Geocaching Hike in Historic Mentryville

29 01 2009

About a month ago, I took a marvelous hike in Mentryville with Spoondoggie and OLdweeb. Mentryville is an old oil drilling community from the late 1800s which is long since a ghost town. Its history can be found on Wikipedia , and one of the caches takes you to the plaque commemorating “Pico #4”, the first commercially successful oil well in California.

The area is now filled with a satisfying string of caches, and which you can easily see on the geocaching map of this cache:
Mentryville #1

The first leg of our hike took us back in to the canyon and to the old wells and drilling equipment.


Spoondoggie inspects the pipes:


and gets his picture taken by the informative plaque:


I’ve been out here before for caches and the hike, but knowing the significance of the history of the area always gives me a sense of connection with my home state when I’m out here. About a week later, I visited the Getty Museum with my sister where one of the exhibits we saw was an extensive collection of the first photographs of California, taken in the late 1800s. One of them was of the Pico #4 – fully functional and surrounded by workers! After having seen the site for myself, the photo brought all of the history to life for me.

Next, the three of us headed up the hill along a fire road. We saw bobcats tracks in the dried mud along the way:

The higher we got, the more spectacular the vistas we had:



We took a different trail on the way down, a rugged, narrow path that skirted a rocky, storm-torn creek bed:

The water and wind erosion had left some remarkable features:

It had rained recently, so I got to carry half the trail down on my shoes.

Yes, it’s time to get my car detailed again. The first time I hired the guy I use regularly now, he checked out the copious dirt and mud in my car and asked me if I were in construction. I love having evidence of adventure in my floor mats.

Until next week… cache on!


Winter Geocaching in Southern California

22 01 2009

January is probably my favorite month to be here.

It starts with the Rose Parade on the 1st, which almost invariably has perfect weather that much of the rest of the country gets to watch on TV between bouts of shoveling snow or braving subzero temperatures to go to the store.

My sister came down to visit this year, and we got tickets in the bleachers to see the parade. It’s something to be experienced at least once, as it’s one of the most spectacular events of its type anywhere. Only in person can you get a sense of how large the floats are and how truly ornate the decorating is. The marching bands are big, too, some stretching for over a city block. The horses and Western roping, the celebrity grand marshall, the general feeling of celebratory renewal of the new year, the opportunity to eat bacon-wrapped hot dogs (we were SORELY tempted, but passed on those!) are all best seen/felt/smelled while sitting right there. We got bags of free snacks from a local grocery chain: Stater Brothers. We saw an overly fatigued tuba player in the USC band sideline himself and have to wait for a rescue van. We marveled at the motorcycle cops showing off their synchronized driving skills.

Yes, we found a geocache, too! It was at the Burger KIng across the street from our bleachers, even!
The King and I

I’ve been out to the parade a couple of times before, and already knew what my truly favorite part of the morning would be: the flyover of the STEALTH BOMBER. It looks like a work of art floating over. f0t0m0m (Karen) got a superb photo of it on its practice run this year:


I got to watch it a couple of years ago flying around the Lancaster area as I was geocaching out there one day. It never fails to leave me stunned, impressed, and moved by its beauty and power.

Winter in Southern California means clear air for great vistas and cool temperatures for hiking. Here are just a smattering of photos I’ve gotten so far this month:

sunrise in Lancaster (taken by Andy of Team Perks)

fog in Sycamore Canyon

crunchy trail in the Santa Monica Mountains

the view of Catalina Island from Charmlee park in Malibu

looking out from the summit of Saddleback Peak in Palmdale

snow on the mountains west of Joshua Tree National Park

trainspotting in Palm Springs

sunset over I-10 westbound near Cabazon

a bucket of “snow” in a cache at Desert Hot Springs!!
You’ve got to be kidding, this is the desert!

Does anyone know what this stuff is?? It felt cool to the touch, was not sticky, but felt like it would make a nice snowball! It was way too funny to find this in the warm, dry desert. You can always count on the Wheeler Dealers for surprising and entertaining hides.

January is also a great month for working on that tan!

I did find cache #18,000 this week, too! f0t0m0m and I made a 63-cache run in Palm Springs and this Wheeler Dealer hide was the milestone! The container was even a little gecko. I liked choosing this one, as I found my first 10,000 or so caches using a Garmin Geko – actually two of them – and I wore them both out!
One Heck of a Gecko

Until next week, keep on caching! (if you’re not buried in snow … Ha!)

SWEDEN, and back to DENMARK, then home

15 01 2009

A fourth of my ancestors are from Sweden, and my name is entirely Swedish, being named after my great-grandmother on my dad’s side. I know I have distant cousins up in Linköpping, but looking them up will have to wait for the next trip.

Gerlinde, the new excited geocacher that she is, and I cruised through Country #3 in about 2 hours, finding 3 caches and stopping at a gas station to fill up and to find out how to really pronounce my name. Any guesses? That’s coming up….. meanwhile, we took a ferry across from Denmark to Sweden:

Here are the three caches:
Helsingborg 02 at a park

Glumslöv view at the rest stop gas station at sunset


Hurry Up on a freeway overpass

OK, so the guy in the gas station says my name like this:

He makes it sound so purty….

We took Europe’s longest bridge to return to Denmark, then went through this very long, well-lit tunnel:

We stopped at this shopping center:

There’s a cache under the stairs! Found it with my iPhone, as we did all of them… that’s all I brought with me. It was a little squirrelly, but it worked. Next time, I’ll bring my the Garmin Map60CSX,though.
Pleasant Distractions #1 – Fields

Gerlinde bought her new Nüvi here, and I bought a Danish rap CD for my nieces for Christmans. After that, we ate at The American Restaurant:

I ordered a steak entree, which was cooked to perfection, and a yummy warm shrimp appetizer:

Alas, my stay was just over a week. It was enough time to see everyone and enjoy being there, though, and to whet my appetites – both figurative and literal – to return. On the way back, I did get to ride the spiffy German trains and have a white Christmas during my layover in Portland.

My sleeping compartment:

Frankfurt Südbahnhof, still dark at 7am:

At the airport in Frankfurt, they still have one of these fabulous old, mechanically clacking flight info signs:

Here’s the snowfall at Portland airport, about 12 hours later:

Next week, I’ll be posting about “winter” caching in Southern California, where it’s still a good time to be working on my tan. Until then – cache on!

Walk Like a Geocacher

10 01 2009 posted this, a very cute take on the Bangles’ song!

Denmark, a visit inspired by a cache in my honor

8 01 2009

When I learned that Vels in Denmark had hidden a cache for each of the top ten cachers, I knew I had to go find it, since I’d be staying so close in Northern Germany. Fortunately, my exchange sister, Gerlinde, has a penchant for adventure equivalent to mine, so off we went, following the maps in my iPhone, to find caches in the next country over.

It was the shortest day of the year, so the sun only got this high:

The first cache we found was at a rest stop, and it was a film can – but a really nice variation of the hide:
Highway stop….Kongsted signs the log book:

Here are Jakob and Tina Vels, the cache hiders of the one in my honor:

They forgot where they put it, as they’ve hidden over 60 in this park:

I’ll need to come back to find the rest – we only had time for four:
Statcache 33 Worldtop10 – 3 EMC of Northridge, CA
Statcache F – vores alle sammens godkender
Statcache 34 Worldtop10 – 4 DavidT21 & Fisherwoman
Statcache 35 Worldtop10 – 5 Ecorangers

OK, all you other Top Ten cachers… get yourselves to DK and find your caches!

After that, we went with them to a large sculpture garden with the art of Rudolph Tegner (1873-1950). I thought his work showed more realism than would be expected, considering his influences, but we only saw the outdoor part.
More on the artist:
on wikipedia
and a link to the museum, which is out in a rural part of northern Denmark.

We found two caches, one which Vels had DNFd before and walked right up to that day!

The weather was brisk and windy, but the views were marvelous and sweeping, so the experience was exhilarating.


Our trek to the next country over took us along the northern coast of Denmark.

The Baltic Sea is really foamy:

I’ve googled “what is sea foam?” and it would seem to be a mysterious substance. Anyone know about it?

We drove by Hamlet’s castle! Is something rotten in Denmark? Ah… so many quotes, so little blog space….

Next week – our third country in one day: Sweden!

Geocaching Top 10 List on Twitter (supplemental)

4 01 2009

Geocaching Journal put me at the top of that list!
Top 10 Geocachers on Twitter

Chapter 5 of my Twitter novel starts tomorrow morning – please consider following me AND the other nine fun twitter-cachers!

Follow me!

Meanwhile, here’s a photo of where I was yesterday with RobbDogg, Albackore, Andy of Team Perks, and Capdude. We all found over 100 caches, most of them placed by f0t0m0m – more on that adventure soon….

Germany and the magic of Christmas

1 01 2009

Welcome to 2009, and a new year of geoblogs, geopix, and geoadventures!

Back in 1977, I was an AFS exchange student in Northern Germany, and I decided to revisit the family again this year for Christmas. I’ve stayed in touch, especially when I lived and worked in Germany about 15 years ago. Of course, this trip presented an opportunity to find my first caches in Europe, and I even got to three different countries!

I landed in Frankfurt and was met by my exchange sister, Gerlinde, who helped me find my first cache in the Vaterland:
Goethes Vater – Jugendkulturkirche St. Peter

She’s since become a geocacher herself, and went and bought a Nüvi for it!

My first errand upon arrival:

Old Opera House, Frankfurt

New building in Frankfurt – funky hole in it! Is it art?

Things to see in Frankfurt:

Authentic cuisine in Frankfurt:


We spent two nights with her friend, Annagret, and their family in Rheda-Wiedenbrück. There’s a cache in these old millwheels:
Neue Mühle

The town’s manger scene had real sheep!

The town square had an oversized Christmas decoration:

This is the main street:rhedawiedenbruck1

Houses dating from 1609:

The town is on a canal:

Speaking of canals, we found one near the Kiel canal:

There’s a cache up this hill:
Die zwei Berge

with this view:

We found a cache in Eutin that was installed in the armrest of a public bench, but it had been put back in wrong, and we couldn’t retrieve it, even with Gerlinde’s handy tool set:
De jure

This is a cache hide in Burg am Fehmarn:

It’s next door to this church:

and around the corner from these chickens:

Other caches we found in Germany:
Forelle – Fische & Schiffe
Wallenstein Eiche
Droped! Red12
Itzehoer Denkmäler – Eisenbahn

On Christmas Eve, we went to the North Pole. It’s only a few miles from where I visted – who knew?


There a certain magic to being in Germany for Christmas. There’s not so much commercialism, and the mood is much more relaxed. Every town has a Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market)

where you can enjoy a glass of Glühwein (hot mulled wine)

Next stop…. Denmark! … and the cache placed just for me!