APRIL 19, 2010 – Jean, Nevada

April 28, 2010

On Sunday morning we again got the ½ price breakfast buried deep in the menu of the casino’s coffeeshop. Then we jumped into Elin’s Prius to find the Spike Series (GC1QEFD). There were 12 Spike caches in a straight line with 7 other caches in between. Almost immediately on the unpaved road we saw a HUGE ant. It paused to look at us and then wandered off at a leisurely pace. Maybe there’s a factual basis for Them!. Somewhere along this series I dropped my cellphone. If someone finds it, in any condition, please e-mail me.

The caches were all park & walks off into the flat desert, except for one The Forgotten Cache (GCN6RC) which was on top of this hill. The view from above showed us a narrow tunnel under the 15 fwy. The Prius made it through with about 2’ of clearance on each side.

Once through the tunnel, Elin drove us up and down a very steep hill, a memorable adventure in a passenger car. We stopped at a bunker cache that I’d found in 2005. It’s a good thing that the cache is NOT inside.

In early afternoon we went back to the hotel and Elin left us because of a job commitment the next day. At 4:00pm Jeff & me regrouped and headed back to Jean (10 miles N) to find the 26 cache Well series. These were scattered around another unpaved utility road. Sometimes we parked on the side and walked 10 to 300 feet to a cache. Nine on the south end of the series needed real offroading. Usually we followed faint tire tracks, probably left by previous cachers, to get within walking distance. At other times it was driving trackless, dodging bushes, rocks and holes. There were some scary sounding crunches from the undercarriage. On our way out we passed an SUV with cachers from Sacramento and Maryland. Through opened windows we let them know that all 26 caches were present. We found 3 more caches on a rougher adjacent road for a total of 29 in just under 3 hours. At sundown we had dinner at the Mad Greek in Primm.

On Monday morning, we had the same breakfast in the same place. The waitress called me a monkey. She sneered, “Monkey see, monkey do,” for ordering the same meal as Jeff, the same meal that we’d all ordered every day. She was more interested in talking with her coworkers than serving food. Anyway, after leaving a miniscule tip we went to find the 9 cache Tortoise series. To get there we drove North out of Whiskey Pete’s parking lot, parallel to the 15 fwy. We found several caches along the way too.

Though cattle guards were numerous (and sometimes contained caches), we didn’t see a single cow during the entire trip. Two days earlier we’d found one attached to an electrified fence. Very strangely, Elin & Jeff got shocked at every touch, I felt nothing, even gripping the fencepost tightly with my entire hand. And we all had similarly soled shoes. So I’m going to pseudo-scientifically postulate that my constant overeating makes me extra insulated and non-conductive.

Without power lines here , the scenery was better. This is the tortoise road. It was the roughest one this weekend for my Element because the centerline bushes were often tall enough to scrape the bottom. And the randomly scattered medium sized rocks didn’t help either.

There was a tortoise, beyond rigor mortis, next to at least 3 of the caches.

We were very careful to NOT walk into these.

I tried launching one of the large tortoise caches like I’ve seen in the movies but nothing happened.

Is there a registry where the demise of tortoise # L8478 can be reported?

We found ‘em all and rushed back to check out of the hotel. I just missed running over the 1 and only live tortoise we saw. Why DID the tortoise cross the road?

Once back in California we found 12 more caches near various offramps for a total of 33 for the day and, for me, 183 for the ½ + 2 + ½ day trip. I also achieved my personal best of 83 finds (w/a group) in 1 day on Saturday.

I learned for certain that I’ll never be a power cacher. The 3 of us averaged 33 finds an hour for about 2-1/2 hours on Saturday. That was the most fun I’ve had in a long time but the thought of caching at that speed for the entire Trail of the Gods or the upcoming 1,000 cache Extraterrestrial Highway series makes me nauseous. So I’m going back to tortoise speed caching.


APRIL 17, 2010 – Primm, Nevada

April 23, 2010

The magnitude 7.2 earthquake in northern Baja California on April 4 convinced me to cancel my annual April San Diego caching vacation. Why drive 2/3 of the distance toward the epicenter to cache/hike alone in the mountains?! Coincidentally some of my local geofriends were planning to cache the Trail of the Gods between Baker CA and Primm NV, a series of 600+ hides along a 40 mile stretch of unpaved utility road. Most of the caches were said to be Eclipse mint tins attached to the base of electrical towers…which is likely why NEARLY all of them were suddenly archived 3 days before the scheduled trip. Some cachers dropped out as a result, leaving only EMC (Elin) & Albackore (Jeff). I joined them. We started at 10:00am from EMC’s house and drove in 2 vehicles to Baker, CA. That’s the home of the giant thermometer which is also a virtual cache Some Like it Hot (GC436A).
We found all 5 caches in Baker, including the one at the sign below. We also had lunch at the advertised restaurant.
An hour later we’d checked into three 2nd floor rooms at Buffalo Bill’s and were walking around looking for the 3 caches in the back parking lot. Then it was a quick trip on 2 monorails, one of which looked like an egg, across the freeway to find a multi-cache The 500 Club (GCF552). This ended up as the ONLY DNF of the entire trip. Do you see why we had so much trouble?

After an hour of looking unsuccessfully for the final cache the sun was setting and we were thirsty. Buffalo Bill’s beckoned from across the (hidden in picture) freeway.

While Jeff & Elin had dinner (I was still full from lunch) I went on a short night hike along the border fence and found 4 caches. I stopped by again during daylight for pictures. An Earthcache is here.

Farther along the border fence there is an ammo can cache about a foot inside California.

On Saturday, our first full caching day, we drove through Whiskey Pete’s parking lot back into California to get a sense of the, now mostly archived, Trail of the Gods. We found the northernmost 2 active gods, Zeus and Nortia. For most of the 6 miles to Nortia, the powerline road was flat with gravel and small size rocks. My Honda Element had no problems driving on it.

Albackore holds up Nortia, a surprisingly large, non-tower cache while EMC takes a picture.

We also stopped at 2 random towers. Sure enough, there was an archived god at each of them.

Since the Trail of the Gods series was no more, we used my “plan B” list. We switched to Elin’s Prius and found 67 of the 68 caches in the Phobia series on the NV side of the border. We started here.

The 68th phobia cache was alone, some distance away. We didn’t make the side trip to reach it. Many of the 67 were mint tins or film containers attached to or very close to a tower leg. Apparently, the powers that be in Nevada are more tolerant of tower caches than those in California. But tower pictures are boring so here are some of the more distinctive plants that we saw.

We switched cars again after a short rest and found some non-series caches between Primm and Jean, then a cluster of 9 before heading back to the hotel. There was one last cache for me on the way that Elin & Jeff had found years earlier.

Then it was back to Buffalo Bill’s yet again where we had dinner at Tony Roma’s in the casino. I had misgivings about ordering a “pulled pork BBQ sandwich,” because it seemed like cannibalism. But I gave in and enjoyed the meal.

To be continued…

APRIL 5, 2010 – Las Llajas to Rocky Peak trail head

April 5, 2010

I joined a Geoconnection hike at the northeast end of Simi Valley to add 34 finds to what’s been a slow caching year so far. Twenty of us started at the Las Llajas Trail Head Cache (GCKCGG) which we DNF’d!! Here are retrofit, Gummyfrog and deeznutz®.

This is the road not taken. A locked “no trespassing” gate blocked the way. Someone hid a cache at the gate. We signed the log and continued our 12 mile counterclockwise inverted “U”, into very strong gusty winds.
There were non-operating pieces of equipment scattered about, especially in the first few miles of the hike. One of the tall guys bashed his head on this one while searching for a cache. Retrofit’s well stocked first aid kit fixed the injury.

This windmill was also out of commission.

After rounding the top of the inverted “U” the wind became less of a problem except when we were near drop-offs. As usual, the non-cachers in the group pulled far ahead. They’re the small dots on the trail just above the center of the picture. By this time our original group of 20 was strung out in clumps.
I thought that my usual geohiking friends were ahead so I forced myself to stay with a fast moving bunch to catch them. But when I turned around I saw “my” group a ½ mile behind. They’re small dots too, in my backward view. I planted myself along the trail and waited for them to arrive.
Once I was with them I had a much better time hiking at a non-racing pace.

There was even time to enjoy the view and take unrushed pictures. This is an eastward view.
We had a relaxed lunch and great conversations. L to R: BWidget, Don_J, forest22, pianofab, albackore, foomanjoo.

Near the end of the hike, those who hadn’t found wodden hand (GCIC70) a very very old special cache, went to look for it while the rest of us enjoyed hanging out down below. That’s foomanjoo and Albackore at the top.

We arrived at the Rocky Peak Trail Head a ½ hour later to end our hike, sore and (a good) tired.

I recently had wooden nickels made by http://www.wooden-nickels.com. Everything about my interaction with them was great – except for the final product. About 20% of my order looked like the top picture. But almost 50% looked more like the lower picture. During an e-mail exchange the company noted that wood is a natural material subject to variations. I agreed but stated that their online “builder” showed only examples that look like the top picture. I suggested that they add a disclaimer to the “builder” to temper expectations and to possibly add a choice for “premium blanks – light wood with minimal graining.” They responded positively (not necessarily affirmatively) to the suggestions and agreed to re-do half of my original order as a 1x only courtesy. I’m now satisfied, assuming the do-overs arrive in reasonable time and don’t look like the bottom picture.