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Time For A Get Together?


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I received some private e-mail about another Northern Virginia / DC area get together. It is time, however I'm not sure I'm the best to lead the charge this time as it appears I'm going to be moving out of the area shortly! Is there someone else in the DC area who could propose a location and a time?

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I would be willing to host the event if no one else is up for it. I think it would be a good idea to even have a 2 part event, half meet and greet (plus food) and the second finding questionable benchmarks in the area? Or maybe some type of instruction on different types of metal detectors and searching tecniques. The NGS members could even maybe make a return.

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There was some discussion here prviously about meeting at SUGAR LOAF S 1865 to see if others can add to what BDT and I have found so far (and disagree on). Having a meeting on top of a hill seems like more of a warm season thing, but I would be willing to go any time at all. I have my case to prove after all! Also, meeting on a hilltop might rule out those folks unwilling or unable to make the climb (it is decenly steep on a couple spots) and take an hour or so out of the day to get up and back.

Last time we met in an nice little restaurant and had some good conversation, picked on the NGS folks a bit, and got to know each other. I would love to continue that at any location. For me the location was fine--it was very easy to get to as it was right off a major interstate. I drove about 2 1/2 hours to get there if I recall, and it was totally worth it.

Set a couple dates and let's move forward!



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Well I have been doing some research and figure we could plan the event around the NGS guys, if they cannot come thru then we could do it without them, I also feel like we could do half eat and greet, while the other half could be practical info about finding benchmarks for those of us that are very interested but might just need that extra nudge. Plus it would be fun to go out and try and find some unfindables or some that have yet to be searched, this way all attendees pros and rookies will get out and learn.

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I think those are great ideas. It was great to meet the NGS folks last time and I would love to continue having them meet with us.


If you want to pick a restaurant you might try one that has a small private space. We sort of monopolized the center of the one we went to last time, and having other patrons around made it hard to get together with everyone or do a mini-show-and-tell of our equipment and techniques. I would love to see and hear more about some of the other hunters' equipment and why they use it, but that would have been impossible in our last setting.


As for hunting, I am sure that would have been a failure last time, mostly because the day was miserable and few people would have wanted to stand out in the rain and look for marks. I still think it is a good idea though if we can pull it off.

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The best thing, I think, would be to have a 2 or 3-part event. However......


I went to a geocacher event that was supposed to be a lunch and then geocache hunt. The problem was, a lot of the people were so anxious to get on with the hunt that some didn't even bother to meet at lunch and instead just did the hunt. I imagine that a few people who did the hunt that day never saw anyone else.


I can see the same thing happening here with the NGS guys eating lunch in some restaurant somewhere by themselves while we benchmark hunters each head for a random PID in the selected group of unfound benchmarks at various times during the day like 6AM. :o


Hopefully there will be some solution to this.


Our last get-together went quite well in terms of meeting people and doing some talking and showing some printouts and maps. The plan was to eat lunch together and maybe figure out a place to go hunting some benchmarks after lunch. Instead of figuring out a place to go for a benchmark hunt, the last few of us to leave went out into the parking lot between rain showers and demonstrated a metal detector and a couple of probes for 15 mintues.


Perhaps whoever runs this get-together could figure out a PID within 10 miles or so to go to but not reveal its location until a set amount of time after the lunch started, like 1 hour. Anyone who does not want to eat lunch with us could show up then anyway and receive the location and join us there. After that PID is thoroughly searched by all, the next location is revealed.....


The idea mloser and I had discussed a bit a couple months ago was to essentially do a sort of brown-bag up on Sugarloaf Mountain in Maryland to look at about 5 PIDs and disks including some old marks and mystery marks that mloser and I looked at and had somewhat different opionions on. This does involve a hike of a mile or so, ending in climbing about 100 wood stairs. If its a nice day, it would be great. I'm not so sure the NGS guys would be into going up there though. If we did that, I estimate that we'd be up (after the stairs!) there for about 2 hours.

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I see all your points BDT and agree with them. Our idea of convening at Sugar Loaf gets more and more iffy as the weather gets colder. I don't think I would want to be on that bluff with a stiff November wind blowing.


As for hunting for a local mark or marks, that doesn't get me excited at all, unless it would be one similar to Sugar Loaf--a mark that one of you DC guys had looked for and couldn't find, but you felt might still be there, so we could put our collective heads together, sort of like a puzzle, and figure out if it existed. Sugar Loaf is a great one because both you and I saw the same thing, but we just disagree on the interpretation of the descriptions we read. More heads might bring some insight into the mix. I don't want to just race to some benchmark beside a highway, then race off for the next one! That isn't why I am in this hobby at all. FTFs are great, but not if I am racing 10 other guys to it!


I would NEVER leave Dave or Casey or any of the NGS folks stranded alone! The people part is the reason I would come. :o


Maybe a newbie lesson or something for those who haven't done much hunting? Last time most of us were the heavier hitters, so we spent a lot of time comparing techniques and ideas.


Or, sort of thinking out loud here (as much as one can when typing!), a round robin showing our tools, and maybe a favorite "ah ha" example of how we found a mark we were at first stymied over, or how we enlisted the help of a homeowner to let them dig up their yard (happened twice to me), or how I soothed the pit bull owner and the guy with the 8 guns (and ready ammo) beside his door to recover the triangulation station (that was one recovery)?


At any rate, if I am not busy that day I am open for just about anything.



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Given the time of year, I'm going to highly recomend this be a lunch only get together. I'd really like to get together at sugarloaf or a simlar spot, but that should be a late spring activity. This time of year an easy to reach venue that will let us sit for 3-4 hours is the order of the day, or at least, that's my $0.02.

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I guess I forget most people do not like cold weather. Maybe we could just have a meet up in germantown or gaithersburg and if anyone wants to go for sugarloaf afterwards is more than welcome, and this one could be done without the NGS guys. This could be a small work-up to a larger one when it gets warmer. We could add the NGS guys later. I think it would be helpful of some of the heavy hitters brought some of their tools for a show and tell of sorts.


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I am fine with putting Sugar Loaf off until nice weather. I wasn't really too keen on going there in the cold anyway.


Personally I would like to invite the NGS people. Although I don't want to put words in their mouths, they most likely wouldn't want to go benchmark hunting anyway. Dave has done his share of benchmark hunting, and setting! So just a sit down to talk for a bit would work for them.


What Bicknell suggested is a good idea--a meal, a place to sit and talk for a few hours. Last time I think we had about 15 people show up. Some came early, some filtered in as we ate. For me it was great to meet some other people seriously into the hobby--names I have seen in this forum and other places, like Holograph's stat pages, and to talk to and help a few people who were just getting started. I would be perfectly happy if that is all that happened this time too.



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I like cold weather fine, but I can certainly agree to put off the Sugarloaf thing until next spring, if ever.


Meeting at the same place as last time would be OK, I think - the NGS guys know where it is, etc., although they might be more Maryland-oriented since they work there, and having the meeting in Maryland would be OK too, of course. Perhaps some place in Laurel or something along I95 so people from farther away would go, knowing that they would not have to be fighting some inner-metro-area traffic.

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For the Sugarloaf idea, it would only be good for doing one time, not two.

If we're not going there in November or December then we should go there in the spring with the Germantown/Gaithersburg idea. This then would be the restaurant-only meeting.


Remember that the minimum is 2 weeks notice for adding this event to the GC.com calendar so that people can respond to the meeting event and post pictures later. So, at this point, we're looking at 3 or 4 or 10 or 11 December at the earliest, depending on whether more people would prefer Saturday or Sunday.

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I'm currently working on a several months project in the mountains of Colorado, so would not likely be able to come to a get-together. However, I know what I would be interested in were I to be there.


Searching for a couple more marks with other benchmark hunters may be fun, but nothing like meeting with the NGS folks and hearing some of the history of the marks themselves. If the meeting is going to be held in the Washington D.C. area, I would be interested in hearing some of the history of the Jefferson Pier or the Zero Milestone. Maybe something about the original survey of DC itself.


If a search for marks is really wanted, how about contacting a congressional member about a tour through the Capital building (not sure what the status is of tours through here, so this may just be a fantasy)?


Regardless, I guess I feel that if people are going to make the effort to get together, then it is the people who are important. I can look for benchmarks any time. Meeting other people who also enjoy it would be why I would come.

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Well I will set up a event for the month of december for a benchmarkers meeting and as per everyone who posted we can wait till later to do any kind of hunting, I was just thinking of the people who are inexperienced and want to get the bug that you guys already have. I will set it up in maryland if the NGS guys would prefer, otherwise it will be the same place as last time to keep things simple. If anyone has any prefs let me know and I will do my best to make it happen. Also would it be prefered to have the event on a saturday or sunday?


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It doesn't matter to me whether it is on a Saturday or a Sunday.

It doesn't matter to me whether it is in Maryland or Virginia.


If it is in the same place as before, after lunch, we could all go to one of the local parks (unless it rains or is freezing) to compare benchmark hunting packs, tools, techniques, etc. I see that there are several parks within a few blocks of the restaurant:

Towers Park

Villa Lee Park

Hideaway Park

Mantua Hills Park

If any of these has a picnic table or something, that might be good.


If it is a different place, the same sort of thing could be done.

Edited by Black Dog Trackers
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I can't speak for others at NGS, but I would be happy to attend an event in the MD,VA,DC area if I don't have any travel conflicts. If the organizers would like, I would be happy to conduct a short program on the history of NGS/C&GS and the fundamentals of geodesy and geodetic surveying.

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Ok, well I am just going to jump right in and make it for the 18th of december (i am not a holiday person so sorry if this is too close to xmas for some) so that people will have enough notice. If it does not work out we can postpone it to the first full weekend of 2006. It will be at the same place. I can also talk to my dad and see if he wants to some out and speak on the history of survey as he is a 40 year retired one with NOAA.


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I submitted the event for the 18th, if anyone has any comments post them and I will work around anything to make it so that the majority of those interested can make it. I also am sure people will miss the 1pm football game due to the event but, it is a small sacrafice. At the meeting maybe we could work on the sugarloaf idea in the spring. I also can see if I could work something cool in D.C., maybe a historic benchmarkers walk-thru.


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Sorry we missed it. For those of you who didn't know, I have taken a new job in Memphis, TN, and I'm in the process of moving now. Life has been a little crazy lately, leaving no time for benchmarking. The good news? There are a lot of unfound marks where I'm going, so we'll have plenty to do.

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