Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Searching in Surrey

ABOVE: Mountain bike ramp built by kids in urban forest green belt

Was out caching in Surrey with Bowser98, Bowser98Junior and MrTJ (AKA brother Al, nephew Christopher and brother Ken) on a rare day off for me, and we made the most of the unexpected sunshine and good weather. Considering the weather folks were calling for snow showers and rain, and we instead got sunshine, we were pretty happy with that.

Click here to see the complete set of photos and as usual, if you like what you see leave me a message and let me know, I enjoy the feed back.

To view them as a slide show, click on "View As Slideshow" and click on the "i" in the centre of the first picture to have the captions show.

Squamish, Snohomish, Duwamish, all sound familiar? They should, they are all names of towns or rivers in the Coast Salish territory that extends from as far south as Portland Oregon and as far north as Sechelt on the BC coast. They are also names of the large community of the Coast Salish peoples who lived in the Pacific North West 9,500 years before the "intruders" arrived.

All the First Nations on the mainland in on the South Coast are affiliated within one large group of peoples, with the exception for the Semiahmoo peoples. The Semiahmoo are more closely tied to the Lummi and Sammish people across the international border, and to the Lekwammen and T'sou-ke peoples across the Straight of Georgia, than they are to the Halq'emeylem speaking Sto:lo nations. Sto:lo means "river" in the Halq'emeylem language of the Coast peoples who inhabit the territories from the mouth of the Fraser River upstream to Yale, where their ancient fishing boundary adjoins the Nlaka'pamux, "people of the canyon" territory.

There are a lot of "sto:los" but there is only one that is _the_ sto:lo, and that is what we intruders call the Fraser River.

Snoqualmie, Chehalis, Cowiltz, Stillaquamish, these are all nations that you will still hear of today. The one First Nations name you will not hear in the Lower Mainalnd area today is the name of the peoples who inhabited the Mud Bay - White Rock area up until the 1800's. That name is of the Skokomish people; this 300 strong nation was 90% wiped out by smallpox introduced by the intruders. Eventually through marriage and through the land being abandoned, the Semiahmoo people moved in to populate the territory and the Skokomish lost their identity.

It is on ancient Skokomish land that we would be spending the day, exploring in our own adventure, only for us it was using GPS' to find tupperware in the bush, not fish or wild game for food.

ABOVE: Entrance way to small "common" park at the rear of a well off subdivision

"Lost Common" was the name of a cache that was lost to Bowser98 and I last visit, but as was to be the case several times today, MrTJ would make the find where we had/would strike out. The co-ordinates for this cache were spot on for the first waypoint but the next stage leading to the final cache required you to perform a projection. That is done by standing at the given co-ordinates and "projecting" where a new set of co-ordinates might be.

Typically when caching you have the co-ordinates that you have to go to; they give you the numbers, you punch them and then you follow the GPS to the pot of gold. In this case the cache owner led us to the first stage, then told us to go something like "320 meters at 340 degrees north" to find the cache. In effect you have to project out to where the actual co-ordinates might be!

In this case the projection put us way 100' feet or so too far from the cache, and after spending an hour here, (and spending an hour here last time), we decided to give up on this one. But as many of you cachers know, as you walk away you are still searching, and lo and behold, MrTJ came up with the cache in an unlikely spot. Whew, thank goodness!

Cache signed, and put away for the next lucky contestant, we were off to the next one; on the road for 2.5 hours and only one cache to show for it, not a good sign so far!

"Toads' Corner" was the next cache, so called as the cacher named Toad utilized businesses around a crossroad intersection in the 'burbs. Here there was a small strip mall, a vet, and coffee shop. Bowser98 and I had already walked around the area collecting clues last visit, put together the clues, but struck out at the final cache location.

Not MrTJ, we were only at the final cache hunt for no more than 10 minutes when he came up with the cache; that's what happens when you are so convinced that the cache must be "in this area"! You don't look "over there"! Oh well, another DNF cleared up...
ABOVE: path in park on the way to "What's My Number #4"

Large tracts of land and forested "green spaces" still exist in the South Surrey area, and one of them called us back for yet another DNF to be located. This time a cache belonging to a series called "What's My Number" where multiple caches used small film canister size containers. We had one in a city park that we could not find before, and, yep, you guessed it, MrTJ found the cache after looking for not very long. Sheesh, a guy could get a complex if this keeps up.

ABOVE: Near the cache called "Wooded Hidey Hole"

"Wooded Hidey Hole" was a cache hidden in a small wooded park in a residential area; here I got some of my self-esteem back as I found the cache in less than two minutes while MrTJ scaled a very large root system of a tree that was a victim of one of the winter storms. Not quite sure what he was doing up there.........?

What, time for lunch already? Man, are we having a miserable succes ratio; 4 hours and 4 caches on our "done" list. Hope this afternoon picks up.....

ABOVE: Canada Geese at Southmere Village park in White Rock

"Recipes RIP" refers to a cache that has been stolen several times, and now the new cache container is a small film canister too small to hold anything of value.

The real prize here was the lovely little park the cache was in; Southmere Village Park has a pond in the centre that is more like a collection pond to help drain the neighbourhood land than a real body of water. But the ducks and song birds didn't care; the waterfowl love the water and shore, and the song birds love the trees and shrubs surrounding the water's edge.

ABOVE: The cache finders worst place to find a cache!

"Blackhawk Wannabee" cache was hanging in this tree; I won't tell you what the cache container looks like, suffice to say MrTJ and I hate these types of caches! Bowser98 doesn't mind them, actually I think he just hasn't learnt to hate them yet! :)

ABOVE: Oval track in South Surrey Athletic Park

"Lapping the Elipse" refers to doing laps on the nearby track located in South Surrey Athletic Park. The cache owner entices you to find the cache and then do a few laps on the oval track. Sorry, that won't be happening unless I'm driving a dirt track race track! :)

This was another cache the Bowser98 and I struck out on previously; the hide has been has now been downgraded with the cache moved to an easier place in which to be found, and of course MrTJ made the find! OK, that's enough......we're out of here! No more gloating!

ABOVE: I think I left a couple of digits here.

Somewhere in the corner of the South Surrey Athletic Park is a tree with a small cache hidden amongs it's cavities. I had the honour of finding this well tucked away cache, and I had the honour of suddenly realizing my arm might be stuck in this tree! YIKES!!

WAIT, it's coming loose............there! I got my arm out and in my hand, being held for dear life, was the cache called "Open 24-9". Good thing I got i:, I had images of calling 911 and having them use chain saws to free my arm! I'll tell you one thing for sure, I'm not putting the cache that far in again, I'm no fool! No Sir!

The next two caches were nearby, still in South Surrey Atheletic Park, only this time one was along a forest trail in the middle of a mountain bikers park and the second was a little easier to get at as it was hidden close to parking.

The bikers park consists of flat terrain, small mountains, moguls, forest trails, and several jumps of varying heights. ABOVE: Jumps at Biker park

The first cache was located near the parking lot, almost close enough to be considered a parking lot cache. "Byker Grove" was an easy find, just had to wait for the bikers to move along so we could get the cache out to sign it.

ABOVE: Along a trail at the Bike park

"Byker Grove II" was located along one of the bike trails in the park next to a wooden ramp that crossed a fallen tree. I imagine this one would be a little harder to grab while kids on nountain bikes went whizzing past you at Mach 3 just 2 feet away. Luckily the park was pretty empty today as most kids were otherwise occupied.

Sometimes caches take for ever to find; not cause they are so tough; more because they are in an area that you don't get to very often. Case in point the next two caches; "Practical Cache #4" and "Practical Cache #2". In this case, I had printed the paper work for these caches on Nov 5 2005, almost 2.5 years ago.

And for some reason they seemed to loom large and hard to find in my mind. Well, shows you how you imagine things differently than they really are. For example, "Practical Cache #4" was at a local park at the baseball diamond. Other than a couple of large boulders, "glacial erratics" there was nothing special or hard about this cache hide.
ABOVE: Hwy #99 looking north

"Practical Cache #2" was billed as being muddy when it had recently rained: so dutiful me throws the big rubber gum boots into the back of MrTJ's truck this morning just in case. Down the trail we go looking for the mud, but I guess we found another way in as we did not come across any mud, although we did get a nice view to the north as we looked along Hwy #99 and past the Nicomekl River

ABOVE: Green space trail between houses in ritzy neighbourhood

I've mentioned the abundance of green spaces in the South Surrey area, and now here's a cache called "Green Space". It runs between houses in an affluent neighbourhood where each house is on an acre or two of land. Definitely any one of us would have been eager to take up residence in this huge homes.

ABOVE: walking in the "Country Woods"

Still in the same neighbourhood but a few blocks over, "Country Woods" invited us to explore a small section of land maybe 10 acres in size, but well covered by a network of trails throughout.

The cache was located at the far corner of the park at the bottom of the hill that the park was on. Of course that meant the return to the vehicles was uphill...doh. I commented on how lovely this little gem of a park was as the trails wound around trees and mini-ravines to deposit us down by s small crick that flowed at the bottom of the hill.
This time is was Bowser98 pulling the ammo box out of a rabbits hat! Well, out of it's hidey hole at least.
ABOVE: Blowdown leftovers from latest winter storm

OK, the light is starting to fade, lets get moving to the next cache on the list called "The Greatest Cache in the World"! Well, it wasn't, but it was just down the street where the Outlaws used to live, so I was able to give a little history of the area, while we walked through the small park on the way to the cache. Quick find by MrTJ, (again), a quick sign, and then back to the vehicles to roll on!

Time to head to Redwood Park to do a few more caches there. In this park are 5 caches, the first one right at the parking lot called "A Yolk for the Geofolk". This one should have been an easy find but I guess we where starting to fade after 12 hours on the road, and it took a simple eye to find this one. Wow, how did we miss that?

"Redwood Rocket" is in the park at a far corner away from everything else; the cache owner is involved with amateur rockets and I'm guessing he has one of these in his basement cellar! As a matter of fact I was hoping the FTF prize would be a rocket! Well, I guess not........ :(

OK, time for one more quick one...I HAVE to do this one, it's been on my list since May 14 2005!

ABOVE: tree in shadows at Redwood Park

"Redwood Reading Room" is one of the oldest caches in BC; it was started in June 2002.

Obviously finding this cache means you have found one of the very first caches ever placed!
We needed to find it in short order, as the sun was almost gone and we needed to get out of the park before dusk at which time they locked the parking lot gates.

OK, cache found, as a matter of fact it almost leaped into MrTJ's arms the cache was so massive! In this cache were many books for which you could trade, leave your trade if wanted or just sign the log and head on home. There is also a bench nearby that looks out onto the green grass of a nearby clearing, a peaceful place to read indeed.

OK, all done, that's it for a round of caching; the sun has fallen, headlights are now on, and the cache total stands at 15 caches found today. Not bad at all! Not a worlds record but we were pretty happy with that..........at least until next time!

ABOVE: waiting to come back over the Fraser River via the Fort Langley ferry

Monday, March 17, 2008

Looking in Ladner

The complete set of photos can be found here on my Flickr site.
If you enjoy the story leave me a comment at the end of the write up letting me know; I always enjoy getting feed back from readers.

Sunday was another great day to be caching, well, almost any day is a great day to be caching...

Ron Patrick, a long time buddy of mine, was in the Vancouver area visiting family for a few days and wanted to know if we could arrange a day of caching. That was an easy question to answer!

I picked out the Ladner-Delta-Tsawassen area as I hadn't been in that area for a while and there were many new caches for me to hit.

I picked Ron up nice and early, and we made a bee line for the Ladner area with the first cache already programmed in.
ABOVE: Harmony Park in Ladner

The first cache had us a lovely, tiny park situated between two houses in a subdivision. The cache backed onto a slough that gave the home owners a certain amount of privacy, and gave waterfowl a nice quiet back waters area to feed. We both agreed that the cache lived up to it's name of "Peace & Harmony".

The next two caches were located in adjoining parks on the shore of the South Arm of the Fraser River. One cache was called "The Flushed Lagoon", in reference to a sewage lagoon that has been reclaimed by allowing the tides to flush out the lagoon twice a day, taking out brackish water and bringing in fresh water from the river. This cache was located in the South Arm Marshes Wildlife Area, so named for the mud flats, tidal marshes and small creeks and rivers that empty into the South Arm of the Fraser River.
ABOVE: Bridge over backwater channel in South Arm Marshes Wildlife Management Area

A well worn path leads you over a bridge and along a small dike to the cache area, which was a great vantage area to spot 3 immature Bald Eagles sitting in an old Cottonwood tree.

ABOVE: Dedication plaque in Ladner Harbour Park

A short distance away in Ladner Harbour Park was the next cache on the list; this cache was called "Thief in the Park". The bad news is that the original cache container was muggled and an ordinary L&L was in its place. The original container was a fake crow, crows and ravens being natures original thiefs. ABOVE: Information about the first white settlers in the area

Next up: a history lesson! This time it was a dedication plaque in downtown Ladner on the site of the original townsite. This was a well done informative kiosk with the story of the town overlain with old pictures of the founding brothers and past scenes of the young town.
I love these type of hides as they bring you face to face with the history of the area, they bring to life the stories you read.

"Got Yanked"? conjures up a lot of different answers I could give, some not well suited to a family web site!

In this case it refers to a dentist office with the actual cache container being a plastic tooth, cute :)

ABOVE: One room school house look-alike

What was neat here is that the building next door looked like an original one room school house.
I don't know if it was or not, but it sure caught my eye.

Another trip to the recent past was a cache called "And they're off...." In this case it brings you to the grounds of the old harness race track that's all but disappeared from sight and people's memories. The oval clay race track is still there but all the buildings are gone; if I recall correctly I believe the name of the race track was Ladner Downs. I'll stand to be corrected on that by some of the "older" folks who read the story! :)

ABOVE: Kirkland Park nestled in a subdivision

"Kirkland Micro Cache" is another one of those "you can hide a cache anywhere" stories; in this case it is in a small neighbourhood park only as wide as a city lot. Near one of my former houses there was a small park just like this, and when my kids where little it was great to walk two doors down and be at a park that the little kids could play in for a short time before getting ready for bed. ABOVE: Seagull enjoying the view at Wellington Point"

"Wellington Point" conjures up images of Napoleon and Wellington duking it out in Europe; here it is the name of a park that juts out into the South Arm of the Fraser River. The park is well developed with a boat launch, grassy areas, lots of parking, and a huge wharf from which to survey a wide vista from the North Shore mountains way off in the distance, to the delta of the Fraser River where it meets the Pacific Ocean not far down stream. ABOVE: In the distance the South Arm meets the Straight of Georgia

ABOVE: Old John Deere tractor on Westham Island Herb Farm

"Sign Me Up" lets you write your name on a fake pumpkin located on the grounds of a farm that hosts annual pumpkin patches. During the summer it is selling more conventional vegetables and herbs. On the grounds of the farm around the "storefronts" is old farming equipment and an old farm truck. Nice to see the equipment being kept for other generations to see, even if it's the closest they'll ever get to harvesting their own crop. ABOVE: "Welcome to Delta" and find a cache on me!

A quick run down to the Victoria ferry causeway gave us a freebee; that is a park and grab cache. This one was for all the traffic just arriving from Vancouver Island; they could start off their visit by getting a smiley for finding a cache. Instant gratification and guaranteed to start every visit right. Next time you come to the Mainland stop "Down by the Ferries" and you'll be pleased you did.

We did find another 5 caches among which took us to several small city parks with good views to the north towards Vancouver. Another one took us down to Mud Bay to hunt for a cleverly disguised micro-cache. We did find it after looking for a short time, but by now the wind was picking up, and the chill from the wind meant we were now bundled up in our warm weather clothes, complete with gloves and hats. Somehow in this cooler environment I didn't have the same inclination to take pictures as I did just an hour ago.... :)
A couple of more quick caches on route home brought our total up to 15 caches found on the day, a new personal best for Ron!
By now we were starting to lose the light and the much promised rains had moved in, perfect timing as we had just finished for the day. All the way home the windshield wipers were clearing the heavy rain showers off the wind shield, and both Ron and I had smug looks on our faces as we had just finished a great day of caching with good company, and had beat the weatherman with the forescasted bad weather.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Highway to Hope!

ABOVE: Hwy #1 east at Prest Road overpass at Chilliwack
The complete set of photos for this trip can be viewed here on my Flicker site

AKA Hwy #1, Hwy #401 and the Transcanada Hwy, the main freeway runs east through the Fraser Valley as it carries it's road surfers out of the Vancouver area to points east like Princeton, Vernon, Calgary, and other Canadian towns.

Today, MsChief Gps_y (AKA Laara) and I were using the highway for those noblest of reasons; we were geocaching our way to Hope!

Now, I'm sure Laara knows this, but for those of you who don't bump into me often, I'll tell you right now; "I DON"T do mornings well"! If I see something like 6.00 AM on a Sunday it's only because I've come at it from the back end. Nor do I suffer fools gladly that early in the day; some of my fellow workers have been known to get speared by my acerbic sense of humour when they insist on practicing their stupidity around me before my mental wake up time of 10.00 AM

But I digress...already.

Laara knows that I treasure my Sunday morning sleep-ins but for the sake of the day to come and the long sets of driving involved, I offered to pick her up at 7.30 AM and then make the dash out to our starting point in Chilliwack.

Our first stop in Chilliwack was at the gas station as gas in Chilliwack is always cheaper than around Vancouver; a savings of 15 cents per litre attested to that fact.

Gas tank topped up, we took a round about way to get to our first cache via Airport Road which takes us right past the Chilliwack Airport. The airport here is well known for it's excellent, and huge, selection of pies. This little 40 or so seat diner (looking like it was an after thought in a hall way) in the main building always has a loyal following waiting for a coveted spot at a table, forks and knives at the ready.

The first cache was at an overpass on Hwy #1; "Prest for Time" cache is right along the off ramp of the highway as you exit to Prest Road. A cache truly for those pressed for time, you can literally do 70 MPH almost all the way to the cache.

ABOVE: View north from Prest Road in Chilliwack

The overpass offered an excellent view of the surrounding farmlands and of the Fraser Valley as it continued east to it's head at Hope. We also had terrific views of the mountains that contain the valley to the north and south.

We quickly found this micro cache and then jumped back in the Jeep and roared down the on-ramp back onto the freeway heading for "The Mint".

"The Mint - Your Geocoin Rest Stop" is another quick drive up cache on a rural road just off the freeway in the village of Popkum. Best known for Bridal Falls and Flintstone Village, along with the Trans Canada Water Slides, Popkum, in the First Nations language of Halq'emeylem is a take off of the word Popkw'en meaning "puffballs".

ABOVE: Mt. Cheam

For us it was a drive up cache and a chance to take more pictures of the mountains that were now closing in on the Upper Fraser Valley. As the name "Geocoin Rest Stop" alludes to, this cache was a haven for geocoins, those collectable coins of the trade that grown adults become goo-goo over!

Well, we weren't getting so goo-goo so we packed up the cache and put it away so we could go-go down the highway to the next cache.

ABOVE: Cheam Lake Wetlands

In this case we just had to go a wee bit further down the rural road to a nature reserve called Cheam Lake Wetlands Regional Park, a relatively new park in the process of reclaiming the land from it's past of being abused for the local agriculture industry.

ABOVE: Signboard at Cheam Lake Wetlands

Five thousand years ago a slide three times the size of the Hope Slide roared down Mt. Cheam and covered the valley up to 30 meteres in depth. Over time the organic matter of the valley floor, in particular an aquatic plant called Chara, through photosynthesis caused the limestone from the Mt. Cheam rock to bond creating marl limestone.

The local agriculture used the marl as a natural additive to reduce the acidity of the boggy soil in the area. Huge scoops were used to mine the marl and the shallow Cheam Lake was drained to allow the lake floor to be scooped out. From 1944 to 1990 one million tonnes of marl was mined from the lake bed.

Eventually the conservation crowd wised up to this oppertunity and in conjucntion with the government, developed a comprehensive plan to allow the area to reclaim itself to become a haven for many types of song birds and water fowl. Walkways and trails around a portion of the lake allows visitors to appreciate this treasure as Mother Earth heals herself.

In the park we would find three caches, well 2 and an invisible cache. The invisible one was an Earth Cache, so called as there is no actual cache to find but instead you are brought to a unique geographical location to appreciate the beauty of the area. To claim this cache we had to A) find some marl, take a picture and obtain the co-ordinates B) state something we learnt about the park, and C) find at least one other cache in the park.

Well, all of these tasks were easy to do as we not only found marl and learned something new, we also found two other caches in the park.

Cache #2 was called "Blossom Kingdom - 3- Blossom Kingdom"

This is one of a series of caches by a local Agassiz cacher called Agassiz Angel, in which you have to find clues from various caches to be able to find the final cache.

ABOVE: Pond at Cheam Lake Wetlands

This cache was located on a wonderful little trail that was a kilometre long and wound it's way through the bog and over and around a small pond where the Red Winged Blackbird whistled to us from the bush around the pond. Cache found, clue duly noted, on to the next cache.

"Crafty Cache" was the third cache in the park to find, and this one was along a small creek ravine; you couldn't even call it a ravine, more of a bed as the ravine was only 8 feet deep all along it's length. We did have the pleasure of noticing the tell tale signs of beaver activity as evidenced by the cut saplings in the creek area. This cache was a quick find for the intrepid duo, and we signed our names, Laara made a trade, and we bee-lined back to the Jeep to get back on the move to the next cache.

ABOVE: Caching at the side of Hwy #1

Another quick drive up cache right at an exit off the highway made for a swoop and go cache as we homed in on the "We're On The Way Now" cache. I'm sure it's named for all those people who feel the exhilartion of heading along the highways into the mountains knowing that they are at the start of their big road trip and a holiday's worth of fun!

Next up on the list; the "Spooky" cache! OK, I admit, we were scared...

In this case the Spooky referred to the gnarly old tree (oak maybe) that must have looked a little scary at night as if it was something just coming to life.

This was one of those caches placed in an ironic location; to get to the cache you have to cross the train tracks, with their big NO TRESPASSING signs warning you the the Train Police are hiding around the corner waiting to pounce on unrepentant geocachers who break the law to get to a cache.

ABOVE: On the way to Spooky cache

Well, that didn't happen of course; what did happen is that we found a neat little trail through the narrow strip of forest sandwiched between the train tracks and the Fraser River. Only cachers and all the local fisher folks know of this place.

ABOVE: At the sight of the Spooky cache

The ironic part? Oh yeah, when we found the cache area there was a cairn and a dedication plaque stating that this strip of land was donated to the provincial government by Mr. Francis Barber in 1978. I really liked the idea of preserving this strip of land, but do I have to run the gauntlet of the Train Police to enjoy one of my provincial parks?

Kudos to Mr. Barber for his donation and the province for saving the land, but how do I get to it legally? Oh well, I guess they're still working on that one...............................

ABOVE: At the sight of I Walk The Line cache

#8 cache "Walk The Line" seemed to put us in the land of Bubbas; a small community of worn houses with numerous "things" in the front yard, like old cars, washing machines and other good luck items fit right in to the location of the cache.

ABOVE: Might need to up the terrain rating at this cache; at least for Chevys!

The cache is located along a power right of way which the locals have deemed their own play area. The secondary dirt road from the paved road into the area was in good shape, but the dirt road that ran alongside the power poles had been chewed up, as had the grassy area right in front of the cache location. It was deep enough that an old step side Chevy pick up was sunk up to it's axles in the mud; the smashed in front end and the broken windows means it's probably not a daily driver.

This cache took a few minutes but Laara soon got her eagle eyes on the hide, which is always good! Love the finds, HATE the DNFs!

ABOVE: Hunter Creek cache location

The next two caches were close together near the Hunter Creek rest stop; this is a great area during the summer to stop for a rest and walk along side the creek under a forest canopy where it is 10 degrees cooler than the parking lot. One cache was down by the river tucked away in a good hiding spot, and we took more time taking pictures then we did finding the cache. "Hunter Creek" cache was, as it said, right by the river and now in my logs as a smiley.

ABOVE: Granite walls tower above the Too Tired To Drive cache

The other cache just up the road is called "Too Tired to Drive", no doubt named after all those people who pulled over with one eye closed and the other one half way there.

This also was a quick find and sign for us as it was meant to be; Hey, when you're that tired, you don't have a lot of energy to beat the bush looking for a cache! LOL

ABOVE: Husky truck stop in Flood BC

OK, lunch time, Laara is buying and I know just the place a little ways up the road. The big time village of Flood is home to the Husky truck stop complete with a restaurant that hasn't changed much in all the years I've been coming here. I think the same linoleum is still on the floor that's been there all these years. Yep, I'm sure I took that little corner of the lino off over near the wall as I tripped in my hiking boots one year coming back from the Ashcroft Rodeo.

This restaurant, just like it's counter part 10 miles north of Hope on Hwy #1, serves real man size meals as it caters to truckers, loggers and their large appetites. They even have two huge burgers named after tractor rigs; you could order the "Kenworth" if that was your truck, or you could vote for a "Mac" rig if you liked it better. Your basic Ford vs Chevy game only with bigger Tonka toys!

We had a good meal and chatted over cups of coffee as we enjoyed the day's outing, and before we knew it we had spent too much time chatting away.

ABOVE: Hope Airport has a grass landing strip

Back on the road were we, and just down the road was the "Grass Strip" cache. At the time both of us were thinking that this was a grass strip along a rural road. Instead, it was the Hope Airport which has a grass runway, not at all like the paved runways we were use to seeing.

Laara had the micro cache in her hand lickety split, and a scant few minutes later we were back in the Jeep exploring the village of Flood.

ABOVE: Silver Hope Creek

"Silver Hope Creek Cache" was located right next to it's name sake mountain creek. This is a big creek, too small to be called a river and too big to be called a crick, it's somewhere in between. .

A short walk from the Jeep led us to a regular size cache tucked away in some rocks just waiting for the next set of cachers, and that was us!

Silver Creek drains Silver Lake which is 12K south of Flood set in a wonderful mountain valley; basic camping is available at Silver Lake Provincial Park with space for 25 vehicles/tents.

I have been there several times and I am always amazed how beautiful and rugged the land scape is just an hour or so drive out of the big city of Vancouver.

ABOVE: Mile marker 97

OK, time to set our mileage and head for the "Mile Marker 97" cache which is exactly that, 97 miles from Vancouver. Back in the 30s when the Fraser Valley was being opened up as new roadways were being built, people needed to know how far they were from Vancouver and how much further they had to go. In 1931 cement markers painted bright yellow were made ready for deployment.

Beginning at the large main Canada post office in down town Vancouver, a cairn, with the mile number enscribed in large numbers, was placed every mile as you headed east from downtown. The route followed Kingsway east, crossed the Fraser River and continued along the Fraser Highway, which at the time was the main highway east out of the Lower Mainland. Most of these have disappeared over the years, but luckily a few survive in Abbotsford and Aldergrove, and another cacher named Gearhedd has made micro caches at these ones. Plus, cacher IRLPGUY has found mile marker 60 and placed a cache there as well. I recently read on that cache page that IRLPGUY had to resort to strong arming a local citizen who decided that the mile marker would look better in his yard then in it's appointed place. Kudos to the neighbour who spotted the theft and way to go IRLPGUY for stepping up and making the thief put the marker back.

It was a real treat to find this cache as a continuation of the series, how ever out of place it looked in it's current setting. The cairn is on a boulevard next to some ones house in the middle if a small residential area; I would imagine at one time the main road came right through here and you could see that you were 97 miles from the Vancouver post office as you drove past the cairn.

ABOVE: Hope you're not claustrophobic

"Wheels of Steel" was a cache located between Silver Creek, the freeway, the train trucks and a gas right of way with no apparent entry point. How the heck do we get in there? A bit of driving and circling the object of our desire brought us to an underpass that leads off a residential street and under the four lanes of the freeway. Ahhhh, that's how you get there....a short walk and a quick find along the banks of the river meant it took 4 times as long to find the entry point then to find the cache, but find it we did.

ABOVE: Bike jump and ramp

Okay, number 15 on the list, where is it? Well now, another cache that gave me a flash back from the past. "Ryan's Restaurant and Hostel" cache commemorates Ryan's Hotel that stood in Hope at the intersection of Hwy #1 and Hwy #3 for so many years. It was a favourite stop for lunch, dinner and coffee for many tired travellers; sad to say it was washed away circa 1995 when a local creek overflowed it's banks on a stormy day.

The cool thing here, besides the trip down memory lane, was that the local mountain bikers have been using the area and there is a wooden board walk leading to a 20 foot drop down a steep ramp that is nearly 90 degrees..........hmmmm.........no thank you!

ABOVE: Park on the Fraser River in Hope

Now we are caching in the town of Hope, and the next cache called "My Town", is located in a small park right downtown on the edge of the Fraser River. The town of Hope is located where the Fraser River makes a large bend as it exits the last remnants of the Fraser Canyon. From here on 100 miles west to the Pacific Ocean, the Fraser River slows and begins to drop it's sediment load creating the fertile Fraser Valley, one of the best growing areas in the world.

One of the better quoted "Ed's facts" is that in places the Fraser Valley consists of sediment over a mile deep; that is, the Fraser River has deposited so much dirt over thousands of years that the actual floor of the valley is one mile below it's present level!

ABOVE: Signboard at depicting the history of the Sto:lo people in the area

They have made a great little park here on the strip of land by the river; not only do they have pointers to the local mountains naming them along with their height, but they have also recently added story boards telling the history of the land, of the First Nations 8,000 years of living in the area, as well as the more modern history of Hope and the Fraser Canyon. The highlight of the park is the cairn with a plaque commemorating the founding of Fort Hope in 1848 as a Hudsons Bay trading post.

Laara found this cache faster than she could sit down, and I spent the time here snapping photos while she spent the time signing the log......ahh, what a team!

ABOVE: Japanese gardens in downtown Hope

The next cache we only got the first waypoint done, as the final cache is 20k out of town and we were running out of daylight, so we decided to finish this another day. But we did enjoy the visit to the first waypoint located at a Japanese garden. The "Tashme" cache highlights both the good and bad in our recent past; the good part is that the gardens are a gift from local Japanese citizens.The bad part is it also commemorates the internment of Japanese Citizens during WW2. Some of these citizens were interned 20 K east of town at a camp/prison in Sunshine Valley.

We walked around the gardens enjoying the waterfall and the large cement Japanese Lantern while we ate our ice cream from the Dairy Queen, which Laara so generously bought.

Finally when the ice cream was gone, we jumped back in the Jeep and looked for our next destination.

ABOVE: The "H" Tree

"The 'H' Tree" cache was located down a tiny little residential street and it was located at the base of a large tree that started off as two trees, fused together at their base, and then grew apart again about 15 feet in the air. It was really satisfying to see that the city had made the street "split" around the tree and that the tree was protected with a 3 foot high concrete wall so no cars could hit the tree causing it damage.

ABOVE: Sucker Creek

"Sucker Creek", a name for a circus carnival? No, a name of a cache located at a remediated Sucker Creek where the local conservation groups have cleaned up the small creek and created a wide spawning channel for the benefit of the returning Chum and Coho salmon. American Dippers love this little creek as it is a perfect depth for them to dive into and walk under water looking for aquatic morsels and salmon eggs being washed down stream.

Signboards along the good pathway illustrate how the area has been developed to mimic nature's best efforts at caring for the local stream environment. I find boards like this highly informative and wish more areas, when remediated for nature's benefit, had these signs as well for the people's benefit.

ABOVE: Small waterfall at Sucker Creek

We enjoyed this area so much we actually forgot about finding the cache until we reached the end of the pathway at a sandy beach area which signalled Sucker Creek joining the large Coquihalla River.

Oh yeah, the cache! OK, back out on the street we go to a lesser travelled part of the park and find the cache in it's hidey hole. Sign the log, put it back and get moving as the daylight was not long from leaving us.

ABOVE: Boardwalk at Sucker Marsh

Across the street and up another path was a second conservation area, this one called Sucker Marsh. It is also known as Thacker's Marsh, named after the family that owned the adjoining farm. Sadly, the farm is now gone and a housing subdivision is going up instead.

We followed the path as at first it meandered along side another part of the remediated creek, then the forest floor broke open into a wide boggy marsh suitable for song birds, diving ducks, beaver, and spawning salmon.

ABOVE: Beaver felled tree at Sucker Marsh

And plenty of beaver evidence did we see, both alongside the trail as it paralled the marsh's edge and it the marsh itself. Where the land was lower and the trail closer to the marsh, large and small trees have been recently chewed down by beavers. Two large beaver lodges show signs of recent repairs, and two other lodges look useable and are probably safety zones if the active lodges are disturbed by bears or coyotes.

Well, after a wonderful 1K walk along the marsh we arrived at the scene of the cache but no cache could we find. We looked in the logs and noticed that it had not been found since November 2007, five months ago. After 30 minutes of looking we gave up as the dark was coming on and we wanted to have a go at a few more caches.

"Let's Have a Picnic" was on the shore of Kawkawa Lake in the picnic area. Normally every body and their mother would be watching you as you routed around in the trees at the edge of the grassy area, but not today. The park was empty this late in the day, a perfect time to look; except we couldn't find it! This was another cache that had not been found since November of 2007, so whether the cache was gone or just well hidden we didn't find out, as we looked for just a few minutes in the dark before we called it quits and went on to hit two last caches.

"It's Just a Tree" was a micro cache hidden on/near a tree that looked to be about 5 trees in one, quite the sight to see. This cache was located right on the bank of the Fraser River at the north side of town, a section I had not been to before. The trees here seemed to be old growth redwoods, but I could easily be corrected on that. After checking several other good looking trees with our mighty-moe flashlights, we found the magic container that made us smile.

A quick sign, return of the cache and a last dash north out of town to a freebee cache. I call it that as it is a quick and easy micro located a couple of K out of town at a lovely rest stop called Lake-of-the-Woods. This is one of the busiest rest stops during the summer months for the traffic that tours the historic Fraser Canyon. How ever, in the dark on a short winter night it was evident that the cleaning crews have not been by for some time...sigh. Such a lovely place looking like a poor city street....The name of the cache, "Best Rest Stop", did not live up to it's name tonight.

OK, it's now just after 7.30 PM, we've been on the road for 12 hours. Time for a pit stop and a drink at a local eat-um-up-and-go place, then make the cannon ball run back into the bright lights of the big city on the coast.

We had a blast caching through out the day, and I had a blast visiting a lot of the places I have known for many years and always enjoy coming back to.

Thanks to the cachers in the Hope area who have put out the caches that we so happily found; hopefully we can return to finish the multis not done and find the caches we couldn't find.

Eddie signing off!! ...............................