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A quick cache in Stafford

The cache ... and a very busy street market very close by

The cache ... and a very busy street market very close by

I had to pop to the bank in Stafford this morning to pay some cheques in. On the walk from where I’d parked was a new cache, right in the main square on the high street called Muggle Central.

Needles to say this was a very busy GZ and the cache took a bit of patience! There was a family sat on the bench at GZ when I arrived so I went off to the bank hoping they would be gone on my return.

I returned to find an elderly lady sat there. Hmmm. Luckily she eventually moved on and I grabbed my opportunity to find the cache, but not before I had to dodge a council workman emptying some nearby bins.

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Me with one of the FTF and The Wrekin in the background

Me with one of the FTF and The Wrekin in the background

On Monday I was in the office busy with work when I spotted 8 new caches along roads circling the base of The Wrekin come out. I was umm’ing and ahh’ing about whether to go out for them when Allun from the Shropshire Seekers rang. We agreed to meet by cache #1 as soon as we could both get there :-).

Shortly afterwards I arrived at the start of the series and left the Jeep there so we could do the rest of the caches in Allun’s car. The caches were mainly sneaky nano’s and good fun to find, with a few hides you don’t see that often.

All too soon we had finished with 8 FTF’s and just had one other cache we were going past on the way back to the Jeep. We stopped for this and then took ages finding it. We got there eventually just as we were about to give up. The cache was by the same cache owner as the FTF’s and was by far the sneakiest hide of the lot.

Well satisfied with out FTF’s, I returned home to carry on with work and Allun headed off to Shrewsbury and back to work.

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Looking over to Caer Caradoc from our walk

Looking over to Caer Caradoc from our walk

On Saturday myself and Isaac decided to head for South Shropshire as there were quite a few new caches in the area to find and it’s always a pleasure to cache in such a scenic area.

Daft sign seen on the gFab walk

Daft sign seen on the gFab walk

We started off with a quick cache on the A5 by Shrewsbury before parking up for the ring of caches that were set for the recent gFab camping event. This basically consisted of 20 or so caches on a circular route round the area with a couple of drive-by’s nearby.

That's one heck of a tell-tale pile of sticks!

That's one heck of a tell-tale pile of sticks!

We parked up and set off on foot to do the series clockwise. Along the way we had great fun traversing a field full of 8ft+ high corn and no marked path over it. We walked through the corn, keeping parallel to the crop and finally made our way to the other side. The only other thing of note on this series was a fun cache where you had to ‘use’ a bit of old farm machinery by a track to get the cache to reveal itself.

About to enter the field of corn on the way to the next cache

About to enter the field of corn on the way to the next cache

After we’d finished our walk, we cleared up the other 4 caches in the immediate area as drive-by’s and cache and dashes before heading down the A49 to Marshbrook and the Shropshire Seekers new caches.

Views over to The Wrekin from the latter part of the gFab walk

Views over to The Wrekin from the latter part of the gFab walk

We parked up by the outdoor centre and set off on foot to do the caches in order. There are 12 caches in the series, with clues in most of them which then lead to a bonus cache. Some great countryside round here which made for fab walking. The finds were all easy enough and along the way we bumped into Bullyboy2820, who we did one cache with before he stopped for sandwiches with his family. Great to meet you :-).

Abandoned house on the Marshbrook series walk

Abandoned house on the Marshbrook series walk

Once we got back to the Jeep, we worked out the bonus cache location and were soon there for a nice easy find. A huge big ammo box too – just the kind of cache we like to find!

Views over to the Long Mynd from the Marshbrook walk

Views over to the Long Mynd from the Marshbrook walk

Next, we headed off for the east side of Caer Caradoc to tackle the caches around the hill (mountain?). I’d done the cache on the summit ages ago and really enjoyed the wonderful views over Shropshire and Cheshire, so I was looking forward to taking Isaac up there for the first time.

At Three Fingers rocks at the south end of Caer Caradoc

At Three Fingers rocks at the south end of Caer Caradoc

All the caches were easy enough, with the last one involving a bit of off-road trekking on the direct route up the steep slopes of the hill. Great fun and some fantastic views over Church Stretton as our reward. We then continued to the old hill fort at the summit and enjoyed the wonderful views all around.

The panorama from the top of Caer Caradoc

The panorama from the top of Caer Caradoc

Time was getting on now, but we could not resist two last caches on the way home. The first was in a ford not too far from Caer Caradoc and a cache we’d DNF’d ages ago. It still took a heck of a lot of searching for but we got there in the end thankfully.

Isaac at the summit of Caer Caradoc with The Wrekin in the background

Isaac at the summit of Caer Caradoc with The Wrekin in the background

The last cache of the day was a quick cache and dash on a new cache in exactly the same place as a now archived old cache.

A very quiet gate ;), right next to the last cache of the day

A very quiet gate ;), right next to the last cache of the day

44 finds for the day, some great walking, lots of terrain and some really good caches. Our kind of caching day!

Here’s a link to our Everytrail plot of the day’s route.

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First page of the logbook. If only all caches were so well presented!

First page of the logbook. If only all caches were so well presented!

We’d only been back from our holiday for a day or two so are still quite jetlagged. Rather than our usual caching day this weekend, we opted to just do some caches closer to home.

Love the custom cache labels on the two new caches in Newport

Love the custom cache labels on the two new caches in Newport

On Saturday I had to run some errands near to Telford so decided to pop down to Telford Services on the M54 and do the new Traditional and Earthcache there. They were both at exactly the same location – a massive old steam hammer that used to have a cache hidden inside it ages ago (but now archived).

The Earthcache at an old steam hammer near Telford

The Earthcache at an old steam hammer near Telford

Nothing too tricky here and I even had chance to pop by the nearby Starbucks for a coffee to keep me awake!

Next, I headed up towards Newport to do the two new caches there. Again, nothing too tricky here – they were both in really lovely spots and amongst the best presented caches we’ve seen (great custom label on the cache box etc etc).

The hidden pond near to the Lilleshall cache

The hidden pond near to the Lilleshall cache

On Sunday we decided to go out as a family to walk the dogs and also to do the Shropshire Seekers’ new series around Great Bolas. we’ve got a few of our own caches around the area so knew part of the route already.

Isaac, Freya and one of our dogs with one of the sneaky caches

Isaac, Freya and one of our dogs with one of the sneaky caches

The series started off with two caches with “Sneaky” in their name. Luckily we’d seen both hides before a few times so found both of them really quickly.

The children with the bonus cache near Great Bolas. It was raining a bit at the time and hence the expressions on their faces (they were enjoying the caching - honest!)

The children with the bonus cache near Great Bolas. It was raining a bit at the time and hence the expressions on their faces (they were enjoying the caching - honest!)

Next, it was a series of 4 caches plus a bonus cache on a circular walk. All were really nicely themed after a well known fast food restaurant (I use the term restaurant here very lightly). Great fun and the bonus was a big ammo box which we always appreciate.

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Looking out over the valley from GZ on one of the caches (with quite a few farm workers in the field)

Looking out over the valley from GZ on one of the caches (with quite a few farm workers in the field)

We’ve been doing other things for most of the vacation so thought we’d have another day caching as there are so many caches to find around here.

Where's the F in hill? ;-)

Where's the F in hill? ;-)

I’d been looking at the 126 on 126 series before we left the UK as it was in a more rural area and there were tons of caches to potentially look for. It’s about a 45 minute drive north of where we are staying in another valley and is essentially 126 caches set along Highway 126. The caches themselves are set on quiet adjoining roads as the 126 itself is way too busy to cache comfortably along.

Signing the logbook at a cache earlier in the day

Signing the logbook at a cache earlier in the day

On the way we stopped off at an unexpected Earthcache we spotted on TomTom as we passed. This turned out to be great fun and a really interesting spot with lots of unusual geology. Link: Grimes Canyon Burnt Shale.

Huge cactii near to one of the caches

Huge cactii near to one of the caches

Once on the 126 on 126 series itself, we got off to a quick start at #39 in the series. The numbering of the caches seems to be a bit random so we just took the route that looked best to us on the GPSr. The whole area was really scenic, with lemon, lime and orange groves along with quite a few palm tree and what looked like cactus farms.

Which cache do we go for next? So many to choose from!

Which cache do we go for next? So many to choose from!

The caches were great fun with a HUGE variety of hides and containers. Quite a few of the caches involved climbing down into gulleys or stretching high up for the cache. You never knew what to expect next :-).

Love the graphics on this sign - a "really" rural farmer ;-)

Love the graphics on this sign - a "really" rural farmer ;-)

Along the way, we did various other stand alone caches, including two virtuals in beautiful and historic Fillmore. We stopped here for a look around the lovely old town and some much needed drinks.

One of the virtual caches in Fillmore - a lovely wooden statue of a Chumash native American.

One of the virtual caches in Fillmore - a lovely wooden statue of a Chumash native American.

Towards the end of the day we ended up in Santa Paula and opted to cache our way round town, doing quite a few non-series caches as we went along. Apart from a string of about 5 DNF’s in the foothills, nothing was too difficult here.

Signing the logbook at one of the caches towards the end of the day

Signing the logbook at one of the caches towards the end of the day

We ended up the day with 131 finds and a really fun time was had by all. We really enjoyed the massive variety of cache hides and the challenges actually getting to some of them.

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After completing the ET Highway series in Nevada over the last few days, we fancied something a bit different today.

We realised we were pretty close to the corner where Nevada, Arizona and Utah all met, so decided to go off and see if we could find a cache in each of these three States and then add a cache in California later in the day.

Here are the photos of “Isaac with the cache” from each of them. It might be a few days before we get chance to log the caches as we have a backlog of about 1200+ caches to log.

Arizona: Heart Break Hotel

Arizona: Heart Break Hotel

Arizona: Heart Break Hotel

Utah: Benchmark: HO0385 ” B 366 “

Utah: Benchmark: HO0385 " B 366"

Utah: Benchmark: HO0385 " B 366"

Nevada: Off the Reservation

Nevada: Off the Reservation

Nevada: Off the Reservation

California: Desert Country

California: Desert Country

California: Desert Country

We also did a few other caches while on our travels, including a virtual on the strip in Las Vegas.

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Us part way through the series, standing right next to one of the caches

Us part way through the series, standing right next to one of the caches

One of the things we wanted to do on this summer’s holiday was to try the massive ET Highway series in the Nevada desert.

TomTom showing all the caches laid out along the road before us

TomTom showing all the caches laid out along the road before us

We decided to do it at the start of the holiday so stayed overnight near LAX after arriving from the UK and caught the red-eye to Las Vegas very early the next morning. Once we’d picked up the hire car, we did a few warm up caches around Vegas before driving north for just over an hour to our hotel in Alamo.

Signing the logbook and checking the next cache

Signing the logbook and checking the next cache

Once we’d settled in, we could not resist making a start on this HUGE series. We started off at #001 and got as far as #101 before the jetlag started to take it’s toll and we needed to get back to the hotel for some food and more importantly some sleep.

A non-series cache we picked up along the highway

A non-series cache we picked up along the highway

The next day we woke nice and early and after a hearty breakfast at the hotel, set off to try and get 300+ caches in the day. We started where we left off last night at #102 and ended up carrying on all the way to #753, picking up a few non series caches along the way.

The ET Highway

The ET Highway

The caches are all very close together and quite a few at the miniumum 528ft required for listing on GC.com. We were expecting them to be all the same container (they were – 35mm film cans) and the same hide – they were not – there was some variety:

  • at the base of the marker posts that are along the side of the road
  • under piles of rocks (known as un-natural rock piles in these parts)
  • in the top of marker posts
  • in the top of these plastic tubes that had been banged into the sand
  • probably a few more that don’t spring to mind
Discussing tactics while signing the log

Discussing tactics while signing the log

All were pretty easy finds but the rock pile ones took slightly longer to find than others. During the day we topped out at about 60 finds per hour but most hours it was more like 50 finds or so (still very good by normal standards).

A non-series cache at the start of the ET Highway

A non-series cache at the start of the ET Highway

Day 3 dawned and we had another hearty breakfast before starting out to do #754 to #1022 and then tackle the 51 Alien Head caches. These were great fun as they are arranged in the shape of an alien’s head off-road in the desert – it looks really good when you view them in Google Earth.

Finding the 1000th cache in the series

Finding the 1000th cache in the series

All too soon (well, actually a good few hours) we had come to #1022 and finished the ET Series. It was a bit surreal seeing no caches on the TomTom ahead after two and a bit days of never ending cache symbols stretching out before us.

Which way next?

Which way next?

We drove the 50 or so miles back to near the centre of the ET Series and set off around the Alien’s Head series. Isaac was set the task of navigating and after a fun few hours we had all the caches found.

At the far end of the ET Highway - cache #1022

At the far end of the ET Highway - cache #1022

On the way back to our hotel in Alamo we stopped to find a few stand alone caches around town. I’m not sure of the exact number of finds each day but it was something like:

  • Day 1: 122
  • Day 2: 658
  • Day 3: 322
The whole area is an open range so you have to watch out for wandering cows as you drive along / get the caches

The whole area is an open range so you have to watch out for wandering cows as you drive along / get the caches

A really fun few days in a very different place for a vacation. We absolutely loved where we were staying – the Windmill Ridge in Alamo – as it had individual log cabins with great views all around. If anyone is going to do this series, you’d do a lot worse than stay here.

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