The story can now be told!
We've kept quiet about this one for some time now. It's not as if it's a huge secret, but we just needed to let some time pass. What am I talking about? Why, the one time our geocaching hobby paid off in cash!
A couple months ago, the LaCrosse Sports Commission hosted a fall geocaching event. A workshop to teach about geocaching was held in one of the main city parks, with coordinates available for a number of temporary hides.
For the uninitiated....geocaching is basically hunting for junk in the woods using multimillion dollar satellites via a Global Positioning System, better known as a handheld GPSr. Players look up coordinates online for treasures hidden by others. You've probably passed some in your day to day travels. Just go to this website...
...type in your zip code and see what you find.
Anyway, players will go look for this stuff, then come back to the website and tell their stories about their hunt. For some, this is nothing more than "found it." However, being a storyteller, I can't let it stop at that, and most people tell me they enjoy what I post after our adventures.
There is another category of geocache hides, called "temporaries." These are not listed on the site, but placed for a short period of time, usually in connection with an event such as the one mentioned. Though not listed on the site, some folks have found ways of adding these to their "find count." We don't do that. If others do, we don't care, it's a game, after all. We just chose to log only the ones listed.
So, we have a story about one of the temporaries we found during this event and it deserves to be told somewhere. Isn't that what a blog is for?
So, after spending time at the clinic, where many thought we were part of the instructional staff, we finally broke away to join others in searching for the temps.
We found a few with an old friend who is an occasional cacher, then began entering all the coordinates into the GPSr to see where they were. Upon doing so, we noticed one all by itself, far removed from the rest. Could this be the money prize? You see, one of the temps had a certificate for a cash prize of $125. We figured we might as well try.
As we crossed the Mississippi and headed to the overlook high on the bluffs, our phone rang. It was one of the cachers who had helped to hide many of the caches for the event, wondering where we were. We told him, then asked where he was at.
"Oh, we're just hanging around one of the caches to see who shows up."
Hmm. Would we be seeing Tom shortly? We reached the site and headed down the trails to the area known as "ground zero." Accuracy of these things is contingent on so many things, but a well placed cache will have coordinates that get you within 30 feet of its location. Lots of trees, lots of leaves on the ground, and a clue that read "Piggin out on the view." We got to work.
Could it be that it was in a tree? These guys have been known to do that, and there was a likely tree that afforded a great river view, with what appeared to be a rope. Dick aka "Trekkin'"...geocachers have caching names....pulled on it to get himself up into searching position. Nothing. Back down to the ground, we searched more. Probably an hour all told. Finally, he decided to try one last time in the tree, grabbed that rope thing and....fell right on his back, from about seven feet up! Springing to his feet before feeling the pain, we could see he hadn't broken his back. Walking around a little more as I turned over dead logs, he said, "You aren't gonna believe it."
"I'm standing on it!"
Sure enough, close to our ground zero, was a little toy pig, glued to the top of a jar. We opened it and saw...no one had signed the log book yet! As we looked further we discovered....more coordinates? It's a multi-cache, one in which the searchers must find a series of caches before finding the final. We plugged those in and discovered we'd be crossing back into Wisconsin, heading for Granddad's Bluff. We figured we had a little advantage over others on this one. We knew the main road was closed, so we headed off on the detour. Arriving there, with it being a beautiful fall day, we were dismayed to see a group of people sitting right where we'd have to search. Well....might as well explain ourselves.
"Oh, we LOVE geocaching!" Oh no, had they already found the prize? We continued our search, with them taunting us, saying things like "I see something blue!" We checked one place that looked likely, and it appeared that the container was gone. However, I noticed something else suspicious, just beyond my reach. We called our friends to ask if it had been in the likely spot and they said, "No, but it will help you."
Aha! I knew just where it was, then. That other suspicious spot. Right by the main road to the city overlook, traveled constantly. Waiting for the traffic stream to pass, I grabbed the cut stump and dragged it to a traffic sign, where I loosened an already loose bolt, discovering rolled up inside more coordinates and another clue..."you'll be fined."
These coordinates took us just a short distance closer to the overlook and down the hill into the woods. Near this ground zero, we found an old firepit and began searching there, to no avail. Poking in other likely spots, Trekkin' found a bent pop can with a toy mouse in it. Hmm. What the....? Of course, littering is punishable by fine, and sure enough, there was the log and....a certificate for $125!
We were elated! As we were heading off to our car, the phone rang once more. It was our friend Tom, who had been just down the hill with his son and brother in law, watching our antics up there the whole time.
norski42 and kendog1, better known as Tom and Ken, have graced the Coulee Region with a large number of really clever and creative cache hides. This one was a masterpiece, but one that unfortunately could not be turned into a permanent cache because it didn't meet all the stated guidelines. So here is where I can tell the story of their wonderful multi-cache, with surely the best trade good we've ever found!