My husband and I are avid geocachers, especially during the spring and summer months. This summer, Leduc County held a Geocaching Tour to celebrate their 50th anniversary and introduce their residents to some of the lesser known areas of the county. If you were able to find all fifty caches and obtain the secret word from each cache, you would be entered to win a draw in December and if you were one of the first fifty cachers to complete the tour, you would also receive a prize.
My first thought was, ‘Ermahgerd, I lerve prizes!!!’ and my second thought was, ‘This is probably going to hurt. Too late now, they said the magic word prizes, so I am all in!’. My excitement for this grand new geocaching adventure knew no bounds…Challenge accepted Leduc County, let the games begin!
As this was really our first caching trip of the season, we were a little rusty and our first attempt to find one of these caches ended in frustration and we returned home empty-handed. As usual, the inability to locate something seemingly so simple only served to irritate me and the very next day we returned to try again. This time, with the help of the trusty geodog (mostly just with his unbridled enthusiasm for the outdoors), we found our first cache in no time.
Spurred on by our success, we carried on and found several others until it got dark and then we headed home. During this second day of caching, I sustained the following injuries in our quest for greatness and bragging rights: one skinned ankle, several skinned knuckles, numerous twigs, dirt, spiders and vegetation stuck in my hair and in my bra.
I also sustained one particularly embarrassing injury, which happened when I got out of the truck for a cache and was so focused on my goal that I did not check to see where my feet would land once I hopped off the running board. Much to my surprise, there was apparently nowhere to land at all and I kept right on going about eight feet straight down an embankment. Realizing far too late what was happening, I flailed wildly for a handhold, but to no avail. As luck would have it, I did manage to slow my fall slightly by hitting my back on the running board on the way by, before landing flat on my arse in a very ungraceful heap in the gravel at the bottom of the embankment with a stunned look on my face.
My husband also appeared confused about what happened as one minute I was there and the next I had disappeared. All he had to say was, ‘What are you doing?’ to which I glibly responded, ‘Falling out of the truck. What’s it look like I’m doing? By the way, thanks for parking right on the edge of an embankment!’ A few other kind and considerate words were exchanged before I regained my footing on the steep incline, dusted myself off and was ready once again to conquer the world. Not to worry though, other than a small bruise on my back, most of the injury from this fall was sustained by my pride and it has almost completely recovered.
We carried on in our search for several evenings and weekends and learned a lot about Leduc County in the process, which was really interesting as a lot of it we did not know previous to this tour. We discovered that about a third of the caches had been listed with poor and often incorrect coordinates and this made them almost impossible to find, but failure was not an option, so we persevered until we were successful, which in some cases was for an awfully long time!
Just to give you an idea of how determined I was, I am not exactly a tiny person, nor am I particularly fit, stealthy or graceful, but when it comes to geocaching, I will go to great lengths to return from my search victorious, even if that means doing something that will make me pant,wheeze or sweat like a wildebeest. Factor in the possibility of winning a prize and there is really nothing I won’t do to reach this goal and this geotour was no exception!
On this particular tour, I, crawled through the mud and squeezed under a chain link fence, and I mean squeezed; walked through a disgusting algae encrusted bog that smelled so bad that my husband made me remove my shoes and wash my feet before he would let me get back into the truck; climbed over, under and through too many barbed wire fences to count; crawled under a gate and trespassed in the County’s garbage dump; hiked up and slid/fell down some very steep embankments; walked through grass that was seven feet tall and almost got lost; slipped and fell several times; stubbed my toes everywhere; walked through more Alberta rose bushes and Canadian thistles than I care to recount; skinned my knees, ankles, shins and knuckles repeatedly; stuck my hand into some very unsavory things and spaces; fended off a nosy and suspicious woman at a small community hall event without getting arrested, detained or pelted with food; saw way too many mice and tried not to freak out (I despise mice); got soaked by the rain on almost every trip out (it was an awfully wet summer) and all of this while being mauled by mosquitos that were the size of Carrier Pigeons!
However, the almost endless torture we experienced during the geotour didn’t slow us down much and we eventually located every cache, completed our tour passport and handed it in. We were one of the first fifty people to complete the tour and were rewarded with my much lusted after prize, which turned out to be a laminated Leduc County Landowners map, a flashlight, lip balm and an entry into the grand prize draw that will happen in December 2013.
I know some of you will think, ‘That’s it? That’s all you got for the hours of time you invested in this, your injuries and your endless dedication to completing the tour?’, and a lot of you might think we’re crazy to be happy with that, but honestly we are. Truthfully, they could have given me a pen or a hat and I still would have been happy as it’s not the prize at the end, it’s the feeling of accomplishment, the memories you made along the way and the entire experience that mean the most to us and make it worthwhile no matter what you receive for it.
Feeling very satisfied with ourselves, we determined that despite all of the trials and tribulations we had encountered along the way, the whole concept of a geotour was decidedly some of the most fun we have ever had geocaching and that we would definitely do this again should the opportunity arise. Little did we know when we decided we would do this again, that this decision would get us into an alarming situation in the middle of nowhere, miles from home, but that’s a story for another time.
Wish us luck in the grand prize draw! We still have no idea what that prize is, but it doesn’t matter, I just want to win it!