Friday, July 31, 2009

First Day

The first day of most trips is usually a lot of driving. That was the case on our first day as well, but we tried to break it up into some shorter chunks with some geocaching here and there. We ended up finding five caches on the first day, which was actually more than I expected to find. We found three in the central valley of California as we drove up Interstate 5. We found two others later in the day, a virtual in Oakland and one near our campsite which would be our first find in Marin County.

When driving in California, you have to plan accordingly. If you're ending up traveling through either the Bay Area or the LA Basin during rush hour, you're going to be sitting in traffic for awhile. We'd left our house at 8:45 in the morning which allowed us to miss the Los Angeles traffic. The problem was as we approached the Bay Area, we were entering that during the afternoon rush hour. Fortunately, some peripheral freeways allowed us to miss most of the traffic, so it really wasn't bad, except we missed part of our caching route. Well, as noted above, we'd already found three for the first day, so it was a good start.

As we got through Oakland, I noticed a cache showing up just off the freeway near the marina in Oakland. I pulled it up and realized it was a virtual. The Tadpole enjoys virtuals because he finds them very educational, so we stopped and learned about Rosie the Riveter's important role during World War II at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Homefront National Historic Park. This was a self guided park through a mock up of a ship under construction. Along the ship's lines were historical pictures telling the reader about the role women played in the war effort. We followed the partial skeleton of the ship all the way down to the water's edge. Most of the information was not new to me, but the Tadpole was fascinated with the exhibit and I think we stayed longer because of that. After getting the necessary information for the virtual cache, we got back in the van and headed toward the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge and to our campground.

After setting up camp and eating dinner, we walked through the campground. We attempted to find a couple of caches that had eluded us last year, but were defeated again. So we satisfied ourselves with one more cache attached to a gate on a Rails to Trails trail. After that, we pretty much went back to our campsite and hit the hay. It had been a long first day, yet also rewarding at the same time. We would have many more over the next two weeks.

Pictures were taken at or near the following geocache:
Bay Area History - Rosie - by Jean&Jim

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85,000 Words

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then the 85 pictures that I've posted to the geocaching website is obviously worth 85,000 words. Not that I'll write that much, but I'm just preparing you for what lies ahead.

The past couple of weeks have been absolutely amazing. The Tadpole and I ended up camping for 2 days near Point Reyes National Seashore in Marin County, CA north of San Francisco and then for another 4 and a half days in Del Norte Redwoods State Park which is part of Redwoods National Park. Then, we met with a friend of mine in Oregon and finally with my dad up at his place in Idaho. I left the Tadpole with my Dad in Idaho and brought my other son, the Runner, home with me with a stop in Santa Cruz for his freshman orientation at UC Santa Cruz - home of the Banana Slugs. Over the next week or so, I will attempt to chronicle our trip in terms of caching, waymarking and other GPS games. Hopefully it will be interesting to everyone concerned. It's good to be home.

Picture was taken at or near the following geocache:
Point Reyes EarthQuake Trail - by forman

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Monday, July 13, 2009

On the road again

In about 10 hours or so, I shall be on the road again with the Tadpole, heading for Marin County north of San Francisco for our annual camping trip. If you recall from last year, our trip was cut short because the Tadpole became ill the first night. We're planning on doing much the same trip as before, but then heading north through Crater Lake in Oregon and finally up to Couer d'Alene, Idaho. I will probably be without Internet access for much of the trip, so don't expect much, especially in the next week. Once I start home, I'll probably be able to post, but without any pictures. Eh. It's only 1000 words here and there.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Roll Call

Hungry Hungry Hippo? Road Warrior? Pink Dog? Roger Raccoon? chaosmanor's Idaho 2008: Goose Creek Falls - bronze? Not another micro! Geocoin?


Six travelers are coming with us when we begin our caching/camping trip next Tuesday. Unless I get out in the next couple of days to a travel bug hotel, that looks to be about it. Not like that's a bad thing, it just represents a small amount of travelers that I'll be able to move along on this trip. I've moved upwards of 18 bugs and coins on other trips. That was fun, but I'm not sure I'd want to repeat it in the short time frame of 3 days that I had. With 14+ days in which to travel and cache, I have plenty of time to drop travels off at my leisure. I actually wish I had some more.

We encountered several caches while down in San Diego this week where there should have been travel bugs. I think of the 7 caches we found, 4 had listed travel bugs in them, yet all of the caches were empty. Unfortunately, this seems to be a common theme. Either people just don't understand the concept of logging the travel bug onto the geocaching site, or there are a lot more thieves out there then I'd like to believe. I'm hoping it's the former as opposed to the latter.

Most of the goals of the ones that I have are pretty modest. A couple just want to travel from cache to cache. I can do that. One wants to get to the east coast and another wants to get to Delaware. Well, I can get them a little closer, especially if I end up putting them in the eastbound rest area in Montana. That should get them closer. Chaosmanor's geocoin just wants to stay in states that surround Idaho. I'll find a cache in Idaho and leave it there. The Pygmy Hungry Hippo I really like. It wants to share your meals with you. I can think of some great photo ops for this one on our camping trip. That one should be fun to play around with before I drop it off somewhere.

If I get the chance, I'll try to get out to our local travel bug hotel to see if there's any bugs in it. I've found that I like to move travel bugs over geocoins mainly because the photo opportunities can be a little bit more varied with the travel bugs. With a geocoin, you have to zoom in tight so you can see the geocoin, to the detriment of the rest of the background. Travel bugs you can do all sorts of things with and have some pretty humorous images to post later on. If I do get out again, I'll probably just grab the travel bugs. Any that I find on the way, will probably come back home with me for deposit around here.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Beach caching

Today, the Tadpole and I traveled down to San Diego. There was a Vexilla flag down there worth 8 points to me, plus a dashpoint, so we put the two together along with some geocaching and made a day of it. We found the dashpoint, then headed for the flag. The flag was on Fiesta Island, a man made island in Mission Bay, which is where Sea World is located. In fact, when we pulled off the freeway, we exited on Sea World Drive, but went the opposite direction from Sea World.

The flag find was an easy find as were the caches today, but the island was a neat little adventure. Each cache was hidden in a similar fashion usually under a bush, however there were a couple of variations. We even had one cache that was guarded by an attack lizard. Not really, but I spotted this lizard on a branch and as I was watching the lizard, I also spotted the cache about a half an inch away from the lizard. Unfortunately, I got to close to the lizard with my camera before taking the picture so there was a thousand words that got away.

Fiesta Island and nearby Dog Island are all connected, so I'm at a loss as to why one island is named differently depending upon which side of the island you're on, but I have a speculation. At one point while walking over to find our second cache of the day, I looked at the screen and the mapping software in my Garmin had us in the water. Not just near a shoreline, but totally in the water for at least 800 feet in all directions. Now, when I looked around, all I saw was land, but my GPSr was saying there should be water there, which leads me to believe that the part we were walking on was water at one time in the not so distant past and it has been filled in, thus rendering two islands into one.

When I started looking at this island yesterday in preparation for the today, I noticed a series of caches that had been temporarily disabled. Apparently, there is a big softball tournament on this island in July and the attendees get kind of rowdy. The cache owner of this set of caches temporarily disables his caches, and does maintenance on them during the month of July, then puts them back out again in August. Which means that we could come down here again in the fall perhaps and there will be a bunch more caches for us to find. That's always a plus, especially when you don't end up finding a couple in a given area.

The day was pretty much picture perfect. The Tadpole got to enjoy a secluded beach and toss a couple of stone in the water. The sail boats were out in force. We saw a couple of them tip over probably due to inexperience. These particular sail boats were on the small size from the looks of them, probably designed to teach sailors the ropes so to speak. Even the gulls seemed to be enjoying the day. The caches on the island varied in size from ammo can to small Tupperware type of containers. Overall, it was just a plain good day to be outside, enjoying the beach atmosphere and caching.

Pictures were taken at or near the following geocaches:
KITEBOARDING - by Splashman & Splashette
GB #3 tanner_scout - by lulu499 and LegoCollin

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

How in the heck....?

Every now and then when I'm geocaching, I stumble across something that just asks that questions, how in the heck did that get out there? You stand there and look and nothing really computes. Sometimes things can be explained. The cache we found a couple of weeks ago where we found the cache underneath the foundation of a house along a trail was easily explained when looking at the maps of the area afterwards. Those maps clearly delineated a road that wasn't there anymore, but obviously was there at one time.

The picture of the orange (what isn't orange now?) car was taken just off of a fire road. It looked like that car had been driven up as high as possible along a fire road and the unceremoniously dropped over the edge to run downhill until it came to a stop. Apparently someone didn't want that car anymore. I can't imagine it being an accident. Accidents would bring in medi-vacs, rescue operations and more than likely, they'd bring the car back out because it was a possible fire hazard, or just an ugly blight on the landscape.

Others, like the old Model A truck we found out in Joshua Tree National Park was just a prospector's truck that ended up being left out there when the old prospector died. It's still junk, but because it's inside a national park now, it's "historic" junk and thus it stays rusting away. It tells an interesting story about the early history of the area in and around Joshua Tree. Old prospectors and homesteaders laid claims to lands everywhere in the west and some of their claims get documented in areas like this.

Then there are the relics that defy explanation. We were looking for a cache named Shades and came across this old style station wagon. It didn't look like any road used to run up this canyon. In fact, while we were hiking, we were hard pressed to even find a suitable game trail. We ended up following a stream bed, clambering over rocks within the stream bed and had a difficult time getting up to the cache. How in the heck did that car get up there? At least it was serving some purpose up there, being a nice target, out of the way for gun toting individuals who needed some practice. We really couldn't tell, but it actually looked like a classic woody station wagon from the 1940s, one of those vintage cars that many of us drool over if we see them in museums or on the road. This one had definitely seen better days.

The hiders of these caches obviously knew about these abandoned automobiles. Names like Shades, Long Term Parking, and Dead Man's Truck, as well as Who Waxed Mr. Ed? give clues to where the cache might be, or what might be near the cache site. You still have to wonder sometimes how those things got out there.

Pictures were taken at or near the following geocaches:
Double Barrel Super-Soaker - by ohgr
Dead Man's Truck - by Land Snoopers [GC Charter Member]
Shades - by SHot70

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Friday, July 3, 2009

Camping Trip

Planning has begun for our annual summer camping trip. This year there is a little bit of a twist to the entire trip, which is going to elongate it by about a week. Because of that, this will be theMain Map longest camping trip we've ever taken. Originally, the trip was going to be our basic one week trip. I actuallychronicled where we would be staying last year at about this time. Unfortunately, last year, the Tadpole got sick on the first night while camping in Marin County and we had to return home. We now believe that his illness was probably the precursor for his appendicitis which flared up in a major way last month.

After missing out on camping in the Pacific Northwest last year, we just decided that we would re-create our trip this summer. It looked like a pretty good deal, until two weeks ago when my dad asked his fateful question, "Would you like to come up to Idaho and help me at the lake this summer?" My parents are in the process of selling their cabin near Couer d'Alene, Idaho and he needed help moving some furniture. Well, I couldn't refuse that, but we had reservations and other things that were in the way, so this trip has become interesting from a planning standpoint.

Originally, the Tadpole and I had planned on leaving on the 14th of July for our trip, coming home on the 21st. Then we thought that my dad could come along with us. Well, he doesn't really camp anymore due to his age, so he though he might spend the nights we were camping in nearby motels. That might have worked except he wanted to spend more than just a week up at the lake.
Crater Lake CachingThe pressing engagement on the far side of the camping trip was my older son's freshman orientation at UC Santa Cruz, scheduled for the 28. No matter what, if my dad came with us, we'd have to turn around about five days after getting up to Idaho.

Well, we've worked out a solution that seems to be ideal for everyone. My dad is taking off sometime next week with my older son. They'll head straight to Idaho. My older son stopped camping about four year ago when he hit high school and has expressed no interest in returning to it. I did what I could in exposing him to it; whether it takes or not is up to him.

Anyway, the two of them, with a possible addition of my nephew will be in Idaho for almost two weeks when the Tadpole and I show up. Our plan now is to start our camping trip at the scheduled time, then instead of heading home on the 20th, head to Idaho instead.

We'll take a day trip through Crater Lake National Park and probably spend the night in Bend, OR.
I have some friends that have offered a warm bed and shower and
I took them up on it.
Pt. Reyes Caching
We'll make Idaho on the 21st and have four or five days in which to enjoy the climes there, plus help my dad move what needs to be moved into his truck unless my older son and nephew haven't already done all of the heavy lifting. On the 25th, I'll take the older son and head to Santa Cruz, getting there just in time for his orientation on the 28th, while leaving the Tadpole with my dad. The Tadpole will come home with him later that week. He's very excited about this trip as is everyone else.

The maps show some of the caching possibilities that we have planned over the course of the two weeks. I'm planning on creating a couple of spot
queries around Couer d'Alene, possibly one around Spokane, WA, and definitely one around Crescent City, CA. Last year when I first set this query up, I literally used the geocaching road maps and handpicked caches as they appeared on the map. As long as we're going to be that far from home, I wanted to make sure the
Couer d'Alene Caching
majority of the caches were at least small in size. There aren't many micros in that entire bunch of 390 caches that show up on that map.

Last year, we had ambitions of getting caches in northern California as well as Oregon. This year, the plan is for that, plus more in Oregon, caches also in Washington and Idaho. We even have a day trip planned that will take us east along Interstate 90 over the mountain range into Montana. The rest stops just over the border in Montana, both eastbound and westbound each have caches located there. The cool thing about those rest areas however, is the caches are ammo cans. I'm used to California rest stop caches which are almost always micros, hidden near a phone booth or under a newspaper rack. Two years ago when we went camping in Arizona, we encountered a rest area cache which was an ammo can, so I know
they can be done.
Redwoods Caching
The big difference is most of the rest areas in California don't tend to have a whole lot of tree cover around them in which to hide ammo cans.

At the moment, I have four travel bugs and two geocoins that I've collected for this trip. With two weeks available for
caching, I would like to collect some more before we leave in about 10 days. There are travel bug hotels in the local area, so I'll probably be paying them a visit in the next couple of days. I'm leaning toward mostly travel bugs since it's easier to photograph them in an interesting situation. I'm not quite there with my promise to photograph every travel bug that passes through my hands, but I'm working on it.

As always, I'll try to keep updating this, but don't be surprised if there aren't any posts here in late July. There is spotty Internet connection at the cabin in Couer d'Alene, so I'll be lucky if I can do any kind of blogging and in reality, my first order of business would be to make sure that travel bugs get dropped virtually into caches so they can get proper mileage credit. And besides, if I don't blog, that's OK. I'm on vacation.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

More History

Today the Tadpole and I decided to visit the Nixon Library. One of the draws was the "World's Largest LEGO Flag" which was on display in the lobby of the Library. We found a couple of caches in the morning before getting there and then we found the parking lot for the library. We walked into the lobby of the library and there it was, a massive LEGO flag. It was rather impressive. I asked the Tadpole if he was ready to go and he gave me this quirky look as if to say, "What, are you kidding?" It was then he realized that I was.

We paid the admission price, spoke with a docent for a little bit to plan our day and then we were off to explore. Being early on a weekday, the place wasn't crowded at all so we decided to visit the President and Mrs. Nixon's graves first. I decided to take a couple of pictures, being fairly certain that Mrs. Nixon's grave hadn't been waymarked in the Grave of a Famous Person waymark category. I'm still waiting for approval on that particular waymark.

After paying our respects, we then headed over to his home where he was born and toured that and then it was off to walk through Marine One, the helicopter that ferried four Presidents from Kennedy to Ford to and from the White House, Camp David and Andrews Air Force Base. This is the same helicopter you see in the famous picture when Nixon departed the White House for the last time in August 1974.

Then it was time to tour the museum. The museum has most of the factual parts of Nixon's life down and there are some interesting displays throughout. My favorite part is the hall of world leaders. In this room, there are life sized models of the world's leaders from Nixon's time as Vice President and President. This was the third time I'd been to the Library. The first time was a month after Nixon had died and the crowds were huge, so they had the area roped off, so you could only view them from afar.

Two years ago, my daughter and I revisited the library and that time we got to walk among the leaders. There was Anwar Sadat speaking with Golda Meir. Winston Churchill, Charles DeGaulle and Conrad Adenauer of West Germany. Mao Zedung and Cho En Lai were represented as was Shigeru Yoshida, Prime Minister of Japan in the 40s and 50s. The last two statues were Leonid Brezhnev and Nikita Khrushchev. Growing up, many of these leaders I'd heard of were bigger than life in my mind and now I could walk among them.

The first thing that stands out is how short Nikita Khrushchev was. He was one of the most powerful men in the world and yet stood only 5 foot 4 inches tall, proving that size doesn't really matter. As you can see in the picture, he's several inches shorter than the Tadpole who stands 5 foot 7 inches tall. The next thing that stands out was how massive Charles DeGaulle was. Once again, compare his statue with the Tadpole standing right next to him. I estimate DeGaulle to be almost a foot taller than my son. DeGaulle was truly bigger than life.

Leaving this exhibit, we entered another exhibit that had several international exhibits including a segment of the Berlin Wall. As soon as I saw it, I remembered seeing it two years ago with my daughter and had also remembered being a little confused because at that time, I thought the section was supposed to have been at the Reagan Library. The incongruity of the situation was something that my mind didn't really want to deal with, so I just put it out of my mind thinking that it was just one of those tricks my mind was playing on me. Somehow I must have made a mistake as to where the segment of the Berlin Wall was.

So today, I saw a second segment of the Berlin Wall, just about 10 days after seeing one at the Reagan Library. I knew for a fact that this segment at the Nixon Library hadn't been waymarked, so I took a picture. I'm not sure the picture is the best since I had to hand hold the camera as the library doesn't allow flash photography inside the building. But I now own two waymarks concerning the Berlin Wall, the Reagan segment which I waymarked last month and now the Nixon segment which was approved today in the Preserved Architectural Remnants and Ruins category.

At the moment, we have 12 Presidential libraries, one for every President from Hoover through Clinton. With the addition of George W. Bush's library (#13), only Texas will have more Presidential Libraries than California. But I think California has the two that are closest together geographically. That has been an added bonus for this history buff and the history buff who calls himself the Tadpole. Both of the libraries have some interesting features but overall, I'd say the Reagan library was a little bit better put together. I think part of this was there was a lot of updating to exhibits going on in the Nixon Library.

Before the National Archives took over the Nixon Library in 2007, there wasn't a lot of information on Watergate in the Nixon library. They'd started changing this when I was there two years ago with my daughter, but they still have a lot to do before it's complete. One piece of paper in this part of museum was very striking in its simplicity and that was Nixon's resignation letter to the Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. It simply stated, " I hereby resign the office of President of the United States." Dated August 9th, 1974, it was received and initialed by the Secretary of State at 11:35 AM. Interesting how simple the transfer of power can happen in our country.

Pictures were taken at or near the following waymarks:
Berlin Wall Segment - Richard Nixon Presidential Library

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