Monday, March 29, 2010

Red Letter Day

This story is not about geocaching.  It's a story that has taken 21 years to tell and is not finished even today.  Twenty one years ago today, my wife and I were clueless.  I don't believe anyone is totally prepared for parenthood, no matter how many books they've read, no matter how many pieces of advice they've received.  We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, yet we had no choice, because that path had been chosen earlier.  At 8:52 PM, on March 29th, 1989, our first born made her appearance into the world.  My wife's OB let me deliver my baby girl.

I have a bundle of thoughts running through my head today, too many to keep straight, so excuse me if this rambles a little bit.  She did the normal things.  If I could find her baby book, which is buried in a hall closet, I could probably tell you the exact date she showed her first tooth.  I know it was sometime around her first birthday.  I watched her crawl for the first time on Christmas Day that year.  I got lucky enough to videotape it, but was still unprepared for it, because I can remember thinking, "Wow, she just crawled over here, and I didn't even note it in the video."

Her favorite book to be read was Moo, Baa, LaLaLa, a silly little book describing animal sounds.  Did you know that three singing pigs say "La La La La?"  Well, that's what the book says.  Later we graduated to Dr. Seuss's ABC book.  It lends itself well to singing, so I ended up doing that a lot.  "Big A, Little A, what begins with A?  Aunt Annie's Alligator........A...a.....A."  A third favorite was Love You Forever.  This was probably my favorite, more than hers, but she liked me to read it to her at bedtime nonetheless.

As she grew, she developed new tastes.  I introduced her to camping, taking her up for a night in the mountains near Lake Arrowhead.  The following spring, we went camping at Joshua Tree National Monument.  Every spring and summer after that until she reached the age of 13, we would go camping somewhere.  One summer, Daddy forgot the tent poles, so we ended up buying a backpacking tent to sleep in for a week.  Have you ever slept in a backpacking tent with a 6 year old who thrashes around in her sleep a lot?

She also developed a passion for music and started taking violin lessons when she was in kindergarten.  Several years later, she joined the Claremont Young Musicians Orchestra and played with that group for a total of 10 years.  She is now playing in her college orchestra.  Because of this love of music, she toured Europe after her senior year in high school and was fortunate enough to play in several cities in Austria and Italy.  She attended Interlochen Center for the Arts one summer and also Tanglewood during another summer.  She's gone back as a camp counselor twice at Interlochen.

Braces, proms, homecoming dances, high school graduation, college applications were all a part of her life.  We went on road trips to different colleges, scouting them out.  She fell in love with one college on one of the worst days the campus was having, with torrential rain and wind and bitter cold.  I told her that if she liked it at its worst, she definitely would love it on other days.  Today, she is in her third year at the University of the Pacific, located in Stockton, CA, over 300 miles from home, too far away to give her a hug in person today on her 21st birthday.

21 years seems like a long time, yet it goes by so quickly.  Where once was a giggly little girl, now is a confident grown woman, less dependent upon her Daddy now to soothe skinned knees and other assorted aches and pains.  And although I can no longer hold her in my arms and carry her around cradled in the crook of my elbow, she is still my baby girl, one who I love very much.  As any parent would say, I have enjoyed watching her grow up, helping her to explore my world, and will now enjoy watching as she spreads her wings and explores her world.  I'll end this with a quote from my favorite book that I got to read to her when she was younger.

I love you forever,
I'll like you for always.
As long as I'm living,
My baby you'll be.
Happy Birthday Sweetheart.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Old School

Yesterday, Chaosmanor and I found an "Old School" cache.  We found a rather longish trail that started in Topanga Canyon near Malibu.  In the link, our caching trip started with the cache right near Topanga Canyon Blvd., went east, then south paralleling Topanga Canyon Blvd.  We'd met in the area, so we had two cars to use as a shuttle for this hike, since it was 6+ miles one way.

We found a variety of different sized caches from hidden bison tube micros to full scale ammo cans.  The variety of the caches is what makes any kind of trail like this very interesting, although this one didn't need many caches to keep it interesting.  Hiking along the ridge above Topanga Canyon afforded us with views of Los Angeles, as well as Santa Monica and the Pacific Ocean.  It was a good hike.

Now, get out your flux capacitor, get it up to 88 miles per hour and go back in time to December 2001.  At that time, there was one cache along that entire trail.  But that's the way it was back then.  You hiked in, usually several miles in the process, you found one cache, and then you hiked back out.

My very first cache find was a large 5 gallon bucket painted black.  Most of the cache containers were like that.  They usually contained log books, real log books with large pages where one could write down what they had experienced during the hike.  Usually, the view was decent to good and you sat, perhaps ate your sack lunch and contemplated the day.  Geocaching was like that.

As Chaosmanor and I walked along, we realized that we had an older cache situated along the trail.  In fact, he'd tried to get it four years ago, but had missed an important side trail and wasn't able to find it at that time.  Coming at it from the north, we had a do or die decision to make.  There was a trail leading up to the ridge where we knew the cache to be.  Should we take it, or continue on and try to find a back door to this cache?

We chose the back door route and as we walked along the fire road, we realized we might have made a mistake as we kept getting closer and closer.  My GPSr, at one point, read only 235 feet away.  However, there was probably 75 to 100 feet of vertical elevation to deal with as well.  As we started to go away from the cache, we looked ahead and realized the fire road went around a bend up ahead and it was there that we found the access trail that led up to The Pit Stop.

The trail walked along a ridge with plenty of vertical drop off on both sides.  It definitely wasn't for the faint of heart, but the views were worth any thrill we might be getting due to acrophobia.  Once near ground zero, we found a magnificent benchmark which we both admired.  I took a couple of pictures and then we started our search for the cache.

I went one way and Chaosmanor went the other and he ended up finding the cache first.  Being in that remote of an area, it didn't really need any camouflage and as you can see from the pictures, it didn't.  The log book didn't disappoint either.  Full pages, complete with full descriptions of experiences in the beginning, diminishing down to single line entries in the later years, or perhaps just signatures.

We spotted some old time cachers from the Southern California area, names that everyone knew because there were so few of us back then that we would literally follow each other to new caches every weekend.  I recognized names, such as gpsdave, sr.hikers, erik, and PezCachers.  Of those four, only PezCachers do I predate as far as geocaching longevity.  Erik has been geocaching since October 2000, sr.hikers since February 2001.  Gpsdave signed up two days before me in March 2001.  All appear to be still active in geocaching, based upon activity on their profiles.

Chaosmanor and I spent much more time here than we did at some of the other caches we found on Saturday.  We read through many of the log entries, getting a feel for what others thought of this cache.  We were reliving some geocaching history at this site.  The enjoyment of the hike was more than enough at the time.  It wasn't all about the numbers, it was about the experience.

There was no doubt that this cache would make my top 5% list.  I also decided to use this one as my qualifying cache for the LA County Quadrangle Challenge cache.  I only need 10 more quadrangles to qualify for that cache.  I suspect that I will be doing some more hiking, particularly in the fall when it cools down, to get some of the rest of those quadrangles.  Most of the ones I have left are fairly remote and will require some hiking to get.

At the end of the day, both of us were extremely tired.  Looking at a trail map, it looks like we walked about 6 miles.  I would suspect that it was over 7, because many of the caches were not placed directly on the trail.  Many you had to hike off the trail quite a ways to get to the cache.  The Pit Stop was an extra .15 mile each way off of the main trail.  That doesn't seem like much, but add a quarter mile to half a dozen caches and you have an extra mile and a half.   That's OK.  We were doing some Old School caching yesterday.

Pictures were taken at or near the following geocache:
The Pit Stop - by DahMooser and MsPea

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Dry Bones

No matter how prepared you are, the desert can be a pretty inhospitable place.  We had cell phones, we had plenty of water so we weren't really worried about ourselve, yet we found evidence in our last couple of weeks out in the desert that it can still be cruel to those that don't have these luxuries.

I noticed from some of the other logs that are appearing on some of the caches we found the first weekend out at the Groundspeak series that several of the cachers found the same thing as we did; dried out bones.  The first thing I noticed as we approached the cache was a pelvis, bleached by the sun, completely free of any sinewy material that would indicate that it hadn't been out there for a long time.  These bones were picked clean, so they'd definitely been out there for awhile.

Near the pelvis, we found two sections of vertebrae, fairly intact and two long bones, what I thought to be thigh bones.  The sizes of the long bones gave me the impression that this particular animal was probably a coyote.  But then, we found a jawbone which messed up those theories post haste.

The jawbone was of a herbivore.  Cutting teeth in the front, with molars in the back for chewing, with no canines for ripping like you'd see with a carnivore or possibly an omnivore like a desert wild pig.  The size indicated a deer, but I was puzzled since deer aren't usually found here.  Yes, you will see them, but they're usually found at higher elevations where the food is a lot more plentiful.

There were a lot of green plants around, but it's spring time in the desert and it's expected that green plants will be around.  They will flower soon, produce their seeds which will be scattered by the wind and then they will die, only to come back after the winter rains.  There is not much food during most times of the year out here, so it still didn't make sense.  The only thing I could think of is a deer got lost and wandered into this region, perhaps already sick or injured and the harsh conditions finished it off.

Whatever the possibility, it gave us a reminder that most animals don't have the luxuries that we have when it comes to our health.  Death in the wild, is usually not pretty and I would suspect that very few animals die a peaceful death.  The animals get recycled quickly as is the way with nature, so that they will give back to the plants what they took from them when they were living.  How long these particular bones had been out there is anyone's guess.  My hope is they stay for a longer period of time and aren't picked up by others as they hike through the desert.  Let the sleeping bones lie.

Pictures were taken at or near the following geocaches:
Groundspeak Series - Power Caching - by HDGC

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Trail Meetings

The first time I met someone on the trail while geocaching was the second time I ever went geocaching.  I actually think that's pretty significant since there weren't that many geocachers out there.  But, on the other hand, there weren't that many geocaches either, so those of us who were into this hobby back then, were all out going for the same caches on good weekends.  I met Stantastic and Seldom Seen John along a trail in the Chino Hills State park south of where we live.  All of us were going after San Juan Hill.  Both are still active in Geocaching, although at different levels of activity.

This past weekend, while hiking out in the desert, Chaosmanor and I came across four other hikers doing the same Groundspeak Series.  All of these cachers were from my local area (Chaosmanor lives about 60+ miles away from me) and I hadn't met any of them face to face, but had seen their names in logs and had communicated with one of them by email and on the phone several times over the past couple of months.

When we got to the first cache we were attempting to find on the second day, I noticed right away when we opened the log book the RangerG/76, Larry the Pool Guy, Guns and Cockpits, and Maddmaxxawr were somewhere out on the trail.  I had Maddmaxxawr's number in my phone so I called him to figure out where he was.  And of course, they were on the opposite side of the G+ from where we were.  I figured that we might bump into them, since our plan for this day was to drive to some.  By the third cache, our paths crossed for the first of four times.  We discovered each other's personal bugs and coins, shot the breeze a little bit and then parted ways.  It was nice to finally put faces to the names I kept seeing in logs.

We ended up crossing paths on Saturday three or four times, with the last time when we all ended up at the mystery cache for the series.  This was pure serendipity, because the two groups had decided to do different things.  They were hiking the entire series, then planning on hiking up to the top of Lookout Mountain to get the bonus cache up there, while we were driving to many of the ones that we had left.  It should be noted that I use driving loosely, since we ended up doing short hikes into the desert at most of the caches and our last hike was several miles in length due to the worsening condition of the roads and our lack of a high clearance vehicle.  Still, it was pure luck that we ended up at the same cache later on.

It was also nice to find other people in my local area who enjoy hiking.  If I plan to go on a hike, I can probably get in contact with any of them and they'd probably go along, if for nothing else, just the enjoyment of company and the hike.  My trail meetings are usually the way I meet other cachers.  I don't go to many event caches for basically unknown reasons.  Every event I've been to, I've met nice people.  I just don't go to many events.  So to meet local cachers that far a distance from home was a nice surprise.

Pictures were taken at or near the following cache:
Groundspeak Series - by HDGC

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Sunday, March 21, 2010


Yesterday, my friend Chaosmanor and I trekked back out into the desert to complete the Groundspeak Series of caches.  Last Saturday, we'd completed the lower half of the G+, getting 19 of the 40 caches in the series.  We hiked the lower portion, putting in about 6 miles of  hiking to get the 19 caches.

Fast forwarding to this week and we heading up to finish it off, getting the other 21 caches plus the mystery cache and perhaps the bonus cache.  We were also playing GeoVexilla, the virtual "Capture the Flag" game that we both play, so we figured that since time might be short, we would try to drive to many of the caches still needed to complete the series.

We still ended up hiking about 4 miles on Saturday, giving us over 10+ miles of hiking on the route to get all of the caches.  We'd looked at the terrain maps and without a high clearance vehicle, the bonus cache was going to be too tough of a hike, especially late in the day, so we opted not to do that one.  The last 7 caches were part of a 2+ mile round trip hike over extremely rough terrain.  We were up to the challenge and it was in the very last cache that we found the last set of coordinates for the mystery cache.

We'd also run into other cachers out on the G, all of which were from my local area.  Funny how you have to drive 45 miles to meet up with people who live in your own neighborhood, but that's the way it worked. We ended up running into them on four different occasions including at the final mystery cache.  After the log had been passed around, we told some geocaching tales, enjoyed each other's company and then parted ways to head back to our respective homes.  This was a series well worth the adventure.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Warm weather concerns

From the looks of it, I think we did the easy section of the Groundspeak series last weekend.  Based upon Topo maps and satellite images that I've been looking at, plus some comments I've received from Chaosmanor over the week, the southern part looks to be a little bit easier to maneuver around than the northern part of the G+.  I guess it's good that we have an extra  hour of daylight now.  More daylight, means more time to cache.

It's been warming up nicely in Southern California.  That's good in one sense, but not so good in another.  Last weekend, it was downright cold and I don't recall seeing another animals of the reptilian variety out while we were hiking out in the desert.  I noted to Chaosmanor that there were some spots where caches were hidden where it could get really interesting if the weather warmed up at all.  We hiked through some rocky areas on Saturday, the kind of areas that are prone for lizards to be found sunning themselves and also for other creatures that aren't as benevolent.

Last November, we had a cacher in our local area get bit by a rattlesnake, without any warning.  It bit, then rattled its tail after the fact.  You can read about the experience here.  November is not a month where one would usually be concerned about rattle snakes, yet here we have an incident that should also serve as a wake up call for anyone who lives in warmer climes.  My only encounter with a rattlesnake while geocaching happened in May of 2007.  We had been making quite a bit of noise that morning and we still ended up near a five to six foot rattlesnake, who wasn't at all pleased with its morning siesta being disturbed the way it was.  Needless to say, we always need to remember that snakes can be there, no matter what the season.

Picture was taken at or near the following geocache:
Groundspeak Series - Latitude - by HDGC

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Out where the Smiley series of caches is located, there is a new series of caches called the Groundspeak series.  My friend Chaosmanor spotted it about 2 weeks ago and alerted me and we planned over the next week to assault this large G+ out in the desert.  We had visions of grandeur that led us to believe that we could conquer the entire series (40 caches spread out over a much larger acreage than the Smiley series) in one day.

When we first planned the trip, we figured we'd be out there sometime around 10 o'clock in the morning, plenty of time to get the entire series right?  Nope, not even close.  Plans changed.  We realized that if we started right at ten, that we'd be getting hungry partially through the circle.  Granted, we could have each taken a sack lunch along for the trek, but we didn't talk about that, so we ended up caching along a road that had a string of benchmarks and caches along it.

Once we got hungry, we ate lunch at a local establishment and then headed out to get the Groundspeak series.  This particular hike was a little bit different than the Smiley series as it's much longer.  I'll need to take a screen shot of the two locations to show the difference, but suffice to say, the Smiley circle would fit easily inside this large G+ spread out over the desert floor.  The G+ is big enough that parts of it encroach upon the foothills surrounding this particular area.  I think the G, or the circle of the G has a 2 mile diameter and each cache is approximately 2 tenths of a mile between caches.

There are roads out there which we could have used to pick off many of the caches, but we chose to walk, starting on the back side of the G and work around it, going south and counter clockwise.  We got almost over to the crosspiece of the G on the far side and realized that there was no way we could complete it in the time we had left before the sun went down, so we utilized one of the road and hiked back to where we'd parked the car.  While on that road, we picked up two more of the caches for a total of 19 cache finds in this series.

The plan is to make another trek out there this weekend and finish it off.  Spring break starts on Friday for me and we have an extra hour of daylight so I don't think we'll have too many problems getting the rest of the caches.   There is one bonus cache associated with this series and a mystery cache.  Two of the caches out there have the coordinates of the mystery cache.  After doing some research, I was able to discover that this bonus cache is one of the two that has the final coordinates.  Whether we make it to that bonus cache and thus, the mystery is something that we're researching at the moment.

The bonus cache is rated at 4.5 terrain.  Neither of us have a 4WD vehicle, and so we're not sure if we'd be able to get close enough to it, either by driving or by walking.  Based upon Topo maps it's a really steep climb, but as Chaosmanor stated in one of his emails to me recently, "There are over 1,000,000 caches on this blue marble of ours and we're not going to get them all."  I've always approached caching as a man's gotta know his limitations.  We'll see how this turns out, but either way, I'm looking forward to this weekend and some more caching with my friend.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010


This really isn't a story about spoilers in geocaching, but more about the name of the cache that I found yesterday.  It's actually one of several I found yesterday, but I'll be writing about this particular one, since it has special meaning.

My friend Chaosmanor pointed out a series of caches just north of where the Smiley series was which we attempted and completed last year at the end of February.  This new series, is larger than the Smiley series, with about 40 caches as opposed to the 26 involved in the other series.  It creates an overlarge Groundspeak symbol on the desert floor and surrounding foothills.  Each cache was named after a different part, or aspect of Geocaching, things like GC Codes and Archive.  One of the ones I found with Chaosmanor yesterday was the Spoilers cache.

With a planned geocaching trip out to the desert yesterday, we both knew I would cross over a major milestone of cache finds on Saturday (3000).  It really didn't matter which cache ended up being the 3000th, more that I was out with a friend enjoying the game and having a good time.  As luck would have it, the 3000th also happened to be a larger sized cache.  This ended up being very fortuitous, since I had a Donald Duck travel bug in my possession that I had acquired in Northern California over Presidents Day weekend.  Both of us couldn't think of a better way to celebrate than to drop a web-footed travel bug in Webfoot's 3000th cache find.  Here's to Spoilers and other caches that I will find in the future.

Picture was taken near the following geocache:
Groundspeak Series - Spoilers - by HDGC

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Carry a big stick or a big stick carries.....

This past Saturday, two of the teachers I work with and I took 13 middle school kids to a Science Olympiad.   Over the course of the day, the kids, in groups of twos and threes, competed in various science competitions.  Overall, they came in 6th place and because of how they accounted for the different winners, the team qualified for the southern state competition to be held in about a month.

During part of the day, I also introduced about 11 of the kids to geocaching.  The high school where the competition took place is Riverside Poly High.  Those of you who are basketball fans, might recognize the high school as the one where professionals Reggie and Cheryl Miller played their high school basketball in the early 80s.  I wasn't aware of this until the evening awards ceremony was held in the gym, which is like a shrine to the two of them.

The high school is located off the 91 freeway and Victoria Avenue runs the length of the high school on its western side.  Victoria Avenue has been around as a graded road for almost 120 years, which in California years is ancient history.  There is a large middle median section in the road, with a dirt trail on it and lines of trees, most notably palm trees, especially at its northern end, just north of the school.

It was this northern end of the road that one student and I head to right after lunch.  He was one of the kids that didn't have a competition at this time and there were two geocaches, one about a third of a mile north of the school and the other about a third of a mile south of the school.  I figured in the time I had between the competition and the actual awards ceremony, we couldn't get all of the kids to both of them, so I went for the northerly one with only one student.

The cache was a small micro cache, one of those mini, log only, type of caches no bigger than your finger.  It was hidden on the side of a palm tree.  When we got over to the cache, we started looking around it and I spotted the cache pretty quickly, but decided to let my student also find it.  The startled look he gave was one of, "Oh my, is that really it?"  The cache itself wasn't really notable, but what made the site interesting was the history surrounding the site.

The palm tree had been planted in 1903, making it at least 107 years old, because the plaque at the base of the tree didn't indicate that it had been planted as a seed.  I was unaware that palm trees were that long lived.  What was also notable was the palm tree had been planted by our 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt.  This was probably on the same trip where he had visited the Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Parks.  Out side of a small, tombstone-like plaque at the base of the tree, there was nothing distinguishing about the tree that gave anybody a clue as to what had transpired there over 100 years ago.  Many cars drove by while we were standing there logging the cache and I wonder how many knew of the significance.  Probably very few.  It was an interesting history lesson.

A couple of hours later, I took 11 of the students south of the school in search of the other geocache hidden nearby.  I knew this one would be an easier find and would provide a good introduction to the hobby.  As we followed the GPSr toward ground zero, I got to explain geocaching to one of the parents who went on our walk plus several of the kids who happened to be close by.  Once we got to within 50 feet, I showed everyone where the geocache would probably be and explained our ethics that if one of us should find it, then he or she would just walk away and stand in the middle of the trail, so that others would have the chance.

It worked well, all the way until the end.  Several of the kids got a kick out of the last kid, who appeared to be staring right at the cache, yet didn't see it hanging on a branch or stick right at head level until he stepped back about a foot.  I commented that had the cache been a snake, it would have bit him.  He contradicted me by stating that if it had been a snake, it would have mocked him first, then bit him.  It was a lighthearted moment for all.

We took the cache out in the open so that all could see the contents, none of which interested anyone which didn't surprise me, but I was able to explain again the ethics of leaving more than you take.  They all seemed to get that part.  The cache was a small decon container, so I was able to drop a geocoin and a travel bug that I got on our trip to Stockton and Santa Cruz last month, so that worked out well too.

Several of the kids expressed an interest in doing this again, so I'll probably have the GPSr loaded with caches surrounding where we'll be competing come the beginning of next month.

Pictures were taken at the geocache:
Rushmore's Hand - by wife&mom

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Friday, March 5, 2010


9 years ago today, I was in a Where's George chat room when I first heard about Geocaching.  Later that evening, I looked over the site, checked out the FAQ page and signed up.  Two days later, I visited my local Wal*Mart and purchased a Garmin 12, the same model my father-in-law already owned.  Three days after that, my two sons and I drove the 7 miles to the closest cache and then hiked a half a mile to find a large bucket, painted black hidden under a large bush on the other side of a creek.  I was hooked, still am after 9 years of doing this.

Today, I went out and celebrated my "anniversary" by finding a couple of caches near where I work.  I've seen both types of hides before, but they were creative nonetheless for suburban type caches.  I enjoyed the afternoon and had a good time finding the two caches.  With those two finds, I'm currently at 2979 finds.  That's an average of 331 finds per year.  It's been fun and I'm looking forward to the next year.  Who knows what the next year or years will bring, but I'm sure I'll find some interesting caches on the way, hopefully most that will make me think.

Picture was taken near the following geocaches:
Wilderness Park Cache - by Elliott Aldrich
7 Miles Away and a Half Mile Hike - by Webfoot

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010


One of the fun aspects of geocaching is when you get to explore a new area and learn something from that area.  When I went to college, a friend of mine was from Salinas.  I didn't really think much of this except when I would come home along the 101 and drive by Salinas and think, "Oh, that's where so and so lives."  I had the stamina of a college student, but then again, I was, so it was easy to make a 12 hour drive, and be as fresh as a daisy when I was done.

Stopping?  Heck, we'd stop once for lunch, and a couple of times for gas and that was about it.  Today, I don't have the stamina for that kind of driving and although I probably stop less for gas, I do stop more occasionally to smell the roses, enjoy the air and to just plain stretch.  That's where geocaching come in.  It clears my head on those long drives.

Now that I have a reason to drive up the 101 again, Salinas comes into view every time we drive to or from Santa Cruz.  There's also a couple of interesting spots in town that deserved our scrutiny and we stopped this last time to check out some of the architecture and history of Salinas, CA.

Salinas is at the juncture where we leave the 101 to cut over to the coast if we're heading up to Santa Cruz.  On our way back, it's obviously, just the opposite.  We were heading south, toward home and driving through the edge of Salinas when I noticed a couple of caches just west of our intended route pop up on my GPS's screen.  I knew there were a couple of virtual caches near here and was delighted to see that both of them were right here.

This particular virtual had us examining some historic homes along a two block stretch of road in the old town part of Salinas.  The second house was the one that I particularly enjoyed the most because it was the birthplace of John Steinbeck, author of The Grapes of Wrath and The Red Pony, plus many other stories.  I can remember reading The Red Pony in junior high and I believe I ended up reading The Grapes of Wrath in either high school or college, but my memory is a little shaky on that second point.

Unfortunately, the house which is open for tours was closed that early in the morning when we were there, so we couldn't tour the inside of the house, but that will give us another excuse to come back through and stop.  While on this walking tour near Steinbeck's house we also ended up seeing a house that was home to the first female butcher of Salinas and another house where one of the first pharmacists in town lived.  The Tadpole also learned what a "dormer" was when we had to count them on one of the house that this virtual cache took us too.  As he has stated previously, he likes virtuals because you usually learn something while finding them.  I have to concur.

Salinas is obviously very proud of Steinbeck's roots as they have the John Steinbeck Library in town and the National Steinbeck Center which houses the largest collection of John Steinbeck archives in the world.  They should be proud.  Not many cities can be claimed as the hometown of a Pulitzer Prize winner and a Nobel Prize winner.  The other virtual in town we ended up deciding to save for another day.  I'm sure we'll get a similar set of stories from those historic building as well.  Perhaps we'll have more time to explore the Steinbeck Center as well.

Pictures were taken at or near the following geocache:
Historic Homes - by The Plunketts

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