November 2, 2008

Caching Up With Old Friends

We're back. Mike and I survived our out west adventure and even learned a few things along the way. One of them... geocaching.

My amazingly, wonderful friend, Kelsa, and her equally awesome husband Michael were kind enough to host Mike and I two of our four nights in Phoenix. Not only did they make us some of the best fondu I've ever had, but they also introduced us to geocaching. I had heard of geocaching before but had never tried it. For those of you not familiar, I will let Wikipedia explain (see here). For those of you not wanting to read through Wikipedia's entry, let me say geocaching is kind of like hunting for buried treasure with modern day tools.
Micheal, explained the process to my Mike and on Monday morning we set off on our first geocaching adventure. Kelsa led us to this city park not far from her home and once we were there Mike let the GPS guide his steps. This city park though, given the arid Arizona climate is unlike ones in Chicago. It was sandy, hilly with the only occasional plant life. We got to the first spot and searched in and amongst some trees. Even with three sets of eyes, we saw nothing about of the ordinary. After ten minutes of searching, we considered our first cache a bust. Luckily there were two others located not too far away. That's the crazy thing about geocaches - they're everywhere. Mike and I were surprised to learn they are all over Chicago. There are even a few in parks not too far from our home.

Mike lead the way, GPS in hand, to the second cache. The GPS never made any audible alerts that we had reached our destination. Rather the reading would hoover between one and 10 feet letting us know we were close to the location. We got to that point, stopped and then began searching for our cache. I noticed on a rock to my left an orange jewel that clearly was not placed there by the elements. It was glued in place by a person and it was our geocache.

Kelsa recognized it as part of a geocache she and her husband had tried before. She said it was the Hansel and Gretel cache -a cache made up of many steps and clues. We had found only this one part and didn't bring directions to find the rest. We pressed on (after the photo op to the right) determined to find a true cache - one where we could leave our mark.
Mike informed us there was another cache 0.5 miles away and we decided to go for it. A half-mile didn't seem so far and I was feeling pretty proud for having spotted the last cache. My pride lessened the more the terrain heightened. This half-mile trek wasn't far, but it was some rough terrain. We walked over two hills on the way to our cache, and I had to stop and rest after each. I was dizzy and a little shaky (I think partially from the altitude change). Mike pressed ahead and reached our third cache's location. There was a small out cropping of rocks embedded in the second hill we climbed.
We knew the cache had to be somewhere in the rocks, but we had to hunt. The thing with caches is they aren't supposed to be apparent. Kelsa told Mike and I of one that she and her Michael had found. They got to the spot and noticed a suspicious looking cactus. Among the plant life, one geocacher had smartly placed a fake cactus.

Kelsa, Mike and I continued searching in and among the rocks looking in every nook and cranny. I reached the base of the rocks and looked up. Underneath I noticed several rocks blocking what looked like something with a hard metal edge. I pushed the rocks out of the way and felt the metal container. I pulled it out and announced to the group that we found our cache.

This particular cache held a bunch of trinkets that previous cachers had left - pencils, business cards and a fake $1 million bill. Mike logged our names, hometown and the date. With that we had found our first cache. And with our first cache, we found a love for geocaching. Don't be surprised if in a few weeks I write that Mike and I have purchased a GPS and have already found every cache within a two mile radius of our home.

As a side note, for those of you wondering I managed to pack quite effectively for our trip. I fit a week's worth of clothes, four pairs of shoes, toiletries and accessories all in one small rolling suitcase. The trick: I rolled my clothes - a method I found extremely effective in my Morocco packing. I should mention that my small suitcase also held both a swimsuit and snow pants. The kicker though is that I didn't use either.


kelsalynn said...

YAY! Those pictures turned out really good! Our hiking trip was fun, even if it was longer and more strenuous than we were anticipating! I really do hope you guys get a GPS- it can make a boring, laid back Saturday/Sunday so much more interesting...

I'm glad you made it home safely and can't wait to hear how CO went!

Dorrie said...

At some point on your trip you should have worn your bathing suit under your snow pants. That would have been awesome.