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Posts Tagged ‘Oscoda’

“During your life, everything you do and everyone you meet rubs off in some way.  Some bit of everything you experience stays with everyone you’ve ever known, and nothing is lost.  That’s what’s eternal, these little specks of experience in a great, enormous river that has no end.”   American Writer Harriet Doerr

From my last entry, you know we have had an early, and very warm spell.  Besides us people being confused about what the calendar should say– the plants are just as confused.    The forsythia is in full bloom, daffodils are everywhere, and even the huge willow trees are almost all leafed out!  Unfortunately we are under a freeze advisory for tonight, I am hoping that not too much damage will be done to these tender blooms.

Since we were supposed to have a beautiful sunny day today, we decided to break out the GPS and get our first geocaching day of 2012 in the books.  I picked 17 caches in the Au Sable River/Oscoda area, since we didn’t have much snow all winter and this spring has been fairly dry, I figured the back roads wouldn’t be too bad.  We packed up our lunch and hit the road.

Our first few caches were found very easily, that is always good, since we goofed a little with our GPS unit, after all, it’s been quite a few months since we’ve used it!  We then headed to the Old Five Channels Bridge for a cache.  We walked out onto the old bridge and found out immediately that the bugs are also confused as to what season it is.  Swarms of small gnat like flies engulfed us and almost drove us off the bridge!  Thankfully, it didn’t take too long to find the cache, it was well hidden, but with my husband’s clever eye, he picked it out.

Our next cache took us to the north side of the river to a small park and boat launch area that we had stopped at a couple of years ago.  The reason I remember it so vividly is that as I was standing there, reading some informational signage, I heard a ruckus above my head, and as I turned around to see what it was, a fox squirrel fell out of the tree and almost landed at me feet!  I laughed so hard that I had tears streaming down my cheeks!  So from that day on, we have always referred to that place as the “Squirrel Falling” place.  When I noticed someone had placed a cache in the vicinity, I was very glad to go back, today unfortunately, so such event took place.  After finding the cache, we were walking back to the picnic area and as I looked down, I spotted a small garter snake slithering away, I felt bad about disturbing it’s ‘sun bathing’ session and just a few feet away, I also noticed a little lavender colored butterfly flitting about.  I had to keep telling myself that it is still March, not late April!  I was amazed at what we were seeing.  We decided to eat our lunch there and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

We then moved on farther down the river to a cache that had us a little stumped on how to get to, so we found a two-track and drove down as far as we could and figured we could hike the rest of the way.  It was after all, a beautiful day, and getting a hike in is just icing on the cake!  After a short way, we came to a paved road and a very nice parking area and scenic overlook that highlighted the Bald Eagles in the area!  Ok, so we pooched that one, but the hike was still nice.  As we were looking for the cache, a beautiful eagle flew over us and landed not far away.  I crept out to the clearing and was able to get a couple of good pictures before it flew off.  How cool!  We determined it was a juvenile, no white on it yet.  So I figured that if we had driven out there, we wouldn’t have seen the eagle.  Right?!  After getting back to the car, another couple drove up and we chatted with them and they were also cachers, looking for the same cache that we just came from.  We hinted to them that there was an easier way to the cache, but didn’t want to spoil it for them, just in case they also wanted to do a little hiking.

Our next cache took us to the Foote Pond area.  There is a paddle boat called the Au Sable Queen there that gives cruises and such, but currently still out of the water, it is after all, only March!  After locating the cache, I noticed a couple of swans in the area so I crept down to the bank to get some pictures.  Boy was I shocked that when they noticed me, they actually started swimming towards me!  I’m thinking they are residents and that they have gotten hand-outs from well-meaning people.  Unfortunately for them, the only thing they received from me, was a spotlight in my blog!  At first we thought they were Tundra Swans, but after looking in my bird book, we noticed they did not have the yellow smudge on their bills that the Tundra Swans have, it was then we realized that they were Trumpeter Swans!  What a surprise, I didn’t think Trumpeters were in this area, but from what we’ve learned, this is a summer breeding area for a small number of them.  But since they swam right up to us, I think they are residents at the Foote Pond.  What a great day!

Our remaining caches were quickly found with no such surprises and we finished our day around 5:00 pm, grabbed a quick bite and headed home.  For our first day out, it was a great one!  Our wildlife spottings were:  1 Hawk, 1 Garter snake, 1 lavender butterfly, 1 juvenile Eagle, and 2 Trumpeter swans.  A very good day indeed.

Happy Caching,

Sheri

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Our run of beautiful, above average fall weather is forcast to come to an end soon, so we decided to get a caching day in before the rains come.  We have been wanting to go back to Wurtsmith AFB in Oscoda, MI to complete the seven caches on the Fitness Trail, so we thought why not?!  We added a couple new ones in East Tawas and a couple of others on the AFB, to ensure we reached our 400th cache today.  I packed some PBJ’s and soda (fuel of champions on the Fitness Trail!!) and off we went.

The first new cache in East Tawas took us to Dewey Park, a park that we had never been to before.  It’s a very nice, multi-sport park, with a couple of canals that meet up there, so it seems it has just about something for everyone.  The cache was an easy find so we quickly recorded that smilie and moved on.  The next new cache took us to the parking lot of a local eatery.  This was also an easy find, but many muggles around, so we parked as close to it as possible, grabbed it, brought it back to the Jeep, signed the log there and then quickly replaced it.   On to Oscoda and the AFB.

One of our extras on the AFB was stated to be on the cache owner’s property.  We don’t usually cache on private property, but thought we’d drive by and since it’s a week day, if there were no cars around, we may try it.  Unfortunately, many cars were parked in their drives, (maybe due to Columbus Day?), so we opted not to get that one.  We then picked up another quick find and headed for the start of the Fitness Trail.  We read the signs at the start and looked at the map to get a feel for the layout of the trail.  The caching notes stated it would take about 1 1/2 – 2 hours to complete the series so we called up the first one on the gps and off we went.   The first couple of caches were fairly close to each other and were pretty quick picks.  The third one though, had us stumped for a little while.  Our gps kept pointing us to an area that we could see had been trampled but we couldn’t come up with it.  We then stood back and let our “cache sense” kick in.  We broadened our search and started looking in other areas.  Finally!!! After what felt like a half an hour, I finally came up with it.  We looked at our gps and it was about 20 feet off.  I told myself to keep that in mind in case other caches were not quick finds.  I also realized that wearing short pants may not have been such a great idea.  I figured the caches would be a little ways off the trail, but I didn’t think I would be trampling around in pickery bushes.  By the time we got back to the actual trail, I looked like I had been attacked by a rabid ankle biter!  All I could say was “Oh well, it’s too late now” and we continued on.  The next couple were fairly easy finds, again our gps was off, but now that we know that, we were able to locate them a little quicker.  In between numbers 5 and 6 is a cache that is not related to the Fitness Trail, but is just off the trail.  We attempted to find it last December, with no luck.  The most obvious spot was empty so we really thought the cache had gone missing.  Since we were out here, we decided to give it another try.  This time we got the smilie!!  And to add to our fun, one of the previous cachers had dropped off one of their pathtags!  We enjoy collecting pathtags and now have eight.  We would like to have one of our own made and probably will very soon.  Just have to decide on a design.  We then located number six in the series and finally had all of the numbers to complete the latitude and longitude of the final cache.  We punched in the numbers and had the direction and distance to the final cache.  We located that one very easily and had the Fitness Trail completed.  Yeah!!!  Once we got back to the Jeep, I realized I had left my camera there.  So I apologize for not having any pics to go with this post.

Our only wildlife sightings today were squirrels, and many of them… too many to count.  They must really love this area!  Had a great day and yes, we reached 400, actually we now have 401 found caches.

Happy caching!

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Woke up to a beautiful sunny day here in Northeast Michigan and knew it was going to be a good day of geocaching.  I had researched all of the caches on Wurtsmith Air Force Base quite a while ago, but we just had never gotten to them yet, so with gas prices nearing $4.00 a gallon, we decided to stay a little closer to home.  I packed a picnic lunch, gathered all of our ‘cache bags’ together and off we went to find the 19 caches I had selected.

Robert and I usually take turns navigating and driving.  Usually, whom ever plans the caches, does the navigating, and today was no different.  I’m not as good navigating in the deep woods with no roads as he is, so I felt pretty confident that with lots of roads around, I’d do ok with the gps.

The first cache was very cleverly hidden, but Robert picked up on it pretty quickly.  We have come to rely on our ‘cache sense’ pretty heavily.  Sometimes we just stop, look around, and try to figure out what is out of place, or what looks like an ideal hiding place.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes not.  The hiders of caches have gotten very creative in some instances, but most of the time, we can figure it out.

The next two caches required a bit of a hike.  But since it was such a nice day, we didn’t mind at all.  These caches took us to an area on the backside of the base that we never knew was there.  That is one advantage we have discovered since we started geocaching.  We have seen places and areas that we probably would never have thought to go to.  The third cache was almost a stumper.  We were following a creek for quite a ways and the gps kept pointing to the other side of the creek, and after reading the other peoples notes, I felt we needed to be on the other side.  So after finding a good jumping spot, we went to the other side.  Hiked a little way, and wouldn’t you know, now the gps is pointing back to the other side of the creek!  So once again, we had to find a good crossing spot.  My feet got a little wet, but not too bad, and now we are down to just a few feet on the gps, so the search really begins.  After stopping and looking around with our ‘cache sense’ radars on, we finally found the one that that was not natural out there, and yes, it was the cache.  Thank goodness!  We could head back now.

The next few caches were pretty easy pick and grabs, we did find a trackable in one of them and plan on helping it along it’s way.  We stopped for lunch at one of the ball fields, enjoyed the view of the large jumbo jets, that we are unsure of what is exactly being done to them there.  Is the old Air Force Base now a “plane graveyard”?  We don’t know, will have to find out.  After our lunch break, we had just a few more to do on the Base and then we had a few to catch along F-41 near Van Etten Lake.

Two of our caches along the lake were in a state campground.  The first one, we had been to two times before, with no luck.  So this cache was beginning to irritate me, just in the fact that we couldn’t find it.  The first time we were there, there was quite a bit of snow on the ground, so we chalked it up to that.  The second time, most of the snow was gone, but some still in the shady areas, again, no luck.   So, I told myself today that we were either going to find it, or I was going to e-mail the owner to see if it’s even still there.  We decided to split up and search many feet from ‘ground zero’.  The hint included didn’t make too much sense, but I kept it in mind none the less.  Just about the time I was about to give up yet again, I spotted it.  I yelled to Robert and he came over, relieved also to have finally located it, even though our gps said it was 35′ from ground zero.  Yes, the pathtag was still in it, that was one of the driving forces to come back for the third time.  We signed the log, replaced the cache to where we found it, and happily hiked back out of the campground.

The second cache in that same campground was at the other end, and it also was giving us a bit of a problem.  We had been to it once before, but the snow was pretty deep, but today, we decided to give it another try.  Again, we split up and searched quite a ways from ground zero.  Robert was the lucky one this time, he shouted to me that he had found it, 26′ from ground zero.  Again, relief that we can finally get these two off our list.  Signed the log and was able to leave the campground.

By now, it’s late in the afternoon and we have just two more to do.  After reading the previous notes on the next one, we found ourself on the wrong side yet again, this time a very tall fence, not a creek.  So we turned around and turned down the road that ran alongside the base.  After that it was a pretty easy find.  The last one, we didn’t know which side of the fence to be on, we decided to continue on down the road we had just come down, oops, wrong side, AGAIN!  Turned around and found an opening in the fence and then was able to find it easily.

What a day!  We ended up finding 15 of the 19 caches I’d selected, and we seen areas of the base that we would never have known were there.  That’s the part of geocaching we really enjoy.

Happy caching,

Sheri

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