Monday, December 31, 2018

That's a Beaut!

With a couple days of lazy gluttony in the immediate past, it was well past time to go out and get some exercise. The day was grey but at least it had stopped raining. I wanted to see if I could find a rarely located geocache that was going to require some effort and some luck.

It was clear from the description that the cache was located on the top of a butte. Supposedly, you could drive within a quarter mile, but the mud was soft and I was concerned about ground clearance so I parked in a desert clearing and started to wander.

I tripped into an abandoned mine - actually, perhaps that should read "tripped upon" since I didn't fall in.

I wandered around this crazy saguaro for a bit, but gave up trying to count the arms or find the geocache that was supposed to be located nearby.

I'd spent some time with Google Earth, and decided to approach the middle layer from the southeast since there seemed to be a break at that point.

What I didn't realize until I got there was that the break was full of cholla. Picking a route through here was a bit of a challenge since I wanted to watch my feet to make sure I didn't pick up any cholla balls, but I needed to look up to make sure I could pick a path through without brushing up against them.

I was a bit dismayed when I got far enough up through the gully to see that the shoulder didn't go all the way to the top on this side like I'd hoped.

It was pretty clear that there wasn't a route I was interested in trying, at least from this side.

I worked my way around the base of the top layer, wishing the view of the Quarter Circle U ranch was bathed in sunshine, but appreciated the unique perspective.

Continuing around, I could spot the road I came in on, and where I'd parked the truck. The GPS and the view suggested it wasn't all that far away.

I finally found the stairway to heaven that others had mentioned, and made it to the top of the butte. In addition to the geocache, I also found the summit register that four others had signed this year.

I survived the exploration and after seeing lots of healthy saguaro, decided to take a selfie with one that was on it's last legs.

According to the Fitbit, it was right at 4 miles, and 52 flights of stairs to make the round trip. Could have kept the Fitbit happy in a sterile gym, but this was lots more fun!

Hope you have a wonderful New Year, where ever you may go.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Pushing the Limits

In July, I helped a friend create some geocaches that she took home to Belgium.  A couple months ago, I helped with a couple more caches that she planned to take home at Christmas time. One of those involved a plastic ammo can with a doorbell, and another was a maze cache, both based on concepts by a local geocacher.

A few days ago, I was doing some cleaning in the shop and decided to make another cache for her if there was room in her suitcase. It's made from a piece of 2" PVC pipe about 18" long. She said she had room so I put some left over pieces to work to create a puzzle cache. Again, this was modeled from a concept by another local geocacher.

When she picked it up, we chatted about possible TSA questions. I didn't glue the collars on one end of the cross pieces so that it wouldn't take up as much space and so that would be easier to inspect.

This morning, I got this message. I'd totally forgotten about the ammo can with a door bell hidden under a false bottom, but the camo on the plastic pipe probably didn't help any.

Now that she's through security, she should be good to go.

Here's hoping that geocachers in Belgium appreciate their Christmas gifts from the U.S.

And from our house to yours, please remember the reason for the season!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Just Because

For a number of years now, the unique little town of Quartzsite has been home for a few weeks early in the year. This year, I made a quick trip in late November in preparation for the new year.

Quartzsite is known as a winter residence for many RVers. It's home to a world famous RV show in late January, but rigs were already starting to gather, picking out the best spots for their winter boondocking.

Every year, immediately following the Big Show, the Escapees Geocaching Birds of a Feather gather for a few days of fun. Each year, in addition to many experienced geocachers, we also host folks who are exploring what Geocaching is all about.

Last year, I realized that while Quartzsite has thousands of traditional caches, there were some types of caches that were very rare or missing entirely.

Now, there's a new short series of simple (and hopefully fun) caches so that we can introduce new cachers to all of the caches types that incorporate a physical log.

The caches have been active for several weeks now, and I've been somewhat surprised to see that some are perhaps not as simple as I'd expected. On the other hand, perhaps those who struggled with some didn't read the cache descriptions.

They're all in place, waiting for the chance to serve as learning opportunities for new or not so new cachers.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

A Bit of Barry Goldwater

It was an 'o dark:30 departure as four of us headed to a part of the western section of the Barry M. Goldwater Bombing Range. The Goldwater Range covers a very large part of southwestern Arizona. A permit is required to access the range.

By the time we got there, the sun was up. The Devil's Road has a reputation that dates back centuries and we weren't sure what to expect.

I was expecting miles of wash-boarded road, but discovered a large portion where we were the first tracks other than the pair of road graders which we eventually caught up with and passed. Most of the road was relatively smooth, but soft sand.

The desert was amazingly beautiful with the brittlebush blooming after recent rains.

Through the day the cloud cover varied, changing the shadows on the mountains.

We stopped for one cache at the beginning of the section we intended to do, and then drove to the south end and worked our way back towards town.

Many of the caches we were searching for were in bushes or occasionally trees. In spite of all the potential, we didn't leave much DNA on the thorns, but did manage to sign 82 Wherigo cache logs and 23 traditional cache logs.

We stopped a couple times for snacks and to rest our runners, and managed to catch a little mugging for the camera. We saw a couple Border Patrol vehicles and a Fish & Wildlife guy, but no one stopped to quiz us about what we were doing.

A couple points along the way we spotted fake tanks that seemed to be targets, and in one spot, the remains of a flying machine of some sort. We even enjoyed a couple low passes by some fast movers from the Marine base.

The sun was creating a fiery sunset as we approached home. 400 miles, 12 1/2 hours, lots of fun,

and mission accomplished. There are literally thousands of geocaches on the range, most along the roads, some that require hiking to access, but we got the ones we went for and a few others along the way. I've never met DizFiz, but somebody loves'em.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Some Things Take Longer Than You'd Think

Ten years ago, after I finished my solo canoe, BJ asked for a craft cabinet, providing very minimal specs. I built the base, and essentially all the parts for the hutch top, but for a number of reasons set the project aside.

For years, the two doors were stored in a closet and all the other parts were stacked in the garage. I finally decided it was time to get the stuff out of the garage, either as a piece of functional furniture or as firewood.

When I dug the pieces out, I remembered why I'd quit on the project before. Both of the side panels, built from 'stable' plywood edged with solid wood, had immediately bowed. Storage hadn't made them straighter. I ended up buying some solid alder, gluing up panels, and making new side panels from solid wood.

I kicked her car out of the garage so that I had enough room to work, apparently a small price to pay.

Many of the pieces had been sanded and varnished before I shelved the project years ago, so this time, once I had the new side panels built, things moved fairly quickly.

I'm not happy with the scale of the top - it's too tall in my mind,

but it leaves room for the largest folding table possible.

One can never have too much table or too much storage space when you're crafting. One more thing off the list and a bit more space in the garage.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

A Dark & Stormy Morning

My new Fitbit has been nagging at me, insisting I get more active, so I headed out for some geocaching which helped for a day. That evening, several new caches published, all nicely lined up along a trail in the foothills. Now I had a plan to keep the nag happy for another day. The sun was supposed to be making its appearance, but clouds were trumping it. Hardly enough color to bother with pictures.

This was a section of trail I'd never used before. Most of it was very good except for a couple short stretches. The nag said there were 26 floors involved, but I didn't sense that much elevation change.

The pokey stuff was out in force, but I managed to avoid all of it.

The clouds were doing their best to keep the sun from showing its face, but in exchange, the cool breeze was using the clouds to paint the sky with interesting patterns.

Finally, over two hours after I started, the sun peeked out from behind the clouds, warming my back as I approached the end of my hike.

First to find on five caches, a delightful walk on an interesting trail, and a nag that's happy for another day. The best part is that I can now blame the nag for my geocaching.

Saturday, December 1, 2018


It's that time of year when the sweet oranges ripen. We shared our first one of the season today!

Yesterday, I was out doing some cache maintenance on a very grey morning when I got a phone call from our son saying they'd had a large earthquake but all were OK.

We've all seen photos of some of the major road damage and we're hearing about bridge damage as well. Some folks have suffered significant structural damage to their homes,

while it looks like the only structural issue at our Alaska contingent's place was some shelves in the closet.

We're thankful!

Please pray for all the folks who are significantly impacted and all the work that will be required to return their life to normal.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Short, But Sweet!

We got the Alaska contingent back to our house from the airport just as the sunrise was painting some pink on the clouds.

It didn't take long for Turk (our dog) and Winston (Spencer's dog) to both find a spot on BJ's lap.

We celebrated Thanksgiving at our daughter & SIL's house. For some reason, I didn't get any pictures of the spread, but it didn't take long for the sound of silverware and plates to be the predominate sound.

Spencer and I went out geocaching a couple times, visiting some new caches that have been recently placed in the area.

Saturday morning, I hosted a geocacher's gathering to introduce Spencer, and appropriately named the event "It's His Fault." We were amazed by the turnout. Lots of our winter visitors are back, and several new geocachers attended as well. It was a great opportunity for folks to share hints and thank Spencer since many of the caches in the local area wouldn't have happened if he hadn't introduced us to the sport.

We headed towards the airport at 10 p.m. Sunday night, with a slight detour so Spencer and I could pick up a First To Find on a cache that published minutes before we left the house. They left on a midnight flight headed north, getting home a couple hours before Spencer headed off to school.

We're sure glad they came. It was great fun to have the whole family in one place for a while.