The 2015 Magical Mystery Tour.

  
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We are excited to announce our next Guest Blogger, Laurie Olesen. We asked her to tell us about herself so we could introduce her and she did such a great job she is introducing herself. 

" I have been geocaching since January 2011. A friend of mine was moving and was cleaning out their garage and they found an old "Y2K" compatible Magellan Triton they had won at a company meeting. This thing was so ancient, it only went to two decimal points and had to be keyed in! I can't believe I found anything that year! I went every day that summer which is how my two boys earned their "geo-hostage" nick names. They say I fried them out in my first summer of geocaching! geoBaby-M came in January of 2012 and has been my primary hiking buddy ever since I figured out how to hike with a baby and now toddler! I love all the places it geocaching has taken us. And since the rest of the family really doesn't geocache, I rely on my online geocaching family to share in our adventures! We are notorious for having EPIC adventures which may or may not have earned me a title of Queen of ISAG (I Suck at Geocaching)! I love big trees, wildlife encounters, Florida Swamps, and now Minnesota waterfalls. It has never been about the numbers for me. It has always been about the adventures. The smiley on my map doesn't matter at the end of the day. It's the smiley that I have in my heart when all is said and done that matters!"



     It all started with a post on Facebook. Something called The 2015 Magical Mystery Tour. A state-side, 24 hour geocaching adventure with 8 different events along the way. Really? A 24 geocaching event that covered most of the state of Minnesota? Count me in!
     I set the date and started posting on the Geo-Junkies FB page looking for riders. My van seats 7 so I figured more people would bring down the gas costs and really, the more people, the more fun it would be!
At one time I had the van filled, but on the actual day of the event, I was down to just two additional cachers, ray_gun and speedy314. Two men I had never met before but were totally up for the 24 hour challenge! (FYI...I did my homework on the two gentleman and made sure could be vouched for by other geo-junkies before the day of the event!)

      It was crazy that I was still going to do this. I had just left Florida on Tuesday at 7:10 PM to make it back to Minnesota at 4:30 AM on Thursday morning. I had to make sure I made it back in time for this event! I only had about 1 day to recover from that road trip before attempting this one!
The day of the event came and I think I was ready. Hours were spent before this day looking at maps, checking out caches, downloading pocket queries, and making bookmark lists of the different legs of the trip. I even made sure I printed off the driving directions, as well as a map of the stops, and a hard copy of the book mark lists in case my GPS or phone failed. Which they ended up both doing!
With one final cup of coffee for the road, the cooler loaded with ice, I hit the road a little after 11:00 PM on Thursday, June 19th. It was a quick 30 minute drive to pick up my two riders. After quick intros, we loaded up my van with gear, water/ energy drinks, loads of granola bars, and not only plain M&Ms but peanut ones too!
We tried to break the ice by finding a cache right outside the event site, but ended up with a temporary DNF. Luckily, the CO was at the event and we were able to get a better idea of what we were looking for so we picked up our first regular cache (GC5XT4F)minutes after the first event (GC5PBFG).

Decked out in our new SWAG from our goodie bags, we hit the road. Our first event was in Hinckley about 1 1/2 hours away. But there was a certain big fish that I wanted to see along the way. We made good time to Paul Bunyan's Walleye (GC2BBBV). And after finding the cache, I was happy that there was no "do not climb" sign near the fish. That just screamed for a photo opportunity. I am happy to say one of the guys decided to join in the fun. I guess it's a good thing that they both didn't want to...there was no way I would have made it on top of the fish in my 10 second timer on my camera!
On our way out of the parking lot, we passed another group of cachers. I said "you're going to climb the fish, right?" They said "sure, if you take the photo!" So we turned around for some more fun. By now we had gathered quite the audience outside the gas station. They were probably trying to figure out if they should call the cops or not!











We were able to grab a puzzle in Hinckley that speedy314 was able to solve along the way. We even got to visit the Great Hinckley Fire (GCJ1V1) monument for another cache too.
We made it to the event, got a photo with the host, and really enjoyed the beautiful Luna moth that decided to come visit us. While we were waiting to sign the log, speedy314 told us about a 4.5 difficulty cache that required special equipment (aka a possible tree climb). 2:00 or so in the morning? Tree climb at night? Sure! Let's go! Told a few other tree climbers who were at the event to see if they were game and off a bunch of us went to see what we could find!

     Speedy314 lived up to his name and ray_gun and I were playing catch up trying to find him in the woods at night when we got to GZ! Thinking we had narrowed down the right tree, ray_gun headed up while I provided more light for his search. It wasn't until two other vans of people showed up that someone was finally able to spot the cache. But even the best climber in our group had to admit that special equipment was required as there was no way a tree climb was going to get this one down!
Another 1 1/2 hour drive, and we finally made it to Virginia. The sun was still not up yet and we had some time so we headed off to Winter Friendly (GC40TKY)- a 1.2/2.5 cache that had 27 favorite points. 
I think that one was pretty misleading as we headed into the wildflowers and thick brush, climbed over huge boulders, and then navigated our way down a super steep hill. But we weren't able to find it with the guy's phones, so I plugged in the coordinates to my phone and we made it to GZ rather quickly. Found the cute container but the contents were scattered everywhere. Not sure if was animal, but it felt like a Muggle crime scene to me. We found all the contents we could, signed the log, rescued a TB, and made our way back to the van.
The sun had not quite come up yet and we still had time to make it to the event, so we tried for a night cache. But the cache page was pretty vague and we only found 3 sets of reflectors before having to leave with a DNF.
     We made it to the event (1 hour 54 minutes) , but sadly, there were no fresh donuts or special rolls that everyone raved about. So, we didn't stay long. Plus, we knew some bad weather was on the way and we thought we would try and get ahead of it.

We made it to a super cool war memorial (GC30EMD) right as the rain hit. Found the cache and tried to take a quick photo, but rain made not the greatest photo. I got in a nap and woke up just as we pulled into The Big Fish (GC36XVP). And let me tell you...that was one BIG FISH! What a cool restaurant.
The rain had stopped by the time we made it to the next event (GC5PBFV) in roughly 2 hours and 11 minutes. Had enough time for a quick visit, enjoy the Baltimore Oriole, and the duck nearby before heading off to find a multi-cache, Ana Bear (GC3D8Z3).
It was right about at this time that Speedy314 suggested a detour. A virtual where the Mississippi originates called Even the Mighty Start Small. (GCB286) We made good time to the park and the sun even stayed out the entire time we were at the park. It was so incredible to stand at the mouth of the Mississippi River. We even got to cross it using a log bridge and rocks!

Made it to the lunch event (GC5PBFY) where a fellow cacher (jabie28) was eager to trump my big fish with a helicopter with a smile. Picked up the cache right outside the event (GC5PBFY) and had a quick photo stop with Paul Bunyan on the way out of town.

    We had a big chicken on our mind as we headed to Fergus Falls, 2 hours and 7 minutes away. We did try and stop in a couple of the small farms towns along the way and ended up with a DNF and a find at an old town hall for our efforts.
And then there was That Darn Chicken (GC1zQBR) Turns out it was no ordinary chicken...but a giant prairie chicken to highlight that we were now in the prairie chicken capital of MN! Funny story here, we ended up running into a family that was taking photos of their kids with a rubber chicken on a stick. Turns out, the kids had stolen the chicken from their uncle and had now transported it across state lines. They were taking photos of the soon-to-be ransom chicken along the way!

We hit the event (GC5PBG) and then headed to a field puzzle, The Headless Horseman (GC3618E) . And even though I knew we had limited time, we opted to stop at Ten Mile Church Cache (GC1DVGZ), a memorial dedicated to two churches that were burnt down. It was a beautiful location.
2 hours and 38 minutes to our next event (GC5PBG2), we missed our exit. The van was almost out of gas when we happened to pass by an unusual sight. A ramp with a car standing on end nearby. I said "there has GOT to be a cache there!" And it turned out...there was! Almost on empty, I turned the van around to grab Dukes of Hazzard in Todd Country (GC4MT96).

     Still running behind I also couldn't resist the giant crow or the Corn Capital Cache (GC1T5T3) along the way. Which happened to be right down the road from the letterbox/hybrid (GC37HVZ) that we wanted to grab as well.


Grabbed a hot dinner at the 7th event and we knew we had limited time on the way to the last event of the night-another 2 hours and 38 minutes away. I got to enjoy a spectacular sunset along the way. And somehow managed to talk them into two stops along the way. One to see Herman the Germa (GC26TV3) and the other to see Calling Clark Kent (GC4FCGM).
Rolled into the last event (GC5PBG4) at 11:26 PM, just shy of 24 hours since we signed the first log. Final totals...26.52 hours on the road. 8 events. 19 additional caches. 2 DNFs. 1076 miles logged on the van. 5.51 miles of hiking inbetween caches. 4-5 tanks of gas.
     One adventure of a lifetime of memories with new and old geo-friends! 

Thank You Laurie, we would love to hear any fun stories you have like Laurie, If you want to guest blog please send your stories to LiveLoveCache@gmail.com. 
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