Central Coast

February 20, 2013

My daughter’s family came from Utah for a nice vacation from the snow and the cold. They were nice enough to invite us along for an adventure along the Central Coast. It’s always great to have a chance to be a grandpa.


The first stop was the Monarch Butterfly Grove in Pismo Beach. It was also the first cache of the trip–Monarch Parking. We found several people using a phone trampling around, looking for something. We said hello, introduced ourselves, and learned that this was there first cache search. I looked for the cache exactly where it was hidden, I just didn’t look well enough. Which was great, because once I realized the cache was probably where I had looked, they were able to make the actual find.


The weather was especially warm for February and the butterflies were extra active. They put on a great show.
The next destination was the elephant seal rookery north of San Simeon. However, we made a quick stop at Yipes Stripes! There is a group of zebras pastured along the road. Unfortunately, the herd was smaller than I’ve seen and a bit far away for a good view. It was then on to the elephant seals.


The elephant seals are a great wonder of the Central Coast. The current residents are a mixture of females who have recently given birth, their offspring, adult males looking to mate, and sub-adult males getting ignored.




The official elephant seal viewing area is always crowded with visitors. There is a smaller parking area a couple hundred yards north that is a better spot to park. And if you want a more private viewing experience, check out the beach adjacent to White Rocks.




Our rental house was between Stairing at the Sea and Cambria TB & Coin Motel. I found Stairing at the Sea and also found a beautiful area of tidal pools. We spent the morning exploring the area. Later, we visited a park where the Cambria TB & Coin Motel is hidden.


The ammo box is an easy find. However, it’s hidden under a large clump of poison oak. Why would anyone hide a cache in poison oak?



There are plenty of geocaches in the Cambria area. I had the chance to find a few others, but the purpose of the trip wasn’t geocaching. It was family time. And we had a great time doing exactly that.


Hiking Happy

February 6, 2013


For one reason or another, I haven’t done much geocaching in the past two months.  In fact, the 28 caches that I found today is more than what I I’ve found in December and January combined.  And it seems like forever since I’ve been hiking.  I have had my eye on hiking Happy Camp for awhile.  When the Come On Get Happy 2.0 Event was planned, it seems like a good way to get back to Happy Camp.  However, I was still too under the weather with a bad cold to make the event and the attached hike.  Today, feeling much better, I decided to get back in the hiking game.


The day started out very foggy, but after the first cache find, the fog started to lift and the weather was beautiful the rest of the day.  I parked my truck at  Another Way to Be Happy, which is billed as an alternative way to get into Happy Camp.  It is; however, the trail leads to the overlook in the above photo.  It’s a VERY steep trail down into Happy Camp.  It’s a 180-foot drop.  It took me about an hour to realize that going down meant going up on my way out–when I’m tired.  It wasn’t that bad; but I think next time, I’ll park at the usual trailhead parking lot.


There weren’t a lot of blooming wildflowers today, but the flowers that were blooming usually had some activity around them.  There was a beautiful hummingbird enjoying breakfast at this plant.  He was camera shy and didn’t stick around for a photo.


The trail up the canyon is full of oaks and grasses.  And apparently mistletoe, too.


Since I had already hiked the Happy Camp Loop, I had found most of the caches along the route.  Today, I was looking for about every third or fourth cache–those placed since my last visit.  Instead of stopping for a cache every 530 feet, the caches I needed were often 2000 to 3000 feet apart.  It made for any easier hike–not needing to stop every few minutes.


I only had one DNF on the trail–Another Happy Find.  I thought the name of the cache was a bit ironic.  I spent too much time looking for this one only to be rewarded with a DNF.  But that’s geocaching life.



The Happy Camp Loop is two trails–one low in the canyon; one high on the ridge–connected by a fairly steep section that climbs about 500 feet.  The first time I did this section, I was really dragging.  Today, it wasn’t too bad.  I think having caches to find breaks the climb up a bit.


Once I arrived at the top, I realized that the 2 caches located east of the trail junction required some more climbing.  I almost decided to skip Happily Ever After and Happy Ending.  But since I’d come this far already, why not go for it.  Up I went.  Near Happy Ending, I kept getting buzzed by a buzzard–a vulture, actually.  I was hoping that I wasn’t smelling like I was dead.

Happy Panorama

This is a view of the Happy Camp canyon from the ridge above.



Along the ridge, there were several Ceanothus in full bloom.  From a distance, they appear like they are covered in snow.  Instead of snow, they were covered in bees.  I hoped to get a photo of the bees for Albackore, knowing how much he appreciates bees.  Again, they, like the hummingbird, were too camera shy to hang around.



It was a great hike today.  I found 25 caches along the trail and had that one DNF.  Unlike my last visit where we found rattlesnakes at 3 consecutive caches, today’s hike was completely reptile free.  And it was human free (not counting myself) until the very end of the trail when I saw 3 women cross country runners doing some hill training.  A total of 10.4 miles in 6 hours 30 minutes.

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