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Written by Chris Mackey   
Friday, 02 October 2015 09:20

I am the watcher in this tangled and beautiful garden of life.  I hear the singing and the bright plumage adorning the creatures about me.  So many different kinds of life.  So much to behold.  I've taken a moment to rest on my trek and look at all the wild abundance of variation around me.  I'm on my way to another cache and this journey like so many others is full of sights, sounds and scents to take in.  Only this time I'm not deep in the forest.  I'm between flights at Charlotte International Airport waiting on a connecting flight on my way to a geocaching mega event.


I might be the only person I know who actually enjoys a nice layover in the 2-3 hour range.  I've settled down in a cozy restaurant with pseudo-country charm overlooking a fantastic view of life below.    Like any good caching experience for me it's always about the journey more so than the destination.  So much to take in, so few opportunities to do so in a hectic, modern life.


There goes a mother hen with her three young chicks following behind pushing and shoving each other while she looks fervently for the path to their gate.  There goes the pretty girl striking a pose every few moments and covertly looking to see if anyone notices.  There's the overweight and overloaded business man with clothing straining at every stitch while his head looks like it's being held in traction with all the bluetooth, microphones, viewscreens and lanyards of identification.   There goes mister stuck-in-the-80's in his parachute pants and bulging muscles covered in wanna-be-tribal tattoos.  There go an elderly couple with her looking at him in adoration and him sporting his VA ballcap and patting her hand affectionately.  Something tells me that elderly man would tromp all over mister muscles.


I love to people watch.  We sometimes forget that we too are nature.  I always enjoy a private chuckle when I hear people refer to everything as either natural or man-made as if we are not a natural part of this world.  Look at our bright plumage.  Look at our wild array of differences in bodies, vocals and behavioral patterns.  Look at how we've adapted to live in different parts of the globe and how those very terrrains have altered our physical forms.   I've even read recently that scientists have discovered that we have stripes, spots and patterned markings in our body hair that has grown so fine we can't even see it anymore without chemicals and special lights.  I enjoy watching all these beautiful creatures the same way I enjoy spot wildlife on the trail.  Maybe it's why I like to geocache.  I enjoy the journey and all the remarkable sights along the way.  Time to move along the trail.  That cache is still calling.  Still so much to see until I reach the end.

Last Updated on Friday, 02 October 2015 09:31
Powertrail Experience PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chris Mackey   
Thursday, 17 October 2013 08:38

After naysaying the entire idea for years, I finally took part in a powertrail run called the E.T. Highway near Las Vegas, Nevada.  For those who know me, they know I'm not a fan of these kinds of caches.  For those who know me really well, I've been pretty outspoken against the idea in general.  Last weekend was a learning lesson for me in more ways than one.


As all geocaching outings start it was a group decision and I was simply going to be outvoted and since I was passenger in someone else's rental car, I shut up, smiled and waited to see what happened.  It was very much and not at all what I expected it to be.


On the first day we headed out into the desert to snag a few caches and locate the trailhead.  We saw cactus, petroglyphs, bleached bones and lizards aplenty.  We found some awesome caches, interesting people, oblivious cattle, jack rabbits and I surprising number of sinkholes you could get swallowed up in (built by enterprising rodents as huge underground warrens that collapse surprisingly easy).  As light started to go down we decide on a hasty run through the desert to complete our first geo-art design of the alien head.  Miles of brush and cactus later we'd completed our image and can now see a yellow outline of smileys making up the face of an alien on satellite imagery.  Despite being only a 1/10th of a mile or so apart, each cache was it's own challenge to find in this particular territory and the hike with other cachers more than made up for the grueling hike through wind, rain and blowing mixes of dust and sand.


The following morning we decided on an early start and our attempt at the E.T. highway powertrail.  One man driving and a rotating partnership of runner and signer would be set early on.  Despite being close together, I was surprised at the amount of concentration and energy it took to find the caches themselves.  The driver would pull up to an area where everything looked exactly the same, the runner would dash out of the car 30 yards or so leaping cactus, wary of rattlesnakes and scorpions and search anxiously for a rock pile or indication of hidden container.  Then the runner would quickly remove the container (mindful of the dangers of what lies under rocks in a desert), dash back to the car once again hurdling over cactus and then finally hurl the container through the rear window to the cache signer as the driver took off before the door even closed on the runner.  By the time the cache was signed we'd already skidded to a stop in the gravel and once again the runner would dash out into the desert for the next one.


After 50 or so caches the runner is gasping for breath, massing leg cramps and sweating profusely from every pore of their body.  Switch places with the signer and off we go again!  After a few hours of this, you're as exhausted as a full day of hiking in NEPA land and starting to question your sanity.  Hundreds of caches later we call it quits.  It was fun, it was slightly dangerous and it was a lot of laughs, but as I expected, the charm for those of us who enjoy the long hikes, gorgeous views and quiet contemplation of the trail won out in the end.  We opted for more geo-art designs, more hiking and more enjoyable trails.


I'll try anything once and I'm glad I did.  It was interesting, fun and exciting, but just not the caching style for me.  Many others would go on to finish all 2,400 caches of the trail after getting hooked on the exhilleration.  There's something fun about the marathon style of caching and the frantic pace of a power trail that some can't ignore.  I'll settle for an ammocan in the woods though.  I'm appreciative of now understanding why some cachers love it though.  It is fun.  It is exciting.  It's even a bit dangerous.  It's just not caching in NEPAG land.  So here's the tally:


700+ caches

5 days of fun

5 Jack Rabbits

1 close encounter with a wayward cow that almost ended our caching (and maybe us)

1000s of desert chipmunks

1000s of Horned Toad Lizards

Too many water bottles to count

3 spectacular sunsets

2 storms

2 dead bodies of wildlife

Dozens of hawks and owls

One rental car that now needs a tune up (and greased suspension links) in all likelyhood

Lots of new friends and fantastic experiences to remember


So for a cacher who said "not a chance" I take it back.  I'll give anything a chance once I suppose.  Might not be my cup of tea, but it might be yours.  I recommend trying it just to be sure.  You never know what you might encounter on your geocaching adventure ;)



Last Updated on Thursday, 17 October 2013 08:46
A thank you to kids who cache! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chris Mackey   
Wednesday, 20 March 2013 07:18

It's been too long since I've written an article for the front page as I realize I'm still seeing a picture of the kids in the late fall. I'd love to write a welcome to the first days of spring article, but as we all know by looking out the window Mother Nature is giving us the cold shoulder right now. I've been feeling a little lackadaisical about getting of the nice comfy couch with the warm fleece blanket, putting down my coffee and lacing up for a hike. Thank goodness for five year olds that all changed on Saturday.


Paws surprised me with his answer when I questioned him about what he'd like to do over pancakes. His usual Saturday morning response is watching cartoons, staying home and relaxing. It's almost distressing how much he likes to "take a day off" like going to preschool is stressing him out - lol. So when he asked if we could go caching I actually paused and said the weathermen were calling for snow. He said he didn't care so I said if he could handle it, I could and we might just have to dig a little. He laughed and went to go find his boots.


We gathered our swagbags and water bottles, loaded up fresh coords and headed out. Called Fox from the road and to our surprise he wasn't working, had his little Fox wanting to get outside and mom needed a few hours away from the two of them for studying so serendipity was on our side and ten minutes later Fox & the Hound and kids are off to find a cache!


Of couse after about 60 seconds we were being tortured with the usual onslaught every caching parent has come to expect. "Are we there yet? How much farther? Is it a big cache? How hard is it? Are we there yet? Does it have toys in it? Can I have some chocolate? Where's my drink? Are we there yet?" Oy, the joy - lol.


As we arrived at the first parking spot, the kids bolt from the car, start chasing each other in circles and finally run screaming into the woods to look for treasure. A short walk later, a few flipped stones and a lot of renewed shouting a screaming we uncover a cache! Life is good, the kids are comparing what they want to take and what to leave. Of course one of them has to decide the logbook is "the best treasure" and we agree, but not because you can use it to draw pretty pictures in ;)


We sign in, trade up and head back to the car with a brief renewed frenzy of tag, screaming, shouting, laughing and tickling. Maybe chocolate wasn't the BEST idea? Onward we go...


"Are we there yet? Is it a big one? How much.........." I'll save my energy from writing it all down again. Next cache was a bust having been in need of maintenance for almost two years, but we did get to throw rocks into waterfalls, search around, get dirty, fall down a few times and play a bit more tag. The kids are having fun, we're only slightly frozen, completely dirty and snowy, but that's okay because we know there's another cache right around the corner!


The next cache is a guardrail c&d and while I worried the kids would be disappointed, they were actually very happy to make the find because they each had a chance to write their own name in the log. Off we go to another one!


The next one is a nice big locknlock and the kids make the find all by themselves. Treasure abounds, snow is dropping in earnest and we all huddle together in a circle to keep the snow from falling inside. We log in, make some trades and as the snow is really coming down now we're off to the bakery for donuts, cookies and hot coffee before heading home to celebrate our victorious day of treasure seeking.


At the end of the day I looked back and realized how lucky I've been to have discovered caching. I'm fortunate to be surrounded by friends and family who love it, too. It's so easy to sit on the couch and wait for the warm days of spring, but so much more rewarding to add a day full of joy with the kids, laughter in my ears and muddy footprints in the floorboards of the cachemobile. Thank you to wonderful kids who cache. Thank you kids for reminding us why we love to get outside and play. Thank you for getting me off the couch, getting me outdoors and getting me planning next weekend for more adventure.



Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 March 2013 07:32
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