JANUARY 16, 2012 – Planes, Trains & Automobile series

You know that you’ve had a good caching day when your shower water runs black down the drain.

Last year I logged 3,140 caches. Of those 2,500 were in the desert, mostly on power trails. Unseasonably great weather and the new Planes Trains & Automobile series let me continue my desert fun into 2012. I booked a 2 night stay at the Days Inn in Barstow. A mile from there I saw this M47 Patton tank in a small public park. I stopped. Sure enough my pocket query showed a cache Wadda Caboose! (GCEF32). The name refers to the ancient train caboose that’s parked next to the tank. It was an easy find using the hint.

Saturday morning, after several false starts, I found that the best way into the center of the series at Planes Trains & Automobiles (GC39040) is Helendale Road south from the 58. It’s hardpacked and OK for any 2WD car. A large segment of the airplane caches are along this road too. Watch out for speeding locals in big trucks. They kick up a lot of dust and gravel. One of them saw me walking and floored it on purpose to make a bigger cloud. He even came back 2 caches later and did it again. A-HOLE!!! My windows were open.

Anyway, a huge majority of the series caches are 35mm film containers covered by suspicious rock piles. A smaller number, mostly in the trains section, are the same containers thrown into the center of random bushes. I think that those are due to the shortage of rocks in the area. Be careful not to poke your eyeballs when reaching for those caches.

This is a typical container and log.

Part of the trains run along a utility road with a cache at each double pole, spaced 0.14 miles apart. These are fast and easy to find.

A black speck in front of a circular dust cloud means an approaching vehicle. More cachers? Anyone who’s hiked with me knows that I hate leading because I feel pressured to go faster. It’s the same with mobile caching so I pulled over and waited. The others turned out to be 4 cachers in 2 trucks. My memory for names is super bad too. I only remember Materus…glad to meet all 4 of you!!
There’s a great themed cache 0.23 miles off road. I enjoyed the short hike to get there. As you can see, others drove directly to it. The tire tracks circled the cache several times before going back to the road.

Parts of the road in the airplane section are sandy. My Element is especially well suited for caching here. I’m glad that I didn’t drive my Prius. Thanks Gummyfrog for the advice!

I finished the plane caches at 4:10pm and was back at my motel before dark. There I had everything needed to prepare for day 2. BTW – skip the Chinese buffet across the street. The only tolerable items were the jalepeno chicken and orange chicken. The 1 salad choice had wilted lettuce and the seafood looked really unappetizing. My night wasn’t very restful either. I could HEAR planes, trains & automobiles and motorcycles, helicopters and people talking outside too.

The overnight low was 26 degrees. By the time I checked out and reached the center cache again it was in the mid 50’s, warm enough for my usual t-shirt and hiking shorts. There was an SUV with 2 women parked on the dirt track I needed to use. I assumed that they were cachers and approached on foot holding up my GPS for them to see. Their reaction instantly told me that I was right. Nice to meet you team Fat Cats!! We exchanged trail info. They then went for the airplanes and I went for the automobiles.

The automobile caches are on either side of the road, which is completely straight from end to end. The forward view is basically the same for 90 caches. There are some dips that could be ‘iffy’ for a low clearance 2WD like my Prius. Toward the southern end there’s a parallel track. In the North it’s just the one below.

After the last series cache (actually #1 for those going S to N) there are those hidden by others. The older ones off to the sides were my favorites. This is Luxury House (GC1KZ9W). It’s OK to drive to this one. There’s a signed unpaved road leading directly to it.

The view on the ground isn’t so impressive. This is an all too familiar desert sight wherever lots of people stop. At least the cache is hidden away from the worst of it.

Back on the main road and just short of the paved highway, there’s Steps to nowhere (GC1NA2G). It’s 0.25 away from the road but it’s worth the stretch, especially if you have a long drive home.

Somewhere between the last 20 caches I emerged from the back side of this sign. Sadly, there were multiple tire tracks leading to every cache that was off the side of the road, even the ones that were several tenths of a mile out.

At Hwy 395 I turned left and sped through Adelanto, Victorville and Hesperia to reach the 15. Early on I hit and killed a large tumbleweed that seemed to change direction in a suicidal head on charge. Here’s its smaller brother coming at me for revenge. He missed. Later, at home, I found tumbleweed fibers completely clogging the left half of my radiator grill. *%^#!!

This was my first desert power trail with ham radio, phone service and internet coverage, with most places at 2 to 4 bars of Verizon 3G. Some might see the electronics as intrusive. I liked being able to stop, take a drink and check what my geofriends were posting to facebook.

I ended my ½+1+½ day trip with 270 finds. Thank you Team Stevecat for another great series. It’s back to work for me tomorrow so I’m pretending to be normal by spending today car washing and house cleaning…unless some new caches pop up nearby.


4 Responses to JANUARY 16, 2012 – Planes, Trains & Automobile series

  1. BoydChicks says:

    Nice narrative and helpful information on your journey. Especially liked the photo of the log, showing my and Red Ryder’s name just before yours.
    Linda of BoydChicks

  2. chaosmanor says:

    This is one of your better blogs, Ken 🙂 Not only is it full of your trademark dry humor – love the comments about the tumbleweeds! – but it has a lot of really useful information about the roads and the conditions. The photos add a lot, too. I’ve been looking at doing this series, likely with one or two other guys, and I expect to refer to this article when we start to actually plan the trip.


  3. Elin Carlson says:

    I agree with chaosmanor! BTW, if you met Materus, it’s likely that one of the other 4 was Alamogul, the #1 cacher.

  4. […] a Californian blogger whose blog I read inside the caches, Old dweeb. Head on over to his blog, for his entry about the Planes, trains and Automobiles series. A familiar stamp in the logbook Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Posted in Caching […]

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