Norrland 2018 Part II

26 07 2018

Luleå, some 735 km (460 miles) north of home, was the point furthest to the north east that we visited. From here our journey took us more or less due west. If we had taken the shortest route it would have been just 240 km but we made a detour through Boden then up to Storforsen on our way making our route 325 km.

After a good hotel breakfast we set off towards Gammalbyn where we found a modern virtual cache Världsarvet Gammelstads kyrkstad and a micro at Tribute to Deo Gloria. Vi then visited friends in the nearby Sunderbyn before driving on to Boden. As I also enjoy urban exploration (UE) this is a place I could have spent a few days in as there are so many old and disused installations. However, considering the set up for the trip I had to choose just one place to visit and that was Rödbergfortet. Of course, we had to look round the town centre first, but finally got out to where the interesting things are!

No longer forbidden to be here

Entrance to Rödbergsfort

Rödbergs fort

Rödbergs fort

After the visit to the fort I found Anl. 1 followed by Point FortyNine. It doesn’t mean a thing to me but my son-in-law spent a year at I19 in Boden and he remembered it immediately.

P49

As we were approaching Älvsbyn I saw the sign to Storforsen and as it was just 42 km off our route (all distances are larger in the north of Sweden) we drove upp there. I have visited once before sometime in the eighties when I was working in Piteå. It’s impressive and also has a regular size cache there Storforsen.

Storforsen up stream

Storforsen downstream

We carried on to Arvidsjaur feeling thankful for a working A/C in the car. We had memories of our holiday in the south of Sweden in 2010 when the A/C packed in and all the workshops were closed for the Swedish summer vacation. It was as hot then as it was on our trip north this year – 25-30°C and a tough journey.

The only thing we stopped to see in Arvidsjaur was a local shop selling Same artifacts where the favourited cache Same same but different was cunningly hidden in a wooden figure outside the shop.

Our stop for the night was in Arjeplog at a hotel that was converted into a hostel. Bring your own bedding and get a full hotel breakfast for a reasonable price. Of course we had to grab a few caches, the first one being A tribute to Einar. We also visited the picturesque wooden church with a view over the lake Hornavan.

Arjeplog church

Interior of Arjeplog church

From here we started our drive homeward making a brief stop in Sorsele for a quick Park ’n’ Grab cache at SORSELEGÅRDEN.

Timber in the form of forest was just about all we saw during the day, apart from a few reindeer that insisted on occupying the road in several locations

We saw plenty of reindeer on our journey

and quite luckily, the DMU running on the Inlandsbanan which is a single trip per day in each direction.

This train full of tourists passes by once a day,

We had just stopped for coffee and a cache at Meselefors. I nearly stepped on this adder as I was about to have a bio break.

I nearly stepped on this little creature

Björn Lindströms art on a Same tent

The slightly larger community of Storuman gave us a good glimpse of The Wild Man.

The wild man in Storuman

Vildmannen as well as a short visit to the railway station for another quick Park ’n’ Grab cache.

Storumn station – a design typical in Sweden

Our next overnight stay was in Vilhelmina, at the old church village. Several of the cottages are now available for tourists to stay in. We were on the first floor of one of them and it was stifling hot, so despite open windows it was difficult to sleep. We spent the evening looking for a shop selling Swedish food delicacies from the north and close to Vägval we had success. We ate a really good meal there. I chose reindeer sausage, moose steak and smoked pork together with great side dishes.

A great meal stop just outside Vilhelmina

I had started hunting for a letterbox cache Filmtime during the evening and found the musical box hidden in a birdbox up a tree but got stuck at the final location. Contact with the CO confirmed I was at the right place and yes, I am going blind! Early the next morning before people started to work I revisited the final location and there was the cache! It was quickly recovered and the log book signed. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my stamp and pad with me nor a notebook to use the cache stamp on, but I enjoyed the cache hunt.

A musical box in a birdbox just out of reach

Our next county was that of Dorotea where we hardly saw anything of a community, just the petrol station for refueling the car and the camping site where Doro Camp Dorotea was located. The cache container was a birdbox attached to the camping site sign and in plain view. It has over 50 favourite points.

We carried on to Strömsunds county picking up a total of four caches and getting a DNF on Anslagstavlan. We spent ages looking for something yellow but gave up in the end as there were a lot of muggles and we simply didn’t find the cache! At least the cache E SJ 952 was easy to find.

An old steam engine SJ 952

Even though Östersund is a biggish town we didn’t actually find any urban caches in the county but one outside along the road we were on and that was just because I needed a bio break after all the coffee and water I had been drinking earlier in the day. The cache was aptly named Vatten and involved pouring water into a tube to get the cache container to float up to the top where it could be grabbed and the log signed.

Our stop for the night was in Bräcke. We stayed in the motel in the centre (if you can call it a centre) and was pleasantly surprised by the standard of the rooms and the food in the restaurant. We walked over to Bräcke Kyrka 1, where we found a cache but no church.

By now we just wanted to get home as the heat was becoming quite tiring and the only county that we stopped in was Ånge where we found a couple of caches including Hjulet and getting really frustrated that I couldn’t find Urväxlad.

In all I logged 31 finds on our 1800 km (1125 mile) trip that included a couple of letterbox hybrids and a virtual cache. Of course there were some DNF’s but no too many. The main thing was that I had found caches in Norrland, the last state in Sweden where I had no finds. It also added sixteen new counties to my finds leaving 120 of 290 to find.

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Norrland 2018 Part 1

19 07 2018

One of my many short to medium term geocaching targets is to find caches in each of Sweden’s twenty one regions. It has been on my list of targets since 2014 and was nearly achieved that year. I made a trip up to Umeå but ran out of steam due to poor weather and didn’t drive the extra couple of hundred kilometers to get to Norrland. See Västerbotten.

A long term target is to find a cache in each of Sweden’s counties, but the process is slow as Sweden is a fairly large country.

Last year I even booked hotels in Umeå and Luleå for a planned trip that got washed out at the last moment. However, this year I made it. As I had my muggle partner with me I knew that there would be nowhere near as much geocaching as I would have liked but I am happy to find a cache or two in each new county that we visit. (In this post I will use Region and County as done on geocaching.com but actually prefer to talk about County and Borough as done in GSAK).

My original plan was to drive up through the inland of Sweden then back down the coast road (E4). At a later stage in the planning I reversed the route as I thought it might be quicker to get to the far north on major roads rather that the smaller roads in the inland. As I have found caches in most counties up to Umeå that was the first overnight stop, two in fact, so that we could explore the town at a sedate pace. Of course, not geocaching whilst in Umeå meant I had a couple of other geo-locations games to fall back on. Ingress and Wallabee. In the latter a good many really low numbered cards were dropped in a small area of Umeå and I should have got up there in 2013 to pick them up but waited until 2014 by which time the best ones had already gone. There were still a fair number there now so I picked up a couple of dozen to trade on.

Geocaching started in the county of Robertsfors, still in Västerbotten, with Tövalite.

A helpful cafe owner pointed this one out for me

From there we made a short hop up to Lövånger where we had a look around the old church village and church then grabbed a cache by the canal joining two lakes together. This was my first find in the county of Skellefteå and the first find in Norrland, the last region needed to have found a cache in all of Sweden’s twenty one regions.

If the goal had just been to find a cache in Norrland, we could have turned round here and headed for home, but we wanted to see more of the north.
The second cache was Utedasset which was the most favourited cache of the ones I visited.

Nicely decorated!

The county of Piteå was next on the agenda and we spent a while in the town centre after finding a cache I was very curious about namely RACER copy light v1.1. This was a really ingenious cache so if you don’t want to spoil the fun jump down the page a paragraph or two. I had guessed traffic lights and here we found three ”lights” in a roughly made wooden container. Shining a torch on the front of the cache lit up small points on the bigger ”lights” that gave the numbers needed to unlock a code padlock.

Cache opened

Shine a light and get numbers in the “traffic lights”

There is a long power trail near Piteå so if I had been on my own or with geocaching friends some or all of that would have been on the agenda. As it was now, I was content to find the favourite cache in Piteå and Tribute to “Tredje gången gillt” which was just a few meters from where I had parked the car.
We walked around town with an obligatory ice cream as the temperature was around 28C. I was able to relieve some memories of Piteå from when I was a frequent visitor at the beginning of the 1980’s.

From Piteå we carried on to Luleå which was our next overnight stay. Once we found a suitable place to park the car for the night and had checked into the hotel we went out for dinner and found Quiz! Vilken geocachartyp? – Vägskyltscacharen which was a straightforward trad but in a well camoflagued container then the Letterbox/Hybrid cache Festlig fanfar!

That was a fun cache that took us around a few streets in central Luleå to a real letterbox where the cache was hidden.

Final destination for Festlig Fanfar!





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.





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.








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