Sunday, November 23, 2008

Red Light Caches

No, this is not about caching in seedy areas. In fact, the area where these two caches were found was very upscale suburbia. Saturday, I went caching with Chaosmanor in the Santa Clarita area. This is where 6 Flags Magic Mountain is located for you roller coaster enthusiasts. We were working our way up to San Francisquito Canyon to drive up the road to get some caching done there and to do a hike. I'd run my PQ around a certain spot in the canyon and Chaosmanor had done likewise and we were in the midst of many of the caches from either PQ.

As we traveled down McBean Parkway, I ended up making several yellow lights and was trying to keep my speed pretty even because it seemed like the lights were timed, so I figured that if I kept it right around the speed limit, we'd make good time and make it to the canyon early. One light defied my timing and I was forced to stop. As we sat there waiting for our green light we noticed two caches in front of us on either side of the intersection ahead of us. As I looked right, I noticed a very interesting sculpture of some birds. I was talking out loud, saying that as long as we're stopped and the sculpture looked kind of interesting, we should check that area out, but I was in the wrong lane, being in the far left hand lane and making it all the way across three to four lanes of traffic would not have been prudent, so we decided to pass on it.

As soon as the light turned green, I had second thoughts again about not getting that cache, so I decided to make a left hand turn into the park on the opposite corner, figuring that I could either back track to it or we could walk over to it. Once the car was parked, we noticed another cache over here in the park, so we decided to check it out as well. As we approached ground zero on this one, I didn't have a very good feeling about it. The place was teeming with muggles of all shapes and sizes. There was a soccer game going on about 20 feet away from ground zero and about 30 feet in the opposite direction of ground zero was a play area, filled to capacity with mothers and younger siblings of the soccer participants.

This was going to be a difficult find if we were even lucky to find it. Very near ground zero was a life size grizzly bear statue. Now this wasn't just any grizzly bear, as it had a pedestal that was meant to explain why it was there, but it wasn't complete yet. We didn't need the pedestal to tell us what it was all about. The bear's skin was completely made of historical pictures of Valencia, CA, where the statue was located. There were some very old pictures on the left side of the bear and some more recent ones on the other side.

While Chaosmanor was looking at the bear, I decided to make a quick look around to see if I could figure where the cache was located. It was pretty obvious, in fact, you can see the hiding spot from one of my pictures. The trouble was, it was a little awkward, but I got away with it. One thing about muggles is, if you don't linger too long in an area where you're really not supposed to be, they forget about you really quickly. Plus, the one woman who even looked at me, got almost immediately distracted by her charge and quickly had to deal with her little one and so didn't pay me any attention as I went into search mode and quickly found the cache.

The nice thing about this hide was it gave you a reason for being there, which I appreciate considering that most people think a middle aged man looking in the bushes is up to no good. The bear had a lot of historical references on it and we thoroughly enjoyed out time looking over it. Who ever created it actually has a sense of humor as well, placing a picture of the local Wal-Mart right below the bear's tail. After taking some pictures of my own, we made our way to the other side of the street and the sculpture that had attracted us to this area in the first place.

The other side of the street was a business area, but the corner was a dedicated art work. There was a walkway over a nice sized pond that was barren of fish. There were several sailboat sculptures in the water as well as a large sculpture of seagulls flying in formation in front of the boats. We got over to the area and I immediately started taking pictures and figuring out where the cache was. I had the cache in hand momentarily and we signed the log and replaced the cache. It was another example of a micro placed in such a way to give the person searching for it a reason for being there.

Too many times, I'll encounter micro caches that make it very hard to search for it because there's no purpose for a person to be there in the first place. Why would anyone hang around a light pole, or walk into a section of bushes? Unless they're working on said stuff, there really isn't a reason and if that lamp post is located in a major muggle area, it makes it difficult to retrieve the cache and then replace it after signing the log. Both of these, the second more so than the first, at least had the cache hidden in such a way that you were supposed to look like you were there. I placed both of these caches on my top 5% list because I liked the environment they were in and I liked the area. They were well planned, quality caches in my opinion.

So this brings me back to my title. Since the only reason we searched and found these caches was because we had to stop, I'm was trying to devise a new term for something like these. Red light caches seemed the most appropriate name for them. They make you stop and look because of their surroundings even though you might not have gone out of your way to seek them. Maybe someday, the term might catch on. Usually, I'm not that grateful when I have to stop at a red light, but this time I was. The forty minutes we spent enjoying the atmosphere of the two sites and searching for the caches was well worth the time out of our day. In this particular case, it was like we had stopped and smelled the roses. Every now and then, we all need to do that.

Pictures were taken at or near the following caches:
Bird's Eye View - by ourflyingpig
Heritage Bear - by Ninja Man

Profile for Webfoot


benh57 said...

"red light" usually has a negative connotation, though, not a positive one. To be given the 'red light' means to not go, to stop activity, to NOT do something.
When I read the title of your post i in fact assumed it would be negative.

Also there's "Red light district" etc.

Can't come up with a better suggestion currently, though :P

Webfoot said...

Well, the red light, did in fact impeed our progress, so we could check out those caches along the side of the road. ;)

P.J. said...

Good writeup on these caches. I like that you couldn't pass them up. Seems like you speak for all of us!

A 'lil HooHaa

Just John said...

I had a similar, albeit smaller scale, incident this past weekend. I took an alternate route to a cache, and noticed one almost within arm's reach at a red light.

That bear is pretty impressive.