Blog Template Musings about Geocaching: It rained all night, so I wanted to head south to better weather

Musings about Geocaching

Friday, September 15, 2006

It rained all night, so I wanted to head south to better weather

In 1976, I seriously considered moving to Durango. In August of that year, I spent a long weekend there, camping at the KOA campground north of town. Because Durango is such a wonderful town, I wonder what sort of twists and turns my life would have taken if I had moved there . . .

This morning, as much as I would have liked to stay and absorb more of the town's energy and revisit its wonderful 19th and early 20th century architecture, the weather convinced me to drive east, and then south to Aztec, New Mexico.

Just outside Aztec, I stopped to get a small cache that had a tiny little teddy bear in it. For some reason I really like these tiny swag items, so I traded for it, and for the rest of the trip, the little bear looked at me from its perch on the beanbag auto-mount for my GPSr.

In town, I looked for one cache and didn't find it. Then, I found a coffee shop, but their WiFi connection wasn't working for me. I met an interesting man who was writing a book about the Anazazi, and maybe that is why I forgot to download my tracks from the GPSr to the computer.

I loaded the GPSr with caches for possible routes I would take and hit the road, not knowing exactly which way I was heading, but letting my GPSr lead me. As I drove along the divided road, I saw a little Geocache treasure chest go by on the GPSr screen. I turned around as soon as I could and drove back to a Trading Post/Pawn Shop where I could make a legal left turn back onto the highway, instead of a marginally-legal U-turn.

However, before I could hunt down the object for the Virtual cache, I needed to use their restroom. When I walked in the place, I didn't know I was going to spend an hour in there marveling at all the activity of the people turning in things to get money, and exchanging money for the things they had pawned a few weeks ago.

Off to one side of the counter where all the activity was centered, there was a small room where lots of old interesting items were on display, some behind glass cases, and some just there, like old chaps and saddles that dated back many decades.

Finally, after purchasing a carved jade turtle, I drove across the highway to hunt down the elusive object I needed to find for the "Pictured Cliffs" Virtual cache.

On my way to GZ, I took this picture of the view of Shiprock way, way off in the distance.

As I got close to the Arizona border, I impulsively turned north on Highway 160 towards the Four Corners Monument Virtual cache. Last spring I drove right by Four Corners, declining to pay the $3.00 fee to get into the Monument, deterred both by the price and the "Warning Signs." This time, I drove five miles out of my way to get to it, but was glad I did because I ran into a Geocacher from Arkansas. We had a nice conversation while "Discovering" each other's coins and he told me about other nearby benchmarks in addition to this brass marker where the four States meet.

This is the picture I had a woman take of me to fulfill the requirement for the cache.

As long as I had driven north, I decided to continue north on Highway 160 to Highway 41, so I could go to Bluff, Utah again. By doing that, I could travel through Monument Valley, a place that captivated me last spring.

I expected that State highway to Bluff to be more scenic than it was, since it somewhat parallels the San Juan River. Along the way, I saw this buckskin horse.

Before I became ill, and disabled, and had to sell my horses, I was partial to buckskins. I had several buckskins over those "years of the horses" and had one when I was in high school. Seeing this guy along the ridge felt like a "sign," so I had to stop and take some pictures. When I finally started down the road, I turned around and was somewhat surprised to see he was with a herd of other horses that were just out of sight on the back side of the hill, none of which were buckskin-colored . . . Why was that buckskin horse the only one I could see on the ridgetop?

Just outside of Bluff, the scenic "bluffs" of its name began.

In town, I "bought" a shower at a nice RV park where they had a sign up saying "Camp Host Wanted." If I had an RV, I would be sorely tempted to take them up on that offer . . . There was also an advertisement for Horseback Rides. Maybe I could get a job with that outfit and step back into the life I used to have back in the late 80's when I took people for horseback rides through the incredible scenery near Kanab, Utah . . .

On my way down the highway towards Monument Valley, I took the dirt road that led to the "trailhead" for "The Seven Sailors." As the gravel road descended into a wash, I remembered the road from last spring. Back then, the wash had some standing water in it so I did not venture any further. This time there was no problem negotiating that part of the road and continuing to a parking area about .4 away from the cache. The walk across the sandy desert through widely spaced vegetation to the paint-can cache container was fantastic. The sun was warm, but the breeze was cool, and the views of the Valley of the Gods were incredible.

At the cache, I was sure glad I had a tool with me I could use as a screwdriver because that paint can lid was on tight and when I tried to use a zipper pull to get it open, all I did was succeed in bending the zipper pull . . .

Soon after starting down the road to Monument Valley, the wind picked up, carrying the sand from the badly-overgrazed range high into the sky and obscuring the views of the monuments. I made my way up a side canyon to the location of a Virtual Cache at "Harry and Mike's Place" where I took this picture, which should have had the same distant view as that portrayed on the plaque.

At Gouldings, I filled up with gas, so I could drive a long distance if I wanted to. However, the sun was slowly dropping lower and lower in the sky. I don't like to drive at night, but didn't know where I could spend the night. Out here on the Indian Reservation, there certainly wasn't going to be a Wal-Mart.

At Cameron, I stopped and went inside the incredible Gift Shop/Trading Post where you can buy a 99-cent refrigerator magnet or $1000.00 necklace. As I walked around, I tried to decide if I should continue driving on to Flagstaff, about an hour away, or stay in the parking lot, something that seemed feasible, since there were quite a few cars in the lot.

After a bit of scouting around the area for the optimal place to park near the lodge or gift shop or nearby post office, I settled on a spot not too far from "Valentine's Bridge." Before settling in for the night, I walked over to that location to get a picture with the necessary information for that Virtual cache.


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