Geocaching with Trixxie
- 3.25 miles walked/ 2:35 duration
- ~ 35 miles driven/ 3:15 duration
- 36 geocaches found
- 1 DNF (did not find)
Five years ago Deban and I went on a geocaching cruise to Alaska. There were about 30 geocachers in our group, from Tennessee, Georgia, California, Oregon, Canada and Puerto Rico. We have maintained Facebook contact with several of them over the years.
One of those friends is Trixxster (Trixxie) from San Diego, CA. Last week she sent me a Facebook message saying, “OMG! I just thought about you guys! And that you live in Tennessee!” She went on to tell me she was flying in the next morning (Monday) to visit a friend and would be in town until the next Sunday.
My first thought was, “That’s great. But, Tennessee is a big, long state.” If she had been visiting Memphis or Nashville, that would be much too far to arrange time together. However, I soon found out she was coming to Seymour, a small community outside of Knoxville and just about two hours from us. This suddenly seemed doable! I quickly wrote back to let her know I would take a day off from work so that we could hang out.
Rather than ask her to drive to our area, I told her I would come her way. I had solved all of the puzzle caches in the Tennessee Star geoart a year or so ago, but had never had the chance to log the caches. Geoart is a series of caches that create a symbol or picture on your geocaching map once you have logged them. Nearly every state in the US has a state star consisting of 50 caches in the shape of a star on the map. The Tennessee State Star is located near Oak Ridge, TN, a two hour drive for me and less than an hour for her. We made plans to meet on Thursday morning at an exit off the Pellissippi Parkway between Knoxville and Oak Ridge.
I arrived early and while waiting for her to arrive looked at my phone to see if there were caches nearby. I spotted a puzzle cache dealing with first-round NFL draft picks from the University of Tennessee Volunteers, and quickly solved it while sitting in my truck. Seeing that I still had time, I drove over to the nearby parking area where it was hidden. After finding that cache, I logged three more in the area before heading back to meet Trixxie.
We had a joyous reunion in the Burger King parking lot, and then she followed me to a park next to Melton Hill Lake where we left her vehicle. She then climbed into BART (my truck) and we headed off to do some of the park and grabs that are part of the Tennessee Star. A park and grab is a cache that you can pull up very close to in your vehicle, jump out and log it, and then move on to the next. These are also called cache and dash caches.
The weather was cool and damp with drizzling rain off and on. I knew this was unique weather for the California gal to be caching in, but she insisted there is no such thing as bad weather – only bad clothing. We were prepared with good clothing, both wearing rain jackets and hats. We logged seven caches in the star series as well as a traditional cache along our route, and then drove into Oak Ridge for lunch at McAlister’s Deli.
After lunch we returned to our quest, logging nine more park and grabs in the series. We then parked at a lot near the Melton Lake Greenway and began the walking portion of our day. By this time the weather had improved, and we only had a little bit of light rain once or twice. I had brought along a couple of bicycles, but since the car she was driving was not big enough to carry them, we decided to do this trail on foot.
The first part of the trail took us along the lake. After logging the first of the star caches on this section of trail, I realized that we had walked past a traditional cache. We backtracked .10 mile to grab it, and then turned around again to continue on the trail. Over the next couple of hours we walked, talked, and stopped to log caches. This is a nice, paved trail but we had it mostly to ourselves on this overcast, weekday afternoon. There are also numerous side trails leading off of this one into the Haw Ridge Park. There are several caches along these trails, but we decided to focus on the star rather than tackle them.
Some of the caches took us longer than others to find, but we only had one DNF (did not find). This was a cache hidden at a bench along the trail. Although we spent a great deal of time here examining every square inch of the bench, we could not find the cache. We don’t know if it is missing, or if it is just hidden very well. I will look for it again someday when I come back to finish the star.
As we neared the end of the trail, we stopped for one more traditional cache. This is a gadget cache that is part of the Angry Birds Fly South series that is sprinkled about the Knoxville area. A gadget cache is one that you need to solve on location to open or to find the container. This particular cache was subtitled X Marks the Spot. In this case, we found a birdhouse on a tree. Inside the birdhouse was a string on a reel with a wooden X on the end. We quickly determined that we needed to unroll the string to its full length to determine the location of the container. I took the title of the series a little too literally, and walked in a southerly direction with the string assuming the cache would be in that direction. There was a very obvious hiding place right at the end of the string, but no cache.
Not finding the cache in the area I had walked, we broadened our search. In the interest of time, and suspecting it may be missing since I had found what I thought should have been the hiding place, I texted my friend Ang for help. I knew from the logs that he had found it. His response described the container but was not very helpful as far as location.
In the meantime, while rewinding the string so that I could try again, I spotted a log sheet in a baggie lying on the ground under the birdhouse. We signed the log sheet and were preparing to leave when I noticed another text from Ang. He had reached out to another cacher and gotten a more helpful reply that indicated the direction we should be searching. I quickly found the cache, we signed the log, and hurried back to the trail.
By now our time was growing short as Trixxie needed to return her host’s car to him. I had also realized by now that we had parked her car in the wrong parking area and still had about .10 mile to walk, along the busy highway, to reach it. We stopped to log two more caches in the star series as we made our way to the car. When we finally arrived, she drove me to my truck, and then we both made our way to Seymour to her friend’s house to drop off his car.
At his house, Trixxie was looking over the schedule of live music that she had picked up at the Visitor Center in Knoxville. On that schedule was a name I recognized – Evie Andrus – an outstanding fiddle player and friend that used to live in Johnson City. She was playing at Barley’s starting at 6:00 but we knew we would not arrive in time to hear her. We decided to go to another restaurant in the Old City called Boyd’s Jig and Reel. It offers Scottish fare and live music.
When we arrived in the Old City, we found parking and headed on foot toward the Jig and Reel. Seeing that we were walking past Barley’s I suggested we pop in so that I could see if Evie was still hanging around. I spotted her talking with some fans and waited until she was finished. She did a happy dance when she saw me, and we had a great, but much too short, conversation. Trixxie and I made our way on to the Jig and Reel, but not before picking up some of Evie’s latest CD’s.
The food and music at the Jig and Reel were great, but eventually I had to say my goodbyes and head for home. Trixxie stuck around to listen to the music, draw, and wait for her friend who was picking her up later. I arrived at home much later than usual for a weekday, but it was worth it for the opportunity to spend some quality time with my dear friend. I slept well and even survived the next day at work despite my late homecoming.
I look forward to returning to the area some time to complete the series. Most of the remaining caches are in the opposite direction along the Melton Greenway Trail and along the Emory Valley Greenway.