Today I geocached for 4.5 hours. I got up at 6:30AM to get to the spot I wanted to start at (101 freeway and Shea Blvd in Scottsdale AZ), and cached eastwards. I got there at about 7:30 and kept going until nearly Noon. By Noon it was 101 degrees F; my skin was feeling sunburned even though I had put on sunscreen a couple of times; and I was feeling overheated even though I drank 3 bottles of water during that time, so I knew it was time to stop. I walked a total of 5.5 miles, which is a lot for me.
I found 15 caches and couldn’t find 6 others. That’s pretty good. One cache I couldn’t find going outbound, but then looked for it again on my return trip, and found it – that’s “Bird Nest” (GC2TJ88). I had to think differently than I was thinking to find it. It wasn’t hard, just different than my original expectation.
I like fixing up geocaches if they need it. The #1 thing I was able to do on this trip was add tiny baggies around the paper-log that you’re supposed to sign when you find the geocache (to prove you’ve been there). Many of them were in non-watertight containers, with no baggie. One had a non-waterproof bag made from that plastic pop packing material; another had a baggie that was so old it didn’t seal and had lots of holes in it. I replaced both of those with fresh baggies. I have about 5 different size baggies in my Go Bag that I carry around while geocaching.
I also picked up about three grocery-sized plastic bags full of trash, at least 50% of which was recyclable! I take this back to my house and sort it into my trash and recycle bins. I love picking up trash for some reason – it gives me a feeling of contributing to the community, solving a need, beautifying the area, and doing something that most other people would never dream of doing. Rather than just seeing the trash and complaining about litterbugs, I silently pick it up and carry it with me to the next place I can drop it in a trash can – or take it home for recycling. It makes me feel a lot better than simply complaining about trash lying around the city like most people do.
The Cache That Wasn’t
Funny story at one cache location today – I arrived and Ground Zero for the cache was a tree. The name of the cache is “Treed” (GC3374A). I pretty much knew it would be in the tree just from the name 🙂 But looking up in the branches I couldn’t find anything. So I started climbing up on the tree a little ways, to get a better perspective from up higher. Then I noticed something – there’s a big rubber ball up in the center top of the tree – that must be the cache! It was about 10 feet off the ground though, and I couldn’t reach it from the highest point I could climb to in the tree (not very high). So I scrounged around to find a nice long stick, and started poking at it from below. I was able to poke it over and down, between the branches, until it was low enough that I could reach it. Got it! I looked at the ball, and… it was just a regular rubber ball that had gotten stuck in the tree. Not the geocache! I ended up leaving the ball on the ground for the next kid in the area to find.
At that point I had given up on finding the cache, looked like it’s going to be a DNF (Did Not Find) in the website logs for me on this one. As I was picking up my Go Bag from the ground and my bag of trash (which had partially spilled on the ground), I picked up a small plastic piece of “trash” and thought, “I don’t remember picking this up before…” Looking more closely, it was the cache! It was sealed, and when I opened it up I found the paper log on the inside. Geocache Found! I signed the log and closed it up. But where to put it? I found a good spot on the tree where it could be fairly hidden from most angles, but a geocacher would find it, in coordination with the difficulty of this particular cache — an easy one: 1.5 difficulty out of 5, 1.5 terrain out of 5 — and continued on my way.
So anyway, my body feel completely exercised and happy now after walking more than 5 miles on foot, mostly in the sun. It was slightly overcast most of the morning, which helped reduce the heat a little. I love Phoenix, even in the summer time, even in the heat. I have found over 1000 geocaches now, and still going strong. That may seem like a lot (it took me 2 years to get that many), but I know some geocachers with more than 20 times that many finds!
Geocaches Near You
To learn more about how to find these secret hidden containers near where you are, visit www.geocaching.com. And, there are some near you, right now, no matter where you are in the world; trust me. You can create an account on that web site for free, but you can’t see all of the geocaches around you unless you pay for a premium account ($30/year). When a geocacher is placing a cache, they’re allowed to choose whether it should be seen by premium members only, or anybody. I’d say roughly 2/3 of the caches in the Phoenix area are premium-only. Certainly some of the greatest geocaches are premium-only. Some cachers put an amazing amount of work into their cache hides. And others don’t. And geocaches come in various sizes, from ammo-box or paint-can size, down to smaller than the end-segment of your little finger (called a “nano” cache).
Geocaching is just fun.