APRIL 30, 2013 – Mojave: John Wayne & TV series’

April 30, 2013

After so many recent trips to Barstow I decided to go to Mojave, at the other end of the desert. On the way I stopped at the scenic Lake Palmdale viewpoint. It was still under 80 degrees then.
38 miles later I arrived and it was noticeably hotter.
I drove my 22mpg Element because I thought that there’d be the usual dirt track for desert caching. It was a surprise to find a nice paved road at the beginning of the 45 cache John Wayne Series, JW1 John Wayne (GC3DZKE). I should’ve trusted what I thought I’d seen on google maps, driven my 48mpg Prius and saved $20. in gas. Oh well…
The caches were mostly 35mm film containers in ½ buried PVC tubes 0.25 miles apart, 5’ to 50’ off road. I’m used to stopping every 0.10 miles. The different spacing threw off my practiced rhythm. And because the road is 50’ from the freeway, I half expected some passing sheriff to take an interest and come out to investigate. But none did. I didn’t see another person during my entire stay on the series roads, even though another cacher logged some of the same caches that day.
Approaching the end of the road I wondered if I’d need to turn around, go back to the beginning and cross the freeway to reach caches #21-#45. Nope! There was an underpass.
The other side was almost a mirror image with another nice, paved and completely vacant road. The caches were the same too. After finding #45 I drove a few minutes and passed through town. I was just in time to be delayed 7 minutes by an incredibly long, slow moving train.
The 25 cache TV Series was on yet another paved frontage road. Here the caches were spaced 0.15 miles apart. But they were mostly 100’ off road. Many of them were prescription bottles attached by wire to their PVC holders. These were ‘a pain’ to log. It wasn’t easy to bend down and stay bent down while trying to open the locked caps with 1 hand. And then everything had to be put down to stamp the logs and return the containers.
In the end I found 66 caches (40 + 25 series caches & 1 odd ball) in 3 hours & 15 minutes. Thanks Tehachapi Fords for hiding all of them (minus the odd one).042913_mojave_map

APRIL 10, 2013 – Chatsworth Nature Preserve / Sage Ranch Park

April 10, 2013

The Chatsworth Nature Preserve was opened to the public for 1 day, last Saturday. I alerted my SFV geofriends and several showed up. We parked alongside the fence on Valley Circle Boulevard and walked through the open gate.
Around the first turn there was a row of tented booths belonging to the DWP and various nature oriented agencies and groups. One had live birds on display and another had reptiles.
As interesting and worthy as the exhibits were, I was eager to explore the preserve. From last year’s reports, I expected that walk throughs would only be allowed with a docent escort. I waited for a half hour with EcuaDeb, Capdude and Capsbug but no docents appeared. Many other attendees started walking so we followed and arrived at the lake 3 minutes later.
An old dam with a trail on top bordered the lake’s southern edge. Looking South across the non-lake part of the preserve, we saw DeVry University.
Years ago, while caching in the DeVry parking lot, I looked into the preserve and saw deer nonchalantly walking 20’ inside the fence. On Saturday’s trip we saw a running coyote. It’s a nature preserve after all so there’s lots of cover where wildlife can hide.
The eastern edge of the preserve is bordered by a huge hilltop estate.
Turning North, the path continued through some strangely shaped oak trees. The main branches all pointed down. We wondered if they were a different species from the ones we’re used to seeing.
Near the end of the loop there was a strange, out of place, outhouse. It was locked.
We finished the loop as some kind of Chumash ceremony was taking place at the tents. While I appreciated the opportunity to walk through the preserve I wanted to look for caches.

EcuaDeb and I drove our cars to the nearby (and little known) Sage Ranch Park. Note, that first parking lot is free, but that the 2nd lot at the trail head below is $5.00. We quickly found the parking lot cache Sage Ranch Sunset (GC1E5TD). I’d forgotten my hiking stick so I was glad to find a 6’ long broken PVC pipe next to the cache.
The foxtails weren’t dried out enough yet to detach (and attach to us) in large numbers.
A cool breeze kept us comfortable on the “top” of our counter clockwise loop. The air was exceptionally clear. We had great views of Simi Valley.
I’d previously (2005 / 2008) found 5 of the caches, including the one at “Turtle Rock.”
I’d also found Sage Ranch Park (GC2CC) atop this uplift area. But it was fun to revisit again.
We spent a long time searching for this one – which will remain unnamed here. In the end the coordinates were right on. But Deb & I agreed that the cache (a small green camo’d tube in a bush) and placement (straight up the side of the trail) were unnecessarily difficult. It’s not as though any muggle (we didn’t see ANYONE on the trail) is going to accidentally find it.
It took us just over 2 hours to complete the 3 mile loop. Deb had 12 finds and I had 8.

Yesterday I learned that the nature preserve docents eventually showed up and that people were then required to sign-in and only allowed to hike in escorted groups.

APRIL 2, 2013 – States & Capitals (Barstow)

April 2, 2013

The next morning I checked out of the motel and retraced the previous day’s route. But instead of turning for the Peace Sign I drove straight through to Hwy 395 and crossed from the Planes Trains Automobiles into the Dream Series (which I’d previously found) and straight through to the States & Capitals. The road to the first few States & Capitals was very rocky.
Then it became sandy. The caches seemed to be next to sections with especially deep sand. A few times I drove half way to the next cache to avoid stopping and possibly getting stuck.
It was at this point that I got smart. Until then the wind was blowing from behind and at every stop the dust from my driving caught up and got me in the face just as I stepped out. And the caches were all on my passenger side. So I decided to drive to the end of the series and work my way back, resolving both issues. On the way I stopped at a non-series cache The Balloon’s Demise (GC2HQJ1). GZ looked like Iraq.
I was glad that the cache wasn’t in the building.
The series containers are 1-1/2” square painted plastic tubs. They’ve only been out there about 3 months but about 20% are already replaced by film containers and similar micros. A lot of the remaining ones are cracked. They won’t make it through summer. If you do the series please bring some replacements.
There’s a cache and a lot of dried cow pies under this yucca.
The road on the small loop (see map) was especially flat and wide. Even a Prius would be OK here.
Just before reaching the ruins again I saw cachers approaching, the only people I saw during the entire run. I think that’s woodscout running back to H20_Klan’s FJ Cruiser. I’ve seen that vehicle parked in the desert before. We exchanged a 10 second no name greeting as we passed.
In just under 4 hours I found 117 caches with no DNFs for a total of 179 finds in my 1+1/2 day expedition.
And there are STILL hundreds of caches in the area left to find.