Spring Break 2002
We enjoy perfect sleeping
temperature throughout the night.
In the morning, as I make
coffee, Ed is timing the suns travel up a rock face and Suzanne has
spotted some Chukar! Quail type birds from Europe. They
are very colorful and they blend in with the local rocks. We
count eleven of them. Quite entertaining.
Soon it is time to pack
up and hit the trail. Suzanne has been looking at a map and has
discovered a rock area she wants to investigate. Good enough,
we’re outta here but we must remember this place. It is worth
coming back to another time.
We drive out of the
canyon, zip over to I-15, and a couple exits later take an off ramp to
go to Suzanne's "rock area".
I don't see any
interesting rocks but I spy what I think is a three toed sloth!
"Forget this!", I tell Suzanne, "I know where the real rocks are
Back onto the freeway we
head for the next cache, “Would
You Like to Buy a Vowel”. It turns out to be at the ZZYZX
turn off. My GPS takes me right to it once I get aligned with my
compass but by then Ed and Suzanne are already standing there and are
giving me the George W. smirk!! I hate it when that happens!
Yes Ed. I see it!
Next cache? “Some
like it hot”. We take the Baker exit and drive to the
thermometer. This is another virtual cache and the author has
asked a question. We find the plaque he describes and write down
the "Job Number" for later e-mailing. We then visit the desert
center which is right there. Lolli buys me a book about
petroglyphs for my birthday.
Ed takes my photo in
front of the thermometer.
While in town we re-fill
our shower bags and then do the grocery and gas routine. Last
stop is the Mad Greek restaurant where we buy Gyro’s and then we are
outta there and heading north for the the hot springs of Tecoupa.
Somewhere on the way is the “Silver
Lake? - What Lake?" cache.
The waypoint for "Silver
Lake - What Lake? leads us to an area that is way past Silver Lake but
what do we know? We continue on until the waypoint goes sideways
and we pull off to the side of the road, stop, and then gaze off
towards the west at nothing much but grease bush. The cache
should be about .25 mile out there!
We eat our lunch and then
Ed and I put on our Geek Bags and do rags and head off into the
desert. The wimmin sensibly settle back into the shade of the
Vanagons and read their books.
As Ed and I get close to
the cache we see tracks in the sand. From there on we could have
found the cache without our GPS by just following the tracks
They lead right up to a single bush with a pile of rocks in the
center! Cool! But rather hot.
We log in and then head
back to the vehicles.
Next stop the hot springs of Tecopa!
Entering Tecopa we see
changes. The building next to the post office has burned down
and the post office was damaged and is now closed. A portable
post office has been brought in. The grocery store and
restaurant are now closed and the trees at the “Y” have been severely
pruned! No ice for sale anywhere. We should have bought
ice in Baker and now there is no ice. Damn! We leave the
place alone for a year and it goes to hell!
We soak in the hot
springs and meet a guy from Las Vegas who has some ice he will give
He is heading back to Vegas and no longer needs what he has left.
Good enough. We
take it and pour it into our ice chest. We zip out of Tecopa and
head back down the highway to the turn off for the "Wade Route" into
Death Valley and the start of our rattle down the washboard road.
I find that driving around 35 to 40 miles per hour seems to be about
the smoothest harmonic for the Vanagon but is nerve wracking.
Finally we reach the turn off to Saratoga Springs, cross over the dry
Amagosa River and head up to our favorite camping spot. We
arrive rather hot and bothered and I realize the place may not look
like much to Ed and Suzanne but we soon settle down with some beers
and wine and chill out. Lolli and I spent four days here back
during Christmas Break/New Year break 2000/2001 and we love it.
Of course it is a bit warmer in April than it was in December!
Up around 103!
I tell Ed I want to place
a virtual cache at the Ibex Mine and point to the mine off in the
distance. "Way over there beyond the sand dunes." When it
starts to cool off Ed and I put on our Geek stuff and head for the
mine while Lolli and Suzanne head for the Ibex sand dunes. It is
5:00 in the evening and 88 degrees, some overcast, but a nice breeze
We finally arrive at the
mine. I download the coordinates, take a photo, and find
something to ask a question about for my "virtual cache question".
I decide to ask how many rungs are on the ladder going up the
southwest corner of the structure and name my cache "Ibex
We then turn and gaze
back towards camp. Oh oh! Our Vanagons are parked just
below the rounded hill in the middle of the above image!! We
have a long way to go and the sun is down!
8:00 at night and way
dark Ed and I finally stagger back into camp! It turned out to
2.32 miles to the mine. Over four and a half miles round trip in
three hours plus caching time! I’m whipped!!
We barbeque chicken, do
the mashed potatoes, and marvel at the stars. Soon after going
to bed the wind picks up and then it really gets wild. I put the
top down. Dirt and dust blowing around. Way wild!
Eventually the wind settles down to a reasonable roar and then dies
I wake up at 6:30 to
peace and calm and the rising sun.. Happy Birthday to me.
I am now 61 !!
We have an easy get up,
putter around, have breakfast and pack up the Vanagons. "The
plan" is the ladies will take one Vanagon and go down to Saratoga
Springs to see the birds while Ed and I go place another virtual cache
on up the hill. This one I want to record the coordinates of an
old truck I know about that is lying in a ditch up the hill past the
talc mine. Ed and I put on our Geocaching geezer garb and start
Here I am in full-on
Geezer Geek Garb by the open pit talc mine.
Ultimately it turns out
to be .61 miles up to my truck virtual cache site. The lettering
on both sides of the truck are legible and my virtual cache question
What is the number
lettered on the door of the truck?
(I have removed it via PhotoShop)
In the above photo you
can see sand dunes off in the distance. My "Ibex mine" cache is
just beyond them.
Ed hikes on up to the top
of the hill to log a virtual cache he will call "Extra
Credit" while I am logging the coordinates for mine which I name,
So-Cal Mining Company". Then we hike back down to the bus,
load up, and go back down the road to catch up with the ladies.
We discover the ladies have gone for a walk along the marsh and
Suzanne saw a ruddy duck. I tell her they don't taste near as
good as Chukars!
By noon we are back on
blacktop heading for Shoshone and ice. Once we are iced up and
refreshed we head for Death Valley Junction and the turn off down into
the tourist end of Death Valley. Coming down to the Valley floor
we arrive at the "Motown
Five Death Valley" cache site but about all we find are the
restrooms at a rest stop. Onward!
Crossing the floor of
Death Valley I want to leave a cache, a rock cache. Between
Emigrant Springs and Stove Pipe Wells a perfect location appears.
We park and Ed and I hike to it. It is a small hill of stones.
I had originally thought we would spell Geocache on top in stones but
when we got on top there was one rather large rock that was very
weathered and split in many pieces.
Ed assembled a cache
container out of the split rock pieces in a natural cavity in the rock
and then we put in our “pretty rocks” that we had gathered during our
walk to the Ibex Mine. Perfect! I record the coordinates
and named it;
Geocaching seems to not
be popular with the National Park Service. Evidently they think
we are just a bunch of folks out littering the landscape with
Tupperware containers and ammo cans but one of the main concepts of
Geocaching is "Cache in/Trash out". We have picked up
several garbage bags full of trash so far in our travels.
Anyway, I just had to
make one out of rocks containing only rocks.
I want to see if the NPS is going to squawk about this one too.
Note: They did and it was archived.
We stop at Stove Pipe
Wells for ice cream. Then onward, up, and then down into the
Panamint. Ed says his brakes are hot and we stop to let them
cool. While waiting Ed decides to place a cache. We wander
off from the road a ways and find a fair sized square rock. Ed
builds up a cache out of rocks against it. We put some local
interesting looking rocks inside, Ed averages a waypoint, names it "Panamint
Rock Cache". and that’s it. We’re outta here.
On down to Panamint
Valley and up the other side. I am convinced we don’t have
enough gas to reach 395 but Ed doesn’t seem too concerned.
Fortunately there is gas at Panamint Springs; a brand new Shell
station and we buy
some at $2.24 per gallon! I put in 5 gallons.
We reach the turn-off for
our last view back down into the Panamint.
Spectacular as always.
We reached HWY 395 (My
odometer reads 283 miles since the last fill up. We might or
might not have had enough gas if it weren’t for that Shell station)
and soon reach the turn off for Whitney Portals and on up that a ways
we come to the turn off onto "Movie Road". Movie Road is a road
through an area where a lot of cowboy movies were filmed. If you
remember Roy Rogers or Gene Autry you should recognize some of this
After some wandering
around in the Joshua tree type rocks we find our spot, circle the
busses, and commence my birthday party!
Here's to me!
Tacos and special wine
and presents and cake with candles and sparkler!! The usual
suspects out do themselves! Finally to bed. Ed says there
will be cache within walking distance in the morning.
What a beautiful area.
We stay put for a change
and have a late, easy, get-up and then head off looking for local
cache. There should be two located within a quarter mile or
less. “Alabama Hills” and “Bama Hills”. The first one,
Hills" we find with relative ease.
In fact it is Lolli's
The second one, "Bama
Hills" has us scrambling up down and all around. There are many
neat hiding places near the coordinates in this Joshua Tree type
granite but no joy. After about forty-five minutes I give up and
so do the ladies. Eddie hangs in. We head back to camp.
About an hour later Ed calls in on the FM transceiver saying that he
has found it. He said it was about 30 feet north of my GPS
Ed brings the cache
container into camp and we looked through the goodies. Later we
all go back out to the site to put it back and see where it had been
hidden. In hind site it was not all that difficult. Just
Back to camp for some
laying around and reading books. Suzanne is off doing another
watercolor. I even take a nap. In the evening we have a
couple rounds of Petanque.
The ladies win the first
game and us guys win the second.
Up at 7:00 and start
packing. There is a cache one mile north of camp.
We park near some large
rocks and go for a hike. We soon find the cache. Log in.
On the way back Lolli finds some cochineal bugs on a cactus.
Unbelievably, the bug
inside the white stuff, when dried and ground up, makes "No. 2" red
We drive down out of the
Alabama hills. The Sierras are spectacular.
We swing through Manzanar,
the Japanese internment camp ruins, left over from the 2nd world war.
It is a sad bit of history but worth visiting; as the person who
posted the "Manzanar
Virtual Cache" intended.
Just out of Big Pine and
west of Baker Creek Campground is our next cache. "Native
We park in Baker Creek
Campground and enjoy our lunch by the dam.
After lunch Ed and Lolli
and I hike up alongside the creek towards the cache site. Soon
Lolli drops out in favor of reading her book beside the still waters
but Ed and I press on through the heat and brush. We get to the
coordinates but after some searching discover them to be about 70 feet
off from where I finally find the cache. We log in and sort
through the goodies. The log book mentions that just above the
cache site are some circular piles of rocks which are thought to have
been piled together by Indians. Possibly blinds for game
hunting? Ceremonial use? Hard to tell.
Back to the campground
and get ready to move on. Next on the Geocaching schedule is "Yard
We end up following a
county road northwest of Big Pine. When the coordinates get good
we park at the base of a pile of rocks. Ed and I hop out with
our Geek Bags and ponder the best way up. Ed goes up around to
the left. I go up around to the right. We meet at the top
and commence searching.
Ed finds it.
It is an ammo can with
some interesting goodies in it. I take the space ship key chain
to add to my Geek Bag zipper pull. There is also a plaster mold
made from a multi-million year old, two toe-ed, horse tooth!
Jeez! You never know what you will find!! I give it to
Suzanne so she can share it with her class room kids. We log in,
then scrabble back down to the Vanagons and the book reading, cool in
the shade, wimmin.
I can tell that this one
is going to be in the hot springs area by Mammoth and I am hoping it
will be at a hot spring I don't already know about. I always
like to discover new hot springs.
We reach the general area
and finally close in on the coordinates but when we finally find the
it is not at a hot
spring but in a pile of rocks!
In hind site that is
probably just as well. Folks enjoying a tub would probably not
appreciate a couple of geezers wearing geek bags stumbling around
looking under piles of clothes and damp towels for cache!
After we log in we take
off for a hot spring I do know of in the area but soon discover that
it is already well attended. We then drive off to the Crab
Cooker. We discover that someone had left the valve on that one
open and the water is way way too hot. It would probably take
all night to cool off. We decide to skip finding a hot spring
and press on for:
Another hour or so of
driving and we are on the southern edge of Mono Lake. We park at
the trail head for one of the volcanoes, grab the geek bags, and start
hiking. This one is very interesting in that there are two
trails. One goes around on the rim of the crater and the other
goes down and then back up onto the plug of the crater.
According to our GPSs it looks like the "Plug Trail" is the one we
want to take.
We go up a series of
switchbacks to get up on the plug and discover that it is made mostly
out of Obsidian and Pumice.
We finally get to the
cache coordinates and start looking under and around piles of rock and
there are many piles of rock! No joy! Upon re-reading the
details page we discover that a previous seeker also had trouble and
when he finally found the cache he recorded the coordinates he ended
up with and posted them. We tried out his coordinates and soon
"I found it!".
Good thing too. The sun was going down and the wind was picking
We log in.... and then beat
feet back down off the volcano.
We have decided we are going to treat ourselves to a
real sit down restaurant dinner in Lee Vining
in celebration of our six cache finds in one day!
Away we go.
After dinner we return to the volcanic area and pull
off the highway a ways and call it a night.
We wake up in the shade of the volcano and it is 27
degrees inside my Vanagon! Forget making coffee. We
immediately fire up the Vanagons and head back to Lee Vining for
sunshine and coffee that is already made.
Today it is, "time to get serious about heading
home", day. We drive up 395 through Bridgeport, Walker Canyon,
Carson City, and on to Reno and then west on I-80 up over Donner Pass.
We get skunked by five
cache along the way!
Our last attempt and only
successful find is, "HWY
20 – Alpha/Omega".
We park and set out
looking for this two part cache.
A two part cache gives you the coordinates for the first location
where you have to find the coordinates for the second location.
I find the first check
point and locate the coordinates, which are hidden, for the second
part. When we get to the coordinates of the second part Ed
finally finds the actual cache.
This is a perfect team
effort for the ending of what has turned out to be an
Alpha and Omega experience Spring Break.
It was the worst of times. It was the best of
dedicate this Spring Break trip to our puppy Sarah who, over time,
taught us how
to twirl in the desert and find sticks where none exist.
1985 ~ 2002