Posts filed under ‘Geocaching’

May Trainings for American Chestnut Data Collection

Rocky Gap - Leaves and Blaze Two organizations I’m fond of, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the American Chestnut Foundation, are working together to gather data on American Chestnut trees growing along the Appalachian Trail. If you are interested in volunteering, two training sessions are coming up this month.

The Trainings

  • May 23, 2009 Mountain Lake, VA -Katie Burke, UVA PhD Candidate studying chestnut ecology, with Kathy Marmet
  • May 30, 2009 Nantahala Outdoor Center, NC – Dr. Hill Craddock and Dr. Jennifer Boyd of University of Tennessee Chattanooga Dept of Biological & Environmental Sciences

Formal training from 10 am – approximately 3 pm

Data collection practicum after lunch break

Please reply to kathymarmet[at ]gmail[dot]com if you would like to participate

Space is limited for these trainings. Additional trainings may be scheduled if there is sufficient interest.

The Project
The Chestnut Project is part of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC)’s AT Mega-Transect Project, which seeks to engage the public in citizen-science efforts to collect data along the AT to raise awareness of threats to the environmental health of the Appalachian Region.

In 2008, scientists and volunteers from The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) and Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) worked together to develop a pilot project to recruit and train volunteers to collect data on American chestnut trees identified along the Appalachian Trail (AT). Data from the 2008 effort and a slide show summary are at:

The Chestnut Project will be a long-term project. Data collected by project volunteers will contribute to understanding the status of surviving remnants of a species that played a key role in forests throughout Appalachia before being devastated by a blight fungus imported with Asian chestnut trees in the early Twentieth Century, and will inform TACF’s multi-generational effort to restore the American chestnut tree to its former place in the region’s forests. Data on individual trees with the potential to produce flowers will assist TACF in increasing the genetic diversity of its backcross breeding program to produce an otherwise American chestnut with the blight resistant characteristics of Asian chestnut.

2009 data collection efforts will build on the results of the 2008 effort, and will focus on assessing and improving data reliability. Redundant counts by multiple teams will take priority over number of miles covered by counts. ATC plans to seek grant funding with TACF and other partners

Participant Commitment
Training participants will select initial data collection segment assignments at the training. Participants as asked to try to collect and submit data from at least one segment within two weeks of the training, and to plan to complete and return data for all segments selected at training by July 10.

A Data Collector Kit, including report forms to record data in the field will be provided at training.

Helpful Items
GPS locator, binoculars, pedometer, digital camera, trail maps, hand held microscope or magnifier, clipboard.

May 14, 2009 at 12:41 pm 1 comment

Weekly Winners – May 3- May 8, 2009

This week’s Weekly Winners come from two locales. First off, we have snippets of a Sunday trip Ryan and I took to the Norfolk Botanical Gardens. Next we have a Saturday trip to Maple Park near Currituck, North Carolina where my ten year old neighbor, Jacal, and his ten year old nephew, Jamontae, found their first geocache. Jamontae also got to try honeysuckle for the first time. Enjoy!

Norfolk Botanical Gardens - Lit Roses and Sky
Roses from Below, Norfolk Botanical Gardens

Norfolk Botanical Gardens - Droplets on Wet Branches
Droplets on Branches, Norfolk Botanical Gardens

Norfolk Botanical Gardens - Wet Red Rhodo From Above
Wet Rhododendron from Above, Norfolk Botanical Gardens

Norfolk Botanical Gardens - Lion and Rain Droplets From Above (Far)
Fountain and Rain at Work, Norfolk Botanical Gardens

Norfolk Botanical Gardens - Ryan Walks Amoung Roses
Ryan Walks With Roses, Norfolk Botanical Gardens

Norfolk Botanical Gardens - Water on Folded Lilypad
Water on Lilypads, Norfolk Botanical Gardens

Maple Park - Synchronized Caching
First Geocache, Maple Park

Maple Park - Jamontae Tries Honeysuckle with Jacal
Honeysuckle, Maple Park

More pictures of the Norfolk Botanical Gardens and geocaching in Maple Park can be found on my Flickr site.

Also, be sure to check out more of this week’s Weekly Winners at Sarcastic Mom!

May 10, 2009 at 5:07 am 10 comments

Geocaching: 16th State – North Carolina

On my first Saturday afternoon in North Carolina, I squeezed in some geocaching. I maintain that geocaching is a great way to find places off the beaten path and to learn a new area. I lived in Blacksburg for a good decade before I started geocaching. Once I did, suddenly my eyes were open to all sorts of parks and landmarks I had no idea existed.

My very first cache in my 16th State – Bream Fishin and it did not disappoint! Enticing me over to the Camden Causeway, I got to see some splendid views of the Pasquotank River. Gorgeous!

Bald Cypress Knees and Floating Leaves from Above

Log and Reflections in the Pasquotank River

Three bald cypress tree trunks

Leaves and Raindrops in Pasquotank River

Vivid fall colors on the Pasquotank River

More pictures from the Camden Causeway are available on my Flickr site.

November 10, 2008 at 8:00 am 2 comments

Geocaching: Functionality Helps

The first few geocaches I went on, I wasn’t entirely familiar of all the features of the GPS. All I knew how to do was read my current coordinates. So I ended up wandering around pretty aimlessly and doing spot checks with my coordinates to see if it looked like the numbers were getting any closer to the published coordinates. Geocaching got significantly easier when I found the “Go To” function on the GPS where it would give you not only the estimated mileage to the destination but a convenient arrow graphic to point you in the right direction.

As challenging as my naivety made my first few geocaches, this morning showed me it could have been worse.

Cheap GPS from

Can you image trying to find a geocache under THOSE circumstances?!?!

April 7, 2008 at 10:40 am 6 comments

Tiling & Geocaching

Whoops.  It occurs to me it’s been over a week since I’ve posted.  That’s not good.  Here’s some quick notes of what I’ve been up to:

Remember that bathroom Jimmie destroyed two years ago?  It’s finally getting tiled!  This weekend, supplies were purchased, ceramic tiles were laid out and cut (courtesy of Bill C’s wet saw), AND they were placed with thin-set mortar.  I was so into tiling this past weekend, that A) I set an alarm for early Sunday morning so I could get to work and B) I woke up before that alarm went off (like a kid on Christmas!).  After an suspenseful 24 hour wait, the mortar set.  I walked on the tiles and they did not crack under my weight!  So the tiles were ready for the next test.  I had Sean walk on the tiles and they did not crack under his weight.  I am pleased.  Next stop– grouting!


This bathroom is humble– It has less than 25 square feet.  And yet, it has proven to be the most educational room in my entire house.  With this one room I’ve had to:

  • Paint ceiling 
  • Remove wallpaper 
  • Repair drywall
  • Remove baseboard trim
  • Paint walls
  • Remove carpet tacks (The Wonder Bar makes this a LOT easier)
  • Remove carpet staples (needle nose plyers make this a LOT easier)
  • Learn the advantage of not sticking carpet tacks through one’s fingernail
  • Measure and cut ceramic tiles
  • Apply the tiles to the floor
  • Learn the tile spacer need is greater than I expected.  (I had delicately counted all my tile intersections and subtracted the tile spacers I had on-hand and went to Lowes thinking I needed 28 more tile spacers.  I was dismayed that I had to buy them in packs of 200.  Welp, turns out I used a LOT more than that once the thin-set was in the equation).
  • Embarass myself with how I thought one “snaps” a chalk line.

Drywall – Before and after

The lessons from this bathroom are not over yet.  The syllabus still includes:

  • Grouting
  • Sealing grout
  • Caulking
  • Installing trim
  • Installing a toilet

Believe it or not, I look forward to all those tasks…. even the toilet.

Geocache Maintenance
With the exception of business travel, I haven’t really been keeping up with my geocaching hobby.  This came abundantly clear to me last weekend, when I picked up the new issue of the New River Valley Magazine and saw an article on geocaching that did not quote me.  What the…?  All area geocaching articles quote me!   Well…. all two of them.  😉 

My second sign that I’ve fallen out of the local arena of the sport– two my caches got reported to the administrators for being wet and cracked and mild-dewy.  So on Monday, with beautiful spring weather, I played hooky from work and replaced one of those cache containers.  THERE!  See that geocaching administrators and local magazine writers????  I *STILL* geocache.

And I’m still available for comment.  🙂

March 5, 2008 at 11:10 am 13 comments

Geocaching: 15th State

With a cache in Ottawa, Illinois, I have now found a geocache in 15 U.S. states.  This cache was pretty darn easy.  It was on the way to Starved Rock State Park right along the Illinois River.  It didn’t take me long, which was good news.  That allowed me just enough daylight to do some hiking in the park.

I learned a little bit about geocaching vocabulary this trip!  At one point during our on-site visit, we had to solicit the aid of an I.T. employee.  After his work was done, the fellow stuck around a while to talk about Harry Potter.  Sadly, his audience was not ideal for the subject matter.  Neither ZJ or I had read any of the books, so we could not articulate knowledgeably on the subject.  BUT, that didn’t stop this guy from forging ahead with the conversation!

Did you ever see that Simpsons episode where Bart takes Santa’s Little Helper to dog training school?  Near the end, Bart is talking to Santa’s Little Helper and they show the conversation from the dog’s perspective.  Everything is gibberish and then suddenly a discernible word– “SIT”. 

That’s what the Harry Potter conversation was like with me and the I.T. guy.  He yammered on and none of it was making much sense to me until this familiar word hit my ear:


“What did you say?” I asked.

“Muggle,”  he said and went on to explain what it meant.

“Weird,” I said, “There is a geocaching term called muggle.”

The I.T. guy looked at me for a second and continued on with his thought.  I suspect “geocaching” was just as confusing to him as his musings were to me.

It turns out, the two words ARE related.  From the geocaching glossary:


A non-geocacher. Based on “Muggle” from the Harry Potter series, which is a nonmagical person. Usually this term is used after a non geocacher looks puzzled at a geocacher making circles with their GPS receiver, or when a non-geocacher accidentally finds a cache. Geomuggles are mostly harmless.

I never questioned where the word came from.  It’s pretty neat to stumble upon its etymology.

November 15, 2007 at 9:34 pm 6 comments

links for 2007-10-11

October 11, 2007 at 2:22 pm 2 comments

Tried and True Times Two

Well if one worries about spoilers from a movie from 1989, one should not read any further.  

Near the end of Steel Magnolias, M’Lynn  (Sally Field) talks about the death of her daughter, Shelby (Julia Roberts).  When the doctors removed Shelby’s life support, Shelby’s father left the room and Shelby’s husband left the room as well.  But M’Lynn stayed with her daughter and held her hand until the very end.  She was the only one who stayed even though “Men are supposed to be made out of steel or something.” (See where the movie gets part of its title?)

On Sunday when it came time to paint the ceiling of the upstairs hallway, I found out who my “Steel Magnolia” was.  Sean didn’t participate in any of the house projects this past week and this one no different– he watched TV.  My mother had given me ample notice that she had no interest in ceiling painting, plus she was weary from four solid days of dedicated work.  She stayed downstairs and read a book. 

It needed to be done, so armed with my roller, my white can of paint, my hiking headlamp (really good to help see missed spots) and an eccletic set of dropclothes, I commenced the chore.  It wasn’t long before I realized I wasn’t alone.  Who was with me?  Jimmie!  He curled up on one of the dropclothes and watched.   His support did not falter– He stayed upstairs the entire time.  And amazingly enough, he never once got in the way.  When I needed to stand in his spot, he took a few steps down the stairs and just waited until my work in that area was done.

Even though he’s just a dog, I appreciated his moral support. 

And where was Henry the Beagle?  Cowering downstairs.  There wasn’t a single aspect of this operation, ranging from rollers to dropclothes, that did not terrify him.  I guess I know which dog will not protect me in the face of danger.

While I am on the subject, I do have to highlight my mother and her contributions this past week.  There were things that were not fun, but she did them cheerfully.  Sometimes we were listening to her CD (Avril Lavigne) but even when we were listening to my CDs, she didn’t complain.  Her expertise and work ethic were valuable, but more so was her company.  That is a trend with my mother– I can really count on her company. 

Here’s a quick example from college.  I loved the Kids in the Hall and I really, really, really wanted to see their movie Brain Candy when it came out.  Alas, I couldn’t find a single person to go with me.   Finally, my mother agreed to accompany me.  There was a scene in the movie my mother found so disgusting she gagged— and she STILL stayed for the rest of the film and she still continues to go to movies with me to this day (though she routinely reminds me about the Kids in the Hall debacle).

I think more contemporary evidence surfaces when you look at geocaching.  My mother has accompanied me on more geocaches than any other person– even the young, adventurous whipper-snappers like Stacy.  Mom’ll tromp through the woods, dodge thorny bushes and when we get close, she’ll point out suspicious piles of sticks or leaves. 

All this stuff– helping me with home repairs, braving gag-inducing movies and finding pieces of tupperware in the woods– she does this, at least in part, for me.

And I very much appreciate it.

(Apparently I show that appreciation by making her remove wallpaper, coercing her to gag-inducing movies and dragging her out into the middle of the woods).

July 24, 2007 at 11:42 pm 8 comments

Rollerblading the Huckleberry Trail

For six years now, Tony Airaghi and I make it a point to rollerblade the Huckleberry Trail at least once each year.  It was a gorgeous spring day out today, so it was a great day for us to continue our tradition into 2007.

The Huckleberry Trail was a Rails to Trails conversion.  What was originally a railway built in 1902 to transport coal evolved into a passenger line between Blacksburg and Christiansburg.  That line stopped seeing use in 1958 and over three decades later the area evolved again.  It became a fully paved pathway, slightly over 5 1/2 miles, from the Blacksburg Library to the New River Valley Mall. 

It is perfect for rollerblading (though the area near Margaret Beeks Elementary School could use some smoother pavement) and brings with it a variety of sites and scenery.  You go over a quaint bridge over Southgate, by the Corporate Research Center / Virginia Tech Airport, next to cow fields, through a tunnel under 460, past the Coal Miner Heritage Park, along a bridge over active train tracks, through rocky outcroppings and finally the mall.

Today Tony Airaghi and I did a 9 mile round trip.  Here are some shots from our outing:

The Huckleberry Trail (near Mile Marker 2)

Tony poses by some wildflowers and cattails off the trail (Between Mile Markers 2 and 3). VA-460 is in the background.

Equipment on display at Coal Miners Heritage Park

A souvenir of the trail’s past purpose – a train depot (Close to Mile Marker 5)

Tony on a bridge that passes over an active railway (roughly 3/4 miles from the New River Valley Mall).  In past years, we’ve skated that bridge as a train passed beneath us.

Tony skates a section that is surrounded by steep rock walls (close to Mile Marker 5).  In the summer, delicious wild raspberries and blackberries grow on the rocks.

Additional Links
More Huckleberry Trail Pictures on my Flickr site
Friends of the Huckleberry Site
Coal Miner Geocache
Happy Trails to You Geocache

May 10, 2007 at 12:01 am 7 comments

Weekend – Deerfield, Floyd, Cassell

I did a couple of things this weekend, besides avoiding cheese:

Deerfield Bike Path
I took the dogs over to Deerfield Bike Path in Blacksburg for a stroll.  I also took along our new digital camera and snagged some pictures.  Deerfield Bike Path is not well known and as a result is pretty secluded.  If you take away the sentimental value of the Huckleberry Trail (lots of rollerblading memories) that would make Deerfield Bike Path my favorite of the bike paths in the area.  Here’s how I described it for a geocache placed in July 2003:

The bike trail offers a variety of views– a man-made pond, a babbling stream, deep forests of sycamore and locusts, a hillside of dry grass, collections of honeysuckle and wildflowers. This trail feels like you are walking right through a virgin forest– only with the comfort of a paved path!

In the winter, the forest doesn’t seem as thick and there is an abscene of wildflowers, but the sights and sounds are still great.  In fact, as I was walking back with my camera, I saw a group of people walking up carrying microphones.  Here are a few of my pictures from the outing:

Deerfield Bike Path and some reflections

Some of the tall grass with the man-made pond in the background

Jimmie next to the babbling stream

Silhouttes of some of the many trees off the path

Jodi and Ali
On Saturday, I drove to Floyd to visit Jodi and her daughter, Ali.  Floyd is such a beautiful county.  I really enjoyed the views I encountered.  I will definitely have to return there again shortly to do some hiking. 

This time around, I spent most of my camera efforts trying to get pictures of Ali.   In July, the Vandervorts did a blog post called “The Many Faces…” and it shared thirteen pictures of Ali and her different facial expressions from a single day.  When I saw it, I thought, “Wow, they take a lot of pictures” and I thought the quantity was solely a reflection of their affection for their new daughter. 

Now I wonder if there is another reason behind the quantity of pictures!  It turns out it is lot easier to get photographs of dogs than it is of a baby.  It seemed whenever Ali was happy and smiling and actually looking my way she was also very animated.  With my limited experience with the new camera, that left a lot of blurry hands and unfocused facial features.  I also had a series of pictures where I was a split second too late and missed the smile.  So I took picture after picture after picture.  When it was all said and done I think I ended up with a 3% satisfaction rate of my pictures.  The good news is when everything clicked in place, little Ali is very photogenic!  So through quantity, I was able to salvage quality.

Ali has a tongue

Clemson vs. Virginia Tech
On Sunday, Larry gave me and Sean his men’s basketball tickets, so we went to watch Virginia Tech take on Clemson.  I think this is the first basketball game Sean and I attended together in at least nine years.  I very much enjoy the basketball environment.  I like how concentrated the experience is– you are closer to the action of the game, closer to the refs you want to yell at, closer to the sidelines, closer to the cheerleaders, closer to the band, closer to the dance team and the Hokie Bird.  No matter what is going on, you are in the thick of it.  But…I will report the intimacy of Cassell Colliseum does not do the “Enter Sandman” hysteria justice.  With that, you really need to sheer magnitude of frenzied fans that only Lane Stadium can provide.

We ended up losing the game and the seemingly reserved old man next to me lost his temper and threw down his water in anger.  I got splattered by plenty of his water and hopefully not very much of his backwash.  Nonetheless, I had a good time (I think Sean’s experience was still dampened by the loss, though).

March 5, 2007 at 10:31 am 1 comment

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