Saturday, January 3, 2009

A New Kind of Mission!

Pre-flight check list: Tires - check, controls - check, lights - check, oil - oopsy, better top that off.

I'm on a new kind mission. My first ever motorcycling-geocache hunt! My task was to locate an object using GPS coordinates. There are almost one million little trinkets, logbooks, and thing-a-ma-bobs hidden world wide, and using a GPS device and the information on you too can hunt them down.

Ipod - check (thank you, Sierras Lady whom I met in my previous post), electric vest - check. Maps and GPS device - check. I am cleared for takeoff!

Off I headed, past the San Xavier Mission, down a nearby portion of the 1200 mile Juan Bautista de Anza Autoroute, past the pecan trees I wrote about in September, through AZ Wine country (Yes, we have one! It's beautiful! But probably best enjoyed on moto with the aid of a spittoon), across a gravel portion of road due to construction (another awkward moto situation that fills me with inappropriate amounts of fear), past the funny "Canelo Cowboy Church", through the Ft. Huachuca back checkpoint (which looks like what I imagine a border checkpoint in eastern Hungary circa 1965 might look like), into Sierra Vista where, my heart swelling with gratitude, I came upon a...

gas station and ladies room. Or so I thought. The gas station attendant must have been upset that I only bought three gallons of gas (Hah!), because she wouldn't let me use the ladies room. Sheesh.

After THAT was finally taken care of, I shoveled in a few mouthfuls of the granola I made last night, resuscitated my finicky iPod (I guess miracles in regards to electronics are only temporary) and set off again...

along the elusive Charleston road I could not locate three days ago, through the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, into Tombstone, AZ, home of the actual OK Corral (where I once arrived last year the very moment the shoot out re-enactment began in the street), across rolling grassy plains, studded with live oak trees and mountains in every direction, through grazing land, where the pastured lamb, beef and buffalo from my CSA are humanely raised, past the quaint old town section of Bisbee, AZ (my dear sweet addled-brained dog's eponym, let him R.I.P.), alongside some of the richest copper mines in history (my dog had coppery colored spots, thus the name) and finally to (catching my breath then, and now!):

the Bisbee Breakfast Club. (The moto in the pic isn't mine, but what's not to like about a vintage Triumph?) Phew! What a ride! 150 miles, not one of them on the freeway, and I AM HUNGRY! The culinary portion of my "Eating of Two Wheels" is proving to be more difficult than I imagined, given the fact that I can not take off 6 months and travel to all the places I KNOW are culinary gold mines. So I need to find things more in range. A bit of guidance helps. I found a good review for this little diner on, a web site for food fanatics, so I thought it would be a good place to start. This place was full of motorcyclists, waitstaff included. It's always fun to swap stories, and bikers know where to eat (kind of like truckers in France) so I was hopeful. I ordered the Chorizo Ranchero, as recommended by one waiter, and it was quite good. Not knock-your-socks-off make it to the top 10 meals of my life good, but fresh, tasty and well presented. I'd do it again. But given that I have very strict rules about riding at night (the rule being that I don't. Ever.), I had to eat a bit faster than I would have liked - I still had a geocache to find! Saying farewell to my new moto-friends, and receiving the standard moto-blessings ("Keep the shiny side up!") I headed back into old town Bisbee to begin the hunt.

Imagine here
pictures of
quirky wild west buildings
built into the steep hillsides
of the Mule Mountains.
Funky shops,
narrow winding streets...
All that stuff which,
in my hurry,
I didn't photograph.
I wish I had.
Next time.

Armed with a borrowed and antiquated (probably older than my 1999 moto) GPS unit and its hefty instruction manual, a map, and the unrestrained glee more often exhibited by my three year old niece when she is twirling and swirling across her imaginary dance floor than by an adult, I took to the trail. My absolute latest departure time was 3pm, to ensure my arrival home before dark. I had less than an hour to find this thing, whatever it was. My map gave me an approximate location. I knew, at the very least, where to park. A-wandering I went, following the GPS unit the way one might follow a divining rod. I found my coordinates, but... NOW what? I'm looking for a small vial hidden... SOMEWHERE. GPS units do have a margin of error. Not much, but enough to have left me crawling around the steep back side of a retaining wall wondering if my prey was tucked into the small loose rocks below it. Time was running out. I better check the encrypted "hint" that was on my print out. Damn! I didn't print the decoder key to unscramble the hint. A good friend gave me some technical support via phone and I had my hint. Hmmm. "Down low. Behind, but between." Thanks for NOTHING. A passerby stopped - "Did you lose something?" I explained my adventure and he joined me in the hunt. Eureka! Tucked down low, behind and into the curve of a metal sign post, in the small space between the signpost and wall I found it! A small plastic vial containing a paper to sign and date and the obligatory trinket, in this case, a tiny perfect sea shell, smaller than the beans on my plate T the Bisbee Breakfast Club. I was over the moon! Mission Accomplished!

I rode home during that magic time of day where the light seems to come, not from the warm bath of the afternoon sun, but from some life force glow of mother earth herself.

Here's a map showing the territory I covered today.

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