Some Cache At Last

Monday September 17, 2018 at 3:06pm geocaching, hiking Comments (0) »
 The 'Blue Hole'.  This shot taken with my phone as I didn't have camera on me.
The 'Blue Hole'.  This shot taken with my phone as I didn't have camera on me.

It had been a while since Tony and I went out on a real caching adventure, so we made plans about a month ago to go out last saturday - and those plans actually happened!  We weren't out quite as long and didn't go quite as far as we might have liked, but we had a great time and a good adventure in a new area. 

It had been probably a decade since I'd been out to the 'Blue Hole', and Tony had never seen it - and there were a few caches in the area that hadn't been found in some time.  Plus it would mean tromping through the back woods in search of ammo boxes.  Win-win.

The biggest adventure was going after one of DMFlyer's 'Adventure Awaits' caches - which always prove a good time.  This venerable cache hadn't been found in nearly two years, and I'm not really surprised as it's located about .4 up a wooded hollow and, depending on which way you go and how you define the word, there are either *two* trails, or there are *no* trails.

The lack of direction/landmarks gave us some trouble with the hint and locating the cache as well, but we eventually made the find - it was still present and in good shape.

There are several more targets up that way we'll be hitting in the future - hopefully later this fall.

These are the outings I love.

~PS

Pages of Holidays

Monday January 4, 2016 at 12:32pm family, friends, books, geocaching Comments (0) »
 Zach (and also, Bravery) at Ogle Lake, Brown County State Park - doing some geocaching
Zach (and also, Bravery) at Ogle Lake, Brown County State Park - doing some geocaching

Holiday Trip

Had a great Christmas this year in IN with my parents.  Bunguins #1 and #2 both handled the trip car pretty well, and everyone loved getting to see them.  

I got to do pretty much everything I was looking forward to with my family, which was a lot of fun.  Didn't make it to the new Star Wars movie, but that was pretty low on the list, really.  Spent a lot of time relaxing, enjoying Christmas festivities, reading, playing cards, playing wii golf (Tiger Woods '10) on my parents' projector, and geocaching.  

Spending time with family - Mom, Dad, Joe, Jame and my Uncle Dave & Aunt Roxie was great.  Wish I saw them all more often.  I got to catch up with my friend Justin, too - first when we introduced him and his two older boys to geocaching (seen above), and then on New Years Eve wherein we changed an alternator and played Settlers of Catan.  More surprisingly, I got to chat with another old friend, Scott, for a while at church last sunday, too.  We did miss my sister and brother-in-law this year, but they were off having fun with his family.  

All in all, it was a great trip.

Additional Reading

I actually read quite a bit over the break.  Tony gave me the Welcome to Night Vale novel for my birthday and Sheri got me Randall Munroe's What If? book for Christmas - and I read all of both of them (and recommend to any like-minded oddballs).  I wished I'd brought the Battletech book I'd been reading as well.  I normally don't read that much (at least from non-gaming/non-reference books), but something about the relaxing week seemed to be conducive.

The Welcome to Night Vale book is pretty good - it does a good job of preserving the feel of the podcast.  I did find myself reading sections of it in radio host Cecil's voice/cadence.  Actually, I think that particular affectation enters my own speech patterns in certain circumstances if I've been listening to it a lot.

What If? is also great.  I started reading the articles on the website quite a while back, and they're all fantastic.  There are quite a few in the book that aren't on the site, too - though there are many more on the site that couldn't fit in the book.  A few of my favorites accessible here are Drain the Oceans, Into The Sun, and Interplanetary Cessna.  And also, many, many, more.

~PS

I've Always Wanted To Do This

Tuesday October 6, 2015 at 1:11pm geocaching, kayaking Comments (1) »
 kayaking in the rain on Fort Patrick Henry Lake
kayaking in the rain on Fort Patrick Henry Lake

Yak, yak, yak

So, last thursday I met up with some local cachers at a waterborne event at Fort Patrick Henry Lake.  Ever since one of them told me that they always have extra boats at these things and that someone would let my try kayaking, I was just waiting for an event to show up.  The fact that the "ideal conditions" did not present themselves was insignificant as far as I was concerned.  I have always wanted to do this.

We met up around 6p hoping the rain would hold off.  It did not.  Oh well, we were going to get wet anyway.  I was quick to claim one of the extra kayaks one of the guys had brought.  We paddled upstream quite a ways, hitting 4 caches along the way.  Being on the water with cool people was awesome, and I think the rain and the current from the generating dam made it more of an adventure.

That was a BLAST.  I've had some great adventures caching, and this was definitely one of the best.  Can't wait to do it again.

~PS

Some Truly Epic Caching

Saturday August 22, 2015 at 10:46pm geocaching Comments (0) »
 Captain Dobie's Treasure Map
Captain Dobie's Treasure Map

So Tony and I went out to do some geocaching today, and we found what is probably my favorite cache to-date.  It was a multi-cache (a cache with multiple "stages") called "Captain Dobie's Treasure".  The GPS coordinates lead you to a container which contains the pictured amazingly-crafted map, which, in turn, directs you to a small cave located in a small pocket of TVA land near Boone Lake. 

When we got there, I secured my 100' of paracord to a tree above the cave, and, after we defeated the large spider guarding the entrance, Tony put his headlamp on and went in.  It took him a few minutes to locate the cache, which he brought up for us to examine.  I then put on the headlamp and went down to put it back.   The cave actually goes in/down quite a ways - at least 40', from what I could tell.  It even had cave crickets!  Pretty cool.  The place where Tony had pulled the cache was only about 15 or 20' in and I was seriously tempted to take it considerably further down - I could see a spot that levelled out and seemed open up just a bit - but I refrained.

Tony was ready to call it a day after that - not because it was a gruelling task, but because really, we weren't going to top that.  I knew he was right, but I still had plans.

It was a great day, and this was definitely the high point.

~PS

At Face Value

Saturday April 25, 2015 at 8:34pm photography, geocaching Comments (0) »
Hannah on the Tweetsie Trail bridge Hannah on the Tweetsie Trail bridge; desaturated and cropped for aspect
Hannah on the Tweetsie Trail bridge; desaturated and cropped for aspect

Tweet, Tweet

Had a great time out on the Tweetsie Trail today with Hannah, doing a little caching and taking some photos.  At 3 years, she's not exactly a "stable" or "coorperative" subject, but I did manage to get some good ones.

Not All Smiles

I'm not sure why, but some of my favorite photos of her are ones where she has a neutral to serious expression.  Don't get me wrong, her smile is adorable and so rarely captured in a truly good photo that I love it when I get it (see entry below), but these are something else.  Something different.  Something real.  I just find them interesting, especially a bit desaturated and with a lot of contrast.  Maybe it's because that's not usually how you see children depicted.

~PS

A New Season

Thursday April 23, 2015 at 5:14pm family, little two, photography, geocaching, gaming, trogland Comments (0) »
Hannah on her swing set Swing, swing!
Swing, swing!

No blog entries for a while basically means I haven't had much to write about that would be interesting to anyone (not that much of what's here is, so I don't know why that would stop me).

But stuff goes on.

And hey, it's spring.  I was more than ready for some warm weather.

Bunguin The Second

The most "significant" development is the news of the eventual arrival of Little Two - Sheri is pregnant!  Hannah will be a big sister!  Coming this Halloween!

Photo Season

Now that the weather is warming up, I'm shooting a bit more again.  Still have my eye on some gear that I'd like to get pick up before Little Two arrives, but don't know what I'll be able to manage.

Some Premium Caching

Still been out caching.  Had some great experiences this year so far - actually went out hunting with a guy we met through the hobby last weekend.  That was a blast.  The AT is always fun.  I have upgraded to "premium" membership now (and Tim bought me another year), so there are a few we didn't know about lingering in places we'd previously cleared.  That just means we get to go back!  I've added a few more things to my gear pack: some rope (see: Pride Rock Hampton), a battery charger for my phone, and a walking stick.  I've also placed a couple more caches on the Tweetsie Trail, and Tony and I have plans for a series.

Games & Cons

Our D&D game is still going...I guess because it won't end.  Heh.  Actually, it continues to be pretty awesome.  I don't think I've ever run a game that wasn't pretty unweildy by this point, but this one remains solid.  Still want some variety though, and we may set it aside again in the relatively near future to play something else for a while.

I ran a pretty awesome FATE game at RuchtCon last month.  I think the card print-outs added a lot and helped out the players with aspects and rp.

Trogland 9 is fast approaching!  63 days!  I still have a lot to do for this.  Need to get the badges designed and ready for printing, and need to plan my game sessions..

~PS

Never pass up an opportunity to walk to an island!

Monday January 19, 2015 at 1:52pm geocaching, hiking Comments (2) »
An Island in South Holston Lake The location of the Island Girl cache - an island in South Holston Lake that's currently a peninsula.
The location of the Island Girl cache - an island in South Holston Lake that's currently a peninsula.

New places, new caches.  Found the infamous Echolocation.  Broke 200 finds.  Hiked for miles.  Solved some crazy puzzles.  Resurrected a cache after 3.5 years.  Conquered some mountains.  Enjoyed more adventures with friends.

Still having fun.

~PS

As The Year Ends

Tuesday December 30, 2014 at 8:27pm family, holidays, geocaching, friends, gaming, music Comments (2) »
Hannah Out Caching Hannah, waiting for me to re-hide a nearby cache.
Hannah, waiting for me to re-hide a nearby cache.

Holidays

Had a great trip to AR last week, though I still haven't recovered.  Was good to see Sheri's folks over the holiday.

Got to go caching a couple of times while out that way; that was pretty awesome, too.  I've now been all over the parks around Bull Shoals, AR.  Was cold and somewhat wet, but I was 11 for 11.  Hannah and I went on a short trip in Branson, MO, too.

Didn't play *quite* as much minecraft over the break this time around.

Sheri got me the Numenera core book for Christmas, and I've been reading through it.  I think it might be the system/setting where I finally actually do something with my ideas for a Myst-like game.  Got some other cool stuff, too - some old movies I wanted, a penguin hat and 7 Wonders to name a few.

Went up to IN over Thanksgiving (just realized I haven't posted anything since then), and that was a good time, too.  Got to see family, and dad & I had a great time out caching again this year.

Now You're Older Still

So I guess I'm 35 now.  Had a birthday back in there somewhere (probably on the 18th - that's when it usually is).  Adam gave me a pretty sweet geocaching shirt, and Sheri got me a walking stick, a headband/ear-cover and some other caching stuff.  Hannah gave me a new set of dice.  Also, "birthday crackles" is a great tradition.

At The Table

Our D&D game continues to go strong, though I've been working on at least 3 other games here and there as well.  Steve - our remote player - had to drop out due to work-related busyness, unfortunately.  I like how I'm running this game in particular, though the layers of causality get a bit dizzying at times.  That's not a bad thing, though.

Talk of RuchtCon V has begun as well.  I decided a while back I was going to run a game of Retrograde (FATE Core) this year.

A Tune In My Head

I'm hoping to do something with music in the coming year.  I've been kicking around some ideas for a while now, but I haven't yet made time to really flesh any of them out.  That, and my "space" in the office is in...disarray...to say the least.

~PS

Adventures Continue

Sunday November 9, 2014 at 4:26pm geocaching, gaming, photography Comments (2) »
Ring The Bell Cache at the top of the mountain.
Cache at the top of the mountain.

Cold Hard Cache

Went out hiking/caching for the first time in a while yesterday.  My usual cohorts weren't able to make it, but fortunately Robb joined me for what was probably the most arduous adventure so far.  Seriously.  The ascent was brutal, and some of the descent amounted to something I would call "leaf skiing".  We were 5 for 5 though, and I found an unactivated travel bug in the ammo box at the top.

So I've been doing this for just over a year now, and I've had some pretty great adventures with Tony, Tim, Robb, and my dad.  Think I'll probably keep it up.  I'll probably "upgrade" to a "premium" membership sometime soon.  Tony has already.  The premium membership gives you access to "premium members only" caches.  This originally struck me as unnecessarily elitist, but I've since heard at least one compelling argument for this practice: anti-theft.  Especially when the containers are nice, if the cache is easily accessible to anyone on the internet for free, it seems that they have a tendency to go missing with greater frequency. 

The 200 Mile Tabletop

My D&D game continues to go well.  In fact, those have been the only entries here on the site for a while.  Not all of the sessions have been awesome, but in general, the momentum continues, and I'm still enjoying it - which is good, because there's a lot of it left.  I've been kicking around several other campaign ideas (like I always do), but none of them have manifested the "new shiny" effect where I want to drop the current game to pursue one of them.

Steve has now joined us for a few sessions via Skype.  I've decided that that works "ok".  One of the minor problems is that the built-in laptop speakers don't have enough power to amplify Steve enough to compete with the table (read: Me and Tim) and I don't have a good speaker to use yet.  I'm wanting to get a decent bluetooth speaker anyway; just haven't gotten around to it yet.  

The bigger hurdle for me is more inherent to remote play, though.  During the course of a game I'm observing the table and trying to make minor adjustments to how I present aspects of the game based on what I see.  It's a bit difficult to read body language through a computer screen, particularly when, due to camera placement, you don't even get eye-contact.  I guess this is to say "hopefully its working out well", since I can't necessarily tell.

On Camera

So Canon's long-awaited 7D mk II has begun shipping, and I continue to read good things about it.  This will probably be my camera upgrade of choice.  Don't know when I'll be able to do that, though.  I've still got a wide angle lens and some stuff for off-camera flash on my wishlist, too.

~PS

Cameras, Caches, Celts and Coercion

Tuesday September 16, 2014 at 12:47pm photography, geocaching, celtic festival, gaming Comments (0) »
Hannah and the Potter Hannah had a great time
Hannah had a great time "helping" this potter at Sycamore Shoals' Celtic Festival

Mark (II) This One

Ok, actually this isn't about the T4 caching adventure Tony, Tim and I had on Buffalo Mountain a while back.  This is about camera gear.

Canon (finally) announced the 7D Mark II yesterday.  It doesn't exactly blow me away, but it has basically everything I want in a body upgrade to my 40D.  I would have taken a little more resolution and ISO, but this camera seems quite adequate, and what I'm reading about it is largely positive.  At $1800, it's not exactly "cheap" (at $1300, I would have called this a no-brainer), but it's not ridiculously priced, and you tend to get what you pay for.  Several reviewers are calling this a "mini 1DX" in terms of build quality and performance.

This camera is everything my 40D is, improved.  My biggest beef with my camera's direct descendent, the well-liked 70D, as well as the full-frame 6D, is that both lack certain controls that my 40D has, and both use SD instead of CF cards.  Since these don't directly play into image quality, those complaints may seem petty or even irrelevant, but I have this thing about an "upgrade" not being a step backward in any way.  The last thing I want is to invest in a new body and find myself thinking "you know, this camera is great, but I really miss X or Y about my old one...".  The 7Dii looks good; unless some design flaw comes to light after it hits shelves, it will most likely be my choice for a camera upgrade.

A Tweet Cache

Ok, this has nothing to do with Twitter - although actually, I wonder how many people have "tweeted" from the new trail. 

Back on labor day, the Tweetsie Trail finally opened - and it's pretty cool (the parts of it I've seen, anyway).  One of my favorite parts is the Milligan Depot, a rest stop near where a rail flag stop used to be.

Ever since Tony and I heard about this, we decided this was the place.  We're both Milligan alum and we've been looking for a good place to hide our first geocache, so we found a good place near the depot to make the hide.  We wanted to include a "Flat Brutus" in the cache for people to take pictures with, but unfortunately, our container isn't big enough for it (though I do have this idea of making a tiny one to put in).  The container itself is handmade, and I'm a little proud of it.  As of now, there have only been two finds, but both said it was awesome.

Sycamore Celtic

We went out to Sycamore Shoals' Celtic Festival a while back.  It was cool, although the Lords of Chivalry didn't actually joust this year.  Apparently the festival wasn't paying them, so they were there on their own, doing some promotion, training and selling horse rides, etc.  Since they weren't being paid, they didn't feel comfortable taking the chance of someone getting hurt (their operation is a bit more authentic and a bit less for-show than some).  We go most years - and it's something different and fun - but my general take is that it's an "ok" festival that could be better.

There's Games and Then There's Games

Gaming lately has been some good stuff.  We've had a few firsts lately.  I don't think I've had a "big bad" coerce a PC into healing it before, and I'm endlessly amused that our critical hit variant has actually caused a lot of trouble for one PC in particular simply because his shot was a little too good.  Also, we're planning to introduce a 5th player, our old friend Steve, via Skype.  I'll be interested to see how this works.

Rucht's group has just started a Numenera game.  The setting for this game is pretty fascinating, and the mechanics are quite interesting.  I think this is one I'll pick up at some point.  I've also heard good things about the recently-released 5th edition D&D...but I'm still enjoying 3.5.  I might eventually buy Pathfinder or 5e, but, in general, I'd rather buy a different game than a new version of something I already enjoy.

Fair's Fair

As I did last year, I entered a few photos in the Appalachian Fair this year.  Didn't get any first place ribbons this time around, but did get a second and a third (which, according to the prize amounts, is equivalent?).  Also as with last year, I didn't exactly agree with the judges on their choices, but that's expected.  I don't think I'd have given me first on any either, however - though I might have disputed some of the 2nd/3rd choices, on my behalf as well as on others'. 

The two shots that I did get ribbons on were both taken on our Vacatiaverssary trip to Myrtle Beach in July.  In fact, the 2nd place ribbon went to this shot, which I posted here already.

~PS

A Summer Break

Tuesday July 29, 2014 at 1:48pm vacation, photography, geocaching, gaming Comments (0) »
Brookgreen Gardens Night Heron Night Heron at Brookgreen Gardens aviary
Night Heron at Brookgreen Gardens aviary

Vacatiaversary

Sheri & I just got back from a vacation to Myrtle Beach we took for our 10th anniversary.  This was our first trip away from Hannah, which was nice (even if we did miss the little bug).  She had a great time with Oma and Opa.  It was a great time - we got to hang out on the beach, swim in pools, visit local parks and even hang out with some friends who live out there (thanks again to De & Gryf/Ryan!). We also got to hang out a bit with my sister Jese and brother-in-law Michael in Columbia on our way back.  Basically, Michael and I talked game stuff.  They need to come visit sometime so we can play lots of games.

Also, my dad is awesome and did a laundry list of jobs around my house while I was gone, including replacing the Jeep's radiator, replacing the cover over the stairwell, putting a storm door on the front of the house, mowing the yard a few times, cleaning the garage, taking the recycling and fixing a few minor things.  He told us he was "having fun".

The Long And The Short Of It

I had debated whether to take all of my camera gear, or just my primary lens - after all, the point of the trip wasn't photography.  Ended up taking the whole bag though, and was glad I had my telephoto when we went to Brookgreen Gardens.  Got a few really nice shots of birds and insects there.

I think I've gotten better at using my 300mm telephoto.  Even with IS, you have to know how to hold it still or shots will come out blurry.  It is a nice piece of glass once mastered, though.

I haven't decided exactly what I want to do for a wide angle yet, but since neither of the ones I looked at before were exactly what I'm wanting, I think I'm currently leaning toward the cheaper Sigma lens.  It performed well, and will give me the ultra-wide I was looking for - if I plan to stay with a crop-frame camera.  Canon is supposed to annouce the 7D II in september, and I'm looking forward to seeing what it will be.

A Little Cache

I even got to do just a tiny bit of geocaching while we were on vacation, picking up a couple in Myrtle Beach State Park.  One of the two actually had two parts - one of which was hiding in plain site behind the counter at the beach gift shop.  The park personnel also seemed supportive of the hobby too, which was pretty cool.  I recently hit find #100, and Tony and I are making plans to hide one or two of our own.

Just Out Of Reach

Last gaming session of the Cyrran Reaches was a little slow.  I've once again run into an age-old problem with the way I set up games: sometimes the players just don't know what to do.  In this case, they have encountered a lot of interesting "leads", they just aren't sure how to follow up on them.  The end result is that, though they've "done" and "seen" some stuff, they really haven't "accomplished" anything in several sessions.  I guess I need to be more conscious of that.  We've decided to move the game along to a place they've been planning to go for some time.  Hopefully I can make that a little punchier while still maintaining my sandbox approach.  Next game is this saturday - I suppose we'll see.

~PS

Cache Flow

Sunday June 29, 2014 at 3:07pm geocaching Comments (0) »
Old School Nalgene Bottle A New Life for and Old Bottle for an Old Cache
A New Life for and Old Bottle for an Old Cache

Please Remove Your Cache

So I've continued on with my new(est) geocaching hobby.  I blame Llama.  It's his fault.

Anyway, about a week ago, I went to pick up a cache we'd previously searched for, failed to find, learned was actually missing, and was subsequently replaced.  On my way around, I stopped in on another cache I'd found that had been de-listed from the site due to maintenance issues.

This one, dubbed "Tree Frog", has had a pretty long history of unfortunate happenstances.  When we found it the first time, it had been eaten through.  When I found it this time, the lid was off, it was full of water and its contents were scattered around.  Since it was in such bad shape and was no longer actively listed on geocaching.com, it basically constituted "litter", so I decided I'd remove it.  It wasn't "mine", but the owner had said he/she could no longer manage it (the container had already been replaced at least once by someone else) - so I felt I was doing a courtesy to the community and the park.  I posted to the cache's logs saying I'd removed it and provided some photos.  Alas, poor cache.

Resurrection

Speaking of dead caches, yesterday Llama and I went out for a few.  He wasn't up to hitting Buffalo Mountain again, so we decided we'd go back to the Laurel Park picnic area and find the two there we didn't grab last time - and we decided we would replace one that had been missing for a couple of years.  

The last time we went out there, we spent about 45 minutes looking for a cache that wasn't there.  I should have paid closer attention to the logs.  The last person to log the cache did find it, but it was in 2012, and they said they found "pieces" of it.  Well, we found nothing - and we were so disheartened by the whole experience that we decided not to go looking for the other two that were at that park (we'd already found 3 that day, and ALL of them were much harder than they should have been).

We took one of the old Nalgene bottles dad & I used to use when we went backpacking to use as a container, since it was solid and watertight.  I'm pretty sure that bottle probably has quite a few wilderness-trekking miles under its belt, so a "final" resting place as a geocache along a trail in the woods seemed appropriate.

After that, we hit the other two caches that were at the park.  Those hadn't been found in a year or two either, but they were fortunately still present.  One required some pretty serious up-hill bushwacking though....and deserved every bit of its 4-star terrain rating.

~PS

Prospecting

Monday March 10, 2014 at 10:46pm geocaching, gaming, trogland Comments (0) »
Hannah, Geoffry and a micro cache Hannah, Geoffry the Geocaching Giraffe, and a micro find at Persimmon Ridge
Hannah, Geoffry the Geocaching Giraffe, and a micro find at Persimmon Ridge

In it for the Cache

Tony and I have already done quite a bit of caching this year.  We started early, often in the snow.  We've taken to going out on saturday mornings whenever possible.  It's been a lot of fun.  We've found some pretty cool hides and we keep talking about placing a couple of our own sometime.  We even succeeded at our first "puzzle" cache last weekend.  We're becoming pretty good at this little game - though recently, for the first time, we had someone find one we had previously failed to locate.  I blame snow.  And rocks.

We take Sheri & Hannah with us whenever we can, and so, ever since the abortive trip to Buffalo Mtn, I've been trying to find places with easier terrain for their sake.  Fortunately, I've found quite a few good locations that have been fun for all.  And we'll save the tough stuff for when we go out on our own - or if we can get my dad to come join us.

A couple of weekends ago, I added South Carolina to the list of states I've cached in.  My sister, who lives in Columbia, is getting married in a couple of weeks, and we went down so Sheri & Hannah could go to a bridal shower.  While they were doing that, Michael (her fiance) and I went caching at Saluda Shoals park.  Pretty cool for my first time meeting the guy.  He seems pretty cool.

One for the History Books

In other news, I was doing a bit of history reading (ok, so it was on wikipedia) the other night as I'm preparing for my game for Ruchtcon IV at the end of the month.  I'm running a gold-rush era supernatual game.  Just for fun, I'm actually using names and info from real historical people and places, and then morphing them a bit into my own fiction.  It's something I really haven't done before, and it's been quite interesting.  Hopefully the game will be as well.

Oh, and I've actually been reading a history *book* for fun, too - found one called 'Atlas of the Celtic World' at Books-a-million a while back.  It's interesting.

 

Speaking of cons, we've also started talking about Trogland 8.  I really need to get the site back up & running. O.o

 

~PS

Sum of the New Year

Saturday January 11, 2014 at 9:21am christmas, photography, geocaching, gaming Comments (0) »
2013 Family Christmas Photo 2013 Family Christmas Photo.  Camera controlled from laptop, laptop  controlled from cell phone.  Hannah controlled: barely.  Flash bounced  from left off a piece of foam board on a music stand.
2013 Family Christmas Photo.  Camera controlled from laptop, laptop controlled from cell phone.  Hannah controlled: barely.  Flash bounced from left off a piece of foam board on a music stand.

Ah, the new year.  2014 happens.  Looks like Penguinsushi.com is almost 9 years old.  Over Christmas I, once again, made the journey northward toward parentville.  Unquestionably a great time.  Tons of pictures on the Bookface (for those of you who find me there).

The Pro

I finally was able to meet Tony Vasquez, my friend Brittany's husband, who happens to be a pro photographer.  We had a great time talking.  He gave me a few tips on flash photography/lighting and post-production, and I was somewhat gratified that, during the course of the conversation, I actually did feel like I knew what I was talking about.  Since I've been back, some mention has been made of us going out and shooting together next time I'm up that way - which would be completely awesome.

Potential Gear

Christmas was also pretty good to my camera fund.  In theory, I think I have very nearly enough for my next purchase (though that's going to wait at least a while for a small myriad of reasons).  I'm still not sure what, exactly, I want to go with.  It's down to either an updated camera body, or a nice wide-angle lens.  Unfortunately, a perfect candidate for either of those doesn't exist at the moment - though there are rumours of developments throughout this year.  As of now, I'm planning to rent Canon's 14mm F2.8 L II later this spring to try it out.  I figured if I'm considering spending that kind of money, I want to be absolutely sure it's what I want.

Cold Cache

Ha! Another geocaching pun! 

So dad & I went out 2 and half times over the holiday.  Seems he had a lot of fun over thranksgiving, and wanted to do some more.  I say "and a half" because there was one time that we both went out, just not together.  On new year's eve we went out to a trail near Lake Monroe and hit 10.  Overall, we were 13 for 16.  Looking at the logs, a couple of our DNFs seem as though they, perhaps, weren't even present.   I've now found more caches in IN than TN (a condition my good friend the Llama wishes to rectify).

So Tony/Llama and I have been thinking about placing our own cache somewhere around here.  I've found some promising containers for "not-too-expensive", and been thinking about possible sites.  I, personally, am more a fan of the caches that are in parks, along trails, etc.  We still need to scout the locations, though getting permission to actually place one might be difficult.  Can't put my finger on why, but I get the general impression standards/restrictions may have become tighter in the last 5-10 years.

And A Happy New Game

Our Cyrran Reaches game wrapped up a chapter in mid-December, and it left off with 4 or 5 possible directions in which to proceed.  It has been a fantastic game, and we're planning to keep rolling with it...

...just not immediately.  See, we've been playing that game for almost a year now, and I find that too much longer than that and I start to get burned out.  I'm loving that game, but I also like variety.  We kicked a couple of ideas around and decided that we're going set up a brief interlude game: something different to play with for a few sessions before we get back to the "main event". 

We've done a lot of fantasy, so I'm planning to run a short sci-fi game for the group.  I've just actually ordered the Fate stuff I'd been wanting to pick up (I'd been planning to buy it ever since I downloaded the Pay-What-You-Want pdf and ran a game at Trogland 7), and I'm looking forward to playing some more with that.  I was talking to Sheri last night about the setting I have in mind, and she seemed pretty interested.

 

ThanksGeoPhoto

Thursday December 5, 2013 at 6:07pm geocaching, photography, family Comments (0) »
Joe + his D3100 Joe, lying on the floor playing with his camera
Joe, lying on the floor playing with his camera

For the first time in quite a while, we made the journey up to IN for Thanksgiving.  Was quite a good trip - great to see a lot of relatives I don't catch up with often.

Caching On

I wonder how many more Cache/Catch puns I can come up with?  Anyway, inamongst the more typical festivities, I managed to do a little geocaching - mostly to place a travel bug I'd picked up here in TN.  I think I might have mentioned it before.  I even got my dad & my brother to come along with me, and the three of us had quite a good (if cold) time.  I'm up to 12 finds, total.  It's been quite fun.

Sibling Photography

Also, spent quite a bit of time talking to my brother about camera gear and photography in general - something I always enjoy.  Joe is learning to handcraft jewelry, and wanted a camera setup to take photos of his work.  He recently bought a Nikon d3100 and 40mm f/2.8 lens that has some decent macro capability.  I, personally, would have steered him toward Canon, but that's mostly because that's what I have and I might be able to help a little more with that.  Plus we could share toys.  But he found a deal on this one, so that's what he got.

It seems to be a decent camera  We had some fun playing with it, seeing what it was capable of.  It does have higher iso performance than my camera, though I haven't tested how well it performs at 3200+.  The close-focus/macro of the lens seems to work pretty well also.  I'll be interested to see what he does with it.

~PS

Caching Up

Tuesday November 12, 2013 at 2:24pm geocaching, friends, family Comments (0) »
Blue Skies Container A Hard-Fought Find
A Hard-Fought Find

Llama & I went geocaching again last saturday - this time out a Winged Deer Park.  Sheri and Hannah came along with us, too.  We all had a pretty great time.

We decided to start looking for the 7 or so caches hidden around in that area in the order of how close they were to where we parked.  The first one was within just a couple hundred feet.  One might think it should be a pretty easy find.

Not so.

It took the group of us about 45 minutes to find, largely due to two facts:

1) The GPS signal was pretty screwy in that wooded valley.

and

2) The "hint" was "at the end of a fallen tree".

That second one wouldn't have been so bad if there weren't about four thousand fallen trees within about 100ft of the site.  I might be exagerrating on that figure, but I'm not sure.

After nearly giving up a couple of times, we did finally locate it - and that was pretty rewarding.

The other two caches we picked up didn't give us any real trouble finding - we all but walked right up to them.  We did find a Travel Bug in one of them - which I'm going to try to re-deposit out of state.

All in all, it was a good day for a search.

~PS

Caching In

Sunday October 20, 2013 at 10:04pm geocaching Comments (0) »
Shoal Gonna Like This One first find
first find

I like doing interesting things, and I have found that there are many activities I'd be into pursuing if another, genuinely interested friend suggested we give it a try.  I think all of my current hobbies started because I had a good time participating in the activity and discussing the ins and outs with someone else.

Geo-logistics

So my good friend Tony was hanging out recently with a friend of his up in Michigan, who on this occasion introduced him to geocaching.  They had a quite a good time with it, and Tony thought it to be something I'd find interesting.  He brought it up to me as we were working on the goggles he needed for Casey & Steph's wedding (which was also quite a blast, by the way).  

I'd heard of this passtime before, knew the basic concept and thought it sounded neat, but never really looked into it.  When Tony came back a little excited about it, that was really all it took.  I don't do as much outdoor stuff as I used to, and this seemed an interesting pretense for getting out.

Between our usual weekly schedule and needing to prepare for the game I was running on friday (which I think went well), I didn't have time to do much more than register my alias on geocaching.com.  Today, however, was a beautiful day and, after texting back and forth for a bit, Tony & I decided to meet at Sycamore Shoals - where we believed at least one cache was located.

We made this first find after just about 15 minutes - pretty easily, actually.  It's a pretty good hiding spot just a little ways off the main trail.  The GPS app I put on my phone specifically for this seemed to work quite well (I'm not using the "official" app for a couple of reasons).  I signed the log and we left a couple of items before moving on.

There seem to be a few other caches in the area, but no other ones actually within the park itself.  Though we did happen upon a "rare flower".

There seem to be quite a few caches in fairly populous/urban areas but, for now, I think we're mostly into the more remote finds - in parks, trails and the like.  We've got our eyes on Winged Deer and the lower Laurel Falls trail next.  We discussed returning to the one at Sycamore Shoals as well to do the cache a favor: the gladware container it uses is all but breached and we've talked about replacing it with something more durable.

~PS