Saturday, January 30, 2010

"Geode Catching"

As the hearing-impaired Emily Latilla (Gilda Radner) from the old, old episodes of Saturday Night Live would say:

"What is all this I hear about geode catching? Why would anyone want to do this? It seems like it would be dangerous tossing heavy rocks back and forth, even if they ARE interesting to look at! Someone could break a tooth or get a black eye or a broken bone. Who is going to pay for all the hospital bills?"

At this point, Chevy Chase would say, "No, Emily, it's GEOCACHING, not GEODE CATCHING."
Emily would then say, "Oh. That's different then. Never mind."

Roger here...Sorry for the silliness; Gilda Radner has always been one of my favorites. I could not help it, it just popped into my head.

(Dianne here: Kind of like the Javelina songs...but we won't go there!!)

A couple of days ago, Dianne and I attended a geocaching class at Bentsen Palm Village RV Resort in the Rio Grande Valley, where we are currently staying. The class was free and our neighbors encouraged us to go.

When our daughters were young, we used to send them on scavenger hunts all over the house to retrieve their Christmas and birthday gifts. My parents even got in on the act at Christmas time (when we were adults) by sending my brother, myself, and our wives seeking clues all over their property. We always ended up at the deep freeze in the basement, which contained a side of beef that our families shared - a thing of value at that time for our young families.

Dianne and I knew that the similarities between those scavenger hunts and geocaching would make this an interesting activity. The concept of using a hand-held GPS to find hidden "treasures" planted by others was intriguing.

After the class, Dianne logged onto the geocaching web site to download the coordinates of some nearby caches. We then dug out the hand-held GPS that our friends Jay and Nancy gave us as a retirement gift and began our adventure. It was both fun and frustrating.

It took a while to become familiar with the GPS. As we learned of the various features, mostly through trial and error, we developed a guarded sense of confidence. We took the dogs with us. I am sure that they were bewildered as they followed us around walking a few steps, turning, talking, walking, turning, talking, shaking our heads, turning, walking, ad infinitum. I'm sure the people in the parking lot where we started out were also confused by our erratic behavior.

We found our first cache in the parking lot at Bentsen Rio Grande State Park. The GPS kept leading us to a bush in the median. I looked at the bush several times, seeing nothing. I stopped to take a picture as Dianne posed with her head in the bush, when she yelled "I found it!" The cache was a small cylinder (35 mm canister) that was hanging by fishing line in the center of the bush. It was disguised with camoflage tape - those tricky geocache hiders!

(Dianne again: The funny thing was that I was actually just mugging for the camera when I stuck my
head in the bush, and then I looked straight ahead and there it was!! For those of you who don't know about geocaching, basically you take a tiny log
out of the cache and add the date and your geocaching "handle." When you get home, you log onto the computer and log your visit there, too. It's really fun!
I can't wait to take Kaia, our granddaughter, geocaching when we get to Florida in March. See if you can spot the container in the bush before you look at the close-up photo.)

We made an attempt to find our second cache near a bridge at the park entrance, but gave up after half an hour. The entire time we were being watched by an officer in one of the ever-present border patrol cars. As we searched I imagined a challenge from the officer and rehearsed my responses: "No, sir, we did not hide drugs here. Really, we didn't. We are American citizens. We are just looking for a container that has a piece of paper in it with people's names. I know that doesn't make sense...."

After a frustrating half hour we walked back to the motor home for lunch. Then on to find three more....

The first was hidden in the bark of a mesquite tree.

The second was cleverly hidden in the hole of a bird house
at the state park birding center headquarters (with permission of the park personnel.)

The third took us back to our failure at the bridge. Dianne finally spotted a magnetic key box that was attached to the bottom of the guard rail.

We are learning that I am better with the guiding, and Dianne is better with the finding.

One last task before heading home for the day - a photo of our last find. Guess what happened as Dianne took the picture of the cache under the railing?
Chaplin got bitten by another fire ant! This one bit him on the same paw as the last time. At least we knew what to do this time for a quicker response. I carried him (30 pounds) back to the motor home. We then washed the paw and soaked it in a cup of white vinegar for a half hour and then slathered it with Benadryl lotion and massaged it. He calmed down enough to take a nap while resting his head on my lap, and woke up an hour later good as new.
The only thing left to do was to wipe up all the vinegar splatters that he kicked all over the motor home (and us), and vow to not take him on any further bushwhacking trips!

1 comment:

Teri & Mark said...

Just love how almost every post has your babies in it. They are so lovable looking. Just getting into "geode catching" myself. Still need to get the ever important hand held GPS. Looks like you both had a memorable first time experience with it.