Monday, 21 January 2013

Geocaching at home

Saturday 19 January

While at home I will follow up with updates on our hobby geocaching.  Not only Frank and I are active, but Kevin has joined in again and also Tori has taken it up again.  Keeping in mind though, that neither of them have as much time as we do.  Family and work get in the way. :-)

On Saturday Kevin came over with Adele and the children, killing two birds with one stone: welcoming us back home and going for a bike ride. After lunch we set out with our list on the mobile phones and walked to the first cache, Full Head of Steam.

I keep forgetting to take pictures, so from time to time I might sneak one in from the internet

So close to home, but I have never even attempted this one.  We were to search for a micro cache with, what we thought, clear hints, but to no avail.  6 Pairs of eyes couldn't find it.  I should have probably paid more attention to the details and the logs, because this was a 3 star difficulty with 88 DNFs (did not find) out of the 118!! So, eventually we gave up and walked on to the Bribie Seaside Museum to search for the cache by the same name.  It had been Frank's first find half a year ago.  Kevin new where it was, but had not been able to sign the log and this time we left it to Adele to try and find the cache, which she did. Hooray!

An old picture, taken when it was being built in 2009
After this find we walked home to pick up our bikes and togs (swim suits for those who don't know Aussie slang ;-)) for a ride to Woorim beach, because it certainly was a hot day.

On the way to Woorim we pass the Memorial Gardens (cemetery) where a cache is also hidden, so we stopped off to look for R.I.P. on Bribie.  It didn't take long at all.  This time Kevin was the first to spot it.  It was very cleverly camouflaged.

Next the children and us were longing for a dive in the ocean, so on we went to Woorim, where we parked the bikes.

This is the beach where I often go for my morning walk and I took this picture last Friday morning:

You don't recognise the place on a hot day when everyone wants to come out for a swim:

Some were longingly eying the cruise boat in the distance
Sunday 20 January

A busy day for me as I was taking a workshop at the Brisbane Miniatures club first.  Then I dropped Frank off at Redland Bay for him to catch the ferry home.  As the meeting had finished 2 hours early I had a bit of time on my hands, so I decided to look up my good friend Ricky, who's health hasn't been the best for a while and it was time to catch up after having been away for so long.  It was good to have a chin wag... (Aussie slang for 'a talk')

As I had promised to visit Stephen and Tori and the children later in the afternoon I headed towards Thorneside at about 4 pm and it was good to see all of them.  Amongst other things we got to talk about geocaching and as it happened Tori told me that just the day before she had dropped off her TB in a cache close by: Bayside Spelling Bee - T is for Tom's Train Spot.  It was one that she had taken to Queensland on their trip north from Victoria some time ago now, and I was keen to lay my hands on it.  So, we got in the car and did a quick sweep of the place.  The cache was in a park and James was keen to lead me to it, although he didn't convey its whereabouts exactly.  The name is a bit out of the ordinary, because it used to be part of a puzzle series that has fallen apart over the years.  This cache stayed and is now just an ordinary cache.

Again no pictures taken, but.... I do have a picture of the TB, a cute little stuffed animal like the lion we have found.

TB Eyechiwawa

Eyechiwawa and Ledu

Had I known that I would go caching today I would have brought Ledu or the other TB, because it's time they get dropped off.  I'd better put them all in the glove box or in my backpack, so that I have them handy where ever I go.  It will be hard to part with them though, because aren't the the cutest little things?

See you next time...

Thursday, 17 January 2013

The home coming...

Sunday 16 January

By the time I am writing this we're a few days down the track and I really have to try to cast my memory back to France!

Sunday morning.  The big cleaning day, or anyhow, what's left.  Upstairs we've already done and are now sleeping in the spare bedroom, so only downstairs is waiting.  Kitchen, cellar, lounge room (although we've never used this room, a bit of vacuuming and dusting never hurts) and the main living area in the kitchen.  We've never found anything to clean the tiled floor with properly so it's not very easy, but in the end it looks presentable.  The kitchen was a big job, because this has also looked it has never been cleaned well, but I decide that I am not going to leave it any cleaner than when we arrived.  Once before I have left a kitchen cleaner than we've found it, but I am not going to make a habit of it. :-)

By the time I am putting the last cleaning tools away there is a knock on the door and Mireille and Bernard enter.  We make coffee and sit down to have a last chat.  At least, that's what I thought, because they are here to invite us for a last get-together at their place later in the afternoon.  So after a while they leave and I am going to have a bit of a rest, because I had gotten up with a migraine type of headache, which is not improving.  Resting in the chair is not working, so an hour or so in bed in a dark room might do the trick.

Not so.  By 2:30 pm I come down and feel even worse than before.  When it's time to go we decide that Frank will go and I will follow if I improve.  If not, so be it.  I am desperately sick at first but after an hour or so things improve slightly and I feel that perhaps a walk in the cold air might do me good, so I walk over to next door.  Everyone seems to have been waiting for me.  Even George has come down to say goodbye to us.  When I tell them what is wrong and that I have an upset stomach as well as a headache they give me an effervescent, which seems to work for a while.  I even feel like having a coffee.  Mireille has made a St Genis cake and it tastes even better than the one we ordered from the baker some time ago.  So we while the afternoon away with chatting, having cake and coffee and more cake and coffee.  We talk about the wildlife in France and Australia and Bernard produces a number of beautiful picture books.  I learn that the birds we have seen are buzzards.

Common buzzard

Again I have used a picture off the internet, since we've never been able to stop along the roadside, nor do I have the appropriate camera to photograph wildlife so beautifully.  However, we have seen many of them.  sometimes up to eleven or so, sitting in the fields or on fence posts, like in the picture above.

Back to Sunday afternoon.....  By six o'clock I am going to spoil the fun again, because both my headache and nausea are returning with a vengeance, and I need to be fit for travelling tomorrow.  We say goodbye to the whole family and we really feel like we are leaving very good friends behind.  These people have been so kind...

At home I feel to sick to eat and Frank is not hungry after all the cake, so he's having a quick and easy meal.  Gabrielle rings to confirm that they'll pick us up at nine am tomorrow.  We're packed and ready, so we're going to have an early night.

Monday 17 January

We have decided to get up at six to give ourselves plenty of time to get ready.  Breakfast and showers first. Beds done, bathroom done, we pack the last bit and bring all the suitcases outside.  A last wiping of the tiled floor and it's close to nine.  Gabrielle and Bernard arrive on the dot, so we head for Lyon.  In a way I am sorry to leave.  It's such a beautiful country at the foot of those majestic mountains and we did have good times.  (The few bad ones are quickly forgotten.)

We're in time to meet René   He's looking well and not worse for wear after his long trip.  It takes some time to get everything settled, like the parking, but once it's done we make our way outside to the airport hotel.  René insisted we'd try to drop off our luggage, but British Airways tell us that we have to wait till two hours before departure (as I could have told René, but he 'knows' everything so well, since he travels a lot!)

In the hotel Gabrielle and Bernard catch up with René's stories about the holiday and after a while it's time to have lunch, which we are having together.  A nice way to round off the holidays for the three of us.

Frank & Gabrielle

Gabrielle & Marion

Frank, Gabrielle, Bernard, René

Frank, Gabrielle, Bernard, René
Since they need an hour and a half to get home, and do some shopping on the way, they leave shortly after lunch.  This means that Frank and I have to kill time till at least 4:20 pm, which we do back at the airport.  I am glad I've got my Kindle, and a few good books on it, so the wait is not too bad.

The waiting game (Lyon airport)
At 4:20 pm we are back at BA check in point and print our boarding passes after which we turn to the Bag Drop Off behind us.  The girl tells us that she can't accept our bags, because there is another plane that needs to take off first and the bags would get mixed up (sort of...)  She speaks a heavily accented English, so we can't understand her.  We ask her to explain more clearly what's the matter.  She does, with little improvement and Frank and I both understand that we have to come back 20 minutes before departure time.  That's odd, but it's also odd that the bags can't be checked in 2 hours before departure, since that's the customary time.  Well, we walk back and have a cup of coffee.  Our last chance to have a piece of the lovely Galette Frangipane, which goes down well.

Then we walk back to BA's check in counter and discover.... everything is closed!!!  What the heck is going on here?  We ask at the information desk and are being told that we are too late for check in and baggage drop off.  Uuhhh???  So, we go into discussion with this young lady, but we are consistently told that it is Our Fault!  She will arrange a new flight for the next day....!!!  Well, that got me so mad....  Anyway, to keep a long story short, she relented in the end and got someone to check in our bags.  This still took a while, so by the time (we were told off for a second time and) and had our bags gone through we ran for the gate, which by Murphy's Law is not the first one on the list, and made it to security with a few minutes to spare.  Security, as you all know, is hell since 2001 and it's not getting any better, in particular when you're in a hurry.  Jackets in the tray, shoes off (Frank), belt off (Frank), laptop out of the bag in a tray, Kindle out of my handbag in a tray, handbag in a tray, etc. etc.  Cleared, we want to run, but......... no the police needs to see our passports, of course! And finally we make it to the plane where the last people are still boarding.  Boy, are we ever glad that we made it, and are we for ever sure that we are not flying BA again if we can help it!  

The flight to Heathrow is quite uneventful and at least the staff is pleasant.  By the time we leave Lyon airport it's dark and we will arrive in the dark at Heathrow as well.

Lyon by night (as seen from the plane)
In Heathrow it's the same old, same old.  Two buses to get to the right terminal and endless walking up and down corridors and escalators.  It doesn't leave much time between flights, but that's okay.  We want to keep going anyway.

On the bus at Heathrow

London airport (Heathrow)
The next flight is to Singapore.  I wish I could say 'uneventful', but no, with BA it just isn't.  This time the entertainment centre is not working and takes an hour or so for the technicians to get it up and running.  I can't read in the meantime, because my reading light isn't working either!  Further in the flight toilets get blocked, so it makes you wonder if the crucial parts will keep working till we have landed......  An other survey form would have come in handy!

At Singapore airport we have a longer wait, but it isn't too bad. Changi always offers lots of things and we walk around a bit, including one of the gardens:

Singapore airport (Changi)
We find some easy chairs (hard to find at any other airport) and we eat some of the cheese, dates and figs that we have taken with us.  After another walk we sit down with a cup of coffee and then it's slowly getting close to boarding time.  We're happy to sit down again after we have cleared security yet again...

Wednesday 16 January

The final flight with Qantas was fine.  Friendly people, nice food and... everything worked for a change.  I even managed to sleep a little bit, but for most of the time I've been reading and I watched a movie.  We finally arrive at 7 am, nice and early.  However, not early enough to have beaten other planes, so the line for customs is endless and we're in the queue for seemingly hours.  At least we don't have to wait for our luggage.  We don't spend much time at customs to get our suitcases cleared, because we have declared our food and other stuff and all gets okayed (as expected).  Finally, at 9 am we can ring the airport shuttle to pick us up.  We pick up the car and drive home, so a good hour later we're home, sweet home!

And there we are in for a bit of a surprise.  Remember we had problems about the use of the car? Well, I shouldn't have worried about it.  Nor about cleaning René's house so thoroughly.  First thing I notice is the table rug lying on the floor.  Now, I know it's very old-fashioned, but it's by choice that I still have my table covered with an Oriental carpet.  Why René has put it on the floor is beyond me, but it's clear that he wanted it off the table, because it's replaced by a small woven placemat on which is placed the crystal fruit bowl that normally sits in the centre of the table.  How odd!  The bathroom rugs are all in different places, but not in the bathrooms.  And when I have a good look around the place I can tell that almost everything is out of place.  A lot of stuff has been put into cupboards or is just lined up somewhere else....  In the kitchen most of the pots and pans and other things are everywhere but in their right place.  Worst of all, he has taken it upon himself to put dots with a black marker on the various ceiling fan switches.  It's something I wouldn't dream of doing in other people's houses.  At least, not with a black marker!  And....... I can't find my key box anywhere, which has always been on the wine rack in the hallway.  We look through the whole house and eventually I start doubting myself.  It was there when we left, wasn't it???

Anyway, we have plenty to do, so we have a cup of coffee first and then start unpacking.  After that we spend some time re-arranging all the stuff and I send off an email to René about the keys, which, he tells me eventually by return email, he has put in the hallway linen cupboard, because they were in full view from the front door and that was unsafe. Well, I would have preferred to worry about that myself if the need would have been there!

When I go and have a look at the garden, which seems alright, I notice a plastic bag with some stuff on top of the airconditioning unit on the patio.  At closer inspection I discover that it is a broken garden ornament.  No note, no nothing!  I wasn't really attached to the thing, but..... an apology would have been nice.  Are we stupid or what? In America we slightly damaged the screen of the GPS and replaced it by a new one, because that's what you do, I thought.  In France we broke a drinking glass and bought a new set of three.  There is no written etiquette for house exchangers, but I thought that amongst most of those people common courtesy would be to at least apologise for breakage, or better, replace items by something of equal or better value if at all possible.  

One thing is sure, the house will gradually need a good clean up.  The floors are okay, but I don't think René has used the duster very often and the kitchen....... is beyond belief.  It's very possible that the stove top (ceramic, so it's an easy to clean surface) has not been cleaned once!  The whole area around it is sticky to the touch and oh so greasy.  It takes a good work-out with Jif and hot soapy water to get the kitchen and everything in it shiny again.  After that I am too pooped to do much else, so it's an early night for us.  We are going to catch up on some necessary sleep and tomorrow?  Tomorrow we're back to everyday life......... till the next trip.  See you then and thanks for following us on our trip to France.

By the way, don't ask me to tell you which exchange I have most liked out of the four so far.  Every one was different, and even though the last one had a few minor problems I wouldn't have wanted to miss it for the world.  I might not have been very excited about the house, but everything else made the exchange worth while: neighbours, surroundings, the history of the places, even the snow!  That was a bonus!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

The last few days

Friday 11 January

As we have decided that we leave the car at home, we're staying put too! :-)  By now we've seen enough I would say, and what we haven't seen will still be there if we ever decide to come back...  All good things come to and end, although we both agree, it would be lovely to come back in summer time some day.  Who knows.  There might be someone willing to exchange in the area or some other nice spot near the mountains.

Anyway, today we're staying home.  I have started to do the final washing and ironing, have to update the blog, which is quite a substantial job every time (what will I do with my time when we're back home???) and there is still the matter of the next house exchange.  So far all requests meet with negative responses, but we plod on...

I don't do much on the computer at night, because that's Frank's time.  He's watched all episodes of Flodder (a Dutch series for those who're not familiar with it), which doesn't really take my fancy, so in the meantime I read or keep myself occupied playing wordfeud.  Since Frank's finished the series a bit early he also catches up with the movies that I've seen, but happen to be on the laptop still: Cabaret and Fairy Tale - A True Story.  Both movies worthwhile watching.  I still have a few left for next time, but it's time I go and talk with somebody to see if we can get a few more... ;-)

Saturday 12 January

We're up early and wake up to a white world again.  No, no snow unfortunately, but frost.  Not very good, because the plan was to go to the car wash today to leave a sparkling clean car for René, but no such luck.  After the baker has been and we have said our goodbyes, we drive to St Siméon de Bressieux and fill up the car.  Alas, when Frank enquires after the car wash the lady says it's doubtful that it will work today, and she's right.  It's a no go.

So, we do our shopping so that we can re-stock the pantry and fridge and go back home.  It's lunch time, so we're going to have a quick bite to eat and then Frank will go out and wash the car by hand while the sun is still shining.  In the meantime Kevin appears on skype and we have a nice last chat before we see each other again next week.  They are planning to drop by on Saturday, so it will be great to see the family again.

After lunch Frank tackle's the car.  It's not an easy job, because there is ice on top of the water in the concrete 'pond' outside, meaning it's very, very cold!  There is no hose (or rather, the tap doesn't work), so the job needs to be done by hand.  Ah well, in the end the car sparkles in the sun.  He's done a nice job.

While Frank is cleaning the car I start with the packing and that part of the cleaning which can be done a day or two before we leave.  There is always last minute stuff, but we'll tackle that on Monday morning before we leave.

At the end of the afternoon the car and upstairs are done, as well as the major work in the bathroom. We can finally sit down and relax a bit with a glass and some nibbles.  We leave downstairs for tomorrow.   We spend some time again sorting through the home exchange site and see if there is anything else on offer that takes our fancy.  That's all so far.  This will probably the last update before we are leaving.  The next one I may do once we're back home, and that will be the final one till our next exchange, or.... I don't know yet, I may make this into a joint travelling and geocaching blog.  We'll see.  I'll let you know either way.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Geocaching: a game or an obsession

Tuesday 8 January

Monday was full on with not only six caches to log, but we did a lot of searching, climbing and.... thinking.  So today we've given ourselves a day off.  First of all I need time to do some blogging, but there's also the planning and organising of holidays for this year to be done.  If time permits I need to squeeze in some work on yesterday's puzzles.

Blogging is straightforward.  Searching for a new house exchange for this year is not so easy.  We've had a request, but we were not so enthusiastic about it and it may have shone through our response.  Well, we have learned now, that it's best to question things and provide people with your standpoint.  If that doesn't lead to an exchange, too bad, but if we don't do that and it leads to an unhappy exchange we're going to regret it.  Most offers are from the USA, but we would like a bit of variation, so we are going to try a few different countries.  So far I haven't had any responses, but will keep you posted if something is happening.

There was some washing to be done today as well, but with my thoughts elsewhere I forgot, so Frank picked up the dirty stuff and put it all in the washing machine.  He wasn't a happy chappy, but he'll get over it... ;-)  It was mostly because his jacket had gotten so dirty with the tree climbing, and he wasn't going to travel in it.

I have already mentioned in my latest posting that we've solved the puzzles, one of them with the help of our daughter-in-law.  My last resort is to mail the owner of the puzzle cash with the request to give us a hand, or at least another hint.  I write to him that we only have a few more days and that we would love to find the last of the five caches.  At that moment I don't have the answer to the sequence puzzle yet either.

The problem we are facing with this last one is that we have to know where the town hall is in Laveyron, and the 'préfecture de l'Aveyron'.  With the newly obtained coordinates, which should be at some crossroads near the town hall of Laveyron, we have to draw an azimuth and move 75m into the so obtained direction.  Huh, azimuth?  Never heard of it.  I am happy enough that I can read maps and have been able to use a compass since the last half year (when we started geocaching), but that's where my navigating skills end.  So, I shoot of this email and hope for the best.
Wednesday 9 January

Today it's waiting for the baker again, so we can take it easy in the morning.  Just as I am going to have a shower Leonie skypes and we can catch up on some gossip again.  It's still very hot downunder and fires are raging everywhere like Tasmania, NSW, Victoria and on home ground: Bribie Island.  However (I knew about this, so wasn't too worried yet) not in our neighbourhood, but in the national park which covers the largest bit of the northern half of the island.  Before the heat of the summer started we already had fires over on our site, so a lot of the fuel had been burned already, and it has been quite dry since.  

When we're done with the preparations we leave and our first stop is Parc de la Ronceraie.  I haven't heard back from the cache owner, but we now have the correct coordinates (once you think you have them you can check them on the geocaching website).  We have seen a picture of a big slab of stone and we've seen the spoiler (a picture which can give away something important about the place), so we hope for the best.

It's rather cold again, but dry, so we're at least not doing all the walking in the rain.  We have lunch first and set out onto the path in the park.  First thing we see when we get close to the coordinates is a slab of stone.  We think 'bingo', but are way to early....  We can't seem to find the tree and since we don't know into which direction we should walk it gets a bit difficult.  Then we find another slab of stone, and yet another.  We walk, and walk and walk a bit more, but the darned tree is elusive.  After a while we call it a day.  We've walked enough!  

This slab proves to be the crucial one, but we don't know this yet

On the way back we check an earlier cache for a TB that should've been in there and that we thought we'd overlooked it, but it definitely isn't there.  We also want to catch up with a cache that we missed on Monday, but the only road in we can find is the one that you have to walk and on a day like this (and have walked enough already) we're not ready for a two (!) hour climb.  We'd better give that a miss....

A few pictures taken on the way back

Than there's only Ensemble Conventuel de Charrière left on the way home.  This proves to be an easy one and at least we're not going home empty handed. The cache is easily found, but not so easily retrieved as the container is stuck, so Frank goes home with a little dent in his forehead...  He's not unhappy though.  He's clocked up his 50th cache.  I did a few days earlier, but Frank will catch up once we're back home and will try and find the two that I have done with Kevin and the grandchildren earlier last year.

The church was destroyed in 1567 and rebuilt in the 16th century

Parts of the Franciscan convent are being restored

After this quick find we had some time to spare and since we passed Hauterives anyway on the way back we stopped of at the cemetery where we knew le Facteur Cheval to be buried.  You remember the name from Le Palais Idéal?  We had just been talking about it the day before on skype with Frank's sister.  We parked the car near the main road and walked a path around the back, so we had another nice walk, although towards the end of the day it doesn't get any warmer...  The tomb is impressive, to say the least:

When we came home we were rather too tired to do much, not even updating the blog!  So, we had a quiet evening and an early night.

Thursday 10 January

And here I get to the point: is geocaching a game or an obsession?  I think for us at this moment it is becoming a (temporary) obsession.  Having come so far with the puzzles we are desperate to find that elusive cache in Parc de la Ronceraie.  We have solved the four puzzles, the coordinates are correct, but.... we still have no idea what to do with that azimuth business.  

Aha, at least there is a response from the cache owner.  He tells us that we are very close with the coordinates and shows which number is incorrect.  Well, that's something we had already discovered, and fixed.  We were only one digit out, because I'd misread the French instructions and after checking on GeoChecker we were now sure of the correct one.  It wasn't after I looked at Tori's email that I discovered she'd already given me the correct answer, but I'd only seen the link to the website.... LOL  Anyway, there is still the next matter, and cache owner tells us that the 'préfecture de l'Aveyron' is in Rodez.  So, we sit down to look for information on azimuth on the internet and I do a quick course on compass reading and navigating and all else that matters and at the end we know what to do.  We also now have point B i.e. Rodez. We know the direction and length from our starting point A, we have seen the spoiler so what's going to keep us from finding the last cache??? :-)

Having put the festive days behind us I was hoping to find a hairdresser open for business, as after 10 weeks I am becoming a bit desperate to get my hair done. It was rather short before we left and in the cold it's quite nice to have it a bit longer, but this long is becoming a bit ridiculous.  Before we go on our last geocaching trip we drive to the hairdresser in Roybon where a notice on the window tells us that she's on maternity leave and will not be back until the 17th.  The second one in town is also closed, so we head for Laveyron again to see if today we have more luck on the way, and we do.  In Hauterives the salon is open and a very kind lady tells me that she can do it right away.  While she's washing and trimming my hair we have a nice chat (I even manage this in French!) and half an hour later (and too much money poorer, jeez, my hair wasn't that long....) we are on our way again to Laveryon.  We have a cup of coffee first at the park and next walk up the path in search of the cache.  It's just as well I have looked up the coordinates on Google Earth, because neither the GPS nor my compass on the phone are any help.  From assumed point A we walk into the direction B, roughly measuring our steps to walk the distance of 75m.  This leads us to one of the stone slabs, which we had in mind the first time around.  Would you believe that it still takes us about 20 minutes to find that tree?  It's photographed angle is quite different from any approach except the correct one.  With the hint in mind though, I am finally able to located it and only then we can see the tree and the hiding place underneath.  Here we 'high five', sign the log and leave, happy as Larry.  Thrilled with our achievement!  In our excitement we forget to take pictures, but it's not too bad, since we've already been here before.

I took some pictures while driving back though.

It's still early in the day, and we have more unfinished business, so we drive to Sur les terres de Rathérius, where we first have lunch in the parking area. As this is a multi cache, meaning that you have to do this in steps and find the coordinates for your next step, we have re-calculated the coordinates at home.  This time we get to a perfect spot for the second stage.  Our calculations are spot on, but............. we have to count wind mills (you know, those modern wind generators) in the distance and there are none!  At least, we can't see any because of the low hanging clouds.  B.......r!  We can see the number of windows in the tower that we need, so half of the code we do have!  

From memory (remember we went here earlier) we know there must be between 4 and 9 windmills.  If we are to calculate the coordinates we know it has to be a number between 5 and 8 if we are to stay within a reasonable distance from this point, reasonable meaning within 5 kilometres or so.  We pick one number which seems the most reasonable one and start driving.  We find a spot and check the coordinates, but it's not the right one.  We drive to a different spot, but the GPS is not helpful, nor is the compass, so eventually we have had enough and we're calling it a day.  Another light on the dashboard is telling us there is still something wrong with the car, be it the brakes or something else, so we don't want to take any unnecessary risks and are going home.  The number of caches for this holiday is satisfying and we have solved our biggest puzzle, so enough is enough.  (And while I am writing my blog and looking at the above picture I have a feeling that we have made a minor mistake and may have been close to the spot after all, but I am NOT going back!)
So, today we're home nice and early, log our find and are happy with the overall result: 51 for Frank, 53 for me of which 26 altogether in France.  We also picked up two travel bugs, which we are going to take home and put in a cache downunder, although Ledu is so cute, I hate to have to put him in a dark container somewhere.  Poor thing!

Helping Hand TB
TB Helping Hand

TB Ledu, the little lion

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

And now we have to be smart too!

Sunday 6 January

Sunday was a day of recovery, which we most definitely needed!  We didn't get out of bed before 10 or 11pm if I recall this correctly and breakfast.... Forget it! A cup coffee was all we could stomach.  We did sleep, but I can tell you, not very comfortable on a full stomach.  However, we have survived and it is just one more experience that we can add to all our memories. :-)  Later in the day we managed to eat a pieces of the  left-over Galette that Mireille had insisted we take home.  By then I felt a lot better and was able to appreciate it, which I would not have been able to the night before.  This was the almond paste Galette and it had the most beautiful fragrance and taste.  Frank was the lucky one to find another of those figurines, but handed me the crown.  I should't put the picture on the blog, because after the previous night I was still looking worse for wear:

The rest of the day was spend on recovery and working on my blog.  Not only the update, but as I had wanted to make it private for a while I thought it was just the time to do it.  Another headache, though, because everything to do with computers and internet is never straightforward.  I hope most of my readers/followers have now been successful.

Monday 7 January.

If the situation with the car would have been different we would have loved to make a trip to Geneva and/or Turin, as was our plan before the holiday, but with the situation in hand we have decided against it.  Instead we concentrate on short trips in the neighbourhood, which means: geocaching!

Late Sunday night I had quickly prepared another list, so early Monday morning we set off in westerly direction to cross the Rhône river into neighbouring Ardeche..  We haven't been much further than Hautrives yet, so time to go exploring.  On the list I had a multi-cache (2 and 3 stars difficulty), a few fairly easy ones and an 'unknown' or puzzle cache (3.5 and 2 stars).

We had planned to leave the multi-cache for a while, to see if we would have enough time left at the end of the day.  So we head for the first easy one on the list, just past Hautrives, but here we are off at a bad start, because after a fairly muddy path we have to cross the Galaure, a fast flowing stream.  Although we are in a 4WD, it's not ours, so we decide against it.  We may find a different road later on.

Next is Eglise Sainte Agnés, a beautiful little old church, again on top of a hill, like all the others.  We get there easily enough and also the cache is an easy find.  We walk around, take some pictures and since it is such a nice spot we have our morning tea in the grounds of the church.

I would love to come back to France in summer.
Such lovely picnic places everywhere.

Even a 'dunny'! (which I haven't tried out)

Real old leadlight windows (11th century)

Beautiful views of course

The priory.  A later addition of the 18th century.
The earlier one was destroyed during the religeous wars in the 1500s.

A remarkable type of window
Next one on the list is Japperenard.  The hint (miaule minou - the cat mews) doesn't make sense at all, but Frank finds the cleverly hidden cache almost instantly after we have established that the coordinates must be correct.

Poor Frank looks already worn out and we haven't even started...
Then it's time for more serious work: The puzzle cache.  It's a series of 5.  Four caches contain the puzzles which you have to solve to find the coordinates for the 5th one.  And even then you're not out of the woods yet.

Number one is La Hachoire on the Rhône river.  It's a pumping station which is translated into English as 'mincer'.  I don't believe the two have something in common.....  We thought it would be an easy drive, but our GPS is not helping us a lot today.  We're sent into a dead end near a stream.  We walk a distance, but there is no way we can make it out onto the road anywhere so we turn around and find a different route.  A more successful one.

The wrong route, but a pleasant walk...

Back to the car
The cache is an easy find, near this place:

The pumping station - I guess from this angle it looks a bit like a mincer...
The puzzle it contains is something else:

At home it took us a long time to solve this one.  I knew about Pascal's Triangle and the Fabonacci Sequence, but this one had me stumped.  It took the help of dear daughter-in-law to solve this one.  It appears to be a Look-and-Say sequence, and once you know what to do the number is easily found.
Anyone who wants to have a go?  No prizes, but I can give you the answer to this one. :-)

We could have walked to the next cache, but we didn't realise it was so close by: On va se baigner? It's also on the river, hence the question: Are you going for a swim?  Nope. It's so cold and windy, I wouldn't even dream about it.  Luckily this cache again is an easy find and gets us quickly out of the cold back into the car.

It doesn't look quite so inviting for a swim, does it?

This puzzle contains Roman numerals.  It's just a matter of converting them and adding them up.  No problem.  This cache also contained a TB (short for Travel Bug).  Our second one after "The Helping Hand".  It's a cute little lyon that wants to go back to South Africa.  Well, we'll take it home to deposit it in a cache downunder.  It's probably the long way around, but it might want to do some travelling.

On to the next one, which was to be: Le Chateau?, but since I forgot to look at the numbers on my list and the next one was also close by we walked to the wrong one: Tailwhip & Nollie-flip.  The walk led us between these old walls to a skate-boarding enclosure for the youngsters.

We found the cache, complete with puzzle, but had problems hiding it discretely as a young man was walking his dog.  He kept watching us.  I figure he thought that those two oldies without (!) skate-boards were acting a bit suspiciously.  :-)  Because of all this going on I forgot to take pictures, but at least I got a picture of the puzzle question.  (We take pictures of those things.  Much easier than writing everything down and you can't loose your notes.)

The question is sports related, and although we are not sports people the answer wasn't too hard to find.  It also helps when you have a rough idea what your coordinates should look like.  The question was: what number do the following sports have in common: cricket, soccer, field hockey and American football.

Back at the car we had lunch and when we were checking the coordinates for the next cache we discovered that we had skipped this one and had actually walked past.  So, back to the walls, however, on the other side of them:

A few acrobatics were needed to get to the spot

I got up there too for the search, but went down earlier so I could take pictures

And the last question was: Over a period of 4 years, how many months have 28 days?  A tricky one this one!

As there are two answers that I want to check at home and one that we can't even get close to solving there and then, we make our way home, with the intention to pick up one of the earlier caches that we couldn't reach and the last one on the list, which I thought was an easy one.  However, I had forgotten to save that one in the GPS and put in the difficult multi-cahche instead: Sur les terres de Rathérius. Fortunately it was still early in the afternoon and we had plenty of time for a walk, because walking we did!  The coordinates only led us to this information board

on which we had to find two numbers to calculate the coordinates for the next step.  This appeared not to be too difficult, but, as you know I still don't know how to input new coordinates in the compass of my mobile phone.  So, we use the trick that we have used earlier at le Chateau Bressieux and try to walk to the spot closest to the correct coordinates.  Not easy on a long distance.  We try several roads and paths until we get to one which allows us to look for the details that we need for the next stage, the coordinates for the cache.

One of the problems is that the translation for the newfangled wind generators does not appear in my 60s dictionary, so we don't know what we are looking for, until we see a number of those wind mills in the distance and try to count them through the haze of the afternoon.  From the angle where we are we can only guess the number of windows of a tower that we should see and with what we've got we put together the new coordinates, and...... start walking again.  However, without a map to project your N-S and E-W lines it proves to be too difficult.  We have a nice, but unsuccessful afternoon stroll instead and when the afternoon clouds roll in and it's getting colder we decide to call it a day.  One the way home, at a fair distance from where we were the GPS in the car seems to be able to pinpoint the spot for the cache, but we're too tired for another walk, so are going to check this at home first.

We might not have been as successful as we had hoped for, but we are going home to log 6 caches.  Not bad for a day's work.  After dinner we sit down to try and solve the puzzles, but by the time we go to bed we haven't made any headway with the first one, although I am sure the other three are correct.