Cache maintenance / again

11 06 2018

It’s raining today! The first time in weeks, so what better opportunity is there to catch up on my blog? The geocaching reviewer has been chasing me to either carry out some maintenance on a few my caches or archive them.

One of them (GCGQCR Söderåsen) was 50 km to the west of us at the top of a hill that, when it was placed in August 2003, had a view to the coast. Since then the trees have grown and there is no view. There are no other caches nearby so the number of visits is minimal – 81 finds in 15 years. The decision was easy – archive it.

The other cache that was 50 km away, this time to the south (GC1VZ5T Vegavallen) was easy to get to and has had nearly 300 visitors in the nine years it has been there. We were invited to friends’ wedding in Tierp, the home of Vegavallen, so it was very convenient for me to replace the cache at the same time.

The next closest cache that needed some attention was GC1W8HM Upptåget #1 – Gävle. The sign on the lampost that was the hiding place for the cache had been replaced and I guess the person who did the work threw the cache away. Anyway it was a moment’s work to place a new magnetic cache behind the new sign. Even though this is a boring micro it is one of the two remaining caches in the Upptagået series with 567 finds in nine years putting it some way behind GC1X8J6 Upptåget #13 – Uppsala which has had 923 finds in the same time.

The closest cache that needed maintenance was one of the last few caches that I have placed GC5BFZ3 Hemlingby Trail #11 – Dunk. Even though it has only been found 35 times in 30 months it has 12 favourite points. In this case the cache was in excellent condition but the tree stump it was attached to had fallen over. It’s a 20 miute walk to the cache from the car park and I needed my cordless screwdriver with me to be able to remove the cache from the now horizontal stump and move it to a nearby vertical stump. The new stump is in much better condition and in the three plus years since the cache was placed this very exposed place, which is the reason it didn’t get placed there originally, has disappeared amongst new bushes. It’s still easy to get to but not obvious from the path.

Cache placed on a new stump

I had to update the coords somewhat due to the move but that was quickly done. Now, I just need to find the motivation to get the handful of gadget caches in my garage placed out somewhere in the world. Let’s hope the rain stops soon.

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Pompeii

11 06 2018

A visit to central Italy wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Pompeii so on Wednesday we duly set off on the journey there. Firstly we took the Metro to the main Termini railway station in Rome then an Intercity train to Naples.

Intercity to Neaples

It took about 2 hours, so twice the time the high speed train takes but at about 65% of the price. Between Naples and Pompeii we took a local train. It all looked very easy when I read about it on the Man in Seat 61 site and basically is was. The Circumversuviana trains are small EMU’s that are completely graffiti covered and very basic. There were 21 stops on the 35 minute trip and I stood all the way in sweltering heat on a packed train. It was great to get off and have a cold beer before entering the ruins at Pompeii.

It was suggested that we pay €12 for a guide on top of the €15 entrance fee but we were happy to wander around on our own looking at the ruins and building our own impression of what it looked like 2000 years ago.

The first view of Pompeii

Pompeii square

Dog preserved in ashes

The visit was primarily of general interest but of course I had to find a couple of caches while we were there. It was no surprise that there was an earthcache on the site Mt.Vesuvius- Pompeii Ruins

Pompeii earthcache

but I was reaslly pleased to find a regular size traditional hidden by the theatre. What’s on stage today at the Theater of Pompeii?

Cache found at theatre in Pompeii

The local train back to Naples wasn’t quite as full as on the journey out and it didn’t stop at all stations so we were quickly back in Naples. We then had a dilemma. Should we spend some time there, including dinner, then take a train back to Rome or take the train back to Rome in time for dinner there. As mentioned there are different classes of trains running between Rome and Naples. High speed – 1 hour and €46, Intercity – 2 hours and €27 or local – 3 hours and €14. Because of the time of day and availability of trains in the coming few hours we decided to splash out and take the high speed train so we would have time for dinner in Rome. The onboard screen indicated we were travelling at speeds up to 280 kph. Not quite at the Shinkansen speeds but OK.





Rome

11 06 2018

My business travel dried up in 2011 as a result of a change in my work assignment and as a result I have not collected many frequent flier miles since then and those I have were about to expire. As a result I booked a couple of tickets to Rome as my partner has never been there but it was on her wish list. A quick check tells me I have visited Italy nearly forty times on business but never on holiday so I was also pleased to be able to do some sightseeing in the capital city.

I would have been happier to have been able to go there a little earlier in the year before the tourists arrive but we had used that time slot (end of April) to visit England with friends. Not only were we in tourist season but it was an unseasonably hot period both at home and in Rome. We had temperatures between 27 and 31 C every day and the evenings were around 18-24 C. Fantastic!

I was also looking forward to the trip as my goal was to find at least one cache in Italy and one in the Vatican State, both of which were new geocaching countries for me. I didn’t really know what urban caching in Italy would be like so my first precedent was to look for earthcaches as there were quite a few in the city.

We were staying in the north of the city about twenty minutes walk from the Vatican but as our first full day in Rome was a Sunday we decided it was not a good day to visit the Vatican. We turned east instead and walked through the Borghese park then south to the Spanish steps and back over the river by San Angelos castle. That is where my first find was made. GC6ZE8T Ricixxx-Ponte Umberto I. As expected for an urban cache it was a micro, but none the less it was hidden out of sight from muggles but in an obvious place for a geocacher. Nice.

Castell San’Angelo

We made our way to the Vatican State on Monday and this is where I was pleasantly surprised to see that there would be an event there in the afternoon as a complement to the two earthcaches in St. Peters Square. As you can see from the logs (GC7PC5Y The innocent have nothing to fear!) we were three cachers there, Freddo the organiser, Papa_Francis_I and myself.

The earthcaches were typical for Rome and focus was on granite and travertine. Many of the buildings are built from the light cream coloured travertine. The two earthcaches were GC487RN AGT 40: VATICAN OBELISK and GC71Q8V Travertino di Piazza San Pietro.

St Peter’s Obelisk earthcache

A cache just outside St. Peter’s square was well constructed, so a muggle wouldn’t suspect anything, yet was in Italy not the Vatican State. Well, at least I got three smilies from my visit to one of the religious capitols of the world!

Bolt cache just outside St. Peter’s square

The day was rounded off with a further two earthcaches.

GC71RGF Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi and GC65JY4 Ricixxx- Obelisco Flaminio

Quatrro Fiumi earthcache

During the week I found one more earthcache, this time not at a granite obelisk but at a marble column! GC71WT8 Colonna di Marco Aurelio

Marco Aurelia column earthcache

A further three traditional urban caches were found. The picture below shows one of them.

Urban rock microcache

Even though the main reason for the week in Italy was vacation I was pleased to find a few caches.

Forum Romana

Colosseum

Since getting back to Sweden my geocaching activity has reverted to zero with the exception of some cache maintenance.





Southwest England

6 06 2018

Why no posts for a while? Blame it on Apple. I haven’t fathomed out how to convert the new photo format in IOS 11 that I have been using until now! I have changed the settings so photos are saved in jpg format for future use.

A week’s holiday in the south of England at the end of April with three muggles! Would geocaching be at all possible?

The answer to that is ”not really.” I am not complaining about the company, we had a great time and I managed to sneak in a number of virtuals that they didn’t even realise were geocaches. Hunting and finding two trads was tolerated but only just.

So where were the virtuals? We arrived at Gatwick just after lunch on Wednesday afternoon where we picked up a rental car. The car class said Citroen C4 so I was wondering if we and our luggage would fit in. Luckily we were upgraded to a Mercedes C200 which was a great improvement. We stopped for a late lunch in Herford where I made sure we visited the cathedral where we examined Luminous Motion even sending a text message to change the colour of the sculpture. It worked!

Luminous Motion virtual

From there we continued on to where we were staying in Salisbury but saved the next virtuals until the day after. Here I have to write what we all know as geocachers. ”I wouldn’t have found this place unless I had been geocaching”. We had Stonehenge on the agenda but I found a virtual at Woodhenge so drove my friends there first and said it was to build up the excitement of seeing Stonehenge.

ds8300 at Woodhenge virtual

They were not that impressed by Woodhenge (as I rightly guessed) but they really appreciated Stonehenge which of course as well as being a mega tourist attraction in it’s own right has a virtaul there too! Stonehenge

Stonehenge

Naturally a visit to Salisbury Cathedral to see the Magna Carter was on the agenda so we also posed in front of Salisbury Cathedral Revisited (Wilts), my friends not being any the wiser!

ds8300 at Salisbury virtual

A couple of main attractions on our agenda were The Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan but unfortunately they didn’t give me any opportunities to hunt for caches.

Eden Project domes

Eden Project sculpture

Rhododenrons at Heligan

A couple of days later we were in Marazion with the intention of visiting St Michaels Mount. I just couldn’t resist grabbing Fordh Sen Myghal 93 which was conveniently placed right next to the path we were on.

Causeway to St. Michaels Mount

We also visited the northern coast of Cornwall including St. Ives and Tintagel.

St. Ives

Tintagel’s rugged coastline

Several other places were visited bu no more caches came across my path until we reached Bath. I wasn’t too unhappy though as I was able to play Ingress everywhere we went and found a handful of Munzees as well. In Bath I had to rest on a park bench and a micro just happened to appear in my hand Royal Crescent (Bath, NE Somerset). That made a nice addition to the virtual The First King of England (Bath).

ds8300 at Bath virtual


Georgian crescent in Bath

Lessons learned? Geocaching and muggle friends may mor may not be compatible. In this case it was dubious. Never mind, a new trip is looming up and if all goes well it will give me two new countries where I have found caches, bring the total up to 48. Then as soon as that is done I have to start planning for getting to fifty countries with found caches!





Mount Richardson

28 01 2018

As a contrast to flat geotrails alongside braided rivers, today’s (Saturday 26th Jan) adventure was more vertically inclined. New Zealanders were early to adopt geocaching and as I have noted in earlier posts I have found some of the worlds first geocaches here. See https://ds8300.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/old-caches/ and https://ds8300.wordpress.com/2011/01/17/north-island-tour/

The cache placed on Mount Richardson (1048 (Canterbury)) wasn’t quite in the “oldies” category but it was placed in 2006 when there weren’t so many caches in the world and many of the New Zealand cachers were also keen hikers (or trampers as they are called in the country). It has been on my “to find” list since it was placed together with Bealey made it (Southern Alps). The latter is at 1836m and the walk there is tough, hence the 5/5 D/T rating. The cache on Mt. Richardson as the name suggests is at 1048m which sounds much easier. The D/T rating is a mere 3/4,5!

So I jumped into the car early in the morning and drove up to the Glentui Bush parking area. I had been here before in 2011 in order to find Fall’n Glentui Bush (Canterbury) – a Letterbox Hybrid cache from 2001. As it was afternoon when I did that cache I decided it was too late in the day to go for a walk up Mt Richardson.

After putting on my hiking boots and rucksack I set off. 08:10 pip! It was around 18C and a pleasant morning. There had been some mist on the drive up from Christchurch but that had burnt off. It was going to be a hot one.

When I first decided to do 1048 there were only the two caches in the area. Now there are nine on the 12 km round trip walk. The preferred route is to walk up to Mt Richardson on the Mr Richardson Track then across the Blowhard Track that follows the ridge to the Bypass Track that comes down to Glentui Bush.

As I puffed and panted my way up the steep track I realised that the pneumonia that I had last year was still affecting my lung capacity. I was pleased to stop at Halfway Hill for an easy find.

Guess where the cache is?

I hadn’t bothered to bush bash at the first cache reasoning that I would look for it on the way down. As I neared the summit a young woman came romping up the track as if it was a Sunday walk in the park. I guess my forty years extra age DO make a difference. I arrived at the summit at 10:06. PiP! Less that two hours! Not bad. We talked at the summit after I had bashed around the bush which had grown substantially over the twelve years that had passed since the cache was placed. The hint “At base of ~1m high alpine plant, access from south side of shubbery” suited a large number of bushes. Luckily, I found the cache. As I returned to the summit a young guy came up the track with a mountain bike across his shoulders! Talk about being enthusiastic! You can see the bike next to me.

The blog author at the top of Mt. Richardson.

After a short rest I carried on only to be overtaken by a guy running along the trail! By now the temperature was up around 26C and the sky was blue with the sun beating down. At You’ll Huff and You’ll Puff (Canterbury) it was time for lunch. From there on it was more or less downhill all the way. You may think that was great but I can tell you it’s tough on the knees and thighs. About 1 km from the car, my legs felt like jelly and I had to tread carefully so I didn’t wobble over the edge of the track into nothingness.

I missed a couple of caches on the way. Why do people insist in hiding micros, even if they call them small, in the middle of nowhere? Waste of time. I was pleased to have been able to tick “1048” off my list and after a couple of days of walking on the flat my sore thighs recovered. The walk had taken 5 and a half hours in total including the stops for lunch and caching.

I followed the trail clockwise from the car park at the bottom of the map.

The hike up Mt Richardson was the most memorable of my geocaching days on NZ this trip, but I made a mental note to cross Bealey off my to do list.





Geraldine Mountain Bike Trail (G.M.T.B trail)

25 01 2018

Walking 15-16 km in the heat was Ok but I was still kicking myself for not having my helmet with me so I could bike the trail. For the next trail close to Geraldine (starting with Hangmans Row) on the extended G.M.T.B. trail I was geared up correctly. Nice eh?

Ready for action!

I looked for somewhere to stay in Geraldine but most places were quite expensive so I decided that the airbnb place in Methven at 250 SEK/night would be ideal. It was a drive of about 40 minutes from where I was staying so no big hassle. The place I stayed at in Methven was great. The family I stayed with were really hospitable and a cooked breakfast in the mornings was the dot over the “i”!

I stopped in Mayfield to put petrol in the car and just had to take a photo of the local “antique” shop. It was an unbelievable sight.

Mayfield antiques.

Once at the Orari River Bridge, I pulled the bike out of the car boot and set off. Again the majority of the containers were micros. In this case the CO had taken two PET bottle necks and caps and glued them together. The solution was not ideal and a fair number of logbooks were wet on a scale from damp to mush. I logged the condition of the logbook on each cache so that the CO could do some maintenance where needed. My favourite cache along the trail was a “Small” and the clue “91” had me wondering until I found the cache location then it became obvious.

The cache is there somewhere.

Now I know what the hint “91” meant.

Before I set off I had looked at Google Maps, thinking that I could start at the top of the trail and bike south. It wasn’t quite the case. Despite Google wanting me to believe it there is no bridge across the Orari River at Orari Gorge.

Orari Gorge according to Google.

Orari Gorge according ESRI..

Orari Gorge in real life.

After doing the northern end of the trail I visited Geraldine for some food and some Ingressing before returning to Methven via Hinds, Tinwall and Ashburton where I also had Ingress on the agenda. Why no geocaching you may ask? Well, I have found most of the caches of interest in those places. Today, as everywhere, the caches are mostly micros in boring places. I had intended to do the geotrail in Ashburton but decided against it. The only cache I stopped for was at the 44 degrees South sign.

44 degrees South at Hinds.

I had a pleasant evening in Methven and on Sunday (21/1) I started off my geocaching day with Buildings of The Past#9 The Pipe Shed. There is an interesting story attached to this cache that made it worthwhile hunting for it.

Pipe shed in Methven

Once again at Orari Bridge I started off along the western bank of the river on the south leg of the G.M.T.B trail at G.M.B.T #16 – stockbank. All was progressing well until I got as far as G.M.B.T # 30 – Out of the woods where the trail was closed by the farmer who owned the land due to harvesting. Luckily there was a loop on the trail so I could grab a further handful of caches on my way back to the car at Orari Bridge.

The G.M.T.B series of caches.

There was a further series of cache on the eastern side of the river but as I anticipated that it would be just more of the same I decided not to bother and decided to drive down to Timaru on the coast. Again, it’s a place where I have found a number of caches so Ingress was in focus this time.





Rangiora area

21 01 2018

On the Saturday after the wet event in Christchurch I picked up the “cheap and cheerful” rental car from the off-site airport location. Two weeks, unlimited mileage cost me NZ$ 445 or around 2600 SEK which is a pretty fair deal compared with larger well known rental car company offerings. The car was a Japanese import with all the stickers still in Japanese, and 250000+ km on the odometer. It was an automatic and the blinkers and wiper stalks were reversed compared to a European car. After wiping the windscreen a couple of times I go the hang of where the blinkers were.

I had looked at the possibility of renting a bike so that I could get round the powertrails I had scoped out before starting my vacation, but was horrified

to find that it was more expensive than renting the car! My second alternative was to buy a secondhand bike but one of my friends here, John W, said “no problems, borrow mine as I never use it”. Problem solved.

I booked a room in Rangiora for a couple of nights on airbnb not really knowing what to expect. I then threw the bike and my bag in the boot of the car and shot off to Rangiora. Drving on the left is second nature as I learnt to drive in England and I never experience it as a problem. The room I found on airbnb was in a new detached house and even gave me the run of the rest of the house. Breakfast was provided and I sat in the living room in the evenings and chatted with the host Kevin and his lodger James. As it turned out, we were all radio amateurs so lots to talk about.

When I left Christchurch I was running late but got started chatting to my friends’ neighbours and then when I rushed off I forgot my bike helmet. Use of a helmet is mandatory in New Zealand so I had to do the power trail on foot! Grr!

Rangiora geocaching trail

It was upstream along the Ashley River and the round trip was some 15-16 km. Most of the caches were in good condition but FFT – Do you have a weak stomach? was in need of maintenance. I had to sign the container!

Logging the sheep!

I finished off the trail when I got to Karen’s Rockery, an old traditional cache with a proper regular container and logbook.

Karen’s Rockery, the last cache on the trail.

At one point on my walk back to Rangiora I saw some local farmers harvesting some grain, don’t ask me if it was barley or oats, but it wasn’t wheat at least, and they were forming the sheaves by hand! I stopped and talked with one of the farmers and he said that they were one of the few farms where they still did it this way. I didn’t ask why so that I didn’t upset him.

Taking in the harvest the old fashioned way

Hand formed sheaves

It was a hot day so getting back to Rangiora and a cold beer at the local RSA club was really appreciated.

On the next day, I spent the morning on Ingress in Rangiora then in Kaiapoi which is a small town some 20km north of Christchurch on the Waimakariri River. It was known many years ago for it’s woollen mills. I have found quite a few caches in the town and now in the rebuild period after the 2011 earthquake that
devasted the township there are not so many new ones to hunt. In the afternoon I got back into geocaching and did another power trail of sorts but this time in the car. It was one called Lolly Scramble. I did part of it some years ago but for whatever reasons the pocket query didn’t completely download so I missed half of them. I expected my new PQ to fill in the gaps.

Lolly Scramble – still not complete!

There are some gaps where caches have been archived but even so there are a number of caches at the western end of the trail that my latest PQ didn’t pick up. Grr! I am not going back again. I finished off the drive westwards in the little town of Oxford where I did an Ingress Mission just to make a change from geocaching. I have found about half the caches in the township on previous visits.








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