See You Around The Geocache

Enjoying Cowgirl Clinic

Those of you who have been following our web site will have heard about the cowgirl clinic – so let me tell you that it has come and gone, with huge success. The four participants learnt a lot, improved their horsemanship skills, and had fun – and what more can you ask of a self improvement program?

There is another clinic coming up on February 6 through 12, and March 6 through 12, and we’re looking forward to making those as great a success! Call Bonnie at 520-826-3185 or e-mail her at bonnie@gcranch.com for details. And, as I said to this last group – we have a hidden agenda here – having done this clinic, you will be far more useful when you join us for round up!!

And now, here’s another fun thing we’re introducing. Have you heard of geocaching? Geocaching is a modern treasure hunt, but with a technical difference. You use a GPS and you go hunt caches stashed at various locations by people from all over the world, IN all over the world!

Official Geocaching Logo

Recently we had a couple of guests here from the UK who are ardent geocachers, and they first introduced the idea to me. Well, actually, no, I am wrong there. Quite a long time ago, perhaps a year or even more, a guest of Grapevine called me, and talked about some new idea of people looking for “stuff”, and he suggested that we should join the program. At the time I didn’t understand it. It seemed to me that all you would achieve would be to open the place up to a horde of people overrunning the property, tearing the place up, so I wasn’t interested. However, in the meantime I have become more educated – so if that guest is by any chance reading this, please accept my apologies and write it off to the fact that I am a dunce and didn’t follow up on your suggestion sooner! Anyway, this time we did follow up on the suggestion of the English couple – so thanks, Charlotte and Tony!!

So, I subscribed to a geocashing web site called “Groundspeak” and found, to my delight, that there are several geocaches hidden around our mountains. Well, not actually several – more like a hundred or more – so, Barn Boss Sarah and I, equipped with a newly purchased handheld GPS, ventured forth to find a couple which are hidden, so they say, in the Stronghold.

Well!! The first one we decided to find is a beginner one, supposedly easily reached by vehicle. Of course, they didn’t say that the vehicle had best be a Hum Vee retired from Afghanistan! We took my trusty old Isuzu and set off. The first clue led us to the road to the Stronghold Canyon, and then had us turn off and follow something to which the map maker optimistically referred to as a road, with which description I beg to differ!

We bounced and trounced over pot holes and rocks, down gullies, up rockslides, and finally came to a branch in the road. Naturally, the GPS indicated a direction somewhere in between the road we were on, and the road turning off. We decided to take the one branching off. It turned off the other one at right angles, and led meanderingly uphill, ever more narrow and rocky, until we turned a sharp corner to the right, and saw the road disappear down a wash and re-appear up the other side.

Beyond the wash lay a conglomeration of hills which looked to both of us as a likely place to hide a treasure. So we slid down the slope, spun our wheels up the other side – and then found that the needle of the GPS maddeningly pointed off to some vague new direction between two hills without any visible means of access. However, our road turned left and went up a steep little slope, alongside of a hollow which quickly turned into a wash, which quickly turned into a canyon, which quickly turned into one hell of a canyon – like about 30 ft. deep, 20 ft. wide, and close enough to the road we were on so we couldn’t turn around, as on the other side was a steep, rocky hill, the road having been more or less gouged out of it.

We bounced our way up this road, me wondering how on earth we were going to get out of there if it soon didn’t widen enough for us to turn. Sarah, who was sitting on the hill side of the car, happily opined several times that we could “just turn the car around” by nosing in the direction of the canyon for a foot or two, then backing a foot or two, then nosing, then backing – you get the idea. I, sitting on the canyon side, didn’t feel so hopeful about it – it was one heck of a long way down. I began to ponder the wisdom of seat belts fastened or unfastened – better to be thrown out? or stay with the car as we hurtle to the bottom?

Finally, Sarah decided to climb out of the car and walk ahead on foot to see what lay ahead, and glory be! Some quarter of a mile further ahead, beyond a bend, was another little road turning off uphill, where we could indeed, do the nosing and retreating bit, and get turned around. On the return trip Sarah had the canyon side seat, and I noticed she became rather silent on the way down – she seemed to have lost all desire to backseat drive, and gazed thoughtfully at the countryside.

Of course, all this time the GPS needle obstinately pointed in a direction neither here nor there, somewhere vaguely over the next hill. We finally came to the conclusion that we should have stayed on what was optimistically called “the main road” and, after some more car breaking moments, finally reached it. Still sweating from our canyon encounter, we driddled along it for several more minutes
and found it making a turn toward the mountains, more or less in the direction of the pointing needle.

We followed it, and when the GPS stated that we were within some 20 ft. of the prize, parked the car and ventured forth on foot. After about another 15 minutes of beating the brush, we finally narrowed it down to the last 10 ft. this way – or that – and poked about under shrubs, trees, in the long grass, under rocks, until Sarah spied a flash of unnatural blue peeking out from under a rock pile hiding under a tree.

With little bleats of joy we descended on the rocks, pawed them aside, and found – lo and behold! The cache! It was a cookie tin, once upon a time blue, but now a bit faded and worn. Inside were lots of trinkets left there by previous treasure hunters, along with a notebook and a pencil. We wrote our names in the book, made a comment, added my card, zipped up the plastic bag, and returned it and the other bits and pieces to the tin – then buried it again in its cache, piled the rocks on top – and pronounced it to have been a most satisfying day!!!

So now we plan to do the next one, in the Stronghold on horseback, as it is well off the road, up the mountain someplace, and you all know that I don’t walk if there is a horse nearby. So one day this week we plan this one – and then……

….we are going to lay out a trail ride on the ranch with geocaches along the way! The idea is for the riders to be given the GPS along with the first set of coordinates. These will lead them to the first cache, which will have inside it the next set of co-ordinates – and so on, until the whole trail is ridden and the final treasure found. The final cache will have in it a prize – its value depending on the difficulty of the trail. We thought perhaps a free drink at the bar… or a free trailer ride to the Chiricahua National Monument or to Fort Bowie ….. or, if it was really difficult, a free extra day?? Naturally, the riders would have to be accompanied by a wrangler, but just as a safety rider – the geocachers would lead the ride, make all decisions regarding which trail to take, how to allocate the time – in short, we think it will be spectacularly exciting pastime! And, of course, we can also hunt the treasures left by others elsewhere on the mountains – the possibilities are endless! Let us know what you think – and come and hunt with us!

And for those of you wondering about dog Tuffy, I am glad to report that she is doing very well. Amazingly she hasn’t been bothering the bandage around her neck at all, and after a re-bandaging job last Sunday, she only has another week to go to let the last cut heal. Today I went for a ride and took her along, and I must say that the encounter with the coatimundi hasn’t added a bit to my peace of mind any time she is out of sight! But I guess that that’s life with an adventurous dog – and everybody who knows dogs will tell you that an Australian Shepherd is THE worst for seeking adventures! So I guess I will have to live with the worry, and enjoy the fact that she is living life to the full.

Finally, we are re-designing our web page – and we would like to ask you – what made you come to Grapevine? What was there in our promotional or web design that made the difference?? We would really like to know, so if you can enlighten us, please e-mail our webmaster Ben, directly, at ben@gcranch.com

Thanks!!! See you around the geocache!

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5 Responses to See You Around The Geocache

  1. Claudia says:

    Sounds like fun, but….will the GPS leading us back to the Ranch, when we follow the treasure hunters?? I have no sense of orientation at all, haha, might end up somewhere……

  2. Eve says:

    The GPS will certainly lead you back to the ranch, and even if it didn’t, your horse most surely would. Horses have a tremendous memory for trails and the shortest way home, anytime, anywhere.
    We had the first geocache ride today and the riders said it was lots of fun.

  3. Claudia says:

    good to know, trust your horse :) will probably try it when I’m around next time

  4. Alessandra Navetta says:

    Sounds like a great idea. I’d be willing to participate next time next time I come to Grapevine.

  5. Eve says:

    Yes, it is fun. We rode one hidden in the Stronghold, by someone we don’t know, and it was an adventure – especially as he was obviously on foot! We found one, but gave up on the second one, as it was someplace in the campground, and we couldn’t take horses there. But even the one we did find was a lot of fun, and much farther than we had thought!

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