Sunday, February 26, 2012

Geocaching Adventures: Octopus Garden

Pregnant lady belly or large concealed swag bag?
On Saturday we had planned to go to a Geocaching event just south of Charlotte NC.  For us Charlotte is 1.5 hours away, so we don't get to go there that often.

We had planned to take Zeke, our toddler, along, and were trying to figure out the logistics of the day - nap times, food times, pregnant lady bathroom breaks, and various other things.  Also our in-laws were in town, so there is that factor to consider as well...

... turns out that the in-laws decided to stay home and watch Zeke for the day.  This would free me and Debbie to go off on a day long adventure sans-offspring (well, the fully baked one at least).

So, what to do?

My idea:  Geocaching!

Her idea:  Ikea!

We settled on a compromise and went what I call geo-ikea-ching (ok, I never actually used that term, and I promise never to use it again).

We spent the morning at Ikea, picking out furniture for Zekes new bedroom, then spelunking through their warehouse, and finally loading several tons of flat packed furniture into the mini-van.  Somewhat exhausted we refueled with some fried chicken... say what you will about southern cuisine (my opinion is most of it is the type of dishes that results from losing a war and suffering through the resulting supply shortages, requiring the maximum use of everything that a human can stomach - liver mush? grits? collard greens? No wonder the North won), but fried chicken is a gift from the Gods.

Me and the wifey.
Once refueled we headed off to do what turned out to be an incredible afternoon of caching.  Our first stop of the day was to tackle Octopus Garden.

Octopus Garden is a puzzle cache.  It is also the oldest cache in North Carolina, and the second oldest puzzle cache in the world. Like most puzzle caches the object is to solve some sort of puzzle, the answer to which provides the coordinates to the final cache container.  We arrived at the listed coords and started working on the puzzle.  We discussed possibilities of what the answer could be when suddenly my wife started laughing - she had figured it out. It was one of those "the answer is right in your face if you look at it in just the right way" type of deals, and she was looking at it in just the right way.

With solution firmly in hand we headed off down the trails hand in hand (after all, she is my wifey) in search of GZ.  We took a wrong turn, ended up on the wrong side of a creek, doubled back, found the right side of the creek, and finally made the grab.

We walked about a half mile in total, which is quite a bit when you are hiking with a third trimester pregnant lady.  She was feeling it a bit when we finally got back to the car.

Since I wore out my caching partner, we headed off to nearby Idlewild Park so I could do some solo caching and she could rest up a bit.

Idlewild Park is an amazing place to do some caching. It has some sportsball fields, a disc golf course, and miles of hiking trails.   The caches are all top quality too. I found 5 caches there, and I ended up giving out 4 favorite points with my logs.

Stairs carved into the side of the hill.
Some of these caches included fake wildlife, awesomely painted ammo cans, and the most involved tree hanger cache I have ever seen (by several orders of magnitude).

I don't want to give away too many spoilers, so let me just say that if you ever find yourself in the Charlotte area and don't head to Idlewild Park, you are missing out on some amazing caching experiences.

I spent about 75 minutes in Idlewild Park before returning to the car and my resting wife. We then headed off to do a few more caches before finally ending up at the geocaching event.

So to recap the day:

  * Historical cache? check.

  * Interesting caches? check.

  * Caching with my wifey?  check.

  * Didn't break the pregnant lady (too much)? check.

  * Time spent outdoors? check.

  * Finished the day with good food, company, and cheer?  check.

Yep, its confirmed!  All in all it was a fantastic day of caching with my wife.  Now we get to unload the 2 tons of flat packed furniture from the van... yay.