Friday, December 31, 2010

The Year in Review - 2010

Well, it's December 31st, and the obligatory look back at 2010 is now required or they'll take my blogging license away. Hmm. I don't think they actually do that, but just in case...

When looking ahead to this year, I mentioned some goals around hiking, canoeing, backpacking, fishing and other outdoor activities. Most of what I wanted to be able to do this year was accomplished easily. I was able to get out and do a number of very nice day hikes, including Ridley Creek SP, French Creek SP, Brandywine Creek SP and many other little state and local parks. Much of this time spent walking in the woods came about in a way I never would have imagined entering the year - geocaching. In addition to the dedicated hiking trips I have mentioned, dozens and dozens if not hundreds of mile were walked, a few miles at a time, in search of geocaches hidden here, there and everywhere. What a wonderful blend of two interests that turned out to be.

I also specifically mentioned wanting to do an overnight backpacking trip, and much to my delight this actually happened in June in the Lackawanna State Forest. It was hard work, painful at times, but I loved it. And I have a very nice set of equipment that will make the next trip require virtually no additional investment at all.

One outdoors item that did not get addressed is the longstanding desire to do some canoeing. Other than a brief token kayaking run with Dave (little more than a test drive), no time was spent on the water, and this is a disappointment. This will continue to be a goal every year until it happens.

I had hoped that after our wonderful Disney World trip in December 2009 that we would take another big family trip this year, and that did not happen, which is disappointing. But I am pretty happy about the number of smaller things that we were able to do together. We fished, we went places for nice day trips, we spent some time at the River, we geocached, and the girls were involved in more activities than ever before, which Amparo and I tried hard to support and attend as best we could. Julia was involved in cheerleading and various Special Olympics sports, and Grace continues to grow and amaze me.

Reflecting on family is difficult for me at times, because I know that this is the area where I can always do better. Most parents would like to believe that they are doing the best they can, and that they try hard, and in that respect I guess I am no different. But if there was one aspect of life to always strive to be better at, this would be it. There is always more room to be involved. And I could use much more patience.

Bluntly put, 2010 was for the most part a lost year on the wargaming front. And you know what? That's perfectly fine. One of the comments I had made going into this year regarding my hobby was not to worry too much about planning, and just let my interests go where they wanted to. What I meant at the time was to let my interests drift between historical periods and such. What actually happened was that my time and attention drifted almost completely away from wargaming and settled on geocaching instead. Oops. Unexpected; but not a bad thing.

I had expressed the desire to set up a dedicated painting table in the basement. I did that in January and then proceeded to paint less than a hundred figures all year, which is a dreadfully low output. I attended Cold Wars, Historicon, and Fall In as usual, with varying degrees of satisfaction. Cold Wars was good, Historicon was very good, and Fall In was a huge disappointment. We did play a little LaSalle rules for Napoleonics, which I liked well enough to buy some 15mm Spanish and Portugese for the Peninsula, and to begin re-basing many of my existing 15mm Napoleonics. I had a decent sized batch of French and British painted in Sri Lanka. So that is a bright spot. And toward the end of the year Chris Parker began floating some ideas for a 4th edition of Day of Battle, so hopefully that will spark some creative juices in me.

My interest in modern literature is a big part of my spare time, or at least my nightly before-sleep time. A separate post details my year in books.

I have also written extensively on this elsewhere. Suffice it to say, I found a fun new hobby that I have every intention of continuing with in a semi-obsessed state. Or completely obsessed state depending on your point of view I guess...

When reviewing where I spent my time and the things that were important to me this year, I should probably mention blogging itself. I began doing this in September of 2009, and so 201o is my first full year of blogging. By the time the year is done (pretty much now) I will have posted almost 180 entries, or one every other day on average, a level of output that is surprising to me. The great thing is that it has never felt like work. I have always enjoyed writing, and this is a different kind of creative outlet than I have undertaken before. I always wonder who if anybody reads the eclectic mix of stuff I write about here, but the stats don't lie and there are people finding random posts here every day and from all over the world, whether it be wargaming references, book reviews, concert reviews, or hiking trail references. I still insist that the audience I write this blog for is me and my immediate circle of family and friends, but it is kind of cool to think that total strangers show up here from time to time and read what I have written.

Going into this year, I talked about a few personal development items that I hoped to make some progress on this year, notably struggling against my introverted nature and living in the moment. On the one hand, I think I actually made some progress this year on focusing on what is going on today and being less distracted by worrying about what has happened in the past or what might happen in the future. On the other hand, I am an introvert. Always have been. Always will be. I could be perfectly content surrounded by my family and a small circle of good friends as well as all the things that are going on in my own head. Perhaps going forward the issue is not so much struggling against my introverted nature but accepting it for what it is. Hmm. I wonder.

Finally, 2010 will always be the year in which I lost my father. I understand how lucky I have been to have had a loving and involved father in my life for as long as I did. Many people are not so fortunate. But that doesn't make it any easier in the short term to deal with the pain and loss of him not being here. It is said that you don't appreciate what you have until it is gone, and while I think I did always appreciate my dad, in some ways this is still true. Perhaps it is more a question of having taken him for granted. Either way, I miss him. Thank you, Dad. I would not be the man I am without you, and I think I turned out OK.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Geocaching - End of Year 2010 Recap

I began geocaching on April 15, 2010, and when I look back on what I was able to accomplish this year, I am amazed. I am also somewhat stunned by the amount of time and energy that went into a hobby that I had never even heard of when the year began, although I certainly do not mean that in a bad way. It is just a reflection of the unexpected turns our lives can take in terms of how we choose to spend our free time.

One of the ways to keep track of milestones in geocaching is by using a freeware badge generation macro that takes your data as an input and awards you various levels of badges based on predetermined numerical achievements. In my first year I was able to find 558 geocaches, 15 benchmarks (US survey markers), and 45 waymarks (landmarks and places/things of interest). This earned me 11 badges of various degrees.

Due primarily to my most noteworthy achievement, a 100 consecutive day streak with at least one find, I was able to find at least 1 cache in 182 of the 261 days since I started (70%). My total cache-to-cache distance was almost 12,000 miles courtesy of some business travel, especially out to Utah/Wyoming and back, but also including Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and a bunch of trips to north Jersey.

Other things I like to keep track of are how many of the 81 different Difficulty/Terrain rating combinations I have made a find in, as well as how many days of the calendar. As of the end of the year, I have filled those 182 days on the bottom two-thirds of the calendar, and have made a find in 46 of the 81 D/T combinations. Both of these are like Bingo - you want to fill your card as much as possible. As an aside, February 29 next comes around in 2012, so no amount of effort would fill the calendar this year.

Perhaps one of the more fun things to work on from the perspective of using geocaching as an excuse to go new places is the focus on finding caches in new geographies. I have now found caches in 10 US states, as well as 17 of the 67 counties in Pennsylvania. I am also halfheartedly keeping track of counties in Maryland where I have found 9 of 24 counties, and New Jersey where I have found 12 of 21 (mainly in northern and central NJ which is actually further from my home).

Statistical bests at this point are:
  • 31 in a day. 10/7/10 in NC.
  • 24 in a weekend. 10/30-10/31/10 mainly in Lancaster county.
  • 50 in a week. Includes my 2 big NC days.
  • 120 in a month. Includes my 2 big NC days.
  • 25 days for my fastest 100 finds.
  • 4 cache types in a day.
  • 2 states in a day. I guess I never tried to do better at this since I live within about 30 miles of 3 states not including my own and can practically hit a golf ball into Delaware from here...
  • 7 counties in a day. 6/27/10 in NE PA on the way to our Pinchot Trail backpacking trip.
In the overall scheme of hard-core geocaching, these numbers are not all that impressive, but they are to me, knowing the time and effort that went into them.

But, now having rambled on for quite a while on all sorts of numbers, I will stress again that no matter how much I like looking at those sorts of things, it is not the numbers that have gotten me so addicted to this hobby. It is the things I have seen and the adventures I have had along the way. Some of my favorite memories of geocaching this year would be:

  • Doing those 7 NE PA counties with Dave on the way to our backpacking trip in June.
  • My 31 find day in NC on the American Tobacco Trail with Ellen in October.
  • Finding 11 caches in Utah and Wyoming while out there on business for 4 days. Especially the rental car run to Wyoming one evening, just because I was within an hour and knew I might not get back that way any time soon.
  • Road tripping 250 miles of the Eastern Shore of Maryland in July.
  • Working really hard to get just a few caches on the Appalachian Trail above Port Clinton PA with Dave in the late fall.
  • And last but certainly not least, all the little trips I made to some local park with one or both of my daughters. Precious time well spent.
Wow. It has taken me a long time to write this post because of all the time I have spent remembering all the fun I have had. Ultimately, that is the best testament to geocaching that I can give. And it makes me think forward to all the things I would still like to do...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Painting Totals - 2010

Tallying up my miniatures painting totals for 2010 was a brief and comical exercise. I post this for no other reason than to perhaps shame myself into doing a little bit better this year. Although it would be hard to do worse. To the best of my recollection, all I managed to get done was this:
  • 12 medieval cavalry (25mm)
  • 3 medieval mounted leader figures (25 mm)
  • 1 French Napoleonic divisional general (25mm)
  • 1 French 12 lb Napoleonic cannon and 3 line foot artillery crew (25mm)
  • Mostly done 16 Ottoman heavy infantry (25mm)
  • Mostly done 16 Ottoman janissary archers (25mm)
  • Painted and flocked a bunch of bases
  • Based and Re-based a host of 15mm Napoleonics
Yep. That's it. Ugh. Pretty dismal. But you know what? For some reason it doesn't bother me all that much...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Recap of Reading Goals - 2010

This will be an easy post to write, as I have gone back and looked at my reading goals for this year and they were short and sweet.
  • Read 10 books by authors new to me. Passed this easily. My final new author count was 16. This goal was less about an actual number and much more about broadening my horizons.
  • Read 10 books published (or in US editions) in 2010. Passed this easily too. Final count 17. This is probably the easiest goal to achieve, and was simply a way to make sure I was paying attention to what good new books were coming out.
  • Read a few classics. Accomplished this with 2 Hemingways, a Fitzgerald, and a book by Hans Keilor published in Europe in 1947.
  • Read 30 books. Just made this, with a final total of 31.
I will have to think about reading goals for 2011, or if even to have any. I have settled into a nice routine of reading regularly, and keeping up with my favorite authors and highly rated new stuff that is coming out. So goals around those items have lost meaning. What probably does make sense is to continue to try to make an effort to go back and read a few more classics, and continue to find authors new to me.

Perhaps classics should include authors such as Faulkner, Steinbeck, Twain and the like. We shall see...

The Reading Year in Review - 2010

2010 was another great year for reading, with a host of very good books having crossed my nightstand. This year probably had a broader selection of authors, types of books and publication dates than any other year, which is a good thing. So without further ado... [Dates of my blog capsule reviews are in square brackets - all dates 2010]

5 Stars - Excellent
  • The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald (1925). I loved this book as a younger man and still do now. Some of Fitzgerald's prose is breathtaking. I took this out of the running for my favorite book of the year, mainly because I have read it a few times before. [Feb 10]
  • Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, by Helen Simonsen (2010). My favorite book of the year in many ways, although two story collections below gave it a serious run for the money, as did a couple of novels. [Sep 20]
  • Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It (Stories), Maile Meloy (2009). Runner-up #1 for my book of the year. [Dec 27]
  • If I Loved You I Would Tell You This (Stories), Robin Black (2010). Runner-up #2 for my book of the year. [Aug 27]
4.5 Stars - Almost Excellent
  • What is Left the Daughter, Howard Norman (2010). A new author for me, and a book I really liked. [Aug 10]
  • Safe From the Neighbors, Steve Yarbrough (2010). Yet another strong outing from one of my favorite authors. [Feb 25]
  • Molly Fox's Birthday, Deirdre Madden (2008) [Aug 15]
  • Memory Wall (Stories), Anthony Doerr (2010) [Aug 21]
  • Summertime, JM Coetzee (2009). Another great Coetzee book. [Jan 17]
  • The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway (1952). A classic well worth the re-read. [Feb 12]
4 Stars - Very Good
  • Emperor of the Air (Stories), Ethan Canin (1988) [Jan 21]
  • A Visit From the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan (2010) [Oct 18]
  • Driving on the Rim, Thomas McGuane (2010) [Nov 11]
  • Keep the Change, Thomas McGuane (1989) [Nov 17]
  • Nothing But Blue Skies, Thomas McGuane (1992) [Nov 16]
  • Chemistry and other Stories, Ron Rash (2007) [Oct 18]
  • Alone with You (Stories), Marisa Silver (2010) [Nov 4]
  • Love and Summer, William Trevor (2009) [Feb 26]
  • Mississippi History (Stories), Steve Yarbrough (1994) [May 20]
3.5 Stars - Almost Very Good
  • Weeping Underwater Looks a Lot Like Laughter, Michael J White (2010) [May 15]
  • My Father's Tears and other Stories, John Updike (2009) [Jan 29]
  • Fun with Problems (Stories), Robert Stone (2010) [Feb 17]
  • Nemesis, Philip Roth (2010) [Oct 23]
  • Burning Bright (Stories), Ron Rash (2010) [Oct 1]
  • The Cadence of Grass, Thomas McGuane (2002) [Nov 13]
  • Something to be Desired, Thomas McGuane (1984) [Nov 18]
  • Broken Glass Park, Alina Bronsky (2008) [May 29]
3 stars - Good but nothing special
  • The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway (1926). I wanted to like this, but just couldn't. It just didn't strike a chord with me. And the prose was painful at times. A stark contrast to The Old Man and the Sea, which I really enjoyed. [Feb 4]
  • Comedy in a Minor Key, Hans Keilson (1947) [Nov 13]
  • Tinkers, Paul Harding (2009). [Jan 20]
  • Point Omega, Don Delillo (2010) [Aug 11]
There were a few books that I started and just couldn't keep moving on. The two that come to mind are Paul Auster's Invisible (2009), which I just bogged down in, and Emma Donoghue's Room (2010), which is one of the very rare books that I just actively disliked.

Factoids on the Year's Reading:
  • I read 31 books, or exactly the same number as last year. For most of the year I was on a pace to read somewhere in the low 20's, but many hours at Dad's bedside added 8 or 9 books I probably wouldn't have read otherwise.
  • I bought 64 books for a total of approximately $501.27, or $7.83 per book, or only $41.77 per month. This is about half of last year, which is good I suppose since I'm not sure where to put all these books.
  • My deficit of books read to books purchased this year is only 33 (64-31), which has to be my lowest since I began reading again.
  • My modern lit library is up to about 755 books, of which I have read all or part of around 200.
  • The books from this year broke out as 10 story collections and 21 novels, which is many more story collections than last year when I read only 3. Maybe my attention span is going...
  • 22 of the books were published in the 2000's, 2 in the 1990's, 3 in the 1980's, 1 in the 1950's, 1 in the 1940's, and 2 in the 1920's.
  • 17 of the 31 books were by authors new to me (or new in the sense of having read them as an adult, which lends a different perspective, I think).
I did have some specific reading goals for 2010, and I will review them in a different post.

[12/29/10 - On further reflection of this list in its entirety, I shuffled a few ratings from what I originally gave them in their reviews. The three 5-star books other than Gatsby were elevated from 4.5 stars, as they really were the three best books I read this year. Tinkers and Point Omega were dropped from 3.5 to 3. This "unclumps" the middle of the bell curve a little...]

Monday, December 27, 2010

Book Review - Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It

In what is likely to be the last book I finish this year, I read the final story in Maile Meloy's 2009 story collection Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It last night. I enjoyed an earlier collection of stories by Meloy, and really liked this one as well. There are eleven stories here, with strong recurring themes or relationships, desire, and choices to be made. Meloy's prose is simple but elegant, and the stories fly by. The stories tend to highlight the darker side of relationships, or at least the unspoken side; the restlessness and the questioning...

The door in the front hallway opened. "Hello!" he called, and Naomi felt as if a guitar string in her lower abdomen had just been plucked, and left to vibrate, by the sound of his voice. She believed these responses were biological tricks to propagate the species, but that didn't make them lose their power. She had never felt that way when her husband spoke, though he was a good and decent man. [p. 97]

She watched him, his eminently intelligent wife. He pulled her closer to make the scrutiny stop, and feeling her head on his shoulder was reassuring. He was doomed to ambivalence and desire. A braver man, or a more cowardly one, would simply flee. A happier or more complacent man would stay and revel in the the familiar, wrap it around him like an old bathrobe. He seemed to be none of these things, and could only deceive the people he loved, and then disappoint and worry them when they saw through him. There was a poem Meg had brought home from college, with the line "Both ways is the only way I want it." The force with which he wanted it both ways made him grit his teeth. What kind of fool wanted it only one way? [pp. 196-197]

4.5 stars out of 5. I really really liked this collection, and thought it was one of the better story collections I have read this year, or in many years.

Books read this year: 31 [totalling 7,096 pages]
Published in 2010: still 17
New authors: still 16
Classics: still 3

I have started a new novel, Tom Rachman's The Imperfectionists, but given my limited time and attention span during the holidays, stand no chance of finishing it before the end of the year.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas 2010 - Santa Brings an Oregon!

I guess I wasn't that bad this year, because my family got me the one thing I really wanted - a fancy new GPSr unit to feed my geocaching addiction. A Garmin Oregon 450T. I have been using a relatively low-end but perfectly effective unit which I have really gotten to love; a Garmin eTrex Venture HC. But the Venture has some serious limitations for a hard core geocacher. The Venture is very good at keeping the track plots of our hikes, but from a geocaching standpoint only stores the name of the cache and the coordinates. So all it can tell you is there is a cache named "xyz" and it is 0.17 miles in such and such direction. The Oregon stores and displays all of the information in a "gpx" file. This includes not only the cache name and coordinates, but also the description, difficulty and terrain ratings, cache type, hints, and recent log entries. In other words, paperless geocaching. For the whole time I have been geocaching, I have been printing little maps and scribbling notes to make sure I have the information that I need and that I am not wasting my time searching for a cache that is known to have gone missing. The Oregon also holds 2,000 cache entries compared to 500 for the Venture.

What fun is having a new toy if you can't use it right away? At least that's what I figured, so at about 2pm on Christmas day, Julia took her new cell phone and I took my new GPS unit and off we went to find a few caches.

I am thrilled at how well the Oregon performed on its first outing, and I know I am just beginning to learn how to use its many features. Julia and I found 6 caches in northern Delaware, clearing out the last few holdouts between my house and the Delaware river, making a nice big open space on my map. The wealth of information available at my fingertips compared to what I am used to is amazing. I think I can get used to this...

Merry Christmas 2010

Christmas has been nice and relaxing so far this year. My sister in law and her family came down on the 23rd to stay with us for a few days, and it is very nice to have two extra little kids in the house at this time of year.

Christmas eve, Grace and her cousin Ines leave out a plate of snacks and drinks for Santa and the reindeer. How did they know that Santa's favorite kind of cookie is oatmeal raisin?

Santa did come after all! I guess the kids must've been pretty good. Let the pillaging begin!

Grace emptying her stocking.

Santa was good to us again this year, as he always is. I got a new Garmin Oregon 450T gps (more on that later), Amparo got a Kindle e-book reader and a Flip video camera. Julia got the thing she really wanted - a cell phone. Grace got toys toys and more toys.

Then only thing missing today was more family, but we will be seeing Mom, Chris, and Dave and his family over the next couple of days. Merry Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Day of Battle 4 - Playtest Game

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving (11/27), Dave, Ryan, Leo and I got together to push some figures around. Our intent was to spend some time working through some of Chris Parker's draft rules and ideas for a new version of Day of Battle. This post isn't going to be a review of those ideas, but is just an excuse to post some pictures from our game with a minimum of verbage. At this point the game was three weeks ago, and I doubt I could write a detailed battle report, seeing as how my main memory of it at this point is being unceremoniously driven from the field. Oh well. It happens...

For this game we used figs from my Hundred Years War collection to set up a French-ish medieval force and an English-ish force, but set in the decades prior to the full-fledged ascendency of the longbow. To be able to get a feel for our impressions of some of the core parts of the new rules, we went light on missile troops and hoped to concentrate on the melee and morale sections, which contain a lot of new material.

The set up: French on the left and English on the right. Three battles (commands) per side. Mixed infantry and cavalry in the center and far flank. Infantry near the town.

French and English cavalry mixing it up in the center. The English (me) held on for a while, but the tide would turn against me...

Infantry advancing into the village. This bogged down into an inconclusive pushing and shoving match.

The cavalry battle turns against the English. French weight of numbers grinds down my horsemen.

Oops. The French are in front of me... beside me... and behind me. The "behind" part is especially bad. At this point, the new battle line morale rules that Chris is proposing really came into effect and had the English battleline begin to fade away.

A good game, a fun evening, and a solid run-through of Chris' new ideas. After a few months of very little in the way of gaming other than the occasional bit of painting, it was very refreshing to get a few friends and family together to push some figures around.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Gold Medal Day

The Special Olympics Oath says "Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."

Well, Julia didn't need to settle for being brave in the attempt today, because she won! She participated in a Delaware state Special Olympics bowling tournament at the Bowlerama in New Castle, and came in first in her little group, bringing home a gold medal for her efforts (87 and 74).

When they called her name for the gold medal, I'm not sure whether I would call what she did hopping, skipping, jumping, or some combination of all of them, but she did not walk up to claim her medal, that's for sure.

If I could bottle the joy I got from seeing her reaction in that moment, I would never have a bad day ever again.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Santa Brunch

A tradition that we have had for the last several years is to go to the Santa Brunch at the country club, and be joined by our good friends from across the street. When the kids were younger, we used to do the Santa Brunch at Longwood Gardens, but that is further away and wasn't all that good. Longwood does many things well, but mass producing an expensive breakfast wasn't really one of them.
The best thing about Santa at the club is the relaxed atmosphere. The kids know the place, can run around safely with no real supervision, which gives us parents the time to actually enjoy things and eat some good food. The mimosas aren't a bad way to start the morning either.
All Julia has been talking about this year is wanting a cell phone. We have tried to explain to her that when you ask Santa for things, you should tell him a few different things that you might like so that he has choices and can try to make sure that you get one of the things you wanted. She's not buying that at all, and refused to come up with anything else that she might want for fear of confusing Santa and not getting the all important cell phone. We'll have to see how Santa handles that.
Grace on the other hand is easy. She wants every single thing she has ever seen on TV. If they make it she wants it. If they advertise it she wants it more. If they advertise it heavily, her life will not be complete without it. Until the next commercial comes on, that is. Her attention span on the gift wish list is hilarious (and short attention span comments coming from me really mean something... ooooh shiny!!).
So brunch was great. We all ate too much. Julia asked Santa for a cell phone. And Grace asked Santa for everything else.

Philly Pops Holiday Concert

With everything that has been going on over the last couple of weeks, this weekend is really the kickoff of my family's holiday season. Yesterday afternoon we went to see Peter Nero and the Philly Pops holiday concert matinee at the Kimmel Center in downtown Philly.
Amparo has taken my mom and brother Chris many times over the years but this is the first time that we have thought Grace was old enough to attempt it, so this year all 6 of us went. This was also a first for me. I think I saw a Philly Pops concert many years ago, but I believe it was a Broadway show and not a holiday show. In either case it has been many years.
We had seats way up in the nosebleeds, but every seat in the place is good, and I really love the architecture and design of the Kimmel. The concert itself was terrific with a wide range of Christmas and Hannukah music. Special guest soloist was Rachel York, who I am sure that Amparo and I saw on Broadway several years ago when we saw Julie Andrews in Victor Victoria (York was the young moll). In addition to the Pops, there were about 250 singers including the Pops Festival Chorus, the Philadelphia Boys Choir and the African Episcopal Gospel Choir of St Thomas. Each contributed to the show individually and together. The girls especially loved the gospel choir (as did I!).
It was a great day. The kids enjoyed the music, liked being out on the town, and we had a nice dinner afterwards. I would very much like this to become an annual tradition for the whole family in the years to come.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

And on the 101st Day I Rested

On December 2 I found my 500th cache and got to 100 consecutive days with a find. On Friday December 3, through no particular plan to do so, I did not get a cache, and therefore have ended my days streak at an even 100. This is not what I intended, but it was a very busy day with a lot going on, and it just didn't fit without disruption to go out and get a cache. I maybe could have gone out late at night, but I didn't really feel like it at the time.

I knew when I started my streak that getting to 25 days would be a challenge. Then 50 days became an even bigger challenge. Then 75 days rolled around and it had just become a part of my daily routine to always know where I could go to get a cache, hiking a little when time permitted, or at least walking deeper into a park or away from a parking lot. Or when time was short, using up one of the simple park n grabs that I was hoarding for those occasions. Every day became "gotta get a cache", and for the most part it was fun and not work to do so. Sometimes like work, but only a day here or there. It never felt like work day after day. If it had, I probably would have stopped.

When I got to 100 days, I knew I had gotten past some fairly significant obstacles, and that I wouldn't have a prayer of getting to the next badge level, which is 150. But I didn't want to end on an even 100. But that's how it worked out.

Now that it's over, how do I feel? The simple answer, for today at least, (writing on Monday December 6) is that it is KILLING me!!! I say that mostly in jest, but I do have regrets that I couldn't keep it going a little longer. The reality of the matter is that I have cleaned out the area around my house well enough that starting another streak of any significant length would be much much much harder than this was. Practically impossible actually.

There are other geocaching goals to achieve, and lot of enjoyment left to be had. But I do dearly miss my streak.

After nothing on Friday, I did get a cache on Saturday. And 2 on Sunday. Plus one today on Monday. So I am at day 3. And counting...

Friday, December 3, 2010

One Hundred Days of Geocaching

As I have mentioned before I have been working on a streak of consecutive days with a geocache find, with the ultimate goal of 100 days and beyond. When it became apparent to me that I was closing in on 500 total finds as I neared 100 days, I decided that I would try to plan it so that one find on my 100th day would also be my 500th overall. Thursday December 2 would be the date.

With just a little bit of planning (and being very careful not to overshoot the mark), I was able to make this happen, and on December 2, I found one simple park and grab near work that became this milestone find. I had been trying to find some special cache somewhere to do for this milestone, but I couldn't really come up with one that was achievable on a workday at lunch or on the drive in. It did occur to me though that the perfect find for this really should be a park and grab. After all, without park and grabs, a streak like this would be impossible. So I looked around a little and found the perfect cache. A pill bottle in a fence. A fence around some dumpsters. Behind an office building. Humble. Unassuming. Kinda ugly actually. Perfect.

So at approximately 1pm on Thursday December 2, 2010 I made the find quickly at lunch, signed the log, and went back to work. I can't believe I made it this far.

One hundred days for me is quite an accomplishment. A lot of fun. Some work. Inconvenience at times on those rare days when I really didn't care about finding a cache but wasn't willing to give up. Nasty rainy days. My father's illness, death and funeral a week before my 100th day. And finding easy ones to get on all those days when I only had a few minutes to spare on the way to or from work, or during lunch. But a lot of good times too, especially on those days where the streak was kept alive as part of a nice hike or outing with my girls.

One result of this streak is that the area around my house is becoming very picked over, and it is getting harder and harder to find a cache anywhere around home that doesn't require a significant block of time. Any single cache around home pretty much requires an investment of at least an hour, or very close to it, between driving walking and searching. Park and grabs around here are basically non-existent. So we shall see what the future brings. Getting to this point was my goal, and now I am here.