“Honey, can I go out for a few minutes? I really need a bit of quiet.”
That was me last night, and my wife answered in the affirmative. It just got to be one of those evenings where I was taking care of the kids, making dinner, and trying to do a dozen other things at once, and I needed to downshift into a little solitude. So after getting the go-ahead, I hopped in her car and started driving.
I didn’t have any grand plan, but earlier that day I had prepared a pair of my own geocaches to hide — might as well go all in with the hobby, right? I purchased a couple of lock ‘n lock boxes for the occasion, which are essentially air-tight sandwich tupperware containers, and then added a Geocaching label, a log book in a ziplock bag, and a few trinkets in each. I knew where I wanted to go put one, so I went and hid it, then started randomly driving around looking for inspiration.
Inspiration came in the form of a local park that I’ve visited once or twice. I never have, however, entered the few miles of hiking trails that exist, and so I thought that that might be a good idea. With only a pen, my phone, and the geocache on hand, I plunged into the wilds of suburban forest.
I was not thinking ahead. This ended up being a problem.
Okay, I *did* take a picture of the trails, which was smart, but I lacked my geocaching kit or any solid plan. It turned out that there were a few stagnant pools in the woods here that served as a launching pad for a billion mosquitos, and as my bug spray was in my kit, my defense became “move swiftly and constantly swat yourself like you’re a medieval monk performing rituals of penance.” A part of the back of my brain kept saying that I should just turn back, try it another day, but by that time I was a half-mile deep into the brush and determined to find a good hiding spot.
This proved surprisingly difficult, as tons of hikers were around, the bugs were everywhere, the ground outside of the paths muddy, and most of the trees not a great place to hide anything. But I kept going, and all the while that voice in the back of my head kept yammering that I only told my wife I was going out for a few minutes, and these few minutes had now become an hour and a half of trailblazing through the most extreme wilderness that a highly populated area adjacent to a shopping mall could offer.
Then came the kicker. So I’m way, way back in the woods (at the top of the map there) and I look up the geocache app to see where I’m at on the map — and it’s then I notice that this place is littered with caches. Another point in favor for doing homework ahead of time, I guess. Geocaching asks for space between the caches so that they can each have a distinct GPS coordinate, and in this park there were like nine or so. It didn’t feel special anyway, so I ended up double-timing it back to my car and feeling quite foolish.
And yet — adventurous. As with most of my geocaching trips, even the most spontaneous ends up being a memorable trip to a place I wouldn’t have gone otherwise. I’m already planning a return trip to the park to find all of these geocaches, but I think I’ll hide my remaining container elsewhere.
P.S. — Great to hear that a few of you have tried geocaching because of these posts! It really is an addictive little pasttime.
P.P.S. — If you missed it, I wrote an article about Richard Garriott’s geocache on Massively.