Posts Tagged ‘geocaching’

Day 20 & 21

The streak continues. 21 days straight with a geocache find. Have we found every cache we searched for? Of course not, but we did find most of them. We even grabbed an extra 20 that we need to make our total.

Yesterday, 09.06.12 I cached with my daughter Rosie. She gets up early, like 5am. So as a courtesy to the rest of the family I take her out early. We usually get donuts and this day was no different. So off we went and got our grub on. Afterwards we went and played at a park. This park happened to have a cache in it so we grabbed it. Day 20 covered. As we played I noticed it was 9am already and no one from home was looking for us yet, so what to do? Flashmob WWFM sounded good. In Tucson it was a bubble party and I had the perfect partner for that. So we grabbed some bubbles and flash mobbed a park with about 25 other geocachers. It was fun.

For today, 10.06.12 I decided to take Johnny. There was a string of ten caches south of town that make an 11 out in the desert. Find them all and there is a bonus puzzle cache if you write down the letter number combinations on the log sheet. The walk was short. Johnny n I were out of the house at 5:15 & found  the first cache by 6:15. A little over an hour later we had 9 more caches and the numbers we needed for the bonus puzzle. We found that quickly and then headed back into town to get our grub on. Made it home by 9am.

In the last 3 weeks we have found a cache-a-day and 20 extra caches to help us get the number where we want on 21.12.12.

We will keep you updated on our progress in a few weeks.

Hkrs out.

Advertisements

Goals

image

Whenever we have slowed down our caching it is because we had no goals. Goals help to keep one motivated and moving forward.

When we had cached out the Northland we set the goal of finishing the AZ DeLorme Challenge. We traveled the state collecting pages for almost a year. It was fun and kept us motivated. It was a goal and we completed it.

Last summer I talked 12 Flagstaff cachers to place 10 caches each. The only stipulation was that they needed to be placed within the city limits. The caches were placed and we all were able to streak for 100 days in a row. All had fun and it culminated in a hike to a puzzle cache whose requirement was to have streaked for 100 days. We set a goal and achieved it. Making caching fun again.

We have set a new personal goal. A caching goal to motivate us to Geocache in new territory. We have moved to Tucson. A metropolitan area with plenty of new caches. Our goal? To streak again but this time to have a number associated with a date. We want to have 2112 caches on 21.12.2012. Why? To keep us caching, even in this new land dominated by micro caches (our least favorite type of cache).

Today, 24.05.2012, we stand stand at 1776 caches. So let’s do some math.

2112
-1776
———-
   336 New caches needed to reach our goal.

Days left till 21.12.2012? 211

336
-211
———
125

So all we need to do is find a cache every day for the next 211 days, and pick up an extra 125 caches along the way to reach our goal.

Can we do it? I think we can, and here’s why. Within just 10 km of the new homestead there are 317 traditional caches to be found. Within 15 km there are 554 traditional caches (720 caches if you count all types).

The Hkrs have not been in such a cache dense area like this in over 7 years. We had cached out the Northland to a radius of 30 miles within our first 2 years of caching.

We have the caches to find. We will make the time.  More importantly we have a goal.

Have you ever set geogoals? We have and it has kept us caching for almost 8 years straight.

Let us know some of your goals that have kept you geocaching. The more ideas we have to keep us going past 21.12.2012 the better.

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

Time Grows Short

Living at 7000 ft in Arizona has some advantages. The first is that we have four seasons, which is somewhat of a rarity in Arizona. It is the cycle of the seasons that bring on urgency when your a cacher, the urgency to grab the caches that you know will be tough to get to when the snow arrives. We are feeling this urgency every morning as the Hkrs walk to work/school and the air turns cooler with the chill of the upcoming fall.

We have been trying to grab most of the caches lately that are above 8000 ft as we know that the snow has a tendency to stick and stay for most of the winter. We have also been placing caches above this altitude so that they will be ready for the quick fall season and then lie in their winter dormancy for the winter months. We place only ammo cans at these elevations as plastic has a tendency to not survive such brutal abuse. We have two more caches that we want to place at these higher elevations before it becomes to late.

The forests around Flagstaff are usually passable in the Potbellied_Pig until late November. We love traveling in the forest during this time of year as it is quiet and we seem to have it all to ourselves. Yes there is hunting going on occasionally but it is generally locals after opening day and they are always quick with a tow strap if the roads become to muddy. We also always pack some blankets and food in case we become stuck in such a harsh environment. 10°F nights are not unheard of at all and survival in such conditions are only possible if you are prepared.

What we really love looking forward to is our caching in the Verde Valley. The beauty of this area is it’s close proximity to Flagstaff, AZ. With only a 45 minute drive we have dropped over 3,000 ft and gained usually 20+ degrees in temperature increase. We can run around in our T Shirts again and do not have to fear the buzz worms that frequent the valley in the summer months.

The Verde Valley also has a very active geocaching community. There are hundreds of caches located in the region. We can spend all fall/winter in the area and still not grab most of them. Yes quite a few are of the Micro variety, but there are also quality family caches to add to your trophy case as well.

Since it isn’t tourist season in the Verde, we generally have most hikes to ourselves or shared with other Flagstaffians that come down to enjoy the warmth. With the sun lower on the horizon the red rocks of Sedona take on a beautiful glow that is impossible to explain, it must be experienced. We begrudgingly purchase a yearly pass to park at the trail heads every year and display it to avoid any fines. We don’t think you should have to pay to park and enjoy your forests as we have already been taxed for this. It just seems like a way to bilk the population out of more funds.

The best part is that in the fall and winter there are no 100° temps in the Verde, but occasional 70° temps, more our type of hiking weather. You can put more clothing on and layer but you can only take so many off without risking arrest. Learned that one years ago in Lake Havasu City, AZ.

We start taking occasional trips to the Valley of the Sun, or to Arizona’s West Coast and visit family. Winter is not a bad time for geocaching near Flagstaff, AZ. One just has to drive a little farther to enjoy year-round caching enjoyment.

Watch our future posts for more of our adventures in the Verde Valley. We hope to be able to convey to our followers how lucky the Hkrs really are to be living where they do. Winter doesn’t have to hamper a geocacher in Arizona. A geocacher here must just learn to adapt to their environment and change their preparedness just a little to still enjoy the outdoors.

Until next time,

Mark & Johnny
The Flag_Mtn_Hkrs

Seven Hours of Father Son Time is Priceless

There was a time when I used to go out by myself, before my caching partner came, and I would pick up 15 to 25 caches in a day. Part of the reason for this was that when I started Geocaching there were many caches to be found in my area. As the years have rolled by, almost five years in total, the number of available finds for the Hkrs around Flagstaff decreased to a trickle. The Hkrs have let the local caches build up in the last year so that we can go and grab a cache within a 20 mile radius again. Sunday we did just that.

Flagstaff, AZ is blessed with forest access and beautiful summers. We took advantage of this and accessed the local trail system. We decided to grab just four caches today. All four of these caches are located in an area called the Dry Lake Hills. This is a depression left when a lava dome was built up under the soil. It raised up the earth above it some 1000 ft. Eventually the overlying soil was eroded away and we were left with the forested hills just to the North of Flagstaff. During the whole experience we were never more than 4 miles from our home.

This is Johnny strollong down the Sunset Trail on our way to the Brookbank Trail and Cache

This is Johnny strolling down the Sunset Trail on our way to the Brookbank Trail and Cache

We arrived at the Sunset trail head at close to 900 hrs and started up the hill. We made it to the top of Sunset Trail #23 within an hour and a half as we always have a tendency to just check things out. Shortly after the trail tops out it swings downhill until it meets up with the Brookbank Trail #2. Our first cache was on this trail. It was called Brookbank Trail surprisingly and was a pretty easy find. We rested here for a while as mountain bikers whizzed past us not even seeing us sitting near the cache location. We drank some water and headed out again.

Brookbank Trail Map

Brookbank Trail swings around a hill and then it is up hill again before it heads downhill one last time towards Elden Lookout Rd. We jumped off on the West side of the nob and followed a trail that led us down into the depressions that are known as the Dry Lakes. There are times in the spring when there is water here and sometimes after a good monsoon rain the lakes will fill up as well. In the spring the area is full of wild flowers.

This is the old road that leads through the Dry Lake Hills

This is the old road that leads through the Dry Lake Hills

We walked halfway through this area past the first lake to an overlook. It overlooks our home and work and school. We kicked back here in the shade for at least a half hour eating our lunch and drinking more water. The whole time we ate we were only 250 ft away from our second cache, Dry Lake Hills. The beauty of this location is that my daughter and I had lunch here close to 10 yrs ago when we first moved up to the area. I had talked her into going for a hike and we had lunch in the same place. Times and the company changed but the view and area were just the same. Johnny thought it was neat that I had been here before with his sister.

An old grove of Aspens

An old grove of Aspens

We grabbed the Dry Lake Hills cache which required bushwhacking. This is the type of geocaching we enjoy. We love to be in the forest with the feeling of no one being around. There are no trails to follow except game trails. For those not familiar with bushwhacking, you generally look for trails that deer or elk use to travel through the forest. Animals have a tendency to use as little energy as possible to get from point A to B. A 500 lb elk leaves a very easy to follow path where the undergrowth has been trampled already, making forest travel much easier.

Johnny found this cache and then we bushwhacked our way to Celtic Ridge. We followed game trails the whole way to a rather tangled mess of tree trunks and branches. I found this one and then off to the last cache of the day. This was 500m of bushwhacking and down a rather steep grade. From this location we were able to see the beginnings of the Taylor Fire that had started the night before. It looked enormous already and was throwing up a bunch of smoke and ash.

This is the Taylor Fire Smoke and ash after only 12 hrs of burning. Forests on fire are a fearful site.

This is the Taylor Fire. Smoke and ash is clearly seen after only 12 hrs of burning. Forests on fire are a fearful site.

Now it was back to the Pot_Bellied Pig. Three  miles later we were sitting in the Pig and unwrapping tootsie pop suckers and cold drinks. Some cold Gatorade for Johnny and my traditional post hike Quart of Buttermilk. We rolled home and cleaned up and had a nice dinner with the family, my daughter even came over with her boyfriend. After dinner and when everything died down I looked at the track-log on the GPSr. It read a little over 10 miles. We were tired and now I knew why. It was a great day though with lots of exploration and father son time.

7 hrs of Father/Son time ... Priceless

7 hrs of Father/Son time ... Priceless

Seven hours to do four quality geocaches? If we had our way all our geocaching would be just like today.

Until next time,

Mark & Johnny
The Flag_Mtn_Hkrs

Sunday Disaster?

Sunday was the first day myself and the Littlest_Hkr, now known as AJ_Hkr, were able to get out in a long time. We had our planned route, caches loaded, and were heading out early. All seemed well. So what happened?

I think due to the excitement of getting out of Hkr_Central for the first time in nearly a moon to cache I had become crazed. We ended up leaving a little late. I thought I had everything but we were 7 miles or so away and I realized I had forgotten our food. Back to the Hkr_Central to grab the food, camera.

I walk in the door, chat up the wife, grab batteries and left. You got it, hairbrainedness leaves me once again with no food or camera. Geesh. We didn’t realize this until we arrived at the location of the planned Hk and cache placement. It wouldn’t matter much as black clouds

Brewing Blackness

Brewing Blackness

were brewing above our location. We played in a meadow and just explored for awhile.

Ferns as big as AJ_Hkr

Ferns as big as AJ_Hkr

Butterflies

Butterflies

Bumble Bee

Bumble Bee

So we played and frolicked for close to an hour just learning and loving being outside.

I had two coins in my posession that I had for way to long. We were very close to our own cache Chapel of the Holy Dove Redux (GC1064F) and decided we would place the coins there, check on the cache, and visit one of our favorite places. I would love to explain the cache location to y’all if I could, but really can’t. You can read the logs but they don’t ever give the location justice either, you have to experience the cache and the location. Nuff said.

We head back to Hkr_Central to get our lunch and change plans. We sit and eat our lunch chatting up the wife and Rosie and figure we would head out Woody Mtn Rd and grab some caches from a friend. Plan set and off we go.

The AJ_Hkr loves this kind of drive because I throw all caution to the wind and let him move his booster upfront and ride w/ the big boy once we hit dirt. We chew up sunflower seeds, discuss care of pets, and just shoot the breeze. We are coming close to starting to see where the caches are located and they aren’t on the GPSr or the Palm. I guess these caches fall below our 2 terrain or higher requirements. We do have a rule that if we have met and know the cachers we will break the micro rule or the 2 terrain below requirement. I had just assumed (diagram of assume – ass out of u and me) they were in the system since they were 20+ miles out of town in the WOODS.

Anyway we drove around and explored. Spooked a trio of Bull Elk, spied a few small groups of deer, watched a thunderstorm off in the distance, found fields of flowers, and generally had a wonderful father son outing.

After dinner we did decide to grab a cache that posted close to Hkr_Central so we could get one cache on the day. It was a great day despite everything. Did the day go as planned, of course not. But it was far from a disaster after looking at the shared time that will be remembered for years into the future.

Until Next Time

Mark & Johnny
The Flag_Mtn_Hkrs