Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wherigo home to Reno

Good morning Holden! You're such a cute doggy, yes you are!

Okay, time to get up. As the long hike today was cancelled, everyone (except poor Tammy, back out with the boys to the soccer games) took the time to sleep in and catch up on rest before going at it again. We were running so slow, Dave texted Scott and changed our meet up time.

Pile back into the truck, joined by the Dominator, and headed out to Manito Park. Scott had told me yesterday that this place used to be a zoo before the Depression, now it's a beautiful park with lots of flower gardens. We parked at the Duck Pond and watched the various ducks and geese fly around and be chased away by the kids on the grass. I always think of that scene with the pigeons in Final Destination 2 whenever I see someone doing that... morbid mind that I have!

While my Wherigo player isn't the best, I am able to use it, somewhat. So I fired up the cartridge and we began the wander around the park. WOW, this place is amazing. So large, you could spend all day wandering and never get tired of it. I loved the Duncan Garden and the Japanese Garden was fantastic. Course, today was senior pictures, so we had numerous groups of girls with photographers wandering around with us. Each stage asked a simple question of you and once answered, gave you the next location. Very straight forward and clean, I'm going to base my Wherigo off this one, once I find a place for the final. Anyway! Took a detour off the cartridge to head over to the Japanese Garden where the guys all got a great laugh out of me scratching my head in puzzlement over a cache placement. Eventually I got it, but not before I think they busted a gut trying to hold in the amusement. But I did have some fun with the camera again. Koi are so pretty!

Found another cache before making our way back on track to the Wherigo. Uh oh, battery dying! I've gone this far, NOOOO. But yep, it crashed on me and I wasn't able to save my location. So the guys took me to the stages and I took a ton of pictures to answer the questions when I got the thing working again (darnit, I want that completion code!) and was able to make my mark on the final while watching Dave and his son play baseball with a stick and tennis ball I'd found. Holden was making a great catcher, short stop, outfielder, and thief. LOL

Back to the truck to head for lunch. I saw Zips again and figured why eat at the same places I have here when I can eat someplace new. We grabbed food from the drive thru and headed to a park for a picnic. On the way we passed through a construction zone where they had completely torn the street up all the way (to my amazement) down to the cobblestone! That was neat to see! We watched some girl's playing in the water toys at the park while talking, reliving the weekend, and me all bummed out I was down to my last hour. Did get another cache while there in the park, but still, my last one in Spokane (for now).

Gave Scotty a big hug goodbye, told him to tell Christy thanks and goodbye, and jumped back into the truck. It was off to the airport and my time here was done. I bid farewell to Dave, thanked him and Tammy for their hospitality ((I don't care if that's how you roll, I will pay you back.)) and went in to make my way through the TSA checkpoint.

This has been an amazing weekend. I'm really lucky to have four awesome friends up here, and have now met a few more new friends. This will not be my only trip up here, that's for sure. That's what I love about geocaching, I've met some of the most remarkable people through this sport. We always say geocaching takes us places we never would have known about, but it also introduces you to people you never would have known. There's no way that my path would have crossed with those of Scott, Chris, Dave, or Tammy - but I am incredibly grateful that it has!

And yes Dave, I know I overdo it on the sunshine and rainbows stuff, but I am glad to know you guys. You treated me far better than just "well taken care of", you guys really went out of your way this weekend. Thank you.

More pictures from the weekend: 2010 Spokane Trip

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lions, and Tigers, and Bears - not quite!

Saturday came early as some moron left the alarm on her phone set to loud! Having crashed at 2am, a 6am buzzer is highly annoying. But it was suddenly improved by the sudden appearance of a black nose and happy to see me tongue. Good morning, Holden! Tammy and the boys were heading out to an early soccer game and both boys got a good laugh at Holden crashed out on top of me.

Then I heard Dave stumbling around and before long, Scott was at the door. Ugh, is the sun even up, it's awfully grey out there. (Dur, Pacific Northwest, yeah, clouds are on order for the day). The guys loaded up the canoe onto the truck and we headed out for the next adventure. The original plan was to paddle around Horseshoe Lake and go down a river, so we left Scott's truck near the pull out point and piled into Dave's to head to the lake. Along the way, we saw several flocks of wild turkeys crossing the road! Cool!! Haven't seen them before!

Today might be overcast and cool, but the lake was like glass. Oftentimes I was able to get a perfect reflection of the surrounding trees and hillsides in the water. Plus, I got to play with my Dad's camera by dunking it straight into the lake to snap pictures of the plants and debris. I love waterproof cameras!! We passed by an absolutely beautiful waterfall as we headed towards the bend, where our first cache of the day was hidden. Dave steered as Scott
reached out to grab the spot and between the two of them, they got me within easy reach of the decon. Snagged it, inked my name, dropped off the TB I had brought up with me. Replaced it and we paddled just a bit south to a little beach.

Pulling up our boat onto shore, we hiked up a steep trail to the ridge of the canyon. As I got close, I had to pick up my jaw. A massive cylindrical hole, straight down into the rock, opened up right in front of me. Devil's throat, Devil's well, Diana's Punchbowl, you know the type. Such a perfect gaping hole that your brain refuses to grasp what it's looking at. Surely both Scott and I, having not seen it before, were impressed! I think the sheer number of pictures I took prove that! But then we looked around and noticed that our guide was no where to be seen. Um, guess it's time to head to the next geocache.

Straight through the forest we go! I kept finding
game trails that peter out and I think Scott was following his own, though we were bother slaves to the arrow pretty much. I find a ridgeline to follow and end up in a steep drop down to the lagoon area below the waterfall. When I finally emerge onto the rocks at the base, where I beautiful poem is posted in memory to the waterfall's namesake, I look up to see Dave looking down. Oh it's up there! By the time I scramble, rock-monkey style, up to the top, Scott has reached the crossing and Dave is waiting on the other side. I'm silly and brave
and so find the small midpoint rock to brace my foot on and over the water I go. Scramble up, find the cache when Scott arrives and we stand there chatting.

And once again, Dave disappears.

Finally we get tired of waiting and head back to the stream crossing. As I'm watching Scott get into position, Dave comes running (thought Puzzleman was the only one who did that) down the steep hill, saying he saw a mountain goat. What? Cool!! Once all back on right side of the stream, we head back through the bushes to the Devil's Well and down to the boat.

The paddle continued around the eastern part of the Horseshoe, lazy, relaxing, and oh so awesome. One other boat was out there fishing, so we just rowed around them and headed back into the bend to get closer to the waterfall. As we passed near the first
cache, Dave spots a turtle perched up on a log in the water. He slipped away before I could get pictures. We floated into the secluded lagoon below the waterfall before running up on a sand bar. Lots of pictures while there! As we backed off the sand bar and headed into the lake, Dave points out where he saw the mountain goat - then sees the goat up on the ridge sunning itself. WHOA! I'm seriously impressed that the camera got a good shot of it even that far away!! AWESOME!

Made it back to the truck after floating towards an old rustic white cabin that was just bordering of eerie. As the guys were putting the boat away, I looked for the parking lot cache. Then they came over to help. Then another pair of cachers, MtnGoat50 and Love2Ski, pulled up and came over to help. Then Scott started to call a phone-a-friend, but just as he was getting instructions, Jim found it! Whoo Hoo!!

Off we go to get Scott's truck, and he heads off to do some maintenance, while Dave and I head back for lunch. He asks if Zips is ok. Um, what's a Zips? Oh, burger joint, cool! I'll have one of those! While eating, I got to listen in on the results of the soccer games this morning and enjoyed a nummy bacon cheeseburger. But, before long, it was time for the rest of today's adventures!

Headed out and turned north, way north, we're still going north, Holden keeping me company in the back seat while Tammy and I dozed off occasionally. It's been a long day for everyone! Turning off the main highway, we headed up into the mountains near the Survival School up there. Long bumpy road led deeper and higher into the range. We picked up a few caches along the way, and I began noticing that we were heading towards a peak. Ohhh that means benchmark!! So I loaded that information while the road climbed and climbed. However, we were up here at 6pm, and the road was heading up, and west - Hello SUN!! Several times Dave had to stop and wait out the setting sun before he could continue driving.

We pulled over at a great vista point and everyone piled out. Though cold, the view was amazing. I took lots of pics, Holden played around the area, and Tammy and Dave were hanging out on another rock outcrop. It was very peaceful being right there. But as my fingers started getting cold, I wandered after Holden to move around a bit and was led to a 6 foot "cliff". Thinking
I could climb it, I started stretching my fingers as Dave walked up. "Find anything?" "Oh, just a cliff to climb if my fingers can grab the rock." He makes some reply that I miss due to the wind. I scramble up and sit on top with him looking up at me. "You know, you're now where I took the spoiler pic." "Huh? Spoiler pic for what?" "The cache." "What cache???"

Apparently my GPS didn't have the cache that I was only 4 feet from. Turns out I was sitting on it! And they had been waiting for me to find it! ARGHHHH So I logged that, as as we continued up the mountain, I quickly load in additional caches that missed my PQ. Oh looky, there's one on top! DUR! So I scored that one and the benchmark along with one of it's Reference Marks (couldn't find the other but was too cold to really look). Then down we go to join Both Christy and Scotty for the next night cache! Only one phrase describes that downward drive: Bumpity bumpity bump!!

Got to the starting coordinates and headed out on the first leg. You can read my log for the entertainment there! But it was fun chasing after the little firetacks while pretending I was a train. :giggles: Then off to the second stage, where I was a bit more careful in keeping track of where I was verses where the tacks were saying I should be. Both final coords in hand,
we're off! The last stage involved another firetack trail until the end. Then a puzzle was presented that I had seen similar ideas from (and had borrowed one for my own, that in turn was borrowed for up here) but I didn't want to do what the usual stunt is. So spend time looking around for the second piece, then tried pulling and turning to see how far I could go. Oops, that got tighter. Um, Scott, I think I messed it up! "Just release it." Um, HOW?! I've never done this before!

That bit of info was apparently the one response he hadn't been expecting! LOL

Tested out a few ideas after he came to the rescue, but neither panned out, so returned to my original search pattern. Ah HA! There it is! Did what needed to be done and off we go! Along the road, I hear the others commenting about big tracks and that the whole herd must've gone through. Puzzled, I listen in more and hear "Wow, that moose track is huge!"


Soon the final was in hand and my name inked onto the log book. We all head back, discussing plans for the next day. Originally, we had wanted to hike a trail around Tower Mountain and
grab the good vista caches along there. But my flight was earlier than I had thought and it cut our time too close. So instead, we planned on heading to Manito Park and working on the Wherigo there as well as touring the gardens and picking up the caches inside. Back at the truck, I crawled into the back seat with Holden, while Tammy sat up front, leaving the guys to work out the details as only locals can.

Then for the long drive back. We bumped our way down the road swinging around corners and watching out for the squad of Air Force guys we'd seen out in the woods earlier. As we came around one corner, a MOOSE came out of the forest and started walking up the road.


We followed him up the road for a long time, as he was taking his time walking along and casually stopping to admire the view our headlights were providing. I tried getting pictures, but they all came out fuzzy and dark (oh why couldn't we have seen him in the daylight?!) Eventually, he left via a trail that Scott says was very near a camp site he's considering. We picked it back up to vehicle speed and made it back out to pavement and back down to Spokane. Once back at the house, it was another night of crash, out cold, and a wake up lick from a big black nose attached to beautiful brown doggy eyes.

And the title of this post? While I didn't see those animals, in one day, I was able to see wild turkeys, turtles, a mountain goat, and a MOOSE for the first time. Pretty impressive day all around and one of the highlights of my geocaching experiences.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Spending time in Spokane!

I had an AWESOME weekend!

But first, a little back story, to bring everyone up to date. Last year, I received an email from a guy named Scott asking about my Diabolical night cache. Happy to share the information with another lover of night caches, I told him about the cache. But then he drops the bomb, he, his wife, and their friends would be coming down to do my cache.

... from Spokane.... WASHINGTON! OMG!

A great friendship started and they have kept in touch via email and text and have also returned to do the Diabolical sequel and Puzzleman's Ancient Treasure. As well as a few more recommended and favorite caches around the area.

A short while after they left, I noticed on Dave's FB page a maniacal laugh followed by a link - that led to the cache page of an epic night cache placed up in the woods north of Spokane. I immediately put that on my watchlist and watched the FTF and DNF logs come in. Ohhhh, sounds like so much fun. The only hitch, it's a 5 mile hike in the woods in the dark. So my dear sweet daddy gave me my birthday present early and I'm on a flight up to the great state of Washington to see what evil plan has hatched up here.

I love airplane flights, makes me really really really wish I had taken a geology class. I love the way the earth fractures and bends and levels out. Then that green stuff shows up and blocks the ground, stupid trees. Short stop in Boise before heading over to Spokane where I was met by Dave of the Nelson Crew. We ran a quick errand before heading straight for the border of Idaho to grab me an Earthcache in my 5th state (now to place three for Platinum Master)!

The location was Cougar Bay, where a short walking trail led us past several information kiosks. Gathering the information we needed as we walked, I enjoyed the time out in the woods (more green stuff) and seeing how my lungs liked having more oxygen available. Guess I pushed a bit too hard as not only did Dave comment about my reported "turtle pace", later in the evening my knee reminded me that it still dictates when and how I go hiking. Ah well.

Back to Washington to get a home-cooked dinner. Yum Yum Yum!! Then Scott swung by and it was time to head off.

Before I get going on the big event for the night, allow me to introduce Holden. I was wondering about the title of the night cache, but as soon as I got to their house, I was immediately greeted by a very curious, very friendly, and oh-so-lovable doggy (who's breed I can't recall at the moment). I passed the initial inspection sniff and had a constant companion all weekend long. In the morning as soon as the bedroom door opened, I heard :bound-bound-bound-LEAP-thud: Oh, good morning Holden. ((shhh, don't tell anyone, when I go back, it'll be to see the doggy, who cares about the humans. Oh, HI GUYS! LOL))

Anyway, so off we go. The plan was to meet up with LookoutLisa (aka Cache-Advance) and Loren 27 at the parking coordinates of Holden's Pot of Gold NIGHT CACHE. We loaded up, doubled checked our gear, verified the GPS locations (followed me the wrong direction - whoops, which way is north?!?) and off on the trail we go!

Now, I'll let my log speak for the rest of the night (Thanks Dave!)

Once we were heading back, we took the time to stop at the Bonus Cache nearby and to once again turn off all the lights and admire the clear sky filled with stars and framed by the barely visible tops of the pine forest. A truly truly awesome night, spent with amazing people, and filled to the breaking point with adventure.

Tammy, Dave, Holden and I all headed back to their home and I just collapsed onto the couch and was out cold. It's been a long time since I was that exhausted, but oh man was it worth it!

Plus this was only the first day, I've still got Saturday and Sunday waiting, both of which are filled with more adventure and great times.