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:

XKD-380

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!

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E.T. Highway Revisited

27 10 2011

The call of the power trail is irresistible.

For the second time, I made the manic, epic journey across the hills of Nevada to find the 1500 caches of the resurrected E.T. Highway Film Can Caching Extravaganza. This time, not only have I been there and done that, I got the T-shirt:

This series is all about cruising through over 150 miles of desert at an average of 9 miles per hour. One does really soak in the scenery that way. LOL!

I came out here for Round 2 with Team Perks, Albackore, deeznutz, OLdweeb, and BWidget. We found 525+ on the first day, and 975+ on the second to complete the entire run. After stopping for supplies and fuel in Alamo, about an hour north of Las Vegas, our first cache was at this entrance sign to the highway.

The aliens were immediately present, ready to haunt us and taunt us along our way.

Some cachers had put their stamps or stickers on the sign, so we followed suit.

This alien guards the first official cache of the run:

0001-E.T.

I had a chance to get a 360º video of the highway and the surrounding scenery:

I hit two milestones on the run, and this was cache #26,000:
0236-E.T.

The biggest event of the day was our lunch stop in Rachel, at about the 300th cache in the series:

We found the cache in the coffee shop there and the new earthcache outside:
QUARK'S
Groom Mining District

We also talked for a while with Connie, one of the owners of the place and the real hero of the day. She single-handedly got the E.T. Highway run reinstated after the Nevada Department of Transportation decided to just pick up the first caches. The plethora of visitors from all over had boosted their business so much that they were hiring an extra person for the winter. The gas stations, restaurants, and hotels in Alamo and Tonopah, on either end of the run, had noticed a significant uptick, too, so Connie took on “city hall” and won.

Here’s an article about the controversy:
http://www.aolnews.com/2011/04/22/conspiracy-theory-why-really-did-nevada-remove-geocaches/

This is an interview with the cache owners on the return of the run:
http://onlinegeocacher.com/issue/real_time/article/the-return-of-the-et-highway

Thanks to Connie, business is again booming and cachers are flocking in from all over the world to the teeny tiny town of Rachel, and the Little A’Le’Inn:

http://www.littlealeinn.com/

The other big event was finding a big cache filled with toys!
E. T. Toy Box

Thanks to f0t0m0m for placing this so the boys could play.

Next week: more photos and how we coped with a very real interference with our GPS signals that threatened our chances of completing the run….





The Antonym of Scenery

18 11 2010

It was a nice, flat 4-mile hike in ideal temperate sunny weather, and f0t0m0m and I found 31 caches with no DNFs. The bike trail is new, and wanders through a quiet, safe neighborhood of industrial buildings and suburban backyards. What’s the downside?


CCC: Steel Sunflower

We did walk right by this relic: a drive-in movie theater still showing movies! (It’s way back there past the RV dealer…)

No matter how much cement there is, nature will always prevail with its verdant offering of fruits and flowers:

Later, we found one of the nicely enhanced light pole hides. The creator of these, IWillFindIt!!, was featured in the “official” geocaching blog recently. Do check out that post for more photos of Julie’s surprise art work!

Monster Mash

… but the piece de resistance of the day was BUNNIES! These guys were happily frolicking in a garden adjacent to a park:





More Big Numbers

11 11 2010

This is the month for giving thanks, today for those who have given their all for my freedom. Every time I go geocaching, I am grateful that I have the freedom to go out and play. What a blessing it is to be alive now, at this point in history! There’s so much to look back on and look forward to.

I chose to take a solo hike for my 24,000th find, so I could get out in the scenery and commune with nature, with God, and with my lazy bones. It was a glorious, cool, and breezy day, affording big vistas and striking colors.

I did the first 15 in this series, with quite a few left over for another day:
Just Around the Bend #1

East: abandoned golf course

South: civilization and its water supply

West: the cascades angle down next to the freeway

Brilliant Color

Fun with Mirrors

Cart Path

Driven ’Round the Bend #1

Creepy Wind Whistle

Electric View

Power Trail

Towering Towers

The foliage demonstrates the circle of life, looking down on the fire road I just hiked up:

North: overlooking the next valley of Santa Clarita

Tenacity

Not to be outdone, the next day I celebrated with the VKs as they found cache #25,000! They are certainly legends in their own minds, but can they walk on water?

Fountains are cool LA