Blog Template Musings about Geocaching: 2006-09-17

Musings about Geocaching

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

And now for something completely different . . .

The day after I got back, I met a new neighbor who is a pilot. We took a short flight in the late afternoon. Here are the tracks from the flight:

And, here is a picture of El Cajon Mountain. I can't believe I hiked a good portion of that granite peak . . . and the others in the group that night, including duganrm, Toby's Gang, SlabyFam, jahoadi and john, PCWoody, Sled Head, Chuy!, and PassingWind, hiked the entire mountain . . . all night long.

Here are a couple of other pictures I got before we landed. In the first one, you can see Mt. Miguel, a mountain I hiked with Chuy!, "lostguy", and Jahoadi last July 4th, with the huge Otay Mountain behind it.

Haze in the air diffused the sunset light as we approached the airport.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

After the road trip, two new maps

At the very handy Map Making Utility Site, I created a new map of states I have now cached in:

I also created a new Keen People map showing the little "pearls" along the roads through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah.

I like that little "pearl" right at the Four Corners intersection.

Reluctantly, I started the long drive back home

On the radio, the first thing I heard Monday morning was a weather report. The weatherman cautioned that a front was moving into the area and nighttime temperatures would be dropping into the 30s. That was a bit too cold for my sleeping bag, so, even though there were more caches to be searched for in the area, it was prudent to hit the highway.

Before commiting to the drive however, I went to The Raven coffee shop to use their WiFi connection. I used it the day before, but from my car sitting outside parked at the curb. The Raven looked like such a cool place, I needed to go inside to check out all its attributes so I could create a Waymark when I got home.

I downloaded my Tracks from the GPSr and created a route in Mapsource for my drive from Prescott to Quartzite and on to Brawley and home. Using the "Arc/Poly" filter option in GSAK, I "collected" only the caches along that route and loaded them into the GPSr.

As I got this "work" done, the chef came over and we talked for a while. He had recently arrived from Maine and had a distinct accent more intense than that of Stephen King. When he doffed his cap for a moment, the intensity of his coal black, thick curly hair took me aback.

Before leaving the coffee shop, I met another man who was, as an old boyfriend of mine used to say about certain people, a "real piece of work." That conversation gave me quite a bit to think about as I navigated towards Highway 89.

Before starting the long descent down, down, down the highway that goes through several different ecosystems from pine forests, to pinyon/juniper habitat, to scrub brush, to the low desert habitat accented by the odd-shaped, perfectly-adapted saquaro cacti, and further characterized by the ubiquitous creosote bush, I found a few caches, locating "Baby Barrel Cactus," "Manzanita Flat," and "See You Later, Alligator."

The further away from Prescott I got, the easier the caches were to find . . .

Finally I was on the divided, single-lane section of the road where the grade is very steep. I remember this section of the road from that trip almost 19 years ago because that was where I discovered the electric brakes on the horse trailer were not working . . . I slowed the old FOrd F-150 down and put the automatic transmission in the lowest gear it had. When the grade finally leveled off at the bottom, I think the horses breathed a sigh of relief as I did.

As the elevation decreased, the temperature went up, up, up. It was 70° in Prescott when I left in the late morning. On the desert floor near Wickenburg, the temperature was in the low 90s.

Although I needed to get to where the nighttime temperatures were warmer, when I started out that morning, I didn't intend to drive the entire distance home that day . . . I wanted to continue the adventure. However, it was hot in the desert and not comfortable for camping. Plus, I had put so many miles on the car, it was due for an oil change.

In Quartzite, I stopped to visit the Virtual cache at Hi Jolly's tomb, a site I visited, and photographed, many years ago when I was working in the area as a field biologist for an Environmental Consulting firm.

Even the harsh desert heat and sun, and the scouring winds, haven't changed the monument over all these years. The pyramid looked the same as I remembered it.

Soon I was back in California, following the narrow Highway 78 from Blythe to Brawley and into El Centro.

I got to the Glamis Sand Dunes at the perfect time for photography.

Finally, after a brief stop to find a lamppost cache in Brawley, and another stop to get the information for a Virtual cache, "Headgate," in El Centro, I got on the Interstate and finished the drive home . . . arriving well after midnight . . . glad to be able to stop and go to sleep, but sorry the "road trip movie" was over.

I feel much more "alive" and more like "me" when I am on the road, constantly presented with new scenes and distractions.

I enjoyed Prescott even if the caches there didn't like me

Following the arrow on my GPSr, I went to one cache, and another, and another, and couldn't find any of them . . . Fortunately, there were two cool Virtual caches, "Dedication," at a wonderful statue reprsenting the early pioneers who settled in Prescott and the nearaby valley, and "Residency of Nobels," or I would have acquired no "smilies" at all during my first afternoon in town . . .

As I followed the arrow on my GPSr to the latter Virtual cache, I encountered a closed-off Montezuma Street. There was going to be a "Battle of the Bands" that Saturday night. The people of the commuinty were gathered to enjoy the competition and the street was crowded. After I got pictures of the plaques, so I could answer the required questions for the Virtual, I walked up and down the street, admiring the artwork exhibited in the galleries.

I went into a Mexican restaurant and enjoyed one of the best Poblano Chile Rellenos I have ever had. The only downside to that experience was the cacophony of the music coming in from the "Battle of the Bands" on the street colliding with the musical notes from the Mexican singer in the restaurant . . .

After enjoying a long conversation with a man outside a bar having a cigarette, I extracted myself from all the activity and made my way to the West Wal-Mart . . . hard to believe the Prescott community can support not just one, but two Wal-Marts. That one is open 24 hours, although I didn't need its amenities in the middle of the night.

The next morning, I got up early and followed the arrow on my GPSr to a cache. Whoops . . . dead end road, 300 feet from the cache. I was sure glad I loaded the City Select maps for this part of my trip a couple of days ago because I could see the correct access several blocks away and I enjoyed driving through that nice residential area.

In my circuitous route to the cache, my first "Found it" for a Traditional Cache since I got to Prescott, I discovered "Big Johnson."

There were many historical sights to see and photograph in historic Courthouse Square. I drove there, parked my car, and spent several hours taking pictures, talking to people, and finally participating in the "Empty Bowls" benefit for the local food bank. While waiting in line for the chef-prepared soup, I struck up a conversation with two men, John and Tom, who had attended the Unitarian Universalist church earlier in the morning.

After we finished our soup, I joshed with Tom about the bowl he had picked, a unique, hand-formed squarish bowl with flowers on it. I said he should trade me since I liked it better than the bowl I picked, a cute one with stick-figure cowboys drawn in the glaze . . . and then he gave me his beautiful bowl. So, for my $15.00 donation, I got to enjoy two bowls of delicious soup — a wonderful Gazpacho and a Black Bean Enchilada soup — and I got to keep two, one-of-a-kind, signed-by-the-artist ceramic bowls.

The people I met in the three days I was in Prescott were like that, kind and generous. Even if I couldn't find many of the Traditional Caches, such as "Acker's Ghost Cache" where I took these pictures,

I had a wonderful time and daydreamed about moving there. If I did, the Willow Creek Reservoir area would have a lot more caches in it than it has now. That is a beautiful area, characterized by interesting tumbled boulders. There were lots and lots of places to hide caches there . . . and I only saw a few on my GPSr screen.

Someone needs to do something about that . . .


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