Lucky I was still in the US this month as it gave me an extra day before having to remember the 12 of 12 as I forgot last month.
My visit to Signal hill was to see the private Fire Collection of Chan Brenard. Chan has been collecting fire related material for a long time and it is an impressive collection from helmets, fire truck models, books and a large amounts of fire equipment catalogs from over the last 50 years.
Another interesting thing about Signal Hill is that it is a small city of around 3 square miles that has refused to be annexed into the much larger City of Long Beach that surrounds it because of oil. There is a huge amount of oil underneath the hill providing good revenues to the city.
There are bobbing oil pumps everywhere including backyards of houses and even the drive thru of the local McDonalds. After having lunch at the Black Bear Diner at the bottom of the hill with Chan and Gill it was back to check out more of Chan’s stuff.
Time was getting on and I had a hour or so to drive up to LAX for one last time. Traffic wasn’t too bad so there was time for a meal at In ‘n Out Burger and watch a few planes land as the sun set on Los Angeles.
Dropped off the car then headed to the Qantas check-in with no issues regard to weight. I might have been saved as I upgraded the Melbourne-Adelaide leg to business which gave me extra privileges here as well.
Still had some time to wait so went outside and walked the terminals grabbing around 20 Munzee’s that were located here.
Managed to get through the TSA checkpoint OK and it was off to the gate which of course was the furthest away. It was fairly quiet here and it wasn’t long before it was announced that we were going to another gate – which was the one with the plane parked alongside I had passed on the way to this one.
We were all on board when the power started doing weird stuff with drop outs and the screens resetting and all this before the push back from the gate. An announcement came that there were issues – I guess we already knew that. Supposedly it was some sensors on the doors were not working properly and engineers were working on it.
An hour later and we were pushing back but it wasn’t for a further 30 minutes that we joined the queue to take off. At this point we were 1.5 hours late from taking off. It was going to be interesting at the other end with connecting flights if they don’t make up the time over the pond but that is another story …….
It is that time of the year again, however this year it nearly didn’t happen. With budget issues, there was no guarantee I would be heading back to the US. I finally got approval last Friday so it was a mad panic booking flights (they were still cheap), accommodation and car rental.
So where am I going. This will be the fourth time attending the International Association of Fire Chiefs Wildland Urban Interface Conference – wow that is a mouthful. And for the fourth time it is in Reno Nevada but has changed locations to the Peppermill Resort.
It is not all work and I hope to have a chance to get some geocaching and skiing in on the weekends.
After rushing to the airport and arriving just in time, we were delayed 45 minutes due to issues in Sydney. We finally got off the ground and after some circle work around Goulburn it was into Sydney only to find that I had just enough time to get to the International terminal for the flight to Los Angeles.
We were loaded onto the big Airbus A380, only to be told that there was a problem with the APU and that our departure was to be delayed. With the power and aircon going off a few times, an hour later we were in the air.
The flight across the Pacific was uneventful but we had a spectacular sunset through the window.
Luckily I had plenty of time to get my connecting flight as there was only one bag on the carousel and eventually found my other bag merrily going around on another one. Through immigration and customs OK and dropped the bags off for the next flight.
With a couple of hours left, I headed down to the coast to grab a couple of geocaches. It certainly wasn’t beach weather today and I had it all to myself. The weather in LA was cool (around 14C) and foggy. It must have been cold as the locals were wearing jumpers and jackets.
Back to LAX, onto the plane to Reno and 32 hours after leaving home I finally arrived at my destination with a few hour of broken sleep – starting to feel like a zombie.
Unfortunately I couldn’t get into the Peppermill Resort so was staying for a few days at the old hotel, Grand Sierra Resort before moving across. They must have realised that I hadn’t had much sleep because my room ended up being the one right at the end of a mile long corridor.
I got to walk these corridors a couple of times tonight as a supply run from the nearby Walmart was in order. It is always interesting there as you get entertained by the customers and what they are wearing as well as groceries.
There was a little issue for me when I went to use my credit cards they were declined. A call back to Australia to the Commonwealth Bank to be told that I hadn’t notified them I was going overseas. This is a first time for me as normally I get a phone call as soon as I use my card to confirm that I am actually in the US.
It was back down the long corridor, shower and off to bed for some well deserved sleep.
After forgetting the 12 of 12 in January, I was not going to miss this month.
Today was an average work day with just a few meetings (even with a wrong date on the agenda) and some paperwork and no exciting incidents to attend. I did manage some exercise up and down the stairs between meetings.
There were some noises coming from the front of the car. One ended up being the siren speaker having come unattached from its mount which was quickly fixed by our work electrician. The second noise is a little more serious and will hopefully be fixed tomorrow by Nissan.
Once at home, it was time to get the recycling ready for tomorrows pickup and check that the parrots had left us some peaches (we netted the tree last night).
A giggle to finish the day with some Engrish instructions that arrived with some waterproof phone/GPSr pouches I received from an eBay seller in Hong Kong.
Another 12 of 12 is over …
Who would have known when I signed up to a website on January 31 in 2002, I would be talking about it today just over 11 years later.
That website was Geocaching.com. To this day, I am still unsure why I signed up. I may have read about it somewhere, or found it when I was looking for something to do with my GPSr at the time, a Garmin III+.
Whatever the reason, I didn’t really get into geocaching until April/May 2006 when I took the kids for a walk around the area finding a few caches. Even then it was pretty much forgotten again. It wasn’t until April 2007 that the bug bit.
So what is geocaching. From the website, “Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location“.
In basic terms, you use a GPSr to find an object that has been hidden by someone else, sign the log and move onto the next one. There are a number of tag lines associated with Geocaching, but one of the best is “using billion dollar satellites to find Tupperware in the woods“.
Some call it a sport, some a hobby and if you ask Jenny, an obsession.
Whatever you call it, it provides an opportunity to get out there among it. You can drive, walk, ski, kayak to find these and locations vary from shopping centre car parks to the top of mountains and in 11 years I have been to a lot of wide and varying locations.
It has taken me to 3 countries and 2 continents (It is a shame that it wasn’t around when I did a lot of travelling in the 90′s). There have been days when I have found 600 when I tackled the ET Highway in Rachel Nevada (GC2ZK7J – 0001-E.T.) and other days when I have hiked up a mountain to find just one cache (GC1Z4QY – Mt Cavern).
It is not just a journey of finding Tupperware but also meeting some great people. I have met a lot of people from both Australia and around the world. All have the same interest but come from different backgrounds and many friendships have formed. I have also met the #1 Geocacher in the world (Alamogul) who attended an event in Nevada put on for me during my visit in 2012 (GC3CMT4 -Fun in the Dirt (Meet the guy from down under)).
Well today was a major milestone in my journey and I had a number of Geocaching friends that wanted to be part of that milestone. It was going to be my 10000 find – quite an achievement for an Australian Geocacher.
Locus Cache had borrowed a 4WD for the day from a workmate (she needed to get some miles up on a lease vehicle). Along with Honeysucker and CPwanderer we headed south, hoping to find a suitable cache to mark the 10000th find.
Early in the day we made a run from Hallett Cove to Aberfoyle Park for a First to Find and then continued south along the coastline to Aldinga Beach. We were about to make a find on the lookout to mark the milestone when a new cache was published down at Mt Compass. It was 23 kilometres away. The cache was GC45MMP – Compass Wetlands.
With Locus Cache driving and the rest of us hanging on, off we went.
Pulling into the car park, we were the only souls here so off to GZ. All our GPSr’s indicated the orange thing in the middle of the water was the cache location was but we didn’t think we had to get wet feet so time to search the nearby structure and with no one around we were uninterrupted.
Eventually we found the cache with about 8m on the GPSr.
Drum Roll – I opened the log book to find it was clean. Hooray, a First to Find for my 10000th find.
After signing the log it was time for a celebratory beverage at the Mt Compass Tavern.
Who knows what the next 11 years will bring and where it will take me. Keep on caching.
Having bought a kayak 12 months ago and only used it once three weeks ago and not paddled for 15 years – why not.
We arrived at 10:30 as the tide was heading out, leaving an guard at the cars and started paddling.
We paddled for 2 hours covering 4.7 km in four canoes and getting 4 cache finds.
I put together a video of the adventure – 2 hours of paddling in 48 seconds
With Jenny and Rachael on a cruise in the Pacific somewhere, I decided that a road trip was in order and the South East was the spot.
We crossed the Coorong at Tea Tree Crossing which had low water at this time of year. There were a couple of caches near the campsite to be found and going to one, there might have been a momentary loss of traction in the mud but it was soon remedied by letting down the tyres.
It was time to head over the dunes and along the beach to a new Earthcache (Wild Dog Island) that we had hoped to find as a “First to Find” but having been unfound for almost 12 months, it was found 2 days ago.
We were a little behind time but it didn’t stop us finding geocaches further south along the Coorong at 32 Mile Crossing then at Kingston SE, Cape Jaffa, Robe (with a stop for some fish and chips) and finally Millicent before finally getting to Mt Gambier.
Not bad – a journey that should take 4 hours took us 15 hours.
I think where my idea came unstuck was I was 14 years younger back then and at least 14 kg lighter but I was willing to give it a go.
12 months ago I had bought a kayak to tackle the mangrove caches but it has sat in the shed since I had bought it so today was the day to christen it.
The geocache on the radar today was “Fishing for Red Herrings“.
Arriving at the beach it didn’t look too hard but as we were getting ready the tide was turning and the swell was increasing – not the best for some one who hasn’t paddled for 14 years but don’t they say you always remember how to ride a bike. I wonder if that is the same for paddling.
There was a varied flotilla of craft assembled for the trek but in the end there was only 2 that made the journey out through the pounding surf – the floating barge of shonylogic and my untested kayak.
After the third attempt of getting past the breakers, I was finally on my way following in the wake of the barge. About half way out the surf capsized me and it then became a swim to the structure as I had failed to practice the remount in surf procedure.
No good caching story is complete without some blood and I managed to get some while being pounded into the ladder by the swell at the structure.
Cache all signed and I got back on the kayak and paddled back towards land. Again at about half way in, I was capsized again. (there must be a bump there somewhere ) Oh well, time for another swim. It wasn’t long before the barge came out to me and offered me a seat back into dry land.
Back on the beach and it was time to check my stuff I had carried with me. We soon found out that zip lock bags are not that waterproof and hopefully I will be able to resurrect my CB radio.
It was a fun morning and was thinking maybe the kayak belonged in the shed but we then went top West Lakes for another find and it performed perfectly in the calm waters.
I have put together a short 30 second video of the hour long trek
After receiving a power bill of $1400 three months ago, $400 more than our normal $1000 bill, it was time to look at alternatives.
Without going primitive, the only viable option was solar.
We have been looking at it for a while but it always seemed too expensive. But with most things, over time the prices do eventually come down and now was the time to take the plunge but I am sure it will be even cheaper in the future.
So after looking at a number of different options - Chinese vs German vs Italian inverters, Chinese vs German vs Canadian panels - it was decided to go for a German Sunny Boy inverter and Canadian Solar panels. Then what size system and this was a matter of matching available funds against available systems and ended up with a 4 kW system.
Today was installation day and of course it was cloudy.
The installation team started at 8:00 am and had it all finished and connected by 11:30 am.
Even with the clouds, It was putting out enough to turn the electricity meter backwards - haven’t seen that before.
At the time of writing, we have generated 8 kW in 5 hours and that is with cloud cover so cant wait until the sun comes out.
Today was a special day, in that as well as being a 12 of 12 day it was also the 12/12/12 – this won’t happen for another 100 years and I don’t think I will be here for that one …
Wednesday is bin day and they came around early today – it was going to be a hot day with a top temperature of 37C (99F).
The pool was ready and with the kids on school holidays, it would get a work out today.
What wasn’t working was the airconditioning on the Nissan Patrol. It had died slowly last night coming home from work but had nothing but heat this morning.
After calling into the post office to check for the mail, I was starting to get hot under the collar by the time I got to work.
Called the Nissan dealer to explain the predicament and they said bring it in – great.
After lunching across from Unley Nissan, it looked to be taking a bit longer than they expected so back to work for a few more hours.
Adelaide was subject again in this time with more of the tropical weather we are becoming accustomed to, with more thunderstorms and floodings. High humidity and high temperatures soon takes it out of you.
The car was ready by the knock off time but there was no one around to drop me back to the dealer. Time for a new experience (not that new – just haven’t done it for a while) with taking public transport to pick up the car.
Being the 12/12/12, there is of course a geocaching event and tonight’s was in the Badlands (north of Grand Junction Road) - 12.12.12. – The end of the Flippen ‘Numbers. It was a good turnout with a BBQ and good company.
My plan today was to find 12 geocaches today but lost count and overachieved with 13 finds.
Made it home around 10:30 pm and that finishes a very different 12 of 12 ….
I have wanted to get back to Yorke Peninsula and clean up more of the ever increasing geocaches that are appearing there. This weekend was my opportunity with Rachael and the Bleden Venturers looking for transport across to Yorkes for a different sort of clean-up weekend.
The Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) have a Marine Debris Survey Program that has been going for a few years and the Venturers offered to assist by doing a survey on Gleesons Landing and Daly Head Beach at the western side of Yorke Peninsula.
We finally made it to camp at 11:30 pm and the place was deserted which meant we had the pick of the campsites. The kids spent about 30 minutes setting up camp and were soon in bed. I was ready in 3 minutes since I was sleeping in the roof top tent. This gave me a chance to go for a wander around to the point and grab a geocache.
Saturday morning and making sure the kids were OK, it was time to hit the road. The plan today was to grab finds and do a lot of the walking geocaches in the Innes National Park. The temperatures were in the mid 20′s so perfect for some long hikes.
Considering the walks, I made 21 finds for the day and saw some spectacular coastline in the process. I had made my way across to Stansbury and camped there for the night. It was a little windy but slept well.
After picking up the kids, it was a quiet drive home as they all slept – they must have been tired.
It was a good weekend for them and me as well. Even our Japanese billet enjoyed the camping experience and I am sure she will remember her stay in Australia.