Blog Template Musings about Geocaching: Beginning of my road trip to "Cache Across America -- AZ"

Musings about Geocaching

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Beginning of my road trip to "Cache Across America -- AZ"

After my road trip to Lakewood, Colorado last spring, which I took to assist my sister in her effort to organize my 90-year old mother's apartment, I did not think I would ever take another road trip. This in spite of the fact that I feel more alive, more like me, when I am out adventuring like that.

However, a wonderful opportunity, to attend my cousin's 50th Wedding Anniversary Celebration on September 9th, presented itself, so I made preparations for the drive.

Since I am nearly incapable of planning, I didn't know which roads or highways I was going to take, so I didn't use the new "Caches Along a Route" feature on I just requested several PQs from Yuma through Phoenix to Globe and Show Low and on up to Gallup and Farmington. From there, I included both the Durango area and the Salida area, and even Grand Junction. By the time I got all the data in my Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, and Nevada databases in GSAK, I had more than 6,000 caches to search for . . . and those were only the ones with a difficulty and terrain rating of 2.5 and below.

The morning I left, it was beautiful. The vista that opens up above the Buckman Springs exit off I-8 looked like a Thomas Moran painting. Old Highway 80, which parallels the Interstate there, beckoned me, but I was too close to home, and too far from my destination to slow down now. However, at the exit for the Golden Acorn Casino, I stopped. On Tuesdays, they give away money — six dollars, to be exact. So, I went in, got my six dollars, and left, only a little bit tempted to put the money in one of the slot machines. After I got in the car, I took the old road to find a new cache I became aware of because of some controversy about it in our local Forums.

In the ammo can, I found not only a Green Jeep, to accompany the other GJTB I was taking on the road trip, but a "Geo-nut" Geocoin. Since the goal of Trackables is to travel, I took both of them with me, with some guilt about doing that since the cache wouldn't have anything in it to draw people to it now.

In El Centro, I got off the freeway to find the library. Logging the GJTB and the coin was important. I didn't want anyone heading out to that remote cache for those prizes and finding them missing . . . and wondering what happened to them. At the library, I logged the retrieval, on an ancient Gateway computer even slower than my own computer. I didn't log my find . . . I would take the time to do that later. When I got back in the car, I followed the arrow on my GPSr to a "Homer" cache before finally hitting the Interstate again.

I took a couple of quick pictures of the scenery, out the window traveling 70 mph on Interstate 8, . . . not a recommended practice. [g]

In Yuma, it was hot . . . but it is a dry heat. [g] I took the time to drive around and find a few caches there. I picked up some more Travel Bugs to join the large group of TBs already in my possession. My "caching fix" satisfied, I got back on the Interstate heading for the "Cache Across America — Arizona." On my last trip, I found the caches along this long stretch of highway. No new ones had been placed, so there was nothing to stop for. The miles rolled on, with the desert scenery as my road trip movie for the time it took me to get to Dateland, where I stopped and got a picture of one of the TBs at the memorial there.

A cup of coffee fortified me for the drive to my "Cache Across America — Arizona" destination. This series of caches got its start when Blue Power Ranger posted a thread in the Groundspeak Forums. I followed the thread for several weeks as volunteers all around the country offered to place the cache for their State. If only I could find someone to finance my journey, I would continue right now to find the rest of the caches in the series.

As I made my way up the rocky hill towards GZ, walking very carefully around the Cholla cactus and other spiny vegetation, such as the infamous "Wait A Minute, Catclaw" bush, I was dripping sweat.

I found myself on the wrong side of a fence — twice — but finally spotted a large rockpile that "cammoflaged" the large ammo can hidden at the base of Picacho Peak. The sun was low in the sky, and not conducive to a good photograph of that well-known Arizona landmark, so I didn't take any pictures of it. I did take the obligatory photograph for the cache series. Who knows, maybe something will happen someday, somehow, to enable me to complete the series

To get to the "Cache Across America — Arizona" cache, I had gone a bit out of my way, so I backtracked to find the little connecting Highway 87, which would get me to the interesting desert town of Florence, a town which had a much richer, more vibrant past than it has today.

The museum in town was closed, so I was unable to fulfill the obligations required by the cache owner for the Virtual cache there, but that old courthouse was interesting, and I think I got enough information to list it as National Register of Historic Places Waymark. As I navigated back to the highway, I saw this beautiful building before heading out of town and up Highway 79 to Highway 60, which would get to to a higher, cooler elevation where camping would be much more comfortable.

On the road trip last spring, at the end of the each day, I did not know where I was going to spend the night. That was true for this day as well. As the sun went down, and dusk was turning to dark, I felt the fatigue of the road and needed to find a place to stop. Up, up up the highway climbed, and then, I saw a sign for the Oak Flat Campground. The exit to this small, relatively-primitive campground is near N°33 18.770 W° 111 02.974.

I turned off the highway, negotiated past large potholes in the road, and found the nearly-deserted campground with all the amenities I would need for the night — a nearby outhouse.


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