Category Archives: Geocaching

Shoulda worn a snorkel and fins

The rain doesn’t just tumble out of the sky, it drops in sheets. Big cold drops pierce our skins and reach our bones. Well, mine because my sister, and Whoops Witch Way team mate, was clever enough to wear a rain jacket. I don’t mind though because it’s summer and the air temperature is warm enough for me to stay comfortable.

With head torches shining brightly, android phone (GPS) in a waterproof case and a sense of humour, we set off for our georun. My sister is new to geocaching but we’ve agreed it’s a good training tool. We have to navigate our way to a cache, search for it, then navigate to the next cache.

We slosh our way through urban parks, where the water often reaches our ankles. Some caches are too difficult for us to find in these conditions but we do have luck with some others. These are all micro and nano caches stored in disturbing containers like urine analysis jars and blood testing vials. I suspect the cache owner has been stealing containers from their job. But they make good cache containers and all are remarkably dry despite their sodden hiding spots.

It was so much fun to play in the rain.

Total: 7.6km geocaching run

Carlton geowalk

That's a cache under the bottle

That’s a cache under the bottle

I flew to Melbourne this morning for work. My colleague and I caught the 5am flight down so that meant I left home at about 3:20am (ridiculous o’clock). After I finished my work meeting in the late afternoon I took advantage of daylight savings (we don’t have it in Brisbane) to do a spot of geocaching. I mapped a 5km loop from my hotel along which there were three geocaches. I found two of them, including the quite nice one in the photo above.

Street philosophy

Street philosophy

More street philosophy

More street philosophy

While I was out on my geowalk, I noticed some street philosophy. As always, I had to take pictures of the graffiti. These two messages were scrawled about 200m apart on two different roads. I like the question and statement. They are good things to think about.

I want a bike like this

I want a bike like this

The cyclists were out in force this evening in Melbourne. I probably saw at least a hundred commuters cycling home along the roads around Carlton, maybe even two hundred. It’s fantastic to see. Unlike Brisbane riders who seem to favour road bikes, cyclists here seem to ride anything with wheels. Lately, I’ve become drawn to single speed street bikes, which are more popular in Melbourne than Brisbane. Perhaps when I move into the city I will buy or build myself one to cruise around on.

Nutella pizza

Nutella pizza

My colleague and I hit an Italian joint for dinner. It was a casual place with a friendly owner or manager. After devouring a seafood pizza and most of a garden salad, I decided to check the desert menu. There were a range of cakes in the window that had arrived from the bakery today. But the real winner was the freshly baked Nutella pizza. How could I not eat two of my favourite food groups and my favourite fruit (strawberries). It was as good as it looked. Fortunately, my colleague could help me eat it otherwise I would have needed to roll the 2km back to the hotel.

Total: 5km geocaching walk and 4km return walk to dinner.

Walking in a suit on a hot day

Swan River and Perth by Andrew Gills
Swan River and Perth, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

I’m in Perth this week. My job takes me here regularly. While my trips here interrupt my training schedule, I also love this city on Australia’s west coast. It has a tempered wildness about it; an isolated vibrancy that’s difficult to explain.

I had a meeting in South Perth today. It ended at 4pm, leaving me with some bonus free time. Rather than catching a taxi the 5km back to my hotel, I meandered through suburban streets and along the riverside walkways.

The ground was sandy beneath my feet. In some places it was like walking on a beach my business outfit. The dry heat left me feeling desperately thirsty; I’m more used to humidity and sweat.

I enjoyed the walk and found three geocaches while I was out. I am glad I walked instead of riding in a cab. even if I was soaked in sweat by the time I reached my hotel.

Total: 5km walk + 3 geocaches

Scrub bashing and getting blokey

Swamp country

Swamp country

Swamp country

Swamp country

I started my day with a bush bash. I’ve been working on the Post Code Hunt 4165 multicache (a multi-stage geocache). I started it after work one day this week but wasn’t able to finish it, so I went out this morning to give it another go. The geocache contains six way points, each containing a clue to the next waypoint. After finding all six clues, the final cache coordinates will be revealed. I’ve now found five waypoints and know where the sixth waypoint location is but I was unable to find the clue hidden there so need to go back.

A clue at a waypoint

A clue at a waypoint

A clue at a waypoint

A clue at a waypoint

Cicada shell

Cicada shell

The trail to the various waypoints took me way off the marked trails. Much of the search took place in swamp country. Fortunately, it hasn’t really rained here in months so the creeks and swamps are fairly dry. I walked through head-high reeds and waist-high grass with sharp blades. My legs are all cut up but it doesn’t matter because being out in the swamp country was too much fun to miss. Sure, I should have worn my gaiters, given that I have a pair. But I forgot and didn’t want to miss out on valuable time in the bush to ride the 15km back home to collect them.

My tool kit

My tool kit

After failing to find the final clue at waypoint 6, I went shopping for motorcycle mechanic tools. I haven’t owned any real tools since I finished my electronics trade apprenticeship in late 2002. I was so bad at my trade that I got rid of all my tools after my time and never really did anything practical again; until now. Completing the marathon in August made me realise I can do anything, including motorcycle mechanics. So today I bought a socket set, break bar, pliers, ratcheting thumb socket and something else related to repairing my motorbike. I just bought budget tools for now because I needed so many.

 

Removing the oil filter

Removing the oil filter

Disgusting mess in the front sprocket case

Disgusting mess in the front sprocket case (I cleaned it out)

Ratcheting thumb tool

Ratcheting thumb tool

At home I watched some YouTube clips about how to do each element of the 24,000km service for my Suzuki GS500. I have now changed the oil, oil filter and air filter. Tomorrow I will replace the chain and sprockets (I couldn’t do it today because I need a pair of needle nose pliers and a pair of bolt cutters), install an inline fuel filter and replace the brake fluid (I need some tubing to do it). I have also learned how to clean the carburator jets but don’t need to do that just yet.

It’s funny, I never felt quite man enough before but now that I’ve spent the day playing with my motorbike engine, I feel positively blokey. And that’s a good feeling.

I ended the day with a 2.75km walk with my partner.

Total: 7.25km walk.

Taking things easy

I’ve not had much to report the past few days because I’m trying to take things easy. I’ve been working from home so that I can stand at my kitchen bench instead of sitting at my desk. This has been relieving some of the pressure from my SIJ. I have also seen a fantastic lady who does Chinese medicine, including cupping, remedial massage and acupuncture. I think that, combined with my ongoing physio treatment, has helped a lot.

I am no longer in continual pain, having now three specific pain points that flare up with specific activities (such as moving from sitting to standing or riding my motorbike). I hope this is a good sign.

I think my excessive walking the past few weeks is partly to blame for my back not healing as quickly as I would like so I have just been doing a daily 3.5km walk with my partner on flat ground (I am on strict instructions not to walk hills). I have also done a bit of geocaching on my motorbike with short 500m – 1km walks to find caches.

I am hoping to stick with this plan for the next week or two in the hope my SIJ finally settles down. I will have to actually go to the office tomorrow and a few days next week. But I am going to balance this with some work from home time. I am also going to buy myself a fit ball in the hope this encourages me to improve my posture and take walking breaks away from my desk.

All-in-all the current easing status of my back pain has helped to stop the black dog from dragging me away. I am starting to get back in control of my emotions and feel positive again. The decision to focus on adventure racing next year is a good one for me: I love racing and it gives me something healthy to focus on. The thing I have missed the most since my last race on 26 August is the feeling of being a race participant. And I just can’t wait to get that buzz again. Even if it will end up costing me many dollars to enter all those races. It’s still cheaper and more fun than psychotherapy ūüėČ

I hope to have something interesting for you in the coming weeks. My physio is quite keen to get me back out on my bicycle or doing some light running as soon as possible. He’s going to help me work on an improved running technique too, which is super exciting.

 

Thinking about 2013

While I was out walking with my partner this morning, I started talking with her about lifestyle issues, including my long-term goals. My long-term goal is to run a 100 miler. But I am realistic and know it’s going to take 2-3 years of solid and sensible preparation to get to a point where I could confidently toe the start line of a 100 miler and be as certain as possible that I’ve adequately prepared for the event (there’s no guarantees with ultra marathons).

So that’s my goal: to run a 100 miler sometime between mid-2014 and late-2015. In the mean time, I have a lot of preparation to complete. And the first step is to get through the next 12 months unscathed and with sufficient patience to build my mileage.

Tonight I’ve worked through the trail running, Audax and adventure racing calendars for 2013 and have identified a cool range of events that I think I’d like to complete during 2013. I have selected the races based on the realistic expectation that I’ll be starting my running training again by January and able to run 5km by March. I have also invited my sister to be my team mate for the adventure races, which are almost all 2-person affairs. My sister and I make a good adventure racing team because neither of us take things too seriously.

So here’s my shortlist of events for 2013:

January

  • 1st – 11 out of Eleven 100km Audax Australia road cycle
  • 12th – Moonlight Wander 200km Audax Australia night road cycle

February

  • 3rd – Brisk Beaudesert 100km Audax Australia road cycle
  • 8th – City Raid night scavenger hunt
  • 16th – Kayak Kapers 4 hour kayakgaine

March

  • 9th – Kathmandu Adventure Race (2-4km kayak, 15-25km MTB, 5-10km trail run)
  • 24th – iAdventure Sprint Adventure Race (3-5km kayak, 12-18km MTB, 7-10km trail run)

April

  • 13th – 1 Lump of Two 200km Audax Australia road cycle
  • 27th – Rogue 24 hour Adventuregaine

May

  • 18th – Bicentennial Century 100km Audax Australia MTB
  • 19th – Adventure Race Australia (< 35km MTB, <15km trail run)

June

  • 1st – iAdventure Sprint Adventure Race (3-5km kayak, 12-18km MTB, 7-10km trail run)
  • 15th – Berry Good 200km Audax Australia road cycle

July

  • 6th – Gatton Gamble 300km Audax Australia road cycle
  • 14th – Tre-X Off-Road Duathlon (8km trail run, 30km MTB, 4km trail run)
  • 21st – Pomona King of the Mountain trail run

August

  • 11th – Logan’s Run 70km MTB marathon
  • 24th – iAdventure 8 hour adventure race (8-11km kayak, 25-33km MTB, 12-16km trail run)

September

  • 14th – Stampede 5km mud run
  • 29th – Mangrove to Mountains 150km Audax Australia road cycle

October

  • 5th – Downs and Back 600km Audax Australia road cycle
  • 19th – Scenic Rim 1,000km Audax Australia road cycle

November

  • 3rd –¬†iAdventure Sprint Adventure Race (3-5km kayak, 12-18km MTB, 7-10km trail run)
  • 15th – 18 hour Dark Side Adventure Race or 12 hour Dawn Attack Adventure Race

So every walk and geocaching session now has a purpose and that makes me feel a lot better. I am goal oriented and have tried to be more process oriented but it’s just not me. Acknowledging this allows me to set goals and work towards them.

I think each event will be achievable and will fit nicely within the training schedule I want to follow for my trail running because I only want to run 3-4 days a week in 2013 while cycle commuting and playing around on my MTB. There are no trail runs on the calendar because we don’t have shorter trail runs in Queensland: we largely have 25 – 100km events. So, to take pressure off, I am going to focus on multisport and adventure race events, which I totally love.

Total: 3.5km walk

Multicaching in Brisbane

A clever geocache

A clever geocache

I was in Brisbane City today for the Variety Santa Fun Run and Walk so decided to do some geocaching and walking while I was there. I’ve found most of the regular caches in the city but haven’t attempted any of the multi- or puzzle caches so decided to do them today. A multi- or puzzle cache is one in which the coordinates listed on geocaching.com are not the coordinates of the final cache. You have to collect information from one or more waypoints to find the final cache coordinates. I have only done one each of the multi- and puzzle caches so today’s six was a big step.

I started the day with a simple regular cache outside the Gallery of Modern Art (photo above). This cache was located at the listed coordinates and was disguised as a magnetic bolt.

The Commonwealth Law Courts, Brisbane

The Commonwealth Law Courts, Brisbane

The first multicache I attempted started at The Commonwealth Law Courts at the northern end of the Kurilpa Bridge. The cache required me to note details from two plaques and to count certain statues. I then had to add the numbers I obtained using a certain formula to locate the final cache location. My GPS was affected by the surrounding buildings but I was eventually successful.

John Oxley plaque

John Oxley plaque

My second multicache started at the John Oxley plaque. John Oxley was the founder of Brisbane. As a city, Brisbane is still very young, having only been established in 1824. It became the capital of the State of Queensland after Federation in 1901. This cache required me to count the number of words in certain elements of the plaque before walking about 400m to find the cache. The coin I’m holding in the photo is a Geocoin. This trackable item has traveled over 31,000km from Germany to Australia and I’m currently holding it until I find a suitable cache to drop it in (todays were all too small).

Firefighter's memorial

Firefighter’s memorial

Firefighter's Prayer

Firefighter’s Prayer

The next cache started at the Firefighter Memorial where a plaque containing the Firefighter’s Prayer holds pride of place. Take a moment to read the prayer and perhaps think about the sacrifice firefighters make.

Cool sculpture

Cool sculpture

Centenary Park

Centenary Park

The Bard: Robert Burns

The Bard, Robert Burns

Former Premier Byrnes (do you see his bottle?)

Former Premier Byrnes (do you see his bottle?)

This multicache then took me on a 1km walk past some of Brisbane’s sculptures where I had to collect more clues. It took me past a really cool hand sculpture. And then on to Centenary Park, which is a small inner city park where I used to train with my high school track and cross-country teams because our school was across the road and didn’t have track facilities. Do you see the bottle someone gave to former Premier Byrnes? You might need to enlarge the photo. I don’t know whether Byrnes liked wine but someone decided to offer him a bottle.

Brisbane Dental School

Brisbane Dental School

My next puzzle cache was located up in Spring Hill near the St Johns Ambulance HQ but there was nothing worth photographing up there. On my way back towards my motorbike and final cache, I passed the imposing Brisbane Dental School, with it’s steep staircase and old facade (complete with old school street lamps).

Leichardt: One of my favourite explorers

Leichardt: One of my favourite explorers

The foundation of the Queensland Rugby Football League

The foundation of the Queensland Rugby Football League

My final cache of the day was a complex multi that required me to collect clues from three different locations and then to complete two stages of calculations to find the cache location. I enjoyed the history in this cache, which included my favourite explorer, Leichardt and the birth of the Queensland Rugby Football League (QRL).¬†Leichardt was famous for exploring Queensland’s Darling Downs and Outback before he mysteriously disappeared. I’ve always liked to think that he escaped the hustle and bustle of colony life by living with Indigenous Australians he met on his travels. As for the QRL, rugby league is like a religion in Queensland. This tough full contact sport is almost exclusively a male domain. Unlike American football, Australian players don’t wear helmets and body armour. They just get out there and smash each other to try to prevent the scoring of tries (similar to American touchdowns but the ball actually has to be grounded).

Calculating the cache location

Calculating the cache location

I did a lot of maths today. This is an example of the process I had to use to find each cache.

I think this process of multi- and puzzle caching is great practice for adventure racing. While it’s not performed at the same high stress level as adventure racing navigation, it does still require me to concentrate while walking around in the hot sun. For example, I found my final cache at 12:45pm and had been on my feet since 5:30am when I parked my motorbike to go to the Santa Fun Run.

Total: 11km and 7 geocaches  found (6 multi- or puzzle caches)

Canberra night geowalk

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View from Red Hill

I am in Canberra tonight. I’m here to give a conference presentation tomorrow but first I had to go out exploring.

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Typical suburban street in Canberra

I am staying close to Capital Hill under the watchful eye of Parliament House. So I started my walk through the leafy suburb of Forrest where the roads are wide and parks plentiful.

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Even the trees are different here

Clouds rolled in over the city but didn’t drop any water on me.

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Eastern grey kangaroos

As I walked up around Red Hill in the late evening, big kangaroos lined the trails. I phoned my partner and she told me crazy stories about zombie roos, which had me in stitches (laughing).

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Single track in dusk

It was almost dark when I reached the Red Hill single tracks but I pushed on, my eyes becoming accustomed to the darkness. It felt great to get my daily dose of bush.

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Paper daisy

The paper daisies along the trail were pretty.

I reached the top of Red Hill where I enjoyed the views of Canberra’s lights. I also found three more caches after dark using my mobile phone and the moon for light.

I didn’t return to my hotel until almost 10pm after being out for about 2 hours.

Total: 7.5km walk and 5 geocaches found.

Brisbane Koala Bushland Reserve and Buhot Creek Reserve

Pretty trees in Buhot Creek Reserve

Pretty trees in Buhot Creek Reserve

The forecast this morning predicted heavy rain and storms but I had no intention of staying indoors today. I am enjoying being back outdoors and walking is good for my recovery. So I wrote down some geocache coordinates in the Brisbane Koala Bushland Reserve and Buhot Creek Reserve. My route would require me to walk about 10km if I wanted to search for each of the caches I wrote down.

Brisbane Koala Bushland Reserve

Brisbane Koala Bushland Reserve

I started in the Brisbane Koala Bushland Reserve. The 2.5.km return walk to the geocache was mostly along bitumen trails that have been installed to make this beautiful park accessible to a wider range of people, including the elderly and people who use wheelchairs. The hum of cicadas was deafening, exascerbating the oppressive humidity with the way their sound almost felt like a physical presence. Not that I’m complaining: I quite like our humid summers because sweating makes me feel like I’ve exercised. Frogs added their song to that of the cicadas, especially as I walked through the low-lying areas and across the boardwalks. It felt like home.

 

Buhot Creek Reserve

Buhot Creek Reserve

Dam in Buhot Reserve

Dam in Buhot Reserve

After successfully finding the geocache in the Brisbane Koala Bushland Reserve, I rode my motorbike the 2km to Buhot Creek Reserve where I set off in search of another 13 geocaches. I came here earlier in the week and explored a few of the trails but today I had more time so I could travel further into the reserve. Buhot Creek Reserve is incredibly varied. It has narrow reed-filled creeks, lilly-covered ponds and dams, and black water swamps. It also has acres of thick lantana weeds, open bushland and thick scrub. I spent three sweaty hours exploring the trails and managed to find ten of the thirteen caches I searched for; the other three eluded me.

Geocaching scratches on my calf

Geocaching scratches on my calf

Other than the risk of seeing a snake, the most dangerous thing about geocaching is getting scratched up by prickled weeds and plants, and sharp blades of grass. This makes it quite a safe passtime for the whole family. Some caches are hidden near roads and trails, while others are located hundreds of metres off trails through untracked bushland. I found my share of such bush-bash caches today. I also took some nice shortcuts.

Fortunately, the rain stayed away for the most part. There were a few heavy showers but the area I walked in didn’t get any of the strong storms that the city expierenced. Not that I would have minded: summer rain is warm anyway.

Total: 10km walk and 11 geocaches found

 

 

 

A day on my motorbike

Kingsford Smith Memorial

Kingsford Smith Memorial

I’d organised to meet a friend for lunch on Brisbane’s northside so went out motorcycling for the morning, taking a large circuitous route to her place. I selected a route based on the location of geocaches to add to my ever-increasing tally and left home.

I started with a visit to the Kingsford Smith Memorial near the Brisbane International Airport. Sir Charles Kingsford Smith was a pioneering Australian aviator who was the first person to fly across the Pacific from the US to Australia. I had to learn about his exploits when I was in primary school and haven’t visited the memorial since.

Timber Mill

Timber Mill

Car graveyard

Car graveyard

From the airport I followed the highway north to a point where I could turn around and take a parallel road back south past some geocaches. The road wasn’t pretty or exciting. Mostly, it traveled through industrial areas past factories, a timber mill and car wrecking yards. I used to live on this side of Brisbane; north of the river. So riding here was like a blast from the past. It brought back memories of times long gone and felt familiar in a dream-like way.

Typical cache hide

Typical cache hide

Uncovering the cache

Uncovering the cache

See the cache?

See the cache?

In case anyone is not certain about what I mean by ‘going geocaching’, here are some photos that will hopefully make it clearer. There are different types of geocache containers and hides. Some are plastic lunch boxes hidden under sticks or rocks along the road or in the bush. Others are small painted metal mint containers that are magnetised to signs and other metal objects. You use a GPS (or mobile phone app) to locate the coordinates at which the cache is hidden and then conduct a search to find the cache. Inside the cache you will find a log book and items to swap, which are usually items children might like to swap like marbles or plastic toys. Occasionally you will find ‘trackables’, which are items that have unique codes and goals. You take these from the cache, log that you collected them online and then place them in another cache, loging the placement too.

Forgan Cove in storm

Forgan Cove in storm

I got caught in a huge storm while I was out riding. I was not far from Forgan Cove on the Lake Samsonvale Dam when the rain and wind whipped down off the nearby mountains and across the valley towards me. I was saturated within the few hundred metres it took to ride to a safe parking area at Forgan Cove where I waited out the storm. Five years ago when I lived near Lake Samsonvale the dam was only at 35% capacity. Islands were popping up across the lake and trees started to grow further and further down the lake shore. Today the dam is at 100% capacity and has been for almost three years.

Red flag to a bull

Red flag to a bull

The storm only took about half an hour to pass and then the sun came back out, creating a hot humid afternoon. Not far from Forgan Cove my geocaching took me to Old School road. There was a sign warning that the road was only suitable for 4WDs. Talk about waving a red flag in front of a bull: of course I had to take this road on my road motorbike.

Clear Mountain Road

Clear Mountain Road

Views from Clear Mountain

Views from Clear Mountain

Old School Road led to Clear Mountain Road, a narrow winding road with amazing views through the trees. I rode carefully due to the slippery surfaces, which allowed me more time to enjoy the views.

I had a wonderful morning out and it did my back a world of good to be active riding a bit and walking a bit to find geocaches. Lunch and the afternoon talking with my friend were a fantastic complement to my morning ride.

Total geocaches found: 11.