OCTOBER 31, 2014 – Fort Ord Dunes State Park

October 31, 2014

On my last full day on the Monterey Peninsula I cached Fort Ord Dunes State Park. I drove to Secret Trailhead (GC1HVY6) and unloaded my bike. I stopped in the trailhead underpass tunnel to read the graffiti. It was very different from what I see back home.
The tunnel led to a great bike path. I don’t think it looked this good in 2009.
After riding to a few caches I noticed that my brand new tire with extra heavy duty tube was going flat. I put the bike back into my Forester and re-entered the park. This time I walked on a paved path that led straight toward 3 caches. The path was definitely not there last time.
The first cache Barbed-Wire Zoo (GC3CVQF) was just outside this ancient target storage building at pavement’s end.
The next 2 caches were up a dune along a use trail.
The ice plant ground cover was colorful and the caches were easy finds. I stayed a few minutes to watch the surf.
On the return trip, at the bike path I went North and found a cache near this building before hiking to parking.
On the ride out the road passed old abandoned army barracks.
My dad passed through here going to and from the Korean War in the early 1950’s.
The area was fenced off except for along a public easement to another dune parking lot farther North.
I stopped there, found 1 cache and couldn’t reach another one because a grouchy senior couple was sitting at GZ. Then for the next 2 hours I found random caches outside the park. The next day I went home with a total of 52 finds for the trip. Next? Finding exactly 890 more caches to reach 1,200 for the year.


OCTOBER 25, 2014 – Santa Cruz to Moss Landing, CA State Beaches

October 25, 2014

I left my Cannery Row motel early Wednesday morning and drove about 40 miles North to the southern edge of Santa Cruz. My first stop was New Breighton State Beach where I was waved through the gate without paying the $10. parking/use fee when I held up my Surf Explorer annual pass. The weather was perfect as was the beach walk toward the day’s first cache. At 75’ I realized that GZ was up on the cliffs above. Argh!! I walked back. In the other direction I stopped at a “registered campers only beyond this point” sign. It would’ve been easy to walk in but I didn’t go on vacation to be surrounded by muggles. So I drove out of the park onto a cliff top road and found the cache I’d missed from below China Beach (GCW7EY).
A mile and a half South, still hard to find on unfamiliar roads, I reached Seacliff State Beach. Again I was waved past the fee collector. A left turn through a big empty parking lot got me to 200’ from a cache. My arrow pointed to a long wooden staircase leading down to the beach. This was the exact opposite situation from New Breighton. I trudged down the steps and found another huge parking lot! And then I DNF’d the cache!! I staggered back up, took a huge swig of Lipton raspberry ice tea and found a different cache. On the way I took a picture of the SS Palo Alto an abandoned WW1 era CONCRETE ship and then drove to the lower lot.
There was an easy cache in a tree. But there was none at the great site below.
My next stop was Manresa State Beach where there was another loooong stairway to the beach. The picture is from half way down, at GZ for a nano cache. There was no parking lot or road at the bottom.
I skipped Sunset State Beach because it was the northernmost beach I’d visited 2 years ago and I’d found the caches then. Palm Beach State Park was next. Mine was the only vehicle in the pay lot. A clever well placed cache Magnetized (GC4A0CZ) was in this empty picnic area next to parking.
The beach was a 2 minute sandy walk through eucalyptus. It was windswept, empty and especially scenic. And I found a cache I DNF’d on my last trip.
There isn’t a coastal road that leads from beach to beach. Reaching each one meant driving on farm roads, following behind tractors, going through unsigned intersections and sometimes backtracking to the freeway. On the way to Zmudolski State Beach a road dead ended. A quick look at my GPSr showed a cache there so I stopped. The container was very well constructed and an easy find. I stepped up on a berm at GZ and was surprised by the great view of what I later learned was the Pajaro River estuary.
This is the view from the same spot looking inland.
Soon I found the torn up road to Zmudolski. And yet again there were no other vehicles. I quickly found a cache that was missing 2 years ago and then took a break before heading to Moss Landing.
Once there I found 3 roadside caches in quick succession. In 2012 I saw dozens of sea otters. This time there were none. On my way out I thought someone was waving for help from the beach. A closer look revealed an enormous pelican, over 4’ tall flapping its 8’ wingspan. It doesn’t look impressive just standing in the picture but it towered over the surrounding birds.
14 finds and lots of DNFs wasn’t much to show for a full day of caching. But I had a great time.

OCTOBER 19, 2014 – Monterey, Jacks Peak Regional Park

October 19, 2014

I jump started my caching with a 5 day vacation to Monterey. I left home early Monday morning. North bound traffic on the 101 was surprisingly light. After relaxed stops at Gaviota State Beach and Bulleton to find a few easy caches I arrived in Monterey in mid-afternoon, early enough for a short bike path cache run. Thankfully, no caches were in eucalyptus which is messy, sticky, and smelly to search through.
The next morning I drove down the block through Cannery Row.
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The beach just beyond is in Pacific Grove. Several caches hidden since my last visit 2 years ago were easy walks from plentiful free shoreline parking.
Just before 10am I turned around for the less than 10 minute drive to Jack’s Peak Regional Park (opens at 10am) for some deep forest caching. As usual, mine was the only car in the parking lot and I didn’t see another human until the very end of my 5 hour hike.
It was my third visit since 2008. So even without a trail map I wasn’t cluelessly lost. There are about 25 caches in the park. I needed 10, new or not found on previous visits. No matter which way I went at various trail junctions, I eventually ended up at a needed cache. Poison oak was so abundant that I couldn’t avoid it altogether. It’s a week later now and my immunity is still holding.
The forest isn’t my natural element. I’m never 100% relaxed there. Limited visibility and complete lack of manmade sounds kept me slightly wary all day. Unseen animals moved around and birds unexpectedly exploded out of the bushes when I got close. This recently fallen tree was a welcome diversion.
A hiking stick was a must because most ground zeros looked like this.
Later down the trail, part of me was convinced that this would fall like the Sword of Damocles at the moment I passed underneath. But obviously it didn’t.
OK, enough fallen trees… This cache was especially evil. I was EXTREMELY lucky to see it on my first poke. A smart phone newbie has no chance.
Another cache involved climbing 8 feet up a sap dripping pine. My standard carry alcohol wipes worked perfectly on my hands. 400’ from the parking lot I saw (2) 2-legged bears holding paws, walking happily down the trail. Sorry I didn’t get a picture of them.