December 31, 2017
I spent the final week of the year back in the desert. Barstow again and then the Nevada border. From my usual Barstow base motel my first excursion was to Route 66. This was a rare trip where caching wasn’t the primary activity. I made an effort to see the sights. Here’s a fading sign from another era.
The Bagdad Café occupied the other end of the lot. My Garmin Oregon’s compass arrow pointed to a cache, apparently inside the building. Nope, not for me. I kept going.
Next was Pisgah Crater where I found a cache that was unreachable in November due to muggles. This time no one was around and it was an easy 2 minute walk across the lava to an ammo can.
Four miles farther east, back at Lavic Siding I spent 2 hours carefully looking for more rocks (jaspers) for my tumblers. Again I was astounded by the sheer amount of material laying out in the open.
I was even more selective than in November’s trip because so many of the rocks collected then didn’t tumble well. Here’s what I took home this time. They’re smaller and have fewer hard-to-tumble-away defects.
That night I’d planned to watch Star Wars at the theater across from the motel. But the parking lot was full for the final showing at 8pm. Instead I watched TV reruns. The next morning I left for Primm, Nevada, stopping for Alien Fresh Jerky in Baker. They’re building a UFO themed hotel behind the store.
I arrived in Primm at noon. While waiting for the 3pm check in time at Primm Valley Resort I drove onto the dirt road behind the outlet mall along the state line and border of Ivanpah Dry Lake.
Others report caching there in 2WD rental cars but I was extra glad to be in my AWD Subaru Forester with AT tires. Caches were easy finds with no real need to be well hidden. I kept saying to myself, “just a little farther for the next one,” and…
…emerged onto pavement in Nipton California, a super small town recently in the news. The only sign of the impending changes there was a green flag. The word “green” was visible on it. Then I found a cache in the parking lot that I DNF’d in 2010. At 3pm I returned to Primm by paved road and I-15.
The next morning I drove back through Nipton and again into Nevada.
My caching target was a section of the El Dorado series. There are apparently several thousand numbered off road caches. The first one reached was 228 – El Dorado! (GC4DTG9). The trail went ever upward and parts were VERY rocky. Definitely don’t try to drive here in a Prius. I never saw so many Joshua trees, yuccas, and multiple cactus species. Somehow I managed to NOT shed blood.
The hides were all in small rock piles on the W side almost all within 5 feet of the road’s edge. The cache name number decreases Northward. At about #200 the uphill ends, replaced by undulations and then relative flatness. Because of general stupidity I switched directions 3 times. And due to a defective pocket query that stopped at cache #170 I found less than 70 series caches. With an earlier start and complete pocket query I would’ve easily found 100+. Oh well. I enjoyed the scenery. Note the robust Joshua trees. They’re very different from the mostly sad droopy specimens seen in Palmdale and Lancaster.
The cache road, was a powerline utility road. Signs indicated “Designated Route,” OK for recreational use. But in the 4 hours I was there no one passed in either direction.
I was disppointed to return to Primm with daylight still remaining. Oh well, there’d be more caching the next day…
July 22, 2017
Dweeb’s Diatribe is approaching its 10th anniversary. In those 10 years I wrote 222 posts about almost as many geocaching expeditions. But all things must end. Changes to how the game is played and the general deterioration of the socio-political climate make caching far less enjoyable. My caching has slowed to a trickle. I no longer attend events and I’m well on my way to archiving or adopting-out all of my caches.
But I still enjoy being outdoors and know that it’s essential to maintaining good health. Taking full advantage of navigation and outdoor skills honed by geocaching, I now participate in some related and mutually complimentary hobbies like desert & beach rock hounding, rock tumbling, metal detecting and amateur (ham) radio. I’m changing Dweeb’s Diatribe to add all of these. I still plan to geocache occasionally, especially in the desert where I can also look for tumbling rocks at the same time.
For those who are only interested in reading about caching, sorry. I’m continuing the Diatribe, even if no one else reads it, so that it’ll be my hobby diary to enjoy when I’m old and homebound. And maybe reading and remembering will stave off dementia.
If you’re a regular reader who’s going away, thanks for staying as long as you did and for your comments, here and on Facebook.
May 18, 2017
Last weekend I combined geocaching with my new rock tumbling hobby. I drove 55 miles N, mostly on the 14, to Gem Hill in Rosamond. It’s a famous location for rock hounds because it’s public land and collecting rocks is completely legal. Familiarity with Google Earth from geocaching was a huge help. Not only did it lead me to a wide open parking spot, it showed me an easy mostly flat ½ mile hiking trail around the back side of the hill.
The hike led here, where I’d seen the green ground cover on the satellite map. There was much evidence of previous digging. Inexplicably there were no geocaches.
Youtube videos and online posts showed/described other rock collectors using shovels, sledgehammers and even a gas powered jackhammer to break rocks from exposed veins. I just picked up scraps that they missed. Visual scanning, another skill honed while geocaching was extremely helpful.
In 2 hours I collected enough rocks to make several batches of tumbled (polished) rocks and walked back to my Subaru. On my way to a MASSIVE cluster of caches, the Old Dusty Road series, I stopped for a closer look at an especially healthy Joshua tree.
They’re in bloom now. Or do pods count as blooms? I’ve heard that they’re edible but look closely. Those white wormy looking parts aren’t very appetizing.
Near the SE intersection of the 14 & Backus Road I started caching at a random dirt road. Traveling was easy. And with both the 14 visible to the W and Sierra Hwy to the E there was no danger of being stranded without help.
The first cache, ODR’s #812 (GC7484B). It was an easy find only a few steps from the road as were half of the other 20 caches I visited. What’s “XMD?” It’s the Facebook mega-group “Explorers of the Mojave Desert.” And the magnetic “Geocaching” sign is for suspicious locals and law enforcement in case they drive up behind me. They might still demand to know what I’m doing but at least their first thought won’t be, “trash dumper,” “tortoise poacher,” or something similar.
Unlike most other desert series I’ve visited, the caches I found here were all camo’d and almost all in tough scratchy bushes. To be fair to the hider there weren’t many rocks or pieces of loose vegetation available to make geopiles. I DNF’d many because I didn’t want to rip up my hands reaching for containers I couldn’t see.
On the way back to Backus Road (fwy onramp is at the left edge of the bridge) my final find was a large non-series cache, Red Castle (GC71ETG).
There was a geocoin inside, the 3rd one I found on this trip. All 3 were old and owned by Jim, “f0t0m0m.” Maybe he dumped his collection into caches. He surely knows that the coins will inevitably disappear soon, taken by casual players who don’t know what to do with them. I DO know what to do and will drop them into non-urban caches in the hope that they’ll remain in circulation longer.