A couple of weeks ago, I took a short hike with chaosmanor to find a geocache. That statement really shouldn't surprise anyone, because that's what geocaching started out to be, hiking to find something hidden in the woods. It's evolved over time and many caches today don't involve any kind of hiking whatsoever. The terms "Cache and Dash" and "Park and Grab" have bludgeoned their way into the geocaching lexicon.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Living as close to the desert as I do, I end up spending a lot of time out in it. This wasn't always the case. Growing up in Orange County, we were about an hour and a half, perhaps two hours drive from the desert. My father is more of a mountain man, and so we very rarely went to the desert. I can remember on spring spent at Death Valley and another spring when we camped near the Salton Sea. But for the most part, I think it was a two fold reason why we didn't go there on the weekends.
One, our friends owned a cabin near Big Bear Lake up in the mountains and we pretty much had carte blanche access to that place. Long weekends were spent up there enjoying the mountain air. The second reason was my dad usually liked to put a full day's drive in whenever we would go camping and thus the desert always got bypassed in favor of more mountainous climes, like Sequoia or Yosemite. Now, I wouldn't trade those camping trips at all and I really didn't know what I was missing, having not visited the desert a lot, but the first place I took my daughter to when she was old enough to camp for a long period of time was Joshua Tree National Monument in the desert. Having a kangaroo rat dancing around your feet while sitting around a campfire is something that everyone should enjoy at least once in their lifetime.
5150 Desert Cache #1 - by SirSneakalot
Monday, June 22, 2009
This past Saturday, I took the Tadpole out to the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. We cached a little bit before heading over there around 10:30 in the morning. One of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta was on display there and when we got there, we both realized that the day we were there, would be the last day for that particular exhibit, so needless to say, the library was probably more crowded than usual.
Friday, June 19, 2009
This week, I was grounded from doing much of anything. Well, not really, but it felt that way since I was on call for jury duty with the county of Los Angeles. Here, we have a one day, one trial system for jury duty. You're on call for a week. So Sunday evening, I called in and the automated system told me that I didn't need to report on Monday, but to call Monday night for Tuesday. I continued to do this and discovered I had to report for jury duty on Thursday of this week.
Because my youngest also had three doctor's appointments this week for various things, none of which were earth shattering or scary, I ended up using the first three days of this week shuttling him to his appointments. He got a clean bill of health for his appendectomy, so he was really happy about that, so happy, he ended up finding a cache on top of the parking structure at the hospital where we were. "Oh, so that's why we parked way up on the top of the structure today!"
Thursday, I ended up sitting around in the jury assembly room for most of the day. At 3:20 in the afternoon, they called about three quarters of the group to head down to the court room and ten minutes later, they let the rest of us go. My jury service having been completed, I'm free for at least a year now. I decided to go out and celebrate a little by finding a couple of caches. Well, actually, I found one cache. The other caches I had in my GPSr at the time were all in direct line of sight with muggles, so I decided to pass on them. The cache I found was also my first cache find on a Thursday since last December. That streak is over too.
I'd chosen this area of Diamond Bar because of another challenge that I'm starting to work toward getting in the future. The Los Angeles County Quadrangle Challenge requires you to find at least one cache in each of the USGS quadrangle maps for all of Los Angeles County. There are 81 quads covering Los Angeles County. The cache was created in December 2006 and one of the requirements is you can't count caches that you found before December 2006. That little requirement has cost me about half a dozen quads. Not that it's bothering me because more than likely, I'd go back to those areas again in the future to find more caches, which is exactly what I did Thursday.
The Yorba Linda quad covers a small area of south Diamond Bar in the southeast corner of Los Angeles County. It's a small sliver and there aren't many caches to be found in this little area. I'd found a couple of caches in the quad prior to December 2006, but those didn't count so I needed to find a cache for that quad for credit on the challenge. It made sense to try on Thursday since the area is only 7 miles from the courthouse where I was serving jury duty. If I got out early, I might be able to find a cache or two and also get home before traffic got heavy.
During my "grounding" this week, I've been going over my cache finds for the past couple of years to see what quads I already had. The geocaching maps work well for this because you can scan the map and see the smiley faces. The USGS website has a nifty little site that allows you to see the boundaries of quad maps using the same Google map interface that geocaching does. All I had to do was zoom in on one of my smileys and then check the corresponding map at USGS to see what quadrants I already had. I found out I had 42 quads already covered out of the 81. I'm now up to 43 with the Yorba Linda Quad.
Saturday, the Tadpole and I are going to be visiting the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. We'll be taking a roundabout way to get to the library, taking the coastal route along the Pacific Ocean. The quad grid I've posted I grabbed from the Los Angeles County Quadrangle Challenge cache page. I'm coloring it for myself so I have a visual record of the quads I have and the ones I need. The greens ones have been done, the white ones need to be done. The light blue ones are ones we'll be attempting to complete this Saturday on our trip to the Reagan Library. Hopefully, some of those blue ones will be painted green after Saturday.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Sometimes, I end up finding lamp post caches. It doesn't happen that often and usually I don't have a lot to say about them, since they seem to be so pervasive in an urban area and usually pretty routine. One lamp post cache find did catch my eye, not because it was different, but because of the experience. Last Saturday was my first full day of vacation, so I figured what better way to spend it than to go out caching with my good friend Chaosmanor.
We met over near a park and ride off of the 118 Simi Valley Freeway, otherwise known as the Ronald Reagan Freeway. We've utilized this particular park and ride in the past and we both commented that it was surprising there wasn't a cache hidden in it since it's a large area, with several landscaped areas that could hold a small cache (not a micro as I don't hide micros). I even came up with a clever name for it should we decide to come here again as a base camp.
This particular park and ride is literally under a transition road for the freeway and so the geocache map would be interesting, making it look like the cache could be in the middle of the freeway, depending upon placement. It's probably because of the proximity to the freeway that there hasn't been a cache placed there. It is pretty noisy and not the most scenic spot in the world, but then again, there are quite a few caches that fit that description.
Which leads me to this lamp post cache we found after we'd dropped off Chaosmanor's car at the park and ride. This was our second cache of the day. We weren't sure what the cache was going to be when we first got there. That's often the case when you run a circle PQ for an area. You go out and you find caches. Some are interesting and some are...well, let's just say they're not as interesting as others.
As we pulled into the parking lot both our GPSrs were pointing at this particular lamp post, so I slowly approached it in the car, looking around to see where the concentration of muggles were, in order to position my car in a good spot to use it as a shield if need be. Once I had parked the car, we were out and had the cache in hand very quickly and then it got interesting. Chaosmanor was about to put the cache back when I warned him of a muggle that had just pulled up behind him in a car. So now we had to go into stealth mode, or actually diversionary mode. I've written about how I've used my camera quite often to distract muggles into thinking that I was only there to take pictures, as opposed to that more nefarious activity geocaching.
I'm not sure this time it worked very well, because the muggle just seemed to be interested in me and Chaosmanor for the longest time as she sat in her car. Perhaps she was wondering what two middle aged men were doing walking around in the planter looking at various weeds and other plants, but eventually she got tired of it and got out of her car and went inside the store. However, there were other muggles about as well, so we had to wait them out. I think this was the first time where I had more trouble replacing the cache than in retrieving the cache because of muggles.
We eventually got the cache replaced when I spied some clover growing near another lamp post further down. This particular clover was immense. The bud was at least quarter in diameter if not bigger. Most of the clover I've seen in lawns in this area are usually small white balls of little flowers. This purple bunch really took me by surprise. Couple that with the other pictures I took of the iris and the dandelion and I actually got some really nice photos at this rather average lamp post cache.
I guess I really need to thank the muggles though. Had they not been there in force, we'd probably have been in and out very quickly and we would have missed these little highlights. Eh. It's a weed some people might say. Yeah, it's a weed, but it made for an interesting picture, so I'll take that weed any day of the week. I still don't particularly like to find a lot of lamp post caches, but I'm pretty sure that I'll look at them slightly differently in the future because of this experience I had with them on Saturday. And that's what it's all about really, enjoying the experience.
Pictures were taken at or near the following geocache:
Greens - by shirconn
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
The day before appendicitis took down the Tadpole, we drove down into Orange County for GeoVexilla and some caching. The positions of the different flags, which were actually spread out between Orange and Los Angeles Counties were such that I didn't want to pick out specific caches, so I went with a virtual PQ, to see what virtual caches were close to any of the virtual flags. The Tadpole enjoys virtuals, so we decided to make it a totally virtual day.
The first flag was found easily, in between two houses, then we drove over to Aliso Creek County Park to hike down to a virtual cache. From the parking lot, the cache was only 1.37 miles away, so it looked like it was going to be an easy walk since the trail was a paved trail designed for biking, so we didn't think it would be too strenuous. There were many wildflowers in bloom, including staghorn cholla cactus. For perspective, the blooms in the picture are about the size of a quarter.
Every now and then, I fail to look at maps that closely. I assume that most caches are placed close to roads and/or trails, so I didn't really think that much about this one, but it just seemed as we walked that we weren't getting a whole lot closer to the cache. After a mile of walking, we were only about a third of a mile closer to the cache and walking parallel to the cache. Both of us could see the ridge that we thought the cache was on, but even that looked too close, which meant we probably had to find a way to get on the other side of the ridge.
On top of that, if we chose to bushwhack, the hillside was filled with foxtails. Anyone who is a regular here, knows that foxtails are the bane of my existence. I will venture into fields of foxtails only as a last resort. Upon further inspection, it wouldn't have worked anyway, since there were fences that we would have had to cross in order to get to where we were going. In other words, we needed to stay on the trail.
Our time was limited, because we had planned other virtual flag grabs, but I figured if we were having a good time, we could continue on. Whenever I go with the Tadpole, I like to leave it up to him, giving him some ownership into the decision making process we do with this hobby of ours. It's probably something that I learned when caching with his older brother. I wasn't quite as willing to let him make those decisions and it's probably one of the reasons why he's not enamored with the hobby in general.
With that in mind, I laid out our options to him, telling him that we'd have to go around the ridge to get to the cache. He opted to cut the hike short and make our way back to the car because he wanted to go after the other flags. In the end, we didn't get any caches that day, mainly because I had only place virtual caches in the GPSr. We actually ended up walking right by an ammo can hide along the trail as we walked toward and then away from the virtual cache we were seeking. Our walk in the park was enjoyable even if we didn't find any caches. And after looking at the geocaching maps, there looks to be about three or four caches along this nice little trail, which means we can always go back in the fall when it cools down and walk that trail again.
Pictures were taken at or near the following geocaches:
You are cleared to land - by Quietman33
Dripping Cache - by dr.bob
Monday, June 8, 2009
The Tadpole, my regular caching partner is a little under the weather today. Early Sunday morning, he was ill, throwing up and just not feeling very well. This is not the first time he's been sick, but it seemed to be the first time where he just wasn't feeling well and complaining a lot about his overall condition. He stayed home from church and was lying on the couch when we got back from church. He was complaining about being in pain, so I asked him generally where it hurt. After he showed me, I decided to probe a little bit and discovered what I needed to know.
I told him to get dressed and we were on the way to Urgent Care to get him looked over by a doctor. Blood work followed and we were then sent over to the Emergency ward to be checked in. Once over there, he was prodded by other doctors, including several surgeons. Eventually, at 8:15 he was wheeled into surgery. An hour later he was in recovery and another hour later he was in his hospital room.
Today, he is resting comfortably, sans appendix. He's already watched all three of the Back to the Future DVDs and I'm sure tomorrow will probably be dedicated to either Jurassic Park or the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Since his surgery was done laparoscopically, he'll have a much shorter recovery time and will be enjoying his summer vacation and hopefully will be up for some geocaching adventures in the near future.
As a parent, you're never prepared to see your own child in pain, but I have to say, he held up tremendously well. He kept his sense of humor throughout and was giving us thumbs up only 45 minutes after he was wheeled into the recovery room. His comment to the nurse when told he had to give them a decent assessment of his pain level was, "What pain?" Needless to say, he had apparently been in a lot of pain earlier in the day.
I'll get this blog back to its usual geocaching drivel with my next post.
Pictures were taken at or near the following geocaches:
Cheeseheads on Dirt Mulholland - Dad, Jen, & Beth (Mostly Beth)
Mary E. J. Colter built it - by Yrium and Whistlestick
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Well, it's Thursday again. That's the day of the week, when I don't go caching. I'm not sure why this has happened this year, but for whatever reason, it's becoming more of a joke to me than anything else. The last time I've been caching on a Thursday and actually found a cache was December 11th, 2008, almost 6 months ago. I don't know what it is about Thursday, since it's usually an easy day for me to get away from work and look for a quick cache and dash if the need arises. I've also had four weeks of vacation time during those past 6 months where I could have found caches on a Thursday yet didn't. Next Thursday, is June 11, the last day of school, a minimum day and exactly 6 months from my last Thursday cache find. I think I'll go caching after work that day.