Blog Template Musings about Geocaching: 2005-05-15

Musings about Geocaching

Friday, May 20, 2005

Another day of geocaching and my first flat tire

After an appointment in town, I took the opportunity to find a few urban/suburban caches. I found one, and then another, that I had looked for in the past. The coordinates were quite a bit off for both of them, but using the clues I managed to find them. The next one was another by T.R. Violin who places his caches, and writes his descriptions, with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek. This one, "Another Magnetized Altoids Tin" cache, was very easy to find, once I made it across the busy road. Of course, it wouldn't have been quite so life-threatening if I had used the crosswalk at the intersection, instead of jay-walking, but what would have been fun and adventurous about that?

The next cache was actually nearby, but I took the wrong road and circled around and around. By the time I got back in the neighborhood, I wasn't in the mood for the cache-hider's opinion that not giving parking coordinates, or even the coordinates to an access road, was part of the challenge. In the hilly regions of San Diego with all the dead end streets and cul-de-sacs and private roads -- not to mention the price of gas -- that is not appreciated by this Geocacher. If there was only some way to know how disappointing a cache like this is going to be before I start the hunt, I wouldn't even start out . . .

After I found that cache and turned around in the narrow alley, I took off towards another cache location, for which much-appreciated parking coordinates were given. This cache was located at the end of a short walk up a hill to the north of El Cajon and it provided a great view of the valley.

Unfortunately, the cache was all wet and moldy because the container was not waterproof. I wrote in my log it needed a maintenance visit. Since the cache has been out there for a while, I hope someone takes care of it, because it is in a cool location.

When I took off from that parking spot, the car made a noise I didn't recognize. I stopped at the location of another cache, but couldn't find it quickly enough so as to not attract attention from a group of people across the street. So I took off, and this time the noise was really evident.

I made it to a 7/11 where I put $.50 into the air machine, just as a guy came over and told me I didn't need to do that because he told the attendant to turn the machine on because he saw my terribly-low tire when I drove in. While I put air in the tire, he disparaged the low-profile tires on my car and said I shouldn't even have tires like that because they are for the "young kids."

Did he think he was being helpful?

I finally got the tire filled and hoped I could make it all the way home, a distance of more than 15 miles.

After I got home I used some "Fix-a-Flat" on the tire. The long deck screw I found in the tire was too much for that, so I called AAA to have them come out and put on my spare. I probably could have done that myself, but my AAA membership is available for times like these, and since I got this car two years ago, I haven't had to use there services until now.

When I think about where I went during the afternoon, I think I picked up the deck screw in the alley where that less-than-exciting, difficult-to-access cache was located . . .

Thursday, May 19, 2005

A non-Geocaching Day

A friend needed to go to Tecate for a dentist appointment and I went along for the adventure. There is a great bakery right next to the Dentist office where you can get the best, most delicious flan for only $.65.

After having our goodies at the bakery we walked around town where I saw this interesting "emergency" vehicle.

On the way back down Highway 94, we found a turnout right near these huge, fried-egg-sized poppies. They are an amazing sight.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

All those DNFs got turned to smilies. :-)

Something came up that allowed me to have a free day, So, I decided to tackle those elusive caches along old Highway 80 today. I called my friend Rita and she also could take the time, so we took off. On the way, we stopped at "Bygone Byways" and it wasn't there! Darn. That was such a fun one and I wanted to show Rita how creative the cache owners were.

Before we took off, I thought to walk over to the other side of the bridge, and there it was. Someone had replaced it on the southeast side of the bridge, instead of in the northeast side where I originally found it. I was sure glad I discovered it was still there, even though it has "migrated," and promised to post a note to let the cache owners know the cache had moved.

When we got to the parking area, I knew where the first cache was, so without even using the GPSr, I grabbed it, signed the log, and returned it. Just after doing that, a Forest Service truck pulled in and Rita and I struck up a conversation with the 24-year veteran of Government Service. She had never heard of Geocaching. As I explained the sport/game/activity/obsession to her, she said, "I think I found one of those." About three months earlier, she found a DeCon container on the road, obviously out of place, and without a log book or "explainer" in it. She said it had a whistle and something else inside, and I remarked that was probably one of T.R.'s whistles because that is often what he leaves.

Unfortunately, since she didn't know what it was, the container ended up in the trash.

After an hour of nice conversation, we took off down the trail. We walked right past the first location, "On the Way to Ellis Wayside" and continued down to "Rebirth." I had an idea where this one was, and it didn't take too long to find it this time. From there we headed on down the trail to "Parts of old Thump Thump." Although it was very well hidden, we found it after fewer than ten minutes of looking.

See It?

See It Now?

"More Walking" was the next one that stumped me, and several other cachers, before. However, knowing it was another one of the DeCon containers helped us narrow the search considerably. This one was easy to see once I looked in the right spot because the cammo tape was shiny. After I signed the log, I put it back at a little different angle so the light didn't glare off the tape so easily.

I knew where "The Anchor" was, so I didn't even need the GPSr for that one. Although I looked around the area the week before, I didn't have any success since I didn't know what I was looking for because I didn't have the description in my Palm.

We turned around and headed back up the long hill and stopped at the one we walked passed on our way out. Boy, was I glad we didn't stop there first because we looked and looked and looked and still couldn't find it. Finally, after 20 minutes, I picked up the GPSr and moved out into the road and back again. I set it back down and this time the arrow pointed 14 feet to the northeast instead of 18 feet due north as it had before. Rita noticed a geotrail near a low-hanging branch and when she walked over there, she laughed.

I said, with surprise in my voice, "Did you see it?." I walked over, and there was the cigar tube, hanging down right in front of my nose.

See? Isn't it obvious?

After almost an hour of looking all around and over and through the trees, poison oak, rocks and boulders, there it was -- definitely in a "slap your hand to your forehead and say 'Doh!'" place.

What a relief! I was so thankful we found it so I could sign the log and call all six of those DNFs "Found Its," instead of only five of the six.

Since my original search another cache had been placed along the route and we found that one, so all together, I found seven today. I also logged an "Event Cache" about meeting with the "Authorities," so it turned out to be a "big number" day with a total of eight "Found Its."

Monday, May 16, 2005

A bit of caching after my trip to R.E.I.

As long as I was all the way over at the R.E.I. store, which is about 35 miles from my house, I took the time to find three caches that were nearby.

I found a place to park at the end of a cul-de-sac and started out looking at the map screen on my GPSr and walking straight ahead on the first trail I saw. However, when I did a quick search for nearest waypoints, there was a cache only 163 feet away. I don't know why I didn't see it on the map screen; I must have been zoomed in too far, or zoomed out so much the cache icons were on top of each other.

So, I changed the GPSr to the Navigation arrow and followed it into the brush.

Since I have done "Sky Show Hideaway," I know there are caches hidden in nearly inaccessible places on steep hillsides, so I continued through the brush until I reached an absolutely impassible barrier of shrubs and aromatic plants.

I retreated and while I watched the distance increase from 48 feet back up to more than 100, I rethought my decision to wear my shorts for this cache hunt.

Up near the property line of a nearby house, I saw a wide path, so I followed that to a place where there was a faint trail down through the iceplant. I followed that and the "Go To" arrow down the rocky trail gradually reducing the distance to the cache location.

I looked for too long for this cache, considering how relatively exposed the ammo can was once I saw it. I didn't look over that way because a huge branch has broken off a manzanita, nearly blocking access to the cache.

I signed the log and went back up the hill to the next cache. In my Palm, I didn't have any past logs for this one and I looked too long in the wrong location. Once I found the "dead yucca," I started my search again. At one point, I saw my dark shadow in the late afternoon light. Something wasn't quite right about the intensity of my shadow and I looked again. There was the cache -- a plastic container covered with black duct tape. It was a very good cammo for that time of the day.

The final cache was just a bit more than .1 mile away. The description said it was a blue Tupperware container and that is what I saw. A large blue-lidded Tupperware with no camouflage or covering at all. The cache had a great view of Highway 52. Since I found the cache in an uncovered condition, I left it that way, but I was surprised by its exposed condition.

After returning to my car, I looked at my map and saw a cache not too far away. I thought I had time to find it. However, the park it is in was surrounded by residential areas. I couldn't find a place to park where there was access to the canyon.

All the canyons in the San Diego area are interesting and surprising, but the difficult access, when parking coordinates are not given in the cache description, makes the hunt a bit frustrating . . . and gas consuming.

If I place caches in areas that might be difficult to get to, I will include parking coordinates or street names and directions. Although some people might think that is part of the "game," I don't. I want to park my car and get out and start walking.

That is the "game" for me.

I added something new to my Geocaching supplies

Yesterday was the last day of REI's Spring Sale, so I drove all the way over to their store to get gaiters. I have walked through areas this spring where the foxtails have been so bad, I didn't know if I would ever get them out of my socks and boots.

Even on sale, the purchase stretched my budget a bit, but I'm sure they will be very useful and should last a long time.


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