Archive for August, 2009

I was not going to blog on holiday but just had to post the following story that happened to us yesterday (taken from our log on GCH97A):
Oh how we laughed on this one.

We were on our way from Vegas to LA and our minivan was having big problems going up the huge incline to the top of the pass. First I noticed the temperature gauge was showing a little hot, then the engine started rough running, then the temperature gauge swung to max and a few warning lights came on.

We pulled over to read the rental car manual to see what the lights on the dash meant. It looked like an electrical problem and said we would be ok to continue but that performance of the vehicle might be downgraded.

Off we set, but the car was being really slow and started marking a clanking sound. After a very short time the engine cut out totally and we had to stop at the side of the road and call Dollar for assistance. They said they would send a tow truck and replacement van out from Vegas but that it would be a 2 hour wait.

Hmmm… 2 hours in the desert at 113 degrees with no air-con. This is going to be fun. At least there is a nice breeze to make things seem not quite as hot as they were and we’d had the sense to bring tons of cold drinks for the journey.

Out of boredom I turned on my GPSr and could not believe it when I saw a cache 0.4 miles away. I did a double take when I saw the name of the cache – how very appropriate (the cache was called “Blown Engine Cache”).

Off I set along the side of the road, up off the Freeway and along to the cache. I spotted the potential hide as I walked up and sure enough there the lovely big ammo box was.

As I was putting the cache back, my Oregon 550t swung unexpectedly on it’s lanyard and made contact with one of the cache hiding rocks. I heard the horrible crack sound and knew the screen had gone. Sure enough it had. Luckily I know Garmin are really good at replacing them, but it will cost me about $120 for the privilege.

Could the day get any worse – stranded in the desert and a broken GPS. At least we found the cache though.

Just short of two hours after we stopped, a tow truck arrived with a replacement van and we were soon back on our way.

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With only 9 caches to go, we could not decide if we should leave getting out 7000th find until Sunday, when we are going on holiday, or get it in the UK before we go away.

Isaac was keen to get it on holiday but I was not quite as keen as I knew it would be on a less than inspiring urban micro as we’d still be getting over our jetlag for the first few days.

In the end I managed to persuade him that a trip out to Lancashire to tackle two new series that were getting great logs was what we needed to do. We planned to start off at the new Where’s Wallace series before moving over to the Fred Flintstone series, via a few caches on the way.

It was quite a long trip up the M6 to the first cache of the day. We don’t normally come this far up the M6 but are happy to make an exception for Phantom Camel Train caches as they are always really good.

We parked up at the main car park on Beacon Fell after doing a quick drive-by on the way. After getting kitted out for the walk, off we set. The first two caches are older caches that have been here for a while now. A nice quick find near the car park followed by a cache right on top of the fell, with fabby views all around.

Next, it was on to the Where’s Wallace series. This is a set of 17 caches, each with a clue as to the whereabouts of the bonus cache. The first cache was not far away so off we set. We spottedĀ the hide as we walked up so had a nice quick find.

On the 6th cache into the series we had our 7000th find. We’d have ideally liked to have the milestone on the bonus cache but we got a bit carried away while at the Mega Event last weekend and found too many caches then. The 7000th find was a fab cache anyway with a really nice hide. I won’t spoil it for people by saying any more here, but if you are in the area, go and do this cache – you won’t regret it.

The rest of the series was uneventful apart from some sneaky hides and some very unusual cache containers. The walking was good and the scenery perfect. Along the way, Isaac was filling me in on the many highlights of Wallace and Gromit, which was good.

After we’d finished on the series, we headed off to the Fred Flintstone series, which is on the other side of the River Ribble. The main problem is the only places to cross the river are at Ribchester to the east and Preston to the west. We opted for Preston and did a few quick caches on the way to make it more worthwhile.

All too soon we were parking up for the Flintstone series. This series is very unusual as the walk is in the shape of Fred Flintstone’s head and if you watch your GPSr tracklog as you walk, you’ll see Fred’s features appearing before your eyes. You also have to do some co-ordinate manipulation as all the caches are Puzzle caches, but we’d done that at home the day before we came.

The walk was another great one, with some trickier hides than the earlier series today. All the caches were in camo bags, which blend in perfectly pretty much anywhere you hide them. The only one we struggled with was #7, which had already had 3 DNF’s on it. We checked every possible place and could not find it either. The owner has visited today and has confirmed the cache is missing.

After we got back to the Jeep, we decided to head off towards home but could not resist two last more caches near the M61.

We’d arranged to pick up a Large sized cache container kindly given to us by a Manchester area cacher from the NW Caching forums. He’d hidden it near Prestwich and let us have the co-ords and a clue. We thus headed off down the M61 to retrieve the cache.

We parked by a pub at the bottom of the track and had a short walk up to GZ and an easy find. Now, back onto the Motorway and the journey home.

45 finds for the day, some absolutely fabulous caching in great countryside and our 7000th find. What could be better :-).

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A clear up of new caches

While we’d been away at the Mega Event at the weekend, four new caches had come out in our FTF dash zone near(ish) to home. The weather was perfect today so I set off to do the closest one before work and the rest after work.

The first was only 4 miles from home so a very short drive. I was soon walking down the track to it, which ended up bush-whacking through head height ferns to get to GZ. I guess this path does not normally get much use! Thankfully the cache was a nice quick find once I’d got to GZ – a nice hide too.

After work, I set off for the rest of the new caches. The first was a really unusual ammo box hide and had me stumped for a short while. Great views over to the Wrekin from GZ.

Next, it was round the Telford ring road to Holmer Pool. I parked quite close to the cache and enjoyed the walk down to it, with glorious sunshine for a change. The cache was a quick find.

The last cache was a Staffordshire Church Gem and just off the road from Newport to Newcastle. I parked up but noted the a gardener looking after the church grounds not far from the cache. I had a quick poke around for the cache – it was in holly and ivy on the road side of the church hedge, so just out of sight of the gardening muggle.

I could not spot it and was worried about the gardener spotting me, so opted for a PAF to get the cache quickly found.

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This Sunday was the long awaited date of the Mega Event in Weston Super Mare, so Isaac and myself decided to make a weekend of it. There were not many caches in the Weston area but a bit further north, in the Bristol area, there were tons.

We thus decided to overnight just north of Bristol, spending Saturday caching around that area before moving on to the SE of Bristol to cache on Sunday morning. We’d then head over to the Mega event on the Sunday afternoon, taking in the caches in Weston while we were there and a few more on the way back home on Sunday evening. Sounded like a perfect plan (and indeed it was)!

The drive down to the Thornbury area on Saturday morning was boring to say the least, with just mile after mile of Motorway. We’d planned to get off at J14 of the M5 but heard of bad traffic in the area on the radio, so came off at J13 as the traffic was already starting to slow down there. A short drive down the A38 and we were parking up for the first cache of the day – a TB Hotel right by J14.

Next cache was a name we’d become familiar with over the weekend – a Church Micro. Every church in this area seems to come with an associated cache. Even some churches that are no longer churches have a Church Micro! We failed to find this one – not a great start with a DNF on cache #2 of the day!

We then headed off for the lovely village of Rockhampton for a nice walk round the Rockhampton Round series. We parked up by the cricket pitch, got kitted up and off we set.Not much to report on this series apart from it was a lovely circular walk with plenty of caching variety, beautiful weather and some great views over to the Severn Estuary, which we’d not realised would be so close.

Once we’d returned to the Jeep, we set off for another series, based around the village of Stone. Most of the series were drive-by’s, but a couple involved some nice walks. We bagged our first Church Micro on the way round, which was a relief after the earlier DNF. All too soon we had the bonus cache co-ords and we realised we’d parked right by it earlier on. A quick back-track in the Jeep and we soon had the bonus in the bag.

A short drive later and we were at the Tortworth Round series. This is a nice circular walk around various caches, with a couple of un-related caches on the way. The terrain is a bit more varied than earlier, which we were looking forward to. Highlight of these ones was visiting a tree that was something like 800 years old and also being taken to a beautiful pool through a tunnel of maize in a field.

We realised we were pretty close to 40 finds for the day but also that it was also getting late and we needed to check in at the hotel for the night. Isaac thus came up with a few nearby drive-by’s on Memory Map and off we set. Several easy finds ensued before we arrived at the hotel.

We were hungry by now and being close to the Severn Bridge, we set off over it to Chepstow to try and find a Chinese or Indian take-away. We also managed to bag our first South Wales cache on the way, which was handy ;-).

On Sunday morning, I had in mind a 7.5 mile circular walk in the SE of Bristol, but Isaac was concerned about arriving at the Mega too late so suggested he plan some quicker caches for the morning. His plan centered around the same area so off we set.

We started with some caches along the Monarch’s Way. We’ve done quite a few caches on the Monarch’s Way near Boscobel House in Shropshire and did not realise it came this far down the country! All were nice caches apart from one that we could not spot.

Next we picked off various drive-by’s and cache and dashes before trying to work our way over to the M5 and the journey down to the Mega. We managed to bag quite a few more caches on the way and eventually arrived at a cache just before the M5. On checking the map, we were astounded to realise we were just on the outskirts of Weston and in fact we did not need to use the M5 at all! Talk about a fortuitous piece of (unexpected) planning!

We then took in a few quick caches on the way into Weston before joining the traffic heading for the beach. As we were approaching the beach, we opted for a different route via the backstreets to avoid the traffic. This route just happened to take us past yet more caches – how handy!

The next cache was the first of the main Mega caches as we could see several cachers at GZ as we pulled up. We did the biz with the cache and several more cachers appeared from various directions. This was to be the case with all the caches near the event for the rest of the day.

Next, we found somewhere to park up and set off on foot for the event. On the way we bagged a quick cache in a park, one on the prom and a really good one in a fountain with water everywhere. Thankfully we managed to talk a cacher’s son who had already got soaked into getting the cache for us – phew!

Now it was on to the event itself. We went to the registration desk and were recognised before we’d even said our caching name, so were soon kitted up with name tags and a goodie bag :-). We bought some raffle tickets in the vain hope that we’d win something (we never usually win anything in raffles – we were true to form here and did not win a thing – not to worry though :-)).

The main room for the event had all manner of trade stands round the edge and a stage in the middle, with plenty of announcements etc etc going on. We spent a really enjoyable couple of hours wandering round checking out the stands and bumping into various cachers who we knew.

All too soon the closing speeches were made and the event handed over to the Scottish Mega Event organisers for next year. A fabulous event which must have taken a heck of a lot of organising. It certainly showed and everyone we met had a great time.

On the way back to the Jeep, we bagged the two remaining caches along the prom and then set off for home.

We’d been recommended to stop at the services at J19 of the M5 as there were a couple of new caches there. As we arrived at the first one, we bumped into some local cachers who told us about a third cache by the junction so off we set. We soon had all three bagged and were back on the M5 heading northwards.

To break the boring journey up a bit, we’d planned to stop for two quick cache and dashes just off the M5 SW of Birmingham. These were both quick find and we were soon headed home.

80 finds in total for the weekend and an absolutely perfect weekend away. We both had a ball.

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2 FTF’s near home

I’d just finished for my lunch today when I spotted a couple of new cache notifications that had just arrived. Both of them were within a couple of miles of home so I just *had* to go and try to find them.

The location was familiar as there used to be a cache hidden in the woods just behind one of the new caches. I’d actually dashed out for FTF on that one in the dark ages ago, so it was really nice to come back here in the daytime and actually see what it’s like.

As I parked up I spotted another car there and hoped it would not be another cacher. I did not recognise the car, but you never know…

As I walked down the track to the first cache, I could see a dog walker coming the other way. It looked a bit like Paul from Izzy and the Lizard King from a distance but it turned out to just be a guy walking his dog – phew!

I soon arrived at the first cache and had a nice quick find – I was FTF :-).

I carried on along the track to the next cache and had another easy find – another FTF too. Good stuff!

I was thinking away to myself on the way back to the Jeep that this area is ripe for a nice circular walk of caches as it’s lovely countryside and the paths and well maintained and not the usual Shropshire non-existent Public Footpath. Maybe someone will put a series out here (nudge, nudge if you are local and reading this ;-)).

I returned home for some well deserved sandwiches.

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Today was Isaac’s birthday and he’s not one for big parties, so asked if we could go and see the We Will Rock You show, based on the music of one of his favourite bands, Queen. All the family like Queen, so this was absolutely fine with us :-).

We set off a bit early with the intention of trying some caches in Birmingham city centre before the show. We’d almost cleared the city centre ages ago but quite a few new caches have sprung up since then.

The first cache was a Sidetracked one at Aston station, just off the M6. Finding somewhere to park was tricky as the cache was on a busy road with double red lines on both sides. We eventually spotted a handy side road, parked up and wandered over for an easy find.

The next cache was another Sidetracked one and a cache we had DNF’d in the past (it was missing at the time). This time it was a nice easy find. Now to head off right into the city center.

The next cache was on a very busy roundabout, by a statue dedicated to Tony Hancock. We were not sure we could do this as a drive-by as it’s a VERY busy area, but we left Mrs Bolas Heathens circling the roundabout whilst myself and Isaac walked over for a quick find.

Next, we picked off another previous DNF in Barton Square before parking up near the Mailbox for a final two caches and then some dinner in a local restaurant before the show. The Broad Street Nano was tricky to find as we did not realise it was on the canal below the road.

The last cache of the quick trip was the best one – a nice big tupperware box hidden in plain view in a very muggle central area. Love this kind of thing.

Isaac was well satisfied with his birthday caching. We then went off for a lovely meal and the show, which was absolutely fabulous – loved it!

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On Sunday I was at a loose end as I normally spend some time logging Saturday’s finds, but as we went caching on Friday this week, we’d already logged all our finds yesterday.

I was itching to go out caching so decided to head off and find the new(ish) Shropshire Way caches between Buildwas and Much Wenlock. I soon arrived at the parking spot and off I set.

A nice walk down a bridleway later and I had an easy find on the first cache. The next couple of caches were uneventful and all easy finds.

I then headed off to near Benthall Hall (a lovely National Trust property near Ironbridge) to do the cache down the hill overlooking Buildwas power station. A really nice hide here – I don’t want to spoil it for future finders so won’t say any more.

Time was getting on now, so just time for one final cache before going home. The nearest one to do was the 100th cache set by The Washers (the setters of the first cache we ever found).

This proved to be an easy find and on checking our finds, it was the 100th Washers cache we have found – nice to have a full set :-).

On the way home, I checked on my iPhone to see if any new caches were out near home as I knew Big Farmer Giles had submitted 19 new caches on Friday and so perhaps they had come out. Two of them had, so I decided to head off and find them, but not until I’d enjoyed a lovely roast dinner at home. Sunday’s don’t get much better than this :-).

BFG’s caches looked like sneaky hides and Isaac loves that kind of thing so he came with me. We were soon at the first one and sure enough, it was so sneaky we could not spot it! We set about looking for anything that did not look quite right and soon settled on something. It would not budge so we started to think it was not the cache. Thankfully I persevered and managed to loosen the cache from it’s elaborate attachment mechanism. What a belter of a cache it was too – this is the standard all micro’s should aspire to – a really nice piece of engineering. FTF to us :-).

The next cache was not far away and was a quick 2 stage multi. We managed to drive all the way to GZ (not sure if you are supposed to, but there were no signs saying not and it was quiet) and had an easy find of the first stage. The second stage was just as easy and afforded some great views over towards the old Bury Walls Hill Fort. Another nice FTF too.

On the way home, we wondered if any other cachers would be chasing the FTF’s so decided to head back past the first cache. No cachers there, but as we were going through the next village, we spotted Wild Goosey, Nozi Parkers and Choo Choo coming the other way. We drove back to the sneaky micro to have a chat and watch them search.

As we got out of the cars, they mentioned that Allun from the Shropshire Seekers was on his way too. Sure enough, he soon arrived at GZ. They found the sneaky cache disappointingly quickly (we’d left a bit of a cachers trail as it was un-avoidable, although we’d also left some false trails too, just to throw people off the scent ;-)).

We said our goodbye’s and headed off home, while the rest of them went on to do the multi we’d done earlier.

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We normally go caching on a Saturday but the weather was looking abysmal so we opted to go a day earlier this week as it was looking much more promising. We’d decided to try for the caches that were put out for the Piratemania event in the Peak District last week.

There is no easy way to get to where they were in Dovedale from home, so Isaac guided us using Memory Map using the most obvious direct route, which involved quite a few narrow lanes. All too soon, we rounded the brow of a hill and saw Thorpe Cloud standing right in front of us. This was to be our starting point for the day.

We made our way to the official car park and got ready for our walk around the SOTL caches. As we set off, we noted the nice looking ice cream shop at the side of the car park and agreed that if we managed to find all the caches in the series, we’d treat ourselves at the end of the walk.

We set off down the path towards Dovedale and had intended to use the stepping stones to get to Thorpe Cloud but they were under water today and shut. We thus used the bridge nearer the car park and found a path heading along the south side of the Cloud.

This path then headed up and in the right direction for the top. The elevation gain was slow so we opted for the more direct route straight to the top. As we saw the rocks at the summit, Isaac was convinced it was a false summit but it was not and we were soon sat there admiring the absolutely fabulous views.

Next, we headed down the north side of the Cloud and then onto the main path along Dovedale to find the rest of the caches. It was muggle central around here today which made finding some of the early caches interesting to say the least.

The further we got along the path, the less muggles there were so the caching did get much easier :-).

The only other thing to note along this stretch of the walk was a tricky cache called Beefsalter, which had had a ton of DNF’s. We were not confident of a find here but went to have a look anyway. GZ was in dense summer growth and there was no sign of a hint item anywhere, despite lots of evidence of other cachers searching the area.

I mentioned to Isaac that perhaps the cache was on the other side of the river as I bet getting accurate co-ords with the steep rock walls around here is not easy. All the rest of the caches on the walk were on the other side of the river and we’d just walked past the one and only bridge, so my theory made a lot of sense.

We backtracked to the bridge and walked along to opposite where the co-ords were pointing to and sure enough, there was a hint item with a cache behind it – result!

The path from here northwards was awful – part of it was underwater and we had to wade along it, the rest was very muddy and extremely slippery. We were glad to finally get onto the road at the far end and then start the walk back to the Jeep along the paths where the rest of the caches were.

The rest of the series was straightforward enough and very enjoyable, with some beautiful Peak District views all around. As we arrived back at the Jeep, we just had to pop and get one cache we could not do earlier due to the stepping stones being closed, before we treated ourselves to the ice creams we’d promised ourselves earlier :-).

Next stop was the GOTN series. Not much to report here as they were all pretty easy finds apart from the first one. All the caches in the series did not have any hints and the first one was nowhere to be found. There was a very obvious dry stone wall but caches are not allowed in these so we did not look there. On the point of giving up, we spotted something in a previous log that implied the cache was in the dry stone wall and indeed it was.

The rest of the GOTN series passed quickly, with more nice walking and views. We then decided to head over to Parwich and tackle the small series there.

We started off with a cache on a hillside with nice views over the village. As we walked up to GZ, we went past two separate metal detector guys busy at work. I wonder what they are expecting to find here?

All the caches were easy finds, but we had to leave #3 for another day as it had just started raining and it was a longer walk. We’d have been up for it earlier in the day, but it was nearly time to go home and we did not fancy getting wet now.

We thus started to head off home, but took in a Guess Who? cache at a ford in Tissington. We’re more used to seeing Guess Who? caches near where they live in Oswestry so were surprised to see one here. A quick scout around so revealed the nicely hidden cache.

We opted for a different route home, via Ashbourne and then onwards to the A50 at Uttoxeter and took in a quick cache called Dad’s 60th on the way past. A nice easy find once we’d found the right path. We laughed at the clue, which was something like “opposite a white shed”. We found the cache but it’s opposite a black shed. Either someone has painted the shed or the cache owner is having a laugh!

As we skirted Ashbourne, we spotted an unexpected drive-by cache by a roundabout as we were passing so it would have been rude not to stop and find it.

37 finds for the day today and some really satisfying walking in the lovely Peak District. We always say we’d love to do more caching in the Peak District, but there just is not enough caches to come and find.

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