Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cache Event

Today I was able to attend a caching event here, and it was a good time. There were about thirty people there (not counting little ones), and one gentleman came all the way from Tokyo. Well, he didn't come all this way just to attend our little event, but he made a point to come and meet all of us.

We met at about noon for a meet and greet, and then ate lunch. After that, we had a "caching relay race." That was a pretty neat idea. There were two teams of people. Each team was split up into three relays. The first relay was given a set of coordinates to a cache. They had to find that cache and bring it back to the picnic area. They then handed it off to the second relay, who then opened it up and retrieved the coordinates to the next cache, and so on.

We had a couple of other games and giveaways, and then everyone went their separate ways. It was a nice couple of hours in a very scenic park.

The park is right next to the castle ruin that I was poking around at yesterday. In fact, a few of us walked around with the gentleman from Tokyo as he hunted for that geocache. Here's a few pictures:

Friday, November 28, 2008

More Caching Fun

Today is what the shoppers call "Black Friday." The day after Thanksgiving day sales are legendary for their large, ferocious crowds. My wife was brave enough to head out with a friend to look at what the base exchange has to offer. Better her than me...

The kids and I headed out in search of Geocaches, naturally. I had six on my list, and we ended up stopping to look for eight. We went eight for eight today, so it was a great day of caching.

Our first stop was at yet another castle ruin. This time it was the Yara Castle ruin, and the surrounding park and stream. What a great location! I really wanted to get this one, since it's a multi-cache (two parts, with the first part containing only the coordinates of the second part), and since it's very near to where a caching event will be held tomorrow. I didn't want to be bumbling around trying to find the place tomorrow, so I thought I'd recon the area today. What better excuse for checking out a 14th century castle?

After that, we headed to an old bridge, and a hiking trail that heads off into the jungle from there. The kids stayed on the trail while I did my best monkey impression while going for the cache. After knocking down the now familiar spider webs, I made my way to the top of a coral outcropping and found the ammo can stashed in the roots of a banyan tree. Piece of cake.

Next we headed to Toguchi beach. This is just south of Torii Station (Army base), and has great views of the East China Sea. There's also some great tide pools where the kids can poke around and play with the wide array of poisonous critters. We found four caches in that area, and then headed to an ostrich farm nearby. I started thinking about hot wings while there, and we went for lunch afterward.

Our last stop was at a small shrine that was just off of highway 58. A quick find, and we headed home. No crowds, no money spent (other than a couple of hotdogs for lunch), and much better scenery than the base exchange.
Here's some pictures (click them for the full size versions):

View at Toguchi Beach

Those are some strange looking ostriches

At the castle

Thursday, November 27, 2008

New Cache Container

I came across a cool new cache container, entirely by accident. The container is called a Rod Guard (that's the actual brand name), and it's a watertight container used for storing welding rods.

You can get a good idea of the size from the picture with my Garmin Colorado there for reference. The cylinder is about 14" long, and about three inches in diameter. There is a nice, thick rubber gasket on the opening, and it's constructed of stiff, durable plastic.

Now I just need to find a suitable spot to hide it...

Another Neat Okinawan Park

Last Sunday, I attempted to find a two part multi-cache that is titled, "The Mother of All Rollerslides." Rollerslides are very popular here, and I will often see young kids walking down the sidewalks with flattened boxes, and other pieces of similar materials for sliding.

The instructions for this cache told me to head to the listed coordinates, where I would find a tile shaped like a compass. The North arrow would point to a park bench where the final cache is hidden. Well, I found the tile, sighted along the arrow, and spotted an elderly couple sitting on the bench. Great.

I tried to wait them out, but they didn't budge. Once again, I'm not disappointed, because I found another neat spot here on Okinawa that I would not have found otherwise.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ending the Week

I was able to escape from work pretty early on Friday, and I hit a couple of spots near Naha. One was an art museum, and a couple of others were at small parks. With the number of people swarming around every place I stopped, I wasn't able to really search for the caches. At least I found some nice places to visit.

Today my son and I headed out to the Awase area. I had to stop at a local optometrist's shop to get my son's glasses adjusted, and order some new sunglasses. Naturally, we stopped at some caches "on the way" back.

Our first stop was at the Awase Meadows Golf Course. There was absolutely no parking to be found, as is usually the case on weekends after about 0900. We did some laps in the parking lot, hoping a spot would open up, and ended up leaving. I can't count that one as not finding the cache, since we didn't even search for it.

The next stop was next to what is allegedly the Yakuza headquarters here in Okinawa. For the uninformed, the Yakuza is the Japanese mafia. I could almost reach the hide without getting out of the car, and we spotted a fellow geocacher leaving the area. Zip, zap, we were done and gone.

Next, we headed to the local zoo, and a small park behind it. Climbing the hill in the park, we came upon a small shrine, and the nearby cache. In the logbook, I noticed the name of the cacher we had spotted at the previous cache. We were hot on his heels!

I called a buddy of mine and asked him if he happened to know how to get ahold of the cacher in question...I could hear him ask the suspect cacher, "Hey; Gunny's on the phone and wants to know how to get ahold of you." Small world. I ended up running into them at our next stop, a small park that was difficult to find.

After a brief search at the park, I made the find, and we headed to yet another castle ruin. This one was at the Goeku Castle ruins, and my son found the first leg of the two part multi. The second part would have been easy too, except for the man sitting about 50 feet away and staring at us. He eventually lost interest, and we were able to retrieve the container. That finished up our day of geocaching, and we headed home.

Here's a couple of pictures (click for full size versions):

View from the castle

At the zoo

A colorful character

At the art museum

More of the museum

Friday, November 14, 2008

More Local Caches

Here's a couple of pictures from Tuesday and today. I had to take a friend to the airport Tuesday morning, so I hit a couple of urban hides down in Naha on the way home. It was raining all morning, so it was a bit damp out.

Today, I tried to be the first to find one hidden at our favorite curry restaurant, but there was a familiar name in the logbook when I got there at 0630. Granted, that guy could almost throw rocks at it from his house, but I'm off of work today, and he's not. That's the breaks, I guess.

Here's a few shots:

Monday, November 10, 2008

Rainy Day of Caching

It has rained all day today, but that hasn't stopped my son and me from enjoying a great day of Geocaching.

We headed east toward White Beach, and made our first stop at Katsuren Jo, or Katsuren Castle. This castle was the home of Amawari, a feudal warlord who was one of the last to hold out against the unification of the Ryukyu Kingdom. It's a neat castle, with a great view of Uruma, and the surounding areas. We found the cache in a few minutes, and then went to the top and enjoyed the view.

Next, we headed to what the locals call an "opservatory," or a simple lookout point near a bridge. The bridge leads to an uninhabited island, where we explored the Mujin Tou Cave, and headed out onto a rocky point after hiking through some dense jungle.

When we made it to the cave, there was an old homeless person rolling up his tatami from the night before. He gave us a guided tour of the cave, pointing out the rock formations that resembled various animals. He sort of put a damper on searching for the cache.

After the tour, we headed off into the jungle in search of the "rocky point" cache. For some reason, and I'm not making this up, there were two large chickens leading the way through the jungle. If we stopped, they would stop and wait for us. It was eerie. Once again, I felt like Indiana Jones, dodging large spiders, busting through dense jungle growth, and relying on my trusty sidekick, The Boy. After about 20 minutes, we came out of the jungle and followed a cliffside trail to the point. The Boy messed around and threw rocks over the edge, and I found the ammo can stashed in the sawgrass.

We had a great time, and stopped at the White Beach Naval Facility on the way home to grab a bite to eat.

The Castle

View from the castle

Not-So-Uninhabited Island

Rocky point

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Race Update

Well, today started off good enough, with a trip to Hamby Town to find the "Junk's Trunk, Coin and Bug Terminal." I thought it would be a perfect spot to launch my travel bug, and start its journey in the race that I'm a part of. One problem: I couldn't find the cache.

The cache was a two stage multi, and the first part took less than two minutes. It was a clever hide, but easy enough. The second part was a pain in the butt, and I was unsuccessful. The kids helped look, but it was not to be.

We left there and went to grab the cache up at the building with the airplane on it (there's a previous post down there somewhere about that one). This time, I took a more direct route there, instead of winding through miles of tiny little village streets. Zip, zap, we had the cache within minutes.

Upon returning home, I thought about that first cache a little more and, combined with the name, I think I know right where it's at. Should make for a quick find tomorrow morning.

UPDATE: I went back to the "Travel Bug Terminal," and made the find. It was a very creative hide. I then ran into another problem: This cache that is supposedly designed for travel bugs, won't hold my travel bug. My little item is not very large, maybe a little smaller than a golf ball. You'd think that a cache owner that wants to advertise a spot to release bugs would make the cache a regular sized cache.

So, I altered my plans and placed my racer in one of my own caches, titled, "Old McDonald Had a Cache." Off it goes.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Zakimi Castle and Other Fun Stuff

Well, the day went well. My daughter and I headed out with four caches in our sights, and we found three of them. The weather did indeed cooperate, and it began raining heavily about 30 minutes after we returned home.

We first headed to the Hija Bridge, which I posted about previously. I couldn't find the cache on my last visit, but we came up with it this time. The surrounding weeds had overgrown the ground-level container so badly that it was easy to miss. It was a very creative container...shocking in its simplicity.

Next, we headed to a local shop that sells nothing but honey. In fact, the sign out front simply says, "Honey Shop." The cache was a magnetic Altoids container on the underside of a vending machine. Pretty easy find, but it was a neat shop to visit.

Our next stop was the Zakimi Castle. Zakimi Castle was built in the early 15th century by Gosamaru, a powerful warlord who played an important role in uniting the Ryukyu Kingdom. I was a bit worried about our ability to find this cache, since the last four visitors had all logged "did not find" on the website. Like them, we found only a great place to visit, and take some pictures. It seems that not only is the cache MIA, but the cache owner has moved back to the states and abandoned the cache as well...Not a good thing.

We moved on to a cache titled, "Big Dog's Boss." The big dogs in question were a couple of shisa dog statues, which are believed to protect against evil spirits. Their "boss" was simply a Boss Coffee vending machine. The cache container, however, was very creative, and I had a heck of a time spotting it. We made the find, and called it a day.

After the last find, we headed to CoCo Ichibanya for a couple of heaping plates of curry and rice.

Here's a few pictures from our day (as usual, you can click on the pictures for the full size versions):

View from atop Zakimi Castle

Inside the castle walls

Outer walls

Picnic in progress

On the way to the first cache

It's Caching Day!

Caching Day? Is that a holiday? No; it's not, not really. I just made that up because I'm (mostly) off of work today. What to do with a Friday, and I'm leaving work at 0830? Go Geocaching!

I've been on the pistol range all week, shot expert this morning, and decided to treat myself to a day of hunting caches in the jungles of lovely Okinawa. Rain is threatening, but my camera is water-resistant, and so am I.

I'm waiting for one of my fellow cachers to head out on a "little" trip, so that I can launch my travel bug. My TB is competing in the Great Hoohaa Travel Bug Challenge. In other words, it is in a race to see which TB can travel the most miles in one year. I've been catching a little flak from the other competitors because I have as yet to launch my bug, but they fail to realize that their defeat will come soon enough.

Enough talk! Time to head out. Since there's only a little over 300 caches here on Okinawa, I don't do enormous caching trips, with efforts to collect as many in one day as I possibly can. I'd rather have a leisurely day of it, and grab two or three. Let the adventures begin!

Will the weather hold out?