Saturday, May 31, 2008

So you want to see a different Map on your Garmin GPSr...

Recently, the question of how to switch between map sets on the Garmin GPSr was brought up. I posted a 'quick and dirty', three line instruction set but said I'd do a better writeup when I got home and had the time to take the screen shots. This morning, since I needed to load new maps into my 60Cx, I took the time.

Step 1: Load the maps into the GPSr.

1. Open Mapsource and choose which maps to start with. I chose City Navigator since that's what I usually look at.

2. Using the Map Select tool, outline the maps to send...but don't send yet, you have more to do.

3. Change the Map Set to Topo and repeat Step 2. This adds the Topo set to the already selected City set. One more to go.

4. In my area, Moun10Bike has created a Map Set called NW Trails and I want those too. So I select that set and repeat again. This adds NW Trails to the other two.

I now have three sets of maps ready to send. Connect the GPSr to the computer (if not already done) and click the 'Send to GPSr' button. Now go get some coffee, tea, or take a shower because it'll take a few minutes to load that data to the unit.

Step 2: Select the maps in the GPSr.

If I'm not mistaken, City Navigator will be the 'dominant' map set and be displayed unless turned off. This is so you can use auto-routing and search for specific things like restaurants, gas, cities, etc. So, to see the other maps it's just a matter of turning off the maps you don't want to see. Here is how you do that.

A. Navigate to the Map screen.

B. Press the Menu button on the GPSr and select Setup Map from the menu.
C. Select the 'Information' menu (it's the 'i' in the circle, second from the right) and press Menu again.

D. Scroll down and select 'Hide City Navigator".

E. You should now see the elevation lines from the Topo map set. Note that you can also see the dotted trail maps from the NW Trail map set too.If I wanted to see just the Trails or just the Topo, I'd repeat steps B-D and turn off the other maps I didn't want to see.

That's it, you've now selected different maps to see for climbing a mountain or following a trail.

To see City again, repeat the steps only turn the map set on by selecting the "show" option instead. Don't forget to do this before trying to "route" again or it won't work it once and you'll see.

Hopefully this information helps you get more out of your GPSr and gives you an idea of the mapping options available.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Waymarking Churches

Waymarking has a category for Lutheran churches so I decided to list my home church. The waymark for it can be found here. The church of the Nazarene and the Catholic church in town has also been done in the categories for their denominations. I like the fact that people thought it was worthy to create these categories.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


When I was looking over the pictures for the Jeep post, it struck me as kind of odd that I didn't have any pictures of any of the green jeeps that I've helped move, nor did I have any pictures of the yellow jeeps either. It seemed very strange, especially since the jeep travel bugs had photography contests associated with them and I like to take pictures. Why hadn't I taken pictures of the bugs that I had?

Sometimes, I think I get so involved in getting caches that I forget about the little things. Almost all of my travel bugs that I've released have something on the order of, "please take pictures of the bug where you take him." And yet, when I've moved bugs, more often than not, I don't take pictures of where the bug or geocoin is going. I've found that during our summer camping trips, I'm much more tempted to take pictures of travel bugs that I've brought along for the ride, trying to get more of a story for each bug. Yet I'm still puzzled by my lack of pictures of all the bugs I've helped move. As of this post, I've helped move along 188 travel bugs and numerous geocoins. I'm leaving the geocoins out of the equation, because I know some of those are just "discoveries" and not actual movements. I don't discover travel bugs, so I know that I've actually had those guys in my inventory.

So with 188 travel bugs, one would expect for me to have at least 188 travel bug pictures, but I know that's not the case. Some bugs I have picked up, only to drop at a later cache on the same caching trip, so a picture really didn't happen. But even that is a pretty lame excuse since I bring my camera with me on virtually all caching expeditions, just in case. So I guess I'm guilty of not doing what I would like others to do with my bugs: take pictures of where they've been.

Now, granted, sometimes the goal of a bug is just to move it along from cache to cache. OK, I can say I've done that. I could have done more though. It wouldn't have required that much extra effort to squeeze off a picture or two of a travel bug near the location where it was. When I've done that in the past with some bugs, I've actually gotten some pretty interesting pictures. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I had with the Billiard Bug #13. I took it to an event cache and got a picture taken of it with 13 event attendees. I also got a picture of it at campsite #13 with an almost 13 year old. The creativity was part of the fun.

I think what I'm trying to say is I need, at least for myself, to step back and slow down a little bit. The past couple of years, it was a numbers run, and while fun, I could have had more fun I think, if I'd just slowed down, not gotten as many caches, and perhaps played around a little bit with what I had at my disposal at the time. When I did that in the past, I got some fun shots, and occasionally would get some nice thank you emails from the owners of the bugs. They appreciated the work and I think that's what's really important. They took the time to create the goal, create the bug, why shouldn't I take the time to make the bug's trip a little bit more eventful for its owner?

I think that's what I need to do from now on. I picked up two travel bugs on my last cache run up in the high desert this weekend. Lisa the Dinosaur is a five year old girl's first travel bug. I think the least I could do is to make a fun picture of the dinosaur terrorizing the dog, or something along that line. In fact, one of the goals is to post interesting pictures. I'm the 15th person to have Lisa in my hand. No one has taken a picture of her and she's traveled clear across the country from Maine to California. I'm going to change that.

The other bug that I got this weekend was Monster Car. 9 cachers have seen Monster Car since it was released and not a single picture has been taken. Monster Car's travel is a lot more modest than Lisa, only a mere 123 miles, but he's been out in the low desert of California. Surely there could have been an opportunity for a off roading kind of picture to have happened. Well, I'm going to come up with something for it before I release it.

Last week, I took a beautiful road and found several caches along that road. I took a much slower pace and enjoyed the trip. I need to remember to do that with all things caching. I think I will appreciate it more, because it's not really a race, but more of a journey. I need to remember that.

Pictures were taken at or near the following caches of the following travel bugs:
Billiard Bug #13 seen near Sunset Crater by wolfb8 (libby)
Team Rainbow Apes - Black seen near The Mystery of Crowder Canyon by Tevis Clan
Storm Trooper seen near Star Wars TB Cantina by jeepnakd
Olaf's Search Party - Sven seen at RESERVOIR VIEW by w6lax

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Sunday, May 25, 2008


It looks like Geocaching has run out of colors for their promotional jeep travel bugs they’ve had going for the last couple of years. Four years ago, they started 5000 yellow jeeps attached to specially designed travel bugs. The following year, it was much bigger white jeeps, then the next year it was the Hot Wheels™ size green jeep and then last year they put out the red jeeps. Usually by this time of year, they’ve already started the promotion and you can send in a request to get one to take them on your holiday plans. Hmmmmmm.

I’ve been fortunate to have helped along several of each different kind of jeep in the past. I remember when the first yellow jeeps came out. I was planning on attending my very first event in July of 2004 and I saw someone place the jeep virtually on the cache page. Although, I’m not proud of the fact that I kind of “vultured” that travel bug, hanging around the travel bug table at the event until it was placed there, I really wanted that bug because I was going to be camping in Utah about a week after that and I wanted to take a “special” travel bug there. Interestingly, I dropped the yellow jeep off in Utah and ended up finding another yellow jeep in Nevada a couple of days later.

The following year was the white jeep year. Compared to the yellow jeeps, these things were massive. I’ve only found two of these and I had fun with one of them, taking it to two national parks, Sequoia and Kings Canyon and posting a picture of it to make it look like it was off roading near the Great Western Divide. The white jeeps also started a tradition, in that all of the jeeps had names. The previous yellow jeeps only were numbers. The white ones had first names attached to them. I took “Kathy” to a cache just outside the boundaries of Kings Canyon National Park and later one I also found “Mervin.” Unfortunately, a lot of the white jeeps went missing early, probably because people were keeping them because they shared a name. I will admit that I placed all of the jeeps that had my name, or my wife and kid’s names on my watchlist for a little bit. Several of these never surfaced in any caches.

The following year (2006), had a semi-lottery for the green jeeps. You had to fill out a short form and then hope that your form was picked and they would send you a jeep. I filled one out and got a green jeep in the mail. Part of the form was a promise that you would place the jeep that you received in a cache within 14 days. I received the jeep in early August and dropped it in a cache a week later. I’ve found more green jeeps than any other, yet I haven’t taken any pictures of them. I’m not sure why that is, but if I find another, I’m going to have to rectify that situation. The green jeeps were all named after mountain peaks. I’m not sure if any peak names were used outside of the United States, but I suspect not because all of the 8 green jeeps that I found were named after peaks within the US.

In 2007, there was another lottery and I found myself in possession of a red jeep. The “Little Black River” Red jeep (all were named after rivers this year), went with us to the Grand Canyon and was eventually placed in a travel bug hotel just south of the canyon. It was grabbed by another cacher and placed in a cache in the Bay Area of California. We ended up taking several pictures of this guy, nothing really spectacular, just more on the fun side.

I was kind of hoping that the new jeeps would be coming out soon. I figure if they do end up doing jeeps again this year, it will be black ones. I’d love to take a black jeep to northern California or possibly southern Oregon this summer. It just seems like it should be time for them to be coming out soon especially since the summer season is quickly approaching. As I looked back on some of the past jeeps, I discovered that the jeeps ended up coming out at different times. The yellow jeeps were released on June 2, while the white jeeps were released May 27th. The green jeeps weren’t released until August 1st, and the red jeeps were released on July 1st. I guess what this really means is, there’s still time to hope for another jeep summer while geocaching.

Pictures were taken at or near the following caches:
Mary E. J. Colter built it by Yrium & Whistlestick
Living Large by bthomas
Trail's End Rest by Timpat

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008


This past weekend I drove up to Stockton to pick up my daughter from college after a very successful first year of school. Hey, she held on to her scholarships, made new friends, grew musically and over all, had a great time this year, so it sounds pretty successful to me. I’m starting to have problems separating the trips up since I’ve made so many in the last couple of years, first when we were checking out the school and now either fetching her for holidays or just visiting.

I have noticed that whenever I’m with someone else in the car, I will take the most direct route up to Stockton, or the almost most direct route, since there are two routes, one which is about 20 minutes faster than the other. The slower route is more scenic, however. When I’m not with anyone, I’ll take my time and just enjoy the scenic route, or even get off either of the main routes I’m taking and take a back road, something that Robert Frost writes about in his poem, “The Road Not Taken.”

I did that in February on my planned three day roadtrip when I took several back roads, some that might not even be classified as back roads considering the amount of traffic that was on them. This weekend, I definitely took a back road to get to Stockton.

I started off from home Saturday morning early, figuring that I’d be making the normal 6 and a half hour drive in about 9 hours or so. I took I-5 north, getting a couple of caches in Kern County and depositing a couple of geocoins and travel bugs that I brought along for the ride. I left the Interstate near Coalinga, California for two reasons. The first reason was a dash point near Coalinga that I wanted to get and the other was I wanted to complete the run I’d planned in February to get San Benito County off of my “Counties that I haven’t cached in yet” list. It was a hot day out with temperatures approaching triple digits, which kept most people inside as I drove through Coalinga, but I stopped just to get gas and find one cache in a nice little park. I then headed out of town on HWY 198.

198 is a very winding two lane road with occasional places to pass other slow moving vehicles, but I wasn’t in a hurry, because the rolling hillsides of the area were enjoyable to look at and this was more of a pleasure cruise, than a “numbers run” for caches. I kept glancing at the GPSr screen from time to time and would stop when necessary to find a cache. I figured I’d get a couple of caches in San Benito County, then move further north and get a couple of caches in Alameda County and then Contra Costa County as well. As any cacher knows, things happened and plans were changed on the fly. The further I went along 198 and then HWY 25 into San Benito County, the further I became entranced by the beauty of the place.

San Benito County is located east of Monterey County in the central portion of the state. It’s very rural and has lots of rolling hills and farms that seem to have a lot of cattle grazing on the land there, as well as some flat valleys where the predominant crop seemed to be alfalfa. The contrast between the bright green fields, the amber hillsides and the dark green scrub oak trees was a photographer’s delight and this might sound sappy, but at one point on the drive, I actually found myself humming America the Beautiful. This seemed like where the author had been when the song or lyrics had been written. But enough of waxing poetically, since I’ll do that further down below.

As I continued to cache along the road, I kept thinking to myself, I was getting behind, but I kept justifying it by also thinking, but you’re getting some great pictures and you’re enjoying yourself. Fortunately, that part of me won out hands down. At every cache location, at every bend in the road, the scenery just improved. There was no way I was going to rush this little drive. Had the particular caches been in more rural settings, they most likely would have been rated substandard by most people, but that’s what caching is all about in my opinion. The journey is part of the adventure. There were micros, mixed in with larger containers that were big enough to hold travel bugs and other swag. It was a good mix of different sorts of caches, with the scenery helping everything along.

As I started entering back into suburbia, just south of Hollister, I looked at the clock on the dashboard of my car and realized that it was 3:30. Having left at 7 AM, I was already 8+ hours into my trip and still had a ways to go to get to Stockton. There was no way I was going to head up into Alameda County at this point in time, so I decided to forego those two other counties and head back over to the Interstate and get up to Stockton, because we still had to pack my daughter’s dorm room into the van for the journey home the next day.

My daughter had a music gig the following morning, which meant that I had some free time to myself and I had one of two options. Watch the hotel’s free cable TV, or go out and explore some more back roads and do some more caching. Well, that was a no brainer.

Because I’d originally created a Router PQ for this trip, the end of the route ended about a mile beyond my hotel room, so I decided to start caching at this end and work myself back along my original route and see how far I could go. This route took me through the delta region of central California, lush farmlands, narrow bridges and very flat vistas. There was one point where one of the bridges that I crossed had gates on either end and stop lights, because it was meant to rotate in the middle to allow boats to travel on the waterway it crossed. I can’t remember ever seeing another bridge like that before in California, yet here it was on the border of San Joaquin and Contra Costa County.

Yep, I’d driven far enough on this other back road, that I’d made it to Contra Costa County, where I found two more caches before deciding that I needed to get back to Stockton so I could await my daughter’s return from her gig. We came home via a more direct route, although we did do a side trip in the Fresno area to grab a couple of virtual flags and another dash point.

Overall, the trip was a wonderful excursion, although a bit exhausting. I wished I’d had one more day. It still feels like I’m behind on my sleep and as if I need a weekend to recover from my weekend. Still, it was worth taking those back roads. I’ll leave you today with Robert Frost’s poem

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost (1915)

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Pictures were taken at or near the following caches:

A Green Valley View by Sloigo
Old School by Pal_Al
Stop Staring at Me! by Momaqna
Take a Sit by Scooterman
Are we there Yet III? by Sloigo

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Halfway there...

This weekend, I put over 1000 miles on my van driving up to Stockton to pick up the Musicmaker from her first year of college. I made it a little bit of a road trip and took a more scenic route going up to try and bag a few more counties that I hadn't cached in before. The route I'd planned was going to net me three more counties, which would have put me over the halfway point for Discovering & Logging California's 58 Counties.

As anyone knows who caches on a regular basis, things happen. And actually, this was a good thing. The first new county that I encountered on this trip was San Benito County. It's a smallish county located on the eastern side of the coastal ranges in California. The biggest town I believe is Hollister, which is probably fairly well known these days because of a brand of clothing. Anyway, the scenery in San Benito County was spectacular and I ended up spending way more time caching and taking pictures there than I had intended to, so I didn't get the other two counties. Except, the next day I had more time to kill, so I started caching from the other end of my Route PQ and found myself in Contra Costa County. I found two caches there, bringing my total of counties cached in to 29, exactly halfway to the 58 County Challenge. Now I just need to get to Northern California.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Caching Across the Border

This summer, I expect to garner another first in my geocaching career. First cache in Oregon found. Not the first one placed, just I’ll have finally found a cache in Oregon. That will make five states that I’ve cached in thus far in the 7+ years of caching. I think it’s a little bit harder out west because our states are so big. I would be willing to bet that most cachers who live back east and cache on the average of once a week probably have cached in several states within their first year.

Well… have I actually. As noted in the past, I was more of a casual cacher, caching only when I could interest one or both of the boys. Needless to say, I didn’t find many caches the first couple of years until I started going out on my own. But we did find a cache in another state that first year. In fact, West of Work (#4) was my 8th cache found. We’d been camping at Cedar Breaks National Monument which is just east of Cedar City, Utah, and I really wanted to find at least one cache in another state. So we came down out of the mountains and found this cache just west of a large parking lot that, obviously, from the title was placed just west of the hider’s work place. This was way before Pocket Queries, before paperless caching, so I had the printout and that was it. I guess you could say we were lucky, since I believe that was the only printout I made for that particular camping trip. But number 8 became our second state.

The next two years, we camped in California, so we didn’t venture anywhere near state boundaries. The third state we ended up caching in was Arizona. Interestingly, we were headed to Cedar Breaks again to camp overnight for a couple of days before heading off to eastern Nevada for some more camping. This time, I came armed with printouts (still not paperless yet) for several caches along the way. I’d planned out our route along I-15 and knew there was a cache just over the border of Nevada into Arizona called Bridge View that looked interesting. That was our only find in Arizona on that trip. We ended up getting another 10 caches in and around Cedar City to up our total in Utah before moving on to Nevada. Last year we really upped our total in Arizona when we camped at the Grand Canyon.

Once we moved into Nevada on that camping trip, the caches were further apart. Our first cache was a virtual cache called Who waxed Mr. Ed? It’s one of those whimsical virtual caches that just tickled my funny bone. I’d been researching caches in the area where we were going to go camping and this was one of the few in the area, so we decided to get it. As you can see from some of the pictures, the entire area has some interesting sculptures placed by someone who has a unique sense of humor. Unfortunately, Who waxed Mr. Ed? was archived with the reason given that the area needed to be opened up for some new caches and the owner wasn’t active in geocaching anymore. Well, the latter reason was ok, but the first reason was kind of lame, in my opinion, because the area is so devoid of caches even today, that it really didn’t matter if that particular cache remained or not. It was right on the edge of a national park, so that it wasn’t going to infringe on another person’s hide. There’s a lot of open space out there. Anyway, it’s gone and there’s nothing that can be done, although you can still go look at the sculptures out there. There’s more than what I’ve posted here.

So this summer, we’ll hopefully add Oregon. We’re going to be camping in Redwoods National Park, which is close to the Oregon border and we plan to visit Oregon Caves. I’ve already started looking and there are plenty of opportunities to get at least one cache in our fifth state. That may be our last state for awhile. With gas prices seemingly out of control, our financial ability to make long trips in the future appears to be severely curtailed. So we’re going to enjoy this trip.

Pictures were taken at or near the following geocaches:
Bridge View - by V=Brats
Who waxed Mr. Ed? - by fooshfoosh and family

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Sunday, May 11, 2008


I've been rethinking my geocaching goals for the year. A couple of years ago, I wanted to average at least one cache find per day for the entire year. I did that very easily and almost averaged 2 caches per day. The next year, I slacked off a little and found 18 fewer caches than the year before. This year, probably because of the surgery, I will probably average less than that. Well, gas prices are probably helping with that as well.

I guess what I'm really coming around to is that I'm thinking about getting back to the roots and looking for better hides as opposed to just going out and caching for caching sake and having that end up being just another numbers run. I want to try and get some more hikes into my caching repertoire this year. So I'm starting to scout out some areas that I haven't been in before to look for some possible hikes with caches.

Yesterday, the Tadpole and I went out into Riverside County to look for a dashpoint, actually two dashpoints. I ran a caching PQ around the second dashpoint which was out near Menifee in Team Hick@Hearts neck of the woods. I had considered emailing him to see if he wanted to come along, but then I remembered that he was planning on hitting the Flash Mob event down in San Diego. After Saturday, we'll probably be out many more times, so another oppotunity will present itself in the near future I'm sure.

At the first dashpoint, we struck out, getting only .18 miles from the point, not nearly to the magic 100 meters needed to claim the point. The point was located in the middle of a major trucking facility and there was no way in to get close, unless we wanted to trespass and risk prosecution. Nah, I don't think so. My sense of adventure isn't that high, especially when I have the youngster with me and he's probably going to be learning some life lessons any time he's with me.

So we headed out to Menifee, where I knew the dashpoint was a drive by. I wanted to see how close we could get. It was located near a road, but on the other side of a railroad right of way. We got to 73 feet, so we scored that one. The pictures are nothing to write home about, but it was nice and quiet out there. There were a couple of nearby caches, so we got those. The second one was probably the most memorable one of the day, being the only ammo can we found. As we were walking up the short trail to the cache, the Tadpole was ahead of me and I warned him to be on the lookout for snakes.

The trail split and he went one way around a bush and I went another way. We were about at ground zero at the time, so we'd both stopped to begin our search when I hear a "Whoa!" I asked him what's up and he just nonchalantly states, "Oh nothing, just a big snake in the trail up here." For a twelve year old, seeing his first "in the wild" snake," he was really cool about the entire encounter. I told him to back up and I came around. By that time, the snake figured that two of us was probably one too many, so he slithered off into the nearby bush. He was a fast booger too. I just caught the tail end of his act, but the Tadpole saw the entire two to three foot snake in the middle of the trail.

Fortunately, it wasn't a rattler. When we got home, I researched it a little and found what I thought it looked like based upon what I'd seen and when I pulled up the photo, the Tadpole said, "Yep, that's what I saw." Looks like he got a close encounter of a California Striped Racer. I'm still impressed at how cool he was about it. When I mentioned it to him afterward, he said, "Oh, I wasn't worried about it. I didn't hear any rattles, so I figured that it wasn't a rattlesnake or anything that would really hurt me." Yeah, well son....looks like I'll still watch out for him for awhile longer. What was really funny is the snake helped us find the cache, because it went into the bush and literally slithered right over the ammo can while on its full retreat. Oh, there it is.

We drove back home, finding several other caches in the local area, none of which were anything out of the ordinary small to micro variety of caches, but we did end up finding a nice trail that looked to have some caches up on it. It was getting toward lunch time, the Tadpole was tiring quickly and I hadn't been prepared for a hike of any magnitude, so we passed on them today, but as I look at the map, there appear to be about 23 caches spread out on a couple of hills. If the weather holds, I might convince the Tadpole to come out on Memorial Day, or possibly I can convince any of my other caching friends to either go that weekend, or possibly the next weekend. It's getting late in the season to go on something like that, but if the "May Gray" or the "June Gloom" holds, it'll work. If not, I can keep that trail in the back of my mind for a fall or winter hike. I'm sure the caches will still be there, unless a fire goes through.

Anyway, the first scouting attempt turned out fairly well. It looks like a good trail, with several good caches on it, with a nice hike to boot. Reminds me of my first caching experience - 7 miles away and a half mile hike.

Pictures were taken near the following cache:
Jack's Cache - by jeepnakd

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Friday, May 9, 2008

A Rant

Yesterday, I went caching after work. I've been avoiding the area around where I work recently, mainly because the area's become infected with what several other cachers have called "microspew." Unfortunately, I have to agree with them. But that's not what my rant is about today and I'm not really sure it's a rant, but more of a bemoaning of the fact that crap happens like this all the time.

One of the caches that I went to find yesterday was Old Oak? by the4dirtydogs. It was less than 2 miles away from work, and supposedly, it had a geocoin in it. And this particular geocoin, was not just any geocoin, but a 2006 California Geocoin owned by my caching buddy, 3blackcats. I'd been lucky, because I'd already seen this particular coin once way back in October of 2006, and then again in November 2006 when a bunch of us got together when I found my 1000th cache. She released the coin into the wild shortly after that. As I was driving over to the cache, I was really hoping that it was in there, because I would have liked to have taken it up north with me next weekend.

But, when I got to the cache, I didn't find it there. There were two other cachers, both of whom I've met before, who had been to the cache site earlier in the day, so I figured that one of them must have taken the coin with them. Well, shoot, that's just my luck. Unfortunately, after they logged the cache, they noted in their logs that the geocoin wasn't there either. The way many log books are constructed nowadays, it's very hard to leave much impression in it outside of a quick signature, or the placement of a stamp or sticker, so I couldn't see anyone who might have taken the coin. There's only been about three or four cachers who have found the cache since the coin was placed in the cache on Sunday.

It's very disheartening, when a player puts geocoins like this out in caches for others to find and move along, only to see them disappear, because either someone is too lazy to log it out of a cache, or they don't want to log it because they don't want people to know they have it. What's the point? You have a coin that no one except yourself can see, because if you let others see it, then they might "discover" the coin and realize that it's not really yours and that you should really let it go. It almost makes me wonder whether it's worth putting some of my own geocoins out there anymore. I very rarely place my own in this area, because it seems like this type of thing is happening more often. I've found better luck outside of the Southern California area, so I'll probably take some of my own to place in caches next weekend. It's just so frustrating.

And to my friend 3blackcats, I'm sorry, but your coin isn't in there anymore.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Future trips

My last road trip was a three day affair back in February to visit my daughter at her school. I’m heading back up there for another shorter road trip in 10 days time, to pick her up from school. I tell you it’s not fair. She started school the same day I did back in August and she’s going to be done a whole month before me, and she had a longer Christmas vacation too. Where’s the justice here? My older son keeps shaking his head when he found out she’s coming home next weekend. He keeps repeating the mantra, “One more year.” Yeah, well, then there’s four years of college and then all that free time ends.

But anyway, the road trip back then, took me into Gold Country in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, with some pretty nice caching. I don’t expect to find nearly as many caches as I found on that last trip, but the focus isn’t entirely on caching anymore. There are several dashpoints that I’ll be passing on the way and several GeoVexillum as well. Time is also a factor, since I'm not taking as many days as last time either.

The route I’m planning on taking this time is similar to one that I was going to go with last time. If you recall, I was a little behind on the front end and truncated my trip through San Benito County. This time, the intended route is going to be through San Benito County, then through Santa Clara, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties on the east bay side before heading due east to Stockton. I have found two caches in Santa Clara County, but the other three are virgin territory for me. If I do find caches in those three counties, I’ll be over the halfway mark to logging the 58 California County Challenge cache. I’m fortunate that the final for that one is down near where I live, so it won’t require an extra trip to log it. But I’m getting ahead of myself as to when I’ll log that cache, because it’s probably going to be at least another year or two before I get all of the northern counties of California.

It’s too bad that Geocaching didn’t happen sooner in my lifetime. I’ve now been to every county in the state, but many of them were before the advent of Geocaching. Ah, well, I guess that just means I’m going to have to make return visits. This summer will afford some more revisits when my son and I go camping along the northern coast of the state. I have no idea how many new counties I’ll add to my caching total with that trip. The return trip hasn’t been cemented in stone, so I’m not sure which ones we’ll be traveling through yet.

Anyway, this trip should be fun, but it’s going to be a little bit of a whirlwind. I’m planning on taking off on the 17th early in the morning, getting to Stockton sometime in the evening hours. Then we’ll pack the car with all of her stuff in her dorm room and come home on Sunday the 18th. We usually take Hwy 99 coming home, mainly because the view is much nicer than going down Interstate 5. About the only exciting thing along the I-5 is the Coalinga stockyards and I’ll have seen those on the trip up and I’m pretty sure my daughter, being the vegetarian that she is, won't want to see them either. Besides, there are more caching opportunities along the 99 as well. Having traversed the 5 several times, I’ve pretty much found all of the major caches along that stretch of road, but the 99 still has many areas that I haven't even come close to denting the surface yet.

I’ve got the route planned, and have already set up the Route PQs for the trip up. I’m not sure if I’ll do a route PQ, or just a couple of spot PQs for the return trip. I know I won’t be spending nearly as much time caching coming down, mainly because my daughter isn’t much of a cacher. She’ll tolerate it, but more than a couple of stops for a couple of caches and she’s done. And that’s ok, because I’ll probably want to be getting home sooner as opposed to later since I’ll have work to go to the next day anyway.

I just hope that I can get some good pictures on this trip. The last road trip, I got some pretty interesting shots, some of which I’ve posted here. I would imagine that San Benito County will probably make for some better picture taking spots than any of the other counties that I listed above, mainly because most of that route will be more urban and suburban as opposed to rural, although one never can tell. Something might surprise me. I guess I’m just going to have to wait until that time.

Pictures were taken near the following geocaches:
Carson Hill: A Very Historical Place - by tmkbk & olympicwannabe
Beam Me Up - by Ktquilt
Mariposa History - by halfdome and shortcircuit
Mr. Mother Lode - by Uncle Al from Sacramento

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Sunday, May 4, 2008


Yesterday, I got to experience something that rarely happens to most human beings, that rare time when you are by yourself and you're all alone as if you're the only person on the face of the earth. Granted, I was with my friend Chaosmanor, but the both of us thoroughly enjoyed the solitude, even if we weren't totally alone.

With my introduction into new GPS games, we both decided that a road trip up into the high desert north of us was in order, so we set out on a 322 mile road trip yesterday, making an entire loop around the San Gabriel mountains. We started out in Pasadena and took Highway 14 north toward Palmdale, stopping a couple of times to grab a cache, plus a couple of virtuals as well. We saw an old bell from the old El Camino Real, the King's Highway at one of the virtuals. We were also trying to get several flags in the GeoVexilla game, plus a couple of dashpoints for GeoDashing as well.

Most of the morning was spent caching. I got my 1900th find on a nice travel bug hotel just off Highway 395 which runs through the desert and east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range all the way into Washington State. I'll have to keep that particular hotel in mind the next time I head on vacation up that way as it's an easy on and off and great spot for a travel bug hotel, without any of the silly "take one only if you leave one" restrictions that some bug hotels have on them. Those are prisons, restricting the travel of the bugs, but that's an entirely different post.

After lunch at the local nationwide hamburger place, we decided to get some flags and dashpoints. Our last dashpoint of the day took us out northeast of California City, which is a huge city (land area-wise) out in that part of the desert. Google maps says that the city is east of where we were looking for the dashpoint, but in reality, the main part of town was to the west. The part where we were was uninhabited, so we didn't have to worry about people out there.

The interesting thing about Geo Vexilla and GeoDashing is there is a certain degree of uncertainty about each hunt. It's similar to Geocaching, yet there still more uncertainty, because you never know what you might run into when you're on the ground, even if you have really good Google Satellite images to look at. The detail of those can only be so good. With Geocaching, you know that at least one other person (the hider of the cache) has already been out there. In Dashing, the likelihood is, no one has been out to this particular spot before, so it's all new territory to discover.

This is where the solitude comes in. The roads out in the desert, for the most part are dirt and you can only go so far before your smarter senses take over and you realize that you need to park the car and walk, otherwise your car and you might get stuck. I do not own a four wheel drive vehicle, although I freely admit that it's one of the many toys that I've lusted over in the past couple of years. So I was taking no chances with my little foreign made sedan compact on this road. We found a good surface to park the car and then walked the last 2/10ths of a mile to the dashpoint ground zero spot. Once there, we both noticed that we hadn't seen any birds, nor any insects. We could see a huge dust devil spiraling out several miles to the west of us, but we were utterly alone at that point. I turned around and couldn't see our car either, although I knew it was just over that last rise we'd just walked over. It was rather pleasant to just take in the view, with little to disturb us except each other and both of us seemed to realize this and we kept our talking to a minimum at this point. It was incredible.

We knew the solitude had to end, because we had to get back to civilization. On the way back to my car, we started seeing different kinds of insects, plus a couple of birds. It was almost as if the animals wanted us to share in their solitude by being absolutely still for us on our trek out. Or was it the other way around and we were intruding on their solitude? Either way, the solitude was broken entirely by the time we got back to our car, because at about that time, a dirt biker went flying across the desert on his bike, on one of the many trails that criss cross in the area. So much for that quiet solitude, but it was nice while it lasted.

Once back in the car, we headed back toward civilization, finding a couple of other caches along the way. I spotted a partial California Desert Tortoise shell. It was a very large shell. I estimate the carapace was at least 12 inches across. I have a couple of these guys in my back yard (they are permitted as per law) and they're not nearly as large as this guy was when he was alive and my guys are close to 9 years old. Perhaps this guy was extremely old and had just died out there. Or maybe it had succumbed to some carnivore in the area. Either way, the desert's harshness was on display.

Caching and hiking in the desert always seems to bring out new experiences for me. The vistas are always impressive although it was disconcerting to see the Los Angeles smog creeping out there. The view was a little bit hazy as a result. It looks like we missed the peak blooming season for wildflowers out in the desert by about a month, be we were still able to catch glimpses of mesquite in bloom as well as some desert mallow. All around you, there is life, even in the most inhospitable places like out here. And in the back of your mind, you keep thinking to yourself, how did the early pioneers do that? Even though we were alone, we were minutes away from the safety of the car. The pioneers traveling along the many trails established by others didn't have such luxuries. I don't believe that many of us would survive 150 years ago in those kinds of conditions.

We made our way down Interstate 15, through the Cajon Pass and then skirted the San Gabriels on the south heading back toward Pasadena where Chaosmanor's car was parked. The trip down was a little quieter, perhaps because we were being a little bit more introspective after our trip into the desert. I'm willing to bet that it was really because we were both tired, more than anything else. It was a good day.

The first and last photos are from the following geocaches:
Pioneer Cache - by AlphaCat with help from The Boy and CC-Cat
Ma Greens General Store (Formerly) - by Team Berge (Thanks Ma Green)

The other pictures are from the Dashpoint out in the desert near California City. Thanks to Chaosemanor for taking a picture of me at ground zero of the Dashpoint.

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