Friday, August 17, 2007

A Little Caching On A Long Drive

The Island Girl spent the last 2 weeks in the Keys with my parents - lucky girl!

It was finally time for her to come home and since my parents were staying in Bradenton a little longer my dad and I decided that he would bring her up to Perry and I would meet them there and bring her on home.

We decided to meet at a rest stop north of Perry that we call the Blue Rock. This rest stop has a huge rock out in front and for as long as I can remember it's been painted blue.



The last time we were there a State Trooper was there and I asked if he knew why it was painted blue. He told me that the County kept painting it grey and that as soon as they did someone would come along and paint it blue again. They don't know who or why but according to the Trooper the county has given up and the rock will be left blue.

The Blue Rock is about a four hour drive from my house and I decided that an eight hour car trip to basically nowhere with two little boys would not be a fun trip and that they and their dad should stay home.

This would give me the perfect opportunity to grab some geocaches on my way down there and the night before I left I spent a while picking through the cache listings choosing which caches I wanted to stop and look for.

I loaded the GPS and early the next morning I was off.

The first cache I stopped for was the Ponce De Leon I-10 Rest Area Cache. This cache was originally placed by an old friend of ours who has since passed on and the cache is now maintained by a different cacher. I thought it would be nice to log a find on one of Jimmy's old caches so I was excited to get to this one.

I pulled in to the rest area - which sits back off the Interstate and is always a pretty place to stop. I pulled around to the back of the lot and found a trail into the woods.



The GPS bounced around a bit but I seemed to be in the right area. The clue says the cache is in the end of an old fallen log.

Obviously this clue was written a long time ago because there are a LOT of old fallen logs. That's not going to help and the GPS seems to be getting drunk and jumping from 9 feet to 30 feet and then back again.

I didn't realize this cache was going to be a tromp through the woods cache.

And I'm now way out of sight of the rest area and alone so I'm looking forward for the cache and over my shoulder to make sure no one is behind me at the same time.

I'm not dressed for traipsing through the woods and I'm starting to itch but I'm here and I really want to find this cache.

Then I hit the spider web. I never saw it coming. One minute I was walking along and the next minute I was covered in spider web. And I do mean covered. It's a good thing I'm not too freaked out by spiders because this web was so thick I was pulling it out of my hair and off my arms by the handful.

As I'm pulling the web off of me it dawns on me that a really big spider must have made this web. I won't say I panicked but I can tell you that I did a serious spider dance - jumping, shaking and swatting at myself and thinking how glad I was that no one else was watching.

I never did see the spider but then I began seeing lots more webs strung through the trees and across the little trail I'm on.

Ok it's hot and I've been here for a while and I've still got a long drive so I came back out of the woods and called this one a Did Not Find. I'll come back some time with the Island King and then he can go first and knock down the spider webs.

Back onto the Interstate I go and of course I itched and wondered if I would run off the road if a big spider showed up in my hair - and then I wondered if the crash would kill the spider or if it would crawl off into the woods to build another giant web.

The next cache on my list was 24/7. A micro at the Chipley exit.

I was guessing that it was hidden at a gas station but when I got to the exit I saw a Walmart and the GPS told me that's where the cache was.

The GPS had sobered up quite a bit and led me right to it. It's a nano on a light post right in front of the outdoor garden supply area and I was able to grab it with no problem.

I got back in the car to sign the log and as I finish a Walmart lady pulls up with a forklift loaded with potting soil and guess where she's going to unload it?

Yep, right directly in front of the light post. And to make things worse she props her butt against the light post for leverage as she's pulling these bags off the little lift.

I'm in my car on the other side of the post holding this cache and thinking there's no possible way to put this back until she leaves. I'm laughing and looking at this cache and thinking that I really need to get on the road and that if she doesn't leave soon I'll just have to go ask her to move so I can put the cache back.

Luck was on my side because just about then she got a call on her Walmart radio and she walked inside. I jumped out of the car and put the cache back jumped back in the car and off I went. I've never had a muggle sit on the spot I needed to return a cache too before.

The next cache was the I10 East West Travel Bug Motel. This rest area is just east of the Apalachicola River and is absolutely gorgeous. There are rolling hills all around it and the winding road leading up to the rest area looks like something you'd find in the mountains.

The cache was at the very top of the hill and looked like it would be an easy find. The log said you should take the path at the top of the hill and these were not thick dense woods like the ones behind the Ponce De Leon area so I didn't think this would be a problem at all.

I found the little trail



and followed my GPS along the edge of the woods right to a wide completely clear path.



Geez! No matter how many times I've done this I still manage to come in the hard way every time.

Once I found the path (note to self - a path and a trail are NOT the same thing)
it was a nice walk a little farther into the woods where I saw a huge tree that had been uprooted.



I knew the cache would be on the other side and sure enough there it was.



This would have been really easy if I'd started on the right "path".

I took the cache back up onto the path and sat down to check out the contents. There were lots of travel bugs so I swapped one I picked up at the Flash Mob last weekend for a Yak Attack Kayak which is a cool die cast kayak that I knew would be happier down at the beach.

It was getting close to the time that I was supposed to meet my dad so I put the GPS down and drove straight on to the Blue Rock.

There is a cache at the Blue Rock called 7 to 7 that we hunted back in February on our way to Homossasa Springs. We didn't find it on our way down so we stopped on our way home and tried again. We even enlisted the help of the rest area attendant who said he knew where the cache was and none of us could find it.

I checked the log before I left home and it showed several recent finds so I decided to try again. I got to the Blue Rock and had lunch and visited with my dad and daughter for a while and then we went to find the cache.

Dad and the Island Girl hung back a little so I assumed they were going to let me be the one to find the cache.

We got to the spot and found 4 really big spiders and there behind a palmetto bush was the cache. I really don't think it was there when we looked before because it was pretty easy to spot and I went right to it.



I opened the container and was absolutely shocked to see that my dad and the Island Girl had already signed the log!

Those rats beat me to it! I had talked to Island Girl earlier and she said they were running ahead of schedule because Pop-Pop was driving fast. Now I know he was driving fast so he could beat me to the cache.

We loaded my girl's stuff into my car and started for home.

I had several more caches on my list but she was ready to get home after her long trip and I was really starting to itch all over so we decided to turn off the GPS and run straight for home.

When we got home I realized that I'd learned something besides the difference between a trail and a path - I learned that you should not sit on the ground in the woods in shorts and that if you are itching after sitting on the ground in the woods you probably have red bugs all over your butt.

Yes - I have chiggers on my butt. They're covered with nail polish now and have finally stopped itching but that's one lesson I won't soon forget LOL
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