Following on from my previous blog entry dated June 20th,
https://washknight.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/can-a-blind-person-geocache/, , I feel and updated is warranted. Today I found my first ever cache completely on my own. From locating it on geocaching.com to leaving the house and walking to it and then finding the cache when at ground zero. Some challenges presented themselves and needed to be overcome but overcome they were. The cache itself, Football Focus #60 MK Dons GC4ANMG is only a short distance away from home so that was a good start. So first of all I planned a route. This still needs some work in terms of improving accessibility. I used the geocaching.com app and my CCTV magnifier to look at the maps of the route. Yes I do have a little sight but trust me it is not much. I have to zoom thing’s up like 20 times to see anything and then it is tricky to make out detail or context because you are only looking at one very small section of the map. Thankfully I kind of knew where the street in question was so it was just a case of remembering the street names of half a dozen roads along the route.
Next I set off and started walking. I used my new app called Ariadne to monitor where I was going and to make sure that I was heading the right way. This app tells me every 30 seconds or so the name of the road I am on and roughly the house number. So having remembered the names of the roads I needed to travel I was able to make sure I was going the right way. Out on the street I use my long white cane as usual to navigate the streets and avoid obstacles. I had chosen this particular route as I knew where a couple of handy crossings were to get across a couple of busy roads. In an ideal world I would have a turn by turn navigation app but I have yet to find one for the iPhone that is free and whilst Navigon would seem to be a perfect choice I need to save up for it as I can’t afford it at this time.
Once Ariadne informed me that I was on the right street I moved the focus to the distance to cache field in the app and let it count me down as I got closer from 100 metres. At around 10 metres from GZ I slowed down and let the GPS catch me up. At 2 metres I stopped and started tapping around for likely candidates. A lamppost, nope. Having read the description and the hint I knew I was looking for something small in a hole at about ankle height. Back to the iPhone and I tried experimenting to see how close I could get the reading. Across the quiet road and back and finally I got it down to 1 metre at 6 o’clock, meaning it was right behind me. I turned round and found that the fence ended here and at my feet were a couple of utility distance signs that looked about the right height. Crouching down and feeling around revealed no luck so I moved my attention to the fence end that was just next to me. Running my hand from about 1 metre high down I found a square hole in the post but nothing inside it. Carrying on down and then my fingers found a bolt like shape protruding from the post, but it was not metal… it was plastic. I knew with a rush of adrenalin that I had found it. Grasping the head of it I gently pulled and sure enough it slid out of the hole and I had my first solo cache in my hand.
One more challenge and that was how to sign the log. I had thought about this a lot and had aborted previous attempts because I knew even if I found a cache I could not sign the log and therefore could not claim to have found it. My solution was to produce a piece of paper with the following text printed on it that I had prepared before leaving the house.
“Hi, My name is Washknight and I found this cache on the date scrawled on this piece of paper somewhere. I am blind and therefore cannot sign the log. Please could the next person to find, fill in my name and date on the log. If you want to contact me then please email firstname.lastname@example.org thanks.”
I made the print fairly small and had printed it and cut it out already. I had in my hand what is probably one of the smallest classes of caches that actually contain logs, literally the size of a 1.5 inch long bolt and inside this small container was already a rolled up piece of paper; the log. I folded and rolled and squeeze my note into the cache and screwed on the lid, making a mental note to make my little calling cards even smaller in the future. I replaced the cache in the fence post and after texting Sharlene the news of my triumph, made my way back home.
So I am getting there. I still feel that tackling urban caches is the only practical option when going solo as going off road would seem to present more possible problems. Having said that in some ways it could be easier and simpler. In terms of the urban cache though, aside from improving the ability to plan a route and following it through it seems that a blind person really can geocache.