Blog Template Musings about Geocaching: 2005-07-24

Musings about Geocaching

Friday, July 29, 2005

I don't do puzzle caches, but . . .

A couple of weeks ago, P.T. and I found a new cache called "Excuses, Excuses." In it I picked up a different Travel Bug with a laminated tag. Printed on it was a very strange sort of code, and there was a key attached to the tag. Odd, very odd. I didn't know what it meant, but P.T. did. It had to do with a puzzle cache she had looked at, but couldn't do anything with until she got one of the two Travel Bugs associated with it.

I remember looking at that puzzle page a few months ago and being completely baffled. I tend to see things in a very literal way, so when I read "Zis Is KAOS, Ve Don’t Bush-vaak Here!," and didn't see anything else on the page, I got an instant headache and vowed to ignore the puzzle caches in my Pocket Queries from then on.

So, this being the case, I logged the Travel Bug and then gave it to P.T.

By the following week, P.T. had found the web site that had the "Dead Spy Scrawl" code on it and had figured out the coordinates to the "Larabee" cache. So, off we went to the Scripp's Ranch area to find Larabee.

The coordinates put us near a residential street corner up on a hill where some vicious sawgrass grew in profusion. We walked up to the cache location and looked for a while and then realized we needed our walking sticks so we went back to the car and retrieved them.

Just after starting the search again, P.T. got a really bad cut on one of her fingers. It vas KAOS trying to foil us in our mission. I said that sawgrass was vicious . . .

Finally, P.T. spotted the little waterproof match container. Inside was a message stating that we had just missed Larabee, but he left us the coordinates to a location where we could find him.

So, off we went to another spot where we finally were able to use the key. There were many, many black widow spiders guarding Larabee's control center.

We found an electrical box that held a CD player and a set of headphones. Through the headphones we heard FlagMan's voice, in his best spy accent, giving us one-half of the coordinates to the final cache location. In order to get the other half, we had to retrieve Agent 99, the other Travel Bug.

We went to the closest library and looked up the TB on the web site. Oh dear! She was in a puzzle cache -- "Blueprint." And this was one P.T. had looked at, but didn't have a clue about.

A week went by and with some clues and hints from the new cache owners, P.T. was able to figure out "Blueprint." We went to find the cache first thing Tuesday. Getting to the cache was scary because we were following a concrete "spillway." Even with my trusty Chaco sandals on, I slipped and nearly fell right where there was some nasty broken glass.

The cache was well-stocked with good swag. We looked through it and the log book and then grabbed the Agent 99 TB and took off. We used the "Dead Spy Scrawl" code to figure out the coordinates to the cache location and headed there (after P.T. let me find a cache, "Slither," located nearby that she had found months ago.)

At Agent 99's location, which was a little "pocket park," the tree cover was so heavy we couldn't get good readings on our GPSrs. Mine sort of took me to a tree, and a pipe, similar to the one near Larabee. However, I didn't think a good spy would be that predictible . . . or would he?

Anyway, we gave up after a long time searching and headed to the library to see if we could get any hints from the past logs. Once there we discovered the effect of recent cutbacks in city expenditures. The library was closed. Foiled again. So, we decided to call FlagMan and Chuy for a lifeline. Chuy called back and gave us a major spoiler, and when we returned, my GPSr pointed right in that direction . . .

So, now we had the coordinates to the container where we would presumably use the key. We put those on the map and headed in that direction after parking in some nearby shade on a side street.

Unlike the other MP3 player, this one wouldn't work. We followed the instructions, but it was soon evident that Agent 99 was ill and unavailble. So, we had to call our lifeline again. FlagMan called right back, but since he didn't have access to his computer, and the coordinates, he gave us verbal instructions to the final cache location.

That was strange . . . Here we were with our GPSrs at the ready, and we were following scribbled instructions on a piece of scrap paper.

Once we hiked up to the pad for the power transmission tower, we walked over to a likely location for the cache. It seemed to include one of the things FlagMan mentioned in his description. However, without a GPSr, it wasn't easy to know where in the 200' circle we should really be looking. So we made another call to FlagMan, and then another to Chuy. His memory of the cache location was excellent and he directed us to another portion of the circle . Fairly quickly, I spotted the typical FlagMan container under the iceplant near a bush.

There was some great swag in the container and since I really like pocket knives, I traded for an Outside Magazine give-away knife.

Before leaving the final spy location, I took a picture of this very pretty flower that has managed to bloom despite the July heat and lack of rain for the past couple of months.

After finding seven cache locations and figuring out two puzzle caches, we had only two smilies on the website, but we had lots of fun in the process as evidenced by P.T.'s log for the cache.

A chance encounter with Larabee started this mission. Larabee raced ahead and eluded us. We found him after I suffered a devastating wound from the traps set by KAOS agents when I was cut by some leftover plants from Operation Starch. Later that same day there were more KAOS barriers with poisonous black widow spiders guarding Larabee's final retreat. Fortunately we were able to execute plan 6-FC with no casualties. Agent 99 proved more difficult to locate. Our intelligence divison issued a Magenta Alert and managed to to snatch her from the evil (KAOS?) cave of The Blueprint. Once free, she led us to a spot where we had to institute emergency phone plan 17 to contact the former CONTROL agent, Chuy. When we reached Agent 99's final location, it appeared KAOS had attempted a Greenvault Manuever. Finally with the assist of the chief and reactivated CONTROL agent Chuy and unfortunately, without agent Geepius, we located the final destination. We were thrilled that KAOS had not discovered CONTROL's treasure trove.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

I found my first Earthcache on the trip back from Reno

The flights up to Las Vegas and Reno were quite bumpy and exciting. In fact, on the first flight, they didn't serve drinks or snacks because it was too dangerous for the flight attendants to be out of their seats. I got some great pictures both on the ground, where we had to stay for a while in Las Vegas since air traffic control wasn't allowing any planes to take off, and in the air.

Just watching the other planes go by

I wonder if I could log an Earthcache from the air

When we finally landed in Reno, the pilot came on the intercom and said, "Wheeuuu, we made it."

I like flying Southwest.

We were an hour late landing, but we didn't have to wait very long for the man with the truck to pick us up. We had kept him apprized of our progress whenever we were able to use the cell phone. He drove us to his fancy hotel parking lot where he told my friend about the truck, its unique characteristics, and how to shift it. He sure seemed to be in a hurry for us to get out of town, suggesting we spend the night in Carson City since weekend motel/hotel rates are so high on a Friday night, or so he said.

By the time we got a place to stay in Carson City, after looking at three different motels, the only place we could get some dinner was at Denny's. I hope that is the last time I have to eat at a Denny's, although the food wasn't that bad, the service was . . .

The next morning we got some coffee and then quickly found three caches in town Superstitious?, Carson City’s Once Greatest Building, What's Left and DNFd one that put me in the middle of an intersection.

On our way down the highway we stopped at Monitor Cache just past Topaz Lake where I dropped off my newest Travel Bug, "Mr. Manny Moonlight McToy."

Another cache we found on the way down the road was Roads to Reno 395 South Walker River. I left a Travel Bug that I brought up from San Diego in that cache where it had this fantastic view.

In Lee Vining I got the information off a plaque for a Virtual cache and then we went on to the Earthcache at Mono Lake.

After we left Mono Lake, it was hard to watch the map on the GPSr because there were caches showing up on it, and we were in such beautiful country, I really wanted to stop and look for them. But we had places to go, so we didn't stop again until we got to Bishop. I feel fortunate that this picture, taken while we were traveling down the road at 65 miles an hour, came out so well.

Because Bishop is a thousand feet lower than the area where we had been, it was hot, hot, hot when we arrived. All we wanted to do was get in some air conditioning and relax. We went to a couple of motels before finding a reasonable and clean one that didn't smell like cleaning chemicals or flowery room freshener. It was a block back from the highway just up the street from the Great Basin Bakery and not too far from a great Mexican Restaurant where we had dinner . . . and a glass of wine.

The next morning we grabbed some bagels and coffee at the bakery and hit the road. We stopped at a couple of caches, including the very emotional Virtual at the Japanese Internment camp at Manzanar on our way down to Lone Pine where I wanted to show my friend the Alabama Hills. I didn't realize there was a Virtual cache there until we arrived, so it was good to bag another cache while we were in one of my very favorite areas.

If this area isn't someday turned into an Earthcache, I will be surprised. I'm sure it has an interesting Geology story, in addition to the interesting history of all the movies that were filmed in the area.

After leaving Lone Pine, we stopped at Whitney View, which is fairly close to 395. That is where I left the last Travel Bug I brought with me. Some two-hundred miles from home, I was surprised to see the familiar handwriting of Team Gecko as the last entry before mine in the logbook.

Over the two-day trip I found 15 caches out of the 448 that were in my filtered Highway 395 database in GSAK . . . so I just have to return. Maybe after the temperatures cool off in September.


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