Variations on a Theme

28 07 2011

I came across a different kind of geocaching that’s just getting started, and thought I’d give it try. It’s called Munzee, and is similar to geocaching, in that you find the game piece at the posted coordinates. The difference is that to log it, you scan the QR code on the game piece with your iPhone or Android, and the app does the rest.

I had to search around a bit, but I did find an article on how this variation of high-tech scavenger hunt got started, and why it’s called “Munzee”:
Munzee article

This seems like a fun version, but it’s so new that the nearest one hidden is way down in Palos Verdes, over 30 miles away. Therefore, I figured the best thing I could do is hide one near me, and see if it catches on.

I picked a place and container I’ve used before, and it turned out to be an ideal way to hide a Munzee.

Glue Gun Assembly

Original Container courtesy OLdweeb:

Yes, there is a Cold Stone Creamery behind this sign….

No one has captured it yet, so if you are in the vicinity, go for it!

Hat tip to Head Hard Hat for bringing this to my attention.

I got an e-mail from another creative geocacher who’s hidden a real treasure and published a book with the clues!

“Grandpa Thrifty’s Treasure Hunt” ($2.99) is a storybook and puzzle contest that offers readers a $10,269.01 prize. In the spirit of “Masquerade” and “The Clock Without a Face”, “Grandpa Thrifty’s Treasure Hunt” is a story filled with clues and hints that readers can put together to find a real hidden treasure.
You can check out the book here:  book link Or go to for more info.

I’ve taken a quick look at the puzzle, but don’t know where it is… yet… Let me know if you find it and win the big prize!

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying a challenging series in my own back yard, using photos to triangulate to the cache location.
Where Am I Standing #7-Granada Hills Again
Where Am I Standing #5-More Granada Hills

What happened to #6? DNF….. but I think I have a bead on it after some more online research… Hm….

Back Door to Devil’s Canyon

22 07 2011

I did a hike up Brown’s Canyon with Spoondoggie to see if there’s a way across to the north end of Devil’s Canyon where a cache has been sitting and taunting me for a couple of years now. Alas, the road in question is on private property, so I’ll need to assemble a posse and take the more trodden trail to get it.

The views were as wonderful as the road is steep:

The road not to be taken:

Devil’s Canyon, the future adventure:

I solved and found this cache on the way in honor of Carmageddon, which turned out to be very light traffic for the weekend.

Here’s a very cool time-lapse video of the event:


14 07 2011

Los Angeles was designed for cars. Whether we like or not and regardless of the attempts made to put in alternate modes of transportation, we prefer the freedom of our automobiles. Driving is thoroughly ingrained in our culture, in our thoughts and expressions. Most notably, this is reflected in our veneration of our freeways. One does not take “I-5” or get on “Highway 101”, you take THE Hollywood Freeway, THE 10, THE 405. The absolute use of the definitive article endows our major roadways with personalities, and for good reason. They are our life blood.

The city sprawls through valleys and over mountain ranges, and traffic flows through these areas, much like the fluid of a circulatory system, to connect branches of businesses and commerce and families and recreation destinations and more.

One of the most vital arteries is the 405, which sweeps from the one narrow pass between the San Fernando and San Joaquin valleys all the way down the coast to the center of Orange County. For several miles, it is the only large thoroughfare through the Santa Monica Mountains Wilderness, which dramatically bisects the city. The nearest highways are 5 or 6 miles to the east or west, so the 405 through the Sepulveda Pass is notoriously crowded at most hours of the day and night.

In desperate need of more room for more cars, the freeway is being widened, and much like open heart surgery to put in a stint, CalTrans is shutting the entire area down for two days and three nights this weekend to perform the more drastic remodeling necessary to create more lanes.

This is potentially catastrophic for anyone trying to get anywhere, and has been dubbed “Carmageddon”. Some spell it “Karmageddon”. Some, like me, hope that everyone will go out of town for the weekend, and we’ll have wide open freeways like we did for the 1984 Olympics, which also caused local panic that the traffic would be gridlocked.

In any case, I took the opportunity to take a hike on the fire road that parallels the 405 to get some photos of the preparation for the operation and find three caches placed since the last time I was up there.

The Road To The Curator's Keys
Go Getty-A-View
Donenfeld's Cache

The 405 with Sepulveda Blvd. crossing underneath:

Construction Equipment:

Golf on the next hill over:

Dodder and a hilltop mansion:


There should be a trail head down there again, when they are all done.

The Getty Museum, overlooking the Pacific Ocean:

Geocaching on Mars?

7 07 2011

A bunch of us geocachers got a good look at the next Mars Rover up at JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) in Pasadena last week.

2011 – NASA Jet Propulsion Labs Tour
Be sure to check out the cache page for this, as it has lots of details about JPL and about the tour, which was meticulously organized.

Here are models of the first rovers, the first being rather tiny:

The first two worked out so well, that expectations are pretty high for the next one. It’s more the size of an SUV. This one is a working copy of the one that’s being shot into space.

They have a big sandbox for test drives:

Here’s Mission Control:

I don’t know if they’ll let the rover go geocaching on Mars, but Google has is all mapped out:
Google Mars

They have a nice museum set up with displays of older projects, like Voyager 1:

… which is heading out of our solar system with an LP of various sounds of Earth, and the instructions on how to play it:

… an infrared camera:

and a real moon rock!

This was geek heaven.

Independence Day Thanksgiving

3 07 2011

I looked around for a cache that would fit the weekend, and found this one placed for Memorial Day.

Memorial Day Easy Puzzle

I love living in such a free country that I can go outside and play anywhere knowing that I’m safe and surrounded by abundance. I’m grateful for that, and to the people who’ve sacrificed to make it and keep it possible.

The street it’s on, Chatsworth, is decorated with flags for the season. The Kiwanis Club of Northridge (of which I used to be a member) puts them up and takes care of them!
Northridge Kiwanis

I also enjoyed these fast finds in the neighborhood:
The 51st Time
Where Am I Standing #4-Another Granada Hills
Kona, Hawaii

Have an inspirational and adventurous Independence Day weekend!