Winter Wanderings

First of all, my apologies for my absence – While I’ve been off on sabbatical, winter has come and gone…. so what I have been up to in the geo-world? Well, it’s been 3 months, and of course there’s been caching – so get your cuppa ready – while finds were few and far between, I’ve been here, there and everywhere –  with varying levels of success. So here goes….

Two trips to “Vivid”:

In June Sydney puts on a show of lights, that is well worth the trip down to the harbour and battling the crowds to see the sights and delights.  This year, we organised to head down with a bunch of friends, arranging to meet at Gordon.  With nothing planned for the day, we decided to head down to Gordon earlier, and find a few caches about the place to kill time.  Sounded like a good plan anyway, Unfortunately it seemed to be miss after miss for us in and around Gordon that day – the first few we attempted to find were seemingly gone with a long string of DNFs before us, although we did manage to pick up the multi I’d done my homework on the night before – homework that allowed us to skip WP1, and as we rounded the corner towards WP2, one of the eagle eyed geokids spotted the cache (Artie Phil) stuck to the back of the postal storage box nearby.

We stopped at another, but the area was drenched in water from recent storms, and then we returned to Gordon Station to await our friends arrival – only to find they were running late, and a change of plans meant we were now meeting them at Milsons Point, on the northern side of the harbour bridge. So off we headed to Milsons Point, and while we waited there, we again killed time by wandering along the foreshore past the GZ for a couple of caches – unfortunately our luck was seemingly out today, because both of those were MIA as well!

geo-vividNot to worry, we soon headed off the intended reason for our trip and enjoyed the lights all over the sights of Sydney as we walked across the harbour bridge and atop Circular Quay.  We briefly paused for a break on the Eastern end of Circular Quay and while the kids ran wild around a heap of stone blocks spewed about in an “artistic” fashion, I pulled up the cache map noting a puzzle was here to be solved – but in the time the other adults gave me to wander about before they rounded me up with the kids, I had barely figured out what to do, let alone the location of the cache! Never mind. Next Time!

 

A couple of days later, we headed into the City again, this time with my folks.  The kids, dad and I headed down to the city earlier in the day, aiming to meet the commuting muggle wives after they’d finished up work for the day.  This left geo-jorjy, Remmus, Opa-Shrek and I a good couple of hours to wander around the southern end of the city, locating the caches we were yet to pick up the area. geo-harbour In contrast to my failed caching run before my first Vivid Viewing, this one proved a little more successful, with 5 finds made along our way – including a puzzle I’d solved long ago (Illusions) but never been in the right place to collect, and a cool multi (All the World’s a Stage) that guided us around a harbourside boardwalk filled with names of famous Australian directors and Stage stars.  The geokids were also delighted to locate a couple of larger caches in the city rather than the stock standard micros one normally finds – the cache ‘In the Notebook’ in particular took their fancy – although was a bit of a head scratching moment for me… a lovely cache container, a “notebook” box. But the cardboard box was ‘waterproofed’ by a not so waterproof plastic sleeve. And the cache was hidden in what seemed like a drainage hole under a stone wall around the base of the bridge.  Seemed not so protected from the elements to me, and pretty bold for a City Cache, but it was holding up, so…. geo-cadmans-1

After a good wander around this part of the city we then grabbed the Cadman’s Cottage cache, just before it lit up for vivid and the crowds hit the area.

Date/s of Finds: 12th and 16th June 2016

Number of Finds:

Found with: Geo-Jorjy, Remmus and Opa-Shrek

 

Getting about in the ‘Gong:

A last-minute trip to Wollongong, a place I haven’t been since I was about 16-17, and therefore a place I was yet to cache got me a little excited. With petty much 2 days to do as I pleased about the town, I figured I would be pleased to cache.  Checking out the lay of the land I saw more than the usual puzzle icons, so I set dad onto the task of puzzle solving, and he came back quite quickly, surprising me with more than a dozen solutions good to go. Awesome, I thought. Should keep me busy. And didn’t think much more of it until we (Big J and I) were on our way down to Wollongong later in the week…. when I realised in actual fact many of the puzzles and caches that appeared to be in Woolongong were actually in the outer suburbs – where I wouldn’t be going, and was limited in travel by public transport (and of course, time).

Nevertheless, when we disembarked the train we spent 20 minutes or so looking for a conveniently placed cache at the entrance to the train station. But we were out of luck, or geosense or something, so we decided to head onto the hotel.  As we walked toward the hotel I of course spent some time zooming in on the streets of the ‘gong, eyeing off those caches within walking distance, and as we passed by the town park, I indicated we were stopping by the war memorial briefly, to find the micro there – and with something on the cache page telling me I was going to find it in the fence post, I had the cache (mini memories) in my hands as soon as we arrived.

After holing up in the hotel for the night, the following day we headed out for a decent cache walk around town – as you know, my usual MO for caching is via geomobile, so a long walk around a new town guided by the caches on the map was a nice change… But as nice as the walk was, the caches were another case of hit and miss. We started out with one of the solved puzzles (Whats the Decimal Point), which had the GZ quite conveniently placed within 150m of our hotel entrance – so off we headed.  After checking out the WaterWise sign for signs of a cache, I stood back and took another look about and noted a plastic covering over a stake nearby – I checked it out, and yep. An eclipse tin was attached to the inside of the plastic capping. Nicely down hide.   On we walked, pausing next at the fancy brick arch entryway to a garden park – we started to poke about the edge of the garden beds and around the brickwork until we came upon and old fix. Nope. Don’t need that smiley. And we moved along.  About a block further along we crossed over a carpark, expecting our next hunt to be on the opposite side – but not hunt was necessary as we spotted the eclipse tin magnetised to a tree surrounding on our way there – a quick couple of stealth moves later, and the Keira Street smiley was put simply in the bag.

For the next hour we wandered in a big, meandering circle around the main part of Wollongong, and despite our best efforts, we couldn’t locate cache after cache.  After 3 DNFs in a row, one quite frustrating because it had only been found the weekend before (by a Central Coast local no less), and promised to be a good one… but the big empty hole and absence of big heavy metal canister under the lip of the brickwork said no.  Thinking we might have better luck down by the water we wandered back down town, enjoying the delights the town had to offer along the way, while there were several blocks void of caches.  As we reached the waterside I dialed up the caches – and unfortunately our luck didn’t seem to want to get any better as I saw 2 caches were currently disabled, and another showed a long stream of DNF and Needs Maintenance Logs, so we were left with pretty slim pickings after all…. We enjoyed the long walk up and over the hill past the disabled cache at the Lighthouse and over to the harbourside – at least the active cache here promised to be a good one with plenty of favourite points (Harbourside).  And as we approached GZ, trust our luck, a tradie was sitting in his van having a break, right in front of GZ!!  Oh well, we were here now so we sat about 5-10m from the mark and had a bit of a scan about from a distance talking about the possible options and reading through the logs for any tips or hints, thinking if we waited the tradie would move on.  But after 5min or so we’d pinpointed a spot on the pylon that we wanted to investigate closer and the dude looked like he was in no hurry to move, so we just stood up and wandered over the 5m, sitting down again. He took very little notice of us thankfully, so we figured that left us free for the find – and find we did. In one foul swoop we pulled at the fixing on the pylon we’d already spotted, and bingo, cache!  And pleasingly a well constructed cache, that was fitted into the bolt, blending into the environment perfectly.  The CO had even thoughtfully tied the cache to the wharf via a rope that went through the hole left by the cache-bolt and into the pylon itself so had a total no-show effect.  I added to its favourite count.

The following day we headed home – forgoing any more failed cache hunts in the ‘gong, I waited until we reached the city and our halfway point home – and while we stretched our legs between trains and grabbed some lunch, we wandered down to World Square to finish of a puzzle (disguised as a multi) that I had half done via the beauty of the info-web.  We counted the roof pieces, and checked how many people could use the lift, confirming the place I had guessed was GZ – the large staircase in the centre atrium of the centre – pretty much the only place one would get any kind of GPS signal within the building!  And so it was then an easy task to sit on the lower step, chatting with Jorja who stood in front, “blocking” the view, and let my fingers do the walking until I knocked the nano loose from its hold under the lip of the step where I sat. An easy and satisfying find for the end of our trip – we wandered back up to the station, and caught our next train home.

Date/s of Finds: 7th-8th-9th July 2016

Number of Finds: 

Found with: Big J

 

A Travelling Adventure for the Geo-Kids:

Mid-way through the winter school holidays I decided to take the girls out on a full day adventure – I figured we’d find a cache or 2 along the way, but that wasn’t the goal nor the reason for the adventure. Starting out at home, we caught the bus to the train station, then the train to Rhodes, via Epping… I thought we’d be able to pick up a cache at Rhodes, but the nearest ones to the station, weren’t actually very near at all, and in the opposite direction to where our adventure was taking us.  Not to worry – we headed off through Rhodes to the edge of the Parramatta River – and while all the caches were blocks away from the our route, we did accidentally pass by a Poke-Stop.  I knew there was one of these Pokemon-Go locations at Rhodes – there had been a couple of photos of the Rhodes place on social media when the craze first took off… but I had underestimated the craze, and at first didn’t quite compute the oddity of all the 20-something people walking past us up and down this street with their faces glued to their phones as they walked – they walked like geocachers, but didn’t smell like geocachers… Then we reached a children’s playpark and WHOA NELLY!  I’d never seen anything quite like it – dozens of 20-somethings, in the middle of a weekday, in a place where you would usually be lucky to find one or two toddlers and their mums, there these people milled about, face to phone, not really interacting with each other…. and most surprising of all, this poke-stop obviously had so many visitors in the past few weeks, it was surrounded by orange and white crowd control barricades!  Amazing – and the kids thought the funniest thing they’d ever seen!

millenium-parkAnyway, we walked on, eventually leaving the masses of Pokemon players behind and headed onwards and over the river – I kind of expected the awesome footbridge leading to Newington would have to have a cache on it, but it wasnt to be so we continued on, choosing not to detour off our path for a couple of caches about the industrial area on the opposite side.  We soon reached the Millenium Parklands, an area of green space developed for the Sydney Olympics, and which I’d never explored – it was quite interesting to walk past the suburb that was originally the Athletes Village I’d once volunteered in, but again, no caches along the way.  riversideFinally, after about  a 3km walk, a cache popped up on my map directly on our route to our destination – but as we reached the pathway we needed to take we found a locked gate – bugger. Not only did that mean no cache on our way, but it meant we had to change our route taking us briefly out of the woodlands and onto a highway footpath – a quick dash across the road outside Silverwater Prison and we were soon at Blaxland Riverside Reserve – an awesome family play ground of grand proportions.  I let the girls go for it, and as they played to their heart’s content I wandered off towards a cache-dot on my map at one edge of the parkland…. But when I got within 30m of the cache a large black cyclone fence sat in between me and GZ…. zooming in at my map I saw that getting where I wanted to be required a huge backtrack, and walking along the riverside rather than being able to access from the parkland itself and so I figured that meant it was going to be there for another day then, and returned to the kids.  Once the girls had had their fill of the dozens of play spaces in the parklands we headed off again, this time riverside around the edge of the Millenium Parklands towards the Olympic Park ferry wharf.. And finally, along the path we were headed sat a cache. A simple traditional cache, but a cache.  The hint said something about a phone, so when I spied an old Armory phone box I pointed it out to the girls, and in moments they had uncovered the rock hide below.  Sorted,.

On we continued on our adventure, catching a RiverCat into the city, and wandering around Darling Harbour before catching a tram back up to Central Station where we met Jen for the train home.  And that whole way we didn’t pass a single convenient GZ. Oh Well. Ce La Vie, as they say.

A day or 2 later, Jen and I had the chance to stay in the city for the night, sans children, and so the following morning as I left her for the workday, and before heading home, I figured i take a short detour through Chinatown and grab a cache or two down there – unfortunately both the caches I had my eye on turned out to be within the vicinity of the bedrooms for some of the city’s homeless, so my poor luck continued – the first GZ I reached had someone still sleeping soundly within the alcove I needed to search, so I continued onto the next – there I found a gentleman rugged up in a doona, sitting next to a set of steps I wanted to search – I was pretty confident the stairs held a magnet eclipse tin, so would be a quick find, so figured, what the hey, and asked the gent if he would mind if I had a quick look for a container that was stuck to the stairs for a game I was playing – his response nearly tipped me sideways: “Do I come to your house and piss in your bed?” – ah, ok. I guess that’s a No then.  Needless to say I bothered him no more, and continued home with no more smileys to my name.

Date/s of Finds: 22nd July 2016

Number of Finds: 

Found with: Geo-Jorjy and Remmus

 

Return to the Geo-Runs with a visit to Mecca

A geo-run with Opa-Shrek was long overdue, and just what I seemingly needed to get back into the swing of smileys again after the stunted find rate I’ve had lately…. And when he told me he was headed for Mecca for his Milestone 2000th find, accompanying him was a no brainer.  Before the milestone could be found, Opa-Shrek needed a couple of simple ones along the way, so we detoured into a part of West Gordon we’d never ventured into before, and conveniently held the right amount of caches needed.  As we turned the corner we noted a sign advertising “THE BEST PIES EVER”, and we chuckled at the boldness of it, before we realised we were headed to the bakery for our first find for the day – sweet – not only could we grab a coffee to get us in the right frame of mind, this was not just any bakery – it was a Bavarian Bakehouse, filled with sooooo many yummy goodies I could have just spent the day sampling the wares.  But of course, I couldn’t go past a pie. Even at 10 in the morning, if it was indeed the best pie ever, I wanted it in my belly!  So while we sat and ate our pastries and drank the coffee we scanned about for signs that matched our clues – and before I’d finished my pie (which was mediocre at best), I spotted what we were there for, and pointed it out to the taller dad to play fetch.  With that done, I made up for the pie disappointment by buying a sweet pastry for later (which was awesome Bavarian goodness, and what they should actually put on their sign).

lane-cove-riverWe moved along, picking up another couple of simple traditionals in the nearby streets, and then headed off to Mecca – Lane Cove National Park, or more specifically, the first and therefore oldest cache in Australia – no longer a physical cache due to National Parks’ need to protect some special plant in the area, it is now a Virtual Cache that took us on a simple and pretty walk into the National Park, past a nice view of Lane Cove River, and “virtually” to GZ – the pathway took us about 5.5m from GZ, and despite the explanation on the cache page that National Parks do not want the area near GZ trampled, there was a pretty clear geo-trampling from the trail and around the general area of GZ.

From what I could tell the original cache probably hid under a small rock shelf that seemed to be in the ‘right’ spot, but getting there was all we needed to do, so we noted down the details required, and backtracked our way out of the park, our visit to Mecca complete.

While we were in the area, we figured we may as well venture into the neighbouring cemetery land and then enjoyed then next hour or so wandering the large grounds in search of the graves that held the numbers required – It was well thought out, with the waypoints taking us to the Catholic Crypts, the historical graves, the children and baby’s area, and all over the place, giving us a great ‘view’ of the place.  I love a good cemetery multi, with or without the cache – which is a good thing because when we’d finished up collecting the numbers and headed to where we figured we needed to be, we found the new information just didn’t add up – something must have gone wayward, and it seemed from the logs we werent the first to make whatever mistake we’d made, but rather than head back to the cemetery and check all the deets, we continued along our way, and picked up a couple more traditionals and a simple field puzzle nearby.  Nothing too fancy or spectacular, but good to get the cache count up.

Date/s of Finds; 11th August 2016

Number of Finds: 8

Found with: Opa-Shrek

 

geo-multiMission: Multi

A few days later Saturday rolled around, and Opa-Shrek rolled on over to collect me – August is the Souvenir time of the year, and we had a Multi-Mission to complete…. figuring the simplest and closest multi we were yet to find, we headed up to Kariong to a familiar GZ….. Way back when I was working on Da Pesky Code, an epic puzzle, I came to this location no less than 3 times when it was a waypoint – now part da “Decrypted Pesky Code” it sits as the GZ for a simple multi – but having been there meant I could skip the waypoint potion and head straight to GZ – when we reached the rock signifying we were there, I headed first toward the view, not spectacular, but always enjoyable, while dad headed straight for the hide – as I returned to join him he was replacing the old waypoint container that hadn’t been cleared up on recycled – but was right alongside the new final container. We signed our names and I rescued the TB from within, and our mission was complete.

Date of Find: 13th August 2016

Number of Finds: 1

Found with: Opa-Shrek

 

geo-day-16International Geocaching Day – Let’s Celebrate!

That day of the year rolled around, and kind of crept up on me this year – but luckily for me dad was on the ball, and had published an event to be held on the day, netting us both the International Geocaching Day souvenir, and that weeks geo-mission.

kingfisherSo on Saturday afternoon I bundled up the geo-girls and we headed off to Kincumba Mountain Reserve to meet with the like minded locals.  Always a lovely gathering of new and old faces, I enjoyed the usual geo-chat and sign language lesson that these events have come to give…. and conveniently, Opa-Shrek had put the event in a location where there was a difficult to reach and/or find tree hide – but with the group of eyes on the bare branches at the end of winter, the tree tie was spotted way up in the limbs and with the assistance of moi, one of the geokids monkied their way up the tree to reach said cache – tossing it down for the group to sign.  The group atmosphere, combined with the tree climb made it a really fun find – I must remember to go back and give it a favourite point, just for that,.

Date of Finds: 20th August 2016

Number of Finds: 2, including 1 event (#

Found with: Opa-Shrek, GeoJorjy, Remmus, (and others)

 

geo-mysteryGeo-Mission: Mystery

Late in the month, dad once again popped around mentioning we needed to collect a puzzle cache in order to achieve the final souvenir on offer this August…. I really must start reading those emails again! Anyway, so off we headed to a cache that had sat on the outskirts of Wyong for as long as I’ve been caching, but I had no clue where to start with it and figured it was full of techy coding I knew nothing about, so had long since discarded the puzzle…. but low and behold, dad had finally come up with a solution for it, and was keen to grab a handful of unloved months for his efforts – and once at GZ the cache itself was a simple find, so that was a little bonus.

jillaby-jauntWhile we were out we figured we may as well head over to Jillaby and find the 3 new caches that had been placed out that way. The first was alongside the school fence, yet the clue didn’t make much sense, and our GPSr’s weren’t coming to the party, but while we were scuffing about hoping to luck upon the cache, a neighbour came out from across the road and said “the stump” – we had of course already inspected the obvious stump, but clearly not carefully enough because dad quickly uncovered the container when we returned and focused our attention on it.  The following 2 were both simple caches, which provided a great excuse for a drive in the “country” if nothing else.

Date/s of finds: 28th/31st August 2016

Caches Found:  4

Found with:  Opa Shrek

 

Maintenance Calls:

Over the course of the last couple of months quite a few of my caches had ‘run-aground’, and needed some attention… Some suspect disappearances, and some others with components missing or needing replacement. As a “good” cacher owner should, I am gradually working through all the issues – and as a result I have bid adieu to a few of them along the way, including my first cache, Birth to Death… not to worry though, it just gives me back the location for something new to be placed nearby.

seasons-endAt some point along the way I also created a new simple traditional cache – while hovering about the edge of the kids’ footy game one Sunday, a berrocca tube “slipped” out of my pocket and rolled under a rock.  How could I not leave it there and whip up a listing for it?

While out with dad on one maintenance run we headed to his Flying High Club Caches, so he could replace one that had gone AWOL, and while there I realised (or remembered) that I hadn’t been to find the 3rd/latest one of these caches – and this was the one that commemorated my milestone among others, so it’s a wonder that I hadn’t rushed over and found it already – but with dad in tow it made the job easier as he guided me to GZ for a quick and simple find.

So with a little shifting about of the numbers, I am currently owner of 30 active caches (3 currently disabled).  Plenty enough to manage, but probably not enough to stop me placing more!

 

And so, as we head towards the end of September, my total number of finds to date is sitting on 1279.  Promise it wont be so long between now and next post – until next time, cache on!

 

 

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