Geocaching in Outer Space

29 01 2010

Well… at least as close as I could get for now…. I attended an event at the NASA Goldstone deep space research facility at Fort Irwin, just north of Barstow, CA!

2010 – NASA Deep Space Odyssey II

We had to drive through two checkpoints on to the base then on to the Goldstone property.

We first stopped a the museum for an information presentation and a look around:

This model of the Mars Rover was outside in the parking lot:

We then got in our long caravan of cars and drove several miles up to the largest dish:

We saw some herds of local wildlife along the way:

This model is not life-size….

This is!

Most tours don’t get the show we got, but the dish was in maintenance mode that day, so they did a big move for us. Here’s the dish dance in this series of short videos:

2 minute warning, with an unusual twist:

We then got a brief look inside the mission control building with all the blinky lights, push buttons, and gizmos:

They operate on Universal Time:

A last look at the big dish:

Some information:

For more, see the NASA Deep Space Network Home Page.

I’m still floating back to earth…..

Starting the Year with a Celebration

21 01 2010

I went out and about in the Ventura area with the Ventura Kids last weekend as they were to find cache #20,000! f0t0m0m went, too, which made the VKs the “slackers” of the group… ha! They are still the fastest cachers in the West. We snagged over 80 that day, even continuing as the first of the week’s string of rain storms started soon after lunch.

The weather started turning just as we found their #19,999:

…. and the tree was dripping water on us as Steve grabbed #20,000:

It was appropriately titled – i’m just nuts

There were quite a few good creative hides, mostly by a newer cacher, Unafraid Leroy. We even got to meet him at one of his caches. I just love the unexpected encounters with cachers. There’s this instant kind of bond already in place, and it’s fun to hear about how others are enjoying the game!

A few caches later we approached this old furnace installed in the side of a building:

Jim made the blind grab, and there it was!

… and it was cache find #21,000 for me!

Sometimes we find the Easy Way to the caches:

Sometimes we find a more challenging path:

Sometimes we are in hot pursuit… or they in hot pursuit of us?

In any case, we always have time to celebrate, even if it’s with a bottle of really old – and tasteless – wine, courtesy OLdweeb. (Yes, the color here is true!)

Next week…. caching in outer space! (sort of)

Should be Simple, Right?

14 01 2010

OLdweeb and I headed out for a simple hike. He’d done it before and said it was mostly flat, easy trail. Simple, right? Well, except for the several short steep hills up and down, sure… mostly flat…. and except for the half mile of overgrown bushes in the way…. mostly easy. At least we found the cache handily and had the key we needed to access the wonderful pirate treasure inside!

Davey Jones Locker

Here’s a view of the targeted cache area:

It should be simple to approach a cache, find it, and access the log, right? What if it’s disguised as a GIANT COCKROACH????? I live in abject fear of these things…. so OLdweeb got a good chuckle out of my screeching and moaning at even having to touch this plastic replica!


Sometimes caching is simple, and sometimes it’s like trying to see the view from inside the drooping tree branches wherein the cache is stashed.

Arbor Abode

Off to a Running Start!

7 01 2010

I started my year off with a few local caches:
Sage Ranch Sunset
Steel Here
When The Levee Breaks

My first find of 2010:

It’s in Sage Ranch, and that day, there were crystal clear views for miles:

The next weekend, I headed up to the Santa Cruz area along with f0t0m0m, shell1fish, and geo202 to grab the final cache of the epic Fizzy Challenge!
Well Rounded Cacher (The Fizzy Challenge)

The trail up wound through towering redwoods, then up through more rocky, scrubby terrain:

We don’t see much moss in Southern California, so this stuff dripping off the manzanita was fascinating to me:

The cache is up on the wind-carved summit of Pine Mountain:

Here we are at last! The well rounded cachers:

My sister met up with us in Scotts Valley, and joined us for some of the local urbans at unusual places:
Giselles Cache is at a Fishing Park:

We didn’t see any fish in the creek that day, but for all you “Fish Wranglers” out there, Fish NOW!

Felton Covered Bridge was very familiar to f0t0m0m, who’d spent many summers here as a kid:

I couldn’t not patronize THIS establishment!

I can’t wait to get back to explore more of this part of California – it’s really gorgeous!

This may be the year of the challenge caches for me, as I also qualified for this one on the way up:
One Busy Day Icon Challenge
and still have the Delorme and a whole long string of various challenges in Sacramento to start working on! Then there’s the 24 record run thing. So…. after the hours and hours of planning and strategizing – especially on Steve’s part! – for our 24 hour run in Denver, it’s ironically humorous that the record would be broken by accident! I got the scoop from Picht, of DK08 in Denmark:

Here is the story of the 480 founds:

Elmbaek and I had decided to spend some time caching and wanted to do some of the new powertrail published some days before about 40 km. from where we live.

After about 7½ hours we had finished the whole trail, and thought it would be fun to see if we could increase our daily record (315 caches). And we knew there was another powertrail in Sweden.
Only problem was that none of us had the caches in the GPS, and we hadn’t brought the computer with us
Going home to fill the GPS’es would be driving in the wrong direction, so we went to a geocaching-friend who lived nearby and he let us use his computer go create a new PQ and load it into our GPS. (Thanks Kaskelot)

After that we went to Sweden (by ferry).
We went to eat and buy some water and energy-bars, that we suspected we would need.
Finally we started the powertrail in Sweden.
Upon completion we decided to drive back home (about 2 hours drive), because Elmbaek had to work and i had an appointment with some other geocaching-friends about doing some nightcaches the following night. (It was a great nightcaching-trip, even if i only got 3 hours of sleep)
That’s the reason for not using full 24 hours

As this 480 caches trip wasn’t planned we hadn’t the right clothing (no waterproof shoes, which was a problem with the snow in Sweden), nor did we bring any food nor computer/internet.

We signed each logbook with Picht and Elmbaek, and we were only at one cache a the time. Since both powertrails have good hints on almost each cache it was pretty easy to find most of the caches.
The person next to the cache got out of the car and if the cache wasn’t found in about 20 seconds the other got out to help searching. If the hiding spot wasn’t obvious, both got out from the start.

I have now had time to look at the GPS readings and here are some facts.

Time spent caching (total): 16 hours
Powertrail DK: 7½ hours
Powertrail SE: 8½ hour

Transport: 2½ hours
“Wasted” time (getting extra cache information, eating, waiting at the ferry): 1½ hours

So, this is the story of how a normal caching day evolved to a new record, without any planning.

I must admit that making the 315 record was more “real caching” than this powertrail-caching, and i don’t think this record will stand for long, since the potential is big if you have some powertrails and do a little planning.




Wow, what a fun example of caching craziness!

Finally, a footnote: Marzipan, the kitten I found at a cache last year, is now 8 months old! She’s a big kitty now:


Mew mew!