Thursday, August 30, 2012

Got a reply from Delegate Chris Jones concerning VDOT

I just got home, started the old PC, checked my email and lo and behold!!! I got a reply from Delegate Chris Jones whom I met with on August 23rd. Now before you get too excited, he did just start asking questions on my/our behalf. Below is a complete copy of the email (no editing on my part).

 It was a pleasure to meet with you to review and discuss the Department of Transportation’s policy regarding geocachers. As promised, my office contacted Dennis Heuer, VDOT Hampton Roads District Administrator, for further clarification of VDOT’s existing policies. Mr. Heuer advises there are several areas of concerns to allow geocaching at transportation facilities. Some of the concerns include program oversight; no policy or procedure currently exist to regulate the activity nor is there staff allocated to administer the policy. There is also concern for the general public’s lack of knowledge about the activity and the potential response by travelers in discovering an ammo container at a rest area. However, Mr. Heuer did advise the department is inquiring with other states as they are considering the compatibility of geocaching with transportation facilities. Feel free to provide me with any additional information in the future. My best to you and your family for a very safe Labor Day weekend.


 There were several concerns on my part as I read this the first time. but then I reminded myself that things have just started (hopefully) and as we all know things move slowly. I will be in touch with Delegate Chris Jones and provide him with more info. Just wanted to keep all of you informed as things progress. Hope to everyone Saturday at the 10th Annual Picnic in Newport News. If you need more info on the picnic - click here. As Always - Stay Safe & Keep Caching!!! SNAP!!! - Suffolk Nana & Papa

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Wading for Caches!!!

Two weeks ago we planned the geocaching trip.  It was supposed to be a nice trip around the peninsula picking up caches that both Jtmlam59 and SNAP!!! had yet to find.  What Team S&M found was more of a potpourri of areas ranging from the high and dry to the almost knee high swamps.  I must admit this was a first for both Nana & I.  We had never had to wade along park trails in mid-thigh high water before.

The day had started off easy enough.  Jim & Lynne met us in Suffolk and we took off through the high grass towards our first actual SHIP in the Battleship series.  We, of course, made the trip far longer than it had to be as we over-shot the way in and had to back track.  Once we found the USS Maury we did some minor cache repair, adding new baggies and drying SWAG out.  But we made it back to the SNAP-mobile with a smilie and a swagger having not found any abnormally high water after the torrential downpours that Suffolk had experienced on Saturday.

When we saw the amount of rain that had been dumped in the area we decided to modify our target list to knock out all the Battleship squares first and then proceed to other caches in the area but we first stopped at a stubborn little devil called St. Paul's - Home to the Homeless (GC2T6CE).  This devil had been on SNAP!!!'s DNF list for quite a while and we were extremely happy to pick up this smilie.

We then proceeded to knock out four of the Battleship squares back to back.  J9, H4, F10 & F8 all fell in our path as each one was knocked out easily.

We made a small detour and quickly knocked out The "M" Cache (GC3HYWT), a neat little cache at the back side of a shopping center.
This is where things got interesting.  We pulled into Sandy Bottom Park, unloaded and commence to walk towards one of two Battleship caches in the park.  The walk stated out very dry and pleasant but soon turned dark and damp, then wet and then swampy!  As we approached the first cache coordinates (Block D4) we looked up ahead to see what appeared to be a large pond.   As we stood on the edge of the pond we realized our GPS's were pointing to the middle of the pond (of course).  Try as we may we would have to get wet.  Jim quickly took off his shoes and socks and waded towards GZ.  A few minutes later he yelled out the beloved words "Here it is!"  There in the middle of our pond was a small island of several trees - and there in the middle - our destination.  After quickly signing the log at D4 we took off towards Block I2 - surely this one couldn't be as bad!  HA!  I will let the picture below talk for itself as we waded through, what at times was water almost up to our knees, towards the high and dry GZ for I2.  After signing the log and dropping a trinket or two we discussed why we brought an umbrella and not a canoe as we waded most of the way back to the SNAP-mobile.  After drying off and swapping out our wet socks and shoes we proceeded on our way.

Blocks I7, E8, and D6 quickly fell into our found list as we proceeded around the area.  We stopped our attack on the Battleship squares just long enough to grab "The Marsh Walk" (GC32XE5) a nice sized cache in a beautiful area.  From there we grabbed two quick caches that Jim & Lynne needed and then went on to our final Battleship square for the day - C9.  After making quick work of the last square we decided to try a few more caches before heading for home.  We quickly grabbed Guacaholey and then proceeded to Free Parking (GC3QF73) a devilish little cache that may have you running around in circles.  Pam & I had tried this cache once before and now we were back again but this time with assistance.  It took us far longer than it should have but we did make the grab and sign the log.

Four more caches before we called it a day.  FIESTA! Where Jim made us look blind as Pam & I had DNF'd it only a few weeks before.  Jim hops out of the SNAP-mobile and quickly makes the find!   Give me Liberty, Too was another quick find.  We all stumbled around and ended up with our only DNF on the day at "No Comfort Here, Either" (GC3TNOR).  We all walked in circles hunting for this cache.  None of us could come up with the find and we decided to call it a DNF when we started attracting attention.

We did end the day on a high note though as we stopped by "Twisted - Tribute to the Vroom Vroom Scrubaduba" (GC23WC1) and made the find quickly!

We all stopped by The Outback Steak House on Mercury Blvd and celebrated 19 finds on the day with only 1 DNF.

After dinner we dropped Jim & Lynne off at their vehicle, said our goodbyes and headed home for a hot shower and clean clothes.

Hope all of you are enjoying the new blogsite.

Hope to see everyone at the 10th Geocaching Hampton Roads picnic this weekend in Newport News Park!!!  I will be there early Saturday morning helping out with whatever I can - please stop by and say HI!

As Always - Stay Safe & Keep Caching!

SNAP!!! - Suffolk Nana & Papa

Friday, August 24, 2012

Thanks & our weekend geocaching plans

First of all thanks for all the kind words, e-mails, comments, etc concerning our last post.  Appreciate all the support!!!

Saturday is a day of both cache maintenance and searching for places for some new caches.  for those of you that like SNAP caches, get ready for SNAP 82, 83 and perhaps a few more.

Sunday the current plan is to team up with fellow cachers Jtmlam59 (thus forming Team S&M once again) to attack the caches on the peninsula.  We plan on attacking the Battleship caches first and then proceed to wipe out any and all caches we can manage to get to before my tired old body forces us to quit (just for clarification - that is my body not Nana's or Jim & Lynne's).

Please don't forget the Geocaching Hampton Roads 10th Annual Picnic on September 1st over in Newport News Park.  From what I hear this just might be Virginia's first MEGA-event.  Hope to see everyone there!

As Always - Stay Safe & Keep Caching.

SNAP!!! - Suffolk Nana & Papa

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A meeting about VDOT

Early this morning I met with Virginia State Delegate Chris Jones.  Delegate Chris Jones represents the 76th Legislative District covering parts of Suffolk and Chesapeake and currently serves on three standing committees.  Delegate Jones has served in the Virginia House of Delegates since 1998.  The purpose of this meeting was to introduce the delegate to geocaching (if necessary), explain the rules set forth by and have a conversation with him concerning some of the letters and e-mails and some of us here locally have received from the Virginia Depart of Transportation (VDOT).

I had been in contact with his office several times over the last few months and was very anxious to meet with him.  Delegate Jones was very delighted to see me and immediately asked what he could do for me.  We talked for almost a half hour and I was very  pleased to learn he knew about geocaching.  He stated that he had family members and friends that were into the hobby and he knew they enjoyed it.  I discussed not only the current "Rest Stop" issue (VDOT restricting geocaching at Virginia Rest Stops) with him but also gave him some background on my meeting with VDOT officials last year.  I presented him with brochures and magazines that talked about geocaching as a "Family Fun" hobby and used geocaching as a tourist draw not only to National and local parks but also for numerous cities and areas around the state.  We talked about "Rails to Trails" and their efforts to convert old rail road beds into hiking, biking and walking trails and how geocaching is also along these trails.  I mentioned the You-Tube video from Nevada and how the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) is now working hand-in-hand with local geocaching groups to make geocaching safer and how their efforts are bringing older, smaller towns back to life using geocaching as a tourist attraction.

I told him about the Geocaching Hampton Roads group and all the events we have which sometimes bring in geocachers from other states.  He seemed very pleased when I told him about our upcoming picnic in Newport News next weekend and was surprised at how many people had showed up in the previous years.

The main point of my discussion with him was the difference between the State of Virginia's stance on geocaching as evidenced by the brochures, magazines and web sites versus VDOT's stance as evidenced by e-mails and letters.  In other words: How can the State of Virginia say on one hand "Come to Virginia and geocache - it is a family fun activity (using geocaching as a tourist draw) but on the other hand VDOT is restricting geocaching at State Rest Stops whose purpose is to get you out of the car and stretch your legs?

After I finished presenting everything I had to Delegate Jones, he leaned back in his chair and thought for a minute or two.  He then proceeded to ask several good questions to clarify points I had detailed.  I answered all his questions and explained a few things in more detail.  After we talked for a few minutes he uttered some words that were like music to my ears.  He understood my questions and saw my point.  He agreed to investigate a bit further and stated he would be in contact with VDOT officials to get their side of the story.  If he determines their stance is in conflict with the State's he agreed to see what he could do to bring things to an agreement.  He explained this would not happen over-night but said he would get back to me with what he was able to find out and do for all of us.

I know there are far bigger problems and concerns in the State of Virginia as well as the world and told Delegate Jones that we appreciated anything he could do for us.  I told him that groups such as Hampton Roads Geocaching existed all over the state and named a few for him.  I told him we all would be more than willing to work with VDOT to make and keep geocaching a safe and fun hobby for all ages.

I will let all of you know when I hear back from his office.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A new Tip for Seed Ticks

If your read the blog for Saturday you already know I had a bad run in with several hundred seed ticks.  I was talking to my youngest son (the one that runs the mosquito lab), showing him the bites on my arm that I thought were mosquito bites.  He informed me they were seed ticks bites and then gave me a piece of advise that I immediately wanted to share.

Next time you have one of those unfortunate run ins with seed ticks - reach into your handy dandy geocaching kit and pull out a lint roller.  According to him it will take them right off.  All I know is that on my next trip to Walmart I am picking up a lint roller!

Hope to see y'all tomorrow night at the 3rd Tuesday Meet n Greet in Virginia Beach!  GC3RK3W

As always - Stay Safe & Keep Caching!

SNAP!!! - Suffolk Nana & Papa


Sunday, August 19, 2012

August 19 - Virginia Beach

Team TNA (Tom, Nana & alara) or more commonly known as SNAP!!! and alara decided to see if the weatherman was wrong again and headed out to Virginia Beach to see how many caches they could locate.  Unfortunately, the weatherman was correct - Rain and severe thunderstorms hitting the area about 1PM.

We did start early and picked up alara at 8AM and headed up to the Shore Drive area to start our list.

E3 Battle ships (GC3EZ5F) - a very creative hide had us scratching our heads for a few minutes before we got lucky and made the find.

Smells Fishy (GC3RH66) - we all were engrossed in our hunt when a local walked up on us and decided to help us find the little devil.  A short while later we made the find and the nice man shook his head in amazement at what we had found.  He says he will help others if he happens to be in the area.

The Green Oak: A Tribute (GC3AM8J) was next and it was a quick P&G

We couldn't locate Something Smells Fishy (GC2GD0J) but it hadn't been found since April so we asked for help from the CO.

We headed over to the north east side of First Landing, found a place to park and walked to three caches in the area:
What goes up...Must come down (GC16MN2) was an excellent cache and well worth the short walk from the parking coordinates.
We continued down the path and spent quite a few minutes going in circles at You-Tube (GC1HX42) before making the find.
Going further north on the path took us to another great cache, Spike Leon Russell (GC1HWJ6).  We tried to repair some of the camo to leave the cache better than it was found.

Back to the SNAP-mobile and down the beach to OTM #4 North End (GC3JQBP) was a quick find.

Cayman Floatsam (GC1HWR8) was a cache that had been on our DNF list for almost two years - we finally made it back to the area and made the find easily.

Home, home at the Beach (GC33YM0) - another cache that someone approached us as we were getting out of the SNAP-mobile and asked us if we were "Treasure Hunters".  Seems quite a few people have been in the area.  We thanked the neighbor and assured him we didn't need help - then proceeded to make the find in less than 5 minutes.

Bridge to MOCA (GC3MDAQ) - the last time we stopped here the entire area was full of muggles and we elected to bypass it.  Today there is not a sole in the area - made the find quickly.

The clouds are gathering and sounds of thunder are getting closer by the minute but we press on.

A10 Battleships - a fairly quick find in a deserted area.

G5 Battleships - parked and walked the 0.2 miles to GZ.  Wandered around in circles - Nana walked into a gigantic spider web and the spider landed right on her GPS - the GPS drops and Nana does her Spider Dance - needless to say Nana is no longer in the mood to look for this cache - we decided to leave this area until later in the year and put a note in our database to spray down very well before going back to this one.

We grabbed the last cache of the day as the rain started - Leap to Miyazaki Garden (GC3BW55) - a very nice cache at the front of Redwing Park.  Right after we grabbed this one we pulled up the local radar and realized we were done for the day.  We are not HARDCORE (cache in the downpour) cachers as some of our friends are.  We prefer to cache when it is dry!

Caches that earned favorite points from us today were:
E3 Battleships, Leap to Miyazaki Garden, Spike Leon Russell, Cayman Floatsam

The cache that won the "Coveted" Nana & Papa Cache of the Day Award (and a favorite point):
What goes up...Must come down

Thanks for reading -

As Always - Stay Safe & Keep Caching... Hope to see y'all Tuesday night at the Meet N Greet

SNAP!!! - Suffolk Nana & Papa

Saturday, August 18, 2012

200 plus seed ticks

What a great way to start a day of geocaching....

Nana & I left the house to go switch out a container on a geocache and then look for some new spots to hide a few more caches.

The first thing that went wrong was when we got to the parking coordinates to the cache we had the new container for:  I had forgotten to load the coordinates to the cache.  No problem.... I was there back in March and then again in May hiding the cache - we should be able to find it with no problem.  HA!  This area is very thick and it all sorta looks alike once you get away from the parking lot.  After wandering around for about 15 minutes - it is definitely not here - we must have to go deeper before we head towards the river.  A short time later the second problem of the day occurred.

i looked down at the white shirt I had on and there were about a hundred seed ticks crawling all over the right hand side of my shirt.  I looked at my right arm and there are another 100 crawling around.  Proceeded to try and clean them off as best we could before trying to find the cache once again.  After about another 10 minutes I didn't recognize anything.  We headed back to the SNAP-mobile and then headed home for a long shower and a tick check!

We will do better tomorrow!!!!

As always - Be Safe & Keep Caching!!!

SNAP!!! - Suffolk Nana & Papa

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

New spot for our blog

Welcome to the new site.  Hopefully we can keep this more up-to-date than the last site.

We have been rather busy the last few weeks caching not only by ourselves but also with alara as part of Team TNA but also with the McInerny's (jtmlam59) as part of Team S&M.

Chesapeake was our main target the last weekend as we wiped out several Battleship caches but also some stubborn caches that had been on our DNF list.

The weekend before that we were in Norfolk grabbing more Battleships and some other stubborn caches.

Papa taught a geocaching class at the Northern Suffolk Library to wrap up their summer reading program and had a room full of not only of people who had never cached but also some fairly new cachers that wanted tips and other information.

I have a meeting next week concerning geocaching and need some help.  If you know or have any pamphlets or web sites that talk about geocaching anywhere in Virginia - I need the web address or if possible the pamphlet.  I will explain more next week but please send me any and all info you can.


Stay tuned as we further develop this site and add to it (hopefully several times a week.

As always - Stay Safe & Keep Caching.

SNAP!!! - Suffolk Nana & Papa