Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Quote of the Day

This morning, in the car, when it was still really cold.
Cees: 'Sylvia, are you cold?'
Sylvia: 'No!'
Cees, surprised: 'You aren't cold???'
Sylvia: 'No, I am FREEZING!!!!'

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Public Tomb

Well, I was not going to go caching today. But the weather was nice. The sun was shining. The caches were beckoning. Resistance was futile.

I called a friend and convinced her to come with me. We selected two caches on one page, and would hide a cache on the next page.

First stop was a typical covered bridge cache. Fast and easy find. Sylvia found herself a pair of cute fishy sun glasses.

The second stop was less succesful, another covered bridge, but cache was nowhere to be found. There was a lot of traffic on this bridge though and the time was getting later and later. So after a while we decided to switch to cache hiding mode.

We had selected a small town on the right map page, having NO idea what would be there. We hoped to find a nice monument or an interesting spot or anything which would warrant a cache placement.

We were in luck! We found a public tomb from 1850 with an old cemetery behind it. Some graves from the revolutionary war. The perfect place for people to visit and get a sense of history. This cache will go well with the Grave Cache Kate hid last week.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Caching Through Vermont

Back in Vermont, we went on to the next map page and did a cache at a monument for someone who froze to death on a local mountain :( It took us a while to find it, but luckily flyingfisher called out 'I found it!!!' Her 500th cache find, quite impressive!

This cache was close to the border and it turns out that some of the locals, who did not know about geocaching, were worried about finding an ammo box close to it. They called the border patrol, which came out to investigate.

They decided it was just a somewhat weird, but innocent hobby and left a nice note in the log book.

More driving to the next cache, it was time for the sun to go down soon. The views were just stunning and we saw an absolutely fabulous sun pillar. The pictures do not do it justice, it was reddish and more pronounced in real life. But I want to share so that people can at least have some idea of what it looks like. I will have to figure out how to make good pictures of those, my camera got confused by the amount of light in the pillar.

The pillar was just totally amazing, first it was under the clouds, later it was upwards from the clouds. We didn't get a good upwards picture, it faded fast. Not easy to make pictures from a driving car.

We found a bunch of easier caches, but around 8pm we decided to call it quits for the day. We managed to cross off seven map pages, getting me to total of 24 out of 37 pages. Not bad!

We had to choose between having a nice dinner at a Thai restaurant, or do more caches in the frigid cold and darkness. The restaurant won ^^

Canadian Caching Adventures

Wow, what a fun filled day yesterday was.

We started out pretty successfully with two map pages which we found speedily, and since we were way up North anyway, we decided to try some caches in Canada.

Flyingfisher, my friend, had been kind of nervous about the whole border crossing thing. I said I will just smile and they will be dazzled by that and we'll cross without problems. She was fretting about what to tell them about our purpose in Canada, it's such a pain to explain geocaching. Her next idea was 'We are going to look at a monument!' but that sounds kind of lame.

We arrive at the border. First thing, she pulls up and immediately gets waved back. We went past the 'Arret!' sign, oops. We backed up and patiently waited till she allowed us to get past the Arret sign.

'Where are you going?'
'To Sutton'
'How long are you staying?'
'A few hours.'
'You are going to go skiing?'
Here flyingfisher hesitated, not wanting to get into the geocaching explanation 'No... um... We are going to go hiking!'
This surprised her 'Hiking???', looking at us suspiciously.
'Yes, hiking!' Flyingfisher couldn't contain herself any longer 'Um... have you ever heard of geocaching????'
This managed to get her face to an even more disapproving look. I wanted to pipe up from the passenger seat 'Yes, that's where you go out and find ammo boxes hidden in the woods!' but thought better of it.
She didn't look very convinced, but after some more talking back and forth, she let us in. Phew!

We were in high spirits. This was going to be flyingfisher's 500th cache find, so pretty special. We were going to show those Canadians how caching is supposed to be done!

The first cache brought us to a nice monument.

We had read the logs, which mostly stated 'Searched for a while, but finally found it'. In French of course, which I can read but not produce while I am typing my blog post. We knew, with the two of us, this was not going to be very hard. I mean, we are experienced cachers AND this was flyingfisher's 500th, what could go wrong???

We searched. And we searched. And we searched. Do you know how many hiding spots there are on an artillery gun like this???

We searched, and we searched and we searched. A micro, eh? Shouldn't be a problem. We'll do it.

Our spirits came down a little... Hmmmm, maybe here? Or here? Or there?

We searched and we looked and we checked every conceivable place. Proving that it must have been hiding in an inconceivable place, since we never found it.

Feh! But don't panic, there is another cache nearby. A cache which was found easily by every single Canadian who went there.

Do I need to say more? Yes, every single Canadian. Not us... So much for our two Canadian caches. DNFs on both of them! I am sure it is all because Canadians are inferior cache hiders, not because we suck at geocaching...

We slunk back to the border. At least the American border patrol officer was way nicer than the Canadian one.

We conversation started out the same:
'How long have you been in Canada?'
'A few hours'
'What was your purpose of visiting?'
Flyingfisher had wizened up 'Recreation!'
'Recreation, eh?'
Again, she broke down and couldn't help herself 'Well, actually, have you ever heard of geocaching????'
She explained the concept to him and he countered with 'Have you ever tried orienteering, with a protractor, so that you don't need satellites?' We had to admit we never had done that and he told us that was way superior over using a GPS.

He was even more convinced of that, when we confessed we couldn't find either of the caches we had tried to find. 'Yeah, clearly should have used a protractor and a map.' He shook his head at our new-fangled way of locating ourselves, but let us back into the States anyway.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Especially for my Friend Harri...

Our weather forecast for tonight:

Statement as of 8:12 PM EST on January 26, 2007

... Coldest night in two years expected overnight for portions
of Maine and New Hampshire...

As winds continue to ease this evening... temperatures will quickly
fall. Tonight will be the coldest it has been in Portland since
the temperature fell to 13 below zero in January of 2005. Look for
the temperature to bottom out near 10 below zero in the Forest
City. Up in the mountains... overnight lows will approach 25 below

Be prepared if you must venture outside tonight. Also... freezing
spray will continue over the coastal waters.

This is Fahrenheit. Sounds like we can get to -35 C, pretty darn cold.

I am turning up the heat. And to celebrate the coldest night in two years, I'll go caching tomorrow ^^

Haha! Very Funny!

This is the newest Sylvia quote. Whenever something remotely funny happens, she will pipe up with 'Haha! Very funny!' Sounds cute :)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Two New Babies!

Two of my friends had new babies this week.

Wendy welcomed baby Corryn to their family.

Mabear gave birth to baby Tiffany.

Beautiful newborns, wishing both of them a happy babymoon with lots of snuggling!

Love is...

Love is taking care of the critters outside of our home, the birds and the squirrels.

Soon after moving into our house, I put up birdfeeders and we have had so much enjoyment out of them. We get a nice variety of birds and the always present squirrels. The squirrels have ingenious ways to reach any of the bird feeders.

It always cracks me up when I look outside of the kitchen window and see this:

We put the feeders right in front of the window, so it's easy to see the birds.

And for the final pic: a chickadee butt!

Happy Love Thursday!

Cold Feet

The snow on the driveway is mostly gone now, so decided to go outside and do some of my aikio today. Let's just say that I didn't last long. The temp is -15 C, around 10 F and it's amazing how fast your feet will cool down at that temperature! But I have to admit that it made me feel very awake and very alive.

Now some go studying and off to go club. Hmmm, maybe need to bake bread too, yesterday's four loaves have mostly evaporated already.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Yesterday, I spent the day driving through Vermont, finding more map pages. We drove up to Middlebury, VT, very beautiful, and very flat compared to the rest of Vermont. We found a bunch of fun caches, got five more map pages out of the way. I have 17 done now, only 20 pages to go! Almost halfway there.

One cache was a virtual, where we had to figure out a date at the top of a HUGE rock with the Lord's prayer engraved in it. Sounded very easy till we found the rock...

Um... too much snow and ice. We cleared off some to check whether we had the right rock, and then googled to get the right date. We posted pics to the cache page to prove that we were there ^^

Today, I decided to pick up a special geocoin from one of my local caches. The geocoins are like travel bugs, fun coins which move from cache to cache. The fun bonus with geocoins is that they give you a cool icon next to your user profile, in the list of trackables you have found. This particular one would give me an icon of a mug full of beer. Tell me, who would be able to resist a geocoin like that???

I had been watching that beer coin for a few weeks already, wondering whether anyone would get it. I thought it would be bad form to run out there and get it the moment it got dropped.

But today, my patience was over. The sun was shining, I didn't have enough time to work on my Delorme challenge. But I did have enough time to hike up to this cache and do a coin switcheroo.

I thought the coordinates would be in my GPS, but they weren't. That's ok, I am sure I can recognize where I hid it. Um... Can I?

After hours of checking every possible hiding spot, I caved in and called my caching sister mosaica. 'Um... would you mind looking up the coordinates to my very own cache???? Yes, the one I hid less than a year ago???' When she stopped laughing, she started looking up the coordinates. I was idling and looking around and guess what was next to my feet... Yes! the cache!

I am soooo not going to tell this to anyone, this is just too embarrassing to live down.

On the way down, I was annoyed at myself for not bringing a sled, those trails would be beautiful sledding. I decided to let my inner 9yo come out and slid anyway, on the steep parts, it was so much fun!

Good leg news, the hike was about a mile and I didn't even feel my leg till the last tenth of a mile. Not bad.

Even better leg news. Tonight, at aikido, I finally took falls again! This was the first time since I broke my leg. Not bad at all!

This is one of the geocoins I am talking about, not the one I found , but one I got from a friend. It is going to be sent out into the caching universe soon. They are fun to keep track of, see where they go. We have travel bugs all over the place now, including one in Australia, and one in Germany. Fun way to learn about geography :)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Ten Down!

Ten map pages that is. For the Delorme challenge. Vermont has 37 pages in the Gazetteer, so we are a bit over 25 % . Not bad. Going to do another one today, and Kate is going to hide a cache. But the hide won't count, it's on the wrong map page. Doesn't matter, she is very excited to hide her first cache.

This is nice to get me out more in the winter. Sometimes it's just too easy to stay stuck in the house, whining 'it's so cold outside!!!' Then when I actually do make it out, I discover that it's not that bad and makes me feel really good.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Will the puking ever stop?

Timmy again this time. He did this already, this shouldn't come back! Feh!


Yesterday, I spent a day driving through Vermont, doing a bunch of caches for the Delorme challenge. This was my most favorite cache:

Somebody sure was very creative!

And yes, it was dark, and snowing, and frigid. And perfect ^^

Got seven pages out of the way.

Friday, January 19, 2007


Today, a friend called me and asked whether I wanted to go caching. I had lots of reasons to say no, planning wise, so I said yes ^^. It was great to be out in the crisp air. We found two caches, and we hid one. I want to do the Vermont Delorme Challenge, meaning I have to find or hide a cache on every page of the Vermont Gazetteer. Three down now, 34? to go. I hope to be out on a whole caching day tomorrow, hit a lot more of the pages.

Such beautiful views. Even after living here for all these years, those mountains still give me the feeling of being on vacation.

The Museum called

I just got a call to follow up on my letter. She explained to me how they deliberately took out the family membership, after feedback of their members, to offer more flexibility. I agreed that I liked the new flexibility, but I also would appreciate the family option.

She offered our family an 8 person option at $120, which might be ok for us. But I still feel that the family option should be added to their offerings. Not to mention that this lives out dh when we visit. Granted, most of the time it is me and the kids, but still...

She said it was very uncomfortable for the front desk to have to decide who is a family, and that's one of the reasons they got rid of it. What if they were just neighbors coming in together on a family pass? They do not want people to have to describe their family situation... A friend said that it sounded like someone had been juggling numbers, and they weren't looking at people. So many other places offer family memberships, and they don't seem to have issues like this.

I countered with the Boston aquarium where we got in as a family with two extra kids just fine without anyone batting an eye, they have a great membership structure there. (We got something flexible, where we either can bring 6 unrelated people, or one family and two guests)

I asked why our family with seven kids would cost THAT much more money than my friend with two kids. She said it's a lot more costs the the museum when 600 people visit than when 300 visit in a day, which seemed to evade the issue.

Is the occasional large family going to double their visitors for the day??? Is adding back a family option going to hurt their bottom line? I doubt it.

Pondering on next steps. I told her that I still wasn't satisfied with the lack of a family option. She told me it was not going to be brought back.

It is hard to come up with immediate counter arguments on the phone, I prefer writing.

Pondering on next step, I welcome any suggestions.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Reaction from the Museum

Last week, I sent a letter to the Montshire Museum, because I felt they were discriminating against large families. I asked them to reinstate the family membership to their new flex options. This is what they wrote back to me:

Thank you so much for your letter. It's always nice to hear from members who have been part of the Montshire family for a long time. I'm glad to learn that you and your family enjoy your visits to the Museum, and I appreciate your thoughtful feedback.

As you can imagine, we spent a great deal of time exploring our options before making a change to our membership program. Like all nonprofits, Montshire relies heavily on community support. We felt the need to respond to our members' desire for more flexibility. The challenge is to establish fees that are affordable to our constituents AND enable us to provide the best possible services to the community. The new Flex Membership program offers a variety of options, that all represent a significant savings over admissions fees.

Although our operations are very efficient, visitors provide only about 60 percent of the cost to run the Museum. All fees for admission and programs are set below the actual cost to Montshire, and donors make up the difference. In that way, Montshire donors help to underwrite the experience of every person who walks in the door.

I appreciate your interest in families who cannot afford membership fees. We are proud of the efforts we make to serve low-income families. One of our most successful programs is an effort to distribute free admission passes through our region's human service agencies. Last year, over 3,400 clients of 87 agencies were able to visit the Museum for free.

I do hope you will continue to be a member of the Montshire Museum and I would be happy to talk to you in more detail about the options. Please feel free to call me at ...

Warm regards,

Will have to ponder my reply. There will be one ^^ I think they are missing the point about those large families NOT always being in those programs, I am advocating for every large family. I still don't see what the big deal is about a family membership and how my family costs them $110 more than a small family would. It might not be a big amount of money to them, but for a lot of families it would make the difference between being able to afford a membership and stay within budget, or decide on no membership at all.

Not to mention that the passes are one time visit opportunities, while we like to come back a few times during the year.