Saturday, October 14, 2017

Where oh where did my cache go?

Where oh where did my cache go?
Bert Marshall (BaytownBert) Ex-SETX Rep Texas Geocaching Association.

Whenever I am explaining the game of geocaching to newbies, this particular line of questioning always surfaces. "What do you do with it when you find it? Do you keep it?" I explain that finding it is step one and the last step is replacing it exactly as you found it. What happens in the middle is the fun part. I then go on to explain signing the log, exchanging swag, and the possibility that a traveler or personal item is inside.

I own a rather peculiar cache in the Baytown area. GC75F4Q BB's (9AA) BHP TB Letterbox Motel!  It's a letterbox, a TB motel, and a large container. It is also the only premium member geocache I own. It currently has 12 travel bugs and a number of personal identification goodies inside.

I noticed a newbie premium cacher with 5 total finds found it a couple days ago and signed the log, "Nice find" with no mention of the travelers.  I just had to go and see if some were missing, or if the person just didn't understand what they were. Imagine my shock and horror when the container was gone! It's in the edge of the woods behind my house along the walking trail, overlooking a 14 acre pond with alligators in it.

My first thought was "Oh my god!  All of those travel bugs gone! How do I fix this? Do I just post that it was muggled? Do I write each person and tell them that maybe they will surface down the road? I began to look off into the woods, as it is very dense with thorns, as I could "kind of" see in there. I began looking for a place of ingress (commonly cryptically called a geotrail) thinking maybe they grabbed the container and took it out in the open to see what was inside and then forgetting, pushed back in.

This happens fairly often to containers that aren't tethered and quite often the cache gets moved, but this thing is a big protein container that you could stuff a large softball through its mouth.  Nothing, nothing, and then?  There it is, about 50 feet from where I hid it.  I blew out a lungful of thankfulness and retrieved it.  Opening it, I found all 12 travelers and the fellow's signature on the log. I replaced the geocache to match the coordinates and walked off relieved.

Now, this brings up what to do when you are sure you find an established geocache way off coordinates. Do you leave it and write a log explaining it needs owner intervention and post the coordinates of where you found it?  Yup! That is what you should do! But do most veteran cachers do this?  Nope, not in my experience. They write a vague, if anything log and leave it to find by the next unsuspecting cacher.  Why that's harsh BB!  Shame on you!  It is what it is and I am speaking from the vantage point of experience.

Think about. What do you, as a five year geocacher do when you encounter this phenomenon? I have located caches 100 feet off coordinates and read logs by my own peer group that said "expand your search" as advice. I know by the coordinates and hint where the cache is supposed to be. The absentee owner hasn't responded in 2 years. Call me whatever, but I carry it back to coordinates after calibrating my Garmin Oregon 650, and place it where it originated.

Then I log it as such.  "Found container 100 feet from posted coords.  Returned to coords and placed in accordance to hint on cache page."  Then I post a watch on the page and sure enough, other cachers begin finding it again. Quite often, being the anal retentive type, I do cache maintenance on it and add swag if it will fit.

I looked for a cache in Houston's Midtown 3 times before I reached out for help with a couple of PAF's only to hear back, "It's not at coords.  Its in the plants about 80 feet deeper in the alley and on the other side.  Six of us went in there and found it."  What?!  That's not what their logs said. The absentee owner hid it and people kept logging it for about 4 years. Me, actually believing it was where they said it was moved 20 to 30 feet up and down the vine covered fence 3 times with no luck.

Well, you guessed it.  It is now back at coords. I should have flagged it, but to keep the game going, I just returned it to the coords and the hint. Now understand me when I'm saying I do this at my own risk and I'm not telling or admonishing anyone to move a cache. If I get a dirty Rep for moving caches, then so be it, but I don't do it often AND I log it as such. I'm an advocate of truth in logging. If you do something, by all means, tell the truth.

So, in conclusion, the best thing to do is write a great log and post coordinates of what you find amiss.

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