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Wet Pancake Touring Club

Oregon: Eugene Cascades and Coast GeoTours

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I had stumbled across the GeoTours page a couple of years ago, and started watching it. Unfortunately, nothing really close by. Then I had an opportunity. I would be driving up from the San Francisco Bay Area to my home in Northern Idaho. I didn't have any real time restrictions, so I decided to try out the (at the time, only two) Eugene Cascades and Coast GeoTours. I will be honest, my motivation was the free GeoCoins for completing the GeoTours. The GeoTours are created and maintained by Travel Lane County, whose mission is to increase overnight stays in Lane County.

 

There are now four GeoTours available, and I have completed all four. They are:

- McKenzie River

- Florence (Coast)

- Oakridge/Westfir

- Territorial Highway

 

I got into Eugene in the afternoon (April, 2013), and started on the Florence edition. I was a bit disappointed at the beginning, as the first two GeoCaches were located at local businesses. But, I decided to press on, and find a few more. There is a large distance between the second and third cache in the series, and when I got to the third and fourth caches, I was hooked! Caches in forests, near covered bridges, near waterfalls. And all of the caches were regular sized, with lots of swag and a few travelers. There were still a few caches located at businesses, but the majority were out in the wild. I got into Florence around 9:00 PM, and managed to find a room for the night. Next day, I went up and down the coast and found a majority of the caches. Lighthouses, beaches, parks, all regular sized caches, well placed and maintained. I also want to say, that when the cache was located at a business, you never had to go inside, and the cache was available 24x7. This is true for all editions.

 

I made it back to Eugene that same day, and collected my GeoCoin for finding at least 24 of the 36 caches. As there was still daylight, I headed out on the McKenzie River edition. Just like the Florence edition, a few are located at businesses, but the majority are in really nice parks, the national forest, along the river, and other locations. When it got too dark, back to Eugene for the night. The next morning, rainy and overcast. I headed back up the McKenzie River, collecting more caches, until I got turned back by snow. Yes, on the McKenzie River edition, the latter ones might not be available in winter. I was able to get enough however, to qualify for the GeoCoin.

 

In order to qualify for the GeoCoins, you must fill our a 'passport'. They use the password method, in side each cache is a password. You have to write down the password on the passport, and turn in the passport to get the GeoCoin. Of course, you have to give them your name, address and e-mail address on the passport. So, that put me on their e-mail distribution list. This is how I was notified of their additions of the Oakridge/Westfir and Territorial Highway editions.

 

In May, 2014, I had a business trip in the S.F. Bay Area, and at the end of that, my wife joined me, and we GeoCached our way back home. We made sure to stop and do the new GeoTours. We approached the Oakridge/Westfir by starting at the last cache, and working our way into Eugene. An early start, we found a couple of caches. We got turned back by snow on a couple of roads that had not yet been cleared. If I had a 4-WD vehicle, I might have been able to make it, but with my Mini Cooper, there was no way. Although I did find an interesting back way into one of the caches, and have a picture of the car in knee high grass on a barely used forest service road. We found most of the caches for this edition, then started on the Territorial Highway edition.

 

We headed to Cottage Grove, and stayed at the Village Green. I mention this because there is a mystery cache located in the gardens at the hotel. We spent the night, and started out to complete the Territorial Highway edition. This is a long loop trip around Eugene. (Begin tangent: One of the geocaching.com newsletters highlighted a cache that was located at an old airmail directional signal. Before radar and air traffic controller, beacons were placed every 10 miles or so on airmail routed. The included a concrete arrow that pointed to the next beacon. Across the road from the Village Green, you can still see one of these arrows. End tangent.) Like the rest of the GeoTours, this was a mix between caches located 'in the wild', and some located at businesses. However, if you are also interested in wine tasting, this is the GeoTour to follow. There are at least 4 wineries along the way. If you are interested in wine tasting, check out what days and hours they are open. All of the winery caches were located outside any gates, and are available 24x7. One of the caches on this edition is located in front of a nursery. Inside the cache are coupons good for a free package of seeds. We finished this edition, and went back to the hotel. The following morning, we stopped by the Adventure Center, turned in our passports, and collected our coins.

 

As for the GeoCoins, they are unique. They are made my local artisans. The coins for the McKenzie River and Florence editions are a pair of interlocking jig saw pieces, that form an outline of Lane County. The Oakridge/Westfir coin is a wooden coin, that has a place for the glass bead that is the Territorial Highway coin. I will try and post pictures of all of the coins when I get the chance.

 

All in all, for my first experience, these four GeoTours have set the standard. Every cache was a regular sized cache. They are well maintained. While caches will go missing, this group would replace them quickly. All of the caches are definitely kid-friendly.

 

If others have done any of these GeoTours, please share your experience. For me, I am hooked, and am planning now planning vacations around some other GeoTours.

 

Thanks, Skye.

Edited by MissJenn
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This is a great review of the GeoTours! The geocoins for the Florence and McKenzie River editions are gone now, but they do still have Territorial Highway and Oakridge/Westfir.

 

The wife and I headed that way over the New Year's weekend. Like you, we ran into some snow issues with some of the caches at the higher elevations. But we found enough of the series to qualify for the two "coins." It was a great way to see the area. Quite a bit more driving than I was accustomed to from other Geotours and geotrails that I'd done previously, but well worth it for a great overview of the area.

 

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As for the GeoCoins, they are unique. They are made my local artisans. The coins for the McKenzie River and Florence editions are a pair of interlocking jig saw pieces, that form an outline of Lane County.

This is what they look like:

72790dbb-bbc7-4215-81da-895efe6ee66d_l.png

 

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