Saturday, September 22, 2007

Geocaching Update

Well, the coin I dropped off in Vienna a couple of weeks ago has migrated north to the Czech Republic. That's pretty neat -- a coin I own is some place I've never been. Its first stop was the ruins of a castle. It's currently location...well, I don't read Czech, so I'm not quite clear where it is now. I'm also not clear on how this is contributing towards its goal of getting back to Maryland. I'm writing this, I just got notification that someone retrieved it. We'll see where it ends up next...

Its sibling coin remains stuck where I left it in England; nobody has found that cache since I did.

I've really enjoyed moving around these geocoins and travel bugs. One travel bug I found in Vienna was trying to get to Montreal, so I thought dropping it off near Frederick last weekend was a good start. I also picked up a coin in Vienna, which I dropped off earlier today on the University of Maryland campus. I've been moving a few other things around Maryland, too.

The map progress I've made recently consists of adding Frederick county to my "counties cached in" map.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Geocaching Update

Well, I've found one more geocache since my last update. As you can see from the map, that brings my total number of countries cached in to 3. The one cache I found was a departure from my usual preference for caches in parks. This one was in the middle of a busy Vienna street, a few hundred feet from where the Pope had been the previous day. Unlike most urban caches, this one was huge! It was a great example of "hiding things in plain sight," but I suppose I shouldn't give away its secret.

While there, I dropped off the brick geocoin I picked up in Bristol, along with Free State Mover #2, my second geocoin whose goal it is to get back to Maryland.

The Vienna cache is a very active one. Within hours of my visit, someone had picked up the brick coin. Two days later, a Czech picked up Free State Mover #2 with the note "North!" So I guess it's going to the Czech Republic on its way back here.

If it ever makes its way back here, that is. Over the less than six months I've been caching, I've noticed a disturbing number of trackable items go missing. It's possible they are on somebody's shelf and will return to the cache world, but I have to wonder if they're permanently MIA.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Pope's in Town

Apparently I'm not the only one who decided this would be a good weekend to visit Vienna. His Holiness is here, which I discovered yesterday when I saw a sign at Stephansdom indicating he'd be performing mass there Sunday (today). His visit presumably explains the sparsely attended concert in front of the cathedral, consisting of what I can only assume is Christian rock. Enjoy the snippet below. (Or not.)

Saturday, September 08, 2007



I've got the first two rules of taking pictures of my big head in front of historic sites:
1. Hold the camera level with my head, so the picture isn't up my nostrils.
2. Smile.

Apparently, now I have to work on:
3. Don't squint.

After a much needed late start, I took the U-bahn (underground/metro/subway) out to Schönbrunn palace, the summer home of the Hapsburgs. The guide book said it was second only to Versailles in terms of magnificent European palaces. I've never been to Versailles, so I can't vouch for that, but it dwarfed most other European palaces I've seen and definitely topped the czar's digs.

The most impressive sights were the gardens, which I wandered for half an hour while waited for my timed-entry ticket to take effect. After choosing the audio guide (I guess my other option was a live guide), I got to the desk and was told they were out of audio guides, but I could have a nice pamphlet instead. Boo, Austria! That put me in a bit of a sour mood the rest of the day. The benefit of my getting the audio guide would have been that I could have looked at the palace rather than the pamphlet. The benefit of everyone else's getting the audio guide would have been that they could have watched where they were going instead of constantly bumping into me. Still, it was neat to see the room where a young Mozart first performed for the royal family (and then jumped into the Empress' lap and smothered her with kisses) and the room where the last Emperor abdicated after 600 years of Hapsburg rule.

I wonder what changed...was Austria really so horribly defeated in World War I? They had lost wars before. Was it the fact that fewer monarchies were on the victorious side, so fewer countries had an interest in preserving the monarchy? In the US, not much history east of Germany gets taught; this visit points out certain gaps in my education.
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Thursday, September 06, 2007

It's About the Maps

Well, since my last geocaching update, I've found two more geocaches. The first was in Calvert County, Maryland near Hutchins Pond. I dropped off Mistr Turtle, a plastic turtle whose goal was to visit beaches throughout the world. Since he was a few miles from Chesapeake Beach, I figured he was in good shape. I picked up "More U Know", a button which
wants to travel cache to cache with the message "The more you know, the less you need".

I brought it over to England. Maybe it will undermine their capitalist economy instead of ours. I also brought Free State Mover #1, a coin I bought with the express purpose of returning to Maryland. It's my first geocoin, so I'm mostly releasing them as an experiment.

I went on what turned into a 4.7 mile walk today. First I looked for a geocache down by the harbor. It was a higher difficulty rating than I'm used to, and I didn't find it. Since I had these items to drop off, I persevered to a cache called "On the Rocks", where I dropped them off and picked up something called GA Cacher's mtn-man Admin Brick Geocoin. That, along with Free State Mover #2, will go to Austria with me tomorrow.

As you can see from the above map, I have now visited 3 counties in Maryland. I enjoy seeing the map fill in. As you can see from the below map, I had quite a walk around Bristol. I started out on the right, headed south, decided that the cache was probably north of the harbor, walked along the harbor, discovered I couldn't walk along the harbor the whole way, discovered the cache was on the south side of the harbor, went to the nearest bridge and cut back...and ultimately didn't find the cache. Then I headed up the hill to a point where I got the clue for the other cache, headed halfway down the hill to the cache, then all the way down the hill and back to the hotel.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Sunrise Over England


I had trouble sleeping on the flight over yesterday, so around 5 I opened my window to discover the most astonishing sunrise. I tried taking pictures, but they didn't really capture the full range of colors I saw. In a way that's comforting -- it was a nice experience, and apparently one I can't just get looking at pictures.
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Saturday, September 01, 2007

That Was Awful

Through the magic of TiVo, I just learned that Michigan lost to Appalachian State today. Without TiVo, I would have had to turn to a new story to be shocked that my alma mater had embarrassed itself by losing to Division I-AA App State. With TiVo, I got to watch three-and-a-half excruciating hours (OK, there was a lot of fast forwarding between plays), have the recording end with Michigan finally leading, and then go on-line to be shocked that Michigan blew the game in the last minute.


At least we can still win the Big Ten. But if we can't beat Division I-AA schools, I don't know whom we can beat. Michigan hasn't missed a bowl game since I started attending there (19 years ago this month); this could be the year.