A bit about us...

We are a modern family of three, living on less than two acres with a 3,000 square foot garden that meets our produce needs and allows us to share with friends and neighbors. Our laying flock of chickens seems to expand each year as we raise chicks each Spring to replace older hens. This blog is more of a journal, if you will, for us to chronicle and share our experiences in the yard, garden and kitchen. It is our hope that along the way a few folks might learn something, be entertained, or simply enjoy sharing in our stories and the lessons we learn on a daily basis. I named the blog after the times when I am the happiest, when I am elbow deep in earth.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A short trip out, er, um, April Fools!

As always, spoiler alert!

Looking back to April 1...
After a marvelous time with family, Lexi asked those who could to join us for a little geocaching so she could share her love and skill for it with them.  Unfortunately, most everyone had pressing plans, with the exception of her "Uncle Joshy."  He had expressed interest earlier in the day, so after a little clean up at the party, we headed out to see if we could show Josh how to cache.  We figured we would catch a few smileys and he would want to head home before it got too late in the evening.  After all, we didn't set out until after 3:00 in the afternoon...

#58, finally!
Conveniently, there was a cache hidden right outside our picnic location.  We had made an attempt on it before, without luck.  In fact, we had met a nice man and his two delightful daughters one evening while they were making an attempt on the same cache.  They were newer to caching than we were, and very excited.  We exchanged information and we shared with them our blog so they could follow along our journeys.  I am excited to say they have started a blog of their own,  Adventures in Geocaching, which you will see in Our Favorite Blogs to Visit list to the right of this post as well.  I encourage anyone who is excited about caching to follow them too.  They actually found the hide outside the brewery before we did - Go Cache Kids!  On this day, we made the find with a brand new cacher in tow.

We had been saving some caches that were very local for a special day and this seemed appropriate.  They were located in the cemetery in which a number of my family members are buried.  My grandparents, maternal great-grandparents (both sets), maternal great-great grandparents, and many distant relatives were all laid to rest in Marble Park. In all the years I have come to visit, I never knew these caches even existed. That is a big part of the fun of this activity, finding out they are so close, but just out of sight in so many locations.

Lexi was over the moon to share her passion for the hunt with her uncle. They worked well as a team all afternoon!

When we moved on from the two finds in Marble Park, Josh really seemed to have the bug for it.  He asked then and several times later, "Where to next?  Where's the next one?"  We were all overjoyed at his enthusiasm and enjoyment.

"Let's hide this a little better"
Find #61 was in plain sight, but not terribly noticeable on arrival, so we signed the log and Josh and Lexi worked to add a little natural camouflage to the area to make the find a little more fair.

Our #62 took us to yet another cemetery.  We pulled up to park and I spotted it in the tree.  Josh carefully removed the log, which was wet, so we logged the find and the need for maintenance to let the owner know.

#63 was in this
Mighty Oak
Pleased at the number of caches in the area and the fun we were having, we decided not to stop with just 5 finds, but to stay at it a little while longer. :-)  Our next hunt took us to a super cool oak tree out in the middle of a very rural area.  Since this tree has been struck by lightning several times over the years and burned multiple times as a result, it appears to be dead all winter, but surprises folks every year when it buds and leaves unfurl for the season.

2 people INSIDE it,
with room to spare
It stands totally alone on a dirt road, making it obvious that it is the tallest object around for some distance (making it a prime lightning target).  When we were there it was beginning to bud, the start to a whole new season.  You can see why it is surprising it is still alive, when you get some perspective for how time has shaped it.  It was a fabulous reminder about the remarkable power of nature.

Find #64 challenged our newly grown team a bit, but ultimately Shane made the find. We have seen pictures of these bolt caches, but this was the first we ever had the opportunity to see one in person.  The log was actually inside this "bolt." Super cool!

On a roll, we decided to grab a few more before dusk. Very near my mother's house was another guardrail hide.  This one took us longer than we were proud of :-).

Stage 1 of find #66
Our next stop was another first for us.  We decided to make an attempt at a multi-stage, since we had an extra brain in the group this time.  There were two multi-stage hides in the same cemetery, so we thought we would try to tackle both.  The first one appeared to leave the cemetery for the second stage, so we completed the second hide before we left to finish the other.

Stage 2, find #66
At the first location, we were to take a date from the stone and apply it to coordinates to arrive at the actual cache location.  It was a good first multi-stage, since it wasn't too difficult and it was fairly close.

Stage 1,  find #67
The second multi started with a stone memorializing the Knights of Pythias, which was the first Fraternal Organization to receive charter under an act of the United States Congress. We took a year from the monument and added it to some coordinates to find the second location. When we mapped the approximate location of the second stage, I knew right away what "marker" we were headed for as it is a well known statue in the area.

Stage 2, find #67
Here, we learned about gentleman who was a professional football player for the Buffalo Bills for 4 years (85-89) until an injury ended his ball career, after which he became an artist/sculpture. We had to take the year from this and subtract it from another set of coordinates to find the third stage, where the cache was actually hidden.

Stage 3, find #67
This led us to a small church not far away from either of the two previous stages.  This was where the actual cache was hidden beneath a tree and very near a beautiful crucifix.This was the third and final stage of the hunt.   What a great example of a multi-stage with totally different locations for the stages!

Still not tired of the hunt, we headed to a nearby neighborhood for a find deep within a tree in the center of a cul-de-sac.  We were terribly uncomfortable with this hunt, since there were so many houses around, but the description and logs sounded like the neighbors understand, so we went for it.  Josh replaced it gracefully and we were on our way for some more!

Clever hide, find #69
Just outside of the downtown area in this particular town, there is a single grocery store in a small shopping plaza.  Behind it, was our cleverly hidden find #69.  The guys were searching around the area, which was extremely heavily littered.  We all stood for a moment, surveying the area.  Having seen a similar hide, I lifted on the fence post cap to see if it was loose.  I had seen pictures of hides done in that type of place before.  Much to my surprise, it lifted easily and attached was the cache! Shane replaced it after we signed the log, so I could take a photo.

Find #70 was a first time hide for
the owner of the cache
We were getting hungry, so we decided to hit a couple on our way back downtown to try a pizza place Josh had eaten at before.  We noticed one on the way that was a first placement for someone.  By this, I mean that this was the first time the person had ever hidden one and was excited to share it with people.  It wasn't too complicated, but a good spot for the hide.  We logged our visit and decided to try one more that was on the way before stopping for the evening to eat.

#71 - So clever!
Based on the logs for the next one, we thought we knew right where to look.  We could not have been more wrong.  We arrived at the area (which was a park, much to Lexi's delight) and quickly got ourselves in what is known as Ground Zero or the Geo-Zone (GZ).  We searched the likely places and came up empty. After looking into the previous logs a little deeper, we got a few clues as to the nature of container it would be hidden in. People kept mentioning that it looked gross and that they thought hand sanitizer might be in order. Shane thought aloud, "Maybe it looks like chewed up gum or something." What do you know? He was spot on!

The log was a tiny roll
inside this little plastic flap
On the underside of one of the picnic tables, was a plastic container that looked just like a wad of gum. The description had mentioned the need for tweezers, but until then we weren't sure if that meant we needed them to retrieve the cache, or the log from within it.  What an incredibly clever container!  This is probably my favorite find so far, since it was so cleverly placed. It looked TOTALLY convincing and really entertained us.

After this exciting find, we could put off dinner no longer.  We had been out all afternoon, it was getting cooler and we were more than ready to sit down, warm up and fill our bellies!

Cache and Ham
Josh was right, the pizza was great. Recharged, we made the decision as a family to try for a night time find before heading home. When we searched, we learned there were several to choose from in the area. Josh was excited to make his first night time find, which was our #72 as a family. We did not photograph it, since it was totally full of water and we were not able to sign the log.  We were so occupied with the mess, we never even thought about it.  It's too bad since it was a first for him.

Our find #73 was hanging quietly in a tree at the local park-and-ride. Josh and Shane made the grab, and our little ham had to have her picture taken with it. It was getting late, but, according to my count, we were so close to 20 for the day, the guys decided to grab a couple more to get the milestone. Returning to very near the statue from the second stage of a multi-stage earlier in the day, the boys found an ammo box hidden in some trees not far from a parking area.

#74 contained a super cool travel "bug"
Armed with the little flashlight on my multi-tool I carry in my purse and the flashlight app Shane has on his iPhone, they located it pretty quickly in total darkness. Inside it, Josh found his first trackable, and what a cool one it was. Well, the hitchhiker was anyway! It was an actual bug, a wasp or bee of some sort, in resin. It's what I would call a TRUE travel "Bug!" What a neat find for him to take with him to another cache somewhere!

Another guardrail cache, find #75
I counted again, and two more would round out our 20, so we nabbed another guard rail hide and logged another smiley in the dark.  Like many others, it was a magnetic keyholder with just a log inside.

Find #76 total
Lexi had fallen asleep by this point and I was ready to go home as well, as I had to work the next day.  Shane was off work because Lexi was on Spring Break and Josh had taken the day off to take care of some personal errands. Our compromise was that we stayed in the car and the guys finished the night hunts.  One more find on a dead end road completed our goal for the day and meant we could head home for the night.

Lexi was such a trooper all day long.  She had attended a birthday picnic in her honor, and then spent the whole afternoon and evening out and about bonding with family while sharing her love for "treasure hunting" with her Uncle Joshy.  She, understandably, slept through the last couple finds.

When we got home, the little monkey and I got into pajamas and ready for bed.  Shane and Josh set about creating an account for Josh on Geocaching.com and logging his finds.  This was when we discovered that I miscounted our success.  We had not done 20.  It was actually 19.  We had logged a "needs maintenance" and I had accidentally, in my tired haze, counted it as a find.  I felt just awful, and still do.  Nevertheless, whether 20 finds or not, we had an absolutely smashing good time with family seeing places we would not otherwise see and learning things we never would have known.  It was, without a doubt, time incredibly well spent.  What we had intended to be a short trip out to share our hobby with family turned out to be so much more than we could have ever hoped for and we can't wait to do it again real soon!

Read older posts about geocaching here.

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