July 23, 2017 – A Big Change

July 22, 2017

Dweeb’s Diatribe is approaching its 10th anniversary. In those 10 years I wrote 222 posts about almost as many geocaching expeditions. But all things must end. Changes to how the game is played and the general deterioration of the socio-political climate make caching far less enjoyable. My caching has slowed to a trickle. I no longer attend events and I’m well on my way to archiving or adopting-out all of my caches.

But I still enjoy being outdoors and know that it’s essential to maintaining good health. Taking full advantage of navigation and outdoor skills honed by geocaching, I now participate in some related and mutually complimentary hobbies like desert & beach rock hounding, rock tumbling, metal detecting and amateur (ham) radio. I’m changing Dweeb’s Diatribe to add all of these. I still plan to geocache occasionally, especially in the desert where I can also look for tumbling rocks at the same time.

For those who are only interested in reading about caching, sorry. I’m continuing the Diatribe, even if no one else reads it, so that it’ll be my hobby diary to enjoy when I’m old and homebound. And maybe reading and remembering will stave off dementia.

If you’re a regular reader who’s going away, thanks for staying as long as you did and for your comments, here and on Facebook.


MAY 19, 2017 – Rosamond (Kern County)

May 18, 2017

Last weekend I combined geocaching with my new rock tumbling hobby. I drove 55 miles N, mostly on the 14, to Gem Hill in Rosamond. It’s a famous location for rock hounds because it’s public land and collecting rocks is completely legal. Familiarity with Google Earth from geocaching was a huge help. Not only did it lead me to a wide open parking spot, it showed me an easy mostly flat ½ mile hiking trail around the back side of the hill.

The hike led here, where I’d seen the green ground cover on the satellite map. There was much evidence of previous digging. Inexplicably there were no geocaches.

Youtube videos and online posts showed/described other rock collectors using shovels, sledgehammers and even a gas powered jackhammer to break rocks from exposed veins. I just picked up scraps that they missed. Visual scanning, another skill honed while geocaching was extremely helpful.

In 2 hours I collected enough rocks to make several batches of tumbled (polished) rocks and walked back to my Subaru. On my way to a MASSIVE cluster of caches, the Old Dusty Road series, I stopped for a closer look at an especially healthy Joshua tree.

They’re in bloom now. Or do pods count as blooms? I’ve heard that they’re edible but look closely. Those white wormy looking parts aren’t very appetizing.
Near the SE intersection of the 14 & Backus Road I started caching at a random dirt road. Traveling was easy. And with both the 14 visible to the W and Sierra Hwy to the E there was no danger of being stranded without help.

The first cache, ODR’s #812 (GC7484B). It was an easy find only a few steps from the road as were half of the other 20 caches I visited. What’s “XMD?” It’s the Facebook mega-group “Explorers of the Mojave Desert.” And the magnetic “Geocaching” sign is for suspicious locals and law enforcement in case they drive up behind me. They might still demand to know what I’m doing but at least their first thought won’t be, “trash dumper,” “tortoise poacher,” or something similar.

Unlike most other desert series I’ve visited, the caches I found here were all camo’d and almost all in tough scratchy bushes. To be fair to the hider there weren’t many rocks or pieces of loose vegetation available to make geopiles. I DNF’d many because I didn’t want to rip up my hands reaching for containers I couldn’t see.

On the way back to Backus Road (fwy onramp is at the left edge of the bridge) my final find was a large non-series cache, Red Castle (GC71ETG).

There was a geocoin inside, the 3rd one I found on this trip. All 3 were old and owned by Jim, “f0t0m0m.” Maybe he dumped his collection into caches. He surely knows that the coins will inevitably disappear soon, taken by casual players who don’t know what to do with them. I DO know what to do and will drop them into non-urban caches in the hope that they’ll remain in circulation longer.

APRIL 26, 2017 – Point Lobos (Monterey County)

April 25, 2017

When I vacation in Monterey I try to expand my knowledge of the area by taking day trips farther afield. This time, only a mile beyond my previous southernmost excursion I reached Point Lobos. The geocaching map showed multiple earth caches and multis in the State Reserve. Page comments indicated that no physical caches are allowed. The multis had numerous (too many for me) stops to gather clues for cache containers hidden outside the reserve.

I don’t like to spend outdoor time, especially on vacations, compiling clues/data for earth caches and multi caches. It was especially true for this visit because I wanted to enjoy the great scenery and easy hike I’d seen featured online. The “lot full” sign at the entrance was ominous. And the 2 cars ahead of me turned around and exited. I expected to be turned away. But the entry booth ranger said there were still open spaces and waved me through on my California Explorer entry/parking pass. Apparently the turned around cars didn’t want to pay the $10. fee.

A short drive through a gloomy forest led to a series of small beachside parking lots. I stepped out at the third one and walked to the waterline just as it started to sprinkle. The view wasn’t especially good.

What I noticed the most was what was underfoot. It was either heaven or hell for a new rock tumbler like me. There were more great rocks than I could possible tumble in multiple lifetimes but they were strictly illegal to take according to multiple posted signs. I ended up with a handful of crappy ones from the Cannery Row tourist beach 18 miles away.

After poking around the rocks I joined the tourist muggle stream walking north on a well marked trail. The sprinkles stopped and the view improved.

Here are the muggles ahead of me. The ones near me looked oddly at my twin hiking poles. I’m sure they became envious when I walked steadily uphill over broken ground and uneven wooden steps while they struggled.

The views improved even more with increasing altitude and sunlight. Somewhere below a lone sea lion barked.

An abrupt end to the trail made me turn inland to find another one.

There, poison oak and its folk remedy mugwort grew abundantly together. I saw only 1 small warning sign. I feel sorry for people who don’t see the sign or don’t read English and unwittingly brush the PO.

Side trails each led to a viewpoint. I knew that every stop contained clues for the multi caches and/or earthcaches but instead of looking for them I enjoyed the scenery. Except for a rude (Russian?) speaking family picnicking against the posted rules and hogging this site, everyone else politely took their pictures and moved aside.

Just when I thought that there couldn’t possibly be better views, there were. Oddly, most of the muggles had turned back apparently unwilling to hike around the mud puddles from rains earlier in the week. Wimps!!

They missed this too! Now, nearly alone, I wished that I’d printed a list of the multi-cache clues to find. Oh well.

I enjoyed a final shoreline view of gnarled tree cover before the trail looped inland back toward the parking lot.

Next time I’m going back to see what I missed behind the temporary closure sign and to explore the inland parts of the reserve. Maybe I’ll even attempt the earth caches and multis.

APRIL 19, 2017 – M*A*S*H Site (Malibu Creek State Park)

April 19, 2017

I can’t hike long distances and steep hills like I used to. Now I look for short, flat hikes. The one to the M*A*S*H site in Malibu Creek State Park is an old standby.

Just off the crowded parking lot the effects of last month’s rain were evident. The park was greener than I’ve seen it in this decade.

And Malibu Creek flowed freely where for the last few years there was only a rocky dried out stream bed.

On the northern trail, frequently featured in the Kung Fu TV series and the old Planet of the Apes movies/TV I found a recently placed cache and then walked west past an eroded hillside. It’s more impressive in person than in the picture.

Loud muggle noises made the decision to bypass Century Dam, easy. Then there was another stream crossing on a small concrete bridge.

Just before mile 2 I DNF’d a cache that probably washed away. A few minutes later I arrived at the post-1982 fire replacement ambulance at the edge of the old M*A*S*H set.

The original burned out ambulance is still there too.

An ammo can cache, previously in the bushes behind the ambulance has become an unofficial part of the M*A*S*H exhibit. Someone moved it to INSIDE the burned ambulance where muggles find it and sign the log. I watched a group of teens do it.

My return trip on the southern trail passed over the bridge near the visitor’s center. This was the view Vs. 2 years ago.

The roundtrip hike was just over 3 hours at a leisurely pace with short stops to look for 3 caches. I’m glad I did it before the summer heat

MARCH 20, 2017 – Upper Las Virgenes SE (Ahmanson)

March 19, 2017

Rained out weekends, other hobbies, Netflix binge watching and general malaise kept me away from hiking and caching for the last 2-1/2 months. This morning I forced myself to get off the couch and drive to the Victory Boulevard trailhead at the former Ahmanson Ranch. It’s only 10 minutes away from me and hundreds of thousands of other people. I knew it would be crowded with muggles out to see the new greenery.

The somehow empty end of the parking lot made me hopeful that I was wrong.

The crowd at trailhead itself proved my original thought to be correct.

But only a quarter mile in the muggles thinned out. I reached the first cache, found, logged & returned it.

I hiked to the top of the hill and emerged from the wrong side of a “Keep Out,” sign – that I then remembered from a years ago visit.

Wildflowers were scarce and cactus was unexpectedly abundant.

The next cache was at this trail junction. While I perched on a rock signing the log a lone muggle asked me what I was doing. I gave the standard explanation and handed her my signature wooden nickel that lists the geocaching.com URL.

The 3rd cache was at a familiar location. Over the years I’ve found 3 or 4 caches within 100’. Do you see something suspicious?

It’s not hikers who tear up the trails.

The 4th cache was a DNF. The hint stated that it was somewhere at the base of the rock outcropping. The new greenery made it too annoying to search for long. And I was worried about rattlesnakes underfoot.

I turned around and enjoyed the scenery on my return trip. There were a few sad trees that didn’t make it through the ½ decade drought.

In 2 months the area will be foxtail hell. So cache there now while it’s still green.

DECEMBER 31, 2016 – Year End: Barstow to Las Vegas (part 2 of 2)

December 31, 2016

From Barstow I drove to Baker for Alien Fresh Jerky and a few caches. An hour later I reached the Nevada border at Primm. Here’s the view from my Buffalo Bill’s hotel room. That’s a roller coaster (not working) track.
In the morning I was shocked to see ice on my Subaru. It was a lifetime first for me. The onboard thermometer read 29 degrees when exiting the parking lot.
Twelve miles closer to Las Vegas I stopped for 2 caches, one of which was in the middle of this under-freeway tunnel. Below then Above (GC1APBR).
A few minutes later I found The Last Spike SHM (GC68VWM). The site commemorates the location of the last railroad spike connecting Los Angeles to Salt Lake City in 1905. Appropriately, a train passed by.
Up ahead in the distance I saw a shimmering sight. Seven columns of stacked florescent boulders were backlit by the sun shining off of rainwater in a “dry” lakebed.
It was now 45 degrees, warm enough for tourists to swarm. I looked for the best photo angle and then saw where all the Asians were standing with their cameras. It WAS the best angle. On the minus side, everyone who stood there now has the same picture. The cache at the site is Stonehenge in the Desert (GCH1TZ).
Nearby there was a very wrinkled example of a Beavertail Cactus.
Still a few miles from Las Vegas I made extra sure that no one was home before I reached for this cache.
I parked in a small clearing and hiked to 3 easy caches behind this sign. The area was littered with used shotgun shell casings. A driver ignored the sign and drove his huge truck past me.
Caches close to parking tended to be smalls. Ones that were hundreds of feet away were mostly larges, probably placed on the assumption that only cachers will have a reason to walk to GZ. As a desert hiking cacher, I’m always glad to see this ahead.
122816_09_big_oneIn midafternoon I reached the southern edge of the Las Vegas Valley and found a small string of park & grab caches that ended with a lamp post hide at this overlook.
I enjoyed the view, played with my mobile ham radio, and then dropped off a travel bug on my way back to Primm.

DECEMBER 31, 2016 – Year End: Barstow to Las Vegas (part 1 of 2)

December 31, 2016

After Christmas I went back to a near freezing Barstow (cheap rooms!) to convert some more annoying green boxes on the geocaching map into smilies. The desert soaked up most of the rain from 2 days earlier. A few puddles, mud and early morning ice remained.
Many of the caches I needed were reached from side trails off of Open Route 4800, the backbone of the Planes Trains Ships & Automobiles cache series.
Here a 35mm film container cache was guarded by the empty shell of a baby desert tortoise. Unfortunately they don’t molt like crabs. This one was dead.
At 10.2 miles on Open Route 4800 I crossed Hwy 395. In this area mud was replaced by sharp volcanic rocks. Driving on all-terrain tires was reassuring.
This interesting cache container seemed to be an outrigger canoe.
This bonehead cache was broken into several scattered pieces. I put it back together as best I could.
I like joshua tree caches because the destination is obvious from several hundred feet away. My Subaru is at the red arrow. Note the huge gallon size cache can at the base of the tree.
Joshua tree caches have their own sound effects too. Even light wind blowing through their leaves produces that stereotypical movie effect eerie warbling desert whistle.
At sundown I drove back to Barstow, cold, tired and with mud caked tires.