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Overnight I wondered if the cache behind the locked gate was being reached from the beach side. I drove back to Marina and tried to find where the trail presumably exited to the water. The beginning wasn’t promising.

Cables with signs stretched down the beach.

Finally, there was a small unblocked gap. The climb up was steeper that it looks in the picture.

This was the view inland from the top. If ever there was ever a sensitive area where people shouldn’t walk, this was it.

It probably would’ve been possible to reach the cache and the wrong side of the locked gate. Instead I enjoyed the view and climbed back down.

The geo map showed a cache on the other side of the parking lot. At least the trail there was open if somewhat buried.

The dunes there were less colorful. The trail is on an abandoned boardwalk.
My GPS agreed with the hint on the geo-page, at the red “X.” I rooted around for a long time but logged a DNF’d (Did Not Find). The cache owner contacted me the next day and said he found the container buried 1’ deep. Buried geocaches aren’t allowed by the rules of the game but considering the location, it’s unavoidable here. He moved it to the base of the pole holding the cable. I’ll get to it on my next trip.

With no luck geocaching I drove to a nearby park to try MAGNET FISHING. There’s a lake in there.

Access points were few and all of them were filthy. After completely circling the lake I gave up and drove back toward Monterey.

Halfway there I saw another lake just off the main street. 20 feet from parking I found a secluded section of walkway and dropped my magnet. The water was 8’ deep. Within seconds I felt the heavy click of metal and pulled up the bottom rack of a shopping cart. Note the crawfish on the right side who rode along from the bottom.

He was very very angry and snapped his claws at me. After the picture I plopped him back into the water.

In 15 minutes and only 2 steps in each direction from the starting point I found all of the junk below. The fishing hook, carabiner and Mexican coin looked new when wiped off. But everything reeked of sulfur. I dimly remembered that that type of rotting stench is produced by bacteria but not if it’s especially dangerous. I trashed the big pieces, bagged the small stuff and continued back the hotel. In the future I hope to find more interesting things like multi-tools, knives, fishing gear, etc…

Wind gusts were getting stronger all afternoon. I would’ve set up my ham radio loop antenna and tried to contact Pacific islands and Australia if the air was calm.

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After almost 3 months of mostly vegetating indoors I took a much needed 5 day trip back to the Monterey area. The first main activity was hiking in Point Lobos State Reserve.

I started with an inland leg, skipped for time last year. The sounds of Hwy 1 traffic faded as the trail led toward the ocean.

When turning to face a large movement in the bushes (Ewoks?) I walked into a hanging branch of poison oak. Of course, the only person I saw on this part of the hike rounded the corner at that moment. A know-it-all, apparently seeing me as a foreign tourist, he tried to explain poison oak and Tecnu in ‘easy English.’ I said, “I’m immune,” and kept walking to a bench where I sat down to use alcohol wipes, just in case. Minutes later poison oak was forgotten as the ocean came into view.

The trail emerged at Bird Island. Maybe it was the wrong time of the day or year but there were only a few birds, not the thousands that I’d hoped to see.

On a steep ledge was an example of my favorite species, the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black-crowned_night_heron Black Crowned Night Heron. I’ve also seen them at San Diego Bay and in the Sepulveda Basin in Van Nuys. They’re nocturnal hunters. At 2’ tall they’re hard to miss even when zoned out during the day.

Pairs of harbor seals, all 1 large & 1 small, swam slowly below this viewpoint. Mothers with pups?

Visitors gravitate to the more famously scenic forested North and South ends of the reserve. That leaves the middle tidepool area mostly muggle-free.

Last year, early in my rock tumbling hobby, I was disappointed that rock collecting is prohibited.Since then multiple trips to less restrictive beaches gave me the experience to identify the best and worst tumbling rocks. The ones here erode out of the cliffs.

And all were poor tumbling candidates. It was easy to walk away with empty pockets.

Two hours earlier, parking was hard to find. Now half of the spaces along the shoreline trail were open. Hint, early mornings are crowded. Mid-days, far less so.

North end views were as remembered. This time there were fewer tourist muggles and no need to wait for prime photo taking positions.

Sea lions barked. In the distance whales spouted and swam North. Bring binoculars! At a place like this you won’t look dorkish with them hanging around your neck. Those without will be envious.

Last year I had no patience to log the 3 shoreline earth caches. This time I was ready. But they’d been archived in the interim, another sign that the geocaching hobby is declining.

I enjoyed the views again on the reverse hike back to parking.

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Last month on my way home from Primm, Nevada, I pulled off of the I-15 multiple times to find freeway-close caches. About half way from Baker to Yermo I took the Field Road offramp and looked for 3 caches on the south side. The first one was Road Not Maintained (GC4QEX).

At all 3 caches I noticed that the ground was strewn with interesting rocks, many of which I knew would tumble well. But after a week of rock hounding and geocaching I was too tired to collect anything and hurried home instead. During the next 2 weeks I read that “Field Road Siding” is a famous rock hounding site picked over by collectors for a hundred years. Small pieces (just what I want for tumbling!) were reportedly still abundant and collectible specimens could still be found if one looked carefully.


I took advantage of the warm clear weather and the Martin Luther King holiday to return to Field Road. Just beyond the last cache I’d found 2 weeks earlier, the terrain looked like this.

Light rain a few days earlier washed off the rocks and there was still enough moisture to hold down the dust. I quickly started to collect 1” to 2.5” rocks. They’d been ignored by generations of specimen collectors and lapidarists who took only larger rocks. I even found another cache in the middle of the rock field.

I’d started in mid afternoon after arriving directly from home. Still, I quarter filled a canvas shopping bag and found 7 geocaches before sundown.


Early the next morning I drove from my usual Barstow motel back to Field Road. This time I went to the north side of the freeway. Following directions in Gem Trails of Southern California, by Otie Braden, I drove 1.2 miles to a site with even more rocks than the previous day.

The farther away from the dirt road, the better the choice of quality rocks. Here’s one I found about .35 miles out. It’s too big for my tumblers but a specimen collector would probably want it.

There were no geocaches here but other oddities were seen.

I wondered how and when this rolling pin ending up in the middle of the Mojave.

Three hours and another half bag of rocks later I cached along a dirt track that eventually turned into a paved but strangely dilapidated and deserted section of Yermo Road. It was only miles later when I drove up to the back side of road closure barricades that I knew the reason why.

I ended the day with 7 more geocaches.

The next morning (Monday) I checked out and drove west on the newly extended Hwy 58 and exited on unpaved Helendale Road. Then I turned south on Open Route 4800 which is arrow straight for 20+ miles to the eastern edge of Lancaster. This shortcut isn’t recommended for 2WD passenger cars due to sandy or (uninteresting) rock filled stretches. On the way I stopped for caches skipped on earlier trips. One was in a giant tire near a more attention grabbing half-boat. A cautious look inside revealed no homeless person. Then insights were gained about boat construction and flotation.

Here’s a Halloween themed cache.

This one was guarded by another rigor mortise tortoise. I see far too many of those.

Two plastic ammo can caches were weathered on the outside but clean and new-looking inside.

At home I washed off my collected rocks. These 2 pieces of petrified wood were my best finds. They’ll be kept as-is and not tumbled.

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After Thanksgiving dinner I drove to my standby motel in Barstow eager for an early start in the morning to rock hound at the world famous Lavic Siding jasper fields. Most newbie rock hounds would’ve been out of their element. But as a desert geocacher the 45 miles drive on Route 66 felt comfortably familiar. The turnout for Lavic Siding is at geocache 155-Route 66 (GC2JXWB).I parked only .25 miles in, planning to hike a circle while looking for jaspers for my rock tumblers.A first glance showed that no hike was needed. The ground was COVERED with red, yellow and red-yellow jaspers. This is the view at parking.I walked about 500’ away in each direction, collecting as I returned to my Subaru. The abundance was overwhelming and I wanted everything. It’s legal to take “reasonable amounts” for non-commerical personal use.After a few minutes I became selective and avoided rocks with extreme shapes, visible fractures, deep holes or pits. I took home about 15 lbs to fit in my table top tumblers. Here’s the first batch.The afternoon was spent 4 miles west, geocaching at Pisgah Crater.Here’s ground zero at a lava outcropping. The cache was a rodent-chewed decon container.And a sea of untumblable volcanic rocks was underfoot.The next cache was a DNF and the one after that was in a lava clearing.More caches were ahead but so were a dozen wildly speeding quads on the narrowing road. Instead of risking a collision or breathing volcanic dust I went back to Barstow to recharge for a day of geocaching.


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