Monday, May 3, 2021

California is Challenging

Day three started with a beautiful sunrise after a night that approached freezing. The overnight air temperature didn't matter - my down sleeping bag was warm! The weather forecast was for high winds and low daytime temperatures.

I was glad that I'd thrown the sweatshirt in at the last minute. It was definitely a three layer morning. Thankfully the wind held off, leaving a beautiful, clear day. 

There was a line of about thirty challenge caches about 20 miles east of my overnight boondock. The open desert made the short walks to the caches easy.

I ended up skipping one by mistake, and not finding another. I also skipped a few that I didn't qualify for, and doubted that I ever would! I managed to pick up the vast majority of that series much quicker than or I expected. 

With that series done, it was time to let the trip planner point me in the shortest direction to Palm Springs for the next cluster of caches. I had to stop at this corner for a picture. The area looked sort of abandoned, but it left me with questions about what the owner had hoped to do with this.

The Palm Spring series was quick and easy, except for this one. My GPS says three feet, leaving me wondering if the gardner got it??

The original plan had been to overnight again just south of Joshua Tree, but I was running well ahead of schedule so I kept going. I knew I wanted to remove and archive 7 of my remaining caches in Quartzsite, but even then it was too early to stop.

I finished the day about 500 miles and 37 challenge caches after I started it, with the Silver Subie parked in the driveway. With those three counties turned green on the map, it makes my trip planning for a major road trip this summer much easier.

Did I say how much I love the flexibility the Silver Subie provides??

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Another Short Bit of Wandering

With vacinations out of the way, it was time to make a long weekend trip. I figured the distance was too long for an overnight, so I positioned to some BLM land just outside of the south entrance of Joshua Tree National Park for my first night. Found a spot just about the time the sun was setting, fixed dinner, and went to bed planning an early departure. 

The intent of the trip was to get caches in Orange, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara counties.

The next morning I left at 0'dark thirty to time my first Orange County cache at first light. I got a letterbox and a multi out of the way before stopping for a virtual at a Vietnam War Memorial.

I also picked up a challenge cache and a mystery cache before leaving Orange County.

My first stop in Los Angeles County was for a challenge cache. I picked up another challenge and a traditional that started with "X" to help me out with another challenge. I'd hoped to stop at the Getty Museum for an Earthcache, but Covid continues to make some things difficult.

I didn't "need" any caches in Ventura County because we'd picked up a few when we camped along the beach on an RV trip a few years ago. That didn't stop me from getting a beach picture just because I could.

'Sides that, there was a series of caches in a Bird Sanctuary that had caught my eye when I was planning the trip. I ended up doing three of them (a Wherigo, a challenge, and a multi) but cut my time short because I had already heard about construction and slow traffic on the way to Santa Barbara.

My first stop in Santa Barbara county was a bust for me. There was supposed to be a challenge cache somewhere near this burned out tree, but I was never successful in finding it.

I did manage to find a cache in one of the nicer areas of town and left before they could tow the Silver Subie. 

From Santa Barbara, I backtracked a ways and then headed east. Didn't find another challenge cache I wanted, but eventually ended up in an area with a bunch of hand made fake rocks that I wanted to check out. 

Home for the night was a boondock outside of Palmdale. 435 miles for the day and 3 new counties. It was only as I was doing this blog post that I realized I never logged a virtual and an earthcache that I visited, but now I've lost those notes. Oh, well - there will be others.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Better Late Than Never (or not??)

Last August
, I teased that there was one more significant Silver Subie mod, but I never got around to documenting it. Since then, I did a full engine overhaul, new clutch, new brakes, new radiator, etc.

I wasn't happy with depending on the car battery for overnight use, but I couldn't justify a dedicated "house" battery, or so I thought. Shortly after getting home from the weekend trip with the tent addition, I was "blessed" with a CPAP. Now I had an excuse! The CPAP provider was less than helpful about running it on batteries, so I reinvented the wheel, so to speak.

If it were just current uses for the Subie, I could have gone with a smaller battery, but I needed it to have enough capacity to support our annual river trip as well. My design criteria was to have enough capacity for the CPAP for 10 nights or to comfortably handle the computer and 12 volt fridge (one can dream, right?) in the Subie. 

I ended up selecting an LiFePo4 50 Ah battery from They import this battery for "house" battery applications in VW Vans. The physical size and weight were excellent, and the price was better than I would have expected.

I lose some space in the kitchen box, but that's a small price to pay for the convenience! 

The battery is charged from a Renogy 20Amp DC-DC Battery Charger. This provides the charge curve that the LiFePo4 battery needs. This charger lives under the driver's seat.

The charger can be turned on/off from a switch that fits into a blank spot on the console. Since I only use the battery on overnight trips, the charger is turned off for everyday use of the Subie.

With the car installation finished, I built a water (and sand) resistant box to house the battery and control panel.

It's one more thing that gets loaded in the canoe, but the system worked well and lets us do those extended float trips that we love. It's been a win-win solution.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Gadsden Who???

James Gadsden, the U.S. Minister to Mexico, negotiated an agreement with Mexico, finalized in 1854. The United States agreed to pay Mexico $10 million for a 29,670 square mile portion of Mexico. This provided the land necessary for a southern transcontinental railroad and attempted to resolve conflicts that lingered after the Mexican-American War. Without this purchase, Tucson and Yuma would be in Mexico.

In April, 2020, a Tucson based geocacher developed a "Challenge Cache" based on the Gadsden Purchase. It required finding at least five caches in each of the 11 current counties that included land from the Gadsden Purchase. I already had finds in all 11 counties, but in five of them, I did not yet have at least 5 finds. In a couple of the others, I had over 1000 finds but that didn't help!

I spent some time studying the map with one eye on county lines and the other on potential geocaches that would be relatively easy to find. I added a handful of others, just because I was going to be driving by and they were cache types that interest me. I developed a plan in Cachetur which told me it would be 720 miles. First stop of importance was Santa Cruz County where I logged the caches I needed and spotted some pronghorn on the hill keeping an eye on me.

The next caches I "had" to have were in New Mexico, but I wasn't going to pass the the chance for a couple Whereigo caches, including one that highlighted some of the remaining neon signs in Benson.

The Texas Canyon rest stop was a worthy stop where I studied some of the granite boulders for an Earthcache. It's amazing how much geology I've learned from Earthcaches. Makes me wish I'd studied some geology in school.

I knew I wasn't going to want to try to do this as one massively long day so I started late enough that Hidalgo County, NM became a good spot for a boondock. There were a couple caches at exit 4, and I knew that there were some defunct businesses there, but the area was less inviting than the last time I was through here.

I wandered down to exit 11 where I found some waterfront property for my overnight boondock, just as the sun was setting. It got down to 34 degrees overnight, but I was expecting that.

I headed east as the sun rose the next morning, grabbing coffee in Lordsburg and then heading to Deming where I logged the caches I needed in Luna County before turning back to the northwest towards Silver City.

I picked up several in the Silver City area, completing what I needed for Grant County. In the process, I solved a puzzle cache and got a bit of education at Western New Mexico University. Geocaching is certainly easier when classes aren't in session!

By noon I was back in Arizona, enjoying the twistiest road of the trip, headed for the last cache I would need to meet the requirements of the challenge.

Once again, I got a chance to see things I wouldn't have seen otherwise, and enjoy some socially distanced windshield time. Life is good!

Monday, January 25, 2021

Who was Dylan?

The last couple months, a new geocacher has been placing some interesting caches, primarily near the west end of Canyon Lake. I've driven the twisting road several times this past month, either with BJ or with another geocaching friend. 

The caches are generally located within 1/4 mile of the road, but take you to very interesting viewpoints. The hills are mostly volcanic tuff tipped up on edge.

Some of the caches had beautiful views of Canyon Lake. Based on some of the log entries, these caches are placed in memory of a son & brother. Mom is picking some really special places to hide these caches.

Many of them involved some exercise. The view points usually aren't located in the valleys!

BJ and I managed to get First to Find on a couple of them.

One of them was located near a small abandoned mine site. We've driven past this for 30 years and never knew it was here.

Spotted the remains of what I think was an oil bath air cleaner, but nothing of any significance. Did a bit of research after this trip but couldn't find anything about a mine in that location.

Got a test run in on the Silver Subie. Glad to have the engine rebuild finished. It's almost time to change out the break-in oil.

Loving the change to do some local wandering and seeing what's around the next corner.