Saturday, November 26, 2005

Escape from College Station In-Laws

Yesterday, I attended one of the MANY family gatherings in College Station of my wife's family. They are great people and fun to be around, but with 17 people in a house normally occupied by 2, it can be a little overwhelming. They are all big Aggies and a few of them went to the Texas A&M -vs- University of Texas football game. I'm not a big football fan and have no particular connection with either team, so I decided to use some of this time to escape from the in-laws and go geocaching.

When I first started geocaching (even before I had my yellow eTrex) I used a GPS attachment for my Handspring Visor to hunt caches. It normally does really well in open skies and for road navigation, but it is horrible in heavy tree cover. One of the first geocaches I tried to find using this equipment was a cache in Brothers Park in College Station called Siblings Pond. Unfortunately, the tree coverage was so thick that my GPS would direct me to one location and then suddenly say I was 200 feet away and send me to another spot. This cache ended up being one of my first DNFs, so naturally, it had to be first of my list on this trip! With eTrex in hand and a much sharper geosense guiding me, I found this cache with minimal effort in the first place I looked. The hiding spot is SO obvious to me now, that I can't believe I didn't find it originally.

Next, I decided to head off for a quick virtual just .25 miles away, A-maze-ing. This cache is a gravel and limestone maze setup for spiritual reflection behind a local church. Since there is no log book to sign on virtuals, I had to send a description of the cache site to the cache owner via email for verification.

The next one on my list was a micro cache near an old cemetery a little closer to A&M campus, L. L. Foster. This was a nice quick little cache once I FINALLY found a parking spot. The road near this cache site was about a mile away from Kyle Field where the big game was being played, but there were still cars parked bumper to bumper along the entire stretch of this road. I knew I was only going to be here a short while so I double-parked and partially blocked someone's driveway while I searched. It was a quick find.

The last one of my list for this part of the day was one next to the Bush library on the south end of the Texas A&M campus, Under the Trees/Not in the Bush. I sure took the WRONG approach to this cache. On my first approach I made it to a parking lot, but my GPS kept pointing a long way away on the other side of the building. I gave up on that approach and then parked along the edge of the "S" curved driveway just past the main entrance from Bush Dr. (or whatever that main street is). I then proceeded to "bush"-whack my way in a bee line toward the cache site which wasn't TOO bad until I got just past a paved trail next to a little pavilion and there was nowhere to go except down a ravine. At that point, I assumed the cache description MUST have been a joke and turned back to find this another day.

Once I got back to a computer, I pulled this location up on Google Earth and could shoot myself once I saw how easy this cache really was! I didn't realize that there was a back exit from the parking lot I found to ANOTHER parking lot just a few feet from the cache site!!!

Finally, after we ate dinner and played a few games, I remembered reading about another cache across from the local airport that was next to a duck pond. My wife, daughter, and father in-law grabbed some leftover rolls and some old bread and went out after this cache. Emma loved feeding the ducks! Soon, a large Weimaraner came by and decided to go swimming with the ducks. Everybody wanted to stay and watch this dog for a while, so I went off on my own to find Quackers. It too was a very easy find, but was constructed from a 12 inch long piece of metal pipe with screw caps on each end. The entire thing was wrapped in black duct tape. At first, I wasn't sure if I had found the cache or a pipe bomb!

Overall, it was an enjoyable after-Thanksgiving gathering with my in-laws and a good day for caching!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We're going to GET you, John!

Your College Station In-Laws

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