JULY 25, 2010 – Santa Barbara / Goleta

July 25, 2010

It was already 80 degrees at 8:30am in the San Fernando Valley when I left for a day of coastal caching in Santa Barbara. Don_J went with me on short notice. We sped through our more familiar caching grounds of Oxnard and Ventura. Soon we were enveloped in coastal haze that didn’t lift until well after noon. This was a good thing because it kept the temperature in the low 60’s. I don’t know the City of Santa Barbara so we had no formal plan or routing. We took a likely offramp and started looking for nearby caches on the right side of the road. This is almost always a formula for a low numbers day. And so it was today.

Our first successful find was 1,000 Steps (GCWVQF). The cache was at the top of the, far fewer than 1,000, steps. We descended to look around.

At the bottom there was a lighthouse view to the North and people were digging for Pismo Clams to the South.

A dead California Spiny Lobster was an interesting sight. I (very) briefly thought about turning it into a cache container.

Then we ran into a string of caches with multiple DNF (Did Not Find) logs. We ranted about unmaintained caches, especially ones that the owner doesn’t ‘disable.’ This was a common theme throughout the day as we encountered as many multiple DNF (presumably missing) caches as active ones. BWidget recently told me that GSAK has a function to remove multiple DNF caches from pocket queries. Maybe it’s time for me to look into this. To get out of the immediate area we drove a few miles to the breakwater. We were very lucky to find free parking. One of the hides was at a locked walk thru gate for boat owners only. WHY? Anyone lurking there would be instantly questioned and probably detained for the police as well. We skipped it and continued on to the other breakwater caches. The last one was a rock hide cache at the very end. It was a very long walk (.2 miles) on the 12” wide strip below to reach it.

Boats passed by as we searched. We gave up after 20 minutes.

We walked back to the car and drove 8 miles to a bike path in Goleta to improve our luck. How could we go wrong with a bike path series?! But the first part of the path was along a swampy estuary and the caches were “smalls.” We found only 1 of 4, a 35mm film container, before turning back to our starting point and continuing in the other direction.

This is a Little Blue Heron in its juvenile plumage. It’s the same species I saw (& pictured) in San Diego last month. For a non-native species, either I was lucky to see 2 individuals 200 miles apart, or maybe it’s not so non-native after all. Do juveniles migrate?

Several caches mentioned a waterfall.

Solar powered lights are seemingly an oxymoron.

Directly across from the solar powered lights was a solid wall of “jungle.” If ever there was a place where ammo cans are suitable cache containers, this was it. Unfortunately the largest cache was a decon container buried under the leaves. Every cache here took at least 15 minutes to find.

I thought that Don hates vegetation hides even more than I do but he crawled on his belly into the undergrowth more than once. He’s in there someplace.

You’ll never see MY shoes-only sticking out of the bushes unless I’m dead. [:P]

Did I have a good day? Yes. I got out of the valley heat for much needed outdoor exercise. And for the messy caches I poked around safely with my hiking stick while Don_J dived in to find them. I also reached my milestone 7,500th cache and day 115 of my 100 day caching streak. Thank you to the hiders of all the Santa Barbara & Goleta caches that we found.


JULY 22, 2010 – Manhattan Beach

July 22, 2010

A string of days with triple digit temperatures made going on a caching hike a bad choice. I didn’t want to go on another trip to Oxnard/Ventura either. The gc.com map of Manhattan Beach showed a good mix of unfound inland urban and Strand caches. I drove. Marty (tozainamboku) and another cacher who prefers to be unpictured did the routing and navigation. Our first find off of the 405* was a very familiar type in a very familiar type location.

Parking anywhere near the beach was impossible. Even the pay parking lots and metered spaces were full. But as cachers accustomed to long hikes, we didn’t mind the ½ mile downhill walk to the water.

Once at the beach we went North on the pedestrian path. The cache below was guarded by a snail. We were careful not to dislodge him.

We found 3 and DNF’d 1 along this stretch of The Strand. The view is from the middle of the Manhattan Beach pier.

We visited a small museum at the far end of the pier and gathered clues for a multi-cache. Then we walked to a 2 story restaurant for lunch. The picture below was taken from our table. The scenery made up for the inane babbling at the next table. “My sister wore a $10. wedding dress…When I went to France, in Barcelona I saw…” Argh!! We waited for our orders and calculated the coordinates for the last stage of the multicache Inmate Brando (GC12JMK).

This is why I’ve found only 1 cache that requires swimming in the ocean Whale Poop Island (GC1AEA).

After finding, touching but failing to retrieve the multi we walked back to the vehicle and drove to inland caches. One was on a quiet walkway connecting 2 residential areas. It gave us some trouble. We finally found the well hidden container and were walking away when a small voice behind us asked, “are you geocaching?” It was a 10 year old who then announced that he was the cache owner. In fact he owned most of the caches in the area. All of the ones we found had perfect coordinates and were very well placed. There wasn’t a single FVH (filthy vegetation hide). We cached until about 4pm and drove back to the valley drinking frappe’s and “wild fruit” smoothies.

* I’ve noticed that people from the east coast identify their freeways by number without adding “the” as a prefix. We say, “take the 405 to the 101.” They say, “take I-95 to I-91.” This is something from my subconscious that just surfaced.

JULY 15, 2010 – Whitney Canyon Park, W to E hike

July 15, 2010

I completed my 100 day caching streak on Friday, July 9. But what if I’d miscounted? So just in case, I found another cache on Saturday. And on Sunday afternoon I went to Whitney Canyon Park. From the Newhall Avenue (used to be San Fernando Road) trailhead I started uphill for the caches that’d popped up since my April 2006 visit to this part of the park. There are now 17 caches on the trail but I only needed to find 8.

The steady breeze kept the temperature in the low 80’s. And the best scenery was about 10 minutes in.

This was great because the West to East trail was uphill all the way (1,500’ gain). I appreciated the viewpoint benches and occasional flat topped concrete barriers. They were ideal places to rest without worrying about red ants.

My first target was Super Bowl Cache (GC23TA3). Like 5 of the 8 caches I found, it was reached by passing it and then backtracking on a side trail. The haze in the South made the hills resemble the San Fernando Valley GeoCachers’ logo.

I didn’t see much wildlife, just 1 squirrel a crow and some lizards. A big blue winged grasshopper smashed into my sunglasses. The plastic saved me from certain eye damage – just what I needed.

Here’s the only thing to see while continuing East, other than the upward trail.

This was the view ahead just beyond my easternmost find. Burnt Bush #5 (GC23TAP). There was snow here on my April 2006 visit. Not this time.

On the way back I found the 2 caches that I’d skipped going in. The hike was exactly 8 miles roundtrip. The resulting line of 17 smilies unbroken by green boxes made it all worthwhile.