Last Thursday Brian and I headed up to Panama City, FL to spend Christmas with family (including my Dad, fellow cacher, PNutHed). In anticipation of a Christmas-day cooking frenzy, we went out to dinner on Christmas Eve. It just so-happened there was a cache in the parking lot of the restaurant. Coincidence, really.
We assumed it was a typical light pole cache, but lifted the skirt to find nothing. It was a bit disconcerting. That was, until Brian tripped, placed his hand on the pole for support, and something slid under it. Turned out it was the cache, which was an outlet cover, painted to match the pole. I don't recall ever seeing one painted before. I apologize for the poor photo quality...it was dark.
We spent Christmas day in a perpetual cycle of cooking and eating. Even though I was all by myself for about an hour when I ran to Winn Dixie to grab a few forgotten ingredients, I resisted the urge to grab any caches. This is not to say that I did not open the Geocaching app; I know for a fact there was a cache in the parking lot where I shopped, but I didn't grab it. Christmas miracle?
The next day we did some more cooking and eating, but we actually got out and grabbed a few caches. I'm proud to say that we found everything we seriously looked for. The one exception was a cache that is only accessible by sacrificing someone to the bog people. We didn't get a chance to really hunt for it, so it's a pseudo DNF.
The most admirable find of the day went to PNutHed, who saw something we all failed to see. The cache was a 4/3 (difficulty/terrain). I admit the rating alone intimidated me. Both PNutHed's Garmin and my iPhone showed the coordinates being off to the right of the gazebo (below), so we all hopped off the boardwalk and started hunting. The Garmin's reading bounced all over, but kept coming back to the same area, a pair of small trees. We scoured these two trees, tugging on every branch and berry. I was fixated on pine cones, which littered the area and fit the difficulty rating. After a bit I realized I was looking at the same cones over and over. The only way I could think to "keep track" was to toss away the cones after I was done with them. I cleared a small area to absolutely no avail. We also wiggled the loose bark of nearby trees, sifted through clumps of weeds, dug up partially-buried bottle-caps, tipped over a rain gauge (oops), disturbed multiple ant colonies, picked through a pile of clam shells, and pulled finger prints off found pen fragments (not really).
An hour passed with no good leads. I decided to look at recent logs for clues. One log eluded to the cache being on the gazebo, so, we redoubled our efforts there. We wiggled every bolt, duck-walked under the planks, and crept along the railings. Oy.
For the third time, I climbed up on the railings to look at a piece of metal that seemed out of place. PNutHed came up to examine it also. I climbed down, defeated. And then PNutHed spotted the cache.
It became abundantly clear why it was rated a 4/3, and why so many DNFs had been logged. Instead of trusting the coordinates, I had spent an hour flipping over pine cones. Our collective frustration was captured in this one photo.
Here's what the cache looks like next to the hidey hole.
Below is the nano incognito. It wasn't hard to get to, per se, just hard to see. It proves, once again, that geocaching is all about perspective. Sometimes it's just a matter of looking at the right spot from the right angle. But even with that knowledge, I'm not sure I would have spotted this cache.
Our next cache was another first for me. We found a naked log first, then the damaged cache nearby. Granted, the cache consisted of a baggie and velcro, but it had somehow been removed from it's original location. The log was dry, so we signed it, replaced it in the baggie, and stashed the baggie somewhere "safe." I posted a Needs Maintenance note and emailed the owner. Hopefully the cache survives.
Now for some administrative updates. First, Brian added a welcomed-addition to Team Evelev: a new cache bag! Goodbye, Hello Kitty. It has a million pockets, a removable rain cover, and space-age technology that is supposed to keep my back cool. It's wicked awesome. Several months back I swag-traded a pedometer for a geocaching patch, which you can get from Goundspeak for about $4. I sewed on the patch tonight.
You may be interested to know that you may be part of a global phenomenon. A tiny one. I recently figured out that my blog has been visited by people in 14 countries and 31 US states. Turns out, some of you come straight here (because I told you to), some of you click through my Facebook link, but a lot people are finding me on google. Try googling "camo'd bison", I'm the first result. I'm also getting a lot of hits on waterproof match containers - google image search "waterproof match container", I'm the #2 result. I'm also #2 for "decoys in geocaching". I don't want to toot my own horn too much, but this blog is slowly becoming a source for the cache-curious. And you were here first. Congratulations.