DECEMBER 24, 2010 – Primm NV (winter)

December 24, 2010

Several cachers received an e-mail for, “2 free nights” anytime between December 16 & 24 in Primm Nevada. Only half believing that there were no conditions we made reservations. As the trip approached the weather forecast got worse and worse. Still, we weren’t going to give up 2 free nights in an area surrounded by hundreds of unfound desert caches.

True to the forecast there was torrential rain on our start date all the way from the SFV to Yermo which is 95 miles from Primm. The short letup was perfectly timed for us to look for a new series of 26+2 phonetic alphabet caches. The pages for those caches said, “Leave your Prius at home.” I did. And EMC (Elin) left her’s near the freeway offramp and we drove to the caches in my Element. That was a good decision because a very steep hill before the first cache is too much for Priora (plural of Prius).

The 6 caches that we found (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot) were obvious from a distance. Muggles will never have a reason to be near enough to find them. The rain started again and we didn’t want to be stuck in the mud with a long walk back to the I-15. So we turned around, and reached Primm at nightfall.

We had dinner with f0t0m0m (Jim) and ventura kids (Steve) at the hotel buffet. After a few night caches in town I walked around in the casino and went to my room to read, The Joy of Geocaching by Paul & Dana Gillin.

The next morning Steve & Jim started early to find a cache behind the hotel, on the California-Nevada border. I’d found it the night before so I laughed when I drove up and saw them searching in the wrong state. We traded places and they found the cache.

A few minutes later we picked up Elin and drove back into California to Nipton. We DNF’d the only cache there.

The timing was wrong for us to test a big sign that read “Best Burgers Around.” That claim must be true since Nipton is a small collection of buildings in the middle of the desert. Continuing on Nipton Road we crossed back into Nevada to the dirt road with a series of 90 caches named after US & Mexican states, Canadian provinces and the capital cities for all of them.

Instead of the forecasted rain, there was only mist and off-and-on sprinkles. Almost all of the caches were easy to spot non-camo’d micros within 30’ of the flat road. We drove, stopped, jumped out, found-stickered-returned over and over again. There was no real mud and little danger of becoming stuck.

Compared to my spring & summer desert visits, there was very little color. I was also disappointed to NOT see any tortoises which are rumored to be plentiful. They’re probably too intelligent to be out and about in the cold wet weather.

A few bigger caches were scattered among the micros, like this “Nevada nano.”

We backtracked to a fork in the road and had lunch, cold Subway sandwiches bought the night before at the outlet mall. There were 124 more caches of the series to find on the other leg of the fork. The road was wider and better but the vegetation alongside was much thicker. We had to be extra careful to avoid cactuses and other sharp plants.

The vegetation was so dense that we decided to search only for caches that were within 200’ of the road. That excluded 2/3 of the hides but stumbling around for those would’ve meant a sure trip to the hospital.

This was one of the few caches in the clear. It didn’t involve plants, rocks or sand.

The last cache on the trail ended at another section of the California border. I stood in both states at the boundary marker.

On our way out it started to get dark and foggy.

When we finally reached the paved road, Steve got out and collapsed in relief.

In 8 wet hours, on unpaved roads, we found about 140 caches. There are many, many more to be found in the area. I’m sure that together, alone or with other groups that we’ll all go back to look for them. Thanks to the NGA (Nevada Geocachers Association) and many area cachers who took the time to hide so many caches. And thanks to Primm Valley Resorts for the free nights. We didn’t gamble as much as they’d like but we ate all of our breakfasts and dinners in the hotel and bought lots of gas in the parking lot.

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DECEMBER 16, 2010 – Pacific Palisades

December 16, 2010

It’s been a long time since I tried to find caches to complete the Santa Monica Mountains History Adventure (GC18GXW) challenge. I was stalled at 52 of 63 required caches for years. Then I learned that BWidget (Bill) was in the same situation. We compared notes and decided to find 3 caches in the Pacific Palisades area that we both needed. The first was Lion’s View (GCCAB9).

We were lucky to find a parking space on Paseo Miramar, a winding residential street that ends at a trailhead. Two girls in a brand new Tesla Roadster Sport weren’t as successful. They zipped back and forth with an electric whine.

The trailhead!

The trail was moderately uphill, all the way. There were numerous side trails. There are no caches on them. Hint, hint.

The view of Santa Monica Bay and the Palos Verdes Peninsula was spectacular.

We saw a first time (for me) view of the skyscrapers of West Los Angeles and downtown Los Angeles, in alignment.

We found 3 caches, with Lion’s View, the middle one. Bill didn’t see it, at first.

After a, thankfully downhill, hike back to the car we saw a different Tesla parked next to my Honda Element. A 10 minute drive East brought us to another trailhead at Temescal Canyon Park. It was our plan to find Reservoir Dog (GC577C), another one for the SMMHA challenge.

One spot on the heavily switchbacked uphill trail was lined by several species of cactus. Here’s one with downtown Los Angeles in the background.

My grandmother had a miniature one of these for rubbing on kitchen burns.
We somehow missed the turnoff to Reservoir Dog,

and found ourselves at the bottom of Rivas Canyon. Backtracking uphill wasn’t appealing. So we gave up and hiked South to Sunset Blvd. There were no caches on the way out. Our disappointment was somewhat lessened by the interesting sights. This looked like a Hobbit house. No one was home.

At a rest stop Bill spotted a duck bill shaped mushroom in a tree stump.

The trail ended at an undeveloped, paved cul-de-sac. We continued walking on a single lane street and reached Sunset Blvd.

We walked almost 2 miles through residential areas and then through town where we found an urban cache and had lunch at the Panda. From there it was 15 more minutes back to the Temescal Canyon parking lot. Reservoir Dog and Swingin’ Sullivan (GCA30) will have to wait for another day.


DECEMBER 4, 2010 – Hollywood Hills

December 5, 2010

A mid-week happy hour conversation morphed into a group geo-hike to the Hollywood sign and the Bat Cave of TV & movie fame. Our 8 cacher car shuttle left 2 vehicles near the Bat Cave and we doubled up for a ride up Bronson Canyon to the trailhead below (just South) of the sign.

Our first goal was in sight almost right away from the moderately steep and wide open trail.

Here’s EMC (Elin) on a paved segment where someone went over the edge.

I’ve found about a dozen fallen, destroyed and often bullet riddled cars in my caching career. This time there was no wreckage.

The views South and West toward the ocean were blocked by haze. Forest Lawn dominated the close-in view to the North.
The trail leads around, behind and then above the sign. But a chain link fence blocks access about 50’ from it. I read somewhere that a distraught actress jumped off the “H” to her death about 80 years ago.

A huge tower festooned with microwave dishes is directly East.

Twenty minutes later, hiking East along the ridgetop, Sissopolis (Christine) found her 200th cache. Congratulations!!

Elin soon wandered off not to be seen again that day. The rest of us continued down a very steep but short descent to a wide fire road. Road apples and trail biscuits were particularly abundant.

Albackore (Jeff) and BWidget (Bill) were disappointed at our only DNF
Monday A Walk In The Park (GC1QR16).

This was Hollywood (well…close anyway) so SOME weirdness was to be expected. Christine rode a local dragon.

But the utterly absurd sight below sorely tested my tenuous grip on sanity. This extraterrestrial visitor was trying to ‘fit in’ and didn’t get it quite right. This is not photoshopped. We REALLY REALLY saw this, exactly as it appears.

After encountering the dragon and the confused alien, we arrived at the Bat Cave. As usual, a filmcrew was using the other side so we didn’t go through.

We finished our appx 6 mile, 4 hour, 8-12 cache (depending) hike with a group shot. Then we got into our nearby cars for the trip to complete our car shuttle.

L-R front: Albackore, Sissopolis, deeznutz®,
L-R back: OLdweeb, BWidget, Spoondoggie, Walrus310.
picture by Christine’s Lumix camera on timer