Jordan

13 11 2014

My partner and I wanted an autumn break but the tourist season in Greece, which was our original goal, was over so the choice fell on Jordan and what attracted us there was the forgotten city of Petra, a visit to the Dead Sea and the fact that sun and 28-30C was forecast for the whole week.

Our hotel was located directly across the road from the ancient city ruins of Ayla where there was an earthcache Earthquake evidence at ancient Ayla and a traditional cache Tunisian Springs Park #1 which we DNF’d. Apart from that there were just two more traditional caches in the city and even after several visits we had to DNF those as well. A few days later a cacher who shall remain nameless has placed caches close-by (up to 100m away) and called them replacements. As it wasn’t done with the knowledge of the CO and the listing co-ords still point to the original cache it is a behaviour that is questionable. In it’s extension a cacher can just drop a micro somewhere and claim it’s a replacement cache and not even bother looking for the original. Some call it creative, some call it cheating.

I am not enthralled by urban micro’s anyway so it doesn’t matter that I DNF’d them. I find earthcaches much more interesting and educational. The first earthcache at the ancient site of Ayla taught me both about types of earthquake damage but also about the history of the site itself.

Sign showing the layout of the old city

Sign showing the layout of the old city

ds8300 in the centre of the ancient Ayla city

ds8300 in the centre of the ancient Ayla city

You can see that everything leans this way and that

You can see that everything leans this way and that

Earthquake damage on the old wall

Earthquake damage on the old wall

Remains of column in the old city

Remains of column in the old city

Two days after our arrival we took the tour to Petra. Some people prefer to do this on their own by renting a taxi but I am not convinced it is a cheaper solution in addition to the ride an entry ticket has to be bought at the entrance on arrival and is much more expensive than a ticket supplied through the travel agent. We paid 50JOD (about 55 EUR/70USD) whereas a ticket on the gate cost 90 JOD (100EUR/125USD).

The site is fascinating and well worth the visit. The construction of waterways as well as the tombs themself was quite amazing. Some of the stonework is really artistic in its execution. Some of the details on carvings have been eroded over hundreds of years of flying sand but non-the-less they are still of a very high class.

Mountains surrounding Petra

Mountains surrounding Petra

Start of the walk into Petra

Start of the walk into Petra

Walking into the ravine which is wide and shallow at this point

Walking into the ravine which is wide and shallow at this point

The ravine tightens up as we get closer to Petra

The ravine tightens up as we get closer to Petra

The Treasury just coming into sight at the end of the ravine

The Treasury just coming into sight at the end of the ravine

Coming out of the ravine and seeing the whole of the treasury is quite amazing

Coming out of the ravine and seeing the whole of the treasury is quite amazing

Even after all these years the detail in the stonework is still there

Even after all these years the detail in the stonework is still there

Locals shot at the urn believing it held treasure.

Locals shot at the urn believing it held treasure.

ds8300 in front of the Treasury

ds8300 in front of the Treasury

Map of the Petra area

Map of the Petra area

Camel rides for the tourists

Camel rides for the tourists

Simpler grave chambers on the western side of the valley

Simpler grave chambers on the western side of the valley

Impressive carving work

Impressive carving work

Can you see the small red square? That's the local inhabitant on the next photo.

Can you see the small red square? That’s the local inhabitant on the next photo.

One of the local inhabitants

One of the local inhabitants

One of the many graves hewn into the cliffs

One of the many graves hewn into the cliffs

Another of the many graves

Another of the many graves

There are three traditional caches and an earthcache at Petra. Unfortunately, the trads are a climb out of the tourist area and need a couple of extra hours to get to. As we were in a tourist group it wasn’t possible to stray away for that long so I had to be satisfied with the earthcache. The earthcache questions were easier to answer for Petra Al Khazneh than the ones in Aqaba and the whole site was worth it’s place on the UNESCO World Heritage Site listing (Number 326).





Billudden

20 10 2014

Again my geocaching activities have gone down to a low level. I have been full of cold for ages and hardly had energy enough to keep working. When I get home from work, all I want to do is sleep. As a consequence this post is delayed. Finally, last weekend I felt up to getting out in the fresh air with the motivator being a new geocaching souvenir for Earthcaching Day 2014. My partner and I packed a rucksack with a picnic and set off on the 20 km or so drive to Billudden, a moraine spit into the sea to the east of Gävle. Just before we got to our parking spot I stopped and grabbed Follow the road, a quick park ‘n’ grab cache.

Signboard at the start of the nature reserve

Signboard at the start of the nature reserve

There weren’t too many people at Rullsand when we arrived but during the time we were on the spit we met quite a few people walking or biking. It was autumn weather and the colours in the forest were mostly darker hues of brown and green with odd highlights of other colours.

They definitely look poisonous

They definitely look poisonous

href=”https://ds8300.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/billuddensvamp1.jpg”>A tree loving toadstool of some kind A tree loving toadstool of some kind[/caption]

Some trees were completely covered in toadstools of some kind

Some trees were completely covered in toadstools of some kind

We made a detour from the main track along Billudden to find A piece of paradise where we also decided that we would eat our picnic. It was in a sheltered spot where even the dragonflies made an appearance, one even landing on my arm long enough for me to take a photo. I’m not sure when I last visited the area but I do know I was here in 2004 & 2005, hunting for the caches that were here at that time. They are now archived.

A dragonfly landed on my arm

A dragonfly landed on my arm

From there we continued on to the main target for the day which was Stentorget på Billudden where we stumbled up and down and across the shingle field making an estimate of it’s size and counting the levels. As well as being able to log an interesting earthcache this also gave me a new souvenir for my collection.

Shingle field on Billudden

Shingle field on Billudden

Earthcaching souvenir

Earthcaching souvenir

That done we continued on to the end of Billudden where we were able to log Billudden and stop for another cup of coffee before starting the walk back to the car. Rather than just drive home we took a detour through Långsand were I was surprised at how many summer cottages and year round houses there were. We stopped to grab Olovsson on our way through Gårdskär and back home to Gävle.





Washknight Interrogations

13 10 2014

The UK geocacher Washknight has sent out a questionaire to geocaching bloggers so I thought I would share the questions and my answers in my blog.

He has been collecting the responses of everyone who has responded and keeping a record on his blog, Washknight – Geocaching Blind. You can view all of the responses here: Washnight Interrogates.

1. When and how did you first get into geocaching?

I had been reading about GPS receivers in early 2003 and concluded that I needed one. The deciding factor for parting with so much cash was the aspect of geocaching. At that time there were just but a handful of caches in my area, but it sounded interesting.

2. Do you remember your first find?

This I remember well. It is still active and was a typical cache for the cacher Piggen – a large spice container. The cache is Gavle-bro just off the E4 motorway as it passes by Gävle, and I found it on 2003-04-13 the day after I received my GPS’r in the mail.

3. What device(s) do you use for locating caches?

My primary device is a Garmin Oregon 450. It’s my fourth Garmin GPS and the original blue eTrex Legend is still operating and is used together with my Kenwood TH-D7 handy for APRS tracking. I also use my iPhone 4S and Nexus 7 depending on the type of caching I am doing.

4. Where do you live and what is your local area like for geocaching? (density / quality / setting etc)

I live in Gävle which is a town of just under 100,000 people on the east coast of Sweden about 200 km north of Stockholm. For geographical reasons there are very few caches in the area to the east :-) and the cache density is reflected by the population density which means it is quite sparse in most directions. However, an hours drive to the south-west brings me to the small town of Hedemora where there are over a thousand caches in the borough. They are keen geocachers! Gävle, which is perhaps three times the size has around 750 caches.

My geocaching home base

My geocaching home base

5. What has been your most memorable geocache to date, and why?

This is a difficult question to answer. I have been fortunate to be able to cache on all the continents of the world so there are those caches that are associated with unusual and breathtaking scenery that get a high rating. Then there are the creative caches that I have found from time to time that have been memorable.

Just less than 50% of my finds are in Sweden where I live.

Just less than 50% of my finds are in Sweden where I live.

I think it has to be The 2 Towers. This was located just north of Luton, UK and although it was archived in 2007 it was the first “Field puzzle” I did and involved ammo cans, electronics, a palm pilot at an exciting location.

In second place I would put Digital Fortress, a puzzle cache that involved crunching a HUGE binary series then hiking up the Port Hills outside Christchurch, New Zealand to find a large safe housing the cache.

6. List 3 essential things you take on a geocaching adventure excluding GPS, pen and swaps.

I never go caching without a torch (flashlight for the American readers). From experience I have learnt to always carry spare batteries for the GPS and finally a sense of adventure.

7. Other than geocaches and their contents, What is the weirdest thing you have discovered whilst out caching?

Weird is probably not the word to use but an underground ammunition factory in the forested wilderness of central Sweden was highly unusual. Bomber & Granater 2. Apparently we only saw half of what there is down there. Both spooky and fascinating at the same time.

8. On a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is I am obsessed by numbers and 10 is I am all about the experience and the quality of each individual cache. Where do you put yourself?

After eleven years of caching I am approaching 5000 finds but have travelled to nearly forty countries to find caches. I like stats and set myself targets all the time. I have completed the dates of the year and the Jasmer challenge so I would probably give myself a four on the scale.

9. Describe one incident that best demonstrates the level of your geocaching obsession.

To find the final month’s cache for the Jasmer Challenge I made a trip from Sweden to Western USA Oakdale – “Firestone” – San Francisco that also included visting the ET Highway and Route 66 even if I didn’t complete the power trails.

10. Have you picked up any caching injuries along the way?

Luckily all I have sustained are minor injuries, usually in the nature of encounters with brambles or nettles. I have tripped over a few times in the forest and got minor cuts and bruises but that is the extent of the damage.

11. What annoys you most about other geocachers?

Not a lot actually. I can’t think of any geocachers that I have met that haven’t been fun to talk to. I did have a cache where I had nearly abusive complaints about safety from one person but my answer was that if that person felt insecure in the situation they should just walk away. It’s just a game. I used to get frustrated by the smartphone kiddies that just logged a cache with a :-). TFTC as a log is hardly any better but I know that there are many reasons for not spending time writing a well formulated log to thank a cache owner for taking the time to place a cache.

12. What is the dumbest thing you have done whilst out caching?

I’m thinking hard but I can’t find anything dumb but I will edit this post when I do.

13. What do your non caching family and friends think of your hobby?

Many years ago when the hobby/sport wasn’t too well known my family and friends thought it was great fun – an adventure. Now it is commonplace and there are caches in every nook and cranny, many of which don’t have an interesting or attractive site then it is frequently suggested that I go caching without them. What I do to encourage the grandchildren to participate is promise a picnic and a hunt for treasure, which these days, I often have to bring with me.

14. What is your default excuse you give to muggles who ask what you are up to or if you need help?

I’m geocaching! Most people seem to have heard of it even if they don’t know the details. Also, here in Sweden we are in a pretty open and safe society where terrorists are uncommon and it’s still OK to poke around in bushes or drainpipes in town.

15. What is your current geocaching goal, if you have one?

For 2014, I listed my goals in this posting. Geocaching-targets-2014. I have already achieved most of them and just need to focus on the puzzle cache owner challenge.

16. Do you have a nemesis cache that despite multiple attempts you have been unable to find?

There is a multi-cache in Lincoln, New Zealand that I have visited three times between 2006 and 2013. On the third visit I found the first waypoint but the second one eluded me. I will try again in January 2015 on my next visit. The Cacher in the Rye (Canterbury)

17. What 3 words or phrases best sum up what geocaching means to you.

Adventure, outdoors and technology.

18. What prompted you to start blogging about geocaching?

Before I started the blog I created a web site in about 2005 www.ds8300.com, which is still running but completely static. I needed a better way to easily update content and the blog at WordPress was my chosen path, with the first post coming in December 2009.

19. Which of your own blog entries are you most proud of.

One adventure that I remember well was an alpine trek across a volcanic area of New Zealand, passing close to the famous Mount Doom of The Lord of the Rings film on the way, the main goal being getting safely across the area. Tongariro Alpine Crossing

20. Which other geocaching blogs do you enjoy reading?

I read many geocaching blogs but there are two that stand out (I don’t count the professional marketing blog from Groundspeak in my list). The first is in Swedish and is Halléns Geocachingäventyr which I have read for many years and the second is a newcomer, Only Googlebot Reads This Blog

Other than that I follow a couple of Podcasts that I find to be valuable. Podcacher and GeoGearHeads





Årsunda

9 09 2014

On Saturday morning we pointed the car in the direction of Söderhamn and the airforce museum on the site of the squadron F15 that was closed in 1998. The reason for the trip was to spend an hour in the Viggen flight simulator. Viggen simulator The experience was a real adrenalin kick, extremely realistic and something I would recommend to anyone interested in planes. As we had commitments to meet relatives and friends in Söderhamn there were no opportunities for geocaching.

Nonetheless, I did a park and grab on the way home at Sörbränning and was able to save the day. What day, you may ask? Just for fun, and as a challenge with my brother I will try to fill in round two of the cache a day challenge. i.e. find a cache on every date in the year. As I have already done that I decided that I should have a go at getting a minimum of two finds per day. As we get closer to winter there are quite a number of dates where I have just one find and in a typical Swedish winter caching can be a challenge.

On Sunday I was busy with rally communications on Sandviken Motorklubb’s rally “Stålsvängen”. It was just a two stage rally close to Årsunda but was quite an adventure from a radio point of view as there were a few technical issues with one of the operators and unfortunately an accident on the stage. It was not too serious but delayed the competition by over an hour. As the event came to a close I idly looked at my GPS and saw that there were three caches close by that I had not noticed before so of course I just had to visit them.

As is usual for Sweden there are road all over the place in the forests, and along some of them are really interesting areas. My short excursion on such a road out of Årsunda was one of those occasions.

All three caches were placed by the same owner InFlejms and were well worth visiting. The first cache was Sågmursgruvan. This is an old iron ore mine with rich deposits of zinc and lead.

Spoil heaps from the Sågmur mine

Spoil heaps from the Sågmur mine

For those of you who are more interested in this mine the following scan has been taken from “De Mellansvenska Järnmalmernas Geologi, av Per Geijer och Nils H. Magnusson. 1944.

Geijer & Magnusson skriver om Sågmyrgruvan

Geijer & Magnusson skriver om Sågmyrgruvan

The second cache was at the entrance to Lisselåsklack nature reserve with the interesting name of Pentagon. I realize why until I got there and even then I wasn’t 100% convinced that it was justified. There was a little open shelter at GZ with a sign saying “Pentagon” so it was clear why the cache had that name. Why the place was called Pentagon was not so clear. The shelter was hexagonal so that can’t have been the reason. I didn’t have time to stop and explore the nature reserve but I will try to get back and bring the family and picnic with me.

Maybe it's local humour to call a hexagonal building "Pentagon"

Maybe it’s local humour to call a hexagonal building “Pentagon”

Lisselåsklakc nature reserve is on a shingle field - remains from the ice age

Lisselåsklakc nature reserve is on a shingle field – remains from the ice age

I suspect that the third cache at Barbergsåsens klapperstensfält was probably the source of the name for the previous cache. Or perhaps there are more artifacts lurking around in the forests that lead to the name Pentagon?

The Barbergsåsen shingle field

The Barbergsåsen shingle field


After finding the third cache I continued on to Trösken then took the main road back through Årsunda towards home.





Time to hide some caches

25 08 2014

The last time I hid a cache was over a year ago but after a visit to England earlier this year where I found a number of very Creative caches I decided that rather than just place a traditional tupperware container somewhere or even worse, another puzzle cache, I would borrow and develop the ideas presented by JJEF.

As a consequence my garage has looked like Santa’s workshop for the past few months and a handful of caches were ready for placement in June. That was when the question arose. Where was I going to place them all? That question remained unanswered until a couple of seemingly unrelated events occured a few weeks ago. Firstly, was the release of the Björsjön series of caches followed on my birthday by a surprise present – a bag full of plastic screw bottle tops. Someone knew that I had bought a bag of PET preforms at the Hedmora event in Norn and needed tops for them. It seems as though there is a wish from my fellow geocachers in the area that a new trail is created in or close to Gävle. :-)

That was what I needed to get out into the nearby Hemlingby leisure area and the start of a mapping and placement exercise. I mapped out where I want to place the caches a couple of weeks ago and have started to place caches in the wild.

The first two caches Hemlingby Trail #11 – Dunk and Hemlingby Trail #12 – Pinball Wizard are now in place and activated. We had one of the grandchildren staying with us and of course he wanted to go out and help me. He’s been caching nearly as long as I have but it does help when they start young – 7 months in his case. When other family members heard about our planned activity they wanted to come along as well.

That meant we were seven people in the woods to hide the two caches. I think that the prospect of having a picnic was just as attractive as hiding the caches.

This is how many people it takes to hide a cache

This is how many people it takes to hide a cache

Of course, even though I had my camera with me I forgot to take photos of both of the caches in their new surroundings so this picture will have to suffice.

The first cache is now in place and has been found

The first cache is now in place and has been found





A mixed fortnight

18 08 2014

The last couple of weeks have been quiet for me in terms of hunting for geocaches despite this being August and still a summer month. I have spent some time in my workshop preparing new geocaches that I will place out in the wild soon. Perhaps the energizer for me to go out hunting was the possibility to gain eight new souvenirs from Groundspeak although at the beginning of the month I had only realized that there were seven available. I missed the fact that International Geocaching day is on 16th August.

Anyway, as the month started I had already solved a couple of mystery caches in Gävle that I then went out and logged – Prickar and IQ-test which gave me the The Puzzler souvenir plus a cool traditional cache The Elevator that gave me The Explorer souvenir. I was able to take a lunch break a few days later and find a letterbox hybrid which was luckily not so far from my office – Åshammar Letterbox Hybrid and gained The Collector souvenir thus giving me half the number of souvenirs that Groundspeak was promoting in August. I think I then realized that it wouldn’t be too hard to find the remaining three, but it wouldn’t be for a few more days.

Luck was on my side as my partner and I were in Hille, just north of Gävle, one day and I “noticed” that there was a nearby multicache. No sooner said than done and Sagas milstolpe was visited and The Sightseer souvenir was gained. That was on 12th August.

Finally on 16th August I got out to hunt for the final two type of cache that qualified me for The Nature Lover souvenir and The Socializer souvenir. Of course, when the sixth souvenir was gained it also unlocked the seventh souvenir – The Achiever. Something that is new for Groundspeak is that they also show you what number you were to gain the final souvenir. I’m not sure I like it, but for some competitive people it will push them to get out and, well, achieve.

My Saturday trip took me to Avesta where I stopped to have a look at an earthcache at Döda Fallen. I have passed by the turn off to the old industrial area of Avesta near the falls many times but never had the time to stop and explore. This time I did and found both Avesta’s old industrial area and also the old town. Unfortunately as I needed to push on to Litet augustievent i Säter” I didn’t have time to stop and explore the area nor hunt for the caches in the area. One cache – Koppardalen Underground is on my “want to do” list but it will have to be in the company of other cachers. The starting point is near here.

Old ironmaking buildings in Koppardalen

Old ironmaking buildings in Koppardalen

So what do the “dead falls” look like? Pretty dead, but it was interesting to read about their formation.

The dead falls in Avesta

The dead falls in Avesta

It’s about 35 km between Avesta and Säter so I arrived at the event not long after it started. There were already a good twenty people there, some known to me and a greater number that were not. As it usual there was a lot of meeting and greeting and a good selection of TB’s and geocoins to look at. Not long before I left, WVBuss, Knatos and others turned up having been to the Geocoin och TB-fest in Haga Park Stockholm. With them they had a pile of geocoins for us to log. Nice.

The six souvenirs

The six souvenirs

The bonus souvenir

The bonus souvenir

It was only after logging the caches and the trackables that I realized that it was International Geocaching Day and I gained the eighth souvenir. Great!

International Geocaching Day 2014

International Geocaching Day 2014





Souvenir collecting

5 08 2014

It’s always nice to get souvenirs for geocaching and I am quite happy getting them for finding caches in new countries or on special occasions. I wasn’t too happy about last years attempt by Groundspeak to force me to find a cache every day of august to collect what turned out to be rather mediocre little bits of digital art. As a consequence I was a little jaded when a new series was announced for this August.

I had just solved and found a couple of mystery caches so I had a look at the souvenir and thought it looked quite good. I was also able to find a a traditional cache and a letterbox hybrid thus meeting the requirements for three of the seven possible souvenirs.

Three of the seven available souvenirs

Three of the seven available souvenirs

Now, I can see that I will have to attend a couple of events in August and find one of the rather few multis in the area so that I can complete the set.








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