Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tucked Away Treasures

After dropping off the two travel bugs near Disneyland, the Tadpole and I headed south into Santa Ana. We had two reasons for heading that way, the first being a virtual flag just around the corner from one of the elementary schools I attended. Amazing as it may seem, we didn't move once after my parents purchased the house in south Santa Ana, yet I attended 4 different elementary schools. Changing boundaries during the first three years caused me to go to three different schools between kindergarten and second grade. Changing situations caused me to be shipped off to a school in northern Santa Ana for 6th grade. It was near this school where we found a USA virtual flag.

Unfortunately, I might not score any points for this flag. The GeoVexilla site has been down for almost a week. The map shows up on the main page, but no flags do. One of the other game players kept a daily database of all the flags and sent me a spreadsheet of all the flags that were within 100km of my home coordinates, so I was able to score that USA flag and the flag of Cyprus just north of Anaheim and Disneyland. If the site doesn't come back soon, I might not score the points, but that's OK. It was the adventure that counted anyway.

After scoring the USA flag, we headed east, just beyond my 6th grade school. There was a geocache about a half mile away that had looked intriguing when I'd scouted it out last week. Sarah May Downie had been placed in a small little park located at a rather odd intersection. The oddness of the intersection, five streets all coming together, made for some interesting pieces of land. The park was on a small triangular shaped piece of land between two of the streets that converged on this intersection, too small for a house, but the perfect size for a small memorial garden type of park. It was one of those tucked away treasures that all of us have stumbled across from time to time.

The cache page said the cache was hidden in a herb garden. I'm not sure about the herbs, but there was a variety of plant life. There were several bottle brush bushes that had grown fairly tall. I could hear two hummingbirds flitting in amongst the branches, but never could spot that actual birds. There had been several older trees on the lot that had been cut down. Bracken fungus was growing on the stumps. One of the stumps reminded me of an elephant's foot. We noticed more fungus growing on another tree back in a corner of the garden. I suspect this particular spot gets more than enough water, which was probably contributing to the fungal growth.

There were lots of dime sized daisy type flowers, scattered in the raised stone beds along with some lantana which is very drought tolerant. They tend to have very small purple or orange flowers on them. In the picture, you can see some of the purple lantana near the white daisy. We found the cache, well hidden in one of the raised beds, very well cammoed. I seriously doubt this particular cache will be muggled. It was well done and it gave cachers a reason for being there looking for the cache and allowing cachers ample opportunity to look natural in the park, without having to resort to crawling in bushes to try and find a smallish container. That's always a plus when you're a middle aged man like myself and caching alone. Having the Tadpole along is much easier in the long run, but I appreciate caches like this anyway.

Just to the north of the park, was an old bridge that crossed Santiago Creek. We decided to walk over to the bridge in the hopes of perhaps finding a benchmark, but once we got over there, I realized there wouldn't be any, at least of an older variety. I can remember that Santiago Creek was a major barrier in many areas of Santa Ana with only major thoroughfares crossing the small stream crossing. During rainy times however, the dry stream bed usually became a torrent. There had been an older bridge crossing there, but it was gone, perhaps a victim of a recent rainy spell that caused some major flooding.

We could see the old piers for the bridge on the north side of the new bridge, which had been fashioned to look like a 1940s style bridge. It was very well done and tricked me into believing that it was much older than it really was. Once we got up close, I could tell the bridge was less than 10 years old. The concrete was very smooth and new looking. We didn't find any benchmarks (I checked later on the site and no benchmarks were within a couple of miles of the bridge), but we enjoyed exploring it and the Tadpole seemed to enjoy the local history lesson I was able to give about the area when I was growing up. It was another enjoyable father/son kind of day.

Pictures were taken at or near the following geocache:
Sarah May Downie - by Rick&Liz

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