Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Minnesota Bug Droppings

While I was visiting Minnesota for the Altar Boy’s wedding I had some spare time so I did some geocaching. I ended up doing more then I expected.

On Thursday I started off with some caches near Stillwater, MN. I was a little rushed as we had to get back to have dinner with Aunt D but I managed to do four caches. Caches are a little different in Minnesota. In California caches are usually near the trail and a minimal amount of bushwhacking is necessary. Hiders try to minimize the potential impact to the environment near the cache. Three of the four that I did in Stillwater were completely off trail and required some bushwhacking. The first cache, “Tre-sure 2”, was located near the St. Croix Lake shore. I approached it from the wrong direction and ended up all muddy – sandals are not good to slog marshy ground in. There were no travel bugs here as there were supposed to be. I noticed while preparing for this trip that several TBs have vanished in the area. I skipped the next cache since I couldn’t find any parking. The second cache I found, “1893 Tamarack House”, was near the sign commemorating the Tamarack house, one of the earliest settlements near Stillwater. I then drove through town and hit two caches in the Valley View Park: “Valley View Cache” and “Prairie Resto”. I made a wrong turn in the park and ended up walking an extra quarter mile or so. The heat and humidity made it harder then it should have been. It is a really nice park with forest, prairie, and marsh lands. I picked up the Buster Baxter TB (It’s been to Kyrgyzstan and back - 12,647 miles in all) and dropped off a new bug that I made called the Polar Explorer. I found this penguin attached to a parachute in Rocky Peak Park. Before I returned home on Sunday, Polar Explorer had been picked up, dropped off, and picked up again. COOL! Another cache was in Teddy Bear Park in Stillwater but there were too many people around to search for – something weird about a grown man with a GPS and a camera searching around playground equipment full of little kids. I did take some pictures of the large Teddy Bear figures in the park.

On Friday, before the wedding rehearsal, I did some caches in the Rochester area. I did the “Golf Course TB Hotel” which was a really neat hide – a fake birdhouse on a tree. I left the Dainty Hat TB that I picked up in Rocky Peak Park and took the Traffic Cone TB. The Dainty Hat had been picked up by the end of the day. I was quite surprised how fast TBs move in Minneslowta – a lot faster than the traffic. The other cache, “Pill Hill” is located on a hill overlooking St Mary’s Hospital, now part of the Mayo Clinic.

I did two more caches on Saturday morning before the wedding. The first cache was on a very nice bike path along the Zumbro River called “Zum Cache”. I picked up The Commander's Caches Movers Geocoin #6. I then drove to Quarry Hill Park to find “Quarry Hill”. This is a really cool park. It is huge and the trails are a little chaotic which made it hard to follow. The park was full of flowers, wild raspberries (Yum) and I even scared some deer. As I navigated my way through the jumble of trails up and down hills I started to sweat. It was dripping off the end of my nose. I have never sweated so much in my life. By the time I found the cache and returned to the car my shirt and blue jeans were soaked. Yes, my jeans were wet from sweat. Someday I hope to return to this park to explore it some more.

I ended up doing a total of eight caches in Minnesota, dropping two TBs and picking up two TBs and a geocoin. A nice three days of caching before celebrating the Altar Boy’s big day. Photos are here.

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