We've got the itch for geocaching the Central Coast and beyond. Providing 'caching resources, education, entertainment and just plain malarkey since 2004.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Trekker Family GW8 Adventure

This past June we loaded up the family "wagon" and headed north to Washington State. With GeoWoodstock VIII near Seattle this year and family in Tacoma, it was a perfect combination for a summer trip.

DAY 1: We're Off!

After a good number of cache stops, the first leg of the journey ended in Redding. Although it was nice and mild when we left SLO, it was plenty hot in Redding. We hit a few caches along the way and arrived around dinner time. After dinner at Denny's we all enjoyed an evening swim in the pool at the hotel. Our room was not the greatest - there was a pile of dirty towels still in the room, and the carpeting in front of the sliding glass door was soaking wet. Needless to say we did not stay at this hotel on our way back down. Cache total for the day: 14.

DAY 2: A-MAZE-ing Fun

We spent the morning at the Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding, where the GPS Adventure Maze exhibit is currently being hosted. As part of the exhibit, they have hidden a few caches around the grounds of the park. These caches are not published, but each one contains a code word, and by finding them all you can enter a drawing for a prize. I think the purpose is to see some different styles of containers and hides. A couple of these caches were located across the Sacramento River in the Gardens section of the park. The Sundial Bridge leads to the other side of the river and is really a sight to see up close.

Once on the other side we roamed the gardens looking for the caches. We discovered a very cool "stick house" woven out of branches. It is an impressive structure, and the shade was appreciated as by now it was getting hot.

After roaming the grounds and finding a couple of published caches nearby, we finished off with the GPS Maze exhibit. It is a lot of fun to go through this exhibit, which is meant to introduce people to the various aspects of GPS and geocaching. There is a ton of information to take in! I learned some things I hadn't known before, and would have liked to spent more time absorbing it all, but we had to hit the road and log some more miles. We drove for the rest of the day (stopping for some caches of course) and made it to Eugene by early evening. Late dinner at some funky Chinese restaurant and more swimming at the hotel capped off another full day. Cache total: 13 caches and 1 GPS Maze exhibit.

Day 3: Point of Origin

Quick breakfast and back on the road. Our destination this morning was the Original Stash Tribute Plaque outside of Portland. On the way we grabbed a number of convenient caches, and arrived at the plaque just around noon. Shortly after we arrived another two groups of caches showed up, so we had a nice chat and exchanged signature items. I have always wanted to see the place where it all began. The five gallon bucket is long gone, but the plaque is a nice way to preserve the history of the location. There is an actual cache container by the plaque so that you can make some trades or exchange trackables.

With the first of the geocaching Triad checked off, it was back on the road and full steam the rest of the way to Tacoma. Cache total: 15 caches and 1 DNF.

Days 4-6: Breather

The next three days were spent with family in Tacoma. We left the sun behind in southern Oregon, and never saw much of it again until the return trip. I did manage to sneak away for a few hours one afternoon and grab some caches in the Tacoma area. There is also an REI just down the street from our relatives which is a must-do anytime we visit. Cache total: 11 smileys.

Day 7: Going Ape

Today Lucy Goose and I headed up to Snoqualmie Pass for the first geocaching event of the trip. The WSGA had arranged the "Going APE" event so that a lot of us in the area for GW8 could also make it to one of the last two surviving APE caches. With about 400-500 people participating, you can imagine how crowded the trail was. Fortunately the weather was not bad, and the worst we experienced was some light rain/drizzle. There were numerous Sasquatch sightings that day. You might catch a glimpse of one in the photo.

Sadly the lid to the large ammo can had apparently been stolen the day before, so we were not able to see it or the APE geocoin that is supposed to be affixed to it. We did drop some TBs in the cache and took a few with us, along with some nice pathtags.

The only way to access the APE cache right now is via the Annette Lake Trail. The Snoqualmie Tunnel is closed until next summer, but we were able to hike the short distance to where it come out and take a look. It would be fun to do this cache again from the tunnel approach.

On the way back down we were able to find some other caches that are placed near the trail. They weren't hard to find - just look for a group of about 20 people hanging out in the trees! Along with some stops on the way back to Tacoma, we made a full day of it. Cache total: 19 caches and 1 event.

Day 8: The Big Event

Today we headed north to Carnation for GeoWoodstock VIII, our second event of the trip. It was held at Remlinger Farms. I thought this year's event was not nearly as enjoyable as GW6 two years ago in Sacramento. It was mostly all about the vendors booths and lots of waiting in lines. Lines for TBs, lines for vendors, lines for lunch, lines for the toilets, etc. We did buy a few things and met some nice people, but left a little early feeling somewhat disappointed. Because the event was in an isolated field on the fringe of the farm property, we never even got to see the main highlights of the farm itself.

From GW8 we drove over to Snoqualmie Falls. There is an earthcache there, and the falls are worth visiting. They have a nice visitor center, and when you stand on the walkway near the top of the falls, you can definitely feel the spray. Can you tell from the photo that Mama Trekker had had enough "fun" and was ready to head over to our hotel for the night?

A short drive west brought us to Redmond where we were staying for one night. After checking in we went out to dinner at the Claim Jumper. I think every other table was filled with geocachers. Redmond is a lovely town, and after dinner Lucy Goose and I spent about an hour walking around town finding some caches. It was a pleasant, warm evening. I don't have a lot of love for Washington, but Redmond did manage to win me over some.

That evening, our hotel was the setting for our third event, Midnight Geocoin Madness II. Mama Trekker and Peanut Girl stayed in the room and relaxed while Lucy Goose and I went to the event to make some trades and add to our collection. Most all of the regulars in the geocoin world were there. Lucy Goose loves these events because everyone thinks she is so cute and she always scores some "freebies". I am repeatedly impressed with how kind and generous so many people in the geocoin circles are. By the time we made it back to our room it was after midnight. Cache total: 7 caches and 2 events.

Day 9: Lily Pad

Had enough? Well, we hadn't! Up to an early start and off to Seattle to visit Groundspeak Headquarters (lovingly referred to as "the Lily Pad") for their Lost and Found Celebration event in honor of 10 years of geocaching. This was our fourth event in three days, and by logging Groundspeak HQ we completed the holy triad of caching (Original Stash, APE, and HQ). We arrived plenty early knowing that parking could be a challenge near the Fremont area, especially given that it was the Fourth of July and there would be huge crowds filling up the area to watch Seattle's fireworks show that night. We were able to take some pictures and roam around before things got busy.

The Groundspeak event was exceptionally well organized. Besides the vendors booths they had plenty of activities, including a coloring station, dunk tank, pog trading, bubble show, you name it. One of our favorites was the scavanger hunt, where you had to find five locations near HQ in order to obtain puzzle pieces. Once you had all five pieces you were given a special trackable item commemorating the event. There was also a challenge course involving 12 caches, but we could not afford the time it would have taken.

I did have the special pleasure of meeting Jeremy (founder of Groundspeak) and also Moun10Bike, who had a binder with editions of all of his coins that you could discover. He was kind enough to trade personals with me.

We left HQ in the middle of the afternoon in order to zoom back to Tacoma for a barbeque with our relatives. The last few days had been crazy, so relaxing in the back yard with some cold beers was the perfect therapy! Cache total for the day: two caches and one event.

Day 10: On the Road Again

We say our goodbyes in Tacoma and head back south. Not much interesting happened today because it was all about covering the miles. Only five caches, but three of them were at a nice rest area where we took the chance to stretch our legs. Later we had a wonderful dinner on the patio at the Olive Garden in Medford while enjoying the warm evening. It was great seeing the sun again! We made it all the way to Redding, but chose a different hotel this time. They had a pool, but it was pretty cold so the swim was VERY short.

Day 11: Home Stretch

Mostly all driving today, the final day of our adventure. Just two cache stops today. The very last cache of the trip was "The Old Oak Tree" outside of Paso Robles. We took the side road and hiked through the foxtails and over the barbed wire fence because we thought that was safer than pulling off the side of Highway 46. This cache is worth the trouble to get to, so plan a stop next time you are heading that way. It was placed by Moose Mob, who pretends to like life in Las Vegas but we all know his true love is the Central Coast. Easy find - pretty hard to miss the container.

Well, there you have it! Thanks to Jen for setting up the blog so people like me can fill up the whole durn thing in one gigantic post. For those of you who couldn't make it to Carnation this summer, I hope you enjoyed experiencing the adventure vicariously through our eyes.