I have a confession to make: I have broken the seventh commandment... I've been geocaching.
Over the years, I've stumbled upon a handful of geocaches accidentally, when they were near letterboxes, but never sought them out on purpose. After reading tons of message postings about the hobby, I gained no interest whatsoever, but I did become a member of the site. However, that was for the expressed purpose of making sure none of my plants were too near to any caches. I suspected from log entries that some were, but it turned out to be a whole lot of them. Despite this fact, I never actually moved any of my old plants, but I was now a little more careful with newer ones.
The day I signed up, I did actually go out and seek three caches: the three that were within a few blocks around my neighborhood. I don't own a GPS, but you can zoom right in with a satellite view on Google Maps, so it seemed easy enough. However, I didn't find any of them, and my lack of interest was firmly maintained.
Then, last Summer for my find 500, I got together with a few other boxers and met Pappasky. He was an avid cacher with over a 1000 finds, and had an iPhone with an app that just made the process ridiculously easy. While we boxed that day, we also nabbed a few easy caches, and one of them actually got my attention. It was hidden in a piece of PVC magnetized to an AC unit. In discussing this, I realized that the creativity in boxing was the clues and the stamp, elements that caching lacked. However, in caching the creativity lay in the container.
I initially got into boxing for the puzzle solving elements of some clues because that appealed to me intellectually. Now that I had actually found a few caches, working out the disguise elements got me interested, but I didn't act on it for months. After stumbling upon a few more by accident whilst boxing, I deciding to rethink my attitude. With a new perspective on how to hunt for them, I went back to those three neighborhood caches, and found two of them immediately.
I drive by the third location almost daily anyhow, so over the next few months I stopped a couple more times and tried again, but to no avail, and I was certain it was gone. Then last Friday, on my fifth attempt, it magically appeared in a spot I'd thoroughly explored previously and I'm convinced it was a replacement. But there was no denying that the hook was now in me.
On Sunday I had to give my son a ride to band practice, and decided beforehand that while I waited for him, I'd try my luck again. I printed out some Google Maps with caches marked on them and went for it.
The result was an ammo can and three vastly different clever ways to hide a rolled piece of note paper. I had to admit that I enjoyed myself very much, even if the lack of a stamp left me feeling empty. This was partly appeased by the practice of cache-boxing, a concept created by Silent Doug by which a letterboxer finds a useless trinket in a geocache that he can ink up and stamp into his log.
So again today, having a rare heads-up on my driving route for my courier job before actually leaving, I printed out six more caches around my last pick-up point. The first three all put me near fences around private property, and seemed to be located on the other side, which I found quite discouraging. But the next one had me hiking up a rocky hill, which got my boxer juices flowing. As I rested at the base of some huge boulders that I believed the cache was at the peak of, I found the cache in a crevice... or did I? I realized it was a sneaky unlisted decoy, with dozens of finders. I climbed up top and soon found the well hidden cache, which only had a few finders, making me proud to note I was more clever than most of the cachers who'd come before.
So what does this all mean? Am I leaving you all behind? Will this soon consume my time? Hardly. In three years I'd found a dozen, but now in just three months I'm up to twenty-two. A relatively big increase, but that's still a tiny number.
I will always be a hardcore boxer, but they are far less frequent, and I'm nearing the point in time where I'll have every local box out there, forcing me to wait anxiously for new plants. So this will be able to fill that void when I don't have the time to make a long trip to an area I haven't boxed out. I'll puzzle over clever hiding devices and cache-box trinkets once in a while. But I suspect it won't really pull me in much deeper. When you've got a photo that takes you within a few feet of the spot where the treasure is buried, the hunt is quite boring.
But there is still an element of what Randy Hall refers to as the "Ah" experience. That will definitely be fun once in a while.