DECEMBER 30, 2008 – Mentryville

December 31, 2008

It was yet another day where I chose caching over household responsibilities… I joined EMC and spoondoggie (Scott) on their hike to Mentryville a little known “ghost town” 10 minutes north of the San Fernando Valley. We started from the deserted parking lot at the “town” proper, passed the old 1 room schoolhouse before going into Pico Canyon and then up the steep trail.
Elin & Scott started walking just before I did.
I didn’t want to be the third wheel.

I was relieved to find that Elin was just cleaning mud from her shoe. Speaking of which, we saw many interesting animal tracks therein. None of us has any real training but we had great fun discussing the dangerous gigantic animals that must’ve passed through the area. We were relieved that no NEW tracks were on top of ours on the way back down the hill.

Homer was here too! What’s the CRV on this can?
It’s mind boggling!

There were frozen puddles and even some icy ground in the most shaded areas. We passed the site of California’s first commercial oil well (1876) and the scattered wreckage of ancient drilling machinery.

Scott did his best Carol Merrill impression. (you have to be a baby boomer to understand…)
Doors # 1, 2 and 3 all contained an Altoids tin inside a baggie.

We passed this on our way up but stopped on the way back for pictures and more mud removal.
The stench of leaking sulfur was very strong at this capped well. Note the chain belt and wooden wheel. There’s a steam boiler in the back.

A canyon view.
Ursula the Bear who is also an occasional cacher calls this area home.

This trailer was at the top of the hill. The solar cells were obvious and the VHF beam antenna was pointed at Oat Mountain. But we saw no external sensors and had no clue about what kind of data was being gathered & sent.
Within steps of the trailer…
Union Oil Co. Odeen #1 test well. (1951)

And just beyond the sign was the cache at the end of the trail.
Gillian’s Shrine (GC1GNM4)We started back and soon daylight began to fade and the temperature dropped. Elin suggested a side trail shortcut to the lone remaining unfound cache There Will Be Blood (GC1GNPH). Normally I won’t take an unknown “return” trail in fading daylight, especially a muddy downhill one that looked like it could peter out at any time. But Elin’s iPhone research showed it to be a real trail so I followed her & Scott. We carefully negotiated the mud and ice and no one was killed.

We saw this rock wall on the way down:
Formed by bubbling lava? This surely deserves an Earthcache.

The shortcut shaved almost 1 mile from our return trip. In all, we found 20+ caches in just under 7 hours. Thanks to Wanderer7 and friends/family who hid most of them.

More days off and more caching…details to follow.


DECEMBER 29, 2008 – Oxnard

December 30, 2008

Every one of my 16 days in a row off are presenting me with a dweeb’s dilemma. Should I go caching or should I do the cleanup and home maintenance that accumulated BECAUSE I went caching too often? My vacation is more than ½ over and so far I’ve found 135 caches and my place looks worse than ever. There’s a practical limit to how long this can continue. Soon, I won’t be able to find my computer to plan any more caching runs. Until then here are some highlights of the last few days. (more to follow soon – off schedule)

While normal people were out shopping for post-Christmas bargains or staying home, EMC of Northridge, robb_dogg, BWidget and I went to Oxnard for a day of caching. To Elin, Robb & Bill a 1 day run of 100+ caches isn’t a big deal. To me 15 caches in a day is good, 25 is great and reaching 30 is extraordinary. So at 31 caches, they had a ‘slow caching’ day and mine was ‘extraordinary.’
Bill & Robb find a classic guardrail cache.

We used my Honda Element because it has the headroom/legroom needed to accommodate the anomalously high average height of my caching friends (of which Robb & Bill are NOT the 2 tallest). Any basketball coach seeing all of them walking together would be envious.

Oxnard has a large number and wide variety of caches but it isn’t very scenic. More info: click. As a ‘casual’ (no formal goals or pre-determined routing) expedition, we made up the route on the fly. It was very entertaining to watch 2 TYPE A personalities, Elin & Robb, try mightily to get us to go in opposite directions at the same time without losing control. Bill & I sat back and took it all in. How boring it would be if everyone agreed 100% all of the time.

On the way, we learned that ANYONE can become a geocacher!!
Sorry, we should’ve checked it out & reported…

A rock hide inside a parking structure w/no satellite reception.
As obsessed cachers, we’ll go just about anywhere to find a cache.

But as non-suicidal cachers, we didn’t go here. “Nice Cujo, Diablo…”
Fortunately, the cache ended up behind us.

We had an unusually high number of DNFs (Did Not Find). This was one of them.
We started for home at sunset when the temperature began to drop quickly. More days off..more caches…details to follow. I feel a rant coming on too.

DECEMBER 22, 2008 – downtown Los Angeles

December 22, 2008

Saturday afternoon was spent finding 11 caches in the west SFV. I want to compliment new cachers albackore and jayjen5 for their well made and very thoughtfully placed hides. It was a pleasure looking for and finding them.
12/18/08: The Santa Susana mountains as seen from Warner Center.

Sunday afternoon I found GeoCraig’s new series of 10 ultra urban “Filling in the Gaps” hides in downtown Los Angeles. Even on Sunday, traffic and parking were horrendous. Getting to all of the caches took 3-½ tough hours. I ended up parking 5x, up to a ½ mile away and then hiked among the skyscrapers. As others have suggested, maybe gopher caching on the Red Line (subway) would’ve been easier.

First up was Fort Moore Returns (GC1JVKJ). There was another cache here earlier this year but I was thwarted 3x by different urban outdoorsmen camped out behind the monument. The 4th time the requisite guy was sleeping so I snuck by but still didn’t find the cache. Today, as I expected, there was a homeless man encamped at GZ.
But GeoCraig hid the cache so that it was impossible for THIS urban outdoorsman to see me searching for it. I don’t think he even knew that I was there.

A little later, while searching for Central HS #9 (GC1JVKC) a security guard across the street pointed at me and made a cell phone call, presumably to summon the LAPD. So I left, but not before finding a very nice Motorola UHF walkie talkie in the dirt. I’ll make an effort to locate its owner. Anyway, I went back 3 hours later and found the cache. After I put it back the guard came out of his trailer, saw me again, and immediately made another call. So cachers beware!
I was amused by the juxtaposition of the secular and sacred; the massive & distinctive public high school directly across the 101 freeway from the equally massive and distinctive cathedral.

Further into the city at the Bradbury Building (GC1JVQW) cache I saw 2 figures in archaic clothes emerge and melt into the shadows. I’ve brightened the contrast on the right 2/3 of the picture to show them clearly. As a sci-fi dweeb I immediately recognized these men as time travelers. They’re dressed for the Great Depression (1929) but someone on the other end erroneously set the controls for the beginning of the OTHER depression. Note the confused look as the shorter one tries to verify time and place.
I turned away for a few seconds and when I looked back the travelers were gone. What could I do? Look for the next cache, of course!!

The MOCA (GC1JVQP) cache was within steps of this metallic monster.
It seems to be assembled from wrecked airplane parts.

Across the street…
An EMC cache, “Walt Disney Concert Hall 2.0” is over there!! Go up the stairs in the middle of the picture.

Another sight from almost the same spot.
Los Angeles City Hall. Yes, there are caches there too.

I walked back to my car and then drove to the last 3 caches of the series. (& HS #9)
I saw these bears after finding the last cache. No, I’m not in the van.

Thanks GeoCraig for putting together a very challenging series. I left exhausted but happy with 10 more smileys.

DECEMBER 15, 2008 – Oakbrook Regional Park

December 15, 2008

Saturday began with an early morning event Coffee Geo-Talk in Thousand Oaks. Then 9 of us then caravanned to Oakbrook Regional Park for an all day hike. We found the trailhead cache about 50 feet from parking and then walked through the grounds of the Chumash Interpretive Center. There we logged an easy virtual cache that’d been on my list for years: Chumash Labor Union

We crossed paths with another group:
They didn’t seem bothered by our loud talking and picture taking.

We soon broke out of the tree cover and still had energy at this point.
Not shown: daffodil_girl (Mrs. robb_dogg), Pelon, tozainamboku, OLdweeb

The most interesting cache on the top part of our clockwise loop was a 2-part multi that required us to find a “BM.” I wasn’t enthusiastic because I see them all too often on the bottom of my hiking boots. But this BM turned out to be something completely different and non-revolting; a BenchMark.
The view from the benchmark. That’s Bard Reservoir in the distance.

The bottom half of the loop was mostly on single tracks through rocky terrain. Progress was slow at times. We survived several geo-falls but left with nothing worse than a few scrapes.

Our only DNF (Did Not Find) was SIMI CAVE.

121308_caveWe frequently complain about “Micros in the woods!” but this one deserves its own category. 9 of us scoured the cave and couldn’t find the cache.

Only a mile to go!

LAEd turns for the final descent to parking.
121308_final_descentOur 9 mile loop took us to 26 caches in 6 hours.

Breaking news from Endor: Imperial probe droid captures image,
121308_ewok_confirmedconfirming last week’s ewok post.

DECEMBER 8, 2008 – Silverlake

December 8, 2008

Pre-holiday commitments kept my caching to a minimum this weekend. I found a few caches in the Silverlake district before attending a nearby pizza event Calling All Knights (and Ladies)!! (GC1HJDW).

Even by my standards, the area was very hardcore urban.
A cache is within 50’ of where I stood to take this choatic picture.

RANT: And speaking of urban caching, I’ve encountered a non-PC phenomenon enough times (all in downtown L.A.) that I’ve given it a name: “ABM” for Angry Black Man. The most memorable one was upset that a cachemobile in which I was a passenger was moving too slowy. We WERE too slow. We were deciding on our next destination. After swerving around and ahead, he stopped, blocked our car, got out and ran at us yelling. Our driver had the good sense to back up faster and escape.

As a solo cacher more than one ABM I’ve run into thought I was doing policework. I got to hear their informed opinions about law enforcement. Another ABM took exception to my sunglasses and screamed at me. Several more just wanted me out of the area. Other than the car incident no ABM made any real physical threats. I’ve decided to assume that these guys were bored and that yelling at a geocacher filled their need for social interaction.

To be fair, I’ve run into Angry White Men (& Women too) almost all in the Conejo Valley, Angry Latinos in L.A.(2) and Oxnard (1). So far no Angry Asians…but if I keep ‘doing’ lamp posts in Alhambra strip malls…

RANT: It’s come to my attention that a certain hiking buddy says that I look like an ewok when hiking over obstacles…

My_response: So who’s the ewok now, buba!! (:P)

DECEMBER 1, 2008 – Wildwood Park (Thousand Oaks)

December 1, 2008

Black Friday: I planned for an urban cache run in Santa Monica. Then I remembered the horrendous traffic/parking situation on that side of the hill, probably made 10x worse by crazed shoppers fighting to get to their next store. So I went the other way to Wildwood Park in T.O. Hiking in that 1,750 acre park would help me work off several pounds of turkey & stuffing -and- change a loop of 12 green boxes into smilies.

Starting from a little known trailhead on Wildwood Drive I went uphill and immediately entered a rock strewn area that was free of the usual plantlife. It looks like a fire in the past few years burned it off.
112808_destructionThe edge.

A few minutes further east, one plant was thriving, cactus.112808_cactus_wall

OF COURSE, there’s a cache at the top!! Cliff Micro (GCHMR5)

From the top, looking south: The lack of cover meant that there were no vegetation hides on the bottom ½ of my counterclockwise loop!!
The terrain abruptly changed after this point.

The top ½ of the loop began with a side hike east into an unburned area with a full complement of vegetation. Two caches required crossing inside a gated private driveway on a public easement:
Santa Rosa Valley View (GCWXD7) & A Sparky View (GCWXD1). There were no geopiles so these caches weren’t quick finds.

I continued on a single track overlooking the Santa Rosa Valley. The caches there were uneventful except the final one which I DNF’d. It hadn’t been found in almost 2 years so I think that it’s gone.
Wildwood Pod Races (GCHR7G)

112808_santa_rosaA long line of farm workers toiled down below.

On Saturday, I went back to Wildwood. Near the parking lot I saw this creepy oak which would be great for a Halloween hide.112808_knarley_oak
There’s already a cache there Magnetic Disturbance (GCA033) but I couldn’t find it.

After walking a mile west and then north, finding a few caches on the way, the GPSr showed a short .28 hike to the final, NW-most cache.
Wild West Wildwood (GCH6G8)

Do you have ANY doubt where the cache was located? I had to stop every 50 feet or so on the very steep ascent. Eventually I found myself at the top with the cache container in hand. While signing the log I heard voices even though I KNEW no one was around.

Voices in my head aren’t unusual but they talk to ME, not to each other. And none of them is named Hailey. I finally found Hailey & her friend silhouetted on a neighboring peak to the south. A weird acoustic tunnel let me hear their conversation from a half mile away. I tried to talk back. They must’ve heard something because they paused suddenly before babbling on. Cheer up Hailey. Things will turn around for you soon.

It was a long walk back to the parking lot.
I found 18 total caches in 4 hours (FRI) and 5 hours (SAT).

STUFF: I found another treasure at the 99¢ Only Store. LASER POINTERS for 99 cents!! The sticker states a 535nm wavelength at <5mw. If the output is anything approaching 5mw, it’s hefty for a “toy.”
img_1031These used to cost hundreds of dollars 25 years ago. Now they’re being sold as “Pet Toys.” They’re perfectly good for that purpose. A coworker uses his to wreak havoc on his 9 cats. Owning no animals I’ll be limited to lighting up distant trees and rocks on night caching hikes. With extra batteries at 3 sets for 99¢ I’m going to have fun for a long time.