The Trail to TWO THOUSAND

I signed up for Geocaching on July 3, 2013 however … I didn’t find my first geocache until May 11, 2014. Yes, 7 years ago. And I’ve caching ever since.


I discovered quickly that within the Geocaching Community there’s diversity in the ‘types’ of geocachers out there. Since each player – geocacher is a human, this was not a surprise to me.

There are some players that focus on Challenge Caches only to those that occasionally geocache when they can. The way I play the game, I would say I’m somewhere in-between.

Why Geocaching?

If I had to pinpoint why I love this game so much I would gleefully quip: everything about it!

The end of Thunder Knob Trail: Diablo Lake and Jack Mountain in the background

It appeals to my outdoor sense of adventure, my natural curosity, my keen sense of observation, and let’s face it, it’s plain ole good fun. To celebrate my first 7 years of Geocaching, I’m gonna out there and find some caches instead of posting up at my computer!

Currently I have found 1,880 geocaches which will lead me to the milestone of 2,000! I also predetermined which geocache will be my 2,000th find: Sherlik’s Center of the Triad Challenge.

Let’s get out there.

Challenge Cache Chasing – Day 6

Last day of the Challenge Cache Chasing trip! I feel like a champion on a press conference tour. Seriously, folks. Super Bowl, Daytona 500, and I’m paraded around for a week after the feat to celebrate this accomplishment.

First stop on the tour is Park City, Utah.

Feeling Olympic!

WCP24 wanted to drag me out to Park City, Utah because I’m a movie fan, and most likely could appreciate the host place of the Sundance Film Festival. Oh, and the host city of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.

As I said, with a monster accomplishment achieved I was a movie star, or an Olympian, anyone held in high-regard so I readily accepted the invite. Besides, it was our last day therefore our travel day so I took my foot outta the gas as I resigned myself to returning to reality post haste.

WCP24 still asked if there were geocaches hidden around town, which of course, there were. We drove to the Utah Olympic Park first so we didn’t run out of time prior to leaving for the airport. The place seemed majestic even after 18 years of service. She explained that it’s an active facility for the USA Olympic Team.

After a handful of geocaches found, and lunch in our bellies, we wandered over to a few of the Sundance Festival screening sites. Apparently it just not one central place. Who knew? In fact, it reminded me of my local film festival of Seattle International Film Festival [SIFF]

I digress.

Lunchtime was upon us, which WCP24 had her suggestion for posting up …

NO NAME SALOON

Easily the most popular bar in Park City, and I can see why. Eccentric decor of aluminum beer cans made into airplanes, parts and pieces of abandoned equipment from long ago, etc.

We stuck with a liquid diet having eaten prior to arriving. That said, at some point I had to relieve myself. As I walk, I usually survey my surroundings. I’m odd like that. I noticed the smallest booth displaying No Name Saloon merchandise. Typical T-shirts, buttons, and so on. However, in the corner display facing me was something I couldn’t live without: No Name Saloon patch.

Our server was nearby, so I called her over. I asked how much, as I need to have this patch in my life as I collect them. She looked at me, and knew that I wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.

“Ok, sugar, I’m not supposed to do this because of the COVID, but for you,” she paused. “I’ll work some magic. Gimme 5.”

I pursed my lips to a small smile, “Done. I’m gonna step away for those 5 minutes.”

After the restroom visit, she and I met up at the booth. Her hand extended across the glass shelf like retrieving a prized comic book for sale. My heart skipped a beat! Then I explained it to WCP, and now she wanted one … oy. I talked our server once more to getting that.

“I’m not supposed to sell it to ya, though,” she warned with a wink.

“No problem, thanks. Let’s say if you were to sell it, how much?” I inquired.

“10 dollars,” her reply.

With our bill paid, we called her over one last time. We slid 20 dollars over across the bar. I quipped, “Thanks for the excellent service!”

My Geocaching backpack or at the very least my luggage has a new patch to commemorate my Challenge Cache Chasing success.

Shoe Tree Park

We wanted to find one last favorited geocache prior to bouncing. We determined it was at Shoe Tree Park – we have a Dr Scholl’s Tree nearby our home in Washington State. One of the oddities of our vehicle’s built-in GPS is the directions of “prepare to bear [direction]”

We would laugh, and giggle as we mimicked a scary in-vehicle bear #ROAR – sadly, we took our feet clad with shoes (not from the tree) all the way to the Salt Lake City International Airport.

We had chased down a challenge, so it was time to return home for a new challenge.

Keep calm, cache on. More importantly, #letsgetoutthere!

Falconer_Swarlos

Challenge Cache Chasing – Day 5

WCP24’s only request was one non-geocaching day, which I readily said yes to accommodate it. Besides, I wanted a break in the action as well. It would be a day of chasing down Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives restaurants while shopping.

All capped off with a visit-meet up with my friend, Janelle and husband, Ruben.

Red Iguana 2

Before you even ask: no, I didn’t ask for #bamboochicken! We slept in, because that’s what winners do … whatever they want. We had no itinerary on our non-Geocaching day. So we sought out lunch from a Guy Fieri Featured Restaurants. Unfortunately, Red Iguana was closed but not Red Iguana 2.

We needed fuel before shopping at the outlets located north. We loved the food, and atmosphere so much that we even bought T-shirts which we rarely do.

After lunch we drove off to the outlet mall for some #retailtherapy before meeting up my friend.

With COVID-19 still ravaging the planet, we decided to pick up food, so we could meet up in a park while manage our 6-foot social distancing from our different households.

Sugar, Sugar

We decided to meet up in Salt Lake City’s Sugar House Park. One of the questions Janelle and Ruben asked us was the reason for our trip, to which we answer Geocaching.

She kept asking drill down questions about our game we love. At least I do. By the end of the conversation, she had downloaded the app with a username. Of course, there were plenty of geocaches hidden in the park so we invited them to find it with us.

It was complete happenstance that it was an awesome geocache to find for their first. Lost Keys was amazing! After a collaborative effort by everyone (Janelle, Ruben, WCP24 and yours truly) we were able to open the geocache container.

On the drive home, WCP24 wasn’t done finding great foodie places as I mentioned I hadn’t had frozen custard at Nielsen’s, Home of Concrete. The line for this place was ridiculously long but well worth the wait.

The drive back to the home was uneventful which is how I like it.

To be continued …

Challenge Cache Chasing – Day 4

I could hardly sleep even though I was thoroughly exhausted from yesterday’s impromptu power trail under the sun. The final geocache is in my sights: Potter’s Pond (GC3B)

I resumed my role as NavCom considering I have the offline maps, and did the research on each of them on my list. WCP24 clamored behind the wheel to be the wheelman. We had some miles to pound before reaching the parking lot.

Potter’s Pond – GC3B

My adrenaline was seeping into my blood. This is it. The main event. It was an easier drive than those other Californian rallies.

I’ve been working on this for a hot-minute, and I really wanted to complete it during the 20TH year of Geocaching’s existence.

Like many geocachers, this August 2000 hide was necessary to finish it. Like many others, I chose this one to be the last.

Our research made us conclude that June 2020 would be best to attempt this one. We followed ALL the advice of previous finders, which helped immensely. Other than the time, we drove to Potter’s Pond Campground. Although at the fork in the road for campsites 11-15, or 1-10, we chose 11-15 (left)

We were seeking out Campsite 19. After we parked, we geared up with long sleeves and long pants. I found on my offline map GC2DK5A, and read the description. We followed that guy’s advice to find the TH [Trail Head].

We encountered a Muggle Dad and son at the trailhead. They asked us our intentions and direction of travel as they were loading up an electric bicycle and bike trailer.

He patted the equipment stating he was placing bear bait traps. WHAT. THE. F&#*%? I thought. Why don’t we leave those bears alone … we shrugged, walked to the GZ for Potter’s Pond 10 & 59 Birthday Bash

They quickly trekked past us as we were signing that logbook.

Next up?

We trudged up to Potters 2 Presents: International Geocaching 2014, GC5B2WB. They offered up coords to a downed tree to fjord the river. Again, we were grateful for the advice!

The sunny weather beat down on us; hot as balls. On our ascend, we stopped every 100 feet. The elevation and elevation gain was kicking our asses!

We finally hiked up to the GZ, and spotted the ammo can geocache immediately. We signed the logbook, took those obligatory photos and video, and dropped off TBs/picked up TBs.

We found a handful more on the trail now that the main mission has been completed.

We Go, We Go, We Geocache Home

We still had daylight to geocache back to Provo. We knew in our heart of hearts, we are not coming back anytime soon. So we might as well find as many as we can before we bounced.

Two in particular stand out in my memory. One is LPC The non urban version (GC1XZGV)

Totally worth the 80 + Favorite Points

The other was this one. 9800 feet of mountain with DK_Titan (GC1XWTR)

So .. it was time to fix that little oversight. I had a few people tell me that this was 9600 and not 9800. The state has it wrong. Their sign is in error.

~ firennice, owner of GC1XWTR

I wanted to verify their claim. With my compass, their claim was legitimate. The elevation was 9,800 feet above sea level exactly.

Victory Beers at Ruby River Steakhouse

Hot damn! My Jasmer Challenge is 99.9% complete. It’s as done as it can be before returning home so it was time for #victorybeers and nosh tough on food.

Our server was a lovely young lady that was all about the celebratory food and drink.

We trudged back to our hotel. We checked into this hotel yesterday evening. We explained why we picked this hotel because of Geocaching and our want to find Potter’s Pond the next day (now today)

TOTALLY DIDN’T INVESTIGATE THIS GEOCACHE!!

… that sweet man at the counter last night probably was wanting to share with us the geocache! And we didn’t know to ask, thought it was a LPC [Lamp Post Container] as usual.

Talk about a facepalm moment. So this afternoon when we returned triumphantly to the hotel we quietly hoped he was working tonight.

He WAS!

We asked about the geocache which he was delighted to hand it over to be signed. We managed to right this self-inflicted wrong.

To be continued

Challenge Cache Chasing – Day 3

The flight options from Reno to Salt Lake City were very limited; ungodly hour in the morning or too late at night. We chose the ungodly hour in the morning.

Cha-Ching!

While we were waiting for our flight, I decided to play the video slot machines available. As luck would have it … I WON $200 prior to boarding.

The Golden Spike

After a miscue in the California vehicle rental center between WCP24, myself and the clerk, I made sure that we jumped into the desired vehicle for this leg of the trip: Jeep Cherokee Trail Hawk.

The hotel in Provo wouldn’t take us in at 8 a.m. – we assumed as travel professionals. If it was 1 p.m. I’d attempt it.

So many of you don’t know, but I’m a closet but confused train nut. Love’em, but don’t pursue it beyond this statement. I’m NavCom today, so I pointed to the Virtual Geocache at the famed Golden Spike.

It commemorates the completion of the first Transcontinental Railroad where the Central Pacific Railroad and the first Union Pacific Railroad met on May 10, 1869. The final joining of the rails spanning the continent was signified by the driving of the ceremonial Golden Spike.

After photos and logging the virtual, we found a handful of traditional geocaches that were nearby. Then …

Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road

So I thought we were gonna bomb back to our Provo hotel, since it would be time to check in. WCP24’s face had an impish smile on her face, as she presented her new phone with full coverage of the GC map.

100 some-odd geocaches are located on this dirt road that we could drive down. From the driver’s seat, she suggests, “Lamp, whatcha think? Our first power trail? We have the gas, we have the time, and we have the determination.”

I shrugged my shoulders, “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is all we need.”

Power Trail

We assumed roles for this situation. WCP24 would locate the next geocache with the words, “Regular, Left, and Sage”. Translated is the size of the geocache (regular size), side of the road (left, or right), and the hint (sagebrush)

In 90 plus degree sun with no protection from it, and no water in the vehicle, I would jump in and out of the air conditioning. She would creep us along 1/10th of a mile at a time along 8.2 miles of gravel road.

By early evening, we finally finished this 97 geocache long trail. We ended up with a final tally of 100 geocaches found for a new single-day find high total. If we ever tackled that again, I’d like a team to switch off.

I can STILL smell sage brush in my nose months later …

Challenge Cache Chasing – Day 2

We woke up early once again for another long road trip. Feeling emboldened from our first find, we geared up for a treacherous hike in the redwood forests of northeast California.

From our online research there would be no signal, no help, and no more information than what little that was posted from previous finders. I drove this time, so WCP24 assumed the role of Navigation / Communication [NavCom for short] Thankfully, we had offline maps, written notes, our backpacks brimming with water, and Geocaching specific gear. For all tense and purpose, we were ready!

Vitreous – GC11E

The drive to this geocache was long, yet beautiful from Reno. In fact, I quoted my Found It Log as it summarizes the day perfectly.

On a tour de force of 3 famous, old geocaches hidden in the first year of Geocaching: 2000.

We drove from Reno, in a rental SUV with 4-wheel drive, 3.5 hours today. It was a sunny but cold day on the road, which is Highway 395.

WCP24 has some mad skillz behind the wheel as we scampered up the dirty, muddy road. We were feeling confident considering we found Yuba City (hidden September 2000) yesterday.

I’ve been documenting our journey with videos and still photos.

We followed the advice of craft40’s log information ℹ It was perfect! We had a slight detour at fork in the road of 45N04 – an albino cow mean-mugged us and gave us a bum steer.

Ha, ha.

Once we discovered the error, we drove back. Took a right to follow the Cachly offline map instead.

Those are well-worth their price, BTW! We practically drove up to this coveted cache. We were prepared for a hike in the mountains.

Yesterday we were woefully underdressed for Yuba City, Truckee, and the Sierra Nevadas.

Today we were overdressed! Can’t win for losing. I continued my documentary style videos and photos.

Once we found it, we inked the log, dropped off TBs, and SWAG. The entire experience was all anticlimactic as no fanfare, no velvet ropes parting, and no champagne falling from the trees.

But a smile of accomplishment crept onto our faces as we are now a Meatloaf song: 2 outta 3 ain’t bad.

We celebrated with lunch and a victory beer. After lunch, we packed up and listened to the sounds of the forest. No radio, no mobile phone notifications, just birds and a slight breeze.

The moment didn’t last as long as it took to drive here! Thank you for maintaining this special cache for the past 20 years.

Hope you’re on this for another 20 years! TFTC

Falconer_Swarlos found it log

We had hella daylight left, plenty of gas in the rental, and the enthusiasm of a successful adventurer. Now we have TWO year 2000 finds of the three we are seeking. So far, so good.

Once we decided to Geocache our way back to the hotel, along the Californian Highway 395.

Alturas, CA

After that anti-climatic geocache find, tailgate lunch, and victory beers, we were super confident of our trip thus far. We could relax while geocaching back from northeastern California to Reno, Nevada.

Alturas has a Carlos Street that we sought out for photos because that simply hasn’t happened in our travels together. As far as the clock was concerned, we were pacing nicely ahead of our itinerary.

At this point, any geocaching activity is being #extra so as we rolled into Reno we were winners.

Likely, CA

On the map the area of Likely seemed like a cool place to geocache before racing back to the hotel. Ironically, this is unlikely area to find geocaches hidden here.

After finding a handful of caches, we decided to take our victorious asses back to Reno.

To be continued …

On The Gas, and Kicking Ass Blitzkrieg

My sister, WCP24, and I planned Labor Day Weekend 2020 road trip that was intended to be #chillaxing but quickly escalated to an anxiety filled, white-knuckled drive home … the following is our On The Gas, and Kicking Ass Blitzkrieg!


Challenge Accepted!

Since I completed my Jasmer Challenge fairly early in my Geocaching career, my sister asked what other challenges was I gonna accept. Two actually – Washington State Counties Challenge, and Washington State Favorites Challenge. As I learned from WatchDOGMike, that if you research well enough you can find one geocache that meets the requirements for several challenges simultaneously. That’s being efficient!

#challengeaccepted

My counties map was up to 24 counties found of the 39 total. Respectable, but needed some work. Our intention was to black out the Columbia River counties, and the southeast corner of Washington but culminate with the geocache located at #thatNWbus – no lie!

Our plan was leaving after work on Sunday afternoon, find one Favorites Challenge qualifying geocache, then one in Skamania County, finally Klickitat County, before arriving at the hotel in Kennewick.

First Stop – B&meRanch GC40PEN

This heavily favorited geocache was called B&meRanch with 293 Favorite Points. WCP24’s only request for the entire trip was this, so I wanted to ensure we tackled this first. I can certainly begrudge my faithful partner-in-crime, biggest supporter, and little sister extraordinaire a reasonable request like that which … ultimately was beneficial to both of us!

A grip off of our intended path, but as I said, beneficial. We snapped some obligatory photos, dropped a TB, signed the logbook, put everything back and bounced!

Party Train – w00t, w00t

Many don’t know this about me but I have an inexplicable love for trains. All kinds: decommissioned trains, active trains, party trains, train wrecks … aiight, maybe not those.

Can you imagine my glee when I located a Skamania County hidden, non-micro sized, train based geocache that was less than a mile off the highway?

Locomotive Style (GC2ZD35) This cache is located on a F9A locomotive at the Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center in Stevenson Washington. WCP24 read the sign on the gate, “Gate closes at 5pm”.

Our car radio clock had 4:55 pm so we had to keep the blitzkrieg tempo with a walk-run gait to the GZ. I used the coordinates, and hint to find it in a heartbeat, signed the logbook, put it back and snapped some gratuitous train photos.

We practically ran back to the geo-mobile, the Sapphire Sled, only to roll it forward enough to be outside the gate.

5:03 pm on our clocks

It disappointed me but the sun was setting, so I slammed the car into gear, and charged off to the next geocache.

Bridge Over Troubled Water

As much as I have a “thing” for trains, WCP24 has gephyrophobia (pronounced jeff-i-ro-fo-bia) That’s the phobia for bridges. YEP, bridges. She absolutely hates’em. The Klickitat County geocache was the Dalles Bridge Intersection. While she was NavCom, I’m the wheelman and ultimately veto on directions. Based on the cache description, hint, and Activity Log, I though we could park next to it. Her phone directions spelled out a back and forth path over the bridge.

As we approached the parking area at 75 mph, I spied what I knew: Ground Zero (GZ) Before she could explain or complain, I zoomed into the gravel and parked. This is a lightning attack. We hopped out, found the geocache, and regrouped in the SS.

Texas Roadhouse

WCP24 reserved the hotel, and scouted out dinner plans for the night. She wanted me to experience Texas Roadhouse which I thought was BBQ. Thankfully it was not.

We dined happily on good old fashioned steak.

The Blitz Continues …

I had already sketched out a thumbnail itinerary that would have us tearing ass across the Washington State counties in one day. The hotel we posted up in was in Benton County, and nearby Franklin County.

Yesterday I logged 500 plus miles behind the wheel, and today I anticipated logging the same amount if not more. With COVID-19 still ravaging the planet, it complicated the housekeeping items of getting coffee, fuel, breaky, etc. Eventually after some fussing, we blasted off.

Benton, Franklin, and Walla Walla were found relatively easy. Columbia, and Garfield Counties were stretched out so I hammered down as much as I could on 2-lane country highways by the Columbia River basin.

Then … Asotin County.

I mistakenly thought Fill R Up was in Washington; it was not. With very little phone coverage, WCP24 was able to locate a qualfiying geocache called: Asotin County Tribute.

Hell yay. We found it, and regrouped in the Sapphire Sled. It was a grip past 1 pm, and just in time for lunch. WCP24 suggested that we earn our Idaho State digital souvenir by finding this double-digit Favorite Point cache that’s just past the state border.

Wayback Cafe & Catering

Odd as this will read, we initially arrived because of geocache hidden but stayed because it was amazing! The hostess greeted us immediately. She gave us a dining options: we chose outside.

We were hangry so we skipped apps to entrees. I landed on the 50/50 bacon burger … it’s 50% ground beef, 50% ground bacon. Heaven on Earth. The strawberry ice cream soda was refreshing in the Idahoan sunshine. Felt like a celebrity from the attentive service by our server – highly recommend!

Washington State University

I mentioned to WCP24 that I had never been to Pullman, WA, therefore also the Washington State University campus. Since Pullman is in the middle of Whitman County, it was prime target. With fully bellies, we found a cool geocache on campus, and we bounced.

This the On The Gas and Kickin’ Ass Blitzkrieg … not tour. We blasted outta there.

That NW Bus

WCP24 follows several related #Instagram accounts which she found a really cool tourist spot in our own state #ThatNWBus – it’s literally listed like that on Google Maps.

It’s located in the town of Washtucna, WA, and Adams County.

This time of year, and this is no exception is wildfire season especially in Eastern Washington. In addition to that, epic dust storms in the area were shutting down highways due to zero visibility.

The Emergency Broadcast System sent not one but THREE alerts to my iPhone. As we approached That NW Bus, we noticed Washington State Department of Transportation had closed off northbound Highway 26 at the intersection of Highway 261 / 260. They also closed the last 300 feet to the parking area for the bus at Highway 261 eastbound.

WCP24 started to worry, but I didn’t as I parked at the Pacific Pride parking lot. I felt my National Lampoon’s Clark W Griswold discovering Wally World was closed moment welling up inside me very quickly.

I DIDN’T JUST TRAVEL HUNDREDS OF MILES, BATTLED DUST STORMS, AND FIELDS OF TUMBLEWEEDS ON THE HIGHWAY TO BE DENIED THE LAST 300 FEET!

Oh-hell-effing-NO. I grabbed my backpack, and strutted across the busy 2-lane highway intersection. I grumbled, “that’s not a cop, let’s GO.”

WCP24 knew what the look in my eye meant: you either follow me, or get out of my way, because I’m doing it. She obediently fell in line behind me as I marched to my target. We rushed through the tourist experience with pictures, finding the geocache, and walking back.

Maze Runner

We quickly regrouped in the Sapphire Sled. I enjoyed a moment of relief: 10 counties, 2 more qualifying geocaches for the Washington State Favorites Challenge, and our Idaho digital souvenir.

We were shaken out of our stupor with yet another EBS alert off my iPhone. We’ve gotta clear outta this area. One of the many wildfires was located a mere 30 miles north of us, with a dust storm bearing down on us from the east and traveling quickly westward.

WCP24 tried to get a signal with her phone to map our way outta here with various highways closed. My iPhone was worthless it was a brick with my T-Mobile type coverage … we’ve known this though.

NOTHING. She was dejected, then inspired. “Lamp, don’t you have a map of Washington State in your geocaching bag?”

Like a battled-test, tried and true, EAGLE SCOUT, I was prepared for this situation, and replied with a smile, “Yes, I do.”

With a paper map in NavCom’s hands, WCP24 was able to guide me outta that mess.

Westbound and Down

We were racing against the clock by losing daylight, racing against dangerous natural elements, and human obstructions. I barreled down Highway 260 towards Highway 395 in the hopes of traveling north, finding Interstate 90 to get the hell home.

Nope – as we approached it was closed.

By this time, I’ve driven through more tumbleweed fields that were piled up against guardrails and clogged the lane for hundreds of feet. I’ve dodged STOPPED vehicles inside dust storms with zero visibility.

We felt like maze runners! Our last option was northbound Highway 17 outside of Connell, WA. And it was clear, we regained coverage, which showed green passage the entire path to I-90.

The smoky haze from fire and dust blocked out the sun even as far west as Ellensburg, which we stopped for dinner through fast food.

I unclenched as I pointed the Sapphire Sled westbound on I-90 knowing the only thing between myself and my bed is time and distance which I have full control over.

The On The Gas, Kickin’ Ass Blitzkrieg was very successful and quickly coming to a close. See what I did there?

No fear,

‘los

Challenge Cache Chasing – Day 1 (continued)

WCP24, my sister’s Geocaching Name, and I giggled about my breakfast sandwich incident on-and-off for a solid 20 minutes down the road …

BURNIN’ DAYLIGHT

We spent a grip too much time in Truckee, CA for my preferred timetable. We jumped back on the road, and stopped for nothing. We were burning daylight, which we realized.

Without any delays, we arrived to the GZ (Ground Zero) with little issue. We understood fairly quickly why this geocache has been in service for 20 years … it’s out in the middle of nowhere.

Two roads intersected like a T-stop, and each road had two-lanes.

YUBA CITY

With our experience in Geocaching, we naturally assumed we would make the find easily, and quickly. After 10-15 minutes of searching, and finding everything but the geocache … we were discouraged.

However, we dedicated a considerable amount of resources in time, money and energy to give up now! I usually continue to rely on my natural instinct. WCP24 will scale back to the Activity Log for a morsel of information that can change the entire search.

She’ll read aloud the logs that have significant data or scrutinize a posted photo to glean more clues. She read the hint out loud for about the 10th time. I scoffed at myself for being so foolish.

I marched up to what I knew in my heart was the location, then before WCP24 could figure out what was happening … I had the logbook in my hands. She smiled, “Good job, Lamp!”

I hopped down after replacing the geocache in it’s hiding spot. I asked, “Now what? Lunch?”

We jumped into the rental to record our marquee find. One down, two to go! Although, it was a grip anti-climatic, we decided to cache our way into Yuba City proper for victory burgers.

The Chick In Chick-Fil-A

My sister, WCP24, and I have traveled the world to experience feral animal populations in metropolitan areas such as feral cats around resorts. That experience, however, did not prepare us for the following.

WCP24’s all-time favorite fast food chain is Chick-Fil-A. Since she was supportive enough to take time off work, spend money on this trip, and help me every step of the way, I was more than willing to begrudge her many a meal of her choice.

So we roll up to the lengthy drive-in line. We both notice a hen, a chick, and rooster meandering the parking lot! We mumbled, who let the coop door open?

Suddenly, another rooster arrived, and advanced to the hen. She started her video capture, as well as our color commentary. We literally thought there would be a fight for the hen and the chick.

Our drive thru line moved along, so we had to advance our position and no longer to watch the rooster battle. As I gazed out the passenger window, I saw something I’ve waited my ENTIRE LIFE: the chickens crossed the road.

Eventually, we ordered and received our food of shame. We parked to enjoy it, while researching this odd phenomoen because we mentioned it to 3 Chick-Fil-A employees who casually dismiss it with the words, “Oh, the chickens? Yeah, they’re everywhere.”


Why did the chicken cross the road? To visit the closed down Circuit City building

Ironically, a Google Search of the feral chicken population while noshing on chicken sandwiches was quick, or rather, yielded fast results. See what I did there? Please don’t unfollow me.

On any given day, you are almost guaranteed to see rooster or hens running amok in the parking lot of IHOP. The birds have left their mark on the doorstep of the county visitors center and made nests along Franklin Road. Some say the city has a chicken problem, but the origin of the chickens is not clear.

Sutter Museum curator Jessica Hougen can tell you a lot about Yuba City History. Unfortunately, historical record left out the chickens.

“Oh, the chickens are a staple in Yuba City and everyone asks about them, but we can’t confirm exactly where they came from,” Hougen said.

There are many theories on the birth place of the chickens. Some believe they were escapees from a farmer coop. Others believe the chickens are remnants of an old sale yard.

“A lot of people heard they came from a livestock auction yard that was in [the] neighborhood for a long time,” Hougen said.

Back in the 1970’s, the livestock yard is where chickens were sold. Today, Yuba City gets its chickens from a variety of poultry-themed restaurants. An unofficial count on Google Maps reveals at least a dozen different chicken eateries.

Some may question if the feral chicken population is connected to the restaurants, but Hougen doubts that.

“Uh, I don’t know… that’s funny, but I don’t think so,” Hougen joked. “These chickens are not [the] type most of you eat these days.”

Instead of trying to solve the chicken mystery, Yuba city has embraced them. They even painted chicken murals around town. Love them or hate them they are a part of Yuba City.

ABC10, Sacramento, California

Instead of bombing back to the hotel in Reno, NV, right away, we decided like we always do: Geocache the collateral area until it’s time to go ‘home’. It was a 2.5 hour drive back to a hotel that the only activity we could do is eat and sleep.

We found as many as possible knowing this. In the cover of sunset and darkness we didn’t have anything other incidents, including chicken runs.

To be continued …

Challenge Cache Chasing – Day 1

In December 2019, I announced my Tabula Rasa Day Declaration as “finish my Geocaching Jasmer Challenge in 2020”. Since all but one person was a geocacher at my Tabula Rasa Day XI celebration … they had zero idea what I was talking about.

I clarified it, of course.

Triad of Trouble: Yuba City, Vitreous, and Potter’s Pond

Any geocacher in the Pacific Northwest that embarks on completing the Jasmer Challenge which is …

One of the oldest and most popular geocaching challenges is the Jasmer Challenge. To complete the challenge, you must fill your Jasmer grid by finding caches placed in every month since geocaching began in May 2000. As of the time of this blog publication, there have been 222 months since the beginning of geocaching, which means you must find 222 caches to qualify.

Official Geocaching Blog ~ October 2018

As you can imagine, caches placed in 2000 that are still active are rare. I was left with finding an August, September and December 2000 finds. None of these exist in Washington, which travel is required if I want to complete this.

I located my triad of trouble: Yuba City (September 2000 – GC5F), Vitreous (December 2000 – GC11E), and Potter’s Pond (August 2000 – GC3B)

Two in California, one in Utah. A considerable amount of money and resources would have to be poured into this effort. The global pandemic of COVID-19 was another layer of complexity that was not needed but needed to be dealt with.

We waited until Washington was in Phase 2 of 4 which allowed for travel.

The Biggest Little City In The World

My little sister, which is also my constant partner-in-crime, and biggest support, suggested to fly into Reno, The Biggest Little City In The World. The we drive to the two marquee geocaches in California on two separate days then fly to Utah. I agreed with her logical assessment.

I had a plan. I always have a plan. I may not say it or explain it, but I do. Sometimes those plans detonate in my face on step 1, sometimes they are executed like a well-oiled machine.

Today’s plan was the latter; not the former.

En Route To YUBA CITY – GC5F

Today’s plan was chasing down the geocache simply called, Yuba City. It was placed in September 2000. After a leisurely wake up process, we started or journey westward.

We were dressed for 76 F degree, sunny skies type of weather. And knowing we’ll be in a vehicle for 90% of the time with temperature control, mostly air conditioning, we were in shorts and T-shirts.

We didn’t know about the traffic situation so we bounced early morning to head west. As we discussed our itinerary and battle plan, we also agreed to stop in Truckee, CA. I had suggested our first Californian geocache find will trigger our digital souvenir for California.

WCP24, my sister’s geocaching username, searched that area for a viable candidate for this designation. She knows (knew) that I love abandoned vehicle hides for some inexplicable reason.

I love’em because there’s a story there that’s untold: how did it get there, who crashed it, what happened, why didn’t they rescue it? I digress … WCP24 found a few along a trail.

After we ordered breakfast online at Jax’s at the Tracks, a Guy Fieri featured restaurant on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives, we hopped out. We were greeted by sub 40 degree weather! BBBRRRR. Then as we were gearing up, it started to snow.

I said it was hail, but my sister corrected me with … “that’s snow!” So we hustled to the Ground Zero (GZ) coordinates. It was glorious! We also carrying around LEGO mini-figures which serve as avatars for our geo-squad. ArturoFaitCR (passed away); his daughter, Montse; our friend in Costa Rica, Jorge; WCP24, and yours truly, Falconer_Swarlos.

Luckily we found it! By the time we returned to the rental, our food was ready.

Jax at the Tracks

When we rolled up we understood why it was selected to be featured! It’s popular while being eclectic. My menu selection was a breakfast sandwich with the egg prepared over-easy.

This would prove to be a mistake.

My first bite essentially popped the egg yolk which exploded in my hands. Mercifully, it only covered my hands, forearms, my mouth, and dripped on my clothing – nothing on the rental vehicle.

Breaky Bayne

I laughed it off as I could only do so. Once we devoured our food, found a few more geocaches in Truckee, we rolled on to our target geocache in Yuba City.

TO BE CONTINUED …

The Joy of Geocaching – Part 2

May 25, 2020 – Part 2 of 2

Once I returned from Costa Rica to my home in the United States I was greeted by my Geocaching online purchase: a trackable walking stick! My intention was to gift to Arturo since he seemed fond of walking sticks but didn’t have one himself.

Since he passed away before I could give it to him, I kept it. Then … I named it after him: The Fait Walking Stick of Protection. I concluded that he was (is) my newest guardian angel. I vowed to take it with me on every Geocaching adventure I have for protection, and now, it’s a talisman of good luck.

While I love Geocaching, my sister really only enjoys it as long as I’m with her. I could play the game with others, or by myself. I can play for a few minutes or for days on end. After a recent visit to Wenatchee, she had remarked that on the next trip if we could incorporate a day or two of non-Geocaching downtime, she would appreciate it. That made me aware that her enthusiasm for the game could use so revitalization.

The best way I knew how would be to have her experience one of the biggest bragging rights within the game: First To Find, aka FTF! I remembered the excitement in Arturo when I was able to share that with him, I knew if sister experienced it too, she would be reinvigorated with Geocaching.

Memorable Memorial Day 2020

Since we work for the same company, we had the same day off of Memorial Day. The #COVID19 global pandemic has much of the world in quarantine mode. With Washington State in Phase 1 of a phased reopening approach, road trips are a popular way to get out of the house, yet stay socially distance from others. My sister had a magazine that she offered to me for inspiration because of the many scenic drives in contained. I spied the Mount Baker Scenic Byway as a viable choice. We agreed on this route for our Memorial Day road trip. She volunteered, “… we can also Geocache along the way.”

I plotted the route by super imposing the Geocaching Map of yet to be found geocaches. I also generated a report that indicates newly published i.e. hidden Geocaches in the month of May. Coincidentally, I am actively working on a challenge in which I find at least one Geocache hidden in each of the months in the game’s existence. For example, find a geocache in May 2000, June 2000, etc. The report had only one result: Del’s Meadowview in Oak Harbor. I thought it was quite a detour from the intended route but could be well worth it if we’re the first to find it.



Cautiously Optimistic

I’m a Seattle sports team fan for as long as I’ve been alive. One of my first lessons learned is being cautiously optimistic as our sports teams are known to disappoint me. Meaning, I didn’t tell her that we could potentially be the first to find this geocache. Just I did for Arturo in Costa Rica last year. I didn’t want to over promise, and under deliver.

I monitored the geocaches Activity Log like a concerned wife of a husband’s indiscretions. No Found It logs, yet.

We loaded up a vehicle, and headed out to the location typically referred to as the GZ, Ground Zero. And just like I felt last year, in my gut I held the belief we could be the first.I wanted to manifest this experience for my sister. I wanted to her to really know the Joy of Geocaching.

Del Fairfax PreserveI studied up on the location, while it is remote to our home in Lake Stevens, it wouldn’t be a strenuous hike to do. Knowing time is critical, I kept prompting her to move a grip faster, and I avoided any time vampires en route. Usually I am hungry for breakfast, and ache for coffee, but I sacrificed all of the those to ensure First To Find glory.

Yes. Yes, it’s THAT big of deal!

My sister knows me well-enough that observing this time of behavior can only mean one thing: it’s important. No, it’s monumentally important. Once we parked, we donned our Geocaching gear complete with my GoPro to document it, and my Fait Walking Stick of Protection (dedicated to my fallen friend, Arturo Fait) We hiked out to the location based on the coordinates. While I was relishing in the environment of the cool morning air and fresh rain, I was protectively surveying for interlopers such as other Geocachers seeking it out. I spied nothing, but wildlife.

As advertised the hike was quick, and flat. With laser like precision, and using our geo-senses, we assessed the location where we would start our search. Coincidentally, I approached an area of the woods that seemed disturbed by human activity, surveyed it, remarked about it out loud to WCP24, my sister, and then dismissed it.Moments later, in that same location, she barked, “Hey Lamp, I found it!”

Fantastic, I thought! We dragged over our prize like landing a large fish on the out board for a vessel on the sea. I kept hoping mentally, “Please let her be the first, please let her be the first.”

We opened the ammunition can with trembling hands like Charlie Bucket opening a Willy Wonka Chocolate Bar with the anticipation of finding the final Golden Ticket … we reviewed the contents, and to opened the logbook. No ink on the logbook!

We were ecstatic! EUREKA! We literally were the first to find it. The biggest smile quickly appeared on her face, just like Arturo’s when I bellowed, congratulations! She signed the logbook on the line designated: FTF.

I coached her to open up the app on her brand new phone, and claim victory before anyone else does! We snapped various photos, I captured video of the “win”, etc. I wanted proof-is-in-the-pudding: think of it as the obligatory information needed to substantiate our claim of first to find. After we replaced the Geocache, I noticed another group of folks appearing at the trailhead. Invariably, other Geocachers because let’s be honest, who the hell else would be out here in the sticks for a casual stroll. We had a 20-minute head start on them! We hiked back to the vehicle. I surveyed the remaining car in the parking lot which proudly displayed a Geocaching tell: a trackable on it.

I smirked, that confirms those were Geocachers seeking out First To Find bragging rights. As we clamored into my sister’s SUV, I asked, “Aiight, we were in such a hurry to get FTF, I forgot victory beers at home. Since no bars are open during the phased approach of Washington, what would you like to do to celebrate your first EVER, first to find?”

“The Shrimp Shack, big brother,” she fired back immediately. “I want Victory Shrimp.”

“Well, alright, Victory Shrimp it is!” I agreed. “I’m so proud of you, WCP (West Coast Player) that I’ll treat regardless of the cost!”

She was so excited that she didn’t even start the vehicle until after she posted a few photos, and words on her social media platforms.

THAT!

That, my friends, is #theJoyofGeocaching.