May 25, 2020 – Part 2 of 2
Once I returned from Costa Rica to my home in the United States I was greeted by my Geocaching online purchase: a trackable walking stick! My intention was to gift to Arturo since he seemed fond of walking sticks but didn’t have one himself.
Since he passed away before I could give it to him, I kept it. Then … I named it after him: The Fait Walking Stick of Protection. I concluded that he was (is) my newest guardian angel. I vowed to take it with me on every Geocaching adventure I have for protection, and now, it’s a talisman of good luck.
While I love Geocaching, my sister really only enjoys it as long as I’m with her. I could play the game with others, or by myself. I can play for a few minutes or for days on end. After a recent visit to Wenatchee, she had remarked that on the next trip if we could incorporate a day or two of non-Geocaching downtime, she would appreciate it. That made me aware that her enthusiasm for the game could use so revitalization.
The best way I knew how would be to have her experience one of the biggest bragging rights within the game: First To Find, aka FTF! I remembered the excitement in Arturo when I was able to share that with him, I knew if sister experienced it too, she would be reinvigorated with Geocaching.
Memorable Memorial Day 2020
Since we work for the same company, we had the same day off of Memorial Day. The #COVID19 global pandemic has much of the world in quarantine mode. With Washington State in Phase 1 of a phased reopening approach, road trips are a popular way to get out of the house, yet stay socially distance from others. My sister had a magazine that she offered to me for inspiration because of the many scenic drives in contained. I spied the Mount Baker Scenic Byway as a viable choice. We agreed on this route for our Memorial Day road trip. She volunteered, “… we can also Geocache along the way.”
I plotted the route by super imposing the Geocaching Map of yet to be found geocaches. I also generated a report that indicates newly published i.e. hidden Geocaches in the month of May. Coincidentally, I am actively working on a challenge in which I find at least one Geocache hidden in each of the months in the game’s existence. For example, find a geocache in May 2000, June 2000, etc. The report had only one result: Del’s Meadowview in Oak Harbor. I thought it was quite a detour from the intended route but could be well worth it if we’re the first to find it.
I’m a Seattle sports team fan for as long as I’ve been alive. One of my first lessons learned is being cautiously optimistic as our sports teams are known to disappoint me. Meaning, I didn’t tell her that we could potentially be the first to find this geocache. Just I did for Arturo in Costa Rica last year. I didn’t want to over promise, and under deliver.
I monitored the geocaches Activity Log like a concerned wife of a husband’s indiscretions. No Found It logs, yet.
We loaded up a vehicle, and headed out to the location typically referred to as the GZ, Ground Zero. And just like I felt last year, in my gut I held the belief we could be the first.I wanted to manifest this experience for my sister. I wanted to her to really know the Joy of Geocaching.
Del Fairfax PreserveI studied up on the location, while it is remote to our home in Lake Stevens, it wouldn’t be a strenuous hike to do. Knowing time is critical, I kept prompting her to move a grip faster, and I avoided any time vampires en route. Usually I am hungry for breakfast, and ache for coffee, but I sacrificed all of the those to ensure First To Find glory.
Yes. Yes, it’s THAT big of deal!
My sister knows me well-enough that observing this time of behavior can only mean one thing: it’s important. No, it’s monumentally important. Once we parked, we donned our Geocaching gear complete with my GoPro to document it, and my Fait Walking Stick of Protection (dedicated to my fallen friend, Arturo Fait) We hiked out to the location based on the coordinates. While I was relishing in the environment of the cool morning air and fresh rain, I was protectively surveying for interlopers such as other Geocachers seeking it out. I spied nothing, but wildlife.
As advertised the hike was quick, and flat. With laser like precision, and using our geo-senses, we assessed the location where we would start our search. Coincidentally, I approached an area of the woods that seemed disturbed by human activity, surveyed it, remarked about it out loud to WCP24, my sister, and then dismissed it.Moments later, in that same location, she barked, “Hey Lamp, I found it!”
Fantastic, I thought! We dragged over our prize like landing a large fish on the out board for a vessel on the sea. I kept hoping mentally, “Please let her be the first, please let her be the first.”
We opened the ammunition can with trembling hands like Charlie Bucket opening a Willy Wonka Chocolate Bar with the anticipation of finding the final Golden Ticket … we reviewed the contents, and to opened the logbook. No ink on the logbook!
We were ecstatic! EUREKA! We literally were the first to find it. The biggest smile quickly appeared on her face, just like Arturo’s when I bellowed, congratulations! She signed the logbook on the line designated: FTF.
I coached her to open up the app on her brand new phone, and claim victory before anyone else does! We snapped various photos, I captured video of the “win”, etc. I wanted proof-is-in-the-pudding: think of it as the obligatory information needed to substantiate our claim of first to find. After we replaced the Geocache, I noticed another group of folks appearing at the trailhead. Invariably, other Geocachers because let’s be honest, who the hell else would be out here in the sticks for a casual stroll. We had a 20-minute head start on them! We hiked back to the vehicle. I surveyed the remaining car in the parking lot which proudly displayed a Geocaching tell: a trackable on it.
I smirked, that confirms those were Geocachers seeking out First To Find bragging rights. As we clamored into my sister’s SUV, I asked, “Aiight, we were in such a hurry to get FTF, I forgot victory beers at home. Since no bars are open during the phased approach of Washington, what would you like to do to celebrate your first EVER, first to find?”
“The Shrimp Shack, big brother,” she fired back immediately. “I want Victory Shrimp.”
“Well, alright, Victory Shrimp it is!” I agreed. “I’m so proud of you, WCP (West Coast Player) that I’ll treat regardless of the cost!”
She was so excited that she didn’t even start the vehicle until after she posted a few photos, and words on her social media platforms.
That, my friends, is #theJoyofGeocaching.