Monday, February 14, 2011

10 years Geocaching.

On Feb 14, 2001, I picked up my first GPS and went on a crazy hunt for a hidden container in the woods, which eventually turned into a 10 year saga filled with amazing adventures, mind-blowing events, and many lifelong friends.  I could not have guessed that once I picked up my Garmin12, I would embark on a series of incredible life experiences based around an idea that the outdoors could be fun again.

I was introduced to geo-stashing when I read a 3 sentence article in Outside Magazine.  The article was a little unsure of this new activity, but it published the Geocaching.com webpage and mentioned the potential of new outdoor activities.  I was rabid for something new, and this fit the bill.  I remember laughing while trying to explain this new hunting game to my roommate. “Im gunna go look for something weird, don’t know what I will find, but I am sure it will be strange”.  It turns out it was a ammo box with a white golf ball inside, but it was enough to get me hooked.

At this time there were about 150 caches in Oregon, and geocachers were a ragtag group of funny avatar names.  I came to know many people through the early GC forums; however we interacted mostly through the log sheets inside the containers.  You could always tell a popular cache by the number of names and descriptions found in those data sheets, and it was a great deal of pride to be able to put your name before any of your GC friends.

I placed my first cache, and it was pretty popular.  So popular that a trail developed toward the container and I removed it to avoid further damage.  It is then I created one of the earlier multi-caches.  Requiring hunters to find 3 different locations, and identify a unique aspect of each site got hunters to the final cache, where I hid a camera and goodies.

Oh boy, do I remember that camera.  I would get many great pictures of successful hunters, then the occasional rude picture from a non-cacher person..  Then more rude pictures.. then more.  So much that I stopped placing cameras inside caches due the high probability of lewd pictures located within. 

I didn’t really meet another geocacher in the field until 6 months later at the cache called “Raiders of the lost cache”.  At that time my method for finding caches was to forgo trails and head directly to the cache.  As I bashed through brush and sticker bushes, I emerged into a clearing, visibly startling “Oregone”.  As we exchanged friendly banter, tiny LED lights suddenly flashed in some bushes, indicating the cache location. This technical genius by “wit Camp” originally got me thinking that Geocaches could be so much more than simple coordinates to simple containers.   

I started placing caches that required unusual behavior to solve.  I wanted my caches to be unique, and I also noticed other people doing cool unique things as well.  However it was not enough for me.  I found too many “drive-by” caches.  Little effort by the placer, made the hunt very un-fulfilling.  I became uninterested in “normal” caches and my finds stagnated to about 160.  I started to heavily gravitate toward geocaching based events.

There was a group of geocachers that started to form in the Portland Oregon region.  We all realized early on that our group of friends was unlike normal friendships.  We were a very adventurous group where were up for adventures in and around our area.  We passed around a “Golden Spike” with the understanding that whoever had possession of the spike was responsible for the next adventure.  To my memory, we went bowling, night caching go-karting, videogaming, bonfires and underground ghost hunts. Eventually we had a big campout and service project at the local state park called Champoeg. 

The success of that first Champoeg event was a harbinger of amazing events the future had in store.

Portland geocachers wanted to have another event at Champoeg and so another was planned.  Huge potluck, great friends interacting, and a humbling ivy pulling project for the park.  It is also where I unveiled my very unusual kinetic cache called “The APPARATUS”.  I built it from my sprinkler system and a timing device.  I had everyone meet me by the bonfire, where my device dangled a little paper box over the fire.  The device would release the box (and final solution) into the fire if the participants did not retrieve the clues within the hour and stop the device.  Reading the reports that everyone wrote after the event indicated everyone had the time of their lives.  It was very encouraging to see so many people enjoy my creation.   I went on to create APPARATUS2 and APPARATUS3 in the series that became increasingly abnormal.  This made me happy.

It also became evident that another creative cacher “fractal’ and I should work together on a combined event.  He had created some amazing geocaches and events at the same time as me.  We both realized the amount of joy we received from our friends solving our puzzles far outpaced our efforts needed to create them.

So we began to design the first of our greatest events called “Broken Arrow”.  We had clandestine meetings, top secret plans, and covert signals to help us plan this event in complete secrecy.  We wanted to create a device that would need to be solved in a very James Bond method.   5 wires needed to be cut in the correct order or the device would give a very audible detonation.  We hid very technical mini puzzles throughout the park that each needed their own solution.  Geiger counters, pagers, exploding chest die pack and awesome artwork.  Probably best of all was our costumes.  We each had our persona and became that person for the duration of the event.  Silly accents and all.

When our friends were cheering our names at the conclusion of the event we felt on top of the world.
Fractal and I decided to create more events even more insane than the previous event.  During our event “Warlords” we witnessed friends teaming up assemble trebuchets and fling balloons at human targets.  Our event “Blood Bath and Beyond” had a incredible 6 month buildup, amazing props and a alien autopsy with a chainsaw!! ROWR! The events “Icarus” and “Holiday Bizarre” made me laugh along with the successes and failures.  We even teamed up with a trio of creative cachers to create our own secret society and cult cache event called “C5”.

Other events emerged including our own FILM FEST, Iron Chef Competition, and Gong Show.  The participants would look forward to Champoeg event all year, and as a result, the entire park would be reserved a full 8 months in advance.  However the popularity of Champoeg began to outstrip our capacity to improve upon years past.  We the organizers made the heart wrenching decision to pull the plug on Champoeg after its 8th year.

As the years press on, and popularity of the sport expands exponentially, I started the anarchy gnome and anarchy geocache series that broke every rule created by the now popular geocaching authorities.  I am proud to say there were many fellow hunters who were far more twisted than I could dream of.  I launched a geocache to the edge of space and have a couple of travel bugs that would get kicked out of any respectable home or office.

So, as I have now reached this 10 year milestone of this weird little game, I am currently involved with a hybrid geocache multisport event as well as continued thoughts of crazy and unique cache ideas.  My friendships made through geocaching will last a lifetime, as well as all the scrapes, cuts, and bruises I receive when searching for those elusive containers.

What will the next 10 years have in store for me I do not know.  I am only sure that it will be crazy and fun surrounded by friends and technology.  I may even be able to break 200 finds!!

Thanks everyone.  I hope to see you on the trail soon. 
Your pal,
 soup

Friday, January 21, 2011

Contents of a strange time capsule.

I have been on an adventure assignment for just over a year.  The assignment is to make fun and exciting events based on GPS for a yearly adventure race.  Its pretty amazing and fun to hike in a pretty rugged part of central Oregon.  Part of my job is to place, find, and relocate Geocaches around this beautiful country

What is unique about this property is that it was once owned by the Rajneesh cult in the early 1980's.  This cult was notorious for many things including the 99 Rolls Royce's driven by their eccentric leader, trying a hostile takeover of local and state elections, and the first domestic biological assault in the U.S.  The followers were apparently good natured people, but the leaders were nefarious criminals who hid behind religion and money to relentlessly pursue their goals. 

Needless to say, the property is amazing.  The old structures still stand, and are dotted throughout the landscape quietly rotting away after 25 years of neglect.  The new owners have done some amazing things with new construction, and that is what makes this a truly special place for any adventurous explorer.  Every time I come here I find something amazing to see. 

My last trip out I went on a multi-mile cache health check.  This is where I go to posted coordinates and verify if a cache container is still in the location it was originally placed.  When doing this activity, I am required to climb up mountains and down valleys.  It is an all day trek from 7am until 6pm.  Its a workout to say the least.  It is on this trip where I found a most peculiar time capsule.

I had just crested a large mountain and found a lone tree.  When I approached I found a large rock that had been placed in the crotch of the tree.  When I removed the rock, I dug out 2 inches of debris to find this rusted can.  It looked like it had been there for decades.  I could hear uniform sounds when I rotated the can, and I could immediately tell it was not rocks.  However the lid was rusted shut and I was unable to open it.  I decided to bring it home and crack it open to see what has been sitting inside for so many years.

So as you can see from the video, something strange was indeed inside.  Now I need to decide if I should plant them.  Why would somebody place this container so far away from anywhere, and want to protect it from the harsh elements of central Oregon.  I am perplexed and excited because I know where another hidden can is located.  It has been there for a very long time as well, due to the tree growth wrapping around the can.  I will return with a prybar and camera to see what treasures are held within. 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The year of awesome

2011 sounds like a great number, and a great year for accomplishments.
My yearly post of what I plan to accomplish in the coming year will start now.

I have 2 other websites that I am working on that might blossom into something cool.
I am working on 1 project with a friend that might open doors in a new direction
I am designing events for a non profit organization that might be as awesome as last year.
My contacts with people who are influential will be expanding with a couple key meetings.
The current technology I use will be updated to something from this decade. 
My sabbatical planning will begin after I write this post. 
My motivation and effort to be a better husband and father will increase 56%.

Now I just need to keep referring to this post to keep the motivation at an acceptable level.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Year in review

It has been awhile since I updated this blog, and its time I get back into it.
So, lots of stuff happened, and that is all great, but I am ready to start new projects.

These projects include:
Building a Joule Thief
Assembling and launching another balloon (LEO3)
Assembling the actual LaunchLeo website (I am a little rusty at Wordpress)
Creating 2 new kinetic machines for WCG
A better Yagi antenna construction as well as a couple other Ham projects.
and finally keeping this website up to date. 

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Barf-0

How do you entertain a 2 year old child during an airplane flight?
Take the barf bag and create a hand puppet. I called mine "Barf-O".

My daughter loved it and helped me design the puppets features.
I would have Barf-O command everyone within earshot to obey.
People were genuinely amused by the strange spectacle .

It entertained my daughter for approximately 20 minutes.
Well worth the cost.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Rolling along

Time flies when you are up to your neck in duties. Just a regular update until I can get the hang of actually putting good content here.

The balloon launch was great. The loss of the cameras sucked. Our GPS freaked out at 30K feet and the whole package separated during free fall. Crap. Looking to launch again soon.

The last Champoeg event was a super success. I am glad it is the last one I have to work on.
The life and times of our friends and events at this gathering cannot be easily explained or repeated. It was a great 8 years. Whew!

Other interesting duties will be updates when they become interesting. Nice eh?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

CountDOWN

Champoeg is less than 9 days away.
I would hope I would have everything done.
This hope is false.

Currently I need to help finish the "big event"
Assemble the films for the fractalSoup FilmFest
Create my "receiving module" for the balloon chase
Collect multiple gadgets to make it all work.
Create "deLuge" and update "Shotski"
Pack the family camping/eating

and
...stop writing in blogs, and goofing off online.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Boost

Current projects I need to complete within a very short timeline:
Golf thing/puppet thing
Balloon activities
Film Fest (re-compile)
Champoeg Events
2 website rebuilds
2 trips needing planning
That thing I lost to unlock the things I need.

Every time I seem to have free time to accomplish these tasks, I just get distracted. And the distractions are usually dumb things that are easily ignored. I really need to finish this stuff in a short time frame, but I don't really see me completing anything until the very last minute. Why do I do that?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Out of Neutral

It is time for me to get this site running to my exact specifications.

I plan on having a live map of my APRS location (good for snowboarding/snowmobiling/ballooning)
I will have updated links to my Paranormal side project.
Links to all the companies/bands that my friends own/run/play in.
Links to all the content I created.
Some Champoeg stuff as well.

I will try not to drop the ball this time. sheesh.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Can't drive 55?

Due to circumstance beyond my control, I was re-introduced to a new way of thought.
I just hate being enlightened without my prior consent!

I drove to Tacoma to retrieve the last of my dad’s furniture. He is moving to a smaller place, and has no room for the house wares that have been in our family for generations. He was going to trash them, and it was no joke. He has no problem downsizing. However, I am a packrat, and needed to save this stuff from the dump.

I drove up there in my little truck and attached a U-Haul trailer to the bumper. I immediately noticed the trailer was a little unstable, bouncing the family heirlooms inside. Not wanting the trailer to bounce, I kept the speed to 55 miles per hour on I-5 from Tacoma to Salem. I also had no radio for entertainment. This is my story.

Do you know how difficult it is to actually drive at 55mph?

The traffic on the freeway was zipping along at 75+mph. ZOOM! ZOOM! ZOOM! They blasted right by me the whole way. Trucks, Trailers, SUV’s, Busses, Grandmas.. ..all were in a hurry to get somewhere else. Hell, I would be there right with them if not for my heavily loaded vehicle. It was then I noticed things I normally did not see.

It started with two deer on the edge of the road, just inside the forest. Quietly eating the leaves of a bush, they were not fearful of the vehicles speeding just meters from them.
Later I saw what looked like trash, but turned out to be a homeless camp with occupants.

I noticed things along this freeway I have never seen the 100’s of times I have driven it before. It was almost surreal. I had time to watch the clouds roll over the country side, the newly demolished forest just beyond the “green strip”, and that weird building with the thing.. well I cant quite explain it… but it is weird.

I had time think of life and the meaning of my existence. I had 4 hours to drive, so I was able to solve many problems humanity faces today (think Kill-Bots!!). It was refreshing and enlightening in a strange way. With the traffic blasting past me, I was but a inconvenient rolling roadblock to that soccer mom racing to get her double tall latte and the sleep deprived long haul trucker strung out on No-doze.

It was fun. I plan on trying this experiment again when time permits. If you tried this experiment, let me know how it goes. No music, no speeding.. just moseying to your destination. You may solve the world’s problems, or see life in a whole new light.

Just watch for flying birds… flipped from the upset drivers swerving around you.