mortonfox: (me tira daqui)
It was snowing lightly on Saturday morning but there was enough time to get a few geocaches and take a short walk on a snowy bike path in Brookhaven before the heavier stuff started coming down.

By Sunday, the snow had stopped. Roads were okay, although most parking areas hadn't been cleared. I figured a thin layer of snow would not shut down most park parking areas, so I hit the cache factory area. (Plymouth Meeting, Lower Providence, North Wales, Franconia, and Perkasie this time) Didn't have many caches on the list -- mostly a bunch of new caches and a few that I skipped over or could not find on previous trips -- but winter conditions didn't really allow for a lot of driving around. Since temperatures had been in the 20s and below for a while, there were a lot of ice cascades but hopefully no dootie. "anatidaephobia" was one that I couldn't find previously because it was missing. I made another attempt since it's in the same park as one of the new caches. Thank goodness it was findable this time despite being at ground level and very small. That spot happened to be on the side of the log with less snow.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (me tira daqui)
This weekend was probably the peak of snow accumulation for the season. I went to the Quakertown and Saucon Valley area on Saturday and Lehigh Valley on Sunday, and the snow was pretty much knee-deep everywhere with some snow drifts up to waist deep. The worst part was the snow was semi-frozen so it was like walking on ice but falling through it on every step. I checked cache descriptions and logs to screen for ones were findable with snow on the ground, but I brought my shovel, stubby hammer, and chisel everywhere too, just in case. These tools came in handy at "Tree Hollow". I thought that one would be findable but the tree hole turned out to be completely below the snow level and the cache was stuck under ice. Still, I managed to find the right tree by trial and error, and got it out.

Sunday went much better. I went to Gracedale Open Space in Nazareth for the "GOS" series of caches. All of those were up in trees, shrubs, and stumps and definitely winter-friendly. There was one cache in that preserve, "Gracedale's Backyard", that was on the ground and completely buried under snow and ice. Although the hint was very specific, it actually referred to a nearby object, not the exact spot. But I took a guess at where I should dig and I was correct. That afternoon, I stopped at Wegman's in Hanover Township to see the Lehigh Valley geocachers at the "LVG G.E.M." event. It was a nice little gathering and after half a day of stumbling around in the snow, a bit of a break was welcome.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (morton ave)
There was a snowstorm predicted for Saturday but I wanted to see how many geocaches in Willisbrook Preserve I could finish before it started snowing. The snow started at around noon, a bit earlier than forecast, but I had already finished one of the two trail loops by then. I got out of there quickly because I knew secondary roads would get bad. For the rest of the day, I attended to accounting, taxes, and household chores that I'd been saving for a snowy day. (Cleaning the bathroom on a weekend? It's madness!)

After shoveling snow to clear my sidewalk and driveway on Sunday morning, I went to Coopersmith Park in West Goshen. I'd passed by those caches previously but this time, I brought the required equipment. "Smackwater Jack" is one of those caches where you need to bring water to float the cache container up a PVC tube. I really only needed the bucket and duct tape though because the nearby stream was flowing. The other cache in Coopersmith Park was also pretty neat. "Heard It Through the Grape Vine" was a bunch of grapes.

Then I returned to Willisbrook Preserve to finish what I started the previous day. There was another layer of slushy wet snow everywhere so walking around was a bit more difficult, but most of the caches were still findable. After that, I picked and chose geocaches around Malvern and Phoenixville. These varied in difficulty and some hill slopes were slippery.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (morton blvd)
Saturday was a day of on and off snow. Although there was maybe an inch of snow that day, it was still enough to mess up the roads a bit. Even so, I figured I could do a few nearby geocaches I'd been saving for such a day. There were some creative ones among the bunch. "Cat Fishing" was a cat hanging high up in a tree and the cache owner left a rod at the location to retrieve it. "Nasty Micro in the Woods" was more of a humor cache. It's a micro cache inside a microwave oven.

Conditions had improved somewhat by Sunday, so I decided to continue the Wizard Trail caches near Baltimore. There was still snow on the ground but I figured I knew enough about the hiding styles in the series to be able to find at least some of those despite the snow. So I spent the day in the Dundalk/Edgemere area, around North Point, Shallow Creek, and Millers Island.

My Nüvi 1390LMT malfunctioned on Saturday. Specifically, the USB port stopped accepting power from the car charger cable, although oddly, the Nüvi still worked as a USB storage device. So I started using Google Maps navigation on my phone. That's actually not a bad way to go, except that it tends to be a power drain on the phone, even when the phone is plugged in to a cigarette lighter power adapter. Navigation by phone could also fail if I happen to be driving in an area with weak cell phone reception. Therefore, I figured I needed a new automotive GPS. The sad part about the Garmin Nüvi line is I've found those tend to last just a year and change, i.e. long enough to get past the warranty period. (The 1390 lasted about a year and a half.) Anyway, while I was in Maryland on Sunday, I had an idea. Why not go to Target and try their Amazon price match? This way, I don't have to wait for shipping and I could beat the Amazon price by stacking the 5% Redcard discount on the price match. So I stopped at Target on the way home and after doing a bunch of price checks and comparisons, I got a Nüvi 40LM for $76. It's quite similar to the 1390 in operation but enhancements in speed and capacity make it a worthwhile upgrade. We'll see how long this one lasts.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (xmas)
The weather system dumped quite a bit of snow on the area Thursday night and temperatures never got above freezing on Friday. So there was still a lot of snow (and snow/ice-covered roads) on Saturday. I decided it wasn't a great day to travel out very far and tried my hand at finding geocaches in the snow within New Castle County. Some, like the banana and the idol, were still pretty easy to find despite the snow. The banana was, by sheer luck, in the only spot in the woods that was sheltered from the snow. "A Hard Cache for You", on the other hand, lived up to its name. It's a micro cache on the ground, so to find it, I pretty much had to shovel snow all around the cache site until finally, I got it out. Anyway, despite the tough geocaching and slick roads, it was a good day to go out and the snow made for a change in scenery.

On Sunday, I went to the Chester/Delaware County border area, specifically Tredyffrin, Berwyn, Radnor, and St. Davids. This area actually seemed a bit more dangerous because there were some winding and hilly country roads that were made even more icy by the freezing rain overnight. With a little care though, my car didn't skid. I tried to pick geocaches that I thought would be easy in the snow. However, "Willow Lake TB Hotel" at Eastern University turned out to be surprisingly difficult because that area by the lake had a smooth layer of snow and the cache was not where I thought it would be from the description and logs. (GPS readings were a bit flaky in that area too, which didn't help matters.) My only recourse was to shovel snow speculatively in a number of places until I got it. The best part of the day was a walk on the snowy Radnor Trail for 3 geocaches. With no one else using the bike path, it was very quiet.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (chicken fries)
Friday evening was the "Friday the 13th X 5000" geocaching event at Golden Corral in Elkton. I didn't even know there was a Golden Corral over there because apparently, they replaced the Iron Skillet restaurant with it since the last time I visited that Flying J truck stop. We didn't have a big group but it was a nice gathering to break up the monotony of long winter nights. The chocolate and caramel fountains were new to me too since Golden Corral didn't have these the last time I went to one, which was many years ago. I probably had too much fun dipping various kinds of unauthorized foods in there!

Saturday was the day of the forecasted snow showers. One good thing about weather like this is since I didn't know when it was actually going to start snowing, it made me do some geocaches closer to home, which I'd otherwise have skipped over in favor of bigger cache collections farther from home. It was nice to walk around snowy Arden Woods for "DaBungla's Booty". It might have been a bit dangerous to climb the snow-covered fallen tree for "Tree Roots" but I was careful and didn't slip off. Anyway, the snow was a bit delayed and didn't start until my 10th cache of the day, "hilltop J4 C2". After finding that cache, I hurried back down the hill and went home, but not before getting the milk and bread! (Just kidding. Actually, it only rained back at my place.)

On Sunday, I went for two geocache series. The first was SREC, which stood for "Santa's Ridiculously Easy Caches". Actually, one was so easy that it was picked up by the groundskeeper before I got to it, but the rest were pretty nice. Those were all decorated to theme, like this Frosty the Snowman container. After that, I went to Pottstown for the "Twelve Days of Christmas" series. These too were either constructed or placed more or less according to theme. For example, the "9 Ladies Dancing" cache was near a dance studio and "2 Turtle Doves" was a fake bird.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (rakket)
I frequently have event conflicts. For example, this weekend, I could either have gone to a geocaching event on Long Beach Island and stayed the weekend or to Delaware Furbowl 50. In the end, there were more reasons to go to Furbowl. Firstly, the 50th Furbowl is quite a big milestone, drawing some visitors from far away. (Fibre Kitty from Massachusetts, Nbowa from Iowa) Also, I was told that Furbowls will be held less frequently in 2014, so it'll be two months until the next one. What tipped the scale though was the weather forecast. Snow was forecasted for Sunday (which turned out to be correct), so if I stayed overnight by the Jersey Shore, driving home on Sunday would be difficult.

Anyway, since I was going to Furbowl, I didn't go geocaching too far from home. I got two geocaches in Delaware and then 11 more in Havertown, Upper Darby, and West Philadelphia. West Philly wasn't that great for geocaching because of the scarcity of parking spaces. Nevertheless, I parallel-parked as expertly as I could and got a few caches there anyway. I stopped geocaching a bit early to come home for a change of clothing. (pants were muddy) Then I went to dinner and then to the bowling alley for Furbowl.

I've been to a bunch of Furbowls over the years but #50 was the best one I've been to in quite a while. It actually didn't feel too crowded despite the number of people attending, and I got to meet up with my friends again. Also, the fursuit lounge seemed more well-constructed than before, probably a result of incremental improvements over many months. It's amazing how much piping, curtains, and racks go up and then get taken down again at the end of the night. It's like a traveling stage show. This Furbowl, I took the opportunity to debut Rakket Raccoon, another new old fursuit (old, but new to me and perhaps new to folks around here) I recently acquired. Because of the season, I put the springy Santa hat, which Wildwolf had included in the shipment, on Rakket's head and that turned out to be a hit! Endless zany fun. It was also fun to mess with people who didn't know yet who was in the fursuit. Really kept them guessing since I often don't speak in fursuit.

Sunday was the day of the forecasted snow. It was only cloudy in the morning, so I thought I would dash out after breakfast for a few geocaches and head home once the snow started. There was already some snow when I got to Upper Providence, so I stopped after the third cache and headed home. Well, the snowstorm had taken Delaware County by surprise so they hadn't salted the roads. I was still able to drive home on the snowy roads at around 15mph with minimal traction problems. The funny thing was I noticed the salt truck was following me for a few miles, so I got no benefit from that. Also, it would be funny if my car was on Channel 6 news since the news van was following me too. Anyway, I got home safely even though the highway was a snow field littered with spun-out cars.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (face tree)
Much of the northeast had a snowstorm on Friday night but Delaware had nothing. Montgomery County in Pennsylvania only had one or two inches of snow but I thought it was worth a visit to capture a few snowy scenes like these pictures from Swedeland Park and Prophecy Creek Park. On Saturday, I started with a few geocaches in Conshohocken because there were puzzle caches there that I'd solved. Then I continued northwards through Ambler, Whitpain, and North Wales. Some geocaches were findable with or without snow; others were difficult or close to impossible, although in a few exceptional cases, the snow cover helped me focus my search by hiding distractions. I didn't have to leap for "LEAP LUNCH CACHE" but it was actually rather challenging because the snow made the downhill approach quite slippery. Fortunately, I only fell down once.

On Sunday, I continued geocaching where I stopped on Saturday. This time, I covered Montgomeryville and Warrington, focusing on the multitude of geocaches in Windlestrae Park and Spring Valley Park. (The "SVP" series) After a whole day of snow melt, there was significantly less snow on Sunday, although there was still some in wooded areas. "You Scream" is actually easier during the winter. Usually, if a cache is hidden in vegetation, it's in an evergreen so that the difficulty remains constant throughout the year. This one, though, is in a deciduous bush so it's quite obvious this time of the year.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (morton blvd)
It snowed on Friday evening. So what do I do on Saturday? Why, go out geocaching on the snow, of course. This time, I went to Vineland since there were some geocaches in the area that I didn't have time for when I did the Peaslee WMA Part 2 powertrail. The toughest two geocaches of the day were "Arbor Lake" and "The 1897 Bridge" because storm damage, possibly from Hurricane Sandy, had brought down trees and brush over the trail and there hasn't been any maintenance. I had no problems finding those caches themselves but actually getting there took some work. Rainbow Lake is an interesting spot because the lake cascades over a semi-circle dam. I don't think I've seen one like that before; it's usually either a straight line or rectangular. At the end of the afternoon, I hit a bunch of geocaches in Parvin State Park. I only had time for one trail with four geocaches plus one more, but it's the best I could do without taking a long walk to the other side of the park.

On Sunday, I felt like a Hardee's breakfast, so I planned a geocaching trip to mid-state Kent County. There was a new set of animal geocaches by Trison78, including a rabbit, an elephant, and a crocodile. Those were the highlights of the day.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (gps)
37°F. It was snowing this morning and it actually snowed lightly most of the day but it wasn't cold enough for anything to stick to the roads. So I went out to get some geocaches that weren't too far away. I started in New Garden and Avondale. ("TOA" series) Then I went around Southern Chester County for the SCCCF (Southern Chester County Cache Flood) series of geocaches.

"Water Works" and "Got Mail" were the two most interesting geocaches of the day. At "Water Works", the cache is attached to a floater and it is in a pipe that you have to fill with water in order to get the cache out. I knew that from the description so I brought a 5-gallon bucket. I also knew from experience that the pipe would have a hole letting the water drain out, so I brought a roll of duct tape as well to cover that hole. Then I used water from a nearby creek and I was able to retrieve the cache. "Got Mail" is a simple puzzle cache leading to a little padlocked mailbox on the wooden fence outside the Pocopson post office. I thought it was great that the postmaster allowed this cache placement but I noticed that it is in a play area with a mini post office for kids. Nice to see a USPS location not taking itself too seriously.

The last cache of the day was in Parkesburg. The light snow turned into a blizzard suddenly and so I decided to call it a day. Parkesburg probably wasn't the best place to be during a snowstorm. As I was about to leave town, I noticed that traffic was backed up, probably because of an accident or other blockage on the curvy country road outside of town. So I had to detour and take a longer way back to Route 41 to get home.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (gps)
Icy rain, 30-35°F. A passing snow shower deposited a few inches of snow/ice mix overnight so I had to do a bit of work shoveling out the sidewalk and driveway and cleaning up the car before I headed out. I went to the "2012 Delaware Geocaching Lunch Event" (It was supposed to be a breakfast event but it got postponed a few hours because of the weather.) at Smyrna Diner in Smyrna. It was still raining at the time so it was good to have an indoor event. It was also good to meet up with some people who I ran into previously at geocache sites. I had a BLT. I thought I'd keep it simple this time but it's actually a pretty good BLT.

To be honest, I didn't think I'd do any geocaches after the event because of the freezing rain. However, I noticed that by 3pm, the rain had stopped. So I went and did six of the new geocaches that were placed for this event. Some of these were significantly easier with snow on the ground because all I had to do was follow tracks made by other geocachers until I got to a spot where all the tracks converged. The only real issue is snow made off-road parking harder in some places. Parking at "Diospyros Lane" was the worst because the road shoulder had become a mud pit. To play it safe, I parked my car with two wheels on the asphalt.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (chestnut halloween)
Last night was Delaware Furbowl 31. Originally, I'd planned on only going to the bowling portion of the meet. However, my plans for the day were shot because of the bad weather so I figured I might as well go to the dinner too, which was at Cici's Pizza. Naturally, I had a few rounds of pizza, dessert, and a token salad to make it healthy. :) I was surprised that we had a special group rate at Cici's. ($1.38 discount)

Sunday was sunny and 45°F. I went back to where I stopped geocaching on Saturday to see what the snow did. There were indeed fields of snow in the Great Valley area. What's annoying was many traffic lights were still out. Since it is an area with many corporate buildings, they'll have a problem during the Monday morning rush if they don't get those back by then. Most of the areas I went geocaching, from Great Valley to Phoenixville and Royersford, were wet with half-melted snow. Since I was already wet, I decided to throw a swamp cache into the mix. "Royersford Swamp Thing" wasn't as swampy as I thought though. It's just a trail with a lot of puddles.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (morton blvd)
Rain and snow, 35°F.

There was a geocaching event, "3,000 Trees at Stroud Preserve Pre-Event", in West Chester this morning, so I woke up early to get there by 8am. It was at Dunkin' Donuts, so we had donuts, of course. I also took the opportunity to use my DD birthday coupon to get a cappuccino latte. The event was originally a small gathering before heading over to Stroud Preserve to plant some trees. Unfortunately, the tree-planting was canceled because of the weather. It was raining early in the morning. Later, the rain turned to snow.

I went out to find a bunch of geocaches around Downingtown after the event. However, when the snow started coming down heavily, I decided to stop geocaching and go to Jimmy John's for a cheeseburger and chili cheese fries. And that was it for the first half of the day. It is unusually early for snow around here. It was also colder than usual, so overall, it was a rather winter-like day.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (hump)
I'm getting a bit behind in writing. Given the 50-60°F temperatures recently, it was a bit of a surprise when 4 inches of snow fell the night before last. So I had a bit of work to do before leaving. Not a problem though. By this time, I've had plenty of practice and was able to get snow off the car and shovel the sidewalk/driveway/walkway in under half an hour. No big deal even if that took longer though. It wasn't going to be a problem if I didn't get to work at exactly 9am since we're not too strict on that.

In the evening, I went to Battery Park in old New Castle for the DeRRH06-Don't forget to buy your tickets! geocache. The whole park was blanketed in snow except for, oddly enough, the spot where the cache was. That's a good thing because it is a micro cache on the ground, so it could've certainly been a lot more difficult under snow cover. So I had an easy time on this one.
mortonfox: (gps)
Cloudy, 32-36°F. Strangely on a Saturday morning, I woke up early. As I was having breakfast, I checked the weather radar and noticed a storm system moving in from the northwest. But I thought I could grab a few geocaches in South Jersey and be back before anything started. I started with a nearby cache at Riverview Park in Pennsville and work my way out from there. The whole of South Jersey is blanketed in about 6-8 inches of snow. I was still able to find the caches without too much trouble, although I did bring a snow shovel to "dead end" and "Thompson Park Cache and Walk". "dead end" required some snow-shoveling before I saw what I needed to see, but I knew to focus my shoveling around likely cache spots. At "Brother's Keeper South TB Hostel", I talked to the car wash guy about the geocache because he already knew about the game and the box was in the woods behind the car wash. He thought it would be a real pain to find because of all the snow, but then I surprised him by going back there and picking it out in a minute!

I had an early lunch (11:30am!!) at Long John Silver's in Mantua since the 4th cache of the day brought me into that town. This time, I had a chicken and fish variety platter. It was a leisurely lunch with much use of free wi-fi internet since the restaurant wasn't busy. After that, I went for "Thompson Park Cache and Walk" since it was on the way home. Although it wasn't really far into the park, it was the longest walk of the day through a lot of snow that went above my ankles. However, I was very lucky in finding the cache. I thought I'd have to shovel out some snow to get an idea of where to look more closely but the first time I pushed the shovel into the snow, it hit the cache! Anyway, I returned home after that because by then, I was tired of walking around in the snow.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (chicken fries)
I woke up this morning to about 8 inches of snow. I figured everyone would be on snow delay anyway, so I didn't need to rush. However, I did finish shoveling out the sidewalk and enough of the driveway by 9am, so that's when I went to work. With snow and ice on some secondary roads and generally wet conditions on the highway, it took me 15 minutes to get there. How long does it normally take me to get to work? Also 15 minutes. Conclusion? I've been driving too slowly on days when the road was fine.

Anyway, I was the first one at the office. It wasn't until 2 hours later when I was joined by a second person and we topped out at 3 people for the day. It wasn't a terribly busy day and I got what I needed to do done by the early afternoon.

Famous Dave's had a "snowed in" special, so I went to their Wilmington location in the evening. I had a Georgia chopped pork and catfish combo platter. Like certain other restaurant chains, Famous Dave's has a selection of sauces at every table. I have to say though that the "Devil's Spit" sauce, which they claim to be their hottest sauce, isn't that hot. It doesn't even begin to burn until you've had a lot of it.
mortonfox: (fox bend)
Sunny, 43-48°F. This afternoon, I went for a small group of geocaches in Elk Township and Glassboro. Now, I knew New Jersey got more snow than my place but I didn't know exactly how much snow they had. This morning, my front yard was already mostly free of snow but the Elk Township soccer fields still had four inches of snow with snowdrifts as high as two feet! I sank in to my knees a couple of times while walking across the snow-covered field. Surprisingly, the first two geocaches were trivial to find, whether by design or by chance being in spots that happened to not be snowed under. The third cache was under snow. I thought I would have to dig up a lot of snow to find it because that area was under a uniform layer of snow with no telltale signs. Fortunately, I was a good guesser and found it in the second spot I poked at.

After leaving Elk Township, I headed over to Glassboro. At "Ruins of Cinder", I had some help because MuckSavage's tracks led me right to the cache. However, the cache hide was pretty obvious even with snow. Then I went to the Delsea Drive Senior Center Park for the last two caches of the day. Neither of the two were affected in any way by the snow, even with six inches of snow on the ground everywhere. I only had to look the right way to see what I needed to find those caches.

The caches... )
mortonfox: (fox sit)
Snow, 24-28°F. At noon, I went to [undisclosed company] in Wilmington for my second-round interview. This time, I met up with only two of the three people from the first interview. It was longer though. We talked of many things. Of ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings... and also software development.

When I was done with the interview, I noticed that it had started snowing. The roads weren't really bad yet, but I saw a few accidents on the way back, including one overturned pickup truck. And that was before even an inch of snow had fallen! The truck didn't appear to have collided with any other vehicles but when I saw that, I decided it would be best to go directly home and stay home. In the evening, I went out to shovel the sidewalk and driveway. There was still less than an inch of snow on the pavement but I did that anyway and I was done in minutes.

With inclement weather comes a new software project. I actually started NuviGC a few days ago when I noticed that GSAK uses SQLite databases and wondered if perhaps I could write a script to query those databases directly and generate POI files for the Nuvi without going through GSAK. I'd been using this GSAK macro to generate POI files but it's a bit crufty and the author hasn't updated it in two years. The GSAK macro language is like Visual Basic with a lot of the good stuff missing, so I figured it would be better to reimplement it in Python and use that as a base on which to make my own improvements. And that's what I did. So far, I've added:
  • Better linebreaks/formatting.
  • Geocache attributes.
  • Corrected coordinates in logs.
  • Some workarounds for the Nuvi 295W.
  • Substitutions for some HTML entities not recognized by POILoader.
mortonfox: (morton ave)
Snow - Feb 6, 2010 - Front Yard The snow stopped shortly after 3pm. I measured the snow depth in the middle of the front yard and it was about 14.5 inches. I think that was the shallowest part of it. I stepped into one of the snowdrifts and it went up to my knees. This afternoon, we shoveled the front walkway, sidewalk, and driveway, and brushed snow off the car. Probably not going out anywhere until late Sunday. Tomorrow, we'll shovel the walkway to the backyard so that we can wheel out the trash bin for garbage collection. In the meantime, I'm apparently all stocked up on icicles. :)

Snow

Dec. 19th, 2009 07:29 pm
mortonfox: (xmas)
After about 4" of snow


Woke up this morning to about 4" of snow on the ground and it continued snowing throughout the day, so that put a stop to this evening's plans. But that's okay. There'll be another meet next month and it's better to be safe than to try to drive out on those snowy roads. So all we did this morning was brush the snow off the car and shovel and salt the sidewalk and driveway. We'll have to do this again tomorrow morning to take care of a few more inches of snow that fell later in the day.

Worked on a Twitter login prompt for TwitVim last night. I didn't think of this before because I'd always just started it up by script. This suggestion came from a user who wanted to set up TwitVim on a system that wasn't his, so he couldn't put his login info (whether plain or base64) in the vimrc.

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mortonfox: (Default)
Morton Fox

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