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

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