Wednesday, March 23, 2005

POISON IVY: The Bane of All Geocachers!

There are many evil plants in the world such as Henbane, Hemlock, Datura, Deadly Nightshade and Mandrake. But the most vile, contemptible, wretched, and loathsome of them all must be Toxicodendron radicans - POISON IVY!

After we purchased our new house last summer, we noticed that poison ivy was actively growing in our back yard. Unfortunately, I discovered it only after I was covered head-to-toe in the itchy rash that has come to plague me for the umpteenth time since my boy scout days as a child. If you are not aware of how poison ivy affects your body, a normally benign oil called Urushiol is produced by these plants and binds with your skin. Once bound to cell membranes, urushiol is virtually impossible to wash off and attached to cell membranes attracts patrolling T-cells and initiates a full-blown immune response which is the cause of the horrid rash. Each time you come into contact with poison ivy, your body learns how to "fight" it harder with an increased T-cell response.

To make this long story short, I hired a lawn service three times to come dig up the poison ivy found in our yard, and I followed by filling the holes with Roundup. For the remainder of the summer and fall, this seemed to do the trick. Every time that I had to mow or do other yard work, I had no recurring reaction - UNTIL NOW! This weekend, I decided to pick up the remaining leaves and ground clutter in our back yard by mowing the yard with the grass catcher attached. It did a fantastic job and yard looks great! But as Sunday night passed into Monday morning, I began noticing the ever-so-distinctive itching sensation under my right arm. Now, I'm covered once again!

Needless to say, each bout of poison ivy makes you hyper-sensitive to the three leafed plant in your surroundings, and this is how it relates to Geocaching. Even though my arms, legs, and chest are covered in this itchy rash, I decided I'd attempt to be an FTF at Anti-Q-Zoo near the old Waco Zoo. After I arrived in the abandoned parking lot, my GPS was guiding me near the edge of the lot towards the old fence line and some trees. As I approached the edge of the pavement, my eyes focused on one thing and one thing only near my feet! POISON IVY! Everywhere I looked, there was POISON IVY! There were a few patches of grass and tall weeds between the pavement and the fence, but through it all was POISON IVY! I truthfully don't think I've ever seen so much of this dreaded plant in one place in my entire life and I was about to trample right through it!

I'm afraid this will be one cache that will forever be on my forbidden list. In fact, I feel incredibly sorry for anyone who ventures near this cache and wonder how sawdust92 managed to hide it without being covered in the oils of this demon.

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