Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Geocaching: Quiet Fall 2018

This fall, I found only 10 caches (bringing me to 424), all in Virginia or California. But some of them were memorable!

On September 30, in order to teach the boys about compass use, I found my second letterbox.

I only found two in October, one in California (in a mall parking garage) and one in Virginia (across the street from our post office). Neither were to do anything more than pass some time.

In November, I had my first month since 2015 where I didn't find a geocache. I guess life was busy.

In December, a trip to Northern California allowed me to fill in some areas I had never been to before. My first find was in Paradise, recently devastated by the Camp Fire. There was a virtual cache there, and I confirmed that the historical marker necessary to claim the cache had survived the fire. Butte County was County 82.

From Paradise, I drove to Oroville to find a challenge cache (also in Butte County), then farther south until I hit Yuba County, to claim one in County 83.

Unfortunately, this cache was pretty much disintegrated. I posted a note, and the cache has recently been disabled pending maintenance.
Needs Maintenance

From there, I drove to Yuba City, which is in Sutter County (County 84), not Yuba County like you might think. I visited a war memorial that served as a virtual cache.
Yuba City War Memorial
I ran out of daylight before I could add a fourth county that day -- one of the lesser perils of winter caching, I suppose.

The next day, on my way to the airport, I found caches in Glenn County (County 85) and Sutter County (County 86). I missed another county because I couldn't find a cache at a rest stop. Then, at the airport, there was a new virtual cache, which gave me Sacramento County (County 87).
Sacramento Virtual

So how did these 10 caches affect my stats? I didn't find any new difficulty/terrain combos. I only found one new month (November 2017) -- from the challenge cache.

With three new months appearing, that increases my total of missing months to 43. The three from 2018 should all be pretty easy, however.

My California counties map has really filled out.

Sixteen down, forty-two to go! I bet I can get at least one more in 2019, and several more if I get to spend any time in the Bay Area.

Because Sacramento and Chico are close in latitude to the DC area, I was able to make some progress on the 38 and 39 North challenges. Recall each requires finding one cache for each of the 60 minutes of longitude within a given degree. I found two more for the 38 North challenge, bringing me to 27. I found three more for the 39 North challenge to 22. I am still doing better in the longitude challenges.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Scotland's UEFA Coefficient: 2018/9 Knockout-Round Preview

Celtic made it through to the knockout round! Rangers almost did, and picked up a bunch of points in the process.

The "neighborhood" of nations within 2 points of Scotland has shrunk, but 20th place is not settled yet.

Group-Stage Review

Rangers put together a win and three draws -- not quite enough to advance, but enough to pick up 1.125 for the coefficient. Rangers bowed out having been worth 2.75 for the coefficient; this year shows what good shape Scotland is in when more than just Celtic contributes.

Celtic contributed three wins -- barely enough to advance, and good for 1.25 for the coefficient. Overall, they have brought 2.875 to the coefficent this year, slightly better than their Old Firm rivals.

I said that better than 2 points total from the group stage and having a team make it out would be good. With 2.375 points and Celtic through, Scotland had a good year.

Knockout-Round Preview

Celtic got a tough draw. I'm going to use the Fivethirtyeight ratings to preview things. Valencia is the fifth-best rated of the thirty-two teams remaining. As a second place finisher, Celtic was almost certain to have a tough draw, but this is one of the toughest.

Fivethirtyeight gives Celtic a 24% chance of advancing. The average expectation is for them to pick up 0.5 more for the coefficient; that would represent salvaging one draw.

So a good round would be picking up a full point, even if they don't advance, and a bad round would be two losses (which would not be shocking, given the quality of the opposition).

Where We Are

There was an article in the Scottish newspaper The Herald that I think confused the issue, with statements like, "So in terms of significant improvement, Scottish football needs teams to excel in Europe’s top club competition. Obviously, this isn’t the case this the season but improvements can still be made that will bring tangible rewards in the next couple of seasons."

Here's what that analysis missed. Scotland no longer needs to improve; it merely needs to maintain this year's level of quality. The 6.750 points picked up so far this year, maintained for five years, would put its coefficient at 33.75. Over the past few years, that would have been good enough for 11th-13th. Recall that getting to 15th or 17th is the goal.

For this year's coefficient, a single draw would push them past Serbia into 19th. Although they would need to get to 17th to guarantee skipping early rounds, this year because of various details 19th was good enough, so it might be good enough in 2020/21 (when these ratings take effect).

Next year, they will start in 20th (the terrible 2013/4 qualifying cycle still hits them for one more year). They will have one chance to make the hard climb to 15th before they end up in Europa League 2.

(I read the announcement for this new league. I am mostly going to ignore its effects for now, since it seems mostly to be a split of the Europa League for our purposes. It may have a mild positive effect of exposing Scottish teams to weaker competition, and a mild negative effect of hurting revenues and recruitment by putting them in the third-tier competition.)

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Geocaching: Summer 2018

This summer, I found 39 caches in 6 states and 2 foreign countries, bringing me up to 414 caches found.

I started out the summer hiking with the kids to find one from December 2012 (175th month found), which earned the first souvenir in this summer's "Hidden Creatures" promotion -- Bigfoot (my 47th souvenir).
A few days later, I found a new-ish one from July 2018 (176th month), which also got me the Fairy souvenir (48th).

On landing in Illinois, my 17th state, I found one in Kane County, my 71st county. That also earned my 49th souvenir for the state of Illinois.
After driving to Wisconsin, my 18th state, I found one in Dane County, my 72nd county. That earned the Wisconsin souvenir, my 49th. It was a virtual cache, where I took my picture with Bucky the Beaver.

That also earned me my 51st souvenir -- Unicorn.

A couple of days later, I took a road trip from Madison and picked up caches in Rock County, Wisconsin (County #73) and Winnebago County, Illinois (County #74). The four I found in Rock County were challenge caches which each gave me new difficulty/terrain combos (numbers 34-37). I also picked up souvenirs 52-54 (Hippocamp, Kraken and Mermaid -- I'm going to stop including the pictures.

On the way back to the airport, I found a couple in Cook County, Illinois (County #75) -- including one in the airport. That got me my 55th souvenir (and the last one of the Hidden Creatures promotion). It also marked the end of my longest caching streak to date (7 days).

A trip to Texas gave me my 19th state, along with counties 76, 77, 78 and 79. The Texas souvenir was my 56th. The two Texas virtuals are pictured below.

One of the Texas caches was from November 2012 (Month #178).

Back in Maryland, I got my 18th FTF (First-to-Find) on one of the limited-edition virtual caches, so it was also my first find of that cache type.

On my way to England, I stopped in Dublin, Ireland and got Country #12 and Souvenir #57 (there is a separate Dublin souvenir). While in England, I found another new virtual, which gave me August 2018 (Month #179).
8/12/18, Country #12, Souvenir #57.

On September 1, I found another challenge cache with a new D/T Combo (#38). I found 2 other caches that day, and it apparently was the first day I found three different types of caches in a day.

A trip to California meant that I was able to secure County 80 (Riverside County), County 81 (San Bernadino County), and Month 181 (March 2006), as well as D/T combo #39.

So, where am I, after some ambitious caching?

I have almost half of the D/T combos. I have been filling out the ones outside of the upper left mostly through the use of challenge caches. I'm not sure how far I can stretch that, but every time I go to a new area, I try to find a few that I didn't have before.

I am missing 41 months, including the current one. That's down from 47 at the end of Winter. I thought I was going to get a rare May 2000 one near Chicago, but the trail was closed.

Adding three new states makes the map look better.
The counties map is looking more interesting, especially the big counties in California. Of course, I only went to the very western tip of each of those two, but it still counts for the map. That's only about 2.6% of the total counties.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Frank Collins Nicholson (1889-1972), who pitched in two games for the Phillies

Last week, the Washington Post had an article about a pitcher who missed his one shot at the big leagues when his scheduled start for the Phillies was rained out.

That reminded me of another pitcher, who did not miss his one chance with the Phillies -- Frank Collins Nicholson. He pitched a total of six innings over two games in 1912. He was my great-great-uncle.

In the family photo, he is the guy in the back with the hat. He is next to his brother Elwyn Nicholson. In the front are his other brothers Clarence "Fat" Nicholson, and William S. Nicholson, my great-grandfather. Thanks to my Aunt Pam for the picture.

If you touch the major leagues, even for an instant, that stays with you for the rest of your life (and beyond). Here is his obituary:

And here is a remembrance from his hometown paper shortly afterwards. It recounts when, as a minor-leaguer, he faced the major-league pitching of "Chief Bender" and "poled out a three-bagger."

Here is another story from a few years after his passing:

And here is another story about his game against Chief Bender and the Philadelphia A's. It contains my favorite line, which is thank Uncle Frank was "a wizard moundsman with the spit ball."

I originally posted this on Facebook, but I thought I would put it on the blog for wider dissemination. If you have come across this and are related to Frank Nicholson, or if you have any more information about his baseball career, please e-mail me at

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Scotland's UEFA Coefficient: 2018/9 Group-Stage Preview

We have group stage! For two clubs!
It didn't seem possible when the various draws were announced, but...I guess Rangers really is better this year?
 Scotland's "neighborhood" (nations within 2 points of them) has shrunk to 20-27 -- versus 19-29 at the start of the competition. The difference is, Scotland is near the top of this neighborhood.

They are having the 3rd best year of any nation so far. (Of course, the top nations are just getting started with the group stages.) Serbia (at 19) and Norway are the only ones doing better. Scotland, Norway and Cyprus are the only countries to start with 4 teams and still have 2 alive.

Playoff-Round Review

Celtic settled for a draw away, and then closed things out with an emphatic win at home. Rangers started with a 1-0 win at home, which put them in good position, then somehow clung to a 1-1 draw despite being down to 9 men late in the match. A few things going differently could have exceeded the 0.75 points gained in the round, but it seems petty to quibble.

Group-Stage Preview

Group stage! The road gets even tougher here. I'm going to use Clubelo ratings one last time to give you a sense of how hard. Celtic (Elo 1550) is grouped with previous opponents Rosenborg (1542), Red Bull Salzburg (1714) and Red Bull Leipzig (1689). Rangers (1444) is grouped with Villareal (1752), Rapid Vienna (1565) and Spartak Moscow (1685).

Clubelo doesn't look at individual matches all the way into December, like we want to do, so I'm going to switch to Fivethirtyeight's predictions. They give Celtic only a 30% chance of making it out of the group, and Rangers a mere 12%.

Looking at the individual matches, things don't look great either. The only match where a Scottish side is favored is their opening tilt versus Rosenborg. But that's not likely the only points we'll see during the group stages.

If you add up the probabilities across all the games, even Rangers can be expected to steal a win and a draw. Celtic should do even better, with one or two wins and one or two draws.

Add it up, and the Fivethirtyeight estimates expect at least two more points for the coefficient. So I'm going to set my expectations there. A good run will be one where they exceed that and put a team through to the knockout rounds, and a bad one will be earning below 1.5 points.

Where We Stand

Four whole points for the year is as many as they got all last year, even after Celtic made it to the knockout rounds of the Europa League (via the Champions League group stages).

Above them, Belarus should pick up about a point in BATE Borisov's group, which would allow them to be caught by Scotland for 20th place. Sweden might pick up a point and a half from MalmΓΆ, which wouldn't be enough to catch Scotland. Norway's two entrants aren't supposed to do as well as Scotland's two...but these are all probabilities, so a series of small upsets could set back Scotland's match to 20th.

The hope, however, is that this excellent season will take Scotland away from worrying about having all Europa League entrants come in during the first round (like next year), and move closer to where the question is whether they can compete for 17th. There, the cup winner enters at the third round, and the second-place team enters in the second round. The real prize, however, is 15th, which will require a consistent 5.5 points per year. This is the year Scotland can show that's realistic.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Where's Jon? Madison Edition

Can you find me in this picture from July's ANTS conference in Madison, Wisconsin?

Hint: I am easier to spot than normal.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Scotland's UEFA Coefficient: 2018/9 Playoff-Round Preview

They're up to 23rd! That's the good news. The bad news is that Celtic dropped out of the Champions League. That is not bad news for the coefficient per se (since they drop down to the Europa League), but it is bad news for the club's budget, will which affect their competitiveness in future years.

Third-Round Review

So it was a mixed bag. Celtic only picked up 0.125 in being bounced from the Champions League. Rangers picked up 0.375 in advancing. And Hibs managed 0.125 on their way out. Blame was being thrown around, but I think they just weren't good enough to make it any further. Anyway, the 3.25 so far is more than Scotland earned in their terrible year three years ago. And they still have two clubs alive! The goal of 5-6 points per year is achievable (if not necessarily likely) this year.

Playoff-Round Preview

Rangers (Elo 1421) faces the Russian club FC Ufa (Elo 1575). Clubelo.com gives Rangers only a 25.6% chance of advancing. Of course, they were underdogs in the last two rounds as well, so the Elo may not tell the whole story.

Celtic (Elo 1534) takes on Lithuanian Club Suduva (Elo 1278). Clubelo gives Celtic a 85.4% of advancing to the group stage. One would hope it would be higher, but this Celtic club does not seem as strong as the ones from the last two years. After only two league matches, they are sitting in sixth place.

The only thing that seems at stake here is Rangers advancing to the group stages, however many points they pick up. Having both Old Firm sides in the group stage of the same competition would be delicious.

So a good result is having both sides advancing. That's a minimum of 0.5 more points, but more likely at least 0.75.

A bad result would see Rangers out, but Celtic advancing. Rangers wouldn't pick up anything on their way out, and Celtic would drop some points. Say 0.25-0.375 total.

A disastrous result would have both sides out. Even picking up 0.5 on the way out, it would be a disaster.

Where We Stand

They're in 23rd now. Looking above them, Belarus' BATE Borisov is still in the Champions League (thus guaranteed a group stage of some sort). Serbia is also going to be tough to catch, being the only other nation with two teams alive, and one of those is in the Champions League. So I'm going to set 21st as a realistic upside for this year. We won't think about the downside until the group stages are set.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Scotland's UEFA Coefficient: 2018/9 Third-Round Preview

That went very well! How well? The 2.625 points Scotland have picked up so far this year is second only to Serbia. I fell compelled to point out that the giants are Europe are just starting to enter and will inevitably pass Scotland, but among those not in the top 15, it's hard to top this performance!

Second-Round Review

I said a good second round would have one Europa League team advance, and a total of 1.375 points. They got 1.25 points, but with two sides advancing! And Celtic staying in the Champions League.

Pour one out for Aberdeen, who took Burnley to extra time. When you're in a situation where one goal falling differently would have knocked out a Premier League team, you have to give respect to Derek McInnes and his squad. Still, Aberdeen bows out with only having contributed 0.125 to the coefficient this year. That's the first time in their five-year streak of qualification that they've contributed less than 0.625.

Hibs started out with a 3-2 win at home over Asteras. That result was not entirely surprising; the real triumph came with the 1-1 draw on the return leg. They actually probably should have picked up more points, since they held a one-goal first-half lead against a 10-man side.

Rangers won 1-0 on the road in Croatia. That put them in command when Osijek visited Ibrox last week. A 1-1 draw was enough to advance, but would have produced more points if not for a late own-goal.

If we celebrate Aberdeen for being one goal from advancing, we should note that Hibs and Rangers were each one goal from going out. But those are the breaks, and for once Scotland got them.

One Scottish side not in need of breaks was Celtic, which cruised to a 3-1 win at home before settling for a 0-0 draw for a relatively easy dispatching of Rosenborg.

Third-Round Preview

Hibs, whose Elo is up to 1325, faces Norwegian side Molde (Elo 1423). So Neil Lennon's side has about the same chance (33.2%) as they had against Asteras. Given the way Hibs (and Scotland in general) have been overperforming this year, I wouldn't count them out.

Similarly, Rangers has an Elo which has risen to 1385, and they take on Slovenia's Maribor (Elo 1499). So Clubelo.com gives them a 31.8% chance of advancing.

Again, if we look at the probability that at least one of the two advance, we're better than 50/50. But the chance that both do is 10%, unless we believe that Clubelo is underestimating Scotland this year.

Celtic (Elo 1548) faces another tough road against Greek champions AEK Athens (Elo 1605). The mismatch is not quite as severe here, giving Celtic a 42.6% chance of advancing.

So let's say a good round has Celtic advancing in the Champions, and one of the two Europa League sides continuing on, and I'll not be too greedy in asking for half of the possible 1.5 points towards the coefficient.

A bad round would have Celtic be the lone survivor, in the Europa League, and I could see Scotland picking up as few as 0.25 points.

Playoff-Round Sneak Peek

It bothers me that this is not just the fourth round.

If Celtic can get past AEK, they face either Swedish champions Malmo (Elo 1502) or Hungarian champions Vidi (Elo 1435). Celtic would be clear favorites to advance to the group stage against either.

If they can't, they are pretty much a shoo-in for the Europa League group stage, as they face the winner of the tie between Latvian champs Spartaks Jumula (Elo 1138) and Lithuanian champs Suduva (Elo 1264).

If Rangers advances, they face either FC Ufa (Elo 1569) or Niederkorn (Elo 1104). So that doesn't look good for making the group stages.

If Hibs wins, they get either Zenit (Elo 1724) or Dinamo Minsk (Elo 1442).

Unless there are some major upsets, I don't see anyone but Celtic being in the group stage, which is a shame.

Where We Stand

They started out in 25th; now they're 24th. That's progress. The two nations ahead of them (Sweden and Azerbaijan) only have one representative each, so 22nd is not out of the question by the end of the third round. (It is theoretically possible they'll jump to 19th, but it's not going to happen.) On the other side of the coin, Israel and Kazakhstan have a reasonable chance to catch Scotland. (Norway has an unreasonable chance.)

It's more important, I think, to lay a groundwork for advancing in future years (although letting the Cup winner skip the first round in 2020/21 is a bonus). I think 5 points needs to be the goal, and they're over halfway there. If we look at the preliminary 2021 rankings, which includes that last two good years along with this year's results so far, Scotland is 20th. While that shows progress, it also shows that a consistent 5 point is needed to get back into the teens.

If Celtic can manage a comparable run to last year, Scotland should exceed 5 points even without contributions from the other sides. If the Scottish draw hadn't been so rough this year, I think the quality they've shown would have even more promise.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Scotland's UEFA Coefficient: 2018/9 Second Round Preview

Well, good news for Scotland. They picked up over 90% of the available points in the first round, which is better than anyone else in their "neighborhood" (which I've been defining as nations within two points). Kazakhstan and Serbia got more total points, but they had four teams in the first round.

First-Round Review

Hibernian beat Runavik 6-1 and 6-4. I'm sure Neil Lennon isn't thrilled with giving up 4 goals in the away match (and I bet the Faroese player with the hat trick will be dining out on that performance for years), but they got the job done.

Rangers beat Shkupi 2-0 at home, then held on for a goalless draw to win the tie. I was convinced somebody was going to drop some points somewhere, and this is not the worst place to do so.

Celtic won 3-0 and 3-0 against Alashkert.

Shkupi was clearly the fiercest competition there, so this makes sense.

Second-Round Preview

Up next for Hibernian (ELO 1305) is Asteras Tripolis (ELO 1424). Clubelo.com gives that a 69.5% chance to go to the Greeks, and I don't see any reason to doubt them.

Rangers (ELO 1357) faces Osijek (ELO 1442). Clubelo gives the Croatians 63.9% chance of advancing. (Before you ask, their is no overlap between the mostly-homegrown Osijek squad and the recent World Cup finalists.)

Aberdeen (ELO 1380) faces Burnley (ELO 1684). The Clubelo odds only give Burnley an 88.1% chance of advancing. I'm surprised.

In the Champions League, Celtic (ELO 1517) have a rematch of last year's clash against Rosenborg (ELO 1512). Clubelo ever-so-slightly favors Celtic, with 50.6% odds.

That means there's a more than 60% chance of one of the three Europa League teams advancing.

So I'll say a good second round has Celtic and one of Hibs or Rangers advancing. Let's say that's with 1.375 total points.

A bad second round would have Celtic dropping to the Europa League, and nobody else surviving. Only picking up 0.5 points is realistic.

Third-Round Sneak Peak

Celtic is the one club guaranteed to particpate in the third round of one of the two competitions. If they win, they face AEK Athens (ELO 1597), so the odds will not favor the Scottish champions. If they lose, they face Cork City (ELO 1212), so the coefficient points should flow in the Europa League.

If Hibs wins, they face either Molde (ELO 1427) or Laci (ELO 1228).

If Rangers gets by Osijek, they have the winner of Chikura (ELO 1202) and Maribor (1499).

If Aberdeen someone makes it past Burnley, they face Başakşehir (ELO 1650).

I guess it looks pretty bleak for any Scottish side but Celtic to advance past the third round.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Alexander Cairns' 1909 Trip to the West

My great-great-grandfather, Alexander Cairns (1843-1921) of Mt. Hope, Wisconsin, led an interesting life.

In the Fennimore Times of August 4, 1909, there is a note:
Later issues of the Fennimore Times printed letters from him describing their trip. I discovered the existence of the letters in the mid-1990s during a visit to the DAR library in DC. Only upon visiting the Wisconsin Historical Society in 2018 was I able to get my hands on copies of the letters.

On August 9, 1909, he wrote a dispatch from Wallace, Idaho entitled "The Far West". It began, "We are away out here in a queer country, but interesting nonetheless. It mostly describes the train journey from Prairie du Chien. He seemed to evaluate the scenery mostly based on its suitability for farming. They stopped in Wallace to visit Alex's brother (my great-great-grand uncle), Henry E. Howes.

On August 22, 1909, he wrote a dispatch from Lewiston, Idaho, which the paper titled "Cairns' Western Trip." He described the mining operations in Wallace in fairly great detail, and their trip from Wallace to Lewiston via Coeur d'Alene and Spokane.

His third dispatch was from Seattle. Undated, it was published a week after the second, in the September 15 Fennimore Times. It was also titled "Cairns' Western Trip." Here, he catches the reader up on Lewiston, Idaho, specifically how the farming is done around there, and which former residents of the Mt. Hope area he visited. I had always assumed he visited his nephews on this trip, but now I see that they were in the southern part of Idaho, which is not a convenient detour, even 109 years later.

Towards the end of that third letter, he writes, "One thing for sure, it is a hot spot, 105 in the shade. Don't think they go to church much here. In fact there is no need of it. If they can stand the heat here they need fear nothing anywhere else."

That was the last letter in the index. On a hunch, I checked subsequent issues of the Times, and found a September 7 letter from Thomas, Washington, entitled "Cairns at the Coast". Here he describes his impressions of Spokane, Yakima and Seattle, and the World's Fair. I was struck by the fact that he compared it to the Chicago World's Fair -- of course he had been to that one, too. They were headed to Portland as their last stop on the West Coast.

Unfortunately, I have no further letters. Whether he didn't write again, the Times failed to publish them, or they didn't show up in the index, I don't know.

We know that he and "Lizzie" did not go home directly from Portland, however, due to this note from the Frankfort (Ky.) Index on September 29: “Mr. and Mrs. Alex. Cairns, who were guests of their old friend Herman Johnson, left this noon for their home in Mt. Hope, Michigan. [sic] They are on their way home from a trip to the coast.”

The October 6 Fennimore Times reports, "Alex. Cairns and wife got back from their trip to the coast Saturday. They had a fine time but are glad to be home again."

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

"The Land of Burns" by Alexander Cairns

My great-great-grandfather, Alexander Cairns (1843-1921) of Mt. Hope, Wisconsin, wrote an article entitled "The Land of Burns" for the Fennimore Times on January 31, 1906. In it, he describes his trip to the birthplace of Robert Burns and writes about the poem "The Brigs of Ayr".

As far as I know, he never had any higher education, but he seems to have been quite the self-educated individual. In 1884, he received Patent 308,463 for a “new and Improved Churning Device”.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Herndon Restaurant Project: (1) Wendy's

2160 Centreville Rd.,
Most Recent Foursquare Check-in: 7/1/2018
Total Foursquare Check-ins: 7
Inside Town Limits: No
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

It's a Wendy's. Just like my review of the Bowie Wendy's, I can't find much exciting to say about it. Like most Wendy's, they often mess up some but not all of my order. Unlike the Bowie Wendy's, they participate in the recent "4 for $4" promotion, which is, uh, a lot of food for only $4.

It's somewhat annoyingly situated; no matter how you approach, you have to cut through a lot of unrelated parking lot to get there.

I can't really justify why I'm giving it half a star more than the Bowie Wendy's; I just am.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Geocaching: Spring 2018

This Spring, I found 37 caches in 3 states and DC.

As Spring began in late March, Geocaching started a promotion where you could earn points depending on what sorts of geocaches you found, and once you earned a certain number of points, you would get planet-themed souvenirs. So I started out by finding a geocache and earning my 41st souvenir.
The next day, I was in the Crofton area and I was first-to-find on a cache there. First, I failed to find it, and then left a message about the description (which indicated it wasn't at the actual coordinates -- which is a no-no). The cache owner left me a hint and changed the difficulty/terrain rating to 4/1, so I got my 15th FTF, my first in Anne Arundel County, my 32nd difficulty/terrain combo...and my 42nd souvenir.
After those two in Maryland, I found one in DC and one in Virginia to snag my 43rd souvenir.
The day after that, I found a couple with the kids for my 169th month (January 2018) and my 44th souvenir.
A few days later, we were in North Carolina and found my first in Forsyth County (67th county), and my first from March 2013 (170th month).
After another in Forsyth County, we found a virtual in Stokes County (68th county) that earned me my 45th souvenir. That capped off a March with 27 counties found, the most I have ever done.
I found another on our way out of North Carolina, then a few more in Maryland and Virginia, including one from September 2017 (Month 171).

The "Planetary Pursuit" promotion was extended, allowing me to nab one last souvenir (#46).
Also in April, I nabbed another FTF (Number 17), which was Month 172. That got me all of the months from February 2015 forward.

The period ending April 20th represented the fastest I had found 100 caches (210 days). That should not be too hard to break, but I have never put together more than 3 months in a row with 10 or more caches.

In May, a trip to the Williamsburg area got me James City County (County 69) and York County (County 70), but frustratingly, not Williamsburg itself.

In late May, I finally found a challenge cache that required me to find caches 100 degrees of longitude apart (I have 179). It was a tiny cache in the woods; I gave up on finding a similar one nearby. Anyway, that was D/T combination #33.

Later that day, I was FTF on my 17th cache, which also marked four consecutive months with an FTF (doesn't look like I'll make it 5) and Month 174.

After all that excitement, I found just one more cache before the solstice -- I had messed up the hours of a business, and needed to kill some time. Still that brings me to 375 caches total. It took me almost 9 years to hit 100, so finding 275 more in a little over two years definitely feels like a lot.