Santa Claus

20 12 2012

What better way to celebrate the season than with a visit to Santa Claus, Indiana?

I saved this portion of my summer road trip to publish this week. The town must look quite magical during the Christmas holiday, so my sunny photos might not do it justice.

There are several town websites to explore.
This one doesn’t have many photos: Santa Claus IN.
This site has some history: History.
a HA! This site has a photo gallery: Celebration, but not many show a winter wonderland.
I guess I’ll have to get back there some December and see if it looks more like the North Pole.

Holiday World
View of a Coaster

There is an amusement park there, but I only peered in from the cache location outside.

Entering the town:
Santa Claus, IN

One of the two shopping centers, Kringle Place:
Kringle place

The post office, where they must receive many wonderful letters from around the world:
Santa's post office

Town Hall:
SClaus town hall

… and the man, the icon, the Santa:
Santa

May your Christmas and New Year celebrations be filled with the magic of the season and many wonderful memories for years to come.





Durango

6 12 2012

On my way from Colorado Springs to Phoenix, I drove through some of the most gorgeous scenery on the planet. Durango was a perfect place to stay over night and get a sense of the history of the area as well. It’s a mountain mining town, and reminds me of my own home town of Yreka, CA.

I stayed at the General Palmer Hotel, built in 1898 –

The Victorian decor and atmosphere was relaxing and charming.

In the morning, I took a stroll up Main St. to find the only cache within walking distance.
THE BLACK BOX

The architecture is a classic mix of old and new.

The buildings all have basements. I note this, because they are uncommon where I live in Southern California.

Along the street there are a number of plaques with photos of highlights of the town’s past.

I’m not sure if this place is there, or if there’s someone to take a reservation… ha.

Mountain view

Another beautiful historic hotel

Next time I’m in town, I’ll have to take the train through the scenery!

Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Train





Colorado, the Beautiful

29 11 2012

Driving from the cache at 11,200 feet to Durango was one of the most spectacular drives I’ve taken. After the days and days of flatness, it was a relief to be back in mountains, too, which is my natural habitat.

Vista Vows
Pillows aren’t for sleeping

trail at 11,200 ft

view through the trees

many valleys

wooded trail

a pullout with some history along with the view

a drove of donkeys

I always get a kick out of being at the Continental Divide – it’s an existential meeting of east and west, history and future, humidity and desert. Ha.

a rest area at the side of the road surrounded by loveliness

This vista point was the highlight of an already incredible drive!





So Much to be Thankful For

22 11 2012

This is always a time of reflection for me, and to that end, I took a look at my previous Thanksgiving geocaching blogs. I love seeing how much fun I’ve had and how many wonderful friends I’ve made over the last 9 1/2 years. Take a moment to click on the links for the full stories. I’ve included a photo from each to inspire you to walk back through time with me.

2008
14 Miles, now that’s a big number!
usualsuspects

2009
Happy Thanksgiving!

2010
Giving Thanks

2011
Thankful for our Veterans

2012
A preview of blogs to come, as I continue with my summer road trip:





The Jasmer Challenge

15 11 2012

The Jasmer Challenge (Northern California Edition)
This is one of the most difficult challenges to complete because of the rarity of the earlier caches, therefore, I was relieved to see that I could pick up my three remaining qualifying finds on my road trip this summer. The penultimate cache was Mingo, the oldest existing geocache, and the final one was placed later that summer in one of the most spectacular places I’ve ever been.

I drove from Colorado Springs to Durango, and took a long detour to the Spanish Peaks. Several miles up a graded dirt road, I got to the trailhead and parked my Prius at 11,200 feet.

The cache is only about a half mile from parking, and the trail is mostly flat, so I knew I could accomplish the hike, even with no acclimation to the elevation.

I signed in at the trail head and struck out through the tall trees.

It was not just the scenery taking my breath away.

My goal was not to ascend the peak, but it was always in view.

The colors of some of the flowers were vibrant blue…

… and purple…

I’m glad it was a cloudy day, as the temperature was perfectly cool.

The cache was surrounded by ducs, but I’m not sure if they all were put there by geocachers.

THIS is the view from the cache.

A photo is clearly not sufficient.

I spent about a half hour up there, enjoying some salami and cheese and the surrounding spectacularness.





Mingo!

8 11 2012

Mingo is a small town in Kansas. It’s also the oldest original active geocache. (The first cache ever placed now has a plaque there, and a replacement cache nearby.) As many before me have done, I planned this segment of my trip to pilgrimage to this famous cache, both for its historic longevity, and as one of the finds I needed to complete the Jasmer challenge. (More on that next week…)

I was surprised and curious as I entered the state, and still wonder where the fish are:

My first find in KS:
QUICK PIT STOP

After several days of flat, flat, flat, I found myself missing the mountains that I’m so used to in California.

Even small side roads seem to stretch out endlessly.

Corn fields and old buildings still make for striking scenery, perhaps more so without any distractions on the horizon.

Quest achieved! Here’s where the Mingo cache is located:
Mingo

Mingo and Me

A closer look at the container

Here’s the log!

The town has only a couple of streets, and not all of them paved. Here’s a quick tour.





Iowa and Nebraska

25 10 2012

From Missouri, I took a long detour to the north in order to get caches in Iowa and Nebraska before heading back south and west. There are only a couple of caches in the southwestern corner of Iowa, and I ended up driving several miles out of the way to accomplish my goal. The first one was on the outskirts of the little town of Hamburg.

L&C "Chauvin"-Hamburg-McKissock

Main St.

The cache was up on a bluff, so I actually had a view!

The next two were bonus caches as far as getting the state was concerned, but since I’d come this far, I didn’t want to skip them. I’m glad I didn’t, as I really enjoyed the opportunity to be out on the scenic country roads.

The two caches were in a couple of very large front yards of farm houses across from endless fields of corn and other crops.

Hercules
Das Muhle die klein rot Henne
I thought there might be a significance to the German cache title, but it was just hidden in the kitschy yard decor. No one came out to greet me at either house, so I made quick work of the hides, and headed for the next state.

I grabbed my first Nebraska cache at a little picnic area near a large museum dedicated to Lewis & Clark. They had traveled a similar trajectory as they explored these areas for a way to get to the Pacific Northwest.

Lunch with Lewis and Clark
The view from the cache:

I was running out time (as usual), so I didn’t see much inside the museum, but a sign outside honored a very important member of their team, Hunter, their dog!

My other find in Nebraska was in Kearney.
Gateway to Kearney Cache

I saw the gateway monument mostly in the dark, as my arrival in Kearney was late in the day. Of course I was curious about it, so I did a little research to see if it was worth backtracking 10 miles to check it out in the daylight. It looked to be way too kitschy a tourist trap for my taste.
Archway Monument

Instead, I made good time the next morning heading homeward through the flat, flat mid west: