Archive for the ‘Earthcache’ Category

A Geocaching Roadtrip

Eventually every geocacher we have met ends up not being able to find any caches locally to feed their hobby. A geocacher eventually has to travel, and that means a roadtrip. We have traveled just to geocache and geocached as we traveled. We will share with you the tips that makes our roadtrips enjoyable.

If you are going to do some geocaching when your traveling you have to go prepared. By prepared we mean to actually know what type of caches are in the area you are traveling to and visiting. You have to do some Geocaching research to make your trip enjoyable. Here is what we do.

CACHES ALONG THE WAY

If you are driving you can plan caches along a route. A Premium Member has the ability to see what caches you will pass along the way to your destination. I know it looks complicated but after playing around with it for a bit you will figure out just what you need to do to grab some caches along your route. When you finish you are sent a gpx file via email from your account. Drop that in the GPSr and your ready to roll.

CACHES AT YOUR DESTINATION

Setting up a list of caches you want to look for at your destination is a good idea as well. I know there are a lot of geocachers out there using the Geocaching IPhone Application and grabbing caches on the fly. Even if there was an app like that for Android I don’t believe we would use it while traveling, and here’s why. I don’t like to spend my day just grabbing micros all day long with my nose stuck in my phone. It just isn’t enjoyable for the family or myself. I like to weed through the caches online first and find just the right ones. This way we aren’t caching all day but enjoying family time as well. I then make a gpx file of the caches I want, and load it in the GPSr or create a bookmark list which I can then view in the hotel room or during nap time. That way I am spending time with my family and not obsessed about my geocaching.

We prefer to hit Virtual, Earthcaches, and an occasional Puzzle cache when we arrive at our destination. Puzzles are cool as you can start to get excited before your trip and they usually take you to unique places in the towns you visit. Virtuals have the ability to teach a little history of the area you visit and we love history. We love Earthcaches so we try to grab them where ever we travel as they tend to have a little bit of walking and some beautiful country involved.

If the area has a geocaching club or forum ask before you go what would be some of their favorite caches to grab. Most places are more than willing to help and are quick to give their favorites. It will give you a much more local feel to the caching area. Each place tends to have their own style of hides so you can learn something new as you go.

It is also nice to check out Waymarks in the area as well. This can sometimes lead you to some interesting places to visit. Yes they aren’t geocaches but they are fun at times to visit and they generally have some historical significance.

ENTERTAINMENT

When you travel with children entertainment is a good idea, it keeps the kids sane and the parents as well. We see families with LCD’s strapped to the back of a front seat and the kids watching DVD’s on their journey. This is fine but we like to talk and listen to modern radio shows. Johnny’s favorite is one on the Decoder Ring Theatre and is the Red Panda. I like to listen to their Black Jack Justice Series.  If you do a search for old time radio shows in google you will come up with a large list from which to choose. All you need to do is load it on your phone, IPod, or burn a CD and you have the entertainment covered.

FOOD

Food is always something to have on the trip. We like to try and bring healthy snacks along like fruits and popcorn. It is good to bring stuff to eat that isn’t going to leave a big mess in the car, as we all know kids are pretty messy. We usually don’t grab drinks as we like to stop every so often to stretch the legs for a potty break and something other than a Geocache.

LODGING

Lodging is a personal preference for sure. Over the years we have been swayed by Best Westerns. I think we like them the most as they generally have a breakfast included. Before Best Westerns we felt hurried to leave the hotel to eat. Staying at this hotels allows us to lazily get up in the morning and go grab some food and then go back to the room and prep for the day. It generally adds $10 to the stay per night, as opposed to other hotel chains, but we would spend much more than that visiting a Denny’s or IHop.

Schedule

Plan much more time than you figure for traveling. If you are jumping out and grabbing caches your trip will be much longer than it says when you Google directions. We have found that not having a schedule is the best. Get there when you do and just enjoy the time together. Caching is secondary to the family time. It is nice to keep things in perspective.

Well those are our tips for a successful roadtrip. Just have fun out there and enjoy yourselves and your families.

Until next time,

Mark & Johnny
The Flag_Mtn_Hkrs

We Went Platinum – Part II

This is a continuation of We Went Platinum – Part I

The road trip begins from Flagstaff at 5:00 AM on Sept 19, 2009. We knew it was going to be a long day. It is not often we are on the road before the sun comes up. We motored East at legal speeds and then headed south on AZ 191. We went down this a little ways until we hit AZ 61 East which turns into NM 53 at the border.We arrived at the border and documented our crossing at 8:09 AM.

Here is Johnny at the NM Border.

We were starting to get hungry and thought we would stop for some pancakes in Zuni Pueblo and get some gas as well. When we arrived there was only one restaurant in town. No one knew quite when it would open. We had to opt for some boxed donuts instead and continued on our journey.

We continued on until we hit El Morro National Monument. This place rocked, no pun intended. It is a sandstone bluff that had reliable water.

GCZRQE EarthcacheEl Morro's Headlands

Johnny with the pose of the El Morro Bluffs

Water is everything in an arid environment. Just ask anyone that has gone thirsty on a hike. They don’t make that mistake again.

GCG8PA Virtual CacheThe Tank at El Morro

This is Johnny @ the El Morro Tank

This means many people traveled over time to this place on their journeys to other areas. The cool thing is that many inscribed names or pictures into the sandstone.

GCZT06 EarthcacheInscription Rock - El Morro NM

Johnny in front of inscriptions

There were three Earthcaches here and one Virtual. We spent well over an hour walking around and snapping pictures and taking down information.

GCZTM0 EarthcacheThe Woodpecker of El Morro

The Woodpecker of El Morro

It was getting warmer and clouds were beginning to build about. In Flagstaff we had been getting some afternoon storms again, was NM the same?

We left El Morro and continued on NM 53 towards our next objective. This was the one that convinced Johnny to come along. He heard the name and being a huge Batman fan was mesmerized. The Earthcache here was “The Bat Cave of El Calderone“. It is in an area of cinder cones and lava tubes. We pulled up in the sprinkling rain and were going for it when a big flash of ligntening and the boom of thunder shook the car. Looking out on the proposed hike in the open wasn’t very promising now. We started up the car again and were beginning to get a little hungry. So off to Grants, NM we headed.

In Grants we asked around for a good place to eat. The gentlmen said the best in town was El Cafecito on Rt 66. So off we headed to grab a bite to eat. The food was excellent.

Johnny enjoying his Sopapilla a little to much.

Wonderful Mexican food NM style. They served it with sopapillas instead of tortillas. We spent a good hour sucking down iced tea and enjoying our food. I was trying to figure out if we should just head back or grab a few more Earthcaches. We figured that since we were already here we should continue. Back in the car and South we headed.

I had loaded up a pocket query of the area and a cache was on the GPSr. We weren’t here for geocaches but thought we would get one anyway. We hopped out of the car and Johnny led the way. We were getting close and we heard something we had never heard while Geocaching before. We both froze and then Johnny jumped back. He had almost stepped on a very upset Rattlesnake. After we gained our composure, checked our undies,  we watched it. It was the perfect learning opportunity. We watched it rattle at us for a good five minutes. The closer we came the more it rattled. The farther away we went the less it buzzed.  Now the question. To get the cache that was behind it? I sidestepped around as Johnny watched, I got close and grabbed the cache and signed the log and put it back. A very close call for sure, but a great experience for both of us.

Wowzers

The Guardian of the Cache!!

Back in the car and south we headed to El Malpais National Monument. Here the first stop was atop some sandstone bluffs that overlooked a rather large lava flow.

GCZTK4 EarthcacheEl Malpais Sandstone Bluffs

Johnny getting the smiley while wearing a smiley

The cool part about this location was not only the Earthcache, but a Virtual and Benchmark as well. We like benchmarking but don’t ever get to as many as we would like. We are usually to pooped to climb up the hills they are on. We grabbed these and off we ran back into the car.

Next we were headed to a natural arch. We have run across a few of these and they always fascinate us. They look so strong but we know that over time they will fall. This arch was no exception.

GCZRTR Earthcache La Ventana Arch - El Malpais National Monument

Sometimes Johnny looks so small. This pic is one of those. Can you see the Arch?

Back in the car and now heading back North this time.

The last stop @ El Malpais was on a trail that crossed the lava flow. It linked the pueblos of Zuni with Acoma. It had been used for hundreds of years. Out of the car and towards the lava flow we headed. We have lava flows around home but none with a trail across them. Up hills, jumping cracks, dodging this and then that. It was pretty cool. Johnny just loves the jumping climbing stuff and he was in heaven here.

GCZRTP Earthcache Zuni-Acoma Trail Lava Fields

Johnny on the Lava Flow next to a Cairn

We followed the cairns till we were about a half mile into the flow. We fulfilled the requirements and back we went to the car. We had done a lot of this today and it was time to head back home.

Back on I-40 we headed West. Johnny was getting tired and nodding off. We stopped off and grabbed some fireworks and then picked up our last Earthcache of the day. This was on the Continental Divide of the US. Divides are an interesting concept and we gathered the information for this and continued on. I could hear Johnny snoring in the back seat. He was pooped out.

He woke up just before Holebrook, AZ and Johnny woke up hungry. I have to say I was hungry too. We hit McDonalds. While there I remembered that there was a couple of Waymarks at a certain motel. Of course we stopped just before dark and snapped a pic.

Johnny at the Wigwam Motel

We arrived home after dark after 550 miles of travel during the day. Our butts were tired but we had made it without injury or harm. After Johnny went to bed I sent in the information needed to become Platinum Eartcachers. Two weeks later our pin arrived in the mail.

Until next time,

Mark & Johnny
The Flag_Mtn_Hkrs

63 – 28

No it is not the score of a seriously lopsided game of basketball or football. It was the variation in temperature we experienced on Sunday. I swear it had to be hotter than 63 at the event we attended in Yuma. I was wearing a long sleeved t shirt though so my idea may have been a bit off. We arrived home to 28 degrees and a foot of snow in the driveway at 21:30 hrs. It took me an hour to shovel the driveway and I have been battling the white stuff for the last 2 days now. Isn’t the diversity of everything in AZ wonderful?

Either way, the family attended the Yuma Event #6 and everyone had a wonderful time. The food was amazing to say the least. Tri Tip BBQ with coleslaw, beans, tortilla. Mmmmm good fo sure. I had also reserved two new geocoins to help pay for the event. A beautiful copper and gold coin each has the state of AZ on one side and the other has the ocean to ocean highway bridge on the other. Very neat indeed.

There were lots of give away prizes and plenty of mingling going on. I was able to meet and greet many people I already knew from past events, and met a few new ones. You all know who you are. Johnny was able to see AJ.JR which is always a highlight for him at any event. He sure do like them people, I have to say I enjoy their company as well.

The event and the following CITO made it possible for us to work on the One Busy Day: The Arizona Icon Challenge, where a cacher or team needs to get six different cache types on one day in order to be able to grab the actual cache. We were able to do this and will be grabbing the actual cache sometime in March. We also were working on the Arizona DeLorme Challenge. We picked up an additional 5 pages, which leaves us only 2 more to go, pages 16 and 17 in northern AZ.

We really enjoyed ourselves and needed a break after a rough couple of weeks prior. The date shakes in Dateland on the way home were exceptional and we recommend that anyone who likes dates stop and get one. Good stuff. We saw a few cachers dashing out behind the restaurant on the way in, so I followed and were able to grab a cache there as well. Thanks for the help Team TKW 98, couldn’t have done it without ya.

Three day weekend coming up for most. Where you headed? Are you caching? Where will we be? Guess you will have to check back later to find out.

All for now,

Mark & Johnny
Flag_Mtn_Hkrs

Well summers here and the time is right for dancing in the streets

Well we haven’t been dancing but we have been caching. I have a couple more FTF’s since the last post. We snagged Ro(x)anne Cache (GC13HBD), Tower in Sight (GC13K3V), and Top of the Rocks (GC13M3K). These were all on separate days and relatively easy caches to grab. We always like the feeling you get from opening that log and being the first one to sign it.

We were also able to acquire another 2007 Arizona Ranger Team Geocoin, now we have two, numbers 009 and 022. These are wonderful coins and not for travel. These are never located in easy to get to caches and require a little bushwhacking to get to, but always well worth it. If you ever check out Deepsouthwest Geocaching Project you will see that the Arizona Ranger Team is rather prolific AZ cachers and have grabbed the hardest caches in the state for the most part. No LPC caches for these kind of stats. I am only the top dog in Coconino Region but probably won’t be there for long with the Arizona Ranger Team around.

Well since I have been off of work for the summer I have been playing around with Google Earth and finding that the layers options are pretty powerful tools. I have only been playing with the free version, I can only imagine what the full version ($400 for one year) gets you. Like I mentioned the layers features are pretty incredible. There are layers for both Geocaching and Waymarking. After you have downloaded the appropriate kml file you just turn them on and they work pretty flawlessly.These layers will show you the caches or waymarks that are in the area you are looking at. Another company that does kml files for Google Earth is GPS Visualizer overlay “plugin” for Google Earth. The good thing about these overlays is that you can view really detailed views as well as topographical maps. These topographical maps look to be the exact same ones that I payed nearly $100 to get in National Geographic TOPO Map (Arizona Windows) just 2 years ago. The other thing about Google Earth is the fact that if you are a Premium Member of Geocaching you are able to download routes from Google Earth right into Geocaching. com and create pocket queries.

The other big news for us this week is a local event happening in July. The event is Pow Wow in the Pines #2 (GC12DB0) and is sponsored by Northern Arizona Geocachers and dreamed up by flgAZ. He is a local cacher that has very high quality geocaches and multicaches that are laid out very well. If you are ever in the Flagstaff, AZ area I highly recommend them. Anyways we said we would be there and are going to mostly help out as opposed to cache. We can grab the caches for the event after everyone goes home. I figure we might just put out a few tricky caches near the event area to give the visiting geocachers something to look for.

In other news we have decided to go to our first Mega-Event. We decided that since GeoWoodstock VI is on our side of the country for the first time that we would make a week of it and attend. I figure that we can save up some money, rent a minivan and cache our way to and from the event. I really want to acquire a few more Earthcaches in other states so that I can apply to become an Earthcache Master. I really enjoy Earthcaching and the only thing that is holding me back from becoming an Earthcache Master is the fact that I have only found Earthcaches in AZ. If I can find Earthcaches in 4 more states I can apply for Platinum and get a patch for the ole caching backpack.

Well that pretty much covers what we have been doing in the geocaching world. Hope all your geocaching are finds and your hides are never muggled.