With Sam starting secondary school at the beginning of September, there has been less focus on Geocaching and more on selling a kidney in order to afford the cost of uniform, sports kit, stationary supplies, kitchen sink etc. With him settled in to his new school and after a couple of days lying in a darkened room reminding myself to breathe and keep calm, it was time to think about going in search of smileys again.
Even though we hadn’t been out and about much, I had been putting in a considerable amount of effort into solving some local puzzles and so I suggested to Shar that we could head to nearby Abbots Langley to collect some of these. After plotting out the finals of some puzzles and adding in a couple more local trads we had a plan. One thing that was rather different for us now that Sam was getting the bus to school and back, was that we had a longer uninterrupted chunk of time in the day. Him having his own key as well now meant also that we were not faced with the constant time constraint of having to get back for the school run or to let him in. The net result was that our preparation for caching and our exit of the house was done in a much more relaxed manner than Shar and I’s GeoDates normally were.
With no small amount of irony the final of our first puzzle took us practically to the doorstep of Sam’s school. A wickedly tricky puzzle cache by local cacher Nee Nee that had kept me on the very brink of madness for the best part of two weeks. With a few generous nudges from the CO, I was eventually able to get the cords and both Shar and I were surprised at the location. Arriving after school had started to avoid the melee of school drop off, we located the hide and I immediately shinned up into the tree to search for it. We later found the cache in an easily accessible hole in the tree that didn’t require me doing my monkey man impression but I wasn’t complaining.
A short and pleasant walk across a field and into a nearby patch of woods took us to the GZ of a traditional. This one had us tromping around the pretty woods for almost 45 minutes before Shar eventually spotted an obvious bit of bark-o-flauge and called me over. I could barely hear her as we had drifted so far apart in our individual searches and it took a couple of minutes of careful voice guidance to reunite us so that I could retrieve the well-hidden cache.
We moved the car to Leavesden Country Park for the next few caches. From here we did a small circuit picking up the finals of 2 more Nee Nee puzzle caches and a couple of trads too. The walk was a nice one around the well-manicured country park and despite the odd looks from a few muggles as we disappeared into the bushes every now and then, we managed to find all the hides no problem.
Another new parking location a few minutes away allowed us to pick up yet another Nee Nee Puzzle that had been a lot simpler to solve than the first one. I was also surprised to find a pound coin stuck to the top of the container but smiled as I realised how relevant this was to the puzzle. It also made me giggle to think of how many people walked right past this monetary hide each day without realising it, but then I tend to think this about most caches, especially semi urban ones.
From here it was a walk to the published cords of a multi cache that looked fairly straightforward to solve. A brief search and an argument later and we had the coordinates dialled in to the phones and were heading into the nearby patch of woods to find the final. We didn’t find it though although we were fairly sure it had been there at some point. What we did find was rather distressing. We found lots of litter and empty beer bottles, used condoms, tampon boxes and even a carving knife hidden in the hole where we reckoned the cache should have been. We left pretty quickly and as soon as I got home I sent a note to the CO informing him of the condition of GZ, he was grateful and said he would check it out ASAP.
We moved the car one more time to pick up a couple more caches nearby but the first of these was a DNF thanks to an old man who had taken up residency on a bench outside Abbots Langley Church. Shar and I stood for about 5 minutes watching him and wondering if he was going to move on as we knew for sure that the cache was hidden on or under the bench. Just as we thought he might be about to leave, another old man shuffled up and sat down next to the first and they settled into a long and tedious chat. We gave up on it and headed towards some fields that would be the site of the last two caches of the day.
As we walked along the edge of the field towards the first of these I could smell the blackberry bushes and it only took a small suggestion from me for Shar to take the offered tupperware container to go collecting. I personally don’t like blackberries but Shar and Sam do and I was happy to shuffle around enjoying the warm sunshine whilst she foraged. I even edged my way along the side of the field 50 metres to the GZ of the cache but once there couldn’t really identify anything that might be the hide.
Once Shar had filled the pot we continued on to find a trad that was hidden in the bushes between two farmer’s fields and then backtracked to where I had been looking earlier to try and find our last cache. We did eventually locate the hide but having failed to read the cache description beforehand, it wasn’t until we arrived that we realised it was a pipe cache that would need around 1.5 litres of water to get the container out. We only had about 500ml and that just wasn’t enough so we elected to call it a day and return another time. Shar wasn’t too bothered because it meant she would be able to come back and get some more blackberries.
It was a leisurely caching day during which we never felt the pressures of time. We arrived home just after Sam which was a slightly odd feeling but one that we both agreed was quite pleasant. I could get used to this. Happy days.
This caching adventure took place on Tuesday 15th September 2015 and took our cache count up to 1283