Blog Template Musings about Geocaching: 2005-04-03

Musings about Geocaching

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Another day without Geocaching

My power was out the other day while they did some work on the electricity out here, so I took that opportunity to go into town to do some grocery shopping, and some Geocaching.

That day, I actually did the grocery shopping. There have been a few days since I started this hobby/sport/activity/obsession when I have gone all the way into town to run an errand and then "forgotten" to do it, or run out of time to get it done after searching for Geocaches on my way--or not--to the errand.

While I was in town the other day, I took this picture, which is the reason I am not out today hunting down some of the 552 Geocaches I have in my GSAK database.

It is my understanding that the prices went up another ten cents later that same day. So, I sit at home while wiley Geocaches wait for me and I wait for gas prices to moderate, as if that is ever going to happen.

On other days when I have stayed at home, the Groundspeak forums have been more entertaining . . .

Maybe my house will finally get cleaned today . . .

Thursday, April 07, 2005

I was only two for four today

but, then I found out I was actually two for two because the other two I spent about an hour looking for had gone missing.

I loaded those waypoints into my GPSr and my Palmie weeks and weeks ago and hadn't revisited those cache pages, or updated the .gpx files. That is the problem with having more than 500 caches loaded into the GPSr and Palm all the time. I might never know if I am having a hard time finding a cache that is actually there, or I'm spending too much time looking for a cache that isn't there anymore. What a dilemma!

"See the New Freeway" was one I tried to find way back in February. I was stopped by the *very* big "No Trespassing" signs with pictures of handcuffs on them. After perusing my maps here at home, I saw there was a road down below the canyon. Today, as I drove along High Street, I thought I was going to get skunked again, but then I finally saw a place where the fence was down. It was about a third of a mile hike up to the cache location (compared to a walk of a few hundred feet from the other "access" point) and it was warm and humid as I struggled up the sometimes non-existent route. The flowers were out and there were some very unusual plants in the lower part of the canyon.

When I got up to where the cache was, I couldn't see where it might be hidden. I was literally climbing on the overgrown vegetation to get a better look at a potential spot where my GPSr arrow was pointing. When I stepped down, I looked and saw that I had been standing directly above the cache.

I took a different route back down and found a rare barrel cactus. This area really doesn't have too many cactus because there is so little summer moisture, and cactus depend on some summer rain, like the monsoon rains the Arizona desert gets, in order to thrive.

This little cactus was near the western loop on my track map.

From that cache, I went to one in the Chollas View area. I found it with no trouble and traded a rock for a rock. :-) The flowers in the area were astounding.

After taking a bunch of pictures of all the flowers, I set off looking for another cache. I looked and looked and looked. Other cachers had found it, but the logs I had in my Palmie were from about a month ago. According to one log in my Palmie, the cache "coordinates were off by about 30 feet", but it was in an "obvious hiding spot." Well, after more than half an hour, I finally gave up.

This is what a track looks like when you spend that much time looking . . . unsuccessfully:

From there, I went to another cache location at Chollas Lake.

The cache owner wrote a good description and told cachers to be very careful of the vegetation and not stray from the path. Imagine my initial surprise when I descend the hill from the parking lot to view the "lake" and see virtually no vegetation anywhere around its shoreline, for a distance of 50 or more feet, except for the eucalyptus trees and some clusters of reeds, in isolated areas.

After not being able to find that one, I decided I wouldn't try for these "urban park" caches anymore. I really prefer the ones that involve a hike that gets my heart and lungs working, anyway.

When I got home and discovered those last two were actually missing, I felt a little better, so maybe I won't actually block "urban park" caches off my list permanently.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

My Travel Bug started his journey today

I got the notice in my email that "Leapin' Lizzards" got picked up out of "Rude's Zany Cache." I sure hope he passes through the hands of nice people who enjoy him while they have him in their possession as much as I did--but I hope they don't enjoy him so much they keep him from racking up the miles.

God speed, little buddy!

"No Hinty on McGinty" is in the "Found" column

This cache has been on my list for the past couple of months, but the memory of that long, long, arduous hike I took with my neighbors almost two and a half years ago kept me from trying it.

By starting from the parking area I found doing the "Cool Mint Cache," this isn't nearly as bad a hike. It is very steep in places, and sometimes the footing is treacherous, but with the company of my neighbor and good friend, the hike seemed almost "easy."

The flowers are out in abundance, which makes me want to make the walk again to get many more pictures. A profusion of interesting sweetpea-like blossoms was found in one grassy spot. I wish I had gotten a better picture with more depth of field.

Several of these thistles were in peak bloom:

At the very top of McGinty, there is a huge jumble of rocks. It is no wonder this cache was a hard one to find until some spoiler pics and spoiler hints were posted. To make this hike from the starting point suggested by the cache owner and then not find the cache would really be a disappointment.

The view to the west was marred by a layer of brown smog that reduced the visibility of the off-shore islands, downtown San Diego, and Point Loma. For anyone who made this hike last Friday, when the wind was blowing and the sky was crystal clear, the views must have been astounding, as they were from Cowles Mountain that day.

I forgot to set the Trip Odometer when we started out from the top as I intended to. However, I set it at a point I thought was nearly halfway down. We logged 1.25 miles by the time we reached the car. That included a bit of back-tracking we did on a trail we found that was different from the one we took on our way up the hill. That route turned out to be a better way to access the hill. It is the one on the right between the "gravel pit" and the unbelievably-huge and expensive homes in the "Hidden Valley."

Monday, April 04, 2005

WooHoo! I logged a cache today without leaving the house

As usual, I was on the Forums today. One of the guys reported some physical problems that were going to keep him from getting out for a while and someone else posted a site for "Couch Potato Caches"--caches that could be logged without leaving the couch. I found this cache.

It was an interesting, but not-too-hard-for-me cache.

I figured it out with a bit of research and emailed the cache owner. He just emailed back and I logged another "Found it" garnering yet another smilie, but, who cares about numbers?

Sunday, April 03, 2005

I took my first fall today

A new cache is just down the road from me. In a straight line it is less than a mile and a half away, but I had to drive about four miles to get to "Blackjack's Back." Sunday afternoon is not the best day to be trying to find a Geocache close to the popular Trading Post, so I didn't look very long before heading down the road to find Big Momma. At my friend's house, it is only a bit more than a mile and a half away, so without looking at the description, I took off up Mother Grundy. The road wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but it also didn't go as high as I thought it would . . . and it stopped heading in the direction of the cache.

Instead of turning around, I followed the road all the way out to Deerhorn and then finally thought to read the description. It clearly states the dirt road goes off 94. Doh!

So, I drive out to Honey Springs Road, down to 94 and head in the direction of the Dulzura Cafe. If nothing else, I can get a cup of their good coffee today.

But, no, the cafe is closed. Uh oh! Now what?

I look at the map on the GPSr and realize the dirt road to the cache is the one that goes up to Madre Grande Monastery. Mixed feelings there. I haven't been up that road since the day I moved away in February 1994. Oh well, a cache is waiting.

I take it slowly up that nasty road until the GPSr finally points me to a turnout where the view to the west is spectacular. Looking out towards the coast, I couldn't help but think about what it might have looked like two days ago with the Santa Ana blowing making the sky uncharacteristically clear.

After finding the cache, I took care of signing the log and rehiding the container. As I was coming back up from the cache location, I saw the Border Patrol vehicle parked at the viewpoint. I was curious whether they knew about Geocaching, and since the cache was safely hidden, I walked over to their vehicle and asked the two very young men if they knew about Geocaching. They had heard about it, but had never run into any Geocachers or Geocaches in their travels around the backcountry. I didn't tell them about the nearby cache, but I showed them my GPSr

After that little conversation, I set off to find the nearest cache.

That one had a "Theme" and contained things pertaining to lights. There was actually some great stuff in the cache, but there was also an inch of water in the bottom of the cache. Water and electrical items don't get along very well.

The cool thing about this cache was its location. I started taking some pictures of the aqueduct and then the rocky outcrop on the mountain in the background and I saw the "Madre Grande." I don't remember ever noticing that rock formation before.

From that cache I took off in the direction of home, but when the GPSr needle made a turn to the south, so did I. I didn't know what cache I was looking for, but I found the spot at the base of an oak tree next to an intermittent stream. I worried about the contents of that cache because I bet it has been underwater this winter, but it was okay. The log was a bit damp, but it was "signable."

The GPSr said the next cache was down the road just a bit, but I didn't have any description for the cache. In fact, I didn't even remember reading about a cache in this area. I had no idea what I was looking for, there was no "Geo-trail" to show me the way, and the poison oak was everywhere.

While I was pondering what to do, I took pictures of the mine opening and these beautiful flowers.

When I decided to proceed--what other option is there when a cache is waiting?--I looked for a way to get past the poison oak. After breaking off a few dead branches, I was able to climb around below some trees. Then, while trying to keep from turning my ankle on the jumbled rocks, I lost my balance and fell. That neoprene case on the GPSr sure came in handy then. I scratched the screen on the case, but it kept the Garmin from sustaining any damage.

After dusting myself off, I scrambled up some very steep rocks, a place I had no business being all by myself. However, in search of a cache, thoughts about my personal safety come second.

The GPSr arrow pointed straight ahead with a distance of about 60 feet, then it was 40 feet, and the arrow turned a bit. After descending another steep tumble of rocks, I saw the hiding spot. Whew! I worked up a sweat finding this one and had to take off my Patagonia jacket before I could retrieve the ammo can.

This one was the third cache of the day where I was the first person to find it since last year. Amazing! I guess all the rain and bad weather kept people from venturing out into the back country.


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