From San Francisco we took another long road trip to Calabasas, where we were staying, just outside LA. We decided to take a detour on our way there and pass through Los Padres National Forest. There were hundreds of caches in there and it looked like such a lovely area to visit.
We stopped off at just GBttS # 300 “CACTI” on our way there, but it was a nice cache hidden at a fruit/nut farm just off of the highway. The cache itself was hidden in a prickly pear plant! We had to be very careful retrieving it!
The fruit and nut shop itself had hundreds of locally grown nuts, seeds, and fruit for sale. It looked very orange inside! They also gave free tasters of everything, perfect for hungry travelers! 😉
As we got very close to the national forest I noticed a “Large” cache just off the road. On closer inspection the cache was called “An ode to nudecacher“. Knowing who “nudecacher” is, we just HAD to stop for it! Nudecacher is a Washington cacher who, as you have probably guessed by now, is starkers when he finds caches. Check out his profile for a few example, they are quite tastefully done!!! We were so glad we had stopped off for the cache as it really was a large! It was the biggest ammo can we had ever seen!!! There were also some really lovely views from the spot.
There were “Thank you nudecacher” signs inside so that you could pose for a picture in the nude and cover your bits with the signs and the Private Property sign behind. We were fully clothed when we did our pics, however, but check out the cache page for a few more adventurous snaps!
We started off with a series along a dirt road named after food. Some of the caches we found had amusing names like Slutty Cracker, Salty Balls, and Big Nutz. There was a real variety of containers along the series and we picked up about 30 caches from it before the road turned too rough and we didn’t want to risk taking the hire car down it.
After that series we headed back to the main road where there were a variety of drive-by caches. The road was full of sharp bends absolutely everywhere and it was like a roller coaster weaving in and out of the mountains. There were safe pull-ins at about every quarter mile and therefore plenty of places for caches.
We stopped off at Monkey View which required a bit of monkey business to retrieve. Luckily we had brought a monkey with us and Ray quickly clambered up the bars and to the cache. There were some amazing views at this spot.
From doing these caches we also learnt what a Manzanita tree is. There were a few caches hidden near them. They had very bright red/brown bark, stiff twisting branches and really stood out from the other vegetation.
The following day we headed into LA. We wanted to see the Hollywood sign, stars on the pavement, and the star’s hand prints like true tourists! 😉 There were a few caches in the city too to keep us busy. One was An American Legend, a virtual at Mel’s Drive In. We didn’t know she owned an American diner, she must have been keeping that one secret! 😉
There was a cache, Grauman’s Redux, at the Chinese theater where the star hand prints were too so we were able to pick up a cache there as well as do a bit of sightseeing. Despite it being a very busy area we were still able to get the cache without a problem, as everyone was too busy taking photos.
The next stop was the Hollywood sign. Although you can see it from the city, it’s not a clear view. So what did you do when you need to find something? Find a cache near by!!! The Picture Perfect Hollywood Sign cache took us right to a secluded trail that led right to the hill that the sign sits on. Whilst we were hunting for the cache we saw a couple of people climbing up the hill to try and get to the sign. There was an announcement on loud speakers that told them to climb back down!
A slight stroll further along the trail took us to Howdy-Doo Hollywood, an ammo can hidden in the bushes below the Hollywood sign, it was absolutely brilliant! We definitely wouldn’t have known about the area if it wasn’t for Geocaching.
We weren’t very impressed with LA and were very glad that we hadn’t booked 2 weeks in the city. Instead we headed to Santa Monica beach which our hotel receptionist had recommended to us. This definitely didn’t disappoint! There was a lovely pier, a beautiful beach and a few caches dotted around for us to grab.
There was also a web cam cache on the pier, Santa Monica Pier. I tried to connect to it, but it wasn’t working. The cache description said it was ok to log the cache if the camera wasn’t working as long as you take a picture of yourself there, so that is exactly what we did!
We headed into Santa Monica where the shops were and where there were a few caches. We obviously weren’t discrete enough with our urban caching in the town though as one lady spotted us retrieving and replacing a cache from under one of the newspaper boxes and asked us what we were doing. We said that we were doing an “orienteering game” where we find containers and sign books in them to say that we had been there. Mid-explanation, she replied “Yeah, I’ve heard of rugby before”. Hehe! God knows what she thought we had said!!! We tried to explain Geocaching, but she didn’t understand although she did thank us for trying. We had quite a few incidents on our trip where the Americans we spoke to couldn’t understand our English accents. We had to adapt the way we spoke. We learnt that when asking for “Batteries” you need to say “badderies”. “Box” needs to be “Bax” and when ordering a milkshake and the waitress asks if you want “Vanilla, chocolate or strawberry” it takes 3 attempts for them to understand our pronunciation of the word “Strawberry”. We had a good laugh with the Americans that couldn’t understand us. Many did say that they loved our accents though! One guy at one of the supermarkets asked us “How’s the Prince?” I told him that we know him personally and he’s fine. He then asked us how the Queen was. We told him we saw her a couple of weeks ago and she seemed OK as well. Lol! Everywhere we went we were warmly welcomed and had quite a few in depth conversations with random Americans that we bumped into on our travels.
Anyway, I digress…
I listen to the Podcacher podcast and The Geocaching podcast quite a lot (both are American) and they often mention a store called “REI”. In Santa Monica we spotted an REI store so had to have a look. Inside we found loads of hiking and camping gear, every GPS you could imagine and a section dedicated to Geocaching stuff! We were impressed! Outside there was a cool little plate on the ground that told you the height above sea level of the store.
Finally we headed back towards to pier for one last cache, Fallen Heroes, hidden by a memorial to those in the Armed Forces who have lost their lives in war.
For our final day in LA we headed back to Los Padres National Forest. There were so many caches in there and it was such a lovely area so it was a lovely escape from the city. It was about an hours drive from where we were staying, but well worth it. It was just a shame that we weren’t staying in LA for longer as there were enough caches to keep us busy for at least another week!
On our way into the Forest we stopped for a few drive-by’s. Maricopa/Ojai Travelers Motel was the best camoflagued regular we have ever found and it took quite a hunt to uncover it…
Once in the Forest the fun began! We found Another Stinky Badfeet Sneaker, a “sneaker cache”. I’d questioned what these were when a fellow Geocaching blogger mentioned finding them, thinking a “sneaker cache” was one that was really well hidden. In fact, it is one hidden in a trainer! I’m not quite sure why you would want to put a cache in a trainer, but we found it all the same!
Our caches along this stretch of road took us to some lovely spots, including You’ve got Mail at “USA’s smallest post office” which is featured in Ripley’s Believe it Or not museum.
There was also Spring Guarden: GSM H-a-D #58 near a lovely spring flowing off of the hills.
At one of the geocaches we bumped into another cacher, bythewind777, she asked us if we were heading to Rose Valley Falls. We didn’t know what this was so she explained that it is a lovely spot with a lovely waterfall with a few caches there including one in a cave. It sounded good so we rerouted our satnav to take us there. The road through the Forest was extremely bendy so we had to take the road slowly so that we got there on one piece!
As the road was so bendy through the mountains there were lots of crash barriers, which are naturally great hiding places for caches. We were very impressed with the keysafes we found in America. They were much chunkier and looked more watertight that the ones that we get in the UK.
We finally got to Rose Valley Falls where there was a lovely camping area where you could stay for $5 a night! We just parked up and found the sign for the hiking trail.
We followed along a little stream picking up a couple of caches along the way to the waterfall. The stream was absolutely beautiful and we had to do a bit of rock hopping to get there. It was like being in the Peak District again.
The waterfall was absolutely breathtaking. It was also very loud as the water came crashing down through the moss. Inside the cave was a traditional and an earthcache. The cache description told us that to get inside the cave you have to crawl in and then stand up. The gap for the cave was absolutely tiny and you had to crawl through a puddle to get in. Ray, being the bravest climbed in. We waited outside for him for a little while. Whilst he was in there we shouted questions for the earth cache and he shouted back. We could barely hear him! After a few minutes he climbed back out, but without the cache. He said there was another entrance at the other side so we clambered around and found that. That one was easier to climb in to as there wasn’t the big puddle outside so I went with him. We both searched, but couldn’t find the cache. The cave was only a couple of meters wide. We both searched everywhere, but couldn’t find the cache. We checked the log and it hadn’t been found since November. The cache description also said that it kept going missing, so we replaced the cache. When we came out of the cave we were joined by an Australian guy and his dog. He came to the waterfall to fill up his bottle with the water running from it. I asked him if you could drink the water. He told me that you should probably boil it first, but as it’s running off the rocks through the moss so quickly it’s probably fine. He said that he uses it for washing. We got chatting to him and he told us he is living off his savings in his camper van whilst he studies because rent is $4000 a month. He just goes to the waterfall when he needs water.
The waterfall was a lovely sight and a nice break from the drive-by’s we had been doing for the morning. After a spot of lunch at Rose Valley Falls we headed for the TOW “Trail of Wood” series. This was a stretch of 144 caches. They were all custom caches constructed in small chunks of wood a few inches long.
Although we were out in the middle of nowhere, we passed a Buddist temple! It was quite an unexpected sight, although quite appropriate when we thought about it.
It was quite sad to see that a huge portion of the woods had burnt down. There must have been a huge fire that swept across.
Unfortunately I have to say that the TOW series was a little bit boring. Once you find one container made out of a bit of wood you’ve found them all! Also, the lids for the containers were very tricky to remove with many lids being nibbled and the logbooks were too short for the container so they took some work to remove and once removed they were almost always completely full. It was very tricky at times to find the wood which quite often seemed like it had been randomly chucked in the bushes. It was nice near the end of the series when the caches became more inventive. The best cache was near the very end of the series. A very unexpected surprise.
And we chuckled at the modification of one of the signs while the boys found the cache.
The following day we headed towards Barstow. We were on our way back to Las Vegas, but going via Barstow and Needles where the Route 66 cache series falls between. Near Barstow we spent the day doing the “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” series. This was a long series of caches along another dirt road. The caches were placed in quite obvious positions. Unfortunately there wasn’t anything exciting along the series that we hadn’t seen already… apart from a desert turtle! We were very lucky that we managed to spot it. There was a big area fenced off where they were kept and Andy managed to spot one before we drove away.
We took it in turns to jump out and grab the caches. Sometimes they were right under our noses and we couldn’t even spot them!!!
It was nice to spot the stamp of a Californian blogger whose blog I read inside the caches, Old dweeb. Head on over to his blog, for his entry about the Planes, trains and Automobiles series.