Wednesday 17 June 2015

Geocaching: A Different Kind of Hobby

When I first came across Geocaching, I had no idea what it was about. After reading up on it, I quickly discovered it was really interesting and something that takes place all over the world. It's an outdoor recreational activity, in which participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers. Only recently, within the last fifteen years has it been called "geocache" or "cache" for short. Similar to letterboxing, where someone would hide small, weatherproof boxes in publicly accessible places (like parks) and distribute clues to finding the box in printed catalogs, geocaching is paperless and utilizes GPS and mobile phone tracking to find the hidden containers.

There is a lot unknown about this treasure-hunting activity, most people have never heard of it even. I went out a few afternoons to try and find some geocaches that were in Pueblo West. I was a little unsure of how I was going to do by myself since I tend to get lost easily, but thanks to the Geocache website, I was able to get GPS ordinance, but what was really helpful was being able to use my smartphone and they have a system like Google Maps build into their website that pings where you are in relation to the geocache.

My first attempt was to find one that was only a mile from my house. I walked to where it was mapped. About twenty feet from the road, near a historical sign. When you're looking at the geocache site, there is an option for the person that hid it to put a hint. The hint for this was that it was magnetic. That was a weird hint since there was basically just the sign with gravel all around it. Nothing really metal to stick something to. I spent twenty to thirty minutes walking around the place, but didn't find anything that could be a cache. I was a little disappointed, but I just assumed it was either moved/taken or maybe got washed away from the storms. So I decided to go to another one not too far away.

The second cache that I attempted to find was actually located on private property. On the hint for this one it said that it was hidden in a shed. Being by myself, I wasn't sure if I wanted to trespass and break into someone's shed in their backyard. I was a little confused as to why someone would hide something when it wasn't on public land. I'm pretty sure that's a requirement for the website, but I decided I would try looking in town rather than the bad luck I had in Pueblo West.

The third geocache I looked for was on the CSU-Pueblo campus. It was said to be hidden in a log cabin. I have never seen a log cabin on campus before so I thought it would be fun to see something new on the campus. When I drove around to where it was said to be, I saw that there was a fence and a sign saying it was under maintenance. I was a little frustrated after that. So just out of spite, I looked up one more.

The fourth one wasn't far away, still located on campus. I knew the area didn't have any buildings, so surely it wouldn't be too hard to find. I walked to where it was pinging on my phone's map. There wasn't a hint, so I thought it might be something easy. I as mistaken. It was difficult to get to where the dot was on the map. It was down a really steep bank right off the road. There was a perfect little hole in a group of rocks that it might have been, but where it said it should have been, nothing was there. I just assumed it had gotten washed out by the rain, especially being right by a small stream and on the steep bank.

After four attempts at finding anything, I decided instead to just make my own. I wrote an interesting message and put a little chain bracelet in a bottle. I hid it at my favorite tree about mile from where I live.

Hoping for some advice, I corresponded with Jack V. who has been geocaching for about seven years. He lives in Texas, but says whenever he goes on a road trip, he has the app on his phone so that he can look around any city when he has spare time.

Photo credit to Jack V.
Why do you like doing it?
It's just a hobby that I found through a friend some years ago. I guess it's something to do that you don't have to pay for and there's usually quite a few to found near by no matter where you are.
What do your children think when you bring them along?
My kids love it. I got them interested in it by saying they could go looking for treasure with me. I do all the work, but I let them decide what to bring to trade items for. 
 What got you first interested?
My friend introduced me when we were on a business trip in another town. It was a little harder then, the apps and stuff for my phone wasn't available and we had to use an actual GPS. I thought it was interesting that people would hide little stuff randomly and it wasn't a popular thing to go out an look for it.  
Camel near found cache. Photo credit to Jack V.

What was the most interesting cache you found?
The most interesting one I did wasn't interesting so much for what was in it, but the location. They had hid it next to a fence where on the other side there were camels. My kids were excited to see the camels. I don't remember what was even in the cache.
How long do you think you'll continue to hunt for them?
I think that it's something I'll be doing as an easy hobby for a long time from now. It isn't stressful or really strenuous. I can take my time looking for them and just enjoy the weather as I'm hiking. 
What's the most frustrating part about geocaches?
Sometimes the people before you that find it, don't put it back in the same spot and then they don't update where it is on the website. So you basically spend a lot of time for nothing. But the time I found a used condom in one was the most disgusting time. Luckily I was out with a buddy and not my kids that day. Because of that I always open the caches and check before I let my kids take a peak. 
What was something you're willing to share that you put in a geocache?
I've put all sorts of stuff. Nothing really worth anything. My son put a small keychain monkey once, usually we just put paper notes with nice messages on it in them. Sometimes I go to thirft stores and buy cheap little things, $1 for a handful of beads and put those in a box. It's not supposed to be anything valuable. 

Tuesday 2 June 2015

Rain, A Blessing in Disguise

Beaver Creek, Pueblo West

This May's recorded amount of rain hasn't been seen since 1888,  when monthly precipitation totals began being recorded. This month alone it was recorded that Pueblo got 5.46 inches of rain.

Beaver Creek, Pueblo West
Where some people have found the daily storms to be a hindrance, it has really benefited the whole state that we received so much moisture. According to the Pueblo Chieftain, "...with the exception of Baca and Prowers counties, and a small portion of Bent, Southeastern Colorado is now drought-free."

The effects of the overflow of water was almost immediately noticeable. Being a resident of Pueblo West, these photos of Beaver Creek are prime examples of how much water has fallen recently. Normally this is a dry creek bed, the but now it's quick moving and 3 to 4 feet deep.
make this May the sixth wettest month in Pueblo’s recorded history. - See more at:
since monthly precipitation totals began being recorded - See more at:
since monthly precipitation totals began being recorded - See more at:
since monthly precipitation totals began being recorded - See more at:
since monthly precipitation totals began being recorded - See more at:

Monday 1 June 2015

Beckwood Bandits


    Normally when you are on your way to enjoy an afternoon at Pueblo's Beckwood Park, you wouldn't be met with utility signs. But because of the recent vandalism at the park; repairs have been needed. The thousands of dollars worth of damage was discovered over this last weekend to brand new turf, playground equipment and an irrigation system had just been installed. I spoke to two maintenance workers who were in progress of cleaning up the area around the park. They talked about the anger from the community. The park is located in an area that is mostly families and retired members of the community.

Credit: Pueblo Parks and Recreation Dept

  While discussing the event with the workers, a woman who lived right by the park stopped to inquire how the repairs were going and mentioned some other minor damages that she had noticed. She made it clear that she and everyone in the immediate neighborhood are disgusted by these so called "children" that chose to deface the parks in the area. One park vandalism is bad enough, but there was another park just a few blocks away that also was damaged recently. There aren't any leads in the investigation that have been announced. 

Monday 25 May 2015

Balloon Launching

To celebrate Memorial Day and to bring the community together, Create CaƱon City Balloon Classic is held annually at The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey. It's a lively event held Friday the 22nd to Monday the 25th (Memorial day). There are events scheduled throughout the day, with fun activities starting at 8am with the first of the day Balloon Launching and another launching, the Balloon Glow at 8pm. Throughout the day you can enjoy live music played by local bands and musicians. This is a fun family event, with many games and activities for children of all ages to do. There are things for adults to enjoy as well, such as wine tasting at the Winery. Everything is within walking distance, so no need to worry about where to have a bite to eat. there are numerous stalls set up with local food vendors to choose from.

Sunday 17 May 2015

Interview with Dr. Abbott

It took me a while to figure out who I wanted to interview, I thought about the mailman, a store clerk, or someone just random on the street. It wasn't until I realized that my mother had access to a plethora of doctors, nurses, techs., etc... that I figured a member of a medical team would be appropriate. I wanted to interview someone that was in the medical profession because they are often times over-looked or lumped together and anonymous, despite their amazing work.

I spoke to a radiologist at Parkview Medical Hospital, Dr. Robert Abbott. I didn't want to focus on his work specifically since he isn't at liberty to share patient information anyway, I wanted to get to know more about him as a person, not just a doctor.

How long have you worked in radiology, including residency and education to get there?
A: "I went to medical school for 4 years and then was in residency for 5 years prior to the last 3 years working here at Parkview."

Was radiology, or more generally; medicine your first choice for occupation?
A: "My father was a doctor actually, so growing up, I had this feeling it was expected of me to be a doctor. I tried to be a lot of other things though, before giving up and making it through medical school. I received a finance degree before going to med. school even. I thought I might be a pilot, so I got a flying license, too. I also was part of the State Police; I like driving fast and thought it'd be awesome to ride with the siren on all the time. (After which he chuckled and shook his head). But the medical field is a very secure field. There will always be sick people after all."

What are the best part of your job?
A: "The best part, as cliche as it sounds is helping people. Nobody knows who their radiologist is, we just get the images and write down our notes, then send the images to the patient's doctor. At the same time, after looking at thousands of images, you can forget that these are actually living- sometimes dying people. It's really interesting when you get a thank you note or little card from someone that you read images for. I've never met this person, but I could have saved their life by spotting something on a computer monitor."

What is the worst part of your job?
A: "The worst would definitely be having to deal with the bureaucracy/politics of the hospital. Unfortunately, the people that make all the rules, most likely know nothing about the medicine or practise of what they're regulating and setting limitations on."

What motivates you to continue working here?
A: "Well, of course the financial aspect is wonderful. But other than that, the fact that there are always going to be sick people needing help. This is how I can help them and I find that fulfilling."

Do you have any advice for someone wanting to be in the medical field?
A: "Just be in it for the long haul. I'm 38 years old now, I spent 15 of those years getting training for this-and-that. Just start early if that's what you think you want to do. But, don't get discouraged by all the hoops you have to jump through, which there will be a lot of. If it takes you until you're 30 to get there, that's okay, you were going to be 30 eventually anyway."