Tuesday, February 27, 2018

What's with Yuma?

The Southwest Arizona Geocachers put on a big event in Yuma every year. It's grown in size and popularity and now it draws people from around the world. The Yuma area has lots of land available for geocaching (with some restrictions) and a robust group of geocachers which results in a fairly dense population of geocaches.

This is the third year I've attended the Yuma Mega event.

I got the trailer settled in to the RV parking area at the Paradise Casino which is the closest free overnight parking to the event venues. I'd toyed with staying at Mittry Lake again this year but wanted to be closer. With the trailer taken care of, I headed off to the Old Town area for the first event.

I knew some friends were attending, but based on the size I doubted I would run into them. Turns out I crossed paths with lots more people than I anticipated, including a great conversation with our local reviewer.

Once again, I teamed up with a friend to tackle the Yuma Discovery challenge. They had about 20 locations and/or caches this year that had to be located in order to claim a geocoin. The minute I saw the list I realized Mittry Lake would have been a good location for the trailer! Nearly half of the caches were on that side of town with seven of them surrounding the lake itself!

The sign-in board for the main event was quickly filled. I found a spot to sign it vertically.

On Monday, there were a couple more events but I only stuck around for the first one before finally heading for home.

The highlight for me was a new virtual cache. Turns out, I was a pretty good match for the statue, except that my black eye looked better!

The other highlight for me was finally getting to the confluence of the Gila (coming in from the right) and the Colorado rivers. We used to paddle sections of the Gila quite regularly, and still paddle sections of the Colorado annually. Once again, a couple caches got me close to a place I won't have gone otherwise.
As busy as my time was in Yuma, I did find the town essentially deserted if you started as the sun was coming up. Managed to visit three caches that were supposed to be especially good, without any muggles to question what was happening.

All in all, a good time in Yuma, but I'm glad to be home!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

You Meet the Nicest People

One of the things I enjoy most about our time in Quartzsite is the wonderful people you meet. Once again, it proved true during our time at the Fiberglas Gathering.

Shirley and Alan visit the southwest for several months during the winter from their home in Canada. During their time in Arizona, Shirley spends much of her time wandering the desert, picking up trash and always on the lookout for human remains. She bags her trash picking and then calls the BLM or Border Patrol who pick them up on their rounds.

As she was describing what she does, the conversation wandered to the sorts of stuff she finds. She's noticed pill bottles and shotgun shells placed at regular intervals along some of the roads. Without checking the contents, these items get dropped in her trash bag with everything else. As we chatted about geocaching, she got a funny look on her face as she realized along with the trash she collected, she was also picking up whole series of geocaches!

Geocaching in Quartzsite is very different from most areas. It's so arid that shotgun shells make a perfectly adequate container, but a container that just looks like waste to someone else. When I showed her this picture, she immediately assumed that the decoration on the saguaro was trash, rather than a host for a geocache. Since she never opened the containers, she never saw the logs - she just saw trash that needed to be picked up.

This super nice, smiling lady spends hundreds of hours every winter picking up bags of trash. Most of it is left in the desert by individuals traveling on foot from points south, but some of it has significance to geocachers. She was a bit embarrassed and is now more aware that one person's trash is another person's treasure.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Solo Scamping is Dangerous - maybe

I moved the trailer from Roadrunner to Dome Rock on Saturday in preparation for the Fiberglass Gathering that would officially start the following Friday. There were over 40 eggs already settled in when I arrived.

The area where we normally center the gathering was still filled with sunblockers so the majority of the folks picked out places on the upper level which didn't look like the upper level when photographed from the back side.

I got all settled in and squared away in preparation for BJ and Turk's return.

Sometimes it seems that nothing changes in Q except that the buildings get older

but that's really not true. Some of the buildings are falling down. One of these buildings had a roof on it when I blogged about it a couple years ago. Now some walls have fallen and both buildings are fenced off.

The sunsets can be good, but the sunrises are better as you look across the wide valley.

Without a drone, there isn't a viewpoint where you can get a view of the whole group. When this picture was taken, BJ and I walked around the area and counted 99 fiberglass trailers, excluding the four other stick-built trailers that joined the group.

Meanwhile, the black eye is getting better. It's too long a story, but it's the Scamp's fault.

It's been fun touching base with lots of friends. Next stop is Yuma for a major geocaching event.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Desert Wandering

I really enjoy this area around Quartzsite. The desert is more open with expansive views. In most cases, there's just enough slope to provide 20 mile views.

One morning I hiked most of the way up Dome Rock to check on the cache I have there. A friend had reported a Did Not Find which made me think it was gone, but it was right where I'd left it, and the log had been signed the day before, but had not yet been reported on line. If it had been logged on line the day before, I might have gotten lazy, but once again the views were worth it.

Sometimes the sides of the washes are just steep enough to cause problems for the truck. I've ended up with a couple 3 to 4 mile hikes as a result. Quite nice as long as it's early before the low 80's temps arrive.

There are claim corner markers everywhere around here. Some don't seem to be terribly well documented,

while others are very obvious and clearly stated.

Almost all of the dirt roads have series of caches near them, usually hanging in something with thorns, but once in a while just dropped in a Suspicious Pile of Rocks (SPOR.)

I've seen quite a few dead saguaro. Most of them look like they may have had some sort of disease. There's been very little rain (even less than usual) this year, so most of the plant life is pretty dormant.

Typically the caches are located in places that seem rather obvious to experienced cachers.

Lots of the caches are created from a spent 12 gauge shotgun shell sleeved over a 20 gauge shotgun shell with a strip of paper for the log inside. It's rather amazing how well they disappear into the foliage - yes, the cache is in the larger picture.

Besides caches and mines, occasionally I'd come across other reminders that someone else had been there, like the government

or a rancher. This was the only sign of ranching I spotted. The corral is old but has been well maintained leaving me to wonder is someone is still grazing in the area.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

SKP Geocachers

Once the 'Big Tent' show was over, it was time to gather with other members of the Escapees RV Club's Geocaching Birds of a Feather group. Escapees are known as SKP to those in the know. We've enjoyed their hospitality in their parks in the northwest as well as the Geocaching BOF.

There were 49 rigs with 87 individuals registered for the four day rally. The group varied from people with years of experience and thousands of caches found to people who had just heard of geocaching and got their first finds during the week. We'd talk about geocaching tips, tricks, and techniques in the morning and go geocaching in the afternoons.

A couple dozen of us went out for a night cache which might have been easier if we'd waiting until it was darker.
They also had prepared a tour around town that required finding unique things or places such as this pink camel.

You never know what you're going to find out in the desert. Must have forgotten to take some water on his hike.

Last year I was caught a bit unprepared so I made up for it this year and fixed two dishes for the potluck.

I managed the contents and the timing pretty well. The beef stew looked good,

as did the apple crisp.

I didn't get a picture of the 'after' version of the apple crisp, but that pot looked the same as the beef stew pot. Apparently I won't have to think about what to fix next year - more of the same.

After four days with the SKP folks, the sun set on the geocaching rally and it was time to move again, to yet another Quartzsite location.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Plomosa Road

Quartzsite is either one of those places you 'get,' or you don't 'get it' at all! A little town in the middle of the desert that attracts many thousands of RVers during the winter. We parked at the Plomosa Road area initially. It's the furthest north of town and one of the least crowded spots during the "Big Tent" event. We were there for over a week and the only close neighbor we had was a Fiberglas friend that we were excited to see.

There are lots of trails and roads through the desert that lead to interesting places or perhaps lead nowhere!

Our first afternoon, while wandering around the area, we visited the Bouse Fisherman intaglio. Since intaglio are large, ground level mosaic, it is difficult to get photos.

This photo was taken by a paragliding pilot.

This is the first time that we've attended the opening day of the week long "Big Tent" event. Some claim it is the largest RV show in the world but that doesn't seem reasonable to me. I must admit, the first day parking was a zoo. We got there about 40 minutes early and used the vast majority just to find a parking place that required 4WD.

I ended up back at the tent a couple other times as well. Always crowded, and always reminded me of a carnival. More stuff that wasn't related to RVs than stuff that was.

We did manage to find a couple flexible reading lamps for Jeff's rig.

Across the road, in the swap meet area, I finally located the TPMS that Jeff wanted. No special deal except for the shipping cost. At least it wasn't MORE expensive here like some of the stuff in the tent!

My favorite part about Quartzsite is wandering the roads through the desert. Sometimes the signs aren't particularly helpful.

Some may have been helpful at one time but are unreadable now. (I found another copy of this sign at the end of the road that was still sorta readable - Sunshine Marble Mine, LLC.)

Some signs are clear, readable, and meant to be ignored!

Geocaches are numerous throughout the area, often times close to the road, assuming the road is good enough for the geobuggy to travel.

The desert around here is very firm, with lots of creosote and these little thorny things. This one was the tallest I found at about 6". Many are just an inch or two high and leave your shoe full of thorns if you don't watch where you're walking.

Other geocaches require that you watch where you're reaching!

I was fortunate to pick up four First to Find caches one morning. This was the last of them for me,

just as the sun was coming up.

The land may be sparse, but the sunsets are fabulous!