Thursday, November 8, 2018

Left Turn On The Way Home

Continuing standby roulette, I got to watch the sun rise about half way between Anchorage & Seattle. Had I waited for a later flight, I don't know how many days I would have waited. This way, I had some options. The option I selected was a left turn out of Seattle, headed towards Idaho.

With Alaska ticking the box for my ninth state on a couple challenge caches, I wanted to spend a day doing some geocaches in Idaho in hopes I could make it my tenth qualifying state.

The little town of Grand View, Idaho caught my attention because of a long series of challenge caches on both sides of the Snake River. In addition, there were several earth caches in the general area.

I ignored the train geoart located south of town. There are over 1000 caches to make up this art form. The last person to complete it said it took them 7 1/2 days. I didn't have the time or the energy to even think about it.

I started out working on the four earth caches I needed to finish qualifying for the 5 earth caches in 10 states challenge. This one sounded interesting but didn't look like much.

The ladder leads down into a lava tube. The tube extends a fair distance in both directions, making for some interesting exploration. From the graffiti on the walls, it's clear that some artists have visited.

I'd tried to rent a compact pickup, specifically for ground clearance, but ended up with an Impala which had the ground clearance of a roller skate. The end result was I did more hiking than I expected.

The features and impacts of the volcanic impacts on the area were both obvious and interesting. There were whole areas of rocks that looked like petrified watermelons.

The views of the Snake river were beautiful, both from the cliffs and from water level.

In a few areas, I had to watch out for the trucks hauling sugar beets. It was pretty obvious where they'd gone around a corner a bit too fast for their load, leaving some huge sugar beets in the road.

Most of the challenge caches were easy to find, which was what I was hoping since I needed to find 81 caches to finish qualifications for the one of the other challenges I'd been working on.

The hint for many of them was 'urp' which I took to mean unusual rock pile.

Some seemed to be missing the rocks, but did have the log to sign.

Occasionally, one would be found in a very unlikely place. This one was spot on the coordinates, which put it out in the open, inches from the tire track. I signed it and put it back where I found it.

This one had an URP hint. There were several dried piles, but I didn't think they were unusual. Apparently, it only takes one rock to make a pile.

Not all rock piles had a cache. This pile was spot on the coords, but the cache was found 15 feet away, leaning against a fence post.

I didn't find everything I looked for, but I did get the earth caches I needed and found 84 caches during a VERY busy day, finalizing my qualifications for that challenge cache that has been tantalizing me for nearly a year - 10 states with over 100 finds in each.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Geocaching Alaska

I've been working on qualifying for a couple challenge caches all summer. I 'need' 10 states with at least 100 finds in each state. Another one needs at least five earthcaches in each of 10 states. My plan was to try to get at least 5 earthcaches and at least 51 total additional caches while in Alaska to make Alaska my 9th qualifying state. I tried to concentrate on easy to find caches since I had limited time.

I quickly discovered that Alaska sizes and terrain ratings were suspect. This was supposed to be a wheelchair accessible, regular size. Instead it was small, located 15 feet up a wooded slope.

This one was supposed to be a small, but was a micro lying loose in a hole under the tree. Apparently they don't have problems with pack rats carrying away small shiny things. I logged it and then replaced the old leaves that covered the hole.

This one was supposed to be a "park and grab." I parked, but didn't grab. :-(  I'm sure it's there somewhere...

I do think that caching Alaska in the fall might be easier than any other season. There were some bugs, but not many. The devil's club had died back, making access to some cache locations easier than it would be at other times of the year.

I loved the sign, but it was obvious that the dogs couldn't read. I saw quite a few dogs with their jogging or bike riding  owners, but never saw one on a leash.

Most of the time I was caching alone while Spencer was in school or at hockey practice. I was pretty cautious about the areas I elected to visit.

Never saw a bear, but did see three moose, including one that was closer than I needed to be. I came back to this cache later in the day!

There were some excellent earthcaches, including several that were clustered fairly close together. Each one involved more time and more hiking than I'd expected, but each of them was very interesting and educational.

Spencer and I visited Potter Marsh before one of his hockey games. We were supposed to observe the mountain in the background - not the visible hill, but the cloud shrouded mountain...

Several of the caches were related to the earthquake in 1964. Trees have grown up, camouflaging some of the details but the results are still visible when you know where to look.

I really enjoyed a series of caches around the approach end of the Anchorage airport. Not only were there caches to be found, but you could also do a landing gear inspection on the aircraft as they flew by.

This picture is less about the cache than the Alaskan cacher's attire. These oversize bison tubes were a popular cache container.

We didn't have much time to cache together, but Spencer did manage to get an earthcache and enough other caches to earn a couple souvenirs. Note the difference in desert dweller clothing as compared to the local. The termination dust on the mountains made for chilly temps, I thought...

Monday, October 29, 2018


It was time for standby roulette. This time I got to watch the sunrise from inside the plane! The destination was Anchorage which this time of the year means double the challenge with a plane change in Seattle.

It's been waay too long since we've visited the family in Alaska. BJ decided that she wasn't willing to risk her back with the long flight, so I headed north to spend a week with the grandson and his dog.

The learner's permit had to be demonstrated. I was really impressed! I'm sure I didn't do as well when I was his age.

The weather called for rain each day, but we had an amazing amount of sunshine mixed with the occasional shower. Overnight temps were starting to flirt with freezing, with daytime highs in the mid 60's most days.

There was essentially three parts to life in Alaska. School, hockey (games & practice,) and other stuff like homework, eating, and sleeping. We spent a bunch of hours at the local arena as well as a trip to Anchorage for a game.

I don't know much about hockey, but I recognize effort and hustle. He played three games while I was there.

At times I wondered if he was the enforcer.

They were the home team in white for a couple games, and wore black as the visiting team in Anchorage.

He was even selected for an opportunity to chill out once. :-)

I got to spend some quality time with the granddog as well. Winston is really smart and quickly had me trained!

I'm looking forward to the family visiting Arizona over Thanksgiving, and Winston gets to come along.