Monday, June 20, 2016

Geocaching: FTF & LPC

I got my first geocaching "first to find" (FTF) in late 2007. FTFs are an unofficial geocaching statistic awarded to the first person to find a particular geocache. I inadvertently picked up one in Australia almost a year later on an Earthcache. I hadn't noticed ahead of time that the cache hadn't been found yet.

Well, since I've started to geocache again in earnest this year, I haven't had any new FTFs...until this weekend. I had a couple of near misses. In one, I got a new cache alert when I was at the allergist, and decided I would drop off a library book, then find it on the way to work...only to pull up to see the FTFer replacing the cache. Another one, I was at a nearby grocery store when I got the alert, but I searched to no avail.

That one was a type of cache not prominent during my last caching binge (2007-8): an LPC. LPC stands for "Lamp Post Cache." Most lamp posts in parking lots across the country have a "skirt" above the cement base. You probably won't have noticed if you don't geocache, but that metal skirt can be lifted, and a small object can be hidden underneath. (Click here to see an example.)

I don't want to offend anybody who hides caches there, but LPCs are about the least exciting type of caches there are. You're in a parking lot, messing with a lamp post, and hoping nobody asks you why. They're often placed apologetically with a note that it's a good cache if you're trying to keep a streak of consecutive days going.

Google Maps view of the cache
The one I missed FTF on after leaving the grocery store was like that, but it was placed in a magnet attached to the inside of the skirt. I came back later (after being assure it was there) and found it.

Well, when I got an alert on another one this Saturday, I wasn't sure if it was an LPC. But the kids were happily enjoying a playdate, and it seemed like a good shot at an FTF. I drove up to an office park, and, well, from the Google Maps image, you can see that the cache location is pretty much right on top of a lamp post. There's no other place it can be. Still, it took me five or ten minutes of searching. This one was in a hide-a-key inside the skirt, and because it was black, I missed it the first several times I looked.  A day later, nobody else has found it (or presumably, even looked for it).
I think 11 of the 52 caches I've found this year have been LPCs. They are mainly good to satisfy some statistical metric, but I'd certainly prefer a nice container in the woods, or a virtual cache.

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