Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Geocaching in California 2017

On our Christmas trip to California, we went geocaching several times. We've cut back considerably on geocaching since the app requires payment to see any caches harder than a 2.0 ranking, which is pretty low. Geocaching is also tough with a three-year old in tow, so we haven't felt the loss so much. We managed to get a few finds, pushing us closer to the "400 found" mark.

At the Berkeley playground, we fired up the app just to see if anything was nearby. Across the street was a rose garden with the mysteriously named Garden Area Treasure Entity cache. We admired the roses as much as we could for late December in the San Francisco area.

Berkeley Rose Garden, not in full bloom

Another view of the garden

We followed our app-powered GPS to the cache area. The description of the cache fascinated us because the cache owners said they 3D printed the container to fit the hiding spot. After a little searching, the kids asked for the hint. That helped us find the cool container that only had a log book in it. Luckily, I carry a pen with me so we were able to write in the log book.

Cool Custom Container

View from the log area--that entrance to the garden really is secret!

Flush with victory, we checked around the town where we were staying and discovered another cache that was much easier to find--Mickey Mouse's House. Driving by, the location was both obvious and intriguing.

The cache location

Back of the cache location

This cache also had a cool container hidden near the turret. The real question was what is up with a turret in the middle of a San Francisco suburb? A little placard at the foot of the door explained it--"Built in 1924, This French medieval style structure originally served as the sales office for what would become Belmont Country Club Properties, a 1000-acre development that included the adjacent Belle Monti Country Clubhouse with swimming pool, tennis, handball, croquet courts and a golf course." It was hard to imagine a golf course in this hilly neighborhood! The clubhouse is still standing, though it has been turned into a church.

The Church Formerly Known as Belle Monti Clubhouse 

The flowers were nice enough for a picture.

Purple joy

We attempted a multi-cache, which required two mobile devices. Seeing the write-up for a multi-cache requires payment on the app, so we had one person look up the actual geocaching website on their phone's browser, while the other person used their phone as a GPS. The first coordinates led us to a community center not far from Mickey's. The multi-cache is called Art Appreciation and promised to take us to four different displays in the immediate area. The community center has a mural that was fun to look at and provided some digits for the next art installation's coordinates.

Community center mural

Since we had the kids with us, we drove near to the next stage of the cache (walking would have been too long and too dangerous) and found another mural hidden away from the main street.

Approaching the mural

A bit of the mural

This mural provided some more numbers that we had to plug in as coordinates for stage three. We couldn't drive very close but did find a trail head into Waterdog Lake Park, which indeed has Water Dog Lake inside of it, way up the hill. We were a little discouraged by the signs we saw at the entrance.

The trail info wasn't too bad, but across the way was...

....rattlesnakes warning!!!

Hiking up was pleasant but steep, wearing out most of our crew.

View of the hills

View of Water Dog Lake

Those guys fishing in Water Dog Lake were magnet fishing. They cast out a magnet on a line and dragged it back. They said they found some interesting metallic rocks but nothing else. I guess the lake is too far for any careless people to dump tin cans or such.

The coordinates for stage three pointed down a steep slope which none of us wanted to try since it looked like a one-way trip. My brother-in-law said he saw a small trail earlier that he'd like to try. We went back and found a tiny trailhead that led into the ravine below Water Dog Lake. The trial vanished at one point, so I took the kids back to the main trail while he marshaled on.

Barely a bit of a trail

The way back looked encouraging

He eventually found a graffiti-type "art installation" that provided more numbers for the final stage. At that point, the kids were wiped out and asking to go home, so we left it undone. Hopefully my brother-in-law will make the final find. If not, we'll have to take another trip to visit them to finish the cache.

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