Friday, July 18, 2008

Would that be the plastic anniversary?

Yesterday was my one-year anniversary of geocaching, and I celebrated by doing... absolutely nothing relating to geocaching. I created my account on July 17, 2007, found 19 caches in the first month, then disappeared for a month while I got acquainted with my new job at the University of Minnesota. Then, somehow, between then and now I ran my total of cache finds up to today's number of 783.

Seven hundred eighty three. That number, while not as large as some others I've seen in a shorter time period, still represents a lot of solitary, obsessive caching and several Sunday trips out with the guys. Now, a year in, I'm thinking about how to make geocaching a part of a more balanced life. In particular, how can I incorporate geocaching into family trips in a way that satisfies my insatiable need to fondle my unit (Garmin GPSMap 60CSx!) and also does not bore my wife and children to death?

Last weekend gave a good template. Saturday I took W&H, mini-double-bass, to Centris' Hello Minnesota! event, and they were happy to meet lots of other kids of cachers. Afterward, sir_zman and fingon and their families met us at Fort Snelling State Park to find the history challenge cache there. We also met the Ramsey63 pair there and met another family that is new to geocaching at the cache site. A total of 17 people at the cache when we found it.

On Sunday, knowschad, shoestorm, meralgia, Millah, and Simursmack headed down to Cannon Falls for kayaking and geocaching, but C and I decided that it wasn't the best time for a day away with my buddies. For one thing, C was giving a talk at the Star Tribune the next day and wanted to spend some time Sunday preparing. So instead, I took W&H down to Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area to find the history challenge cache there. After that find, I now have two metro area caches left -- Lake Maria and Wild River -- before going for the final metro challenge cache at Afton. Getting that MN Valley cache took some work, though.

For one thing, W&H didn't want to go. I fixed that by offering to do Something That I Never Thought I'd Do. I strapped dual DVD screens to the back of the headrests in our 1999 Honda Accord and allowed them to watch The Aristocats and Cars on the way down and the way back. And, yes, the DVD player is a Disney brand DVD player. I am such a tool.

The Other Thing I Thought I'd Never Do, but happens more often than I care to admit: I asked them where they'd like to stop for lunch, and of course W requested Chicken McNuggets.

Oh, that reminds me. In John Hodgson's book Areas of My Expertise, he lists something like 500 Top Names of Hoboes, and one of them is Chicken Nugget Will. There, now you know my son's name. Don't steal his identity or anything like that. Also, apologies to anyone who is offended by the use of the word "hobo". Jon Stewart says it more often than I do, so go get on his case.

Anyway, we went through the drive-thru, and the employee asked me to pull over to wait for the McNuggets. So we waited, and waited, and waited. After about 15 minutes of wondering how long it takes to make a chicken nugget, I went inside looking like I was going to open fire, and the manager gave me our McNuggets, refunded my money, and reprimanded the drive-thru employees all at the same time. I did not get any satisfaction from that. It was the McDonald's at US 169 and Bloomington Road, in case you were wondering. I doubt that four geocachers, my entire readership, boycotting one McDonald's restaurant will make much difference, though.

Refreshed with fast food and convenient entertainment, we arrived at the SRA, and W&H did not want to get out of the car. I convinced them that it would be a short walk, but it wasn't, because I chose the wrong path around the lake -- the one with the mud and the horse excrement. We saw ponies, though!

Finally, we made it to the cache, and thankfully this multi-cache was not a multi. The cache was at the posted coordinates. I took three travel bugs out of the cache, none of which were logged into the cache, and the six travel bugs that were logged into the cache were not there. My policy is to take every traveler I find out of the state park caches and not put any in, except for the state park travel bugs. These state park caches seem to be travel bug black holes. I can understand; I wasn't very clear on the mechanics of travelers at the beginning.

Funny, before this trip started, I thought we might continue up to Lake Maria, but this trip southwest provided enough excitement for one day. C gets her alone time, I make incremental progress toward a random geocaching goal, and the kids get outside for a walk in Beautiful Minnesota, even if they're complaining about it every step of the way.

On to another year of geocaching. I predict that this year my number of cache finds will be greater than 0 and less than 783.


Randy said...

I thought you might have said to the McD people "Don't give me any trouble, I have a GPSr and I know how to use it."

Of your 783 caches, how about listing / reflecting on some of your memorable cache finds or frustrating ones over the year.

Some famous philosopher once said "men are from Sears and women are from Nordstroms".

firstbass said...

Good thing I didn't walk in there with my 60CSx, as much as it looks like a handgun!

Thanks for the suggestion. What's alarming is how often someone calls me for a hint on a cache I've found, and I don't have the slightest idea which cache they're talking about. There are definitely some memorable ones in there, though, and I'll give some thought to it.

ShoeStorm said...

Once again, excellent story 1B! I can’t wait for the “GeoCaching Is Life” novel. It’s sure to make Oprah’s list.
By way of readership, you must at least have 5 now? But the true problem is that Millah alone would offset any boycott of McDs.