If you read my story, “The Mighty Casey”, then you know that for a while I was an enthusiastic geocacher. Geocaching is an activity where people hide a container, and by using a GPS they get the coordinates of the hiding spot. Then they post the coordinates on the website, geocaching.com, and other people get the coordinates and use their GPS to find the hidden container. When a new hide is posted, all the geocachers in the area try to find it first. This is called, “First to Find” and everybody wants to be the first to find a geocache. My friend, Lynn, and I really became involved in this activity and we called ourselves the “Kentuckygirls”.
It didn’t matter what time of day or night it was, if there was a new listing, we were always the “First to Find”. Oddly enough, we rarely saw any other geocachers. After almost a year, we had found every single geocache within a sixty mile radius. Geocaching was fun and many of the caches were hidden in places of natural beauty or historical significance. To me, this made finding the caches more interesting and fun. I always took my camera and would take pictures.
Sometimes, the person who hides or visits the cache will place a “Travel Bug” or a “Geocoin” in the container and that makes finding it more fun. A travel bug is merely a dog tag with a tracking number on it. Normally, the owner of the travel bug will attach the dog tag to an object and put a note with it that explains the travel bug’s mission. Lynn and I had a travel bug called, “Quarterback Sneak”. We attached the dog tag to a miniature Tennessee Titans helmet. Quarterback Sneak’s mission was to travel to any type of football game and we requested the finders to post a picture and then drop our travel bug into another cache so it could continue its mission. Quarterback Sneak travel a total of 963.9 miles, and then someone kept it and never placed it in another geocache. So, that was the end of Quarterback Sneak.
A geocoin is something that is very popular with geocachers. Some geocoins are trackable on the geocaching site and, just like the travel bug, you place a note with the coin and state the coin’s mission. Lynn and I had a trackable geocoin we named, Bluegrass Gypsy. Bluegrass Gypsy’s mission was to travel like a gypsy and to visit all the 50 U.S. states as well as Europe, Asia and other continents. Bluegrass Gypsy traveled a total of 9710.8 miles before she was lost.
Lynn and I both started collecting different types of geocoins; some were trackable, and some were not. We even designed our own personal Kentuckygirls’ geocoin and traded it with other collectors. We only had 100 of the Kentuckgirls’ coins minted and after about two months we had traded all but six. I still have those six and plan on keeping them for as long as I live.
Anyway, we had found just about every cache around and we were getting bored with geocaching. Then one day while I was looking at other geocoins out there, I ran across The Caching Place and they had a contest and the winners would receive a geocoin. The contest had been going on for a few days, so it was very likely that if Lynn and I entered it, we would not have time to complete the requirements. Some of the requirements were easy, but others would be very difficult for us to complete. One of the requirements was to be The First to Find. As I stated before, we had found every cache within a sixty mile radius and for us to find another one, we would have to travel quite a long way. Apparently Lynn had read about the contest too, and later that night we talked to each other about entering it. And even though we probably won’t win a coin, we thought it might be fun so we signed up and started the mission.
The first few requirements were fairly easy to get. In three days we found a Statue Cache, a River Cache, a Forest Cache, a Cache with a Great View, and Graveyard Cache. The next couple of days we Moved a Travel Bug, found a Cache that was Placed in 2003 and found a Dog Cache. In eight days, we had completed all the requirements except for two: First to Find and Attend a Geocaching Event. For three days straight, Lynn and I kept logging onto geocaching.com off and on all day looking for a new cache and an event that we could attend. Then one afternoon Lynn called me and said there was a new cache listed and it was only fifty miles away. She continued to describe the cache saying it was a puzzle cache and we would have to break a code to get the coordinates. After we finished talking, I got on the internet and pulled up the new geocache and Lynn was right, it was going to be tough to break the code. The code was a picture of frogs and some were darker green than the others.
I had no idea what type of code this could be, so I was worried that we might not figure it out in time to be the first to find it. Lynn and I got together that night and studied that frog picture for hours. Just when we were about to give up, Lynn hovered the mouse over one of the frogs and all the sudden the number 00110010 appeared above the frog. Then she moved the mouse over to the next frog and the number 00111001 appeared. We looked at each other and said, “Huh. So, that’s the code.” I grabbed a pen and Lynn moved the mouse to the first frog and started reading the numbers to me. I wrote all the number down on a piece of paper and Lynn and I studied the numbers trying to figure out what type of code it was. We worked on that puzzle half the night and I remember dreaming about those stupid frogs and those numbers all night long.
We got together the next day after work and worked on the puzzle again. For two days I was so consumed with those frogs and those numbers, I couldn’t think of anything else. Then just as I fell asleep that night, I woke myself up saying, “Binary!” I laid there for a couple of minutes, and then I said, “Binary! Of course….Zeros and Ones!!! It’s binary code.” I got up and ran into the study and grabbed the piece of paper with the numbers on it and I logged onto the internet. I googled “Binary code for numbers” and I found what I was looking for. I worked with the numbers and the frogs until I was confident that the coordinates I had come up with were correct. The next day I took off work early to meet Lynn so we could drive to the location before it got dark. We were the first to find on that geocache and we were so excited we posted a note in the cache that said, “First To Find. Rib-BIT. Rib-BIT!” Now, we only had one more requirement left and we would be finished.
The last requirement was to attend a geocaching event. The event we had found to attend was on a Thursday night and it was being held in the same city where we had been the first to find on the frogs’ cache. I didn’t have to take off work early that day because the event was not scheduled until 7:00 that evening. Thursday rolled around and it was such a rainy, nasty day. That afternoon about 4:30 the National Weather Service had issued tornado warnings for our town and the surrounding areas until eight o’clock that evening. I was hoping the weather would clear up before we had to leave for the event, but it didn’t. If anything, the weather got worse.
As soon as I got home from work, I logged onto the internet and went to geocaching.com and looked up the event. The hosts of the event had left a message saying that they might cancel it due to the bad weather in the area. I thought, “NO! You can’t cancel IT!. This is the only event this month and we HAVE to attend an event!” I replied to the message, “Oh a little rain never hurt anyone. Have been looking forward to seeing everyone, so the Kentuckygirls will be there by seven o’clock.” I checked the event page again about thirty minutes later, and a few other people confirmed that they would be there too, so the event wasn’t cancelled.
Lynn and I got into my truck at six o’clock that evening and we headed south to Tennessee. You must understand that I don’t drive that well anyway, but the rain and wind made my driving much worse. We travel on a two lane highway and as soon as we crossed the Kentucky/Tennesse line, all hell broke loose. It was thundering and lightening and it was raining so hard, my windshield wipers seemed useless. The wind was blowing my truck all over the road and water was standing on the highway causing me to hydroplane. The worst part of it all was that I could not see anything except a tractor-trailer’s tail lights in front of me. When that tractor-trailer sped up, I sped up. When it slowed down, I slowed down. I remember commenting to Lynn, “I sure hope they can see because I can’t. I’m following his tail lights, so if he goes off in a ditch, we’re going right behind him.” I was a nervous wreck and I could tell Lynn was nervous too because she wasn’t saying a word.
About fifteen miles away from the city, that damn tractor-trailer pulled off the road, and from that moment on, I had no tail lights to follow. I kept hitting puddles of water and running off the road. The wind didn’t help matters any. It had been blowing so hard, my arms began to ache from the strain from holding the steering wheel trying to keep the vehicle on the road. The closer we got to the city limits, the faster I drove because I wanted to get somewhere safe and I wanted to get there quickly. We ran into a stretch of road that was flooded and I hydroplaned and ran off the road, but fortunately I was able to swerve back onto the road before it was too late. Lynn grabbed the dashboard and said, “CJ. Stay on the road!” I said, “I can’t see A ROAD. Can you?” She said, “No.” I said, “Okay then. Don’t complain.”
We finally arrived at our destination and we had a nice supper and good conversation and by the time we were ready to leave, the wind had died down and the rain had stopped. I was so tired when I got home that night, I went straight to bed. I didn’t know until the next morning that there had been several tornadoes that damaged many homes and businesses. Many places were flooded due to the heavy down pour and the strong winds had blown over several trees. While I was watching the local news, I discovered that most of the damage had been in the area we were driving through the night before. I thought, “No wonder I couldn’t see the road. Damn tornadoes were all around us.” Then I shook my head and thought, “The things I will do for a geocoin.”
That afternoon Lynn and I went to The Caching Place’s website and logged our final requirement. After their site accepted our log a puzzle popped up and we had to solve it before we could win a geocoin. I looked at it and I had no idea what this puzzle meant. Lynn studied the puzzle for a couple of minutes and then she submitted an answer. Her answer was correct and at 4:44 that afternoon, we were awarded a geocoin, and out of 917 participants we came in 44th place. We were both so happy to be finished, we posted this note on their forum: “WOW!!! It’s over!! It’s time to celebrate! Yo Ho Ho and a bottle of rum all around on the Kentuckygirls!!”
I had a lot of fun searching for those geocaches and it has been a long time since we found our last one. August 27, 2006 was the last time Lynn and I went geocaching and our total finds are listed at 497. It’s kind of funny because everybody within a three hundred mile radius has heard of the Kentuckygirls. And still to this day, someone will send an email asking for one of our geocoins or wanting to meet us. And there’s this one reporter that’s always wanting to interview us about geocaching, but we always decline. I must admit that have several fond memories of caching, but none can compare to the night we went to that event. And still to this day, every time I’m on the highway and get caught in bad weather, I think about that night, and I always say, “Yo Ho Ho and A Bottle of Rum!” Then I just die laughing. 😛