Mother Nature’s Bipolar Disorder

It’s been about a week since I last posted on here.  Inweather that time, Mother Nature decided that she didn’t want it to be spring anymore and dumped six inches of snow on us.  Just when I was able to scratch my geocaching itch, she has put a damper on it for a bit again.  While the forecast for this week isn’t all that great, at least it isn’t showing any snow in the future.  Hopefully, it will be a short hiatus so I can get back out in a couple weeks and boost my numbers some more.  I think next time, we will pack our bikes in and head to Niobrara State Park and pick up as many of the caches there.

 

So since I really have no adventures to write about this week, I figured I would write about how I got started geocaching.  I started caching back in June of 2010 and am coming up on my 6th year now.  This year I should surpass the 2000 find mark as my schedule with TannerKG8 works out better and should give us more full days of caching.  When I first heard about geocaching, it sounded like such a mystMarion_Bridge-580x255ery to me.  The idea that people could hide something in plain sight and you didn’t know that it was there unless you had a GPS to point you to it or just happen to stumble upon it seemed like such an adventure.  I was surprised when I looked on geocaching.com and saw that there were two geocaches in the small town that I live in.  I was instantly curious about them and, even though I didn’t have a GPS, I had a good guess where one of them was hidden at just by looking at the map.  So on that windy Sunday morning, I went to the park and walked across the suspension bridge to try to find the cache that was hidden there.  I looked all over that end of the bridge without a clue as to what this cache would look like.  In my mind, I pictured something hanging off the bridge or stuck to it.  After about 20 minutes, I gave up on my search, still wondering how someone could hide something without it being found.

 

That day, I told my father about geocaching and asked him if he still had his GPS unit.  He did and I borrowed it from him.  After adding the cache into the GPS, I found myself out at the bridge again that evening.  Again I found myself at the far end of the bridge looking in all the places I looked at that morning and again, I found myself scratching my head and wondering.  I finally gave up my hunt for the day.  At the same time, I had told my father all about geocaching and it perked his interest as well.  Later that week, he was out at the park looking as well.  He also came up empty in his search.

 

In the meantime, I had started looking up geocaches around Sioux Falls and was amazed at how many there were.  I eventually came across a series of eight geocaches that would lead you to one final geocache.  This really peaked my interest.  The idea that each geocache would give you part of a clue to one final location sounded amazing.  So on a Monday afternoon in June, I found myself in a park in Sioux Falls with my GPS showing me I was 0.6 miles from The Arrow.  I walked to the location and found a picnic shelter there along the river’s edge.  I noticed up in the rafters that someone had left a book hidden up there.  I reached up for it and looked at it confused.  Was this the cache?  Having never found one before, I wasn’t certain.  I then looked at my GPS and noticed it was still pointing towards the tree line along the river’s edge.  I decided to see where my GPS would take me and I found myself just a few feet into the treeline.  It was pointing at a large tree that was laying along the ground there.  I walked up to it and noticed that the inside of the tree was hollow and when I looked inside the one end of it, I saw what I was looking for.  Inside the tree, there was an ammo can that had been left behind.  I excitedly opened up the cache and signed my name on the list.  I was now hooked.  That night I introduced another friend to geocaching by showing him the same cache, and we proceeded to go out and find two more.

 

Since then, I have introduced more friends to the hobby, including TannerKG8.  Each summer now, we try to plan a road trip to some destination Countiesand find a geocache in every county that we pass through.  Three years ago, we made the pilgrimage to Mingo, the mecca for any active geocacher.  Two years ago, we traveled to the Black Hills and found the Ice Cave deep in the western part of the Black Hills.  Last year, I made a solo journey to California for my cousin’s wedding, caching all the way out there and back.  This year, our trip is planned for June as we are now going to travel to Winnipeg and Regina over the summer solstice.  Needless to say, I enjoy the hobby immensely and am excited just to see where the road will take me.

 

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Shaking Off the Rust

Shaking Off the Rust

     Being a Geocacher in South Dakota means that your either going to suffer through long cold finds digging through snow in the winter or having long dry periods of no finds.  For me, I prefer to choose the later as I never have been a cold weather person.  Even when it does start to warm up, you still have to limit your options to the more urban caches as any caches in rural areas mean that you will have to deal with ditches full of water as the snow melts or a lot of mud.  Since I like to get out in the rural areas to see the countryside and get away from people, this means I usually have to wait a bit longer even as everything dries out.

Finally on Sunday I had my chance to get out for the day with my fellow cacher TannerKG8.  I had noticed a week earlier that things to the south were drying up nicely and I would finally have a chance to scratch that itch that I have had for the last month.  We had decided to start a little later in the morning to let the day warm up a little.  As TannerKG8 picked me up, we hadn’t really had much of a game plan for the day yet but decided to start out just west of Irene, SD in an attempt to find Hand Jive #2: Rebekah’s Cache.  While making the drive there, I noticed that the cache had not been found in almost three years.  We pulled up to ground zero and searched but were unable to make the find.  Still had some winter rust on us I guess.

With our tails between our legs, we started for the next closest cache, Startled.  We made quick work finding this cache and the next two caches, 300th Street SDSQ No. 1 and Big Blue Blinkie.  Feeling good about ourselves again, we again came up with two DNF’s at Stumped, Stumped, and Stumped and Eleventh Cache on 304.  After another quick find, we headed to #4 Countryguy – Nebraska Top 10.  Again I had noticed that it had been three years since it had been last found and a couple DNF’s as the last logs.  We pulled up to ground zero and I searched high while TannerKG8 searched low.  As we both got done searching our areas, we looked at each other and decided that this one might be missing as well and walked back to the truck.  When back at the truck, we noticed another SUV slowly pulling up to our spot.  As they pulled up next to us, they asked us “Did you find it?”.  It is always fun meeting fellow cachers out on the caching trail.  This time it was MtnDewers that we met.  After a brief chat, we headed down the road to the next cache.  As we made a quick find there, we noticed MtnDewers heading back our direction.  They pulled up next to us to inform us that the last cache was still in place and we headed back to make a quick find this time around.  Guess that winter rust was still in place.

We spent the remainder of the morning and early afternoon going through Mission Hill and areas south of there.  Eventually, we started to get caches from Yankton and decided to take a short break and get something to eat for the day.  After eating, we headed west and north from Yankton.  We made a quick find of August Streaking and then went on to Road Cedar.  As we pulled up, we saw a line of large pine trees lining the road and knew right away that we would be dealing with a pine tree cache (PTC).  Looking at the terrain rating, we made this cache much harder than it needed to be but we did come up with the find.  From there, we went on to Blue Bird Bridge.  We both searched high an low looking for this cache and ended up standing around scratching our heads as we tried to make sense of the clue for this one.  As I was just about to give up on my search, I heard TannerKG8 exclaim “AH-HA” and I looked over to see him with the cache in hand.  This one ended up being a clever hide and earned a favorite point from me.

The rest of the afternoon was spent going from cache to cache making several finds.  As the afternoon wore on, we came across two more DNF’s along the way.  We put in a good effort trying to find them but they were not to be found.  I made sure to mark them as DNF’s and we moved on.  After another quick find, we then decided that we should call it a day as it was now 5:00 with an hour drive back home.  We did pick one last cache, James River Bottom, on the way back up Highway 81.  Overall, we came up with 29 finds for the day.  Not a bad first day out for the year.

After I got home, I looked at the map and noticed the last two DNF’s were no longer on there.  The owner of the caches had noticed my DNF’s and went and checked them out to find out that they were indeed missing.  It is nice to see owners that proactive with their caches so others don’t make the drive to find something that is not there anymore.

With the first day of caching done after a long winter, it was nice to be back out cruising the countryside.  As I type this, they are talking more snow again tomorrow and colder temps again, leaving me waiting again for warmer temps.  It is now less than 3 months until our caching trip to Canada, and I can’t wait!