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.