OCTOBER 20, 2013 – Geocoinfest 2013

October 20, 2013

The big day finally arrived. I filled my pack with 50 OLdweeb geocoins in 3 metals, 50 OLdweeb wooden nickels in 2 sizes and a few miscellaneous duplicate pathtags. With this heavy load I walked from my room to the main entrance.
fest_1_door
The line moved quickly because most people picked up their passes the previous night. Grease pencils were provided for the sign in log which was a big non-working slot machine. I signed the back. Travel bugs & moving coins were deposited in boxes at the door, according to their requested destination.
fest_2_slot
The main hall was ringed with coin and swag vendors. Garmin, Magellan and Munzie.com were also there. Round tables were in the center. Bored spouses, tired cachers and a few traders sat down but the tables mostly stayed empty. A few seminars (I heard that if you sat thru 1 for travel insurance, you were given a geocoin) and a brief pathtag trading session were held in other rooms.
fest_3_room
I enjoyed talking with various geofriends and random cachers from other states. But overall I was disappointed that the event was so vendor-centric. I got nowhere close to trading away my 50 coins. At least the few traders in attendance happily accepted my OLdweeb geocoins. Here are my meager trade results:
z_coins
z_pathtags
wooden
At 2:30pm the main room was emptying out. The minders of the travel bug/coin boxes didn’t want to get stuck with hundreds of bugs (& a few coins) so they asked people to “take ‘em from any box and keep ‘em moving.” I took 6 small travelers. I’m sure that lots and lots of the bigger TBs had no takers.

I ate lunch at a new highly rated Mongolian Restaurant on the corner and went back to my room to play online. ($12.99 for 24 hours of internet access) After dark I went outside and hiked a mile to “The Strip.” It’s just ‘not my thing’ for so many reasons that I pretended to visit Coruscant, the ultra advanced planet-covering city of the Star Wars universe. NERD!!!
LV_2I didn’t expect these night time phone pictures to ‘turn out.’ They did. Camera technology has progressed a lot in the last few years.
LV_1
Two virtual caches happened to be on my walking path.
geo_5_M&M
This picture satisfied the logging requirement for the 2nd one.
geo_4_lionSix straight days of caching, ending with the after event walk made me so tired I finally slept soundly. Just after dawn I drove back home, finding 40+ caches. But at least 10 were mysteriously missing from my Montana. It’s going back to the factory for a complete diagnostic, software wipe & reload.

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OCTOBER 19, 2013 – Beyond Las Vegas

October 19, 2013

On Friday, the day before Geocoinfest 2013, I took my long anticipated trip 100 miles beyond Las Vegas, to a place near where Nevada, Arizona and Utah meet. My goal was to cache the Kokopelli geoart series.
UT_kokopelli
Exactly 2 years ago I broke off from the SFV ET2 Hwy Group by myself and reached within 0.3 miles. But that was a recon probe in my Prius and I wasn’t equipped for hike caching. This time I had the Forester and full gear. A few feet into Utah I passed this sign.
UT00
And 2 miles past that, the easy to miss turnoff for the Kokopelli:
UT01_entrance
The road was well maintained and I stopped for some easy caches.
UT02_nice_road
A few spots that were REALLY scary in the Prius were no problem for the Forester. I passed Stockade (GC1R7CE) one of my all time favorite locations. It obviously hasn’t been used in years. But I saw some cowpies in the area so cows, or something like them, are still in the area.
UT03_corral
I found a wide spot in the road, 0.3 miles N of the Kokopelli’s head and parked.
UT04_parking
Immediately I knew that the hike wasn’t going to be easy. There were lots of gullies. It wasn’t hard to cross any single one. But having 1 or 2 or even 3 of them between every cache and the terrain going steadily downhill made me realize that it wasn’t going to be a mega-find day.
UT05_gulley
The Kokopelli caches are called, “jeeks,” online. They’re absolutely-do-not-make-for-urban-caching “pipe bomb” containers. You’d think that the double layer would keep logs dry but a lot of them were soaking wet from the previous day’s light rain.
UT07_jeek
Then my Garmin Montana 600, which had problems from day 1, started turning off randomly. It aways restarted when I pushed the power button but I worried about the worst case scenario if it didn’t. I’d hate to be known as the Geocoinfest cacher who got lost in the desert and was airlifted 2 days later. (stoopid stoopid stoopid of me to forget
my Garmin Dakota 20 as backup) So I regretfully hiked back to my car after finding only 10 Kokopelli caches.
UT_kokopelli2
The scenery was especially nice on the way out.
UT06_spikey
Plan B: Two miles South of the Kokopelli, in Arizona, there’s a dirt road driving series of 30+ caches.
AZ01
At least here, if the Montana died, I could just backtrack on the dirt road, to pavement.
AZ02
The caches were unevenly spaced and the road became rougher with each mile. The containers were mixed, from rx bottles to huge nut jars to ammo cans and ‘natural’ materials. They were placed from roadside to 200′ out. It was while walking to a 100’er that I stopped in my tracks. A LIVE desert tortoise!! It was only a 6″ baby, but the first live
tortoise I’ve ever seen!! I hope that it lives a very long life, long outliving me. (I’m 52.)
AZ03
At 3 caches from the end of the series there were just too many jagged looking rocks ahead. It was mid-afternoon and I didn’t want to get stuck with a flat tire. I don’t have a full size spare yet.
AZ04
On the way back to Las Vegas I pulled off for some easy caches (they weren’t). These geocows stared at me near one of them.
UT_geocowsI got back in plenty of time to attend the event pre-registration. Next…Geocoinfest 2013…


OCTOBER 17, 2013 – Onward to Las Vegas

October 16, 2013

Wednesday was a relaxed travel day. I left Barstow and drove toward Nevada, stopping at offramps where there were green boxes on my map. A cache here and there, then Baker where there were 5 placed since my last visit. For the first time there was one at Area 52 (GC46MW4).
20131008_alien_sign
20131008_alien_car
I bought 6 packs of jerky.

My next major stop was at Primm where I found a tricky cache outside the Buffalo Bill’s parking lot. After that, in Jean I decided to skip the caches on what was obviously the road into a prison.

This was a strange one Gay Fighter (GC2NVR) on the other side of the 15. I saw no gays, fighters nor anyone else near the cache.
100913_gayfighter
At the Southern edge of the Las Vegas sprawl I parked, ran across a paved street and found a cache. Then I walked thru this tunnel, under the street and back to my car. Don’t do this if you’re claustrophobic and/or much taller than me (5’7″).
tunnel
There was very convenient parking at this deserted dead end for one last hiking series.
deadend
This was the trailhead and cache OST 41 (GC20N1K).
trailhead
Eventually I ran out of desert and drove to the Alexis Park Resort, site of Geocoinfest 2013. It looked like a huge collection of old bungallow apartments but my room was gigantic and well apppointed.
room2
Even though it was still 4 days before the event, the parking lot had a lot of dust covered SUVs with TB decals. More to follow…


OCTOBER 15, 2013 – Finishing the Shield

October 15, 2013

I took a weeklong vacation, driving across the desert to Geocoinfest 2013 in my new geocar (2014 Subaru Forester 2.5i Touring). After years of going E on the 210 to the 15, I finally got smart and took the 5 to the 14 to Pearblossom Hwy/Palmdale Blvd to Victorville – and THEN to the 15. Weekday traffic was light and there were lots of cache filled dirt side roads along the way.

My 1st order of business was to check in at Days Inn Barstow. It was disappointing to find my favorite Barstow eatery down the street, Hollywood Subs, shuttered and out of business. Oh well, McD was next door. At 7am I drove 80 miles E on the 40 to Kelbaker Road and the Route 66 Shield series. It was my 4th trip there in 2 years and I FINALLY found the last 36 caches. There are now 200 smilies and no more green boxes on the map!!
100813_shield
It was a comfortable hike across familiar terrain.
20131008_familiar
Unfortunately, most of the containers were in sad shape.
100813_broken
Earlier this year they were fine. Less than 10 caches from the end I DNF’d one. A 1/2 hour search found no trace. I was resigned to having 199 finds and 1 DNF for the series. Then 3 caches later I found a re-supply ammo can. It had 3 new containers so I took 1 back to the DNF site, left it and logged a find. The shield owner was notified and I’m told that replacements for the original containers are on the way.

The temperature never reached 80. A cool breeze kept me from overheating, even when crossing the only altitude change in the series.
20131008_rough
After encountering dozens of dead tortoise shells on previous trips, I’d hoped to see a live one for the first time. No luck. The most interesting wildlife seen was this catapillar.
100813_worm
I stayed another night in Barstow and then cached along the 15 to Las Vegas, concentrating between Primm and Jean. To be continued…