Friday, July 25, 2008

Recruiting new members to our disturbing little cult

C and I met up with our friend TJ from Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Tuesday night, and at the end of the evening, TJ asked me, "Would you like to go geocaching in the morning?" Of course!

The last time TJ was in the Twin Cities, I had been a geocacher for about a week, and her sole exposure to geocaching, thanks to me, was walking down to the Summit Avenue Stroll caches, looking around for about a half-hour in the dark, and finally giving up. Not the most exciting introduction to geocaching.

Wednesday morning I had the opportunity to reintroduce her to geocaching, and along the way I learned about all the things that I take for granted as a year-old geocacher. I don't consider myself a veteran geocacher by any means, but it was great fun to view the hunt through the eyes of a complete newbie.

When I took TJ out last year, I had a Garmin Vista. Now I have a 60CSx and the Vista, and I loaded up both with geocaches in the neighborhood of Minnetonka where she was staying. 80% of the time we were geocaching, the Vista was Locating Satellites. I don't know how I found a single geocache with that thing in the first two months of my career!

On the hunt for our first geocache of the morning, the Vista was working, and it was interesting to see how "arrow-bound" TJ was. She quickly learned, as the morning went on, that once she was within 20 feet or so of ground zero, it was time to put away the Vista and start looking for geo-beacons. (The second step was becoming geo-beacon-bound!)

Our first cache of the morning was a magnetic camo'ed pill bottle behind a metal traffic sign. After we signed the log, TJ said, "Should we go look for another geocache?" Uh, yeah! She was appalled that I recently found 27 caches in one day (and I'm sure most of you have found many more than that in one day). Finding one geocache is a bit like eating one potato chip for a snack.

We ultimately found 11 caches that morning, including the first puzzle that I've ever completely brute-forced. I knew there was a puzzle in the area, so I just felt around some typical places, and TJ was completely amazed when I pulled a cache, coordinate-free, out of its hiding spot.

For the last couple caches, TJ turned off the Vista and made me give her the 60CSx so that she could be in charge. By the end of the morning, TJ was ready to break out on her own. When we said our goodbyes, I gave her one of the 40%-off coupons from Best Buy. I think we may have a new Michigan geocacher.

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