Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tommy

I have been caching since March 2001. The very first virtual cache that I ever found was Vatican I, found on December 31st, 2002, almost two full years after I started this silly hobby of mine. In the early years, I didn't cache nearly as much as I do now, so the time between starting and finding a first of some kind isn't all that surprising. And if you look at my records, I was actually a beta tester for a virtual that has since been archived in July of 2002. I ended up being the beta tester since I happened to be the cacher that lived closest to the statue the hider wanted to make a virtual of and so I ended up getting coordinates for him. I guess that's the closest I came to actually creating my own virtual cache.

One of my regular PQs that I've run a couple of times has nothing but virtual caches in it. I've used it a couple of times when I'm just in the mood to find virtuals and I'm traveling outside of my normal caching area. The nearest virtual cache to my house is something like 16 miles away, which means I've pretty much cleaned them out around me, although there weren't that many out here anyway.

I've contemplated taking the Tadpole on a longer run through the Los Angeles Basin getting nothing but virtuals. The Tadpole likes virtuals a lot. He stated one time that he likes finding caches, but "virtuals are fun because you usually learn something new at them." I like virtuals because every now and then you get to revisit places you haven't been to in a long time, or you get to see something a little out of the ordinary.

The three we found after the Airplane Park Cache fell into all three of those categories that I mentioned above. The first one we found was in a little park in Lakewood, CA. We had to get information about Jose de San Martin, the liberator of Argentina. This one is one of those head scratchers that gets you thinking about how this particular statue/bust came to be in the first place. Here's a small park in a very waspish (at least at the time the statue was placed) area in the suburbs of Los Angeles that has a life sized bust of a general of Argentina during the 1800s. How does this happen? I'm not really sure, but it would be interesting to look back at the city council archives for the city of Lakewood to try and figure it out. I'd never heard of this guy before, being much more familiar with Simon Bolivar, so I learned something about South America on this trip, as did the Tadpole.

The next virtual we visited was in Compton, CA and was a
monument to Cesar Chavez and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. There was a parade going on two blocks east of where the virtual was taking place, so there were lots of families out walking toward the parade route. If this had been a regular cache, I probably would have passed on it, but being a virtual, it wasn't a problem. We had to get information about when the monument/statue was dedicated, or post a picture. The monument was an interesting obelisk, so I went with the picture, although I did take a picture of the dedication plaque as well, photoshopping out the information needed before posting my photo in my log.

The monument didn't really provide a lot of information about either gentlemen, perhaps serving more of a reminder of what they did as opposed to teaching about what they did for others during their lifetime. So we came away a little disappointed not really learning a whole lot at this particular virtual, but we were still able to enjoy the monument for it's unique shape. I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like this one. It was actually difficult getting a decent picture of the monument without getting the logo of the chicken fast food place in the background, although I did end up being successful in that endeavor.

The last virtual we did was on the campus of the University of Southern California (USC).
The coordinates for this one take you to Tommy as he is affectionately called by most who are fans of USC. I have to admit, that I'm not as big a fan as I could be since I grew up in Southern California. I guess you could say as a child I had been brainwashed a little and I make mention of that in my log of the cache. You see, I was born in South Bend, Indiana and my dad, uncles and cousins all attended Notre Dame University. My grandfather and cousin taught at the university, so I was a little prejudiced against USC growing up.

I wrote a rather rambling log of the times I'd actually seen Tommy Trojan while living in Southern California. Most of the visits were centered around Notre Dame/USC football games. Having a father who is an alumnus of Notre Dame means you end up seeing them play football out here every other year. My best friend from high school also went to USC, so when my dad stopped paying for tickets for me, my friend stepped in and took me to games. At the end of these games, fans of USC would then make the short trek from the stadium over to Tommy Trojan to pay homage.

This trip, there wasn't any football game happening, so the campus wasn't as busy as it might be on a football weekend, but it was still busy, if that makes sense. Tommy is in the middle of the campus, and it costs big bucks to get a parking spot on campus, so we sought out some free parking on the outskirts of campus. That's not as easy as it seems, but we eventually prevailed and made the short walk to the statue. We ended up on the theater arts side of campus, passing a building dedicated to George Lucas and another one dedicated to Steven Spielberg. The Tadpole is very familiar with both and so was excited about his first college visit. He asked if other college campus are so nice looking and I told him that most are.

Once at the statue, we each took our turn posing for pictures at the
base of the statue. We just enjoyed the time we had there, before heading for home. The Tadpole was impressed with the college, with Tommy, with the fountains and just the overall atmosphere of the place. Who knows? Maybe he'll end up attending there. My daughter was actually thinking about it for awhile and was a little apprehnsive at the time, fearing both of her grandfathers might disown her (her other grandfather attended UCLA). We told her they would be very proud of her and not to worry about it. Eventually, her school tastes took her elsewhere, further away, more suited to her educational needs. USC would not have been a good fit for her, but I can see it being a good fit for the Tadpole should he choose that way four years from now. He has a lot of time to think about it. Tommy Trojan will be waiting for him if he decides it's right for him.

Pictures were taken at or near the following geocaches:
"You can call me Joe" - by ScurvyDog
Martin Luther Chavez - by NoBarkDog
Sword and Shield - by roadwarrior50

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1 comment:

Sumajman said...

I like the virtual on San Martin. He is famous in South America as the equal with Bolivar. His forces helped liberate Chile and participated in battles as far north as Ecuador as the continent struggled for freedom.