Monday, June 28, 2004

Log by travisl for Paul Bunyan's Tylenol (Traditional Cache)

Log by travisl for Paul Bunyan's Tylenol (Traditional Cache):

travisl found Paul Bunyan's Tylenol (Traditional Cache)

Sometimes, after a cache machine, when I'm logging finds, it's hard to remember specific caches. This cache, however, is definitely memorable. The perfect tie-in of unique container and great cache name.

I didn't need a Tylenol until Sunday morning, when the margarita from Saturday night had left it's traces in my head.

Log by travisl for GOD BLESS AMERICA (Traditional Cache)

Log by travisl for GOD BLESS AMERICA (Traditional Cache):

travisl posted a note for GOD BLESS AMERICA (Traditional Cache)

Ahh.. now I remember. Big park. Really tall grass. I think one of YeOldImposter's kids found this one.

Log by travisl for GOD BLESS AMERICA (Traditional Cache)

Log by travisl for GOD BLESS AMERICA (Traditional Cache):

travisl found GOD BLESS AMERICA (Traditional Cache)

Hit this one on the PCM, but even though I'm looking at some of the photos, I'm not remembering it. Sorry :(

Log by travisl for the ONLY spot.... (Traditional Cache)

Log by travisl for the ONLY spot.... (Traditional Cache):

travisl found the ONLY spot.... (Traditional Cache)

Just when I think I've seen every way to hide a cache, one like this comes along. Very creative -- good jorb.

Log by travisl for Shambling Mound (GeoHack Encounter) (Traditional Cache)

Log by travisl for Shambling Mound (GeoHack Encounter) (Traditional Cache):

travisl found Shambling Mound (GeoHack Encounter) (Traditional Cache)

GeoHack? Munchkin.

I attacked the Shambling Mound, but did so with the assistance of four other adventurers. I used my pointy hat of power to cast ''your shoe's untied,'' while my comrades attacked it with a Gentlemen's Club, a Swiss Army Polearm, a Hammer of Kneecapping, and a Limburger and Anchovy Sandwich.

The Shambling Mound was still winning, but then we bribed the cache owner with food, and it died instantly. Sadly, we had to split the treasure 30 ways, which gave me a logbook to sign, and that's it. Oh well.

Log by travisl for It's a Jungle Out There (Traditional Cache)

Log by travisl for It's a Jungle Out There (Traditional Cache):

travisl found It's a Jungle Out There (Traditional Cache)

It is a jungle in there! I followed a herd of monkeys to the cache.

Log by travisl for Rock Solid (Traditional Cache)

Log by travisl for Rock Solid (Traditional Cache):

travisl found Rock Solid (Traditional Cache)

Once we got near the cache location, there was really only one spot it could be. In spite of that, someone else found it after I looked there. The curse of TravisL strikes again!

Log by travisl for Fairviews Wooden Wildlife (Traditional Cache)

Log by travisl for Fairviews Wooden Wildlife (Traditional Cache):

travisl found Fairviews Wooden Wildlife (Traditional Cache)

Had to avoid the sprinklers, but made it across the cool bridge and down the trail and to the spot where the other cachers had already gathered. Stickered the logbook and speedwalked back to the car.

Log by travisl for Where there is a will, there is a (Airport) Way (Traditional Cache)

Log by travisl for Where there is a will, there is a (Airport) Way (Traditional Cache):

travisl found Where there is a will, there is a (Airport) Way (Traditional Cache)

Saturn of Olympia
6/25/04 9:36 AM
Customer states he hears a clunk noise when accel around corners and over bumps. Road tested and confirmed noise. Found noise coming from hood support. Insolated and test drove again. No more noise heard. All operating as designed. Repair 1, Road and/or clip, hood support - replace.

Glad I did this yesterday, because today I took the geo-Saturn off-roading to get to this cache. The difference between road and grass out here is so fine as to be non-existent. Eventually, I and the others parked our cars and strolled to the cache.

On the way back, I tossed a rock into the pond. That's a lot of scum out there!

Log by travisl for #1 (Traditional Cache)

Log by travisl for #1 (Traditional Cache):

travisl found #1 (Traditional Cache)

Of all the caches on the PCM this weekend, this is the find that I feel the least proud of. Ripcord, if you think this shouldn't count as a real find, please delete my log, and I'll repost it as a no-find.

I arrived here at about 5:30 a.m., and the park wasn't due to be open until 8:00. No problem. He-who-shall-not-be-named jumped the fence, got the logbook from the cache, handed it through the fence, and I stickered it from there.

If Seth gets wind of this, I'll never live this one down. I'm so ashamed.

Log by travisl for Mental Floss (Traditional Cache)

Log by travisl for Mental Floss (Traditional Cache): "

travisl found Mental Floss (Traditional Cache)

If this was an evil telephone pole cache, hidden discreetly yet obviously so that muggles would overlook it but cachers could spot it, then my GPS would have led me right to it, and I would have found it.

It wasn't, though, so somebody else got the find for our PCM sub-group. Bummer. Stickered the log then jaunted back to the car.

Log by travisl for G Dog1 (Traditional Cache)

Log by travisl for G Dog1 (Traditional Cache):

travisl found G Dog1 (Traditional Cache)

Gee, do you think the cache might be somewhere around where all those geocachers are parked? Maybe? It's an easy find when you drive up and RomulusNR is holding it.

Log by travisl for Althaus Forest (Traditional Cache)

Log by travisl for Althaus Forest (Traditional Cache):

travisl found Althaus Forest (Traditional Cache)

Sadly, I know I did this one, and my navigator RightWingWacko logged it, but I don't remember anything about it. That's one of the hazards of doing a hundred caches in a weekend. Sorry :(

Log by travisl for Hidden Pond 1727 (Traditional Cache)

Log by travisl for Hidden Pond 1727 (Traditional Cache):

travisl couldn't find Hidden Pond 1727 (Traditional Cache)

RightWingWacko and I drove all over the place looking for the park entrance, but eventually gave up so that we wouldn't be too far behind everyone else on the PCM. We talked about hitting it at the end of the route, but by then I was tired and wanted to take a shower instead. Maybe I'll get this next time I'm in Portland, whenever that is.

Log by travisl for Beaver Creek Canyon (Traditional Cache)

Log by travisl for Beaver Creek Canyon (Traditional Cache):

travisl found Beaver Creek Canyon (Traditional Cache)

The sun was just coming up when we headed down to get this one on the PCM. After looking for about 10 minutes in the wrong spot, Pepper, who I knew was going to kill me when she saw the switchbacks in the trail, found it. I stickered the logbook and high tailed it out of there before she had the chance to take me out.

As I drove off, I waved to the lady in her fluffy white bathrobe who was standing in the driveway opposite the trailhead. She didn't look amused, but if I remember right, the park hours were dawn to dusk, and although the backlight on the Etrex was a necessity, it was clearly dawn.

Log by travisl for Star and Bird Bane (Traditional Cache)

Log by travisl for Star and Bird Bane (Traditional Cache):

travisl found Star and Bird Bane (Traditional Cache)

4:34 a.m. What in the world am I doing here with 20 people at this ungodly hour?

Getting my 700th find, that's what.

The nearby cash machine made it a perfect start to the two day marathon that was the Portland Cache Machine.

Looks like the sun's just about up.

Log by travisl for Jared's Lacamas Park Cache (Traditional Cache)

Log by travisl for Jared's Lacamas Park Cache (Traditional Cache):

travisl couldn't find Jared's Lacamas Park Cache (Traditional Cache)

This would have been my 700th find, but as it was, I'd driven down from Tacoma, checked into the hotel in Troutdale, hit two other caches on the way here, was quite exhausted on the hike back to the car from ''Watch Out For the Steeps'', and was hoping for an easy one. I saw the instructions about parking at the church, but mistakenly figured I'd be better off parking near the cemetery and walking in.

Nope. The cache was downhill, about 400 feet away. I wasn't willing to scramble down there, so I headed back into the cemetery, sat on a memorial bench surrounded by dozens of gravestones (why would someone's stone say 1948-1848?), and pondered my next plan of attack. There's five more caches in this park. Dinner's in three hours. I'm tired, and I'm gonna be doing two long days of caching on Saturday and Sunday. OK then; it's decided. Back to the hotel to take a nap.

Log by travisl for Don't Kiss & Cache (Traditional Cache)

Log by travisl for Don't Kiss & Cache (Traditional Cache):

travisl found Don't Kiss & Cache (Traditional Cache)

The cache was only 45 feet away. Should I go for it? I take a step forward. It feels as if it could be my last. I head back to the car, and try to find another way in.

This one? No.

This one? No.

This one? No.

This one? Yep. Easy stroll. Found it, logged it, left it.

Log by travisl for Short and Sweet #4, Watch out for the "Steeps" (Traditional Cache)

Log by travisl for Short and Sweet #4, Watch out for the "Steeps" (Traditional Cache):

travisl found Short and Sweet #4, Watch out for the 'Steeps' (Traditional Cache)

This cache would be amazingly cool to do on roller skates. And then, when woke up in the hospital, someone might bring you the logbook to sign.

Easy find; tough hike back to the car. Oy. Glad I had water. Wish I would have parked across the street from the trailhead.

Log by travisl for Gee Creek (Traditional Cache)

Log by travisl for Gee Creek (Traditional Cache):

travisl found Gee Creek (Traditional Cache)

The third cache I ever found was at this rest area, which was also the first intact cache that Geogrrrl and Dragonfli ever found. This was way back on December 30, 2001. (visit link)

This cache is in a different area of the rest area, with a lot more nettles and a lot less underwear. I attempted to approach the cache from three different directions before finding a relatively painless way in.

Those spiders sure like building their webs in my way. Bleaugh.

Log by travisl for Road Rage #1 (Traditional Cache)

Log by travisl for Road Rage #1 (Traditional Cache):

travisl found Road Rage #1 (Traditional Cache) With as many Portland Cache Machiners as found the cache at the Maytown southbound rest area about 40 miles north of here, I figured this logbook would be just as full.

Nope. I was the first one here today. It was a pretty easy find, after I ate a few spider webs and weaved through a bit of salal. Yum.

Log by travisl for I Hate I-5 (Stumped Again) (Traditional Cache)

Log by travisl for I Hate I-5 (Stumped Again) (Traditional Cache):

travisl found I Hate I-5 (Stumped Again) (Traditional Cache)

My first find on a very, very, very long weekend. I found the cache site, and as soon as I touched the baggie, I heard muggles approaching.

Quick. What would you do?

I grabbed it, jumped out of the bushes, and headed to a nearby table. The muggles spotted me, and said ''Hey, Travis!''

They weren't muggles. It was Pepper, Lucy, and Rickie. We signed the log and re-stashed the cache. Plenty of Portland Cache Machiners had already been by, and it was only about 10:30 a.m.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Log by travisl for Portland Cache Machine (Event Cache)

Log by travisl for Portland Cache Machine (Event Cache):

travisl posted a note for Portland Cache Machine (Event Cache)

FYI: See this forum thread for information about seven supplemental caches that may be an add-on to Saturday's day 1 route.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Log by travisl for Born on the 4th... (Traditional Cache)

Log by travisl for Born on the 4th... (Traditional Cache):

travisl found Born on the 4th... (Traditional Cache)

Daughter: ''Mom, when do we eat?''

Mom: ''Soon, dear. We just need to wait for the food to arrive.''

D: ''But we haven't eaten since yesterday. And it tasted like GORP.''

M: ''I know, dear, but we're mosquitos, and we can't be picky about what we eat. We take what we're given.''

D: ''I wish I was a fly. They can eat whatver they want.''

M: ''Hush your mouth. Filthy creatures, flies.''

D: ''But Julie says she talked to a fly who said he carried a whole baked bean from a picnic a few weeks ago.''

M: ''And does Julie believe everything a fly says?''

D: ''No, mom, I guess not.''

(Rustling noises are heard in the bushes.)

M: ''Stay close, dear. We might have ourselves some squirrel today.''

(The daughter makes an icky face. Then she sees it. A geocacher.)

D: ''Mom! Another one! Hopefully he'll taste better.''

M: ''Wait here. I'll try it first.''

D: ''No mom! I wanna try! I wanna I wanna I wanna!''

M: ''No. Wait here and ...''

(The daughter lands on the geocacher's hand and begins to eat. Her mother flies nearby, very worried. Other family members gather around.)

D: ''Mmm... tastes like salt and vinegar potato chips...''

(Suddenly, the daughter is attacked by something white with blue stripes.)

D: ''Ow.''

It took me six times looking at the same spot before I saw the cache. The hint, coordinates, and description are fine; it's just well hidden. Took nothing, but left a marble puzzle. There wasn't a pencil in the cache, so I left a squished mosquito in the logbook and took a photo (attached). As I gathered up my pack, I found a black sharpie, so used it to sign the logbook.

As busy as things have been at work, and with recent business trips and vacations and all, this is my first Federal Way lunchtime hunt in more than a month. Wow.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Log by travisl for Ol' Doc Lilly (Traditional Cache)

Log by travisl for Ol' Doc Lilly (Traditional Cache):

travisl posted a note for Ol' Doc Lilly (Traditional Cache)

Yup. This cache got muggled. I've just replaced it with a Lock-N-Lock container, and placed it on the ground, about 3 feet away from its original location. Kept the coordinates the same, though. Go for it!

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Log by travisl for Tacoma Travel Bug Mania Vault (Traditional Cache)

Log by travisl for Tacoma Travel Bug Mania Vault (Traditional Cache):

travisl posted a note for Tacoma Travel Bug Mania Vault (Traditional Cache) Well, at the end of May, with Team Noltex's permission, I took three TBs out of here and promised to drop off three or more TBs that I picked up on my trip to Reno. Unfortunately, except for Tuke the Moose, every TB I found in Reno had movement restrictions or goals that would be hampered by moving to Tacoma. So, I'm dropping off Tuke, and a new TB I've activated -- an old used golf ball. Next time I get a TB, I'll drop it off here to atone for my geo-sins. Sorry.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Photos posted

I just posted a bunch of Disneyland photos to my photo-blog.

Log by travisl for Disney's Horseshoe Review (Virtual Cache)

Log by travisl for Disney's Horseshoe Review (Virtual Cache):

travisl found Disney's Horseshoe Review (Virtual Cache)

Didn't have the cache page pulled up, so I didn't bother taking a photo of the 11:30 show outside. I thought I had to get Billy Hill, so I poked my head in for the 11:45 show, snapped the attached photo, then skedaddled over to DCA to catch the Aladdin show to wrap up the final day of my five-day 10-year-wedding-anniversary trip to Disneyland. Didn't try for any of the other caches this time.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Log by travisl for Portland Cache Machine (Event Cache)

Log by travisl for Portland Cache Machine (Event Cache):

travisl posted a note for Portland Cache Machine (Event Cache)

The second draft is posted. The files are considerably larger, but I'm hoping they'll be more readable by folks who were having trouble with the first draft.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

My Disneyland Trip

My Disneyland Trip, or, Back There Again: Randomly Organized Thoughts on How I Spent The Last Five Days

Thursday afternoon: At about 1:45, dad pulls up to our house with Tres and Kevin in the truck. Kim and I pile in, we swing by Krys' school and pick her up at 2:00, and head to the airport. Security check was quick, the plane was a bit late, and the five of us fly to LAX.

Trestin will be leaving a day early, heading back home on Monday. Because of this, I had to purchase a package deal for four of us, and a separate airfare / shuttle / park ticket for Trestin. The plan is for Tres to take the shuttle bus out of LAX to the hotel, and for the rest of us to fly in a puddle-hopper from LAX to John Wayne (SNA), then take a shuttle bus to the hotel. The LAX-SNA hop is silly, but that's the package, so we gotta do it. We arrived late into LAX, parted ways with Tres, and the four of us jogged to our next gate. We heard the "final boarding call" announcement as we approached the gate, and Trestin says he heard a call for the Lauricella party to contact that gate, but they held the plane for us. Up, down, uneventful flight.

We arrived at the Park Vue Inn at around 9:00 and check in. Trestin arrived about five minutes later. I was a bit trepidatious about the hotel, because it was one of the cheapest I could find and the on-line reviews either gave faint praise (e.g., "decent place to sleep, but you can't get a closer non-Disney hotel") or complained about rude staff, roaches, or the noise of all the remodeling work being done last winter. We were pleasantly surprised to find a clean room, decent staff, and remodeling finished three months ago. We staked out our space in the room, got settled in, then headed to Downtown Disney.

We went to ESPNZone for dinner, which was pretty cool, because we had a flat touch-screen (HD?) TV at our table, and were constantly channel flipping between 12 different sports feeds, including baseball highlights, ESPNNews, women's rugby, and the World Series of Poker. Food was fairly good, and not outrageously expensive. Then back to the hotel and off to sleep.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, are now pretty much a blur: I, irritatingly to the other four, was the first one up and eager to go each day, especially on Friday when I woke everyone up too early to have breakfast at the most expensive IHOP on the planet.

It pays to do your research. Those of you who've been to Disneyland in the last five years probably know about FastPasses, which allow you to virtually stand in line -- for free, you get a ticket for a ride which says "come back at X:YY p.m.", and when you do, you go to the front of the line. Generally speaking, X:YY is the theoretical time you'd get to the front of the line if everyone was in line without FastPasses. There are 15 rides which have FastPasses, and in theory, each person can hold one FastPass at a time. You can't get a new FastPass for any ride until X:YY p.m. or for two hours, whichever is less.

However, what most visitors and several cast members don't know is that not all of the FastPass rides are hooked up to the same network:

Network A: Indiana Jones / Splash Mountain / Big Thunder Railroad / Autopia / Pooh

Network B: California Screamin' / Tower of Terror / Mulholland Madness / Millionaire / Maliboomer

Stand-Alone nodes: Roger Rabbit, Star Tours, Haunted Mansion, Pirates, and Grizzly River Run

So, theoretically, you could get a FastPass from Network A, a FastPass from Network B, and FastPasses for each of the stand-alone nodes, for seven total, per person, at a time.

In addition, although FastPasses have a printed expiration time (X+1:YY), they're never enforced. We used FastPasses that had "expired" six hours before, and at one point Kevin and Trestin used a fast pass that had expired 26 hours before, and got into the Grizzly River Run. It was at this point where I, not willing to use yesterday's FastPass, discovered the beauty of the single-rider line. The ride has 8-person rafts, and when a party of 7 boards, or a 4 and 3 boards, the ride operator picks the next person out of the single rider line to go on. The single-rider line is almost always 5 people or shorter, even when there was a 50 minute wait in the regular line. So it was a simple matter of getting a single-rider pass, get in the single-rider line, get on the ride, meet 7 new people, ride, get wet, disembark, and repeat. I think I ended up riding Grizzly River about 12 times over the course of the trip, getting geysered four times.

Also on Friday, the five of us rode It's A Small World, and made crank calls to some of the CPFers, giving them horrible nightmares and generating obscenity-laced tirades and death threats. Good times.

I don't remember standing in any line, anywhere during the trip, for more than 15 minutes. And the park, to me at least, seemed crowded.

Innoventions had a Segway that I got to drive, slowly. It's more intuitive than I expected.

Kevin, Tres, and I played the 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire' stage show game, and I was five spots (out of about 200) away from the hot seat. Dang!

California Screamin' is a fun, smooth roller coaster, which we rode so many times that we broke it. Unlike most roller coasters which get their acceleration from the potential energy built up as the chain pulls the cars to the top of a hill, this coaster launches the cars along a straight flat track (0 to 55 in 4 seconds using a magnetic launch system. It's got one upside down loop, but the worst part of the ride is the brakes at the end, where it drops you from high speed down to a near stop in the space of about 50 feet. Just before it broke down, we really slammed to a hard stop in the braking area, and as we were moaning from the strain, the prerecorded voice came on the speakers indicating that we just experienced, and I quote, "a slight delay". Ouch. Insult to injury.

The Maliboomer, which is like the Extreme Scream at the Puyallup Fair, taught me that I'm glad I didn't waste my money on the ride at the fair. It was surprisingly lame.

Krys was really opposed to going on any of the intense rides for the first few days. We took her on Grizzly River Run fairly early, and after her first trip on it, she liked it. We then took her on Mulholland Madness, explaining that it was like the Mad Mouse ride at the Puyallup fair that she had ridden before. Then, the next day, we talked her into going on the Matterhorn (I finally got to ride it!!), although she objected all the way down the line. Afterwards, she laughed, and said "that was a total waste of time," which I think referred to her panic instead of the ride, because she later declared it her favorite. We then convinced her to go on the Big Thunder Mountain. Finally, on Tuesday, we forced her to go on Splash Mountain (which she still doesn't like), but *she* decided she wanted to ride Indiana Jones.

On Monday, Tres convinced us to go to Newport Beach (a 60-minute bus ride each way), which must be absolutely packed on hot summer weekends. He and Kevin had lunch at Hooters, while I headed back to the park and Kim and Krys took a nap at the hotel. We met back up with Kevin and Tres at 3:00, sent him off on the shuttle, and the remaining four of us went to the park.

The Haunted Mansion is still my favorite ride. I seem to see something new every time I ride it. I went on it five or six times this trip, but never did get to use the right side stretching room.

In addition to getting to ride the Matterhorn for the first time (finally), other firsts included riding on the sailing ship Columbia (did you know you could go below deck on that one?), seeing "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln", watching the fairly lame "Honey I Shrunk the Audience", and rowed the Davy Crocket canoes.

Unlike the 2 three-day trips I've come down here on before, I didn't leave this one thinking, "darn, I wish I'd have had time to…". Five days is just about right.

By Tuesday, we'd accumulated enough extra FastPasses for 13 of the rides that we were close to being able to build a Great Dalmuti deck out of them. Our goal for the day became getting enough FastPasses to complete the deck, while still going on some cool rides and getting out of the park to do some shopping by 2:00 to catch the 5:00 shuttle. We also caught the Aladdin show at the DCA Hyperion theater, which is just amazing. It was during this stretch that we rode Splash, Indy, and the Haunted Mansion, watched the most raucous Tiki Room show I've ever seen, then split up and while Kim and I rode Grizzly twice (have I mentioned the single-rider line rocks?), Kevin and Krys rode the Orange Stinger and Jumping Jellyfish.

At about 3:30, after completing our shopping, we took an hour to burn through the $50 in free ESPNZone vouchers, then headed for the shuttle. Halfway there, Krys realized she'd forgotten her backpack, so Kevin and I went back for it while Kim continued ahead to delay the shuttle.

We got to the airport and waited, and waited, and waited. Winds aloft at San Francisco (where we were to change flights) were 80 knots, with surface winds of 40 knots, so they weren't letting anyone fly in or out. Finally, at about 9:00 p.m., we took off. The 140 seat plane had about 25 people on it -- it sure seemed empty. We had no trouble making our connection, because it was delayed as well. We finally arrived at SeaTac at about 1:15 this morning, and finally got to bed at about 2:30. Oy. What a fun trip. We rode almost every ride in Disneyland (except Space Mountain and Alice, which were closed, and Dumbo, which is just weak.)

My Reno Trip

The drive down was spectacularly gorgeous. Mt. Shasta looks like Mt. Rainier, if it didn't have any visible rocks.

The drive back was quicker than I expected, even though I stopped at just about every "Historical Marker -->" or "<-- Geological Marker" sign on the way. Beautiful weather until I crossed the Columbia River -- then it drizzled the rest of the way into Hoodsport.

I hit 20 geocaches, finding 17, not finding 2, and not realizing I'd passed one until 6½ miles later.
I drove about 1625 miles total.
The Saturn Ion averaged about 35 mpg.
Cheapest gas was in Biggs Junction, Oregon, at $2.199. And they pumped it for me :-)
Best tank was exactly 400.0 miles, roughly 11.5 gallons, Biggs Junction to Hoodsport to Shelton to Hoodsport to home to work.
HarryPotterAndTheGobletOfFire.mp3 is 20 hours 43 minutes long, which is exactly as long as it took me to drive from home to Reno and up to Shaniko, Oregon. It took an additional 73 "short" mp3s to get to Hoodsport.
During the drive, I consumed 3 bottles of water, 36 oz. of Diet Coke, 2 Snapple lemonades, and 12 oz. of Tim's Cascade Nasty Vinegar chips.
Additional food was consumed at a McDonalds in Grants Pass (on the way down), and Fossil (on the way back), both in Oregon.
I didn't meet any other cachers on the way. I did, however, get an e-mail from another cacher from Tacoma who, without knowing it, visited a cache in Reno one day after I was there, and picked up the item I'd left.
Percentage-wise, my biggest casino payback was $10.00 on a 5¢ slot machine pull. The best moment was when, on a whim, I tossed $20 into a $1 machine and got a $50 payoff. Also great was when I got four 35:1 payoffs in roulette over the course of about 20 spins.
A cool point was where I got $25 off a $5 slot machine pull (I only put in $20, so I was up $5). The worst part of this was five minutes later, when I laid 5 consecutive $5 roulette bets on black, and it came up red all five times. Good time to walk away.

On Casino Gambling

(Note: I composed the majority of this e-mail during a non-applicable product demo in Reno on Thursday, May 27, with additional updated edits done on Friday May 28, and now final edits on Monday, May 31 before my final 'send'. It was also composed entirely on my Pocket PC, so it may be a bit disjointed.)

I've found myself attending a product demo that doesn't apply to my work, so it's a good time for me to log my observations of gambling in Reno of the last few days.

I'd heard it beforehand, and it seems obvious, but the most important thing to make a gambling excursion sucessful has to be good money management. "Sucessful" to me, from an economic perspective, is finishing up with the cost (funds lost) being less than or equal to the entertainment value.

Foremost in this management is kowing my limits. Before starting this trip, I'd set a maximum that I was willing to lose per day, and that would be the only cash I'd have on-hand for the day. "Borrowing" from the next day is straight out.

Secondly, every time I've left a slot machine, the craps table, or the roulette table, I've entered my total wagers and results into Pocket Excel. As a result, I can tell you that my final results for each day were

Sun -$4.48
Mon -$5.75
Tues +$48.99
Weds -$37.8
Thurs +$139.25
Fri -$70
Sun +$0

So, after all is said and done, I'm up about $70 for the week. The big win on Tuesday was a $50 payoff on a $1 slot wager. The loss on Wednesday was primarily due to $40 in wagers on slot machines that didn't pay off. Thursday I discovered a low limit single-zero roulette table and had a streak of good luck. At this moment [written Thursday], I've got one more round at that roulette table I'd like to try, $70 out-of-pocket max, so I know I'll be leaving here ahead. [Result was a loss of $70, followed by a round of coming out flat even at an indian casino on Sunday].

Third, having a grasp of probabilities has been imensely helpful. Before coming down here, I'd researched as much as I could, and come up with a way to play craps that gives the house only a 0.5% edge. Only blackjack (played perfectly) or baccarat gives better odds. Baccarat has higher table minimums than I'm willing to risk, and I know myself well enough that I know I won't end up playing blackjack perfectly. More on why I didn't continue playing craps is in point 4 below.

Wednesday morning I sat at the roulette table with someone who was apparently very bad at money management, not to mention the concept of probabilities. She had no concept of why not to place $1 on each of the 38 numbers for a $36 payoff, had the classic gamblers' fallacy that some colors were "due", and remarked that she'd lost $800 at a casino down the road, and had stopped by her house on the way here to get her credit card.

(Side thought: are people who believe in an active God more likely to ignore probabilities, thinking that some cosmic force is at work in at least some miniscule way?)

The urge to assign irrational meaning to odds is strong. It takes a conscious effort to avoid thinking that one number on the wheel is more likely to come up, or that a slot machine is "due" for a payout.

My fourth point: flexibility and knowing my personal limitations. My original plan was to focus on craps most of the time. Once I got to the craps table, I found that I was mentally unable to follow the stategy I'd come up with: bet don't pass, then put odds on don't pass and bet don't come each following roll, and when my don't come point is 4 or 10, put don't come odds. Yes, it was complicated, and I found myself down $16 on Monday morning as a result of mistakes I made implementing this strategy. Solution: find something easier.

Combining point 3 (probabilities) and point 4 (flexibility), I found myself considering roulette. If you feel like running the numbers yourself, there's really only two wagers I considered: even bets (odds 18:38, pays 1:1) or straight numbers (odds 1:38, pays 1:35). I ran a bunch of different scenarios and wagering strategies a few thousand times in Excel, and as my prior research showed, any cumulative strategy ultimately lost, either because the odds were against it, or because I 'd have to take ludicrous chances with my bankroll (like betting $128 to chase a $2 bet).

Now is a good time to bring up my fifth point, which I touched on in my introductory paragraph: treat losses as the cost of the entertainment of gambling, and consider how much you're willing to spend on that entertainment. Particularly on some of the penny video slots, I've intentionally strung out the game on a $1 bankroll to 20 minutes. Only in the heyday of my college pinball days could I make a game dollar last as long.

This brings me to my sixth and final strategy, and the most difficult: quit while you're even or ahead. Slot machines in Reno have a payout of about 95% to 98%. At first glance, one would think that on average, most people walk away close to even. The machines, however, are psychologically designed to entice the player to re-bet their winnings -- winnings are added to the machine's credits, and not dispensed as coins (or worse, a negotiable voucher) until the player cashes out. If you keep pumping your winnings back into a 95% machine, that 5% loss will chew through your bankroll pretty quick. My strategy here is to keep track of the number of credits that I'd won, and when CreditsOnMachine = CreditsWon, cash out.

I guess I've got one more slot machine strategy that I hadn't heard anywhere, and one that seems counterintuitive to the mathematically challenged: play machines with low payoffs. I've seen machines that pay maximums of 1:200 ($10 on a nickel bet), and machines that pay maximums of 1:50,000. Because I know that the probability of winng the BigPrize is close to zero, then it seems obvious to me that to keep the ~97% payout rate, the lower maximum machines would pay out smaller amounts more often.

At the roulette table, the time to cash out is as soon as you've won a payoff. Unfortunately, you don't know which payoff that should be. My $140 win on Thursday came after quite a few 1:35 payoffs, although I was up as high as $180 at one point. My $70 loss on Friday was the result of chasing after a second 1:35 payoff that never came.

So, in conclusion, on the leisure side, it's been a fun week of doing geeky math analysis and applying them to the real world. It's also been a very educational week professionally (InfoPath is bad-ass). As little time as I'd actually spent gambling, I can't imagine how anyone could spend more than a few hours here (much less make a vacation out of it) without losing a lot of money.

Log by travisl for Portland Cache Machine (Event Cache)

Log by travisl for Portland Cache Machine (Event Cache):

travisl posted a note for Portland Cache Machine (Event Cache)

Thanks to all the folks who've e-mailed and posted, especially Sharp88 for his detailed list. Trips to Reno and Disneyland have gotten in the way the last few weeks (rough life, I tell ya), but I plan on having the second draft route up and posted on late Sunday night (June 13), with the final route posted late on June 20 or 21.