Thankful for our Veterans

24 11 2011

The day started off with a FlashMob at 11:11am on 11/11/11, and an illustrious group of local cachers gathered to briefly honor our amazing veterans and exchange some hugs and travel bugs.
11.11.11 – Flash Mob

After lunch, f0t0m0m and I headed to Rustic Canyon, for what we thought would be a moderate hike loop along a creek trail and back on a fire road. The trail down to the bottom of the canyon turned out to be a bigger adventure than we anticipated, with gnarly wooden stairs degenerating into eroded switchbacks blocked occasionally by fallen shrubbery. The creek trail was also sometimes easy, sometimes very overgrown, and sometimes missing. Even the fire road with it’s curves got us turned around and heading in the wrong direction for a quarter of a mile. Nevertheless, the 2.5 hour plan only turned into a 4 hour reality, and we were back at the car before dark.

Rich Route #1: BOB
This is the first of the eight cache series that enticed us to the area. We ended up finding only half of them, but found four additional ones along the way.

There are numerous abandoned buildings, mostly looking like old homesteads and ranches:

…but they had electricity down here at one point:

Bougainvillea decorates this mysterious ruin:

Pack100/Den33 We Be Scouts Now
This cache is at a location purported to be an old Nazi encampment, hidden away. Here’s a link to the story:
This gate may have been a party to hiding the goings on:

Another reason f0t0m0m and I wanted to head over here was for this cache:
Rustic Palm
Rustic Palm is GC734, placed 4/18/2001, over 10 years ago and over 2 years before I started caching! This tree is part of caching history.

We signed log book #3!

On the fire road back along the ridge above the canyon, it was clear enough to see Catalina Island. It’s in the distance on the right, The hill to the left is Palos Verdes.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I honor our founding fathers and the many, many Americans who have laid it ALL on the line for our liberty, which I cherish each day, especially when I’m out enjoying myself geocaching surrounded by the peace and abundance of the USA.

Cacheless Caching in Sage Ranch

17 11 2011

One of my favorite parks is Sage Ranch. The loop trail is a moderate hike with nice views, and there are rarely many other people there, so it’s very quiet. The park has been more or less saturated with caches, so no new ones have been put in, therefore when f0t0m0m was looking for a place to hike, I jumped at the chance to suggest Sage Ranch. Since I just refound all of the caches there, one could say it was cacheless caching for me.

OK, he did hide a new one, and I beta tested it, and we did a bunch around Simi Valley after lunch, but I like my blog post title anyway.

This is the one I beta tested:
F0T0M0M's Panorama XI

We stopped along the road in for a cache near this dramatic scenery:

More drama, this time in the form of a burnt tree and a boulder entangled shared space:

This is looking into Simi Valley from the upper part of the park:

In another corner, the trail overlooks the old Rocketdyne facility. The history of this place is not insignificant!

A camp ground is nestled down in the center of the park:

and this is our version of “fall colors”:

We did do another example of cacheless caching later that day. This cache is placed high up in a tree, but if one is not able to physically access it, a found log is permitted with a photo at the tree.
The tree cache.
I did give it my best effort.

Denouement: Tonopah and the Trip Home

11 11 2011

Three weeks later, I’m still exhausting just thinking about our alien adventure. I did finally get all 1500+ logged in, and now have the #27,000 accounted for:

On the trip back, I found a handful of caches with OLdweeb, and started to feel like a “normal” geocacher again. Our first stop was at the Tonopah Historic Mining Park, an outdoor museum on a hill in town that afforded this view:

We didn’t take the time for the hour-long tour, but we did grab the cache in the gift shop.
Tonopah Historic Mining Park

Goldfield yielded some cache finds and a chance to check out some remarkable old buildings, especially this old school house that the town is hoping to restore.
Goldfield Ghost Town (High School)

We also stopped off in Heaven – Geocacher’s Heaven, that is!
Geocacher's Heaven

Yes, I bought one. One day, I will hide it for the enjoyment of my fellow cachers. Now… back to our regularly scheduled caching!

E.T. Highway, part 2

3 11 2011

Before I get in to the Saga of the Second Day, here’s a link to a recent news story on Connie and her mom, and how geocaching has single-handedly revolutionized the economy in Rachel, NV!
Cashing in on Caching

With literally nothing between Rachel and Tonopah other than geocaches and wide open desert, day 2 was all about finishing the run. This turned out to be rather problematic, as we were plagued with a random technology issue that would have shut the expedition down had we not brought two vehicles. Originally, this was for logistical purposes, as the six of us were coming and going in different directions and times before and after the run.

My Prius was the target of the aliens on the first run last year, but this time, the Prius prevailed and the van was the victim. On the way out of Vegas, all of the GPSrs in the van ceased to function! We spent some time at a gas station trying to solve the issue, but we never really figured it out. The problem mysteriously went away just before we got to the Alien Highway, but we did the run with two vehicles just in case. The van was the primary caching conveyance, and all finding and logging were done from there. The Prius followed with extra supplies and provided a respite from the desert dust that permeated the van. We all rotated through the positions of driving, finding, and logging, along with eating, taunting the rest of the group, and maintaining high levels of verbal jousting.

The weird GPS issue was mostly not a problem until about 200 caches before the end of the run… as it was getting dark! The only way we could run a GPS was if we kept it a couple hundred feet from the van! Any unit near the van would give out crazy readings and be utterly useless.

We quickly devised an ingenious two-car team method that proved to be fast and efficient. I drove with my functioning GPS to the spot on the road parallel to where the next cache was, then the van would pull up next to me, and I’d speed off before my signal got jammed. Since the cache hides were so consistent and close to the road, it was easy to find them without a GPSr in hand, so the van team would jump out, find and log the cache, then drive up to where I was waiting at the next waypoint. With this method, we cached as fast at night as we were during the day!

We did them slightly out of order so we could get photos here during daylight:

Here’s the official site for the run, past, present, and future
E.T. Highway Official Site
Here’s a map of the whole run, courtesy DavidT&Fisherwoman.
ET Trail-map

We started at the lower right corner and worked up the map to the loop at the top, which is all on dirt roads. We skipped the alien head and UFO side trips, as they are more for hiking than power caching, but we did take a few minutes to find the oldest cache in Nevada:


We also saw old hiding places from the original E.T. cache run:

Although most of the area is cattle ranches, we didn’t see too many of the beasts this trip:

We were surrounded by rugged scenery:

… and we were followed by a moon shadow:

Who knows when I’ll see this on my screen again, but somehow, I don’t think it will be too long!