be in charge of the event and will recruit staff.

One thing that was decided is to train staff on all positions so everyone can cover every other positions.
Food shouldn't be a problem because we can get it from the park itself. Parking is not going to be a problem because there is plenty down at the park. Event caches will not be hunted by staff at the event. Period! They will be out early enough to be hunted prior.

Competition will be on Saturday with optional fun stuff on Sunday. Pam will keep registration and write checks, she will need to get on the account. We will drop Michelle and keep Jen as a backup. This just makes it easier for one person/household to maintain registration and check writing.

MIGC will be renamed to Midwest Geocaching ____________. We want to drop the competition and change it to something that will draw in more people who just want to come down and have fun.

We will put together a "Cache and Dash" in Ste. Genevieve this fall. Dates to be announced later.

BTW, I have a new cache, called HIT ME!, in place at St. Francois State Park. That's a few miles north of Bonne Terre. Play blackjack while you hike the Swimming Deer Trail.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

MIGC Notes 

Let me see if I understand this. The Midwest Invitational Geocaching Compeition (MIGC) ended last Sunday. We have about 20 "event" caches still hidden at Hawn State Park. Some MIGC staffers found time to do a fair amount of geocaching during the event. Others found little or no time, but everyone wants to leave the caches out there for the next few weeks so we can further enjoy this beautiful park.

The question is, will the ability to hunt these caches be limited to those who registered for the event and the MIGC staff? Or do we publish the coordinates and hints so that anyone can hunt them? Some feel that one should either pay or earn the right to hunt them. Others favor open access to all geocachers.

I come down on the open access side of the argument. IMHO no one suffers if more people get to hunt and find these caches. In fact, the more, the better. I put a fair bit of effort into creating a good cache (MIGC-01, that is. MIGC-06 is not that great.) and I want to share it with anyone willing to hunt it.

About this time Brawny Bear announces that he promised Ranger Bob (the park manager) that we will limit our hunting of the caches to weekends only. End of debate. We can't keep that promise if we go the open access route. I doubt the we have the self control to keep the promise anyway.

The real argument, of course, is something entirely different. I don't know how many members SLAGA (St. Louis Area Geocaching Association) has on its books, but I suspect it runs into the hundreds. It turns out that there are only a few who can be counted on to run the organization, and another dozen or so that will pitch in and help with events when they can. Everyone else wants to enjoy the benefits, but make only a minimal contribution.

Sound familiar? It should. Every voluntary organization I've ever belonged to was this way. We all have a common interest, but only a few have real passion. It never seems fair to the passionate ones who take on all the burdens, but you can't change human nature, so it's never going to change. People get burned out. That's why many organizations eventually stall and die. It could happen to SLAGA.

Brawny Bear has the answer. Bring new blood into the core group. Bear and Bridge have got to be exhausted (mentally, physically and emotionally) after last weekend. That's not fair, but they were the only ones who really understood how to organize and run and event like this. Most of us were just foot soldiers - ready and willing to pitch in and help, but basically clueless.

It's different now. I didn't count the number of staffers who helped make MIGC a success, but it has to be at least 20. We know what to do now. We've got a good team that can get the job done. We can't fade back into the woodwork and let our new found knowledge and experience go to waste.

When we start planning for MIGC 2005 (soon I hope), Bear needs to delegate, delegate, delegate. He told me he wants to break the event down into modules (there's got to be a better word, but I can't think of it now) and make individuals, or small groups, responsible for each one. I'm all for that. I think it has to be this way, otherwise we risk losing everything. That would be a real shame.

Monday, March 22, 2004

MIGC Notes 

I've been reading comments on the MIGC page. Very positive feedback. Lots of good photos too. Makes me want to get started on next year's event right now!

I'm working on a multi-cache at St. Francois State Park. More on that later.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

MIGC Notes 

Day one is history and overall a smashing success! Most everyone I talked to was happy and having a great time. There were a few contestants who didn't do too well on the courses, but they enjoyed the caches. I met Myotis - thought every tag in the woods should be a loggable cache. Guess he was hoping to log a hundred finds this weekend or something. A lot of flatlanders have never seen the kind of hills we have here. Many people thought the courses were either a: too hard, or b: too long.

Here are some thoughts while still fresh in my mind.

Make the easy (A) courses easier - less topographically challenging
Create an intermediate (I) course - as challenging as the hard (B) course, but shorter
Only one hard (B) course event, not two
Have a separate couples (C) courses that are short and easy - 5 tags per course
Make the team (T) courses easier - more compact, fewer tags, timed event (say 2 hours)

Here's what the events might look like next year:

Day 1: A-1, I-1 in the AM, T-1, C-1 in the afternoon
Day 2: A-2, B in the AM, T-2, C-2 in the afternoon

The caches are great! The only suggestion I have for next time is that we create say, four "clusters" of caches, each in a different area of the park. In each cluster you can find five caches by walking about a mile, maybe a mile and a few tenths.

On the team events, we could create four clusters of tags in different areas of the park. Make some clusters harder than others. Give each cluster an overall D/T rating. That would help teams develop a strategy and assignments based on their members capabilities. Spread the starting times to say, 10 minutes between teams. That would give them more time to develop their strategies.

We all need to take on more responsibility. We can't make Bear (and Bridge) work this hard next time!

I'm sure I'll have other thoughts in the days ahead. This is a great event and we need to make sure we do what it takes to make it happen again next year!

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Midwest Invitational Geocaching Competition, March 19-21, 2004 

I showed up at Hawn about noon yesterday. Just in time to learn how to be a starter at tomorrow's events. They broke for lunch at about one o'clock. I wasn't hungry so I decided to go geocaching with Dogda. We got Marco's and Rocksusan's caches at the north end of the park. Dogda also got mine, which is up there too. Then we ran down and got Mamalu's cache near the campground.

After lunch we sat around Brawny Bear's campsite and talked about how there is so much work left to do. We never got around to doing anything, though, so about four o'clock I took off and snagged a couple more caches close to the park ranger's office. I'm at 99 finds, so hopefully I'll hit and surpass 100 this weekend.

I was pooped when I got done, so I passed on dinner with the MIGC crew. I went on home, ran the dogs, had a snack, took a bath and was in bed by 8:00 PM. Maybe that's why I got up at 4:30 this morning.

I see that we are supposed to get thunderstorms this morning and a high of 68 degrees. This will be interesting. The only clouds are in western Kansas and Nebraska, so maybe it won't happen until tonight. Guess I'll pack an umbrella, just in case

Thursday, March 18, 2004

T-Bone's Silver Mine Geocache 

Well, it took a while, but I finally finished this multi-cache and submitted it yesterday. While you're hunting the micros at the claim corners, keep in mind that these are the dimensions of an actual mine claim. You can't actually stake a mining claim here is Missouri, but if you could, this is what one would look like.

There are federally administered lands in 19 States where you may locate a mining claim or site. These States are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

When I was in college, studying geology at the University of Idaho (1974) I spent a summer re-staking claims in the Coeur d'Alene silver mining district. Part of the deal with mining claims is that the owner has to spend at least $100 a year on mining, development, or maintenance. Our job (I was crew chief over a couple of high school kids) was to take claim maps out into the mountains, find each corner and make sure the monuments were in place.

If we couldn't find a monument we had to run a compass and tape survey from two adjacent corners and set a new monument. It was kind of like a precursor to geocaching, without the GPS.

It was a great summer. We saw tons of elk, a few wolves (which supposedly were extinct in the lower 48 states) and mountain meadows choked with huckleberries as big as the tip of your thumb. Huckleberries are wild blueberries. They are reddish-purple and a little more tart than blueberries. They are the favorite snack of black and brown bears, so we saw lots of them out there.

It's funny that bears act almost like their drunk when they get into a huckleberry patch. Most of them were totally oblivious to us, concentrating on gorging themselves on the sweet berries. We didn't venture too close, though. No sense tempting fate. They would pull the entire bush out of the ground and stick it in their mouths, then strip the berries with their teeth as they pulled the bush out.

I've seen a few small patches of hucklberries here in the Ozarks. It's been a long time, though. The bushes and their berries were very small. Nothing like the berries in northern Idaho.

Monday, March 15, 2004

MIGC Notes 

That's Midwest Invitational Geocaching Competition and it's next weekend, March 19-21, at Hawn State Park, right here near Farmington.

I helped out a bit on Saturday, but my daughter Megan and her husband Andy were with me. We put in a few hours checking out part of the Saturday B course. Then we had to leave to spend the afternoon with family, doing family things. I also moved my MIGC-01 geocache by about 150 ft, to the spot I should have put it in the first place, but now I'm happy with it. It's good to hear that Rocksusan and Dreicat put their caches up there, too. That will attract more people to this neat area of the park.

I watched Tom Clancy's "The Hunt for Red October" (1990) on Spike TV last night. I had forgotten what a good movie that was and the great cast. In it, the White House and U.S. Navy react with surprise, curiousity, and intrigue when the captain and officers of a Soviet missile submarine announce their intention to defect. The cast starts with Sean Connery as the defecting sub captain and Alec Baldwin as the protagonist Jack Ryan. But there is also James Earl Jones, Sam Neill, Tim Curry and Jeffrey Jones (he was the evil principal in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off") and a host of other familiar faces that I can't name. Anyway, a great flick.

When you live out here in Libertyville and get your TV by satellite, you become familiar with dozens of obscure (and deservedly so) stations like Spike TV - "the first network for men." 99% of their programming is of no interest to this man, but they do show good movies now and then.

Another channel that Dish has recently added to their list of basic choices is Si TV. Si as in Si Senor, I guess, as it appears to be targeting Spanish viewers, but in English. Anyway, I watched the classic cult film "Repo Man" (1984) on Si TV last week.

In it Otto (Emilio Estevez) is a new wave punk who finds work at a seedy suburban Repo service. Under the tutelage of Bud (Harry Dean Stanton), Otto learns the tricks of the trade and generally how to reposses cars from people wielding guns. Weird and wacky hijinks ensue, ranging from car chases, a double-crossing girlfriend, generic food, and some aliens in a Chevy Malibu. Repo Man is ruthlessly crazy, and Otto moves through his series of adventures taking everything in stride, but looking pretty pissed off. The relationship between Bud and Otto is iron sharpening iron. Otto doesn't want to be treated like a lackie, and Bud has some serious issues to work out. And, hey, if you don't like them, you can compare them with their co-workers. These guys are one Prozac pill away from the asylum.

Otto is the only member his old punker gang who accepts responsibility for his own actions. When Duke lies dying after the gang's failed attemp to rob the quick-e mart, he blame society for what he's become, but Otto calls him on it: "That's bulls**t and you know it, you're a white suburban punk, just like me." "Yeah, but it still hurts" is the reply, and ain't he right? No matter how hard you try to rebel, the mainstream will always find a way to subsume you. Look at skateboarding today. Also a great new wave sound track.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Midwest Invitational Geocaching Competition, March 19-21, 2004 

This evening I placed a second cache for the MIGC event at Hawn Park. It's in the southwest corner of the park. I'm sure that very few people visit this area, but it's very pleasant. Lots of little streams cascading over sandstone bluffs. There are three caches hidden down here now, so it will be worth the trip to find them.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Geocaching Notes 

Boy Howdy! I cut a wide swath yesterday! Got tired of driving 50 miles between caches, so I headed to the city and got me six in one afternoon. Let's see, first was "Meinrod's Curious Little Spot." Surely this was an outhouse with natural plumbing. Next was "Find Me." Clever hide. Wish I could think of something like that.

Number 3 was "kircher4kids." That was easy enough. From there I walked to "Old Bridge #2." First try was on the wrong side of creek; once on the right side it was easy. From there I walked to "No Brainer." To do this you have to walk under I-44 (used the bike trail), then crossed the RR tracks, climbed up to the I-44 ROW and walked about 0.3 mile along it to the cache. Made me feel like a hobo. After signing the log I retraced my steps then headed for...

"The Beach." This looks like a big flat grassy area, so I took a beeline straight to the cache. It's not flat. About halfway there's a low area with a pond. Beyond that is a real swamp. So I walked through at least 500 ft of ankle deep muck before reaching the cache. On the way out I found the path I should have taken - a paved road to within 100 ft of the spot. I did see a bunch of deer, though, and hundreds of baby frogs making the weirdest noises.

I'm up to 92 finds. I should get #100 sometime during the MIGC weekend.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Geocaching Notes 

Spent yesterday way out in the boonies with mixed results.

1) Accidental Artesian Well - couldn't reach this one due to high water. Maybe my truck would have made it through that 100 ft long water hole in the road, but I didn't want to risk getting hung, so I backed off. I'll try this one again on a dry day.

2) Grasshopper Hollow - score 1 for Know Future! This was a nice hike in a rare and beautiful ecological niche - a remnant of the ice age. Probably best to visit this one before April, otherwise the bugs (from what I've read) could make it a miserable experience. I placed a letterbox here.

3) Down by the Old Mill Stream (Dillard Mill) - struck out again, due to high water. No place to cross the raging Huzzah without getting soaked. Will try again when the creek is down. I also placed a letterbox here.

I have to wonder why anyone would build a grist mill here. It's a great stream, but where did they get their grain? They surely had to haul it in from long distances - over rutted trails with horse and wagon. After that, who did they sell their flour to? Hardly anyone lived nearby. Most of it must have been hauled back out to distant markets - that already had local mills. Looks to me like it must have been a commercial diaster.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Fort Davidson Update 

Converted this one from a micro to a traditional cache yesterday. The plan was to pick up the micro and replace it with a quart sized glass jar with a few goodies. Well, guess what? The micro was missing! What is it with this place? Vengeful squirrels? I'm about to give up on it.

The jar is 50-100 ft north of the micro. Its a spot where three trees sprouted from the same spot. The trees are about 8 inches in diameter. Their trunks form a basket. I put the jar here and placed a black rock on top of it. Hope it lasts.

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