March 1-3, 2018

Road Trip With Signal

  • 750+ miles driven
  • 2 DNFs (did not find)
  • 51 caches found
    • 46 Traditional Caches
    • 1 Letterbox Hybrid
    • 1 Earth Cache
    • 1 Puzzle Cache
    • 1 Webcam
    • 1 Virtual Cache

Deban, Signal the Frog® and I headed out early on the morning of Thursday, March 1 for a road trip. Our first stop was in Rogersville, TN where Deban was representing clients in court. While she was working, Signal and I drove up Highway 11W a few miles and then worked our way back down logging several of the caches in the U.S. 11W Series power run.

After finding 23 of these caches, we met back up with Deban. She had more cases scheduled after lunch, but we had a couple of hours to kill before then. She drove us around town to find six more caches before we stopped for lunch. I was unable to find one cache. Even the sign that it had been hidden at was gone.

I logged one additional cache while she was in court that afternoon, and then we hit the road again, driving to Nashville, TN. We had tickets for the SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament, and had come to cheer for our favorite team, the Tennessee Lady Vols. They eeked out a narrow victory that evening against the Auburn Tigers.

After so much sitting, I needed to get some steps in before going to bed. Once we arrived at the hotel, I went for a walk and grabbed one more cache near the hotel, bringing my total for the day to 31 caches. Not a bad start to the month!

On Friday morning, Deban had a meeting to attend. After dropping her off, I set out on a quest to avenge my failure the week before to find six cache types in one day. I had identified a handful of caches in the Nashville area that would help me reach this goal. Today’s journey was not about numbers, but variety, so I passed up many caches along the way to log the ones I wanted.

My first stop was in the middle of a residential area south of the city. In fact, the cache I was seeking was in the front yard of the cache owner’s home. It was a Letterbox Hybrid, a type of cache that contains a rubber stamp that finders may use to record their visit. It felt a little strange to be in someone’s front yard looking for a cache, but this wasn’t my first time doing that. And, I certainly wasn’t the first geocacher to visit this yard. 293 people have logged a find in the 13 years it has been there.

I then drove back toward town, and stopped off at Vanderbilt University in order to log a Webcam Cache. To log a find for a Webcam Cache, you must position yourself in front of a web camera and capture a screen shot from the website where the camera is displayed. When I arrived, I pulled up the appropriate web page, but could not see an image from the camera.

That’s when having a tight group of geocaching friends comes in handy. I sent a Facebook Message to the New Cache Order members’ group, and within minutes had three different friends posting screenshots of Signal and me from the camera’s website.

Next, I drove into downtown Nashville to visit the Public Square Park. This is a five story, subterranean parking garage, topped by a grassy lawn and positioned in front of City Hall. There are several geocache icons stacked on top of each other in this one spot on the map. Signal and I had come in search of the EarthCache here, a waterfall that flows from the rock wall bordering the parking garage. To log it, one must visit two different levels of the garage, as well as go to the top of the observation tower above it to collect the answers needed. After doing that, we also found a Traditional Cache that was hidden on the tower.

This is also the starting point for a Whereigo, but to complete it one must have access to a boat, so I did not attempt it. There is also a Puzzle Cache that begins here, but the final location for it is about .5 mile away and requires you to climb on top of a statue. I knew I did not have time to complete that on foot before picking up Deban. I decided to move on to another area where there was a Traditional Cache that has 486 favorite points.

Retrieving the car, Signal and I drove across the river to Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans NFL team. The cache we were seeking was hidden by JoGPS, a legendary geocacher from the Nashville area. I had read about this cache ahead of time, and knew that a special tool was required to access it. I wasn’t certain what that tool was, so I had come prepared with my handy Leatherman multi-tool, hoping it would help me.

It didn’t. However, after spending some time studying the situation, I had an idea of how it worked, and looked around to find something that might let me access the container. I won’t describe what I did here, because I don’t want to spoil the experience for future cachers. But, I will say that this was a fun cache to find, well-deserving of the many favorite points it holds.

My time was running short, so I jumped back in the car and headed back toward the area where I needed to pick up Deban. But first, I stopped off to find a Puzzle Cache that I had solved prior to our trip. Unfortunately, I must have solved it incorrectly or it has gone missing, because I was unable to locate the cache container.

I arrived back at the building to meet Deban just a few minutes late, but her meeting was not over. Since it appeared I had a little extra time, I looked at my phone and saw that there was another Puzzle Cache nearby. I was able to find it and then headed back to meet Deban so that we could have lunch and then go back to the arena for more basketball.

As we were eating lunch, I realized that I had missed out on logging a Virtual Cache while I was at Nashville Civic Square. This left me one short of my goal of logging six different cache types for the day. Looking at the map, I discovered that there was a Virtual Cache near the arena.

Driving toward the arena, we encountered heavy traffic. Signal and I hopped out of the car at one corner and sprinted to the middle of the block to take a selfie at the site of the virtual. I collected the info needed to log the cache, and we were back beside the street waiting for Deban when she finally made it to the middle of the block. Grabbing this cache meant that I had met my goal of logging six different cache types in one day!

We enjoyed an afternoon of basketball, and then walked to a nearby restaurant for an early dinner. Returning to the arena, I logged one last cache for the day, a traditional that is hidden there.

Unfortunately, our Lady Vols lost their game that evening, knocking them out of the tournament. We decided that we wouldn’t stay the rest of the weekend in Nashville, so we sold our tickets for the rest of the tournament as we left the arena. The next morning, we slept late, enjoyed some breakfast at the hotel, and then started driving east.

By late afternoon we had arrived in Cherokee, NC where I dropped Deban off at the casino. I then spent the next few hours logging caches in the area. I had found all of the caches in Cherokee previously, so had to drive south about 20 minutes to begin finding caches. I was able to find 12 caches before it got too dark to continue.

The first cache was in the middle of a swinging bridge that crosses the Tuckaseegee River. I learned after logging it that my friend tncorgi (Mary) had been there earlier in the day and logged the same cache!

I then spent 30-45 minutes searching for a cache hidden in a fake rock. I knew what I was looking for, but was looking in the wrong place. This was at a boat ramp along the river, and both sides of the ramp were lined with rock. I must have turned over hundreds of rocks before I moved higher up into the grass and happened to kick the cache out from behind a boulder. I was happy to see it, but disgusted it had taken me so long to find.

I quickly moved on from there and found a very nice travel bug hotel called “You’ve Got Mail.” It was just a short walk from the road to find this cache in a very large mailbox. To open it, you needed to figure out the word combination for the padlock. Hint – It is a homophone for mail. This cache was well organized with separate containers for trackables, swag and the log book. The trackable container even had beds for the trackables to rest in. Signal tried one out, but found it was a bit small for him.

We also found a cache overlooking the site of a train wreck. No, not an actual wreck, but the wreckage that was left behind after the filming of the train/bus crash in the 1993 movie The Fugitive.

We found another eight caches in the area, the last two finds being in complete darkness. I decided it was getting too difficult to navigate the back roads and locate cache containers in the dark, so we made our way back to Cherokee. By the time we arrived, Deban was ready to leave the casino, so we headed for home.

Along the way we noticed that the full moon was rising, so made a quick detour onto the grounds of Lake Junaluska, or what we like to call Methodist Heaven. I have been going to conferences and events at this location all of my life and wanted to capture a photo of the moon and the cross reflecting in the lake.

This was a great weekend filled with some great caches, and a variety of experiences. While I love hiking and being outdoors, there are still plenty of “park and grab” caches out there to be found. That’s one of the things that makes this game so great. There is something for everyone!

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