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Everything posted by swdecato

  1. Aramco did most of the mapping for Saudi Arabia. The US Government purchased their data to make military topo maps that you are familiar with. The are considered FOUO (For Official Use Only) so you can't get copies of them. Being in the military I had access to these maps and used them to plan out my trips. A friend of mine had a very nice arabic book that had even better maps than the military ones but all in Arabic.
  2. mhfares, I bought a thobe and gutra while I was in Riyadh along with a nice robe. I wore them to Saudi dressup occasions. I took over 3000 photos while I was there. I intend on putting up a web site to share my experiences with others! Steve
  3. mhfares, I always laugh when I see the picture of you climbing out the the mouth of the Saudi Sauna in your thobe!
  4. I accept the challenge. I will let you know when I find it. In an attempt to check up on "Military Stash" I was turned back by security. Apparently the area "Edge of the World" turned into a favorite Al Qaida hangout. I think they used our stashes to find good places to hide... I really do miss Saudi Arabia. As far as I'm concerned it is the "final frontier".
  5. Just stopping by to say hello. I left Riyadh on July 14th and have been assigned to the Pentagon. I had lots of fun with you guys in KSA. I hope to continue the hobby here in Virginia. Steve
  6. Interesting analysis. It seems activity has dropped significantly from last year. I'm out and about each weekend exploring the wonderful wadi's in the area. My caches tend to be on the more difficult side because I'm an "explorer" boldly going where few men has gone before. I now have two caches posted that have yet to be logged by anyone. I'm not sure if that is good or bad -- or perhaps my descriptions scare people off. There are those who like a challenge -- maybe not this year, but the cache will still be there when somebody is brave enough to attempt it.
  7. Dick, Are you still in KSA? steve
  8. Embassy of the United States of America Riyadh, Saudi Arabia WARDEN MESSAGE October 6, 2003 The Embassy requests that wardens pass the following message in its entirety to members of the American Community: Recent information has come to the Embassy's attention that known terrorist operatives in Saudi Arabia have reference material identifying popular trails and campsites in Saudi Arabia often used by Westerners. It is unknown at this time if this information is linked to any on-going operational planning by these terrorists. American citizens are urged to read the Department of State's September 26, 2003 Public Announcement - Worldwide Caution; September 30, 2003 Public Caution - Middle East and North Africa; and August 13, 2003 Travel Warning for Saudi Arabia. The U.S. Mission disseminated these documents as Warden Messages and they are available on the Embassy home page at http://riyadh.usembassy.gov under Security Information. These documents are also available at the Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs website at http://travel.state.gov under Consular Information Program. #38/2003
  9. Dick, Was sorry to hear you got stuck in the sand enroute to Patriot Pool. I posted some pictures on the Patriot Pool page so you would know what you are getting yourself in to. There's no need to go through sand to get there -- just stay on the gravel road I spoke of in the description. Assuming we are not locked in next week, I plan on returning to place another cache in the cave near Patriot Pool for those not wanting to climb the wall (similar to Saudi Sauna). Good hunting. steve
  10. mhfares, I'll do my best to explain my route going in. It is much smoother than going in where you mention. You head out West of town on the Mekkah Rd. Go past the DQ exit. You will then get to the first bridge goes over the first Wadi outside of the city. The road first goes downhill, then heads up, kind of cutting through the rock. You take the first exit to the right. Really I think it is the next exit to the right past the DQ exit. The road becomes a very wide double lane road and it goes past a fairly new stadium on the right. They just installed new lamp posts all the way down to the stadium. Stay on this road until it comes to an end. Then there is just one way you can go -- to the right. This smaller road winds down into the valley. Once you've gone all the way down to the valley bottom there is a small farm on the right hand side of the road -- the first building you will come to. The paved road will take a sharp right just before the farm but you must exit the highway onto the gravel road that goes straight out from the paved road. Stay on this gravel road all the way to the power lines. It is a very smooth road with nice scenery and also much shorter than going in the other way. By the way, I really liked the pictures you posted on the "Saudi Sauna" cache page. Real funny to see you with a thobe climbing up into the "chamber". Ha!!!
  11. Another interesting GPS hobby. http://www.confluence.org/
  12. Military Stash was the first cache I placed. As Dick stated, the way in was the challenge on that one (I've only found one way to drive in). I didn't think I hid the "stash" in a difficult spot. I certainly didn't intend to make it difficult. I just hid it under a rock and recorded the coordinate. I agree that when you place a cache, you should have a "theme" in mind. Either a nice or unique place to visit, or an interesting hike in. Today I visited the cache across from the Riyahd River (can't think of the name right now). I happened to be driving by and had it as a waypoint in my GPS. I didn't bring the description with me, but drive up to within 50 meters. My wife found the cache while I was walking around like an idiot with my GPS.
  13. Sorry you couldn't find the cache -- but at least you got to enjoy the spectacular views. My original scoring for the cache was 5/5. The route was difficult, only because it required 4WD navigation over a couple steep "bumps" and the hike was rather steep but walkable without any special equipment. In addition to the coordinates which should have been accurate, I posted pictures of the cache as well as the site where it was located. Several others located the cache without problem. Perhaps it is missing? I have seen other comments about what you propose with regard to scoring but respectfully disagree. Scoring and descriptions should accurately describe the difficulty of the cache. It should be up to the "seeker" as to whether he/she would like to attempt it or not based on the location or the difficulty. There may be those who would enjoy the challenge of a 5/5 after having improved their hunting, driving and hiking skills to be able to tackle the more challenging caches. However, I am not insensitive to your comments. For example, at the "Saudi Sauna" I placed two caches -- one fairly easy, and one more difficult depening on your climbing ability. Those going the "extra mile" are doubly rewarded. See you on the trail!
  14. This past weekend I took a friend out to see "Saudi Sauna". There was a smaller cave to the left of the main entrance about 200 feet up that I wanted to explore, but I didn't want to do it on my own. I brought along my newly purchased hiking equipment although we didn't really need it. The ascent to the smaller cave is fairly straight forward, but the view from so high off the ground makes it very intimidating once you've arrived. I did not dare climb the last ten feet to the entrance. My friend bravely climbed the wall and slithered in. Unfortunately, the cave was little more than a small chamber about 15 feet in diameter. Once we were safely back down to the valley floor we looked back at the cliff and realized just how high up we had climbed. We then drove South along what Jim Stabler calls "Hidden Valley" using the maps from "Desert Treks" book as our guide, finally turning West on the gravel road leading out towards Hafirat Nisah. The road is rather sandy in places, but it had rained the day before making the drive quite nice. There's a long fence that extends the width of the valley connecting to Jabal Fardah but the road is open allowing an exit that hooks up with the pavement on the road leading to the North towards Bakhra'a and then east up the escarpment and back towards Riyadh. There are many more spurs and wadis to be explored in the area. I hope to drive down to Al Jufair and eventually down to Graffiti Rocks.
  15. Of course it may not have been a geocacher that moved the box.
  16. Jim, are you still in Saudi Arabia? If so, you can get constructive credit for all the Saudi Caches since you will probably fly over them on your way out of country... just a thought. [This message was edited by swdecato on January 22, 2003 at 03:14 AM.]
  17. Sheesh!! You guys are always picking on me!! I guess the difficulty numbers should suit the cache. My intent in placing it was not to stump anybody but to establish a challenge and reward those who made it to the top. The walk up is steep but not impossible and not even dangerous unless you trip or do it in the dark. You guys have the advantage because you know the personalities here. I'm trying to be nice and not offend anybody -- and now can't even tell who is serious or who is kidding any more. I'm so confused I'm not ever going to leave my compound ever again. Yeah. Right.
  18. OK Jim. I see your point. Probably should have been logged as a "Note" vs. a "bag". However, having found the flag meant he was close enough to touch the cache, but as you point out, "this ain't horse-shoes". But it is good to have the new players with us, so let's be gentle on us "newbies". We are just learning the sport -- you've been at it for many years -- long before GPS was available. The hunt has changed from "turn left at the green tree" to posting of exact coordinates the get you to within 10 meters or so of the target. Again -- my verbal jousting here is done with tongue-in-cheek. I'm really happy to have met all of you and that this sport exists here in Kingdom to give us the a challenge to explore! I'm having great fun!!
  19. I support Wild Rover (and I placed the cache). He found the flag. He experienced the panic of the location. I'd say he earned the "been there, done that badge".
  20. Having followed you guys around a couple days, I'd have to agree they beat our mammoth American land yachts -- especially when it comes to sand. Your trucks seem to scoot right over the top while my truck just plows sluggishly along.
  21. Agree. When I place a cache I consider it my "signature". I'd like every cache to be remembered for something special, and make for an enjoyable day out in the process. I have two caches in the truck with me right now but have failed to stash them since I've been to some boring spots lately. Hopefully today will lead me to a worthy spot in honor of this holiday!
  22. I hope you and the "Brits" understand my comments are just playful banter. I'm just a "cherry" when it comes to this stuff. From the looks of the latest GEOCACHEs posted and the associated warnings, we've got some challenging new caches to bag. The other day I had my first flat tire. I was out with a loaner truck just at the edge of radio contact. I had no idea how to remove the spare tire from it's location under the vehicle and couldn't find any instructions on the vehicle. Unfortunately I had to call back to base to ask for help. Kind of embarrassing. Thank goodness I was still within radio contact! Lesson learned -- always check your spare and be familiar with the use of the jack on the particilar vehicle you might have that day. My expedition was in for regular maintenance. I'll be glad to get it back.
  23. Yesterday my wife and I headed out on a random drive taking the exit off of R40 just outside of Riyadh towards what is called "Third Airport". This rather wide two lane road dead ends but a small road off to the right winds down into the valley. At the base of this winding road there's a place many refer to as "The farm". We didn't have our GPS with us yesterday since I'm in a loaner truck, but we took the first dirt road to the left just across from the farm and followed it generally North-West. The road was fairly nice -- perhaps good enough for most 2WD vehicles, and it heads at nicely towards the power lines that follow the Tuwayq Escarpment. Initially the road heads towards a small mountain range that parallels the escarpment, but once around the range, make a bee-line for the power line. The escarpment drops down dramatically a few hundred meters to the west of the power lines. We explored the many overlooks the poke out into the escarpment, but found the most dramatic views on the little finger that overlooks "King Faisal's Pinnacle". I believe this area is refered too as "Third Camel Trail". I'd recommend this trail for anybody looking for "bang for your buck" since it is less than 100km from Riyahd and offers some breathtaking views of the plane west of Riyadh. On our return drive, we chose to follow the power line road all the way in to R40 (Camel Trail II??). There are many beautiful overlooks on that road as well, but the road is rather rough. I'd recommend returning the way I came. A great outing. I will return on a warmer day.
  24. My wife and I were hoping for a short ride today so we attempted #18 Wadi Atshanta al Jafi from the Desert Treks book. The directions appear not to be valid any more. At 67km there was not a blue sign indicating Khurais 82km. We did find a lonely tree on the right and a paved road off on the left, but the road ends at a sand mine. We attempted to access the Wadi via many paved roads in from the Khurais Road. All roads in end in large mining contruction and the area is all but blocked by endless piles of dust. In fact, I suspect all of Wadi Atshanti al Jafi has been consumed by this mining. After many frustrations, we were low on gas so we headed back out on the Khurais Road deciding to head towards Khurais to find gas. We found a station near where Route 40E (Dammam Expressway) akd Khurais Road meet 25 degrees 05.947N and 47 degrees 33.612E. Unless we were wrong, I'd cross this destination off the Desert Trek book.
  25. That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.
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