My First Geocaching

I was watching a podcast a couple of weeks ago and they had a segment where the hosts went out “geocaching”. Geocaching is sort of like a treasure hunt for people with GPS units. Someone has hidden a container (could be small or large) with a logbook in it and most likely some trinkets. The goal is to go to the coordinates and find the cache based on their description. Hints are usually provided, as well, although they are encrypted at first.

Now before you read further, if you have any aspirations of doing this and will be searching in the west Little Rock area, my story will probably contains spoilers to the whereabouts of the caches.

I gathered up a couple of friends (Alex and Joel) and we went out with our trusty iPhone 3GS’s. Our first stop was at a cache near Barnes and Noble on Chenal Pkwy. I didn’t want to decrypt the hint at first, so we were looking in the bushes and around light poles. The GPS showed it near the road at the end of the parking lot. I gave in and we looked at the clue which said “this should enLIGHTen you”. Okay so we start looking at light poles again and even at the traffic light poles. The parking lot poles have plastic covers near the base that I notice can be lifted up. Sure enough, our first cache find! We signed the log feeling rather accomplished already.

Next stop was a cache at Krispy Kreme. We nervously walked around the building as a worker was outside talking on the phone. After a full circuit, we looked at the hint. As we searched the worker looked at us funny, then asked “are yall here for the geocache?” We said yes but not to tell us. Eventually we found it. And it was very cool! In fact, it had what’s called a trackable item in it. The idea is to take the object and move it to another cache. Some of them even have destination goals. This one said it wants to end up in a place where music is big. The object was a guitar. So we took it with plans to hide it in another.

Our next stop was a nice community called Woodland’s Edge. The difficult rating was 3/5, but having found two caches, we felt ready for the challenge. Well, we weren’t. Lupka’s hoping it is just not there any more. Defeated, we left. A cemetery cache caught our eye and boy was it in a strange location. Located just behind the Heart Hospital, this very small, fenced area is a family plot of some kind. The stones that could still be read had death dates in the early 1900’s.

At this point, Lupka and I both decide to fork out the $10 for the iPhone app. It made things so much easier than switching between the website and Google Earth. The GPS tracking was MUCH better, too.

Next up was one near Baptist Hospital. The description said “wear long pants because it is pretty overgrown here”. Well we were all in shorts and basically bushwacked out way through some thorns and stickers. Not finding it we tried working our way back to the parking lot. Joel stumbled across it, fortunately. We dropped off the guitar in this cache. (Later I would find out that we had to have a tracking number off the guitar to log it as moved on the website. So I gotta go back to this cache pretty soon to get the code off it in order to update its location.)

Our final find of the day was at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Pretty easy find. Again, this had a couple of trackable items in it. Lupka and I each took one. At that point we decided we wanted to make a cache. So we went to Wal-mart and got a water-tight container. We threw some objects in there and a logbook and hid it near the lake by Lupka’s house. We’re still waiting for approval from the website for it to be active, but we can’t wait for people to start finding it and putting objects of their own in there. We dropped off the trackable items from the Game and Fish cache in ours, too.

So we were 5 of 6 on the day and created one. Pretty fun afternoon. I could definitely see doing this regularly….cuz when we pulled up the Little Rock area map, there are HUNDREDS here alone, waiting to be found!

My First Geocaching

Locked Out

The perfect storm. That’s the only thing I can liken to what happened to me today. I’m outside working in my flowerbed, pulling weeds and such, and need to pop back inside for a second for whatever reason it was. Picture it: I pull the storm door open and the suction created by that action pulls the door closed, which I had left barely cracked open. I go to push on the door handle…it doesn’t move. That’s right, it’s locked.

This particular lock is one in which I do not have a key. The seller did not have or leave one. I’ve never used it. I had changed all the deadbolts and other door handles out. I would have changed this decorative handle except I couldn’t find one just like it. Getting something else would leave unpainted holes and such in the door…it was just never worth the trouble. The inside part of the handle’s locking mechanism is fairly loose…sometimes just pushing down on the lever on the outside can cause it to turn into the locked position. So I’ve become rather conscious of making sure it is turned to the unlocked position and/or I just leave the door slightly cracked.

Now review the sentence about the suction created by the storm door. And just like that I was locked out. Now I’m a reasonably smart guy. And cautious in many ways. I have a contingency plan for just such a situation! No, I don’t have a hidden key on my property, but rather I gave a friend a key to keep. Except this friend just happens to be in Illinois this week.

It’s in the mid-90’s as I walk around the house to see if any of my uber-security windows just happens to be unlatched. Of course not. As I said, I’m cautious–nay, even a bit paranoid–about my safety. Garage door is down, but that wouldn’t matter because I deadbolt the door inside anyway.

It’s a holiday. Locksmiths are charging double their trip rate. My insurance company is closed. So I call a friend and neighbor, Mike. He comes down and tries the credit card trick for a while, but it doesn’t work. He takes out some of the weather stripping to get better access. Nothing doing. Starts taking apart the frame of the door for even better access, but the construction is such that it would just take too much.

So I called my mom in Searcy. She can’t get away to even meet half-way (in Cabot) at the moment. She said it would be 2-3 hours. Okay, now I’m really nervous because my ticket to the Traveler’s game/fireworks is inside and if I have to wait that long, I don’t think I’ll make it. But she calls back a few minutes later and says she can meet us. My good buddy Daniel drives me there and back, and now I sit back inside my house typing this incredibly lame story.

FAIL!

Locked Out