“The History of Landsat in Lompoc” GeoTour

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About Landsat

Landsat is an earth-observing satellite managed by NASA and USGS. On July 23, 1972, the first Landsat satellite was launched from Vandenberg. The legacy continues up to today. In the last 50 years, every Landsat satellite was launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base. The Landsat satellites provide us with data to detect and measure land cover and land-use change, the health of various ecosystems, water availability, and more. Everyone around the world can benefit from this constellation of satellites. Data from Landsat satellites are available for everyone.

The launch of the rocket is currently scheduled for September 27, 2021.

Landsat GeoTour kick-off Event

The kick-off event was held on September 19, 2021 at the Community and Senior Center in Lompoc. The event was scheduled to be a week earlier but as the rocket launch got postponed the event was pushed back as well. Even tho the launch date slipped another few days, the event organizers stuck with the event date of September 19. I arrived the night before as I was able to snag a room last minute at the Surestay in Lompoc. Hotels in the area were sold out and as a room got available Saturday morning, I booked it. Otherwise, I would have to leave extra early in the morning to drive all the way from Pasadena to Lompoc.

The event started out with an amazing breakfast. The hotel I stayed in only had to-go snack bags. I wasn’t even able to get one of these as nobody was at the front desk and I decided to rather head over to the event location, rather than waiting here for a snack bag, which wouldn’t be probably anything good anyway. It was a great breakfast buffet with bagels, donuts, croissants, coffee, juices. So much to choose from. 

Landsat GeoTour Kick-Off Event Breakfast

This would be the first time that I participate in a GeoTour’s kick-off event. After a good breakfast, we sat down and listen to the messages and announcements of the organizers of this event. Explore Lompoc is one of the main sponsors of this Landsat GeoTour and made this event as well as the GeoTour possible. A big thanks also to the City of Lompoc, NASA and gsm2X for making this GeoTour and event possible and for all the hard work they put in.

While there, there were a bunch of Trackables to discover and to bring along. There was also a bunch of Landsat and NASA swag. Everything from stickers to patches to info brochures as well as a small tabletop game. Thanks a lot, NASA for all these goodies.

Landsat GeoTour Goodies

This event was also a Community Celebration Event, for which you earned a special souvenir in your Geocaching.com profile.

All the participants got to know more about the upcoming launch of Landsat 9 and what the satellite will do. They also gave a quick introduction to the GeoTour and its caches as well as some tips on how to do the caches. The GeoTour and its consisting caches were scheduled to go live at 10 a.m. Most of the participants waited for the tour to go live and the event location. A few other groups and I sat out to position ourselves near some of the locations we got to see in the preview. We didn’t know the exact locations but just the vicinity in which they would be located. 

Landsat GeoTour Kick-Off Event

It was great to meet a lot of geocachers at the event. Some of them were hardcore and seasoned cachers. Others just started geocaching and signed up for it just because of this tour. People came from all over the state and some even from out of state as far as Arizona and Oregon. As the city wants to promote tourism, this is definitely a way to do it as for most people, Lompoc is not even on the radar. 

Landsat GeoTour

This is now the first ever GeoTour in Southerns California. The GeoTour (GT4AE) consists of nine geocaches of different types.

  • 2 Multi Caches
  • 2 Mystery Caches
  • 1 Earthcache
  • 1 Letterbox
  • 3 Traditional Caches

Find the list with all the caches here. You can download it as a gpx file and import it into your favorite Geocaching app or GPS device. 

Find more details on “The History of Landsat in Lompoc GeoTour” on the official homepage.

Each cache has a codeword, which you have to note down in your GeoTour passport. After you filled out your passport, you can turn it in to receive the Geocoin as a reward for your hard work. Some of the caches had some Landsat-related items in them, which I happily traded for other items. During the kick-off event, we all received the passports printed on heavy paper. You can print your own at home at any time with the above-provided link.

The majority of the geocaches are located within the City of Lompoc. A few of them are outside of the city but not very far away. All of the caches are not very complicated. Take your time and read all the information in the description of the cache listings. I don’t want to spoiler too much. There is also one cool gadget cache, which is part of the GeoTour. I rushed through the GeoTour and was able to complete it in less than 3 hours. But I really was rushing just from one cache to the next cache. I didn’t do any auxiliary caches, which are not part of the tour, or did part of an Adventure Lab cache, which has stations along the route to some of the caches. This GeoTour brings you to some amazing places in and around Lompoc. Many of them which I didn’t know existed even though I have been to Lompoc a few times for rocket launches. 

On every station, I encountered other cachers looking for the cache as well. At some locations, this made it easier to figure out where the cache is. It’s kinda hard to unsee other cachers placing the cache box back in its location. I was able to be the First to Find (FTF) and second to find on some caches. That’s just something hardcore cachers track. 😉

Compared to other GeoTours, these guys actually choose one of the best locations to pick up your Geocoin. Pick up location is at the Hilton Garden Inn in Lompoc. It is open 24 hours a day, every day. Most of the GeoTours I participated in, I had to bring my passport to pick up the coin at a Chamber of Commerce or similar.

As I finished the Landsat GeoTour rather quickly, I decided to do an Adventure Lab cache in Downtown Lompoc before heading over to the wrap-up event.

Landsat GeoTour wrap-up Event

On the same day, September 19, 2021, there was also a wrap-up event. It was held at the Hilton Garden Inn, the future pick-up location of the geocoin. As we walked into the hotel, the people at the front desk were already expecting us. They collected the passports and handed us our swag bag, which included the precious and beautiful Geocoin.

As I still had 45 minutes left before the wrap-up event would start. I ordered a burger from the hotel’s restaurant. The wrap-up event was held at the outdoor pool area of the hotel. Some of the geocachers were still seeping in, as they finished up with the tour. A lot of families with kids and also older folks participated in this GeoTour.

An indicator that this sport/hobby is for all ages. I had some great conversations with the main event organizers as well as some of the creators of some of the cache boxes. Of course, there was also chatting with other geocachers. It was just a great event. We all shared our experiences on how we did on this tour and our good and bad moments along the way.

Geocoin and swag bag

The highlight was of course receiving the Geocoin for this GeoTour. During this special day, everyone who completed the tour also received an amazing swag bag with more related items. 

Landsat GeoTour Swag Bag

There were still a few swag bags leftover. As long as they are still available you can receive one as well. Once they run out of the swag bags, there will be only the Geocoin as a reward. But don’t worry it’s absolutely worth going just for the coin itself. The coin is also a Trackable which can be logged on Geocaching.com if activated.

Overall there are 500 Geocoins. I estimate that a little over 100 coins were taken by all the cachers on the first day of the tour. I am sure they will be gone quickly as this is a rather short GeoTour. 

Conclusion

The History of Landsat in Lompoc GeoTour is really worth coming here to Lompoc. Stay overnight in town and start the tour the next morning after a good breakfast. Lompoc also gets a lot of fog throughout different times of the day. This is a perfect way to spend the not so sunny days. This will also minimize the risk of encountering muggles. Besides geocaching, I also love to discover all the beautiful murals in the city. There is even one dedicated to 50 years of Landsat in Lompoc.

Landsat Mural

A big part of the GeoTour is promoting Lompoc and the surrounding areas as a destination for tourism. I think Lompoc is underrated for what it has to offer. It’s a laid back town along the California coast. The weekend of the GeoTour all major hotels were sold out. Of course not just because of the GeoTour, but the geocachers did their part on making this happening. There are also a lot of people staying in town who are working on base. For me, as a space geek, I love to come back to Lompoc. I witnessed a few launches from here. Vandenberg SFB is one of the best locations for rocket photography with all its mountains and hills if it wouldn’t be for the freaking fog. 😉

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