Sunday, March 27, 2016

One if by land... 5 if by sea?

There is a terrain 5 earthcache not far from my homebase that I've wanted to find for a while, GC151QV, also known as Kingston Arch. It is rated terrain 5 because it is nestled up against a river bluff and access is by boat. At least that is how everybody had found it so far. The cache page does mention that it might be findable with technical rappelling gear, and I just so happen to have the right gear, so I've been itching to go after this earthcache and be the first to get it by the land route. I invited my friends MTippets and GISpuma since there was also a small cave like thing near the cache which seemed like it might be worth investigating. I carried my 50m rope and all the gear I would need to make the rappel/ascent, but it turned out not to be needed at all. While the bluff was steep, there were scramble-able routes along it and all three of us made it to the arch without much difficulty. Guess i could have left the ropes at home. So the cache is not a terrain 5 by land, at least not in my opinion... but it isn't a 1 either.
Scrambling along... nothing too hard right?

A very low river

At the arch

Mitch probes the depths of the "cave". It didn't go any further than this

Natalie waits outside

Doggy Cave Kiss

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Rocket City!

I have been wanting to take my family on a trip to Huntsville AL since we moved out here to Tennessee. It's only 4 hours away and has the NASA Marshall Space center and a great tourist attraction, the US Space and Rocket Center. I like rockets of course, but I also used to work at a NASA facility in a propulsion test center, so I have a special bond with rocket engines. So I finally got my act together, booked us a hotel, and we made a weekend trip to see the rockets. There are of course, some interesting geocaches at and around the rocket center so I made sure to leave some time in our schedule to do some caching.

 The Rocket Center is where we spent most the day, and it was every bit as good as I had hoped. One of the displays, for an Apollo lunar ascent engine (the RS-18), even had a picture from one of the tests I ran out at WSTF, since we hot-fired that engine. I was as happy as can be in that park. The kids enjoyed it too... but I think a lot of the big rocket glamour was lost on them. I can remember visiting the Air and Space museum in Washington DC as a child and being pretty bored, so I tried not to linger too long.

The geocaches did get the kids enthusiasm up though. A couple of the caches nearby were really stellar caches including the one below which is touted as the "most favorited cache in Alabama".
Alabama's most favorited cache, GC15QQ7

Several other caches we found nearby were just LPCs, but the kdis even were excited about those this weekend.

Rocket Trees
One of the cooler caches near the Rocket Center was Ready for Launch, which took you out to a field where all the space camp kids launch their model rockets. The trees across the field were festooned with rockets dangling from their little plastic parachutes, and the kids and I had a fun time running around collecting up the pieces of different rockets and then trying to assemble them into a full rocket. The cache was of course, also a model rocket.