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Back in the day the Devil’s Millhopper was a big sink outside of Hogtown (Gainesville.)  The sink is so deep the climate mimics that of Appalachia when you get to the bottom.  During the summer rains little rivulets  find their way into the depths of the sink, creating waterfalls along the way.  There were no stairs in those days and as kids we would scamper down the sides of the sink, holding on to tree roots and rocks when the way got steep.  On a hot summer day we’d get covered in sticky sweat as we made our way to the bottom.  A stop at a favorite waterfall halfway down would refresh and renew us.

 

A day at the Millhopper was rivaled only by a float down the Ichetucknee.

 

These photos were taken in late February.  If you go to the Devil’s Millhopper, try to see it in the summer when it’s lush and green.  Since I was a young girl they’ve turned it into a state park and built stairs to help you down to the bottom. 210 steps to the bottom have attracted many an exercise enthusiast.

 

How the Devil's Millhopper got its name

How the Devil's Millhopper got its name

 

img_0045-interpretive-center-w-greg1

Greg at the Devil's Millhopper visitor center

 

 

 

 

img_0046-please-take-nothing

 

Here we go...

Here we go...

 

descending into the Millhopper

descending into the Millhopper

 

more stairs

more stairs

 

 

I wasn't kidding!

I wasn't kidding!

Basht makes it to the bottom (the red dot at the end there)

Basht makes it to the bottom (the red dot at the end there)

The bottom of the sink is often much wetter than this

The bottom of the sink is often much wetter than this

 

I remember folks exploring a cave down here at the bottom. It appears to be filled in now.

 

Basht headed back up

Basht headed back up

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[scroll down for photos]

 

Geocaching is a fun little hobby we picked up about five years ago.  There are around 3/4  million caches around the world for treasure hunters everywhere.  A cache can be a physical container with “treasures” inside, or it can be a virtual cache, intended to take you to an interesting location.  You use a GPS to find the cache. You can take whatever item you like from the cache. Usually when you take something from a cache, you leave something in trade. We carry a bag full of trinkets with us. Small toys, puzzles and games delight children who come to the cache. Sometimes we put in an autographed CD. When you find a cache, there is a log book inside for you to log your “find.”  You also write down whatever you’ve taken and whatever you leave.

 

Each cache’s location is marked with GPS coordinates and logged in at the geocaching website at geocaching.com.  To search for caches in your area, or in an area that you’re visiting, you create a user name and password at geocaching.com (it’s free) and then enter the zip code of the area you’re interested in.  They’ll provide you with a list of caches in that area. To find a cache you plug in the GPS coordinates for the cache you’ve chosen. Drive to the nearest parking area and off you go, usually on foot,  following your GPS unit. When we get within 10 or 20 feet of the cache we start thinking about the area as if we were hiding a cache ourselves.  “If we were hiding a cache here…where would we hide it?” Often there are obvious places and if we get really stuck, there are sometimes clues in the cache’s online listing that will help us find it. 

We joined geocaching.com in May of 2004 as the “Triforce Team” and started seeking caches.  We also created a cache using an old army ammo box that we picked up from a surplus store.  We chose a picturesque location on Stony Point near our home in northern Minnesota. Click to go to our Stony End Cache listing.

We love geocaching because the sport often takes us to new and beautiful places we would never see otherwise. We’ve explored new forests, climbed sand dunes, checked out interesting urban areas and gotten some exercise in the process.  Sometimes caches are close to the parking area and sometimes they’re several miles away. It’s always a nice break from a road trip to jump out of the car and start exploring.

 

Mom and Gordon also like to geocache, so we set out together to find two caches here in Gainesville on the afternoon of Feb 24th. These caches were both “micro”caches, so there was no room to leave anything.  Greg, Basht and I took up geocaching about the same time as Mom and Gordon.  We live in northern Minnesota and they live in Florida.  This was the first time we were able to go together.

 

Gordon and Greg discuss the first geocache

Gordon and Greg discuss the first geocache

 

Kiki gets distracted by a young magnolia tree

Kiki gets distracted by a young magnolia tree

 

Can't decide which magnolia photo to post. Which appeals to you more?

Can't decide which magnolia photo to post. Posting both.

Greg, Priscilla (Kiki's Mom) and Gordon are close to the hiding place of the first cache

Greg, Priscilla (Kiki's Mom) and Gordon are close to the hiding place of the first cache

 

Greg is the finder of the first cache. Gordon and Greg examine the contents of this microcache.

Greg is the finder of the first cache. Gordon and Greg examine the contents of this microcache.

 

Priscilla and Greg at the site of the second cache

Priscilla and Greg at the site of the second cache

 

Kiki gets distracted by a retention pond

Kiki gets distracted by a retention pond

 

Greg finds the second cache as well.

Greg finds the second cache as well.

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