Thursday, April 25, 2013


It was the eleventh hour in the great halls of Cachelot and the mood was dire.  The entire day had passed and still the sword was in the stone as no champion had yet come forth to pull the sword and claim the prize.  Yes, many good knights, along with a few lads, lasses and ladies, had mightily tried in vain, but none yet had succeeded.  Hurriedly, a Council of the Roundtable was called to discuss what should happen if no champion ever came forth.  Just as the discussion began the doors at the back of the great hall burst open and two young lads from ActMoritz strode purposely through the great hall.  Their eyes were full of fire and locked upon the sword!

The Council went quiet and a hush fell over the huge crowd as all eyes watched the two lads stride to the stone and kneel.  No one could quite tell what was going on: were they praying, or maybe invoking a mystic unlocking spell, or could it be they actually had solved the mystery of the stone?  Suddenly one of the lads stood, grabbed the hilt of the sword and pulled.  You could hear the “swoosh” as the sword came out of the rock and the lad pointed the sword skyward! The crowd roared! We had our champion!

The story above is not just the stuff of legend…at least not yet… and if you haven’t guessed by now, the theme of this
event was Cachelot – Quest for the Dragon’s Cache.  Here at MOGA 2013 (GC3GN2E) you would find many caching knights and damsels, a few dragons and an actual round table….not to mention the aforementioned  Sword in the Stone, designed and built by cacher Sixrows  (Shawn Renfro).  To pull out the sword cachers had to find up to 48 “Knight’s Caches” hidden throughout the Lake Shelbyville area.  Six of those caches contained the numbers that would unlock the sword from the stone.  The two stalwart young lads who finally retrieved the sword were part of a four-person team (including their parents) that had searched over hill and dale to find the secret to the cache.

Can you find the Q in this pic?
MOGA 2013 (Midwest Open Geocaching Adventure) was held from April 5th to April 7th in Shelbyville, Illinois and in the nearby Lake Shelbyville area managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The event was hosted by the Central Illinois Geocaching Association (CIGA) and the US Army Corps of Engineers.   The co-directors of the event were Racer2814 (Pam Rankin) and Gossamar (Tom Hankins) who are also CIGA board members.  Numerous local vendors along with vendors of geocaching supplies sponsored the event.  Actually, it seemed as though the entire town of Shelbyville was hosting the event because everywhere we went we were heartily welcomed and quizzed as to “what exactly is this geocaching thing?”  Even the local schools got into the act when they offered their high school gymnasium when the original venue fell through.

The CIGA Board plus "Cache Artiste", Sixrows

MOGA  got its start back in 2004 by St. Louis Area Geocaching Association’s (SLAGA) Brawny Bear (Mike Griffin)  when he created a geocaching competition known as the Midwest Invitational Geocaching Competition (MIGC) The three-day event was held at Hawn State Park in St. Genevieve, Missouri, and was sponsored by the St. Louis Orienteering Club with the cooperation of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. MIGC was attended by over 80 participants from seven different states - some from as far away as New Jersey.

Over the next ten years, MIGC evolved into MOGA, now the world’s largest geocaching competition.  This year’s event was attended by over 1000 geocachers from 23 states and from as far away as Australia.  Over 200 new permanent caches were hidden for the event along with 80 temporary caches hidden just for the competitions.
Best Costume Winners....See Anyone You Know???

MOGA 2013 really began back over a year ago, when Pam and Tom volunteered CIGA (Central Illinois Geocaching Association) to host this year’s event.  At the time they really had little idea of what was involved to put on such a huge event.  Over the ensuing months they have driven hundreds of miles and put in over untold hours just doing the advance work.  The work of actually hiding the caches began in December 2012 when CIGA volunteers hid about 200 caches in the 11,000 acres of the Shelbyville Lake Area and along many of the roads leading to MOGA.

The event kicked off in earnest on April 5th, beginning at 4:00 PM.  Hundreds of cachers checked in, put on their orange event lanyards and strolled through Cachelot, greeting old friends, making new friends and, as always, sharing caching stories.  The evening ended with the BYO Bash, with costume contests, live music and even a magic show!

Early the next morning the caching competitions began.  First out of the gate was the Individual’s Competition with cachers seeking 40 punch-caches hidden in the hills and valleys of the Shelbyville Lithia Springs area.  Later in the day the Team Competitions began with caching teams seeking another 40 punch caches.  You can check the MOGA 2013 entry (GC3GN2E) for a list of winners of these competitions.
MOGA 2013 had lots more than just the competitive caches to keep everyone occupied.  There was a poker run, a costume party, plenty of kid’s caches and even a Wizard’s Challenge to test those who love puzzle caches.  Also several local caching organizations sponsored get-togethers throughout the weekend….including a pizza fest and a feast sponsored by Bear and Mad Chef!
Signal and Friend At The Awards Ceremony
Cute Couple, Right?!? 

On Saturday evening the winners of the competitions were honored at an awards ceremony.  Prizes were awarded for first, second and third places for each competition.  Hundreds of people filled the local high-school gymnasium to applaud the winners and to celebrate yet another great MOGA event.  As with most of MOGA 2013 activities, it was a smile-filled event!

At the end of the awards ceremony a special super-secret movie was shown.  The movie involved spies, intrigue and all sorts of mayhem….all leading up to the announcement of MOGA 2014, Geocaching Impossible (GC491R5) to be held March 28th through the 30th, 2014 in Athens, Ohio. Already, it looks as though the organizers of this event are going to carry on the excellent tradition of great MOGA events!

Alas, MOGA 2013 ended all too soon, but MOGA 2014 is already on the horizon.  In the meantime get out there and find some caches!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Big Nose George Parrot

We had an overnight stay in Rawlins, Wyoming and decided to look for a cemetery cache; hoping to find a grave of a Calvary soldier, an outlaw or some other old Weste3dex character and thus “find” a Wild West story.  After doing a search on we found a cache in Rawlins Cemetery, just a mile or so from our hotel.  Our target cache was Wild West Redux (GCG010).  With a cache name like that we couldn’t lose!

 Tombstone near Wild West Redux
We quickly found the cache and figured out the answer required which indeed was a Wild West story, but we wanted more.  We looked around the cemetery a little more, hoping to find a U.S. Calvary veteran’s grave or some other interesting graves, but didn’t find much of interest.  We resigned ourselves to leaving without discovering a bigger story and headed to our hotel.  But wait, all was not lost!  Shortly after dinner we received an email from scribbler, the Wild West Redux cache owner, saying that we had gotten the right answer to the cache and if we wanted more information about the cache’s story we should look up “Big Nose George Parrot.”  We immediately did a Google search and got, as they say, “the rest of the story!”

Big Nose was a cattle rustler and would-be train robber.  After a bungled train robbery in August of 1878, Big Nose and his gang shot and killed two lawmen that were on their trail.  Big Nose escaped capture for almost two years until he got drunk in Montana and bragged about killing the two Wyoming lawmen.  He was captured there and then sent back to Rawlins to stand trial.  There he was convicted and sentenced to hang, but while awaiting his execution Big Nose overcame his jailer and almost escaped.  This almost successful escape enraged the townspeople and they burst into the jail, grabbed Big Nose, and took him outside and lynched him.  That’s a pretty good Wild West story right there, but wait, there’s more!

No kin claimed Big Nose’s body so two local doctors claimed the body in order to examine it for clues as to why Big Nose was so bad.  They began by sawing off the top of his skull so they could remove and examine the brain.  They gave the skull cap to their 15 year old medical assistant, Lillian Heath.  Having found no abnormalities in the brain the good doctors then took the skin from Big Nose’s chest and thighs….and had it made into a doctor’s bag, a coin purse and a pair of shoes!  One of the doctors, Dr. John Osborne, later was elected in 1893 as the governor of Wyoming since statehood and he wore his “Big Nose shoes” to his inauguration.

You would think that having a rustler/train-robber turned into a pair of shoes would be a great ending to the story, but no…there’s more!  Roll the clock forward to 1950 and the story continues.
On May 11, 1950, construction workers unearthed a whiskey barrel filled with bones, a skull with the top sawed off….and a pair of shoes made of some strange leather.  Some locals remembered the stories about Big Nose George Parrot and they sent for Lillian Heath. 

Lillian Heath was the 15 year-old medical assistant who received Big Nose’s skull cap.  She had gone on to become the first female doctor in Wyoming and she was now in her eighties.  She had kept the skull cap all this time, making good use of it in a variety of ways including as an ash tray and a door stop.  She brought her half of the skull and it matched perfectly with the bottom half of the skull in the whiskey barrel.  Big Nose George Parrot was back together again at last!

We finally had our Wild West story, and so much more!  Thanks to scribbler and Wild West Redux we have discovered another piece of Americana that we would never have heard about without geocaching.  It’s amazing what you learn while geocaching!

Big Nose George Parrot did find his final resting spot in Rawlins, but not in a cemetery like most other people.  The bottom half of Big Nose’s skull and the shoes made out of his skin are on display in the Carbon County Museum in Rawlins, along with some other related artifacts.  Next time you’re in Rawlins we recommend you stop by Wild West Redux, visit Big Nose at the museum and then find your own Wild West story that you can share with us!