Out and About
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 …….
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
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.
Following on from Quorn there were a few caches to grab through the Pichi Richi Pass. At one point it involved walking through a few hundred metres of high grass so I was always looking for the elusive snakes that may have been lurking.
After crossing the railway line to venture to yet some more remote graves, there was a train whistle. What a bonus, to actually see a train travelling on the old Pichi Richi Railway. After grabbing the geocache, I followed the train down through the Pass, getting some more photos on the way.
It was really starting to warm up when I got to Port Augusta with strong northerly winds. I continued to geocache through the afternoon when the temperature started to tip 41C. This really had worked up a sweat so grabbed a shower at the BP roadhouse before heading south towards Port Pirie.
There were blue skies above but over to the east it was black and thundery and on checking the weather radar it wasn’t looking much better to the west and it was heading my way. I don’t think I would be camping out tonight.
I remained in Port Pirie until dusk geocaching, but the weather had made it to me. It was still hot and the winds were still strong and you could see some rain coming down but it never reached the ground. What did make the ground was lightning. It was time to head south.
The farmers that hadn’t already reaped their crops were out in force trying to get what they could in before either the rain or lightning got to them. The lightning show continued all the way to Port Wakefield and normally I don’t mind a lightning show but it is different when it is hitting the ground around you as you are driving.
So instead of sleeping out in the scrub in the rooftop tent, it was home in my bed.
After a chat with the owners of Quorn Caravan Park, it was time to head out to the Argadells and meet up with the rest of the High Range 4WD Club members. The first surprise was a bitumen road where I remember a dirt one for Ardenvale Road but it soon turned dirt but it wont be long before it is all tarmac.
Arrived at the Argadells Homestead and another chat before moving to the Springs campsite. On opening the first gate I heard some chatter on the CB radio. They were already heading off to Mt Arden. Let them know I wasn’t far away and I soon caught them as they were pulling out of camp. I took up tail end charlie.
Being a mixed group of vehicles from soft roaders to high clearance ones, there were going to be some challenges ahead. I have already done these tracks back in 2009.
The first couple of tracks were not too bad with only one challenge in a gully with a drop off the side and we soon made it to the ridge line with some great views.
The ridge track had some tricky rocky areas but we soon all made it to the top of Mt Arden, including the soft roaders. The views from here were spectacular overlooking Lake Torrens to the west and Port Augusta to the southwest.
The tricky bits were still to come with some rocky sections that tested out the soft roaders on the descent down from Mt Arden but all got through unscathed before stopping for some lunch. After a mild morning, it was starting to warm up with the temperature up around 32C.
A side trip to the South Gorge with a chance to get out and have a short walk to enjoy the view and then it was on to Buckaringa Gorge. It was still early so a few of us decided to go to the northern part of the property and tackle some of the more exciting tracks.
These tracks were a lot more rocky than the others we had tackled as well as a lot steeper. When we made the ridge, there was a bloke hiking the Heysen Trail that goes through here. We were impressed that he was doing it given the heat this afternoon.
After going over some of the tracks we had traversed this morning, we found a different track to descent off the ridge coming across some goats and kangaroos as well.
Back at camp, cooked up a chicken stew then it was time for some beverages around the campfire, before hitting the hay.
A clear start to the day, not as cold as expected and we were soon on the road heading to Axedale. Today we were meeting up again with the Central Victorian Geocachers for a 4WD trip through the hills around Bendigo. The event for the day was CVG 4×4 Adventures #3 – Fosterville. In all there were 8 vehicles attending with around 30 geocachers.
It was pretty easy going early on with a couple of hill climbs and descents. Then we came to the mother of all hills and there was a new cache at the top – On top of Fosterville for the seriously insane! We were not set up to drive up this one as you would have needed some serious clearance and winching. So it became a heart starter with a climb to the top.
Continuing on again we came to an issue with washed out tracks which were not suitable to all our vehicles so a change of plans saw us not get some of the new caches that had been placed out for the event.
A stop for lunch at the Gunyah Picnic Area with another 22 caches published in the area for the Event and we were off trying for as many “First to Finds” as we could. We managed to get 10 FTF’s – not a bad effort for the day.
The sun was getting low and we had one other task for the day. My GeoBuddy Garry was on track for his 5000th find and we found It’s all about the NUMBERS Challenge #1 as this milestone. It was time to head back to the cabin but not before grabbing some more geocaches on the way.
Another 12th of the month is finished.
I guess my 12 of 12 started yesterday afternoon with a return to night shift after a number of years. It was a busy night in Adelaide station but I only had one incident to attend – a motor vehicle accident at Flinders Park.
With the lights and bells going all night, I was a weary boy this morning and after collecting the mail from the post box, I was met at the door by Molly – our maltese shitzu. It was then to bed to catch up on a few hours sleep.
The house was busy when I woke with Jenny and Rachael taking a load of bottles up to the wood yard to get the refund money. Rachael is busy raising money for her World Challenge Expedition to Vietnam next year and bottle collecting along with chocolate selling and baby sitting are some of the ways she is raising money.
After lunch I decided to go walking through the grounds of Flinders University and then O’Halloran Hill Recreation Park to find some geocaches. This was about the same time as Adelaide and surrounding areas was getting hit by thunderstorms. The Barossa area became white with some large hail stones blanketing the area.
After a quick stop at the Scouts Rally SA office to do some maps and other administration things then it was back to work for my second night shift in a number of years.