Monday, September 29, 2008
What a great time we had on our trip! We flew Saturday, 20 September from Quito, Ecuador to Houston. Because Continental has cut back on flights we had an eight hour layover. What to do?!? A good friend who lives in The Woodlands came to pick us up and take us back to his house. The whole area was recovering from Hurricane Ike. Everywhere we went folks were cleaning up downed trees and limbs. Our friend Jim got out the mountain bikes and off we went to find some of the many geocaches in The Woodlands. These were our first geocaches in Texas! We had a blast. All the caches we came across had weathered the storm well. My favorite in this group was On Gossling Pond GCHGJN. It was hot and muggy, unlike the cool Quito weather. After geocaching we had time for a swim in the pool and then a nice steak cook out with Jim, family and friends before Jim and Jane took us back to the airport to catch our flight to Greensboro/High Point, NC. Sunday we went to church with our son-in-law and then visited with our oldest daughter and her family at their new house. In the afternoon we set out in a rental car for Richmond, VA via Danville and South Boston. We picked up a number on cool, sunny afternoon drive to Richmond. My favorite was a virtual that is called, Mothers, we've come for your daughters GCM529. We had a series of meetings that got out each day around 3 p.m. The weather was great so from Monday to Wednesday we were out geocaching in north Richmond. I recommend visiting Bryan Park and Three Lakes Park. They have a nice concentration of interesting caches. These parks are free and they abound in trails and woods. Sumajhuarmi is a runner. On Wednesday evening she ran in a 5K race and outran 55 young 20/30 somethings. Not bad as she is coming up on 52 this week! Of course she regularly runs 10K at 10,000 feet above sea level so she has lots of red blood cells and can run like she's blood doping. On Thursday afternoon we took Interstate 95/85 south into North Carolina and over to High Point. Hurricane Kyle was kicking up wind and rain but we were able to pick up a few more caches along the way. I really wanted to stop by the Oxford Travel Bug-Coin Hotel GC1C8A2. I regularly read HeadHardHat's blog. He is the owner of this fine hotel. Dropped some travel bugs from Ecuador and picked up a few along the way to take to South America. Friday and Saturday were pretty rainy but we were able to find a few. One of my favorite areas is the Peidmont Environmental Center near High Point, NC. The trails are great! My favorite find there was Up the Root Hole GC2F43. I found this one in the pouring rain. All told, this trip was great for being with our NC family and finding 37 new caches. I made the 300 milestone! Now I have a few TBs to take to Ecuador and release on their way.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Today sumajhuarmi and I had the chance to go caching together. One that we particularly liked was called Daniel and it was located near some interesting stone artwork. This cache is one of those that drives you crazy. I had looked for this one when it was first put out. I went several times but simply couldn't find it. bcargile reported the FTF on this last week and shared some better coordinates. With that we were able to find the cache. We are excited about our trip tomorrow to the US. We'll stop off in The Woodlands near Houston, TX to visit some friends during a long layover and then on to Greensboro, NC to see family.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
What a day! Ignacio, Mercedes, Richard and I took off after church this afternoon and went up Casitagua Volcano and look down into the crater. This is an ancient, inactive volcano. Near the top we came to Ventana Casitagua. From there we could see much of the old crater. There are roads, houses and farms in the crater. We went higher and found a place along the ridgeline where we were able to look one way into the crater and the other direction down on a panarama of north
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
We live in cache-poor Ecuador but had a three week vacation in North Carolina with a little travel to Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia. This summer I carried my camera with me on all my caching runs. I found some unique geocaches that I couldn't resist photographing. I really like it when the cache owner has spent some time planning and preparing the cache. It makes for a great challenge and for a feeling of accomplishment when you find it. It's just not the old skirtlifting LPC variety that I'm most interested in finding. One that I liked was a guardrail cache. Now I thought "magnetic" but that wasn't the case. After searching for a while with a friend we were about to give up. A review of the cache name gave me the clue. See the picture of the nut. The owner fixed a nut and bolt together leaving a space for a log container, then screwed it on the bolt from the guardrail support. Then there was the coniferous tree with the hollowed out pine cone. I know the people in the park thought that this mountain bike rider was a little crazy crawling around up inside that big tree with its branches spread all over the place. That's alright, most folks were in the AC and not watching. More unique caches later. I'd love to hear about any of your unique cache finds.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
August 2008 We finished our visit to Cotopaxi by camping on the northeast corner of the park. We set up camp along the Rio Pita and had a great time together. We had originally thought that we could cross the river and drive up several kilometers more. When we discovered that the gate was locked and that the only way to go was on foot, we selected a beautiful campsite by a bubbling glacier stream. Since we had extra and unexpected kilometers to travel, we got up at 3:30 a.m. to prepare breakfast and get ready. It was raining but soon slacked up. Eight of us departed in the dark. We took a short cut that we had scouted out the afternoon before and were soon on the right trail up the northern ridgeline. The higher we climbed the stronger the wind and the colder it got. The oxygen was thiner and thiner as we climbed. The rain and the wind grew stronger so we had to keep pushing on to stay warm. Even with short breaks to breathe I found it a hard but rewarding climb! We climbed about 10 kilometers before reaching the highest point you can reach without climbing rope and gear. This took us 4 hours, 45 minutes. The top of Sincholagua was shrouded in clouds. As we hiked down the mountain I twisted my left knee in a fall on slippery rocks. It was slight and I was able to continue on. As we descended the mountain the weather warmed up nicely. I was able to hid a new geocache commemorating my family's 11 years of service in Ecuador. If you come this way and if you climb Sincholagua Volcano, look for geocache "Eleven Good Years" near the campsite. Visit www.geocaching.com for more information.
August 2008 There were nine of us in two vehicles that set out on the camping and climbing get away. We spent all day Saturday in the Cotopaxi National Park. We visited the museum and then climbed up to the refuge, located at around 16,000 ft. What a climb! This was my third time to climb to the refuge. We had hot chocolate there before getting the obligatory pictures and heading back down to the trucks. We then spent the rest of the day exploring and finding a campsite. While at Cotopaxi we completed the requirements for two virtual caches, one which is an earthcache. Check them out on www.geocaching.com.
August 2008 While visiting Santiago I had the opportunity to break away in the winter evening to search out a tiny geocache hidden near a "Moi", one of those Easter Island heads. This one is far from home but commemorates the Rapanui people that inhabit the island. jagawe, Cliff and I found it and one other cache this evening!
June 2008 The only "downtown" geocache thus far in the capital city of Quito is near a large Basilica. This old, gothic church is located on the edge of the colonial city. This is the old city of Quito. Let me suggest that if you visit Quito that you visit this church. Check out the sculpture all around the building. The turtles are particularly nice. When hiding a geocache in an urban center you have to think small and well hidden. Check out geocache "UIO Basilica - Venezuela y Carchi". Visit www.geocaching.com for more information about geocaching in general and this cache in particular.
June 2008 Pasochoa, said to mean "old widower" in Quichua, is an old volcano just about 45 minutes south of Quito along the Panamerican highway. When you look at it from the highway it is to the east. You can see that centuries ago a massive explosion blew the western wall of the volcano out, leaving a long descending valley down to the pastures below. Much of that descending valley is a humid forest. It is one of the few such forest at an elevation of around 10,000 ft. We arrived early in the morning, paid a $2 entrance fee and then set out on our climb. After two hours of steady climbing we cleared the muddy humid forest. We came out into about 20 minutes of scrub bushes. Once clear of these we came to the northern ridgeline and a beautiful stand of pine trees. As we trekked up the ridgeline we cleared the pine trees and entered the paramo (highland grassland above the tree line). The remaining two hours were spent climbing the steep hill to the summit. We encountered some snow at the summit. We were blessed to see a flying condor near the top of Pasochoa. We made this climb in 4 hours 45 minutes. When we got to the base of the mountain again we pitched our tents in the park camping area. We had a wonderful time of fellowship and a good night's rest before leaving the reserve.
June 2008 Some great friends came from Florida to help us again this year. Members of the Sea Breeze Community Church in Pinellas Park spent a week with us working in the Quichua communities. On the last day we took the group in two directions. Some wanted to go to the Quichua market in Otavalo and the leather market in Cotacachi, several hours north of Quito. A few of them were up to the challenge of hiking around Cuicocha Volcano Crater Lake. We got there early and hiked the lake clockwise. What a beautiful day we had! We hid a geocache entitled, "Sea Breeze", along the hiking trail. I hope you will visit www.geocaching.com to find out more about this cache and to give it a visit when you hike Cuicocha.
We have some wonderful neighbors. Ignacio and Mercedes Roldan have four boys. Two of them went geocaching with me in Parque Metropolitano one afternoon and I taught them how to find and hide geocaches. Jonathan & Kevin helped me have a great time!
January 2008 The highlight of this trip might just be a visit to a place several hours north of Santiago in the Andes Mountains. La Campana National Park is a beautiful place with trails for hiking and horseback riding. I recommend it to you. Chile is one of the South American countries with a larger number of geocaches. However, it appears that in this part of Chile there aren't too many geocachers because I got the FTF (first to find) credit for Sendero Andinista Parque La Campana.
January 2008 While traveling in Chile during January, I have the chance to do some climbing and geocaching. My good friend jagawe and I climbed Manquehue, one of the mountains overlooking the city of Santiago. My flight got in about 5 a.m. I took a taxi to my friend's apartment, had a great breakfast thanks to some great cooking, then went out about 7 a.m. to climb the mountain and find three geocaches along the way. It was a beautiful, clear and warm summer day and we had a great time!
January 2008 Two opportunities have come my way in the last few months to expose Ecuadorians to geocaching. One is an article that the local newspaper produced in their "Zona" section. It spelled out, in Spanish of course, what the sport is and how Ecuadorians can get involved. The second opportunity has been several trips to Parque Metropolitano. During those trips I showed them how to use the GPSr and then helped them begin to find geocaches. They hope to pool their money and buy a GPSr so they can participate more frequently.
December 2007 This December brought a special joy to our lives. Our oldest daughter, Wendy, and her husband came to Quito for Christmas. That gave us lots of opportunities to spend some fun times together. Among them we went geocaching in Parque Metropolitano. Yes, I'm trying to get them hooked too. Since then they've each gotten their own geocaching names. Karen is "K.K" and Brandon is "MasterYoda1". We hit all the geocaches in the park before going up on Pichincha to look for "Near the Sky".
October 2007 Sumajhuarmi and I had the opportunity to visit Costa Rica recently. We took advantage of an extra day to go geocaching in that beautiful country. One of the geocaches we found was at Poas Volcano, about two hours north of San Jose. We rented a car and drove up into the high rain forest and the clouds. It turned into a rainy day. The national park is real nice and worth your visit. We weren't able to see the volcano crater, though we stood overlooking it. The fog was so thick. We were able to register an earthcache though. Earthcaches are virtuals, that is to say, there isn't anything hidden due to restrictions. In order to get credit the www.geocaching.com website said we had to gather specific information form the location, then send it to the owner for permission to log the find. Earthcaching is really cool! You learn as you visit an interesting site. There are many earthcaches around the world. Several new ones have popped up in Ecuador and I want to find them too.
Not many people know about geocaching. I learned about it just last month. Geocaching is a sport or past time utilizing the Internet, a Global Positioning System Receiver, and your legs to get out into nature. Here's how it works. You get yourself a GPSr. Then go to the website www.geocaching.com. The website has lots of information about the sport and how you can get involved. It's free to register and begin participating. Look for geocaches near where you live. They are in most countries around the world. More tend to be in the US, Canada and Europe than in Latin America but we are working on that. Once you find the list of caches for your area, click on one and gather the information you need to find the cache. You'll input the coordinates to your GPSr and off you go to look for the cache. The cache may be anything from an ammo can or a tupperware container down to a really small 35mm container. Inside, depending on the size, will be as a minimum a log sheet. The bigger it is the more likely that you'll find small trade items. The rules are that you sign the log and, should you desire, exchange something of equal or greater worth. You don't have to trade to play the game. You then replace the cache in the same location where you found it so the next person can have the same opportunity you had. You don't want others who aren't geocaching with you to see you find or rehide the cache so some stealth is required. When you get home you return to the webpage for the cache you found, register your find and leave a simple message. The message will be sent to the owner of the cache automatically. Geocaching is great because it gets you outside, allows you to combine techy kinds of stuff with the great outdoors. You'll see places you will likely not visit if it weren't for geocaching. Give it a shot. Visit www.geocaching.com and find out more.
November 2007 I had the opportunity to participate in a training event in Lima, Peru this month. One of the blessings that went along with this training was an excursion to the Pachacamac Temple, an Inca ruin, about a half hour drive south of Lima. The history of the Inca temple is very interesting and worth the time for those who come to this Andean country. Check out the geocaches in Lima. One that is getting lots of attention is named "Intihuatana" placed by yours truly. It will be a challenge to find without giving away the hiding place due to the high volume of tourist that will be in the area. You can learn more about geocaching and this particular cache by visiting www.geocaching.com
October 2007 I'm just getting into geocaching, having learned about it in June during a trip to northern panhandle Idaho. Since then I've been trying to generate interest in the sport here in Quito. This month I got some of my friends together so they could look for four geocaches that I've hidden and registered with geocaching.com in Parque Metropolitano, just on the ridgeline east of Quito. This park is a wonderful place to hike, run, mountain bike, and more. That more now includes geocaching. You can learn more about the sport by visiting www.geocaching.com.
Later this month we held a geocaching event and invited folks from the Quito community to come and experience the sport. We had a good turn out of twelve new geocachers. We had a great time!
September 2007 This month I made two trips up to the rim of the Guagua Pichincha Crater. Guagua Pichincha is the cousin volcano to Rucu Pichincha Volcano. They stand side by side. Rucu means "old" and Guagua means "baby" in Quichua. Guagua Pichincha is the active of the two volcanos. The smell of sulfur is still strong at the rim. In my first trip up I climbed with Brett and Ben, two good friends here in Quito. We drove through south Quito and took the road to Lloa. This took us up over the ridgeline west of Quito and down into a beautiful valley. From the town of Lloa we climbed in our 4-wheel drive vehicle up the mountain to a small plain where we could park. We hiked several hours from there to reach the summit. Before reaching the summit we came to the refuge building. Beyond the refuge the climb was a short 500 meters or so up a good trail. We experienced a lot of clouds and wind on this trip but got some good pictures. My second trip was to introduce Sumajhuarmi to the volcano. On the drive out of Lloa we came across four Ecuadorian hikers. They were elated to have a lift. We drove them up to the refuge. They pitched camp there and then accompanied us to the rim. We had a clear day and were able to see the crater. It was a great day! I recommend this climb to everyone. After visiting the rim we went looking for a geocache hidden below the refuge in the paramo grass. It was a good find. We introduced our new friends to the sport of geocaching. You can learn more about that particular geocache and the sport by visiting www.geocaching.com
August 2007 Sumajhuarmi and I had a nice weekend get away to Quilotoa Crater Lake. It is located several hours south of Quito and about 1.5 hours west of Latacunga, deep in Quichua country. We arrived on a Friday afternoon and had time to visit the overlook and get our first pictures. We also hiked down to the lake below. Down hill was easy, coming back up was tough. We stayed in a hostal nearby and really enjoyed it. On Saturday morning we hiked clockwise around the crater lake. At the beginning of the hike a sign warned us of high wind danger on the trails and cliffs. It also warned that groups should be five or more in number. Just then three new friends walked up and we made a five-some. They were a couple from Holland and a young German man. This hike was harder than a previous hike around Cuicocha Volcano Crater Lake due to the significant accents and descents. I highly recommend this hike! Check out the geocache hidden just down the trail into the crater. You can find it and all you need to know about geocaching by visiting www.geocaching.com
June 2007 After a week of hard work in the communities, several members of the Sea Breeze Community Church, located in Pinellas Park, Florida and some local Ecuadorian friends all rode the lift up Pichincha Volcano for some fun time. While there we trekked across the paramo (high grass lands above the tree line) following my GPSr (Global Positioning System Receiver) to the coordinates of the geocache entitled, "Near the Sky". The coordinates were downloaded from the website: www.geocaching.com. You can learn all you need to know about this sport there. It's free and its fun. I was hooked from that moment on! Check out the pictures.