Have I mentioned that we’re geocachers?
Way back in 2001 I had just moved from Reno, NV to Corona, CA and didn’t know a soul. I had two tiny kids and my very first internet connection. A lucky random click during my first exploration into the mighty world wide web brought me to the Geocaching.com site and I was instantly hooked.
Back then there were less than three thousand geocaches hidden in the entire world. Today? Today there are nearly six thousand caches within seventy five miles of our house here in England.
In short order I bought myself a handheld GPS, printed out some details and packed the kids in the Suburban to find the first of what became hundreds of caches.
Today I’ve found nearly three hundred caches in seven states and three countries. I honestly haven’t found many caches in the last few years. Texas heat and flat terrain made it less appealing, and there were none at all hidden near our small Brazilian beach town, but sudden inspiration sent me on a search close to home in the UK before Brian and I head off to Brazil again.
We picked a beautifully sunny September day and hit a local nature preserve on our hunt for at least four of the twelve caches hidden there.
Caching is so much easier now in some ways. My phone carries all the information I need right on the spot. I just did a local search (I use the c:geo free app) and off we went.
We packed light since this wasn’t going to be an epic hike kind of day. I should have at least remembered to bring my own pen.
I also should have brought a plastic bag or berry basket. The blackberries were everywhere!
We crossed the fields and entered the trees, and my signal stayed strong.
The first cache on the list? Total bust. It’s a microcache, which means it’s a tiny container. In this case, a 35mm film canister. Does anyone even remember what those are anymore? I would have to explain it to my kids.
Either way, we couldn’t find it. I think my too-long-unused cache finding skills are a bit rusty.
Between the first and second location we stumbled across this shrine.
A father lost a daughter to cancer way too young. He had a spiritual moment after her death in these woods and let a note on this tree explaining what had happened, and saying that he comes back there often to think about his girl. Over the last couple of years other hikers have left coins, tokens, momentos and notes in honor of his daughter. It was very sweet.
Not far past the memorial tree, we zeroed in on our second cache location and started the hunt.
Twenty minutes of bashing about in the trees and scraping our heads on branches left us frustrated. Again? Seriously? I used to be able to spot them from twenty feet away!
We took a break to gather our thoughts and moved on to the next location, which brought us through a surprising but lovely carved arch in the middle of nowhere.
And down a really gorgeous and mossy path.
To a third cache location which stumped us yet again. What?! Three caches and no luck!
What has happened to my well developed spidey sense? I thought for sure I’d find this one since it was supposed to be an easy find, but nope.
Not ready to give up empty handed we headed back towards the park entrance and tried one last time to find the elusive little box.
The morning humbled me. The only one I found was the easiest one of the bunch and was clearly a good cache for families with small children. The simple toy and trinkets were not much to look at, and I had to run inside the visitor’s center to borrow a pen since someone made of with the one that should have been in the box, but I found it.
Which gives me enough of a thrill that I can’t wait to do it again!
And also makes me want to go back to that park and have another look at two of the three that I couldn’t find. Now that I’ve slept on it for a few days, I think I might know where to look. I had just forgotten how tricky the hiders can be.
One of the things I love about caching is that it brings me to places I might never have found unless I was on the hunt for a cache. I had no idea this park was so big, or so beautiful. I wish I had found it earlier so we could have spent a few sunny summer afternoons there with a backpack and a picnic lunch. All those years ago in California I learned my way around the huge tangle of freeways and suburbs hunting for new caches, and again I found incredible parks and green spaces that I never would have known about.
And for further good news? There are about fifteen geocaches hidden within a few miles of our apartment in Brazil. Guess what I’ll be doing when we get back!