Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Carolyn Waltz - First to Complete Take Flight Tour

The best education is when you are having so much fun that you don't even realize that you truly expanding your knowledge.  Another positive aspect is when this thrill is there for all ages.  This is what you get when visiting the Take Flight GeoTour in Manatee County Florida.  

This unique GeoTour is one of a kind but I believe that Melissa, the Take Flight GeoTour Guru and the woman who managed to put together this amazing caching experience, has set a standard for many to follow.  In fact, I have talk to a couple of cachers who are finding her accomplishment a challenge of sorts.  Well, more power to them.  

August 22, 2012 is the date that Waltzcar claimed the first custom tracking tag, made especially for this series.  What did it take to make this claim?  Find 12 of the 15 caches, have your 'passport' completed and the tag is yours. 

I tracked down Carolyn Waltz, aka Waltzcar, and asked her about her adventure.  This is what she had to say. 

I had been in the process of trying to complete 100 EarthCache finds before Labor Day weekend. I looked at my EarthCache map to decide where to go next, when I spotted a brand new EarthCache, "Flooded Flight" in Manatee County! Then that web page led me to discover the "Taking Flight" GeoTour. I had never heard of a GeoTour before, and there was even a GeoCoin to be earned! And birds are my favorite wild creatures!
I work nights, and sometimes have a day or two off during the week, so I quickly planned the best route to travel, and set off on 21 AUG. 

I did have a few unexpected adventures along the way. After I completed "Flight in the Estuary", I returned to my car and could not find my keys. I had my caching papers on the passenger front seat, and thought maybe my keys were under them, but could not see, so I retraced my steps, with no luck. I returned to my car and called my insurance company for help with a lockout, then went back to the trail once more while waiting for the tow truck. Then I spotted the keys on the trail! I guess all that flapping caused me to drop them! Anyway, I called back and cancelled the tow truck.

Sunscreen is a definite "must have" for the Robinson Preserve caches. By the time I was done there I was as pink as the flamingo at "Flight & Fertilizer" (where I was able to log a FTF)!

I thought I would never get to leave "Flight Span"; I had to wait out a school bus full of muggles! And then the school bus parked and never did leave! I waited a while longer, quickly rehid the cache, and left.

I had to plan a second adventure day, when storms developed in the afternoon and blocked my GPS signal.

My neighbor went along with me on the next day. This was a new experience for her, and she really enjoyed it, too. We really liked the cache container at "Silent Flight". Owls are my favorites. We had extreme difficulty finding the cache for "A Long Flight Home", and accidental found another cache while looking! I was about to give up when a ranger came walking down the boardwalk. I asked her if she knew anything about this cache, and it turned out that she was the "Taking Flight" GeoTour developer! She helped us find the well-hidden (understatement) letterbox cache, and the game was on again!

I had the opportunity to explain GeoCaching and CITO to a boater at "Tangled Flight" while disposing of the paint can lid I found there.

Knowing how popular this GeoTour would be, I hurried back to the Manatee County NRD to turn in my passport. Since all of the other caches had been FTF by other cachers, I was totally surprised to find that I was the first to complete the tour!

I had hoped to get them all, but I could not get Freshwater Flight (Access by water) nor Flight of the Florida Scrub Jay (area closed due to flooding), and I could not find stage two of the Multi, "Fire Flight". 
I truly enjoyed this tour, learning about birds, the environment and its effects on the birds, and even how we can compare ourselves to certain aspects of birds.

This has inspired me to possibly create a similar GeoCaching adventure/learning experience.

 I do want to thank Carolyn for sharing this story and photos.  As you can see from her closing statement, she is also inspired by the great efforts of Melissa and all her helpers to create a comparable caching event.  I hope that Carolyn will share with me, so I can share with you, when she does her very own tour. 

As of the end of September, 28 of 200 custom travel tags have been claimed.  This is amazing.  Many large geocaching events take place in that area of Florida in the spring.  And many of the attendees go year after year to enjoy the festivities.  Can you imagine their excitement when they find this challenge to include in their week?  Those tags will be disappearing rapidly.

Check out this video of a family exploring the Take Flight GeoTour.  Beware, there are spoilers here.

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