Thursday, April 22, 2010

Abbotsford Geocaching with The Jeep Brothers

Had a great day of geocaching in Abbotsford with brothers Alan and Ken, AKA Bowser98 and MrTJ. Yes, that's right, if you didn't know by now, we are three brothers who have or have had Jeeps during our geocaching lives. We are alternatively called the "TJ brothers", as TJ is in Ken's and my caching names. Bowser98 now has a Jeep Liberty, so he's now in the club!  :)

Video can be found at the end of the post

The weather was good on this day, which we were so happy for, as our last few excursions had seen us get absolutely soaked, several times in the same day - not fun! So with out a word of a lie, we were pretty darn happy to see the sun.

We started off where we left off on our last visit to Abbotsford, and that was pretty well right across the street from where we parked before. Our first cache was called "Yo Mamma", a pre-made cache that Micra Man won at a local geocaching event; the cache was complete, ready to go. Even had the cache name was attached - Yo Mamma! As the cache owner readily admits, a low effort cache to put out, just needed a place to hide it. The place he chose was the western arm of Clearbrook Park.

Clearbrook Park is a large park that has a little of everything; the western edge borders a large ravine area with the southern part consisting of open grass areas and softball fields. The heart of the park is the large ravine area, with numerous trails that gives one a good loop walk through the park. The main trail skirts the park's northern edge and leads past an active beaver pond, complete with the requesite partially chewed trees. Several caches are hidden in the forested area of the park, allowing the cacher to pick up 4-5 caches with a good walk thrown into the mix.

This write up could have been titled "Park to Park", as many of today's caches were found in well tended urban forest parks. The types of parks varied; we were in small parks with small trails, narrow linear parks along side of a hill, and parks with large lakes in the middle. All were well thought out and a pleasure to explore, a testament to the foresight of the Abbotsford Parks Department.

Some of the caches we did today were part of a series called "Mother Goose"; they were based on the various chracters like Little Miss Muffet and Jack and Jill. Like other series, you had to visit the caches and collect the clues before you could find the final cache. We got some clues today, and had done some of the Mother Goose series previously, but still have nore to find, so we are still working towards the final cache.

We did a cache called "PBC", which I still don't understand what the abbreviation means, but it was one of those caches where you opened a large ammo can to find 100 or so pill containers, all of them camo taped making it impossible to see inside; one of them holds the log have to search through a whole wack of them before you find it....not difficult, just designed to be a bit of a PITA in a joking sort of way. This cache also marked Bowser98's 1,000th cache........YAY BOWSER98 !!!!!!!

One of the well known parks in Abbotsford is Fish Trap Creek Park. This is a linear park that is divided into several parts as the park follows the Fish Trap Creek watercourse; the park is large enough that several caches are placed in various sections, and it seems every time I visit Abbotsford there is a new cache in the park. The main section of the park has baseball diamonds which are well used by the local teams; it also has a large lake that is just the right size for a good stroll around it's perimeter. In fact, there have been several multi caches that take you on that very stroll collecting clues before you are rewarded with the location of the actual cache.
The stroll allows you to see the ducks and Canada Geese that inhabit the pond, as well as the thrushes and Red Wing Blackbirds that love the marsh area, just to name a few of the feathered friends you'll find there.

We had a few more urban caches mixed into the pile; some on street corners on lamp posts, some at tiny parks designed to show off the civic pride in the city. In the midst of all this was a puzzle cache called "I, Jedi". To decode this cache's secret co-ordinates, you had to first know the Jedi code, then you could find the hidden co-ordinates in the code. Wasn't too hard to figure out, the reason I mention the cache is that it was in a typical urban ravine park that was under used, therefore a little "wilder" than most city parks.

This park trail started off going down a bit of an embankment where you had to jump across a small creek, or at least be dainty enough to step around the muddy areas to tip toe across the creek. Well, MrTJ was dainty and managed to tip toe across the creek - that is after he watched me try jumping from a slippery log across the creek onto the small creek embankment. Of course, I didn't make it - but I was smart enough to roll the camera figuring I'd have some action footage, be it good or bad. It was bad, I crashed to earth - good part was the feet stayed dry, and the video camera was saved. Only casualties were my dirty knees and my pride.

Back up the other side of the ravine, up a small hill we went, along a worn out path to find the magic cache, the secret of the Jedi! The signal was a bit tough amongst the trees and down in the hollow, and the clue fit a few objects. But 10 minutes of looking brought the hidden treasure into our hands. We were just heading back when Bowser98 rejoined us; he had left to go pick up Bowser98 Junior who had bused out to meet up with us. We stopped and waited for Team Bowser to find us in the forest, and then waited while they found the cache. The players all back together now, we continued on with our day of caching.

Another urban park we enjoyed was "Ravine Park", where we found two caches. The park itself is a small park, about 4 city blocks in size, but it too is in a shallow ravine. The neat thing about this park is its raised board walks above the marsh and small waterways. This allowed us to meander through the marsh with out getting our feet wet, plus it allowed us to get close up and personal with the blooming Skunk Cabbage. A pretty shade of yellow to be sure, just not fond of it's aroma.

Ravine Park is also home to a salmon enhancement project, as the slow moving creek and marsh make for a perfect rearing area. Neat to see the city take an active interest in raising salmon in the city and helping the species survive.

The next batch of caches we found were at Mill Lake, a large lake in the heart of Abbotsford. The lake is surrounded by easy walking paths, with park areas on the north and south sides. The caches we were after today were all on the south side, and being a sunny, warm day, this was where the majority of people were concentrated. Just to point this out, one of the caches had a family playing about 50 feet away from the wide open cache hide. Team Bowser stealthly found the cache while MrTJ and myself kept the citizens busy playing fetch with their dog, complete with running commentary to them. Ahh, teamwork - gotta like it!

With the 4 caches done at Mill Lake, we moved on into the downtown area of Abbotsford. Here, on one of the local large art projects, there was a nano cache hidden. This art project was a human size goose driving a minature delivery truck; the name painted on the door made mention of one of the long time merchants in the area. There are 5 of these art projects with a block or two of each other, they are really well done and defintely lend to beautifying the downtown core. They are part of a multi cache even; you have to visit each one, get numbers off them, then add the numbers together and off you go to the final. I enjoyed doing that multi as it pointed out these pieces of art I had driven by numerous times with out even noticing!

And that's one of the beauties of geocaching; pointing out great things that had escaped your attention!

We just had time for a couple more urban caches before Team Bowser98 had to leave and head home; the sun was on it's way down and MrTJ and I decided to pick up 3 or 4 more quick ones before we called it quits as well. Caching done for the day, we turned off the GPS', took our jackets off and had a relaxing drive homewards. I ended up with 33 caches in the bucket, MrTJ had a few less as he had previously found some, and Team Bowser98 had a few less as they left before we quit. Still, no one was complaining, 3 brothers and a nephew had a fun day of geocaching and seeing some beautiful areas of Abbotsford!         
A special thanks to all the cache owners of the caches we found today - "Thanks"!!