All Quiet on the Western Front

At the tail end of the school holidays it was time for me to turn into an airport shuttle once more and head to the airport to pickup my friends from their international travels.  Their return happened to be ANZAC Day morning, which meant I was wary of both dawn and midday services activity/traffic/road closures, as well as any special public holiday police operations (read, RBTs & double demerit points) that might slow me down. That being said, I figured I would give myself some additional time to get there. But as it turns out, that morning I was woken before my alarm by all the neighbours heading out to the Dawn services…and not really paying too much attention I inadvertently left even earlier than I had planned.

Of course, being a public holiday there was minimal traffic on the roads so I had a clear run down the freeway, and as I reached its end I heard the radio’s traffic report – 2 spots conjested due to Road Closures but not in my travel path, and the final 2 kms to the International Airport, which was inevitable… So I figured with all the time up my sleeve and no commuter traffic to bother me It would be silly to pay for the motorway passage across the city, so told my navigator to avoid tolls and guide me through the city streets. And as I crossed over to the south side, I was a little amazed…. I’d never seen the city like this before – dead quiet, like a ghost town…barely another sole about, but the odd taxi, and a slight low lying fog giving it a slight eerie feel – normally at this time the streets would be alive with activity, but I guess the public holiday was keeping people in bed, or otherwise occupied at the Dawn service at the opposite end of the city…then, as I turned into yet another main road devoid of traffic I thought to myself, geeze – is this the perfect conditions for urban caching or what? … Of course, neck-minnit, I’ve pulled over (no issues doing that either) and was firing up c:geo 😀.

For the next 40min or so I quite enjoyed quietly hoping across the remaining suburbs grabbing a handful of caches without any muggle interference whatsoever – all the parking space one could desire at each GZ, making them all basically park and grabs, even on the main roads, and no people to wonder what the hell I’m doing. And I just chuckled to myself the entire time, wanting to shout to all the cachers to get out here too!

I headed first for a Letterbox Cache, and as I got out of the car I checked the hint – “Soffit”. Unfamiliar with the term, I turned to my mate Google who informed me it’s the underside of the roof eaves. Ok, got it.  I walked toward GZ, but it was pretty clear as soon as GZ was in sight that GZ was actually going to be the letterbox I could see on the old historic wall running across the front of the now vacant block.  Maybe it’s stuck to the top I thought. But I opened the flap and found a jar just in there, so not a really helpful (read, accurate) hint, but an easy find nonetheless.  And it wasn’t until later that I realised thesis letterbox cache didn’t even have a stamp inside, so it was just a geocache in a letterbox, not really a letterbox cache after all – but I’ll take the +1 on my stats 😉

While there, I drove around the corner and pulled up again alongside a memorial on the other side of the parkland. I poked about the edges of the memorial for a few moments before spotting the corner fence post in the garden right behind it. bingo. I lifted the cap, and there it was.  imageFrom there I figured I would make my way over the highway, to where I knew there was a cache on the outer skirt of the airport.  I pulled up in what seemed like a truck turning zone, so maybe a road leading to the cargo area or something nearby, but regardless, I was standing alongside the last of the runway lights, so figured the cache would be stuck to the pole or some such, so without looking at the cache details, I investigated, and cancelled out that area first. Then I turned to my GPSr and realised I was a good 5-10m off anyway. Shifting spots, and realising I was now covered in Farmers Friends, I quickly found a rocked edge of a drain under the road,, and subsequently the cache tucked neatly between rocks. A quick sign, and decision to leave the TB close to the airport, and I was back at the car… And then took twice as long plucking the farmers friends from all over my clothes. And I chuckled at the poor international cachers who arrive in the country and stop here first – welcome to Australia…Where even the plants will get ya 😜

Checking the map I saw one right nearby in a side street behind me, so I drove around the corner and turned into the road – and was surprised to find I was at IKEA. But once again, this usually muggle high cache was not an issue today with the place deserted so early on a public holiday, and so I was able to pull up right alongside GZ and treat it as a park and grab… This time chuckling at the contents – the logbook was a pile of IKEA order slips, and of course, there was a pile of the perfect cache sized IKEA pencils..

imageChecking the time I was still early, but not so early that I wouldn’t be able to kill time til my friends arrival with a coffee and traveller watching, so off I headed to the airport .  Once I had found a park I sat in the car and checked c:GeoKids one more time – there was a cache nearby to the terminal I hadn’t been able to get last time because I didn’t park, so I wondered if I was in the right place to Get it now…. Turning to the logs, I saw a recent one from a local Coastie, whose log told me they’d picked up the cache in a nice 20min walk from the international airport while waiting for their mum. Perfect. So I headed off away from the terminal, and found a pedestrian pathway on the opposite side of the airport, that would lead me over the busy highway on a pedestrian overpass.  I imagine this path is usually pretty busy, but apart from a couple of folk bustling toward the airport, it was all quiet here too. As I walked I realised the puzzle I’d solved here at the airport was actually along this same pathway, so in no time at all I’d picked up two standard fare urban micros and was headed back to the airport, still with time for a coffee 😀

Caches Found: You’ve got MailThe Stolen GenerationFinal ApproachThe Swedish Emporium22243 and Plane Spotter – Joyce Drive

Find Numbers: 1226 – 1231

Date Found: 25th April 2016

Location: Tempe/Mascot, Sydney, NSW

 

A few days later the kids went back to school, Freeing me up to run my errands once again.  So dad came with me for a drive one day, and among delivery runs we grabbed the odd cache in the Wyong districts left for us to get.  First cache off the ranks was the San Remo Letterbox we’d been leaving until a convenient time – and found a nice beat lockbox not very far up a firetrail at all. Further along we found a key hide stuck to a mail hold in a park that held many “better” hiding places, and a small systema by the lake (but not before chatting with an overly friendly muggle concerned about us finding a snake further along the track), and a simple guardrail cache that was under a ribbon grass bush and not in the guardrail after all 😉. Finally, a quick one but a good one on the way home – a new cache, by a new cacher, hidden on a bridge in a park containing a toddler bike track. I knew it well from our toddler days, so it was just a matter of us searching the bridge too to tail. And eventually dad landed on the well constructed cache using one of the original bridge bolts. Kudos. I look forward to more hides from this CO 😀

Caches Found: 5 (#1232 – 1236)

Location: San Remo, Warnervale and Narara, Central Coast, NSW

Date Found: 27th April 2016

Found with: Opa-Shrek

 

Last but not least dad and I finally found a cache that took us too long, but not through the usual means, collecting 11 unloved months for our troubles – up in the mountains sits this little multi at the golf course, http://coord.info/GC4MWNG. I’d first stopped for this cache many many moons ago (going on 2 years), and after collecting the info need at waypoint 1 realised that the next step required a measuring tape, which of course was not in my geo bag because I’d never needed one before.  But then everytime I came by this way and thought about stopping I remembered the tape measure, which was of course, at home and not in my kit. Eventually though dad put one in his car and announced the multi had sufficient unloved points on it that it was time for s to take it off the back burner and get it done. So FG we went for the drive into the sticks, where we sat and measured the table at waypoint 2 (well, near enough… Our coords put us about 10m away, but it was the only object we could measure as instructed within spitting distance). Once we had our measurement we crunched some numbers but found our answer didn’t match the checksum provided by the CO, so we measured again. And again, and again. We couldn’t for the life of us figure out why our answer kept coming up wrong, so I sent off a couple of PAF texts, including one to the CO.  Unfortunately we threw in the towel before we got a response from either. But over the course of the next few days the CO responded, and it would seem our measurements and his measurements were off by a good 4 inches, but he couldn’t offer an explaination as to why. My other friendly neighbourhood geocacher did though – the light this person shed suggested that the measuring was a bit undefined and apparently we needed to have measured diagonal lines, not edges of something. I was told it took them almost 4hrs to do the whole thing, and so to save us the hassle provided us with the final coords. So this wee multi turned into a trad 😂 – and on the next available day dad and I toddled off into mountain country again. This time heading straight for GZ. We hunted about for quite awhile, and thankfully my FNG had also told us to look for a big log, because we finally located one 10 or so metres from GZ. With dad inspecting one end and me the other we were still coming up empty and ready to throw in the towel for good on this one, when out of the corner of my eye I spied a bit of wood shoved in an unnatural position under the log. Huckle Buckle!

Find number: 2237

Date found: 6th May 2016

Location: Mangrove Mountain, Central Coast NSW

Found with: Opa-Shrek

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