As promised, here’s the post about my trip down to Philadelphia (along with the caching exploits and such).
Anyway, I’m on vacation until Jan. 1. With that in mind, I didn’t have much planned. There was a caching event Dec. 20 (I’ll have something separate on that one later) and outside of the holidays, I was quite free.
So Darren had to do some work in Philadelphia and asked if I wanted to tag along for a few days. Maybe do some photography, do some caching and all that. I figured it would be a nice (free) way to get away from the area for a few days and hopefully pile up a few caches, even if a bunch had to be done at night.
Darren picked me up Sunday morning and we were on our way. In a snowstorm. The ride was slow for the first part of the trip, but as we got away from our area and into New Jersey, the snow started to go away slowly but surely. As we got closer to Philly, the snow became nothing. However, I’ll note, the whole trip was cold as can be!
Sunday’s count: 16 caches. We hit four on the way down in rest areas and quick hits off an exit. The one I really wanted to hit was a letterbox hybrid (little did I know this would become a theme for the weekend). It was hidden like some others out there in the end of a guardrail, but it was a decent-sized cache where I could drop a signature item etc.
Oh, allow me to also share this piece of information. I have found a new way to cache. Darren has a laptop holder in his truck and has nationwide wireless through Verizon. Nice. So the whole way down, we’re online. That came in handy all weekend — but first with our fourth cache of the trip.
We were coming to a rest area and I didn’t have it in my lists as I didn’t realize when planning the route that we’d be that far on the highway. So I just basically looked it up, discovered a cache there and we stopped to make the grab. Glad we did, too, because I got the chance to swap a signature item (wood coin, which is great as I collect the signature items).
After that, we headed into the city and checked into the hotel. After that, we went and ate dinner (at a Chickie and Pete’s — and had the chance to see a lot of Eagles fans groan as they lost the game and said goodbye to the playoffs… good times). We went back to the hotel and plotted a bunch of caches we could do that night, mainly quick grabs on the strip near the hotel (who knew this strip would keep us occupied for two nights?)
We ended up grabbing 12 that night. The best of which might have been one called FDR’s Cache (GC19XGC) — one that had been DNFd two times before. We almost DNFd it, too, except Darren opted to look a final time and well, we had found the original spot. He just “forced” the spot more and got it unstuck, reached in and grabbed. So it was still there, thankfully, and we got the grab.
A good way to start the trip.
Monday came and thankfully, I got to sleep in some as I was the one on vacation. When Darren got done working around noon or so, we started to plot the day ahead. And caching, of course, was on the docket (as well as a surprise visit to my aunt and uncles and a free dinner). What we decided was we were going to head into New Jersey and hit this one park where there were 12 caches — 10 letterboxes as well as a virtual.
When we first hit Jersey, we went to a small area where we tackled a micro and a letterbox, then headed to this park.
It was downright cold that day, too. Thankfully, with the trees, the wind wasn’t as bad as when we were at the first two caches. Brrrrrr!Anyway, this part was littered with those letterboxes. Everything was pretty cool in regard to how they were setup. Not too much by way of buschwhacking and pretty easy finds. Being it was cold, it was nice to keep moving for the most part. There were, however, a lot of prickers in this park, so had to be careful out there.
This is the park:
The two caches that are marked unavailable were actually able to be found because other cachers had helped out the owner by replacing the caches with temporary ones. I’m quite happy about that as I’m not sure if I’d ever make it back here and to be able to get the whole loop was fun. What we did was start on the left and hit the first six letterbox caches before breaking off for the regular cache. We then did the final four and the virtual and were freezing when all said and done.
We left the park and decided to do one more letterbox hybrid nearby before heading back into Philly. This was well worth the stop. It was a quick park-and-grab hybrid, but the stamp was more than worth it. For those who do the letterbox hybrids and have stamps, mine isn’t anything special. I have a softball/baseball then sign my name. One day, if I find out how, I might decide to make my own. Anyway, the one we got to have from this spot was awesome. I don’t always stamp my book with the stamp in the cache, but this one I did:
We then headed into the city and went to visit some of my relatives. After that, back to the hotel and prepping for the next leg of our day — some caches and some steaks.
We did a bunch of park-and-grabs and a few other interesting ones that eventually gave us 25 for the day. Not bad for a broken-up afternoon and evening. One good thing, however, was that we completed six micro finds, which allowed us to figure the coordinates for a mystery cache finale. We did that Tuesday before leaving. That is an interesting story as well.
We also ended up in South Philly to do some night photographs of Geno’s Steaks. I had this photo on my photo blog late last week. After grabbing a steak (of course), we opted to try one small cache in a park and as we walked toward it, got an odd feeling as someone drove by us, so we skipped that one and did a few more on the strip heading back to the hotel.
As Tuesday came, we had a couple of things we wanted to do before leaving. Go back to Geno’s for some steaks and conversation (I’m related to the owner), grab some caches in the city and head out to finish what Darren had to do for work. So we went into the city and hung out at Geno’s for a bit and then did two nearby virtual caches.
Before we hit the virtuals, there was a cache near Geno’s. Well, it’s listed between Geno’s and Pat’s. However, there had been several DNFs on it over the past few months. Would be nice for the owner to check it. Anyway, we gave it a try — looking everywhere:
We looked all over and spent a bit checking in, around and under spots. Alas, we finally had to throw in the towel and call it a DNF so we could move on.
From there, we went to this small little garden-type park (which I’m sure looks WAY better in the summer):
What was cool about this place was the murals on the wall as well as being able to find an ammo can in the city. Swapped out TBs and signed the log as we moved on. One of the murals:
We hit two more in the main city. One at a Korean War Memorial, which was really nice. Then we went to Fishtown — where my father grew up. Had to go to this park (though I’m not even sure if it’s near where the heck he grew up), but it was in that section of the city, so I wanted to do it. It was a quick micro, but still pretty cool.
One of the sites in the park:
After that, we went back toward the hotel we stayed in because we wanted to get that mystery cache and possibly one more bigger one so we could drop off a TB or two.
This is where it gets interesting.
We figure a spot we can park for the mystery cache, so we set off on a small walk through paved trails. About 6-7 minutes later, we get to within 150 feet, but we have to go up a small hill. No biggie, off we go. We go past a hole in the ground with some smoldering wood. Interesting. Maybe some kids partying or something? Looks like it had burned out over the course of the night, so who knows.
Darren goes one way, I go another. He ends up finding the cache, so I wander up to him. The cache top has ice in it, so he smacks it on the log and gets the ice free. About that time I look up and about 50-60 feet away (maybe a little more) is a lump near a tree.
It’s a person. A homeless person is snoozing. So at this point, caching becomes a little freaky. First, you don’t want to compromise the cache (which is why we didn’t leave any travel bugs there) and you also don’t want a confrontation of any sort (I had my camera and GPS).
So, we start to speed up and the homeless guy starts to move and sit up. He peeks at us, but not much. Within seconds, he’s standing and bolting up the hill away from us. Apparently, he was as spooked as we were. We signed the log, actually left a couple of signature tokens and hid the cache a little to the left, but in the same area.
It also woke us up a little. Seriously. We have a country spending billions on bailouts and we all enjoy these games and here’s a guy — two days before Christmas — sleeping in the cold. Sad things. I wish our country would worry more about that then helping billionaires celebrate with big parties because they’ve been bailed out. I’m not into politics, however, so enough of that.
If the guy had sat up, watched us and stayed there, I might have gone and given him a fiver or something because of the time of the season. Alas, he took off too quickly.
After that, we went to one last cache to drop off a TB I wanted to release in Philly. We found a spot to park and as we were signing, another cacher came in. He had already found the spot, but was sropping a TB. He ended up giving me one to take to New York as well. Always interesting to meet people on the trail.
Then, we were out of there.
We had to DNF a cache at a rest area (argh!), but got one more in Jersey on our way home and finished with eight for the day.
Final tally for the weekend: 49 finds; 13 letterbox hybrids; 3 virtuals; 1 multi.
It’s a good area and I hope to be able to do more down there. I wanted to hit a few Earthcaches, but we never got to them. Maybe down the line. I’ll be back soon with some quick-hits, a first-to-find and some other notes.