Philatsea's 2009 Trip to The Western USA -
Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California

 

I left Langley and headed south through Washington State and then to Portland where I stopped and did the first geocache ever to be placed. I should say from the start this was a solo trip meaning just myself and that is it. While the original cache is no longer there, there is a Plaque in its place. In order to get credit for the Plaque one has to find a replacement cache "nearby". I ran into 3 other cachers from California at this location. Great meeting Zuchermn and crew.

Original Plaque

Plaque with my GPS at the original location.

From this location I decided to head east because of the snow in northern California. I spent overnight in the Dalles Oregon.

 

I woke and proceeded east into Idaho where I went to do my first cache for the day at a rest stop. I had the location but couldn't find the cache. I suspect that they put it inside the electrical box in the rest area but I do not stick fingers into said places. Those are my rules not theirs. I also don't stick hands into holes where rattle snakes or other said critters hide. I know a fellow cacher who did just that and got bit by a rattle snake last summer on his arm.

I did manage 3 caches in Idaho. The last at night just prior to the Utah border. This was an Earthcache.

The big problem was I somehow missed the turn into Twin Falls and before long I found my error I was 40 miles down the highway. Next stop Bingham Utah.

I stayed in Bingham Utah for the night and while it was snowing off and on it was suppose to get worse overnight.

I had planned t do several caches in Utah but those plans headed south real quick when I woke in the morning to find 3 inches of snow on my car. I got out real quick only to get on the highway and within minutes the traffic was very slow do to a flipped semi that was carrying hamburger that spilled onto the highway northbound.

I head south and soon broke out of the snow.

no longer snowing

 

I then continued south to ST. Georges Utah where I had planned to stop for gas and do some caches. While the weather was much warmer and shorts weather for some it was not time to switch for me. The first cache I was to do was in a location where I needed a 'tool" to get it. I figured out that tool and I would have to buy that tool in order to get the cache. Since the cache says come on in and browse, I figured they had placed the cache and they had a BIG bin of these tools needed to get the cache. Nope not buying a tool so I can get your cache. The next one was in a location that I could just not find. I was off to the next which was hidden in some rocks at a local restaurant. The problem was it was at the In and Out Burger location and I arrived at 12:30 in time for the lunch crowd. If you have ever been to one of these locations then you know how busy they are. Nope not this time. I missed the exit for my last chance to get one in Utah because of GPS issues.

I then proceeded south and entered into Arizona, all be it for a short time.

Just after entering Arizona

 

The next stop was Las Vegas where I had arranged to stay at the Excalibur. This was more done on room price at $39.00 a night.
When I arrived I was offered an upgraded room with wide screen TV in Tower II for $20 more for the stay. I said sure.

upgraded room
Much better than the Motel 6 the night before at the same $39.00.
Also was on the 27th floor. Motel 6 I was on the second..

27th Floor view
There is the New York New York across the street complete with the Empire State Building and Lady Liberty herself. Oh yes the Chrysler Building is there too.

After checking in and showering I headed out for a walk of the strip with GPS in tow for a few Virtual caches. Virtual caches require you to take a photo of you and the object most of the time. My first stop was MGM where I had to take a photo of myself and the belly of the beast.

the beast
The Beast

 

Me and the beast

Me and the Beast. My first cache in Las Vegas!

The second required a photo of the M&M Store.

I like the red ones ......
I like the Red ones.

From there I headed down to the Bellagio where I had to see Lake Vegas and take a photo. I did a video instead.

I did a few more caches and ended up down at the Treasure Island Casino/Hotel for my last cache.
I returned back and found I had walked over 10KM's (6 miles) for the night. No wonder I was sore with all that driving then walking.

It is now Wednesday so I must be off to rest and take it easy. Just a few caches today like the founder of the Flamingo Hotel.
I tried to find tickets for Cirques performance of KA tonight but it was sold out. I found out the next morning that it was sold out due to it was the 2000th performance of KA and there was Brad Pitt attending the performance as well.

It is now Thursday February 19th and I am off to Jean Nevada to do the "Well Series" of caches (GC17K6M is the start) and others in the area.
I left and it was just above freezing and when i arrived in jean it was now about 5C or 40F. Those first few caches were cold.
I arrived at one that should have been easy because it was suppose to be in a stove. It was a magnetic tin. I opened that oven to find the oven full of a rats nest. Okay we don't need to go farther in there. I then looked in the top and around back and nothing. I checked the area to see if someone had found it (muggle - one who is not suppose to find a cache) and discarded it. No luck. I am off to the next one. In fact I am doing really well (no pun intended) and come to the end where I am required to walk about 3 km's in the dessert. Oh did I mention it had warmed up slightly but now the wind was blowing and picking up sand. My lips are now chapped and my face feels pitted.

 car at start of Well Series.
I am at the start of the Well road.

not much out here.
Not much out here...

a typical cache site
There is a cache in there somewhere. Yucca leaves are sharp, trust me on this.

there is my car!!!!!
My car comes back into view from a cache I left two trackables ( a trackable is an object or tag or coin that has a serial number on it that you can track on the internet and is placed by fellow caches or found and then taken and logged and then placed in another cache) at. I was the only one out here.

I then head out the "old" Las Vegas Road to do a few more.

old Las Vegas Road
Not many people travel this road today. Note the "new" highway of the left in the distance.

I did many caches along this road today and there is no need to pull off and park. No one else out here on this part.

I get to the end of the road and go through a tunnel and up this gravel road to do a few caches. Okay maybe this isn't a good idea. First off I am driving a car not a 4 wheel drive. My clearance is a bit low. I found my first cache on this road and it is totally smashed. I knew this when I left this morning and brought another small cache along to replace it and do the repair. The problem was my new cache was to small. Oh well I signed the log and left it.

the gravel road
I am a long way away from help.

I still have a few caches to do this road but it is getting worse as I head up it. I have now bottomed out several times and my next cache is called "Did this fall of your Jeep" ( GC13P58 ) Getting out of my car and looking at it I said you could be very well right on this on this road. There was a complete exhaust assembly lying there. I took that to mean time to head back forget the next ones. This isn't the place to break down and need help.

I head out north on the old Las Vegas road and there is more traffic out here. I have to make sure I pull off and park.
I do several caches along this road and then head out to possibly do some Earthcaches (caches where one has to answer questions on something about the earth and that location) on the lake bed. I stop at this first cache on the dirt road and do it and notice a couple out in the distance taking photos of themselves with a Joshua Tree. I do the cache and then head off. I head off towards the dry lake bed to see I am going to do those. I pass the couple and they appear to be tourists'. The couple waves and I wave back. I cross under the tunnel under the railroad tracks and head off. I arrive at my next cache which requires a stop on the road and a hike up the hill to the cache. There is a great view from here of the dessert. You can see the lake bed on the far right.
I climb back down the hill and drive a little further down the road and notice anti freeze and oil on the road. Hmm  the road is getting a bit rough. Like I said no need to take chances here, I turn around and head back.
I come upon the tunnel again and cross under it and look to my left where I see the "couple" in a very compromising position if you know what I mean. Yes, lets say I didn't stop and offer any help, I am sure he had it well in hand. One has to remember that caches can be any where and turn up when you least expect them to. This was likely one of those cases.

I am off and do a few more caches before I decide to call it a day. I had several more along another "gravel" road I could do but I have been wind blown and pitted long enough. I had 37 or 38 caches for the day and this was anew personnel best for me.

I arrive back in Las Vegas and get onto my room where I shower and change. I head off to Tickets 4 less to see what I show ticket I can get tonight. I decide on Cirques Zumanity at New York New York. This was mostly because it was across the street and I didn't have to walk far. I also decided to have dinner before the show at Gallagher's Steakhouse in the New York New York. I started with the Fish cakes and then had the Cowboy Steak along with the Baked Potato. There was red wine with dinner as well. Great meal and well worth it after a day like today.
I was off to the show next and soon was inside the theatre. I have been to many Cirque shows before and this one is said to be "different" than the others. It shows the seductive side of Cirque. Lets say it starts off with a Drag Queen and her court and discuses sex in detail. There is a lot of audience participation in this show. So if you go be prepared for just about anything. I enjoyed this show very much and would go again just because there is so much going on during the show. I know I missed lots.

So it is Friday February 20th and time to head south to Phoenix.

I did some poor planning for this part of the trip and didn't look at the map like I should have. I knew it was going to be a 5 hour drive along with a 1 hour time change. I left Las Vegas at about 11:30AM and did one more cache on my way out. I had planned to stop for gas in Henderson which I did. What I had not planned on or known was I would have to cross the Hoover Dam. I did not know the highway crosses the dam. This is why my poor planning. One has to go through a security check prior to crossing the dam and this slows things down. Crossing the dam is great but very very slow. People all over the place. They are currently building a new bridge and highway to bypass the driving over the dam.

Once I crossed the dam I was in Arizona.

Arizona

 

I noticed as I drove that going off road could really hurt if one was ejected from your car here.

that could hurt
Cactus along the highway..

look at them
More Cactus on the hills.

Today Saturday February 21 is a rest day for me a bit getting prepared for caching tomorrow. I have found a deal where I am staying at the Marriott Residence Inn in Phoenix for $50 a night. This is a complete apartment with kitchen etc. The weather today is suppose to get to about 25C or 78F. I am planning on sitting by the pool later and enjoying the hot tub.

bed
The bed in the Marriott

kitchen
Kitchen with stove around the corner.

Well today is Sunday February 22 and I am headed off to do the Parkway caches. There is about 90 of them but I don't expect to get them all.
I hear it takes about 7 hours to do with 2 people. I started about 9:00 AM and finished just before 5:00 PM with a brief lunch stop. I met 2 other cachers from California as well.

The Parkway
This is the Parkway and not many cars on it. The main thing on it is pick-up trucks towing trailers with ATV's on it.

Cache Cactus
This is a cache Cactus. Yes there was a mico in it and yes the thorns hurt.

One of many caches I came across.

One of the many caches I cam across.

mmnay of the bushes you have to miss.

Yes those thorns hurt! I found the hard way.

view
View from one of the caches.

another view
Another view.

watch where you step.
Watch where you step too.

another cache....
Yes another cactus Cache.

I have to say they really have some different practices down here. Drilling holes into trees appears common for some cachers. Having you jump barb wire fences is another. Sorry only did that twice and thought better of it after that. I had a Lizard jump out at me as I reached for a cache (the lizard was real). Moved a rock and had a Alligator looking at me (Ok it was the cache). I have to say my arms look like I was giving blood all day. I have never seen so many micros. The Parkway series took about 8 hours to do with a brief lunch stop. I did a total of 238 KM's as well including 66 caches for the day. This is more than I have ever done before in a day (18).

Well today is Wednesday February 25th and it is time to move west to Palm Springs. When I travel I often use www.priceline.com to book my hotels. This was no different. I was given the Indian Wells Resort at $47 a night.

It is tough to leave behind my Residence Inn in Phoenix. I had two days off lying by the pool.

Pool

On the way west I have plotted out to return to an area of caches I wanted to do last April when I started caching. This area is off a road called Box Canyon Road. Last year I did some caches up Box canyon that included Painted Canyon Trail. That has become my favorite trail of all time and caching location. I will go back and finish the trip at some point. I left many caches behind.

Before I can cache I have to stop at a California Border Inspection station for Fruit.

Fruit Inspection

Now the first stop in California was a Virtual cache. I pulled into the cache area and park and look out of my car and see this.

Rattlesnake reminder
Just what we don't see back in BC everyday. Well I only know of one cacher in BC so far to be bitten by a Rattle Snake.

General Patton
The General Patton Museum home of the Virtual cache. The really weird part of this cache was I watched the movie Patton two days ago back in Phoenix.

tank
one of many tanks at the Museum.

Road


This is the road off of Box Canyon that I was caching on. I only passed one car on this road and it was because I forgot a cache and had to go back for it. I ran into another cacher from California as a result. Not much chance of getting muggled here.

cache
Didn't know frogs lived in the Desert?

Lifesaver
Then I found a Lifesaver.

After the caching I continued to my Hotel and this is what I can expect.
The total for today was 22 caches. This also caused me to go over 400 caches today as well. I also have done a 100+ caches in 4 days. I had planned to get a few more but for some reason my GPS hated the address of the hotel I was staying at. I learned that in Palm Springs they display numbers like this 75-661 and GPS units hate them. There is no way to add the - and when you put the number in without the - it comes up not found.

Looks rough
Gee this looks rough......

even rougher....
Yes it is a bathroom.

I hear it is snowing back home. Tomorrow I will post photos of the Golf course and pool connected to this place. I have a hike planned along the Boo Hoff Trail.

I had a good breakfast and took lots of water with me. I arrived at the trail head to find 2 cars from BC and 1 truck from the Yukon.
I didn't see anyone else on the trail while I was gone. I left at 9:30Am and arrived at the top at about 11:45 AM where I relaxed and lied on some rocks in the sun. Time to get to the bottom was 50 minutes, much shorter than the trip up. In total on the trail I did 18 caches. This is more of how I like to cache. Find a trail with caches on it and start hiking.

start of the trail at the 2nd cache
While the signs say no motorized vehicles' it appears no one pays any attention to that.

second cache
Someone was funny at this cache, they moved the black tin can to about 12-15 feet above ground that is suppose to be on the cache at the 5 foot level. If you look at the top middle you can see the lid of the can.

Poky Mon
This cache was called Poky Mon and for good reason, more cactus....

end of trail
If we continue we enter wilderness. There is a sign to the left of this picture that says take water. I thought this is a fine to tell me this, I am about 2 KM up the trail.

View from the top
This is the view looking up at the end of the trail at the last cache.

looking down from the top
This was looking back down the trail from the last cache. Indio is in the distance and the Salton Sea on the right side in the distance.

micro bus
Someone arrived via micro bus but didn't go home in it. This was at the top.

Pool
It is rough after a hard day caching but this is what I got to come back to.

What I did learn this time is don't believe the maps on www.geocaching.com  Just look at some of the caches around Palm Springs and you will see roads etc. then look at the satellite view, see any roads? The same thing happens with the GPS as it shows roads that may be there at some point and time but there is no road. Very tough trying to get somewhere to cache. I took this photo half up looking up the valley towards the top. The hike today was about 4.5 KM round trip and about 3:50 min. It was not as scenic as some other hikes I have done here but none the less I have now completed it.
Tomorrow I head for the coast and San Diego. I am going to try and cache along the way.
Some ask why I like to cache here. It is funny but I did my very first cache here. I didn't do it back in BC. I am told that could be a record for one's very first cache. I like the variety of hikes and the weather at this time of year. We just don't have anything like this in BC that I have found.

There has been a long time cache that I have been trying to do in San Diego for the last year now. I have made a total of 3 attempts at this cache and given up all 3 times, why because it is right beside the cruise ship terminal. As I left I stopped and two ships were in port today one being Holland America Line's Oosterdam (sailed on her in November) and Celebrity cruise Line's Mercury (sailed on her 2 years ago). There are hundreds of people milling around and the cache is in the bank of payphones outside the pier area. Crew live on these phones when a ship docks. I wanted this cache because she has had a Travel Bug I have long wanted to see in it of a Japanese cruise ship. Today would be no different, still don't have this cache and now I see the TB is gone.

I drove north and stopped in Medford Oregon for the night. In the morning I knocked off a few caches before hitting the road again for the final leg home.

Conclusion

This was a great trip. I had a lot of fun despite being alone. I had the crap scared out of me when a Lizard jumped out from a cache in the middle of no where in Jean, Nevada on the Well series. I didn't see any snakes but didn't expect to either. Saw no spiders and was warned but other cachers and locals to watch for them.
Travelling alone presents it's own challenges. I am allergic to Bee stings. I carry several Benadryl tablets with me in case I get stung. This is so I can take them then get to the hospital. In many cases the hospital is a very long way away. I returned home and plan on seeing my Doctor for a EpiPen.
I also carry a well stocked First Aid kit in the car. On my person in this case I carried a rubber band to act as a tourniquet in case I got bit by a snake. I also carry a small first aid kit in my back pack.
Now trying to do 66 caches in one day is hard. I use a Garmin Vista HCX GPS along with a Palm Pilot 22 to keep track of caches. This becomes a chore of going back and forth between devices to look at clues then log them. I have a friend who has a Oregon 300 who has the clues and caches on it and can also log them as he finds them. Much easier to do when you are alone. I also noticed that when doing this many caches you can only allow 5 minutes to find the cache and then move on. You will never get all the caches logged that you plan on it you spend time looking.

Visit local caching sites to get an idea of what to expect in the area you are going to cache.

I also sent emails to a couple of people on my caching plan for the day and when I should be home. When I returned back to the hotel I emailed them and advised them I returned. This was just in case anything happened because I was alone.

I left a few trails behind in the Palm Springs area that I had wanted to do when iw as there but due to a screw up on my part I was unable to do them. This means they will be there the next time I am in that area.

Thanks for reading Philatsea

email me at cruiseguy at shaw dot ca with any comments or questions.