Sunday, June 24, 2012
It started with an international flight aboard a small single engine plane from the jungle city of Pucallpa, Peru going due east to the city of Cruzeiro do Sul in the state of Acre, Brazil. Sumajhuarmi and I were accompanied by a non-geocaching friend who was interested in the sport. Our flight departed from the Pucalpa airport about noon and flew at 7500 feet above sea level. Below we had nothing but a carpet of jungle for as far as the eye could see. The distance we flew was about 120 nautical miles but with the headwind we had it meant about 1 hour and 10 minutes in the air. As we neared the border between Peru and Brazil we saw a spectacular sight. Cerro El Cono, a perfectly cone-shaped mountain rises up out of the flat jungle canopy and can be seen for miles around. Soon after passing El Cono we crossed into Brazilian airspace. We crossed some more small mountains called the Sierra del Divisor. Click on video to see a beautiful video of El Cono, the Sierra del Divisor and what we flew over. We flew for another 15 minutes or so before we began to see small clearings and an occasional hut. Finally we could see the Cruzeiro do Sul airport in the distance. We landed at a modern but small airport. Once the plane was positioned, engine off and the brakes set we unloaded our things and carried them across the tarmac to the airport. Since this is not an international airport and we were a chartered international flight we had to track down the Federal Police to get our passports stamped. Since they aren't used to chartered international flights they must have suspected us. They questioned about who we were, where we are from in our native countries, where we worked, who paid our salaries, how much we made, where we were staying, who we would see and so on. They they went through all our luggage with a fine toothed comb. Our time with the Federal Police took longer than the flight from Pucallpa. When I told them what geocaching was they found it hard to believe that a person would take a vacation and fly a chartered flight internationally to look for a geocache. Even with the explanation that we operate a small non-profit in Peru which promotes geocaching they had a hard time getting their minds around the idea. I guess this made them all the more suspicious. Since we were clean and since we had legitimate ten year tourist visas to visit Brazil, they let us through. We met a friend who took us from the airport to our hotel in town. What a nice city! Rolling hills, cool breezes, the Jurua River, a beautiful new bridge over the river and more. Check out the link and listen to some Portuguese if you want to see a little of the city. We knew that GTAbusquedor had placed a cache here so high on our list of activities was to find it. Off we set to find the cache, A Cruz do Cruzeiro (GC3NNG2) . From the center of town it was just a short hike up the hill to find the cache. If one wishes to take a motor bike taxi one can pay a small fee for the ride up to the top of the small hill. There was a radio tower and some buildings at the top. This is a hill tourist visit to get a good view of the city and the Jurua River, including the new bridge. Our GPSr was true and took us to the site. Within a minute we had the cache in hand, signed it, got some pictures and then stopped to enjoy the beautiful view. Thanks GTAbusquedor for the opportunity to come to this place. I can't wait for tomorrow to head out looking for two more caches just a little way out of town. This is my first cache in Brazil and this is definitely one of the western-most caches in the country.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
My mother grew up in these parts of the knobs of Monroe County, Tennessee. Many folks go further and call it "East Tennessee" by habit. Even though I was raised in North Carolina, I spent a number of summers on my grandparent's farm on Kinser Branch, just about three miles as the crow flies from Craighead Caverns, better known today as "The Lost Sea". I grew up hearing the stories of the cave. A few years after my folks moved into the hills just west of the knobs a Pleistocene jaguar's remains were found in the caverns. This happened in 1939. Further exploration revealed that the caverns had been used by the Cherokee Indians and by Confederate miners extracting saltpeter to make gun powder for the war effort. The entrance to the cavern had even been turned into a tavern for drinking and dancing a one point. In the 1905 a thirteen year-old boy exploring the caverns discovered a small entrance that took him into a large room with a body of water. His lantern would only illuminate so far but as far as he could see and as far as he could throw balls of clay there was water or the sound of clay hitting the water in every direction. By the time he convinced his father to come see it the water had risen and the entrance way to the large room was lost. Several years later other explorers found the entrance and re-opened the quest for the Lost Sea. The large underground lake is considered to be the second largest in the world and the largest in the USA. It's worth a visit to anyone traveling through East Tennessee. Today all you have to do is follow the signs from any direction that lead to The Lost Sea. The tour includes a tour of the several rooms that are open to the public, a chance to experience 100% darkness, stories about the caverns and a boat ride on glass-bottomed boats affording you a view of the blind fish. When we went a guide told us about a workman who was down in one of the holes not too far from the tourist walking path. He was outfitted with a red jump suit. He'd gone into the hole to repair some of the lighting system. A tour came along about the time he came up out of the hole. One women nearly had a heart attack and was convinced that the devil was coming up out of the ground to get her. By the way, the area has its share of geocaches too. The closest one to the caverns is right on the property. Be sure and find the micro called Wishing you Well (GC359EA). Yeah, the name says a lot about this particular hide. If you get the itch to see some beautiful back country roads, head back through the knobs about three miles until you find Middlecreek Cache (GC1EAFH). It's right down creek from Kinser Branch where my folks used to live!
Sunday, June 10, 2012
I think that we participated in the only World Wide Flash Mob in all of South America today! Check out Bungle in the Central Peruvian Jungle (GC3JEHA) . Our little jungle town doesn't have many geocachers. As a matter of fact, other than Dav&Linda, sumajhuarmi and myself (sumajman) geocaching here depends on the occasional tourist coming through to do eco-tourism on the Ucayali River. As is the custom we approached ground zero a little before high noon on 9 June 2012. We found a park bench not far from the tall Clock Tower in the park overlooking the Ucayali River near the Pucallpa port. The park was full of people out enjoying the unseasonably cool (read: "nice") weather. It was an overcast day with a breeze and we were in the mid 60's temperature-wise. We were loving it. As the clock struck twelve and began to chime we moved to the coordinates, opened our cache box and signed the log. We thought we might be the only ones there when up walked Dav&Linda too! Together we concluded the log-signing business and set about getting a few pictures of the location, our WWFM IX sign and the Peruvian flag we had. We found a family that was visiting the park and taking pictures to get our group picture for us. Then we climbed up on the higher level of the clock tower to look at the Indian designs in the glass windows. By the time we finished this the clock was chiming at 15 minutes past the hour and we left. We reconvened at a local restaurant in the Hotel Mercedes several blocks away for a nice meal and visit by the pool. Dav&Linda had just returned from Lima yesterday and had stories to tell of their geocaching adventures there. I'm eager to follow the reports on WWFM IX. If all goes well there will be over 10,000 participants world wide today, all at the same hour. We contributed a little to that number. If you are interested and would like to know more about the WWFM visit www.podcacher.com or visit this link.
Sunday, June 3, 2012
One of the places to visit when you come to Ecuador is Pichincha volcano overlooking the city of Ecuador. There are several nice geocaches on the mountain that are worth the visit. On 7 October 1999 as I was headed out the door to go running I looked up and saw a white plumb of what looked like smoke boiling up out of the top of the mountain. In reality it was mainly steam with some ash, much less menacing than it appeared. We had been on eruption alert for several months at this time so we were expecting something. I called my wife out to see this and then got in the car to run get some things out of my office that I needed. I expected that we would have a significant ash fall and that I'd need to work out of my home the next several days. The cloud that appeared over the mountain looked like the results of a nuclear explosion. Check out the photos with this link! Within the hour the cloud had reached high into the atmosphere and began to flow out to the northeast. The ash fall was insignificant but the sight was amazing. Pichincha volcano is actually two volcanoes. One is named "Guagha" (the baby) and the other is named "Rucu" (the older). I've climbed both as they are easy climbs. To get to the crater of the volcano you'll pass close by Guagua Pichincha (GC15P8A). Be sure to visit it!