Sunday, October 31, 2010
We enjoyed our trip home to Guilford County, North Carolina. I've also had the opportunity to get out with my grandson, Brandon, and do some geocaching. Today we picked the Southwest Park. It is a new complex in southwestern Guilford County. The trails were just recently cut through the woods. Last Halloween one of the local cachers put together the Haunted Trail series. Brandon and I started out early. We started with Fun House (GC1ZAT5) and worked our way around the park finding all nine caches in the series. The trip took about two hours and was a lot of fun. Fortunately today was a cool day. Brandon liked the cache containers, all designed for Halloween. I enjoyed seeing the joy in his face as he found and examined the contents of the caches.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Ecuador has a zoo! And it is a pretty good zoo. Our daughter Rubi is home from college visiting us for the summer. What a blast it has been having her here. She has helped out as a translator for our volunteer teams, visited her friends from the Quichua community she left behind when she went off to school and has caught up with some of her friends from high school who have returned from the four corners of the earth to their beloved Ecuador. She's returning to her sophmore year in college this week and wanted to take us to the zoo. We have lived here for 13 years and never been so off we went. We had a great time, particularly on the "dry forest" hike that they have. It introduces you to animal and plant life common in the dry mountain areas we have in parts of Ecuador. All along the way I wanted to hide a geocache. I found several great locations but didn't want to put a cache inside the zoo area. It took a lot longer to find a place outside the zoo but I finally found the right place. We came out of the zoo and then later took a different road back in. Most of the roads were heavily populated with homes that were wall to wall. Finally we came to a soccer field and a set of cement steps going up the hill, supposedly to another community. There was no one around. Climbing the hill I found the a small trail heading off to the west. Within a few meters of the steps I found the perfect place to hide Near the Zoo (GC2DHCM). For all you first to find guys and gals, this one is waiting on you. It isn't uncommon for a cache placed outside of the capital city to go months without a find. Maybe a tourist going to the zoo will pick up on it.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
We were fortunate to host some friends from Shawnee, OK for a week. We traveled out to the "Mitad del Mundo" (Middle of the Earth) site. The place is full of shops and, according to the French, was designated as the true equator. Of course they did this long before GPS technology. They weren't off by more than a couple of hundred feet so who can complain about the work they did during the 1800's. Everyone lined up on the yellow painted line designating the equator for their pictures. Most enjoyable was our visit to the Intinan site, purporting to be the true equator line as verified by GPSr. The location is full of cultural and historical information about Ecuador, it's Amazonian tribes like the Shuar and the Waorani, exhibits with guinea pig (cuy) that you can see, snakes, etc. They take you out to their equator line and perform some exercises to demonstrate that they are the true equator. They drain water from a sink and show how it goes straight down the drain with no swirl right on the equator but goes one way when you are just a few feet to the south of the line and the exact opposite when you are few feet to the north. The cost for the guided tour was only $3.00 for adults and it was interesting. We had a great time. There is a virtual at the site that requires you to locate the true equator and take a picture of your GPSr zeroed out. The problem is that even with a 29 foot accuracy I show the equator as being outside the site in the parking lot next to the road. I got credit for The Fake Equator (GC934A) by sending in the photo of my GPSr but the difference between what my GPSr says and what the folks in the Intinan say is significant. I checked out some of the pictures taken and posted by others logging the find and it also shows that they marked the parking lot location as the true equator. I don't know for sure who is right. Either way I highly recommend the visit to the equator.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
I finished up some meetings in Santiago early and was back to my room, changed and out in the warming spring weather headed for Cerro San Cristobol, (Columbus Hill). I walked to the hill and took the lift up to the top where there is a tall statue of Mary. The first cache, Cima del Cerro San Cristobol (GC2BKMF), proved to be a challenge. It required that I go over the fence and out to the ledge to look for a small cache in a space between two rocks. It might be there but my first sweep proved fruitless. On the second sweep the guard caught me and made me come back over the fence. So much for that one. On I went to look for the second one. I walked and ran down the hill to a park near the bottom of the hill. La Fuente de los dioses (GC2BMZD) also proved to be a muggle-infested challenge. When I got to the GZ I found a host of workers erecting a tent right over the fountain. There was no way to look in the fountain and find the cache without revealing it. I moved on. Zero for two. Not to good. I worked my way to the parking area outside the park and struck gold. I found Desde Provi con Amor #1 (GC2EX09), signed the log and decided to continue on even as evening was approaching. I crossed the river and paralleled it for 1.3 miles to the bicentenial park. Chile celebrated its 200th birthday last month. Vive La Republica Chileana! Bicentenario (GC2FGE3) was a fun cache right by the river. Now it was getting late. The sun was on the horizon and I had over two miles to the next cache and then another mile to get back to the hotel. I pushed it and made it to the park. Fortunately the park had lots of street and sidewalk lights. Parque Ines de Suaraz (GC290Z8) was a fun micro. With a pen light I was able to find the point on the ground that was mentioned in the clue and then find the cache. It was dark and foggy now. I made it back to the hotel satisfied at the amount of exercise and the few cache I found today. Santiago in the springtime when the sun shines is nice.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Wow, what a morning! We planned a stopover in the city of Riobamba, Ecuador while returning to Quito from the southern part of the country. We grabbed a hotel and tried to get a good night's sleep in order to get away early the next morning to go for a regular and an earthcache on Chimborazo Volcano. The good night's rest was wishful thinking but the weather and the hike to the two caches on the volcano was great. When we came outside of our hotel we were blown away by the majesty of the volcano. There wasn't a cloud in the sky around it. We drove west and slightly north making our way higher with each passing kilometer. The paved rural road took us through small Quichua Indian communities. The bright colored Quichua dress of the women shepherds stood out against beautiful, lust green pasture land. Soon we climbed up above the grazing land and even above the treeline. As we climbed we could see the many layers of ash fall where the road cut through the hills. Now the terrain was barren and windswept. Eight kilometers short of the first refuge hut we turned off the pavement and onto a dirt road. We paid our entrance fee ($10 US for tourist and $2 for residents of Ecuador) and continued the climb. While weaving our way up the side of the volcano we could see El Altar and Tungurahua volcanos in the distance. El Altar was covered in snow and shining brightly in the sunlight. Tungurahua was in erruption. From our vantage point high above the valley we could see the smoke spewing out in the distance. We arrived at the first hut without even going into 4 wheel drive. We parked the car, put on another layer of clothing and tracked the needle to the first cache. Whymper (GC1ZE8J) was a small tuppeware box with a few items of swag. It was well hidden from muggles but an easy find at 15,500 feet or so above sea level. I suspect that on most days the cloud cover would have hidden anyone looking for the cache from the view of muggles at the hut. Today we had to use stealth as the sky was clear. After signing the log and replacing the cache we headed out to hide a cache and find the second cache. As we climbed we stopped to read the Simon Bolivar monument, written in Quichua and Spanish. It proclaims how the great liberator of Ecuador and much of northwestern South America climbed to an unspecified point on the volcano in the early 1800's. Just beyond this monument was another field of monuments of sorts. These are the stones, much like gravestones, remembering those who have lost their lives on Chimborazo. I made this climb with sumajhuarmi. I have to tell you that she is an athlete. She's a runner and in good shape. She runs circles around me. I don't stand a chance on level ground with her. But on the mountain I had the advantage. The last time I climbed I weighed in at 40 lbs heavier than I am today. I could really feel the difference! Climbing was a lot easier. We pushed to make the climb between the two refuge huts in 42 minutes. Not bad. This include a stop mid way to hide a cache. Check out Between Huts (GC2FWBX). While you can claim the earthcache without going to the second hut, this traditional cache will require you go at least half way up. Once there you'll be sure to make it the rest of the way. Once at the second hut we visited with a group of Czech climbers. They were waiting on eleven of their countrymen who had summited Chimborazo in the morning hours and were working their way back down. The hut is a warm refuge from the cold and a place for climbers to acclimate to the elevation before summiting. You can grab a coffee or tea inside and warm you fingers before heading down. On many days the weather is much colder and the visibility worse. Some come up in blowing snow and sleet. We were fortunate as the photos show. Once at the hut we completed the requirements for the earthcache. We topped out above 16,500 feet according to the GPSr. I won't be too specific as reporting the elevation is one of the logging requirements for the earthcache. Check out Chimborazo (GC1F1GF) for more details. As we began our descent the mountain began to slip from view as the clouds came in from the east. The temperature began to drop so we picked up our pace down the mountain. Chimborazo is the highest mountain on the planet as measured from the center of the earth. If you come to Ecuador I suggest you make it one of your visits!