Thursday, December 4, 2014

Guest Blogger: RomanTwins from Plainwell, MI

What started out as an innocent enough Saturday ... visiting a cache in Battle Creek with RJ-Toot and BinderyGuy, ... began with a 9 AM start time at a park and ride in Portage, MI  and ended 25 (yes, twenty-five) hours later with us pulling into that park and ride at 10 AM on Sunday!  Towards the end of the adventure I began to wonder, “What is it about having a map and a GPS in hand that makes all common sense fly out the window?”  You might think that with three adults out caching we would be capable of rational thoughts, but I beg to differ!

Thanks for allowing me to be a guest blogger!  My name is Sara and my caching name is RomanTwins.   I have been caching sporadically since 2010 and really started caching when I introduced my friend to this awesome hobby in 2013.  The geocaching adventures that have ensued since then have been amazing.

Our adventure this weekend started with a few goals in mind, including Luandry Time in Battle Creek and 3 night caches in Coldwater, MI.  In between those caches we decided to go where the GPS led us.

Luandry Time is a Challenge cache in Battle Creek with 4 stages hidden on a hiking trail.  Each stage in itself is cache worthy, but added together made it quite the challenge.  Stages included picking up number clues for the final, carrying a key from one stage to the next to unlock a stage and carrying water with us to discover a set of coordinates hiding down a PVC pipe.  I am still amazed at the fact that BinderyGuy had DENTAL tools with him to help get a camo-covered pill bottle from the bottom of a 6 inch round PVC pipe.  This pipe had random cutouts from bottom to top so that you could get tools or perhaps sticks to work the pill bottle to the top.  Had I been there alone I probably would have given up early on, but we made it to all the stages and then rescued a few travel bugs that had been stuck in this cache for over a year.

I pushed RJ and BG to make it to Coldwater before dusk because of two caches in a Coldwater cemetery I wanted to find.  Michigan Spirit Quest #2 No horses allowed told the story of Henry Clay Lewis who decided NOT to leave his art collection of 1000 pieces to the city of Coldwater upon his death because they refused to let him bury his beloved horse in his family cemetery plot.  Inside the final for that cache was a laminated three-page story of Old Sam. 

Old Sam, I learned, was a horse who served for 4 years in the Civil War.  They say his work on the railroad as a young horse is what kept him alive in the war for 4 years when most horses only lived 3-5 months in battles.  He was accustomed to the loud clanging noises of the railroad which meant that the sounds of battle didn’t faze him much.   After the war, Sam returned home and had a position of honor in Coldwater.  When Sam died, certain people decided he needed a burial with honor.  He was buried in an unmarked grave in the cemetery under cover of darkness and buried with military honors.  Information from this story led us to the gun in the middle of town that Sam actually pulled in war.  Hero Horse is a challenge cache all about Sam and the gun he pulled.  It was made all the more fun because the town square was lit up with Christmas decorations when we visited the park just after dusk!

We enjoyed dinner and the talk focused on night caches.  I think they are awesome!  Using flashlights to follow reflective tacks through the woods after dark just adds to the adventure of caching!  I joked that the night was so beautiful and mild for this time of year that it would be a waste to head home after we got the three night caches in Coldwater.  Why don’t we head to Fort Wayne, IN and get three other night caches in that area. I was kidding, really!   Little did I realize that RJ-Toot and BinderyGuy would take me seriously!

Rotary Park at Night  and Land of the Homeless are night caches in the same park.  The second cache started within 500 ft of the final for the first one.  Both were well done caches with very little bushwacking.  We even got to cross a stream on a makeshift bridge of logs to get to the final for the second cache.  I will admit I was glad to be in the company of my partners in crime.  There were no homeless people, but the thought of it made me a little leery about being in the woods for the second half of the walk.

The last night cache in Coldwater was A Short Walk in the Woods.  This was truly a short walk in the woods behind a coffee shop and would be a great first night cache for anyone.  It is located in the middle of the city so there is civilization around and you are never more than 200 feet away from the parking lot.

It was after this cache that we realized RJ was going to log cache #3000 on this trip and I was going to log #1700.  We made sure to stop for several Park and Grab caches to make sure he hit #3000.  I also realized that we were seriously heading south to Fort Wayne, IN…at 2am!

BG took over the driving while RJ took a power nap in the back of the geomobile.  I kept BG awake on our drive south.  We arrived at Chain of Lakes State Park around 3am to start Night Chain
We started out by walking along the trail next to a lake.  Suddenly I heard a loud splash close by.  I immediately turned to RJ and BG to see who had thrown something in the water to freak me out.  They claimed innocence.  We began walking and shining the flashlights towards the water and were surprised to see a few BEAVER swimming around!  Looking back I think we may have heard a tree falling and splash into the water.  Along the walk I spotted several stumps that had obviously been felled by the busy beavers. 

This cache was a Terrain of 4, so when I swept my flashlight up a hill it didn’t really surprise us that the trail led us up a very steep hill.  Then we started bushwacking through waist-high thorns and going for very long distances between spotting tacks.  When we got to a tree with 3 tacks on it we figured we had found the final…except there was no final there.  We looked for quite a while for another tack and came up empty.  Then we pulled up the cache page on our phones and saw that recent finders did NOT have the same experience we had.  In fact, it sounded like they hadn’t bushwacked much at all!

We headed back to the main trail, thanks in part to the tracking that BG had on his GPS and in part because the cache owner had included a waypoint on the cache page.  The waypoint said “If you get to this point, turn around because you missed it.”  We made it back to the trail via a deer path that was much less thorny and followed the fire tacks PAST the up-the-hill-turn-off we followed previously to the final location that involved very little bushwacking.   Leave it to us to turn a 30-45 minute night cache into a 90-120 minute walk through a gauntlet of thorns and “Devil Trees” (Honey Locust).  We still aren’t sure what that other trail was from.  An old night cache?  A hunter’s trail?

We then headed toward Columbia City, just west of Fort Wayne.  By this time it was 6am and I was a little worried about getting to the last two night caches before dawn.  We stopped at McDonalds for sustenance and COFFEE for me.  Then drove to The Morsches Park Night Cache and Morsches Park Bonus Night Cache.  The last two caches were in the same park.  In fact, the instructions for the bonus cache simply said “While finding the markers for the Morsches Park Night Cache, Keep an eye out for a distant marker that will reveal the location of this bonus cache.”  RJ spotted the Bonus cache on our way along the trail.  It wasn’t as “distant” as I was expecting. 

Back on the trail we made our way to our last night cache as dawn was beginning to break through the woods.  Fog was also happening in the wetland area where the fire tacks were leading us and this made the flash light beams bounce a little.  The Final was found without trouble and by the time we made it back to the geomobile the sun was up. 

At 7:30am the GPS was set for home.  I will admit, we did make a few stops on the way home.  I asked to find a cache in a county that was new to me.  RJ pulled over a few times so that BG and I could find some caches with lots of favorite points that RJ found on a previous trip.  We pulled into the Park and Ride in Portage at 10am, exactly 25 hours after we started our adventure the previous day.

What is it about having a map and a GPS in hand that makes all common sense fly out the window?
I think the answer has to do with the potential for adventure waiting at the next set of GPS Coordinates!

Next destination?  The Greater Detroit Area!


Thank you, Sara, for sharing your adventure.  
I’ve added many of these geocaches to my bookmark list!

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