APRIL 28, 2011 – all cached out?

April 28, 2011

MAY 17 update: My Acer laptop is being repaired in TX. I compose blog posts in MS_Word, which my netbook doesn’t have. So…no new posts until the laptop comes back. Sorry.

Before my first trip to Route 66, I spent a few days in San Diego. I unwound in the ocean air and found 41 caches, mostly new ones in familiar areas.

I didn’t find the one next to this out of business paddle boat restaurant.

No find here, either.

A 15 mile inland drive to Mission Trails Regional Park again let me hike and find caches, this time without rain. Here’s an especially impressive container in the NE section.

Unfortunately, the area was full of metal trash, appliances and even wrecked cars.

One of the cleaner areas held only 1 cache.

A hummingbird tried to block me from going to a tree. It was wasted effort for the bird because there was no cache hidden there.

In another section of the park I thought that the cache located below should be called, “Snake City.” I was glad to see the container quickly, before any reptilians appeared.

On April 23 I took a 483 mile day trip back to Route 66. I found caches #450-460 & 500-667 plus 5 outside the series. At the beginning, just West of Amboy, I saw the REAL “Shoe Tree” below. The tree in Amboy from the previous week was a wannabee. And further West I saw another wannabee tree.

I got back into the previous week’s rhythm and again found caches at 35/hour.

An abandoned rest stop was the site of a Terra Girl cache Beep! Beep! (GC18RTN).

Along miles and miles of this section of the “Route,” rocks were arranged on the North side, mostly spelling peoples’ names. The red rocks below stood out. Don’t blame me. I’m far too lazy to gather rocks and place them. And besides, the translation is literally “middle country person/race,” meaning “Chinese.”

As a devout non-believer in numerology I was amused that there was a cache “#665-B” instead of #666. Thanks Team Stevecat for not screwing up the statistics by leaving it out altogether.

I’ve been back for a few days now and I’ve seen a couple of interesting oddities.

And this is why I was late to work yesterday.

After almost 800 finds this month, am I cached out? NO!!


APRIL 18, 2011 – Route 66 (Newberry Springs to Amboy)

April 18, 2011

Until now I avoided the mega power trails. The thought of coordinating starting/stopping times, meals and pit stops and being cooped up with even the best of geofriends for hundreds and hundreds of caches…argh!! A cranky dweeb is not a nice dweeb. At best I would’ve made geoenemies forever. More likely I would’ve been ejected from the vehicle and abandoned in the desert. So I stayed home and watched myself drop 20 places in the CA cacher standings as many active multi-kilo cachers did the ET Highway and Route 66. With the real possibility of falling out of the top 100 in CA, I took a few days off for some serious caching.

Immediately, I had a dilemma. Should I drive my Honda Element which can handle sandy pullouts, has lots of room, is easy to clean out but gets 22mpg? Or should I drive my Prius which can get stuck in the sand (Stop laughing Tyler) and is hard to clean, but gets 48mpg? I chose the Prius. More on its other advantages later.

I checked into my Barstow hotel after 1pm. By 3pm I was on Route 66 caching as fast as I could. I found 41 in the first hour.

Then caches #49, and #57 thru #69 were mysteriously missing from my PQ. No problem. I moved forward 0.1 miles at a time and looked for tire tracks. Then I followed the geotrail to each cache.

In 3.5 hours I found 107 (7 non-series) with no DNFs. I rushed back to Barstow to grab McDonalds before watching The Big Bang Theory. It was a repeat! @%^#*%$!!

Day 2, I started where I left off and found 260 more caches in 7.5 hours. All of them were 35 mm film canisters or similar sized/shaped replacements. The easiest hides were plainly visible from my car.

My system was to accelerate slowly to about 20mph, then to let the Prius coast on battery power with the gas engine off. My slow braking beginning at 130’ recharged the batteries so that they never ran down completely. I used zero gas except for the brief acceleration toward the next cache. Even though it reached 93 degrees there was no sign of overheating. I assume that when the gas engine isn’t running, it isn’t generating any heat. I didn’t use the air conditioner either. With the door opening twice every 1/10 of a mile there was no point. A completely open driver’s window and a ½ open passenger’s side worked fine to keep out most of the dust.

Averaging a blazing (for me) 35 finds/hour, I was shocked at how much faster still, teams can move. Two of them shot right by me and were out of sight by the time I found 3 more caches. They were using the “travelling cache” method and it was weird to be handed caches that already contained my stamp (a red smiley face) on the log – and then to find the next cache, also with my stamp already on the log. Oh well. By then I didn’t really use my GPSr’s arrow once out of the car. I just followed geotrails.

The caches kept coming with only a few manmade scenery changes to distract me. If I owned a Jeep I would’ve been tempted to drive through this double tunnel.

At Ludlow, signs of Route 66’s past as a busy highway were very evident.

As others have noted in their logs, there were almost as many trains as cars along the route.

Day 3 began with a non-series cache that caught my attention.
Siberia Crater GC17KN7 How often do I get the chance to find a cache inside a volcanic crater?

I parked on Route 66 and walked .24 miles to the cache. Here’s a closer look inside the crater.

This is a look back from the cache..

At cache #400, the exact mid-point of the series, a previous finder(s) left artwork. After a close examination, I determined that the artist-cacher is from Kentucky.

At cache #409 I reached my own milestone, months earlier than I’d ever expected before planning this trip.

Cache #449 in Amboy was my turnaround point. From a distance I thought that the sign below was for an In-N-Out Burger. No such luck.

I was underwhelmed by the famous “shoe tree” too. There were only a few pairs in it.

Reaching Amboy was my goal. I had no plans to go farther and the remaining 351 caches of the series weren’t even in my GPSr. If any cool, dry weekends are left before summer I might do a very long overnight cache run to ‘get them all.’

– Total time on trail over 3 days: (3.5 + 7.5 + 3.0) = 14 hours
– Liquids consumed on trail: (4) 32 oz Lipton Citrus Green Teas
– Snacks eaten: none, I ate 1 fast food dinner a day back at the motel
– Animals seen: 1 crow – walked right up to me and stared, many lizards and some horny toads, no snakes
– Dangers encountered: huge bee swarm flew directly overhead – sounded like a propeller plane
– Other cachers encountered: 2 teams passed me, I saw 3 other teams moving forward on my return trips

Now I need a vacation.

APRIL 9, 2011 – Rialto & Fontana

April 11, 2011

A cluster of 50+ caches in Fontana-Rialto caught my eye. A few days later I was on my way with San Fernando Valley geofriends, EMC (Elin), BWidget (Bill), Don_J and deeznutz® (D or Derrick). We were reinforced by local cachers lovesreward (Cherise) and esquimaux (Dennis). They provided helpful knowledge of the area throughout the day. Our first target was the “shape series” of 20+ caches on North Riverside Avenue, beginning with Round Is My Shape (GC2NGHY).

The caches were mostly 35mm film containers under easy to see suspicious piles of rocks. Good enough. But parking was horrendous. A few hides were near wide pullouts like the picture below. The majority were next to rough, rock strewn, weed choked strips barely wide enough for a car. Traffic zoomed by inches away on the driver’s side. There were series caches on the other side of the street too requiring multiple U turns.

It was a relief to finish the series and turn onto a quieter street. After a pre-lunch, lunch we drove by many other caches that had no legal parking including a sub-cluster of 8. We tried to access them from a side street but found “No Trespassing” signs blocking the entire area. So it was nice to pull into ultra clean Fontana Park with lots of parking to find 2 caches there.

BWidget (Bill) made a new friend. Maybe we’ll see their future adventures on youtube.

Just about every road through open areas had a few park & grab caches on it. At one of them, D stickered a log while keeping a wary eye on a ground squirrel that stared back at him.

The California Wildlife series of 12 caches conveniently popped up 2 days before our cache run. Though no FTF opportunities remained, our group sticker was near the top on each of the logs.

Dark clouds gathered and it rained lightly for a few minutes.

So we skipped more caches that involved walking far onto vacant lots. Due to erratic driving our Priora (plural of Prius) were separated. I had no choice but to get onto the 15 fwy when Elin’s Prius pulled out of the on-ramp. No matter, there were caches at the next off-ramp and Don, Cherise, Dennis and me found them. Afterward we met the others at Chili’s. Dennis joined them for a real lunch while I looked for more caches with Don & Cherise. We retrieved Dennis after lunch and found more caches as the others went home. Dennis found a cache with a “log tree.” Our sticker was added appropriately.

A few finds later we dropped off Dennis & Cherise. I ended the day with 61 finds. Don found a few more back in the SFV and I understand that Cherise also found more on her own to reach 62 finds for her personal best day. Congratulations!!

I’ve found almost 1,900 caches in the last 16 months and still dropped 20 places in the California cachers’ standings. I have to attribute this to the mega power trails, Trail of the Gods, ET Highway and Route 66, with 660+, 1,000+ and 800 caches respectively. As a slow speed cacher I had no interest in these trails. But now there’s a real possibility of me falling out of the top 100 CA cachers list. So beginning with the cache run described in this post, I’m going to cache like never before for a week to make up some ground in the standings. More posts to follow.