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Dc/md/va Get Together?


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There seem to be a number of people in the DC/MD/VA area, so how about a get-together? We could find a benchmark to meet at, have some lunch and chat over finds in the DC area, and then for those interested do some hunting in the immediate area.


If there's interest I'll search for a spot and pick a time a few weeks out.

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Count me in! :)

I was thinking of posting the same thing myself.


I suggest that you email some of us to pick whether Saturday or Sunday is best, and which weekend would be likely to get the most participation.


It makes little difference to me whether any benchmark hunting is involved with the 'event' or not. I lean a bit more on the side of just lunch. Preferably a lunch place that is informal, not too loud, and where they don't care if you 'camp out' there for a bit.

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Sounds like an excellent idea. I think most of the active benchmarkers in the DC area are in Northern Virginia, which would seem to make that a preferred venue. If there are lurkers in DC or Maryland - or even Delaware, eastern West Virginia, or southern Pennsylvania - now's the time to make your voices heard.


I wouldn't mind including some hunting as part of the gettogether, but I suspect it would take some sleuthing to find some virgin territory (though I did hit some previously unvisited marks in southern Fairfax County this weekend.)



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There's a lot of unfound marks in Fairfax.


I downloaded all the NGS datasheets for virginia. I then used BMGPX to make a county file for each county in the state and made sure they worked in mapsource. I also wrote a script to make a short version of a data sheet (basically, the description, adjusted or scaled, and mark description, none of the superceeded survey control or other stuff) and then another script to page them together and print them out 4-up. I now have a three ring binder with all the marks that start with AA, AE, JV, JW, HV and HW in Virginia, which is most of Loudoun County and Fairfax County, and some surrounding areas. This means I always have all the nearby data sheets with me, no more leaving one at home.


This leads to some statistics. There are 20,280 benchmarks in Virginia, and yes, Mapsource will load them all at the same time (after 20-25 minutes). There are 382 in Loudoun County, our main hunting ground right now. There are over 1600 in Fairfax County, it's one of the few counties over 500 (the limit on my GPS) which makes it annoying.


So, while we're making good progress, there is still a large number to go. I think we've got Loudoun about 75% done now.

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Sounds good; I'd love to see the faces behind these icons. I'm not too attached to trying to find BMs either...if there's a good turnout, it could get to be a sizeable crew. I'd be interested in things like seeing everybodys' gear kit and such. I could go as far as northern VA.

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I've been to 2 geocacher get-togethers, but was somewhat disappointed at not being able to meet and talk with all the people who attended the event. One was a bit better than the other in this regard. The scenario at the better one was to meet at a restaurant (a buffet salad bar kind of place). I met lots of people and we shared stories and equpment talk and such. Even though I'm not much of a geocacher, we did share a few common interests. After having lunch, people I met went off to do the event's geocaches. The bad aspect was that a lot of other geocachers showed up at the restaurant before the lunch meeting time, stayed 1 minute or something, and then dashed off to do the event's geocaches, and never came back. I never saw any of them.


My point is that if we're going to have a get together to meet, share stories, show equipment and stuff, then we need to have a time set aside for that alone during the event. If the idea is to drive somewhere and do a bunch of benchmarks, I think we do that already.


The idea of doing some benchmarks together is cool, but I think we need both kinds of time separated out. Something like lunch at 12, then hand out the benchmark hunting location at 1:30 and then we're off to the benchmarks! is what I'm suggesting. Just bringing a bag lunch to a park like a/r/sf/ret is saying would be a good alternative to a restaurant if it's a nice day or there's a roof over the tables at the park like at the second geocacher event where I met seventhings.

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I concur 100% Black Dog. If we are going to meet, lets meet and discuss problems, issues, equipment, good hunts, bad hunts, etc., not hunt for marks. For the most part I prefer to do my hunting alone anyway, and only do hunts with others once in a while.


What I would REALLY love to have at the event would be an honest to goodness surveyor who would be willing to show us what it is they do with a benchmark--maybe even to doing a short traverse just to see how they would do it. Would anyone else like an introductory course on surveying?


If someone wants to do a hunt, how about one with a higher level of difficulty--one we can hike to as a group or a real tough find that we can pool our resources on and change from a Not Found into a Found? I would prefer that to a race to get to a couple of marks near where we meet (and would probably pass on that sort of "competition", preferring to make up my own hunt on the way home).



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I think we should meet for a sit down lunch/chat for a bit first. Comparing past finds, equipment, and soforth would be a huge help. If people want to go hunt individually or in groups after that it's ok.


The question I'm having is if in town is better (easier to get to) or out of town is better (more benchmarks to find). For instance, Warrenton, Front Royal, Manassas, they all have more benchmarks, and more space to spread out and find them. However, if we just want to meet and talk something like Tysons or Landmark may be a better fit for most people. *shrug*

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What I would REALLY love to have at the event would be an honest to goodness surveyor who would be willing to show us what it is they do with a benchmark--maybe even to doing a short traverse just to see how they would do it. Would anyone else like an introductory course on surveying?

Excellent idea!

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Here is something that I recalled when the surveyor idea came up. :rolleyes:


bicknell - I think Warrenton, Manassas, Fron Royal would be fine for both - pick a lunch place or a get-together sort of park in/near one of those towns, and pick some benchmarks around there for afterwards. There's no reason to be stuck exactly in the DC area if people are coming from far away. Perhaps they'd like somewhere between I-81 and I-95 that wasn't in the metro area.

Edited by Black Dog Trackers
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Fellow enthusiasts...don't get me wrong. Lunch with folks, some of whom I think of as experts would be great. What hasn't been stated or I missed it was say what day of the week. If say on a Fri then that would leave the weekend to find a few. I'm not so rude that I would show up then disappear to find marks. Rude yes but not that bad. You folks for the most part must live fairly close to that area...being retired and on a pension with gas the way it is, I kinda have to make it an outing say for the weekend. it would be nice to sit and talk to start the weekend off for me at least. To the person who mentioned hard finds and hiking then I'm up for that also. That would be a weekend well spent. But whatever, having made plans for a group before it is always hard to satisfy everybody. If I can I will.

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Ha Ha Matt... "What I would REALLY love to have at the event would be an honest to goodness surveyor who would be willing to show us what it is they do with a benchmark--"


I would have loved to have had help not long back when I had to place a property corner on a to be developed construction site. No Bench Mark yet, we just needed to get line for some work that was soon to begin. The field had been pasture in it's day and had what was likely a 100 year old 9 wire barbed wire fence along the North line. I was thinking, ahhhh, What Barbed wire fence? I walked the whole line and did see a spot 600 feet West where there looked to be some barbed wire fence. I looked back to the East where I was to do my thing to see that this fence, if it had been put on a true East-West line, had been put well upon by one of the bigger blackberry bushes you will get to play with. And well, we could not have known it was a 9 wire fence, but while muttering, I learned it was. Yup, After I hacked and slashed my way through a 15 foot high blackberry bramble for hmmm, 25 feet diagonally, until I found the place I was supposed to set this corner. and cleared enough space around it to work.


I am glad I was running GPS that day, as it was easy to survey, I even put a TBM elevation on the staked corner, but had I been on a Total Station, though I may have needed to clear a bit more, I would have had an extra Machete wielding mad man along to help.


Now is that the kind of introduction you would like for finding a difficult one? :-D


Just anecdotally curious,



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Just thinking out loud, here........


If folks could meet on Friday afternoon, we might see if Deb or Casey could give a quick tour of their facility. Then we go to dinner, with plenty of time to get acquainted. Those that want to stay over for Saturday morning could do a hunt.


Now, THAT kind of event would entice me to drive up from Raleigh!



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I think the "get together" should be a saturday lunch. That way those who just want to do lunch can run out and do that, those who want to spend all day saturday or the whole weekend hunting benchmarks can do that as well, with a lunch break in the middle.


I like the idea of inviting the NGS people. Aren't they up the 270 coorador?

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I'll be in the DC area the weekend of Oct 1. I suppose that's too late for this get-together. Will be RVing from Colorado sometime after Labor Day. From DC, will head north for fall colors and back west to and through Buffalo and Minnesota. Anyone want to plan on something along the way in that time-frame?

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I'm going to suggest Saturday April 23rd as the date. I haven't picked a location yet. I figure that gives people enough time to plan ahead (and it fits my schedule :mad: ). I'll have the where posted shortly.


I'm also going to start updating the first post with the details so they will be easy to find. As we get confirmations from people I'll add them to the list.

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I've been pondering a place. I'm open to suggestions. I want to find a place where we can get some lunch, spend a couple extra hours there talking, is conveniant to major roads, etc.


If we went not at peak lunch, there's a Cracker Barrel at I-66 and Route 234. In Vienna the Vienna Inn is a local favorite. We could go further out, or closer in.

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I'm going to make a solid proposal.


How about Saturday, April 30th at 1:30PM at the Family Restaurant in Vienna VA. It's located in the same plaza as MicroCenter, about a half mile from the I-66 Nutley Street Exit.


That should be late enough we can get tables together. The place is casual, with good food (greek, italian, american), cheap, and fairly easily accessable.


Who's in?

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I don't think I will be able to make it. I am scheduled (approval pending) to attend a Lewis and Clark Commemorative disk dedication ceremony in Williston ND that day. But if any of the other NGS staff does go, I will see to it that they take along some SWAG for you guys (and girls?).


Have a good time!





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For once I won't be on travel so I'll be doing my best to be there and as Casey indicated I'll see what I can bring along. If the restaurant has a clean flat wall I can use for a screen I would be happy to give a brief PowerPoint presentation about NGS and the history of geodetic surveying in the U.S.

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Unfortunately, I too will be unable to make it. :) I may be getting down in that neck of the woods sometime in the next month. I need to get a printer to an 'authorized' repair center, and may just make it into a caching/benchmarking trip instead of shipping the printer down.


I'll post when when I get a better idea of my timeframe. Perhaps I could get a chance to say "howdy" to a couple of the locals, even though I'm missing what I'm sure will be an outstanding event.


I've already had the privelage of meeting DaveD and Steve Randall in St. Louis and I know you'll enjoy their sharing with you all.

Edited by gnbrotz
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Doggone it. As much as I would like to get back east for this event, I don't think its going to happen.


However, I do have a favor to ask of the participants. If the guys and gals who make it to lunch that day happen to go for a little benchmark hunt afterwards, I would humbly request to give HV8236 a try.


I've had my eye on it since I was in DC last year and was within a couple miles without knowing. Later, when I saw the data sheet, I couldn't believe that an ammo shell casing would have been used in the 1980's to set a mark!


Please. Somebody. Ease my curiosity! Don't make me come back there and find it myself!! :(

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However, I do have a favor to ask of the participants. If the guys and gals who make it to lunch that day happen to go for a little benchmark hunt afterwards, I would humbly request to give HV8236 a try.

That location is about 35-45 minutes from where lunch will be located. It's not a bad area to look for marks too, although development is rapidly coming up from the south.


I'll make an event cache shortly.

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Me & Bucky (and anyone else who is curious) -


It looks like a shell casing but I just can't be sure. You'll have to check it out for yourself (and bring an ordnance expert along with you). I've seen one or two shell casings in my time, and this does not look like one to me (but I have no idea whatsoever as to what it might be if not a shell casing).





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If it's not a shell casing, I might suspect it was a capped well. There are a number of groundwater sampling wells in my area, and they look very similar -- a galvanized or iron well casing with a steel cap on top. The ones I've seen often come with a padlock, or are sometimes welded shut, unlike the one you saw. Wierd.

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