If you’ve ever read my blog, you’ve probably noticed that geocaching is one of the most popular (and most discussed) topics at the Resort. Countless people have learned about this fun activity while visiting the park. I am usually on the front end of this learning process, teaching people how to use the GPS units and what to look for while searching for a cache. However, since most packs get returned to the front desk, I am rarely there to get a first timer’s perspective.
A friend of mine, Rachel Godby, recently came geocaching at Honey Creek Resort. She was kind enough to write a blog about her first experience geocaching and share it with me.
Visit her blog at http://rachel.godby.org/?p=8 or find the post below!
Warning!!! – Some cache spoilers may follow
Mishaps with Adventure
For two young women fresh out of college, the first idea that might spring to mind is a wonderful summer vacation away from home. I could almost hear the seagulls cawing, feel the sand under my feet, and see the waves gracefully meet the beach. On the other hand, two young women fresh out of college also have to think about student loans. What kind of activity can we do that is new and fun… and not far from home? A simple fix, really. Before we get there, everyone meet Kriston, my best friend since before I could talk.
Wait, that’s not right…
There, much clearer. I guess I should mention that Kriston and I have tried this outdoors exercising routine before. Unfortunately, riding bikes on the trail turned into more of a “can we walk this hill? I don’t think I can make it” as well as ceasing all talking because of cotton mouth. Instead of saying no to more fun outdoor activities, Kriston and I took up the idea to go geocaching for the first time. Geocaching, in essence, is an outdoor treasure hunt using GPS devices. As beginners, we received help from Hannah Wiltamuth at the Honey Creek Resort State Park Activities Center. Along with a GPS (and an explanation by Hannah), we were given a map of the caches and a few toys to switch with another at a cache. Without further ado, we said thank you and headed out.
The day is beautiful, if not a little too hot, but what can you expect in June? Our first few steps were to figure out how to follow the GPS now that we were on the trail. For some reason, Kriston held both the map and the GPS. Most likely because I’m terrible at directions. The first cache wasn’t too far from the starting point… yet we still managed to pass it. With a little arguing, or what I’d like to call “friendly banter,” we backtracked. Not before I got scared half out of my shoes because of a rustling noise in the wooded area. Turns out we weren’t the only ones trying to find a cache. We prevailed, though! Our first cache.
As you can see, I now have the GPS and map. Still, we were in the beginning of our treasure hunt and already messed up once. How could we mess up again? Well, you must know not us. The second cache should’ve just been around the bend. Not quite so close, but close enough. The other geocachers abandoned the hunt after the first one so we were left to fend for ourselves. And when I say that, I actually mean fend for ourselves.
I would feel sorry for her after defending herself from random branches and leaves, but she brought this upon herself. Let’s go back and take a look.
Rule number one of geocaching: Just because it looks like there’s a trail, doesn’t mean that it’s supposed to be one. Lesson learned. Of course as we continue in the woods, Kriston quips, “I feel like we’re almost there.” Rule number two of geocaching: Never trust Kriston’s feelings and/or intuition. After a couple (yes, a couple) more wrong turns, we finally find our second cache and switch out a toy. We had a fairly nice view on our walk. It made up for our lack of stamina and overall thirstiness. Actually, the water made it worse. At this point, we were about 45 minutes in and wanted to run into the lake. Next time we’re planning on bringing a light pack with some water in it.
Okay. So I feel that I should point out that it wasn’t just Kriston that was terrible at finding the caches in the beginning. I was equally responsible. But since I’m writing this, we can keep the responsibility on her shoulders.
So you know that time you lost your car keys and just couldn’t find them? The time that your left shoe was nowhere to be found? While you’re at it, your right shoe isn’t magically appearing, either. This cache was like that. The only difference is that we didn’t have the cache before we began.
Eventually we found it. That feeling of “of course it’s there” was high on my feeling chart.
In the middle of our adventure, Kriston and I found that I was better at using the GPS and she was better with the map. When I held the map, I never followed it anyway. That left me in Kriston’s hands. And we don’t want that. We eventually got into a good rhythm of finding the caches. Inside each one, we would sign the logbook with our names.
I would find some.
And so would Kriston.
We made a pretty good team. A rough start, but an awesome middle. Of course, we trekked for 2 and a half hours and needed a break. We found the perfect spot.
The fun part with geocaching is that you don’t have to go to every spot. It’s a fun activity that can be done with one person or in a group. If you ever played hide-and-seek when you were younger and always managed to be the seeker, then this is probably not for you. I’m only kidding of course. But really…
Our last cache was the most difficult to find. Like everything that comes around full circle, we unintentionally decided to do the same to this cache as we had to the first. That’s right. We passed it and then backtracked. It wasn’t really our fault though. I mean, look at this!
However, we kept with the pattern and found this one, too.
Being outside treasure-hunting for three hours was a lot of fun. We were glad to see the path back. Not because we don’t like the woods (we’re from Iowa, we’re used to it!), but because we were thirsty. Oh yeah, remember the toys I was talking about earlier? Look what we ended up with.
Hannah let us keep our prizes. I know we’re supposed to act like 22-year-olds, but I felt like a 10-year-old kid. We enjoyed geocaching so much that we’re planning on going again. And I’ll be sure to post that adventure as well.