Do you ever feel like you’re a failure at having fun? No? Just me? Okay… thanks. That certainly makes me feel better.
I don’t quite remember when, why, or how long ago I heard about geocaching, but I’ve been getting the newsletters for a while now. I’d apparently even registered an account online, but never did anything other than think, “I should try that one of these days,” every time an email would appear in my inbox.
Today is the day! That’s right, self. You’re not just thinking it, you’re doing it! Go self, go!
I’m way too lazy to go into a detailed explanation, but if you haven’t heard of geocaching before, it’s basically a really tiny treasure hunt. People leave physical ‘caches’ in inconspicuous places, log them in an online application, and then other people try to find them. And when you do find them, generally you just sign a log book and call it a day. (Though, sometimes there are small trinkets.)
My area of choice to explore was the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area. I guess at some point I must’ve seen a big green blob on the map, but I never consciously realized there was a park in this area.
And I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised. There was a pretty man-made stream with a waterfall, some adorable ducks, (plus one loud, aggressive swan), and apparently even some small-scale fishing.Now, the bad news. I crack out my phone when I get to the park, all excited that there was a cache in the vicinity, anxiously waiting for me to uncover its secret location… aaand, I couldn’t get a signal. So there’s people exercising, people playing with their kids, and people enjoying the outdoors; and here’s me desperately trying to get a signal on my phone every few feet. Ugh, could I look like any more like an ‘always connected’ a-hole? Yeah, I already hate myself, too.
Now, what I hadn’t realized before I left home, is that you can save specific cache details for offline use, but naturally I didn’t do this. So, annoyed and dejected, I decide to sit down and watch some of the water creatures swimming around. I stared at a bird (or is it considered a waterfowl?), feeling like I should know the names to more than “duck”, “swan”, or “seagull”. See, this is why I should have access to Wikipedia in the park. I check my phone one last time.
Wait… wait… wait…. yes! I got one downloaded!
Aaaaand… I read the description of the cache, and it says this one was specifically designed for children. Really? Well, I couldn’t get information to any of the others listed nearby, so off I went to find the one made for someone who’s brain is not yet fully formed. I’ll be damned if I’m leaving without finding something.
Now, part of the point of the geocaching application, is that it has a compass you can click on to help you navigate to the specific location you’re seeking. Great! Uh…. wait a minute. I know how to read a compass, but it never occurred to me that I have no idea how to read the actual coordinates. Brilliant. Luckily, it was easy enough to just visually look at a map with both my location and the cache location marked, and see where I should be walking.
But here’s the other part. Because this was designed for children, the cache was hidden somewhere on or near a playground. There weren’t any children playing at the moment, but there were other people around, and there’s nothing weirder than a grown-ass adult prowling around a children’s play area. Sure, I could probably pretend I’m checking it out for the imaginary kids I have chained to an industrial sewing machine at home, but I felt wicked self-conscious.
So, after a quick scan didn’t reveal anything blatantly obvious…. I decided I’d had enough. Maybe I’ll prepare myself better and try it again sometime? Usually I’m a fanatical over-preparer, and this is a perfect example why. It’s always, always, the one thing you don’t think is going to be an issue… that becomes the only thing that’s really an issue. Always.
On the plus side, I did discover a neat park not too far away that I wouldn’t mind visiting again sometime. So, I guess I did find a magical, hidden treasure after all.
Lesson of the day: If, in a fairly empty grocery store parking lot, you park so that there is an empty space or two around you… it is an impossibility that you will return and not find an oversized SUV sandwiched next to you, parked as diagonally as possible, in a perpendicularly-inclined space.
Every. Single. Time.