Saturday, June 28, 2008

Those pesky diversions

Way back in January, I wrote about benchmarks and them being another diversion, something to look for using your GPS. I wrote back then that I wasn't going to out looking for benchmarks, but would log them if I stumbled upon them while out doing other kinds of GPS games and such. I may have to retract that last statement, or perhaps modify it a little.

In the past week, I've "stumbled" upon and logged four benchmarks while out caching, plus found two other benchmarks that weren't in the system. That put me up to 9 logged benchmarks on, almost doubling my total that I had before my summer vacation began. I know it helps that I was with Chaosmanor last Saturday since he actively looks for benchmarks and he even stated in one of his geocaching logs that I missed a couple of benchmarks that he noted. I'm not sure about that, but in this post I posted pictures of the two that I logged last Saturday. I can't remember him finding other, but that's beside the point.

What is interesting is that they seem to come in waves. The four that we found on Saturday, two were surprises that we weren't expecting, those serendipitous benchmarks that I alluded to in another post. Interestingly, both of those were the ones that weren't in the system on geocaching. Hmmmmmm. The other two, Chaosmanor had information on and to be perfectly honest, it was hard not to know about one of them since there was a cache hidden about 7 feet away from the benchmark and the name of the cache had the word benchmark in it. The witness post indicating there was a survey marker nearby was hard to miss too.

After awhile though, you kind of get used to spotting spots where benchmarks will appear. Bridge abutments, culverts, high spots of land all tend to be "lightning" rods for benchmark placements. There's a benchmark in the hills behind my house, high up that can be seen for miles. Have I logged it yet? Nope. I'm not sure why either, because I've written about it in several logs when I've found other caches in the area, and also on my own cache pages. I guess I'll log it one of these days when I finally hide another cache up there. Write that down because there's a perfect example of "famous last words."

But getting back to the story. Last Wednesday, while 3blackcats and I were out on my "Space Odyssey" we had to backtrack a little because we'd missed a turn trying to get to a cache in San Bernardino. We pulled into a nearby parking spot to get our bearings and I noticed on the side of a building, a round disk, a benchmark. I even said, "Hey, that looks like a benchmark." The placement was interesting since I'd never seen a benchmark with a vertical placement. All the ones I'd ever come in contact with had all been horizontal, lying on the ground or some surface. This one was embedded in the wall of a building. 3blackcats endulged me and I got out and took a picture of it. When I got home, I found that it indeed was a benchmark in the geocaching system so I logged it.

What was interesting was to look at the other pictures of the benchmark. Sometime in the last two years, someone has put that spot of orange paint on it. I've seen that more than once, where there'll be a ring of paint around a benchmark, almost as if people are afraid that it won't get noticed. Granted, they are mostly ignored by the general public, but if you're a surveyor, how could you miss one of those if you have a read out as to where it's supposed to be, especially if it's been logged recently? I guess that is just one of life's imponderables.

Friday, I found the easiest benchmark I'll ever find mostly likely. I had attended a ceremony down in San Diego for my nephew who was awarded his air corpman wings. He's been taking classes and studying for this for about 8 months while he's been stationed down at the Coronado Air Base and his hard work paid off on Friday. In a couple of months, he'll be reassigned and will be spending the next couple of years over in Japan. He's looking forward to the experience.

After having lunch and saying our goodbyes, I headed over to Cabrillo National Monument to get a couple of geocaches, plus a couple of benchmarks. Yes, I was actually hunting benchmarks. Unfortunately, I didn't take very good notes on one of them and so came up empty, but the other one was very easy to spot. It's the old Point Loma Lighthouse located on the top of the bluff about two tenths of a mile from the visitor's center at the Monument. As you can see from the pictures, it's readily seen from great distances. The lighthouse isn't in use any more, because the point is actually too high and the low clouds would sometimes shroud the lighthouse, so a new one was built down near the shoreline on the point. The benchmark, the cupola of the old lighthouse, is still there however.

Overall, the trip was enjoyable, if not a little tiring. Five caches were found, plus the one benchmark. I guess I'll have to go back with better notes next time to see if I can find that other benchmark that's close to the lighthouse. If I do that, it will definitely mean that I'm out hunting benchmarks on purpose again, since I cleaned out all of the caches on the point during this trip and since it's part of the National Park Service, no new caches will be hidden out there. As I think about it, I'm pretty sure that if I get down there again, I'll seek it out.

Pictures were taken, at or near the following benchmarks:

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