Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lessons Learned and Other Geo-News

I grabbed a handful of caches this week. My first was an attempt at FTF. Twelve hours after publishing, the cache was still unfound, so I thought I had a shot, but I was beaten by a mere 30 minutes.


I learned something about myself at this cache. With over 200 finds, I have acquired the skill of invisbility...or so I seem to think. It seems I have far less stealth than when I first started caching. The area was teeming with muggles on their way to a middle school. The cache was located under a boardwalk and I had no shame about stomping around in the mud (in heels).


At one point a group of 12ish year-olds walked by and one said, "Is that a girl?" Another replied, "no, stupid, that's not a girl." The debate continued. So I popped my head up above the boardwalk and yelled "yes, I am a girl" and resumed searching. Their pace quickened a little after that. A few minutes later an elderly couple walked by and actually stopped to watch me. I tried to ignore them, but they looked nosy, so I stood up and waved at them. The woman waved back and shouted, "Isn't it muddy down there?" I replied, "Oh, it's not so bad" and ducked back under the boardwalk. It was then that I noticed a set of footsteps other than mine and followed them to the cache.


The wave-and-smile technique worked better than I imagined. I suppose she thought she had spotted someone with a nefarious purpose. Except that people who are up to no good don't typically acknowledge the presence of onlookers, so I basically cleared my name by just being friendly. Normally I'm happy to explain geocaching, but since this one is on the main route to school, I figured it wouldn't stay long if people knew about it. The best option was for them to think I was strange. Believe me, I was ready with the "I dropped an earring" excuse, but I'm glad I didn't have to use it.


I also came across my first bird nest cache, which was tilted to reveal the bison tube without much searching. I tried to position it so the opening would face the sky, but it didn't seem to budge. I suppose it's survived this long.



Last week my obsession was puzzle caches (it still is, don't worry), this week I'm on a kick for statstics. A quick google search of "geocaching statistics" brought me to
Cacher Stats, which amazingly ranks all geocachers with 200+ finds. The only catch is that you have to visit one of their currently-watched caches. If the closest cache is more than 50 miles away you can request that they add a cache closer to you. The closest one to me is 6 miles away and I grabbed it this afternoon. This website updates twice a week, so hopefully I'll be on there in a few days.


More digging revealed this neat stat bar, fed by Cacher Stats. You can get it here. As soon as I'm on Cacher Stats you can bet I'll be adding this stat bar to my blog.



And finally, the biggest news of my weekend. If you're like me, you were not aware that us geocachers are about to have own in-print magazine. You will be able to have a normal-people representation of your obsession right there on your coffee table. It's called FTF Geocacher and the first full issue is due out in early 2010. You will have to pay for a subscription, but they haven't released the price yet.



However, signing up for the preview issue is easy and free. Just go to FTFGeocacher.com, where you can read about the magazine and find out how to sign up.


But that's not the best part - the best part is I'm in it! They are publishing my review of Geocache, written by Contributor Evelev. I feel honored to be a part of this new publication. It's my own little contribution to the world of geocaching.


Which brings me to my final point, I had no idea I was contributing to the world of geocaching with this blog. I'm so new, so incredibly inexperienced compared to just about every other geocacher on the planet (not to mention verbose). I thought my readers consisted mainly of friends and family, people who read my blog just to be nice. So I have to admit it's both thrilling and terrifying that people are reading who won't forgive my smart-assedness. Oh well, I suppose that damage is done.


Where do I go from here? I've already been recognized on-the-street from this blog, so I must be well on my way to an embarassing segment on TMZ. And I expect a call from Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, or Bill Maher for me to appear as a free-lance geo-writer. Ever seen one of those on the panel? Or maybe I'll just go to work tomorrow and grab a cache on my lunch break.

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