I decided to take advantage of the nice weather and long day to do some geocaching after work. I had been holding on to a travel bug for three months, which is about two-and-half months longer than is polite. So I decided to head out to a cache I had my eye on near Lake Artemesia, an artificial lake a couple of miles from home. I walked partway around the lake, then veered off on a trail towards the cache. Unfortunately, it was the wrong trail, and I soon found myself about 300 feet away from the cache, on the wrong side of a river. You can see my false start on this screen capture from Google Earth -- I now figured out how to put my GPS tracks in that, which I think is much cooler than the mapping program I had been using.
I backtracked (it would have been helpful to use Google Earth before caching) and headed up the correct trail, but it was getting dark. I realize the following details (and accompanying picture) represent a geocaching spoiler, but I don't think any of my reader will actually be looking for this cache. I wanted to give people an idea of what's involved in hunting these things. The clue said "hollow tree", and sure enough, I found a hollow tree about 30 or so feet from where the cache was supposed to be. Between the inaccuracy in my GPS readings and the inaccuracy in the readings of whoever placed the cache, the tree seemed a likely candidate. But I looked inside the hollow and saw nothing cache-like, so I went on. My GPS receiver, however, told me I was getting farther away. So I went back to the tree. This time I used the light on the keychain Christina gave me. Sure enough, there was a stick-like thing in the hollow that looked un-natural. I poked it first to make sure it wasn't something weird. When it didn't respond, I pulled out the camouflaged tube (pictured) that represented the cache. I thought this was a fairly tricky find...and this only rated '2' out of '5' on the difficulty scale. I can see why I may have missed some caches in the past. This did not look like the Tupperware container I was expecting to find. I suppose now I'll have a better idea of what to look for in future cache finds. I was barely able to get the travel bug (a shell with an tag attached) inside the tube, and I made it back to my car about a minute after sundown. According to the GPS receiver, almost exactly and hour and 2.4 miles of walking. Not bad.