Wonderful, Wonderful Wisconsin – Episode 1: Green Bay For a Day

Today was Sunday and since I didn’t have anything planned other than shopping and maybe homework, I thought I’d have an adventure.

So I went to Green Bay for the day.

It was pretty uneventful, but at least I got to see more of Fond du Lac County, and three other counties (Winnebago, Outagamie, and Brown) for the first time.

My first stop was Fond du Lac, mostly because I needed gas. But then I looked at the geocaching app and there were SO MANY caches in the area I had to at least pick up a few. My next stop was in Green Bay itself. I drove around the downtown area. It seemed like a small town. I saw Lake Michigan from the road. I called my dad, who was shocked to hear about where I was, and told me that the Packers were in San Francisco, so no game today. Also, it was a Sunday, so things were quiet anyway.

I found Lambeau Field, home of the Packers, and it was basically empty, so I drove right into the parking lot. I walked around taking a few pictures of things to prove I was there, and then found a geocache before heading home.

Next, I hit up Appleton to get a find in Outagamie County. All I saw of Appleton were suburbs, unless it’s just a city of suburbs, in which case, I saw everything. I had a croissant and iced coffee at THE Appleton Starbucks (okay, I think there were about four in the town) and spent too long reading there, and then looking for a place to get a quick bite as it was getting dark.

Having found none, I headed off to Oshkosh to get a find in Winnebago County. It was sunset, and I also wanted to hit up Target, so I found the Oshkosh Target right off the highway. I went in, realizing that a) I desperately needed the bathroom, b) I wasn’t quite sure what I needed, c) if I was going to look for a cache, I didn’t want a car full of stuff, and d) it was getting really, really dark. So I skipped out of Target after only using their bathroom, and looked on my phone for a close, easy geocache to round out the day. I found one in someone’s front yard, but it was a lock box and I looked awfully suspicious trying desperately to open the lock with my iPhone as a flashlight, in an unfamiliar neighborhood, in an unfamiliar city, after dark, and after a few tries went back to the car. I pointed myself towards the next nearest one, and it turned out to be a pretty standard micro in a very well-lit location (outside a rather quiet bar), which is what I wanted all along.

Then, of course my annoying GPS tells me to take a smaller road back to the highway, so I drive through some backwater Winnebago County for awhile, in the pitch-black, super scared. When I’m back on the highway, I get a phone call from a friend, and then my dad, which got me back to Madison, to the Super Target in Verona, actually, only to find out that it closed an hour ago. Damn. But the Metcalfe’s is open all night, so I went there instead and bought expensive groceries and still didn’t get home until 1 in the morning.

All in all, not the worst. I completed my mission of having finds in 3 new counties, and I even found a total of 10 caches, which was nice. Hopefully my schedule will allow me to do more adventures and see more of wonderful, wonderful Wisconsin.


Geocaching Milestones: #600-#1000

Good morning from Omaha, Nebraska, where we’ve been for a couple days and hopefully only an hour or two more. Actually, it’s not so horrible here – the hotel I picked turned out to be pretty awesome, if not for the many guests under the age of 3. Omaha is pretty and full of hills, a welcome change from the flatness of Kansas and Missouri. 

I found my 1400th geocache a few days ago in Oklahoma City, so I thought I’d share some more geocaching adventures.

#600 Henry Woodfin Grady (Houston, Texas)

This one was pill bottle not far from my apartment. I remember having to rush to school afterwards so I just got a quick pic and left.

#700 Bellaire Nite Owl (Houston, Texas)

This one was a large protein powder container hidden in a tree in Bellaire. Again, nothing too out of the ordinary here.

#800 The Last Bodiddle! (Humble, Texas)

I hadn’t ever gotten any caches in Humble, a northern suburb of Houston, so I went to grab some, including this one. It was a nano on the grounds of an old high school. Not a fantastic hide, but it served its purpose.

#900 Sesquicentennial Summer (Austin, Texas)

This was probably one of the most memorable milestones. I had about 15 to go, and I went to Austin that day for an ill-fated research trip. All was going well for the first 10 or so caches, but then the skies opened up and it started to pour. The last few caches involved me running through the raindrops and probably angering people with my frantic cache-to-cache driving. Though the rain had just let up when I found my 900th cache, a tupperware outside of the Texas School for the Deaf, it was still pretty dreary. The sun came out somewhere on the ride home. I posted on Facebook something like “cold, wet, miserable, but I found my 900th cache.”

#1000 Landman Lounge (Columbus, Texas)

Turning into the big four digits was something that I wanted to share with friends, and it couldn’t have happened at a better time. One of my good friends, Julie, is based in Arlington, TX, but comes from Columbus, about 45 minutes outside of Houston. She was visiting her parents that weekend with her husband and kids, and as a new geocacher, she invited me to spend the day with her geocaching. I had a job fair in Katy to go to that morning, so I picked up about 10 or so there before heading out to Columbus, where this was the first cache we found together along with her daughter and brother. I actually got the pleasure of finding it, which was even better. Even though it was just a magnet attached to a fence post, it was in a pretty garden and the fact that I was with friends made it a sweet victory.

Back to the hotel room to finish packing up I go – next stop, Iowa, then on Monday, Wisconsin.


Geocaching Milestones: #100-#500

Today was one of those days where the skies played hide-and-seek. After finding eight geocaches in the morning, I took a break for lunch, and by the time I came out of the Starbucks, it decided to monsoon. I managed to find four as the rain got progressively worse. Then, I had no cohice but to head home. Just as it was letting up, I decided to pull over to get a quick P&G and of course, the moment I open the door, the monsoon decides to return. At least I got twelve.

Nothing much else happened today, so I’ll share some stories of geocaching milestones I’ve gotten.

#100: BROKEN AND HOLEY, Ma & Pa Trail, Baltimore County, Maryland

The owners of this cache made it Premium Only so I can’t read my log, which I’m sure was completely off-the-wall. I was with my dad and some other geocachers, and we kept running into others as we walked along the trail finding geocaches. It was a huge pretzel container that was standard size back then but would be ENORMOUS by today’s geocaching standards. I got my dad to take a picture of me with it, sitting on a log in my Virgin Orlando T-shirt, scrubs, and green Israeli Army hat (that disappeared, unfortunately, along the years). Joining the Century Club (100 caches) was probably something big back then (maybe I got a certificate from MGS?), but when CCCooperAgency said that after 500, the charm would wear off, she was right.

#200: Woods of Woodholme, Baltimore, Maryland

This one, hidden by my friends not far from my house, was my 200th find. I found it the day after we got back from the Chicago trip (where I’d hoped to have gotten #200 but was just one short) and it was just a tupperware. I was wearing my red Chicago shirt that I’d just gotten a few days earlier.

#300: Meltdown 2004, Columbia, Maryland.

This was a tupperware under a rock in Columbia. All I remember was that I was with my dad, it was winter, and I was in my big black coat.

#400: DARWINIAN DAYDREAMS, Baltimore, Maryland.

I don’t remember this one at all. I was probably with my dad, and the picture shows it was a pill bottle and I was wearing a brown shirt.

#500: Spice Market, Kansas City, Missouri.

This was a nano cache in downtown Kansas City, and one of the last caches from that trip, which we found a few hours before getting on the plane. It was a button attached to a sign at this deserted market with a big water wheel where I bought a T-shirt. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of myself at this cache, thanks to what happened to my camera on that trip.



Was hoping that I could actually get it together today and post something before midnight, but I have to say that I had a pretty productive day today, otherwise, so I’m not perfect. It actually started pretty early as I woke up at 7:45 AM and ended up being relatively busy, with exercising, gym, geocaching, social interactions, all built in. And – check it – there was one thing today I wasn’t late for. Success.

I have a lot of nervousness settling in for no good reason. For some reason, while driving my car today, I kept feeling like I was being watched – maybe by God, maybe by a distant police scanner – I don’t know.

What I do know:

  • Get stuff done for BLT
  • Talk to YF
  • Start reading some plays
  • Start reading some more stuff
  • Take out the recycling
  • Clean up the apartment
  • Go to the post office
  • Generally stop being useless, even though I’m actually not so useless these days
  • Check in with J in a few days to see what’s up
  • Get some more ideas about blog posts
  • Finish some recaps
  • Write about my trips to Chicago and KC
  • Write about more geocache adventures

Aaaannndddd…that’ll probably last me for the rest of the year. I’m such a lost cause. But at least I got it all written down today.

Oh, and I watched the second episode of Siberia tonight, and most of what happened, I predicted! I am loving this show.


1300 Geocaches Later…

I am getting awfully good at this whole “sneaking-in-posts-before-midnight thing.”

Today was pretty unexceptional, up until the 11th geocache I found today, I’d rather do the Texas Alphabet Chili Challenge. It was in a small suburb of The Woodlands, itself a suburb of Houston, called Shenandoah. I know there are hundreds or thousands of caches closer to me, but I picked this one because it was a challenge cache that I’ve actually completed the requirements for: find 1 Texas geocache for each letter of the alphabet. Given that my last 600 or so finds have been in Texas, I was pretty confident I fulfilled these parameters and sure enough, I showed that I did. On the way to the cache, I saw a rather large turtle from the car. I’m not too keen on wild animals, alive or dead, but this very-much-alive turtle was just hangin’ out in the road, doin’ it’s turtle thing, so I watched it for a few seconds then moved on, parked, and found the geocache, which was a big pot with some water in it just lying 100 feet from the road. The log was soaking wet, so I found an old Kroger receipt from my wallet, wrote my name and the landmark event on it, and left it in the cache. By the time I had walked back to my car, the turtle had sped away somewhere, so I never got to take a picture of it.

Geocaching is one of my favorite hobbies. It started for me when a family friend from synagogue, a prolific geocacher himself, encouraged me to join him for a day of geocaching in Baltimore. This was in 2002 – specifically, April 13. My 14-year-old mind was blown, and I got my dad into it, leading us to meet many more people and have many crazy adventures, the stories of which are endless, from climbing a nearly vertical hill in Patapsco Valley State Park in Maryland with about twenty other people, including a woman with a metal knee and a girl with a sleeping baby strapped to her chest, to crawling for almost a half-mile through thorn bushes on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, to poking around Disney World exhibits in Florida, to standing on a tiny strip of sidewalk in Nassau, Bahamas with my mother in front of the Governor’s Mansion while cars whizzed by us in either direction.

I stopped for a while due to college/Israel/life with about 500 caches under my belt, and picked it up again in the dog days of summer during my first year in Houston, and in two years have managed to more than double that, for a grand total of 1300.

So in the coming posts (intermingled with introspective posts, things I like, random memories, book reviews, etc.) I will tell you about some of the more interesting adventures I’d had in this weird world called geocaching.

I’ll leave you tonight with the story of my very first geocache:

Stump Cache (Baltimore, Maryland)

I had no clue what to look for, and it was literally an ammo box inside an old stump near the Kenilworth Mall in Towson. I exchanged some toys because I was 14 years old.

Ok, so that wasn’t an interesting one, but I’ll think of some more interesting stories and share them when I recall them.

Now that I’m on that subject, I’m off to read my old logs and find said stories. DISTRACTIONS.


Road Trip 3: The Carolinas, 2002

I can’t think of anything really interesting to post about today – it was a pretty low key day, all things considered, and nothing really leaped out at me that PO’ed me or made me really happy. Ran for the first time in several days, which was nice. Even if the treadmill was conspiring to kill me with its rattling…

So here’s Road Trip 3: North and South Carolina, 2002.

A prologue to this trip: we had discovered geocaching a year before, so we were all set to do that. Also, my dad had decided that he was tired of the long drives, and since I was nowhere near being able to drive, we did a hub-and-spoke fly/drive trip, with Charlotte, NC as our “home base.”

Day 1 (August 8, 2002): We flew from Baltimore to Charlotte, North Carolina. We got there early enough in the day that we could dip down into South Carolina to get the first two stamps of the trip, Kings Mountain NHP and Cowpens NB. We did a fun virtual cache at Kings Mountain that led us around the park.

Day 2: We spent the day geocaching around Charlotte, and found five geocaches (which was mind-blowingly amazing – and remember, this is papered caching as well), and probably did something else semi-interesting.

Day 3: Shabbat. This was (admittedly) a mistake. We had only incorporated Shabbat into our plans once before, and that was all the way back in 1999, when we spent it in New York City with family. This time around, we were a) in a hotel, b) in a hotel in Charlotte, NC, and c) in a hotel in Charlotte, NC in the middle of nowhere. Seriously. We couldn’t even walk around outside the hotel grounds because we were surrounded by highways. So, naturally, it was boring and sort of wasted.

Day 4: Back in the saddle. This day, we went to Columbia, South Carolina to get the Congaree Swamp NM stamp and do some geocaches around town. Congaree Swamp was exciting for me because it was the first real “natural” park we’d ever seen on our trips and it was nice to visit somewhere and not be inundated with history and exhibits. We walked on an elevated walkway through the forest and saw a bunch of lizards, big and small. We also saw the SC state capitol, complete with a statue of (then-living) Strom Thurmond. We capped off the day with geocaches in Sesquicentennial Park, including one that was a complex multi.

Day 5: The direction of the day was west. In the morning, we hit up Carl Sandburg’s home in Flat Rock, North Carolina – a town that is actually much prettier than it sounds. I remember meeting a fellow Passport stamp collector in the gift shop and reveling in the fact that I had way more than him. It was still early afternoon, and we didn’t have anything else to do, so my dad asked if there were any other nearby stamps. Great Smoky Mountains National Park seemed a little far, but off we went anyway, and got there relatively quickly. The scenery was gorgeous and I fell in love with the mountains. It was strange, however, entering the town of Cherokee. Cherokee is on the Cherokee Indian Reservation, and is not only pretty but pretty poor. It seemed like everyone was depressed, selling stuff, or both. Some of the signs were in Cherokee rather than English which was interesting. Once we made it to the visitor center, however, we were both so hot and it was so crowded that we just wanted to leave. I got my stamp, but unfortunately we skipped most of the exhibits because it was too hot. We poked around the reservation a little bit and bought some souvenirs, and I thought it was cool to tell people that I visited an Indian reservation over the summer. Fortunately, we saw plenty of the Smokies from the car, and that was satisfactory enough.

Day 6: We stopped in the morning at a history museum, but it was super boring since nothing ever happened in Charlotte. Then we flew home.

Ranking this trip, it probably fell somewhere between New England and Ohio. Seeing Carl Sandburg’s home and the Great Smoky Mountains made up for the boringness of Charlotte.

Our next trip was on the New England level of fun: Chicago, 2003, followed by our last official trip – Kansas City, 2004 – before I graduated high school, went off to college, and the tradition died off.


Things I Like (and do not like – the first post of many)

Hi. My name is Jacob. These are some things that I like. Today’s topic is:

Travel. I like car rides, bus rides, plane rides, anything that goes “go” goes for me. It’s almost midnight on May 29, 2013 so go figure. Why do I love travel? I like to make friends when traveling, hear stories, and tell stories. I like seeing new places and emerging from magical portals into distant lands. Although this past week alone took me to Houston, Austin, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette, Galveston, Chicago, and now Madison, I mostly enjoyed it all. It’s like God scooped me up and then put me back down in a different location. This is one of many magical aspects of God (more on God later). I like maps and navigating. I like road signs and taking pictures of them. All of them. I like playing the license plate game and I have very strict rules for doing so, including no truck plates, and you must be on the highway to start. Probably more but I’ll think of them later. I like walking around in a city, but knowing where I am. There is little greater satisfaction that getting to a place correctly and with little fuss. When my mom and I went to the Bahamas, we spent an amazing day walking around Nassau, wasting absolutely no time because I planned out our route, step by step. She still talks about how much fun that day was – we got everything done that we wanted/needed, didn’t die in the heat, and moved with purpose, enjoying every moment because we had a plan. I like learning and communicating with different languages. Or at least trying. I don’t care if I look stupid because if I try, usually it works better than if I had started off in English. I have done this with Spanish, Quechua, German, Czech, Slovak, Hindi, Greek, Turkish, and Hebrew. In Cyprus, I got mistaken for a local at a party in a cafe. In Prague, I went into a restaurant speaking Czech. This guy asked me if I came from America and I said yes. Then, he was all, so why aren’t you speaking English to me? It’s because we’re in Prague, I’m assuming that you’re a Czech speaker, so I’m trying my best, ASSHOLE. I like being the mysterious traveler who everyone wonders about. Sometimes I am chipper while traveling, sometimes I am brooding and moody, but rarely. I like getting gas in odd places – usually there’s a geocache there (more on geocaching later), there’s always an interesting little service station store building thing to go into, and you get a receipt proving that you were once in this place. This past week, I have gotten gas in Houston, TX; Elgin, TX; Westlake, LA; Lafayette, LA; and La Marque, TX. I love driving and feeling the open road beneath me. I also like sitting in the passenger seat without the pressure of doing the driving, and having the ability to read or relax. I like to use the GPS and watch the earth move as I do, or vice versa. I like to pretend that I am on the Amazing Race when doing things like catching trains and buses and planes and buying tickets and such. I like trying local foods and new foods, but sometimes I just want a sandwich. I like watching airport flight boards. I like exploring the airport. I like to take pictures; scenic, side-selfie, or silly. I like to blend in with the scenery; if I get mistaken for a local, my mission has been accomplished. I like to travel with a bag on my back containing everything I will need; it makes me feel so mobile and free.

I do not like backseat or passenger seat drivers. When I want your opinion, I’ll ask. Even if/when I do screw up, I have a pretty solid mental compass and can generally right myself within a reasonable amount of time without your help. I do not like GPS units that tell you turn-by-turn directions. You, disembodied voice from a tiny device made in China, have not driven down this road before so don’t act like you know. I do not like paying insane amounts of money for gas. I do not like road food and prefer to pack a bag or cooler full of drinks and snacks. I do not like expensive airport food. I do not like rolling bags, except when I know exactly where I’ll be going and what I’ll be doing. For example, last summer’s trip to Europe. I brought my huge camping backpack, and my dad and sister brought rolling bags. Although there are lovely wood or granite floors in most places in Germany and the Czech Republic, there are also lovely cobblestones and plenty of lovely stairs. It was amazing to be able to walk with hands unencumbered…but then not so nice to look down at the Rolling Bag crew at the bottom of the stairs which I just conquered with actual leaps and bounds. I do not like to stick out like a sore thumb – there are subtle ways to play tourist. I do not like people who get to go everywhere all the time. They make me annoyed and jealous. Newyorklosangelesmiamiparisvegascabocancunhawaiilondonbeijingshanghaiseoul.

These are some things that I like and things that I do not like about travel as of this moment.