This Tuesday, April 13th, marks one year since I found my first geocache.
As much as I hate to admit this, it was actually the 8th cache I looked for. I chalk it up to my lone-wolf style of geocaching, but on the down-low, it probably had a lot to do with geo-tantrums. Don't act like you've never had one.
I don't feel like I've accomplished much in my first year, but it has certainly altered my perspective. Not a day goes by that I don't look at a light pole or guard rail and wonder if there is a cache there. When I see someone milling around on the side of the road, I mutter, "geocaching?" My purse now includes a flashlight and a mirror. I never carried a mirror before, but I do now, and I owe many, many finds to it.
The most significant change in my life is that I no longer experience afternoons with nothing to do. An unfound cache is always nearby. When I run errands, I usually take a look at what caches are on the way. If Brian and I leave town for a few days, we always make to time to explore new territory. I even look for easy heel-friendly terrain ratings on my lunch break. Geocaching is always in the back of my head.
What have I learned? Spiders, while still out to get me, are not nearly as abundant as I thought. Not everyone is watching me, and the ones that are do not automatically assume I am a terrorist (mostly). Stealth isn't about ninja-like quickness, it's about looking like you belong. One of the easiest ways to deter muggles is to acknowledge them - wave and be friendly, they usually get spooked and leave. Other geocachers are not my competitors (mostly), they are the most interesting and decent people you will find. Water is the most destructive force on the planet. My dog hates geocaching, while everyone else I have introduced loves it. And finally: anything, anything, could be a cache. You just don't know until you wiggle it.
The best stories come out of the geocaching, and I have definitely bulked up my arsenal. I look forward to many more years of finding nanos, ammo cans, pill bottles, and 35mm film cannisters. My GZ is right here.