Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Abbotsford Night Caching

Got out for one more night of caching in the Abbotsford area; I had 6 easy caches lined up, only found 2! That's the way it goes......

The first cache I found was in Silverdale, a small community just west of Mission, best known for it's cheap gas. I have driven past this cache about a dozen times and finally got around to stopping. The cache is called "Exploration into the Void", so named as there is a void of caches in the Mission area. The cache itself was a quick find, but like most rural areas everyone has a dog and they sure liked me as I walked through the field crunching noisy sticks.

The cache itself was hidden at the base of a Hemlock tree.....say....aren't those trees poisonous! What's the guy trying to do....kill us all!! Well, I guess it's OK as long as I don't pretend I'm Ewell Gibbons, remember him? He was on TV pushing cereal I think and his tag line was "ever eat a pine tree? Many parts are edible"! Well, needless to say I didn't eat the tree and all is fine and dandy.

The next cache I looked for was stuck on the side of a lacrosse box, and yep, there were a ton of Moms and Dads standing around watching their kids play lacrosse. By my GPS fix they were standing right on top of the cache hide; no way I can get the cache with out them seeing me.

OK, so I'll skip this for now and come back later. So off I go to find a cache called Cedar Springs. This cache is named after a small linear park of which there are many in Abbotsford.

These parks generally follow a ravine or small water way as it flows between subdivisions. In this case the park was the buffer zone between a subdivision on one side and a gated community on the other side.

On the way to the cache I noticed a fun looking tree house in some ones back yard; I bet a lot of childhood memories were made there.

The cache location was another case of "you can hide a cache anywhere", as the cache was hidden in the roots of a cedar tree right beside the trail. A quick sign and grab, and on to the next cache.

From here I headed south east and ended up in a small park by the Trans Canada Highway; the park itself is an old park with a small baseball diamond for the little kids and arrgh, they were playing baseball right by the cache! To make matters worse, it was T-ball; now, I don't know how many of you have had kids in T-ball, but if you have you know that a T-ball game goes on for ever! It's the worst thing to sit through.....or wait to end.....

I parked the car at the corner of the park and waited for 15 minutes while they played in the dwindling light. Finally I decided I couldn't wait any more and they MUST be just about finished, so I headed over and parked in the lot. I got out the camera and sauntered over taking scenery shots as an excuse for being there, but gad, I still had to wait for the parents to quit yakking and move along.

Finally they were on their way and I could start looking around the trees where the cache was hidden. Of course, by now it's pretty dark under the tree, I'm in a hurry to get going and the cache is being difficult to find...another arrrgh! Even my flash light didn't help find the creature; either it's gone or I no longer have the patience for a thorough search . Oh well, put this on the list of ones to come back to some time.

OK, back to the lacrosse box, they should all be gone by now. But wait, back at the lacrosse box...what's this....they are still there! Don't these people ever go home!

I kicked around for 20 minutes waiting for them to pack up and leave, but they showed no signs of skeedaddling, so I skeedaddled instead. I gave up and headed home with only 2 cache finds under my much as last nights 8 finds had been rewarding, tonight's 2 finds were disappointing.

C'est la vie !

Port Moody - Abbotsford Caching March 27 2007

Went caching on Tuesday night; hoped to get 4 caches, the night started off looking like I would get 2, but I ended up getting 8!

First stop was in Port Moody at the historic St John The Apostle Church cache; the church itself was built in 1899, and is one of the oldest buildings in Port Moody. The cache owner has done an excellent job of creating a very informative web page detailing the history of the church. The cache itself was a quick find next to the very busy St. Johns street as rush hour traffic was stop and go. However, I think the drivers were more interested in getting ahead of the next car than watching me.

Then it was over a block or two for another cache alongside a small creek. The creeks name is Schoolhouse South Creek, a great name as it is just south of a school. This cache is a little different in it's contents; the cache owner only wants Geocoins to go in here. You find the cache and instead of leaving the usual trinket you leave, and take if you like, only trackable Geocoins.

These caches work best on a leave one/take one idea; that way there is always something in the cache for the next person. The cache found and pictures duly taken, I decided on a warp jump.

At this time I made a huge leap across my GPS screen and drove out to Abbotsford to do some night caching. Night caching is a whole different game altogether. At night you have the benefit of darkness so no one can see you skulking around; but, you can't see a bloody thing either!

That's were mini-flashlights are worth their weight on Geocoins. They are just bright enough to light up the cache hidey hole with out attracting too much attention to yourself. That's if you are looking for an urban cache; if you are wandering down a forest trail or a river side dike in pitch black conditions, then you'll want what cachers call a "BFL"; AKA a "Big Frigging Light". These are the ones that put out million candle power and light up everything this side of the 49th parallell!

Tonight I was doing urban hides so my mini-mag light would do just fine. My first cache in Abbotsford was at the Pioneer Cemetery; this is where a lot of Abootsford's European settlers are buried. The names on the tombstones reflect the name of the streets and areas in Abbotsford, and are readily recognizable to any one with local knowledge of the city.

The cache here was a micro; a waterproof match container painted to blend in with it's background did the trick nicely. It was a bit tough to find in the failing light, but I needed to find it soon as the cacher has stipulated no caching after dusk out of respect to the cemetery.

Find it I did, and with a quick sign of the log I was off into the darkness.

After the cemetery cache I did a series of Parking Lot, caches so called as they are right next to or in parking lots, making them readily available for quick pick-me-ups. No more photos tonight as it was now too dark, and I was worried that any big FLASH from the camera would draw unwanted attention to me as I was discovering the cache.

Some of these caches were small magnetic types, some were almost mini-magnetics, and others were small lock and locks hidden in such a way that when you are searching for them during the day you are in plain view. Ahh, but you see, we are night caching so no one sees you in the middle of the large empty lot while you root around a small bush. During the day you would be the centre piece of every ones attention.

I spent another hour picking up a few more caches to bring my total to 8 before the home front was on the phone wondering where I was.....OK, time to call it quits.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

North Coquitlam - Port Moody - Burnaby Caching Night

A sunny day that held till after work, a few extra hours of daylight, a caching buddy and a Jeep all adds up to finding 6 caches tonight! YIPPEE!!

Brother Ken (MRTJ) met me after work and we made the most of the good weather tonight, knowing that we were in for another few days of rain that would drown out any caching plans for the next few days.

Stop #1 was a cache called "Move Along, Nothing to see here". This cache shows that you can place a cache anywhere, it just may not be very scenic or much of a walk to get there.

In this case the cache was placed at the side of a busy road where a large culvert diverts a creek under the road. The cache is aptly named, there is nothing to see here, just a cache to find.

Stop #2 was on Heritage Mountain in Port Moody at a cache called "Winds of Destruction", and this cache area highlighted some of the wind damage done to the trees in Noons Creek Park. This is a linear ravine park that covers the length of Noons Creek as the creek runs north to south. The trees, and the nearby houses, were a reminder of how close one can be to an unfortunate event like having a tree fall on your house!
Stop #3, still in Port Moody, was at a cache called "Trolling for Treasure". This was a simple find but again illustrates that: a) you can put a cache anywhere, and: b) you'll always discover new places you didn't know about. In this case it was a new off leash area for MRTJ's geo-hounds.

Again there was ample amount of wind damage to the trees in this small park; this winter we have had more wind storms than usual, and several were more severe than in past years.

Stop #4 of the night was in North Burnaby at a cache called Toon Tunes. This is one of those very creative caches were the cache page far exceeds the norm. In this case the cache owner, known as Scruffster to his adoring fans, has made up a puzzle on the front page that you have to answer before you can determine the co-ordinates for the cache hide itself. The puzzle consists of old Saturday cartoon pictures, and you have to match up the cartoon with it's theme song. You click on the theme song link, listen to the theme, and try to tell whether it's the theme from The Fab Four, or Wacky Racers, or Josie and the Pussycats, or what ever! Let me tell you, some of those were hard!

The trail to the actual cache location starts off well enough, but as you walk towards the cache it's evident that this is another area that suffered wind damage from the past storms.

Above you can see MRTJ using his best limbo maneuver to squeeze under a fallen tree, without getting bit by the branches and holly trees just to the left. "Does anybody recognize MRTJ from this angle"?

The cache hide itself was good and sneaky; so sneaky that this was the third time back for me trying to find it. The previous two times were in the failing light of the day, (first time in the pouring rain), but the third time back was the lucky visit. Armed with the cache page and the clue, and a big hint from Scruffster, we were successful.....YAY US !!

Stop #5 was at Burnaby Lake, at a cache called "Deer lake Brook Crossing". This is the spot were Deer Lake Brook, which flows from nearby Deer Lake, empties into the larger Burnaby Lake. The cache was hidden in the tried and true spot of under a bridge; cachers love these places as they are out of site of the ordinary folks, are almost never disturbed, and are dry hiding spots for the caches.

From the trail we got a seldom seen view of Burnaby Lake from the south; the more popular trails are on the north side of the lake, and along the east end were you can rent canoes for the day.

Stop #6 was the last stop, and we did this one at dusk. "Wrong Side of the Tracks" is the name of the cache; the cache name no doubt inspired by the many times the cache owner has had to sit and wait while a slow moving freight train goes by. The cache is hidden along side the Brunette River where the river meanders through an old industrial area.

This was the second time back to this cache for me, the first time the water level was high and the small "marsh" area where the cache is hidden was under 4 inches of water. How ever, it was a lovely lunch time walk the first time; along the short trail I spotted a young Bald Eagle circling the river, and a Great Blue Heron was perched on one leg at the edge of the river while it waited for an unsuspecting morsel to swim by. Numerous song birds flitted from bush to bush, and somewhere a Red Winged Black Bird let it be known he wasn't happy with me being in the area.

Tonight was different, the only seranding MRTJ and I had was by the tractor trailer trucks going by, and a couple of rather large Rottwiellers guarding a nearby business.
This was the last cache that we did tonight; by now it was 8.00 PM and the sun was gone. We had hoped to get done 4-5 caches tonight, we actually found 6, plus an extra one for MRTJ that I had already found, so we we were quite content to call it a night.
Now, back home for a late dinner, write up my cache logs on, whip up a witty blog entry for you folks to read, and then look to see where I can go caching on my next outing.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

After Work Caching Thursday Night

The rain held off long enough so that I could sneak in a couple of cache grabs before night fall. Plus I managed to do the legwork on a third cache.

Cache #1 was at the Poirier Social Rec Centre Gronds in Coquitlam across the street from Poirier Rec Complex. The name Poirier is a reminder of the French Canadians that came to work in the Fraser Mills lumber mill in the early 1900's and settled on the south slope of Coquitlam, founding the community called Maillardville.

On the Social Rec Centre Grounds there is a Bocce and Croquet lawn enclosed in a white picket fence; a bit of European civility in the heart of Coquitlam.

The seats are all set up, just waiting for the fair weather to start and the bowlers to come back.

You can't see the cache in the picture, but you can see it's hiding spot; where would YOU hide it?
Here's a hint; the cache name is "Matryoshka in Motion ???"

The second cache I found was in a little used park on Capitol Hill in North Burnaby, this cache was called "Capitol Cache". The cache was an easy find hidden on the forested hillside at the edge of the park. A nice little trail runs through the forest area, a safe walk for parents and little ones. The cache, pictured above, is a typical cache container called a Lock and Lock. All four sides fold down and lock in place to help seal the rubber ring around the lid. These are actually food containers but they work great for our sport.

After finding this cache I stopped on the west flank of Capitol Hill to enjoy the view of Vancouver, Second Narrows Bridge, the North Shore Mountains, and well,..... pretty well all of Vancouver can be seen from here.

Second Narrows Bridge, as us old Vancouverites call it, is pictured here. It's real name is The Ironworkers Memorial Bridge. It is named after the 27 iron workers who lost their lives during construction of the bridge.

Burrard Inlet with Stanley Park in the background.
Downtown Vancouver in the distance; the covered dome in the centre of the picture is BC Place.

The last cache I did not have time to find, but I went to the first stage to gather the clues needed to determine the actual cache location. The cache's name is "The Drunk Skunk Cacher's Cabaret", an original name to be sure. This cache is dedicated to the strip of stores along Hastings Street just east of Boundary Road. This section a few blocks long, has many of the last remaining neon signs in the Vancouver area; none more famous than Helens! Helen Arnold opened her childrens wear store in 1948, and in 1956 added the famous neon sign with the name Helens emblazed above with a girl on a swing that moves back and forth, one of a kind sign to be sure. Ask any long time Burnaby resident and they will tell you a story about shopping here with their parents, or even working there! Sad to say Helen is closing down the store after 50 years of serving the Burnaby children, all good things come to an end.
Right next to Helens is another long time neon sign, Bob's Fishing and Hunting store. Too bad Bob had his signed turned off, would have looked neat in the picture.

Well, that's about all I had time for on this night; the rain was just coming in and the light was fading. A quick drive by of the final cache location as a recon to next time out, and then off home for a late supper.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Geocaching at Deer Lake After Work

Took advantage of the change of time and a sunny day to slip over to Deer Lake to grab a couple of caches after work. Deer Lake is on the grounds of what once was the Oakalla Prison Farm opened in September 1912 and closed on June 30 1991. (The above picture is of what once was the main road into the prison farm). Oakalla has quite the history and you can read about it here.

I parked in the lot at the beginning of the trail, grabbed my back pack and my camera, and started taking pictures right away. It felt good to be out in the sun and I wanted to take full advantage of the good weather for some scenery shots.

Burnaby has done a good job of "advertising" their green spaces by posting information boards at most of their nature sites; if nothing else I can remember where I took the photos. LOL

As I walked along the old roadway I stopped to take pictures of what ever I fancied, the luxury of having a large memory card in a digital camera. At one point I stopped and a large bird flew over head into the bare trees. It was a Peregrine Falcon, which was kinda cool as you don't see many of those around any more. I took a few pictures of it, but the falcon blended in so well with the trees that it would be hard to see if I posted a small picture to the blog.
But what the heck, we'll give it a whirl...........

Deer Lake being at the bottom of a bowl sandwiched between two hills is a natural low lying area; what is not actual lake is mostly marsh and grassy areas. As such all kinds of nature love it here; coyotes, ducks, birds, deer, Great Blue Herons, rabbits, skunks, and of course, skunk cabbage. Which as you can see in the picture below is just starting to bloom.

The first cache I looked for was along the western edge of the lake were an elevated boardwalk kept you high and dry, and out of the fragile marsh. The boardwalk was quite scenic and as I looked for the cache in the area the camera came in handy as people walked by; a good diversion is always necessary!

If you don't have any idea where the cache is just point the camera up at a tree as you look around.............

Soon the cache was in hand, and a well disguised one it was; this cache is called "Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds". The cache owner is well know for his creative urban hides, and this one was no exception. I won't tell you what it is, besides to say you are never happy when you see this type of container! :)

One more picture of the lake, and then I'm off to Dream of Jeannie!

The second cache I found tonight is called "Yes Master: the Return of Jeannie"
The cache owner usually has elaborate cache pages that showcase older TV shows and invariably make you do some research on the old show just to remind you of how much fun you had watching the show. If you want to read about Jeannie and Major Nelson click here.

He also has some good hiding spots; can you spot the cache hidey hole in the picture above?

NO? Then I'll make it about in the close up below?

A couple of hours spent after work in the sunshine doing one of my latest addictions, and I feel good enough to make it to the end of the week..... LOL