July 4th, 2010 — the start of something new and wonderful


Seeing as we’ve been caching for 9 months now and are at the tail end of a winter dry spell in regards to consistent caching, I figure we might as well catch everyone up to what we’ve done thus far.  So for the next few days we’ll be updating the blog with stories from previous cache outings.  And what better way to start then at the beginning.  I promise that the other tales won’t be so long-winded…this is our first, after all, and we have some ground to cover in getting there.

As I had previously mentioned, we technically attempted our first cache way back in 2008.  Because we lacked the proper tools (namely a GPSr), we failed spectacularly at a 1/1 cache.  Everything in the description told us it would be a quick and easy cache (affectionately labeled as a P&G).  Yeah, well when it’s your first time and you have no help, you’re pretty much up a creek without a paddle if you lack the proper tools and fail to grasp the terminology.  So we pretty much gave up before we ever began.

Fast-forward to July 3rd, 2010.  We are at my parents’ house for their annual 4th of July weekend barbecue.  Everyone is eating their hamburgers and hotdogs in the hot Indiana July sun, just enjoying the simple things.  I happen to overhear my mother asking my brother about geocaching.  Now, this is a term I had only uttered a couple times several years ago but quite suddenly my interest was piqued.  I listened as my brother and sister-in-law told a story of some of the caches they had done recently and the more I heard the more excited I got.  I needed to know more.

During the conversation he mentioned he was using his iPhone for geocaching.  I was floored.  Here I am, a member of IT who has had an iPhone for over a year, and I had heard NOTHING about geocaching on my iPhone.  I never even thought to have used my iPhone for caching, even though I knew it had GPS and mapping capabilities.  So I pulled him aside and asked him for more information.  He whipped out his phone and showed me the Geocaching for iPhone app.  I couldn’t believe it.  Here is the answer to all of my past wishes.  I had always chalked our failure up to not have the proper equipment, and here he is, telling me I’ve had all I needed for the past year.  Duuuuuuhhhhh!!!!!!

That night on our way home I excitedly told Cyndi everything I had learned.  I told her that the only problem was the app was $9.99.  This pretty much derailed the conversation then and there.  Seriously, there are apps that allow you to remotely access PCs that cost less than this.  But when we got home and I went on the App Store, we saw that there was a free app called Intro to Geocaching.  OH COME ON!!!!!  It’s spelled out for us….duh.  How did we not see this a year ago?  So we decided that we’d go out and try to find some caches the next day.

The following late afternoon we decided was the perfect time to go out.  The sun was waning in the western sky and the temperature, while still quite warm, wasn’t stifling.  We logged into the app and the 3 closest caches appeared.  There was one right down the street from our house!!  We loaded everyone into the van and headed towards our first GZ.  Little did we know that the reason this app is free is because you only get the minimal information about the cache.  Had we had the full app, we would have known right away that the last 10 people to attempt this cache all failed.  But, because we didn’t know, we went in blindly, expecting to have our first find in mere moments….20 minutes later we all climbed back into the van, heads low, frustration levels high, beginning to feel that old, familiar feeling of defeat.  BUT, not all could be like this.  Surely we’re bound to find an easy one to bolster our spirits.

Three DNFs later, and we’re beginning to feel like this just wasn’t meant to be.  Ready to throw in the towel, I begin looking for a place to turn around so we could head home.  Noticing we’re low on gas, I turn into a local Speedway.  At this point Cyndi points out that supposedly there is a cache at the payphone.  I pull up to a pump and get out, eyeballing the payphone in disgust.  Then I see it….underneath the phone box itself is a little black box, looking totally out-of-place.  I finish filling up the tank, get back in the van, and then drive over to the phone.  I don’t make it immediately known that I spotted it, as I wanted to see if anyone else would.  Both kids looked all around the phone and Cyndi checked the back, sides, and top, but no one came up with it.  I then put my hand underneath the phone and pulled the magnetic key holder loose.  There it was….our first cache.  I opened the box and we all stared at the little plastic zip-lock bag holding a folded and tattered piece of paper.  Pulling it out I saw a handful of witty names and dates going back almost a year.  I couldn’t believe it….we found our first geocache.  Now…what do we call ourselves?  Seeing all the names on the log made me yearn for something with a little more personality than Pdj79.  I mean, there were names like BuffaloBob!! and Geo Bratz on there.  Pdj79 just didn’t say anything.  I was stumped.  That’s when I decided, since all 4 of us were there, and we would obviously be doing this as a team, that we should call ourselves Team Howard Family.  Well, there wasn’t much space to write the name, so I dropped the Team and just called us Howard Family, on the log.  We then put the log back in the bag, placed that back in the box, and put it back under the phone booth.  And then the thrill of victory overtook.  We were ready for more.

All told we found 4 that evening.  And one of them required help from my brother.  Turns out there is this thing called a “LPC” cache that I just couldn’t figure out what it meant.  I was looking in bushes, trees, under rocks….I just couldn’t figure it out.  So a quick call to my bro quickly enlightened us that these are light pole caches and can be found by lifting up the aluminum, plastic, or steel skirts that surround the point where the light pole connects to the concrete base.  Hindsight being 20/20, that very first cache we ever attempted did happen to have a light pole right at the GZ…instant “Aha!” moment.  Unfortunately at some point between our hunt and that day the cache had been archived so we could never redeem ourselves.  But no matter….there’s literally millions of caches out there for us to redeem ourselves with.  I’m not gonna let one archived LPC bring me down!!

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