There are many a tale I’ve read where someone, at some point, has run into law enforcement while out geocaching. Most of the time it amounts to nothing but a little education and some time wasted….other times there are more disastrous results, such as stories you can read here and here. This tale from the GZ is from the former kind, thankfully.
It was July 6th, 2010. This was our 3rd day as geocachers. We had decided to go out and try a few caches around our neighborhood as it was a nice, warm summer evening. We loaded the kids into the Grand Cachingvan and headed to a cache located pretty much behind our neighborhood in what has since become an abandoned field as the land is slated for a massive commercial development that has since stalled due to the economy. For those who want to check it out, the cache I’m talking about is GC26Z7y – Book Series #2: Where the Sidewalk Ends (don’t worry, there aren’t any pictures of the GZ and I won’t be giving away any details that would spoil the hunt).
The GZ for this particular cache is at an abandoned property neighboring the commercial development. The road that runs in front of this property was closed off as the land was procured for the development and terminates with a barricade right in front of the property. The house and barn that stood here have since been destroyed, but by natural forces, not demolition. It is uncertain if this land is owned by anyone at this point as the development is next to this property and there aren’t any “For Sale” or “No Trespassing” signs. Chances are it’s still owned by someone who is waiting to see if he can get a bid from a company for it. It’s a nice-sized parcel of land, but with all the cleanup and reconditioning of the land, I doubt it’ll grab much attention…..but look at me digressing.
Anyway, we head to the coordinates and notice that there really isn’t any place to park. Like I said, this is a local 2-lane road that just dead-ends with a concrete barrier. The “driveway” for the house has since been reclaimed by nature so there was only enough room to pull the van off the road a bit and hope I didn’t run over a nail or something. At the time we were operating with the iPhone 3G, which was known for having a very weak GPS chip and no compass feature to speak of. This becomes important in a bit. Cyndi wasn’t feeling this cache as soon as we pulled up because of the suburban rural-ness of it all (basically, lots of bushwhacking was in order). Pinto and Mouse were very excited, however, and since this looked like it would be fairly easy, I let them tag along. At least, for a few minutes I did.
Remember how I mentioned the shortcomings of the 3G. Yeah, well it became severely apparent to me as soon as I got any kind of cover. My GPS was bouncing me everywhere, telling me sometimes I was within 10 feet and other times that I was 70 feet in the opposite direction. It got to the point where it was telling me I was at the GZ while I was literally standing on top of the rubble that was once the house. Because of this I instructed the girls to back to the van. Frustrated, I started to think this was going to be a bust when my geosense kicked in. For those who don’t know, this is a “6th sense” where you begin to think like the person who hid the cache, and you start to notice little cues in nature that would lead someone to the cache. Now, my geosense was not very strong at this point, being that all the caches we had found up to this post were LPCs and Phone-a-Friends, but it doesn’t take much to start noticing trampled grass and weeds and unnaturally-moved geo rubble. Looking back at the satellite map of the GZ, I noticed that the area labeled as the coordinates was near/under a large tree. Using this I focused my efforts to the only place I assumed it could be. I had already been searching for about 10 minutes when I spotted a geopile, which is nothing more than an unnaturally stacked pile of twigs, branches, or tree bark. Moving towards it I caught a glimpse of a speck of a color you’ll never see naturally. Excited I quickly moved the pile and found the cache. SUCCESS!!!
Excitedly I opened the cache and saw a massive log rolled up inside. This one wasn’t stuffed with any swag, however, so this was just going to be a quick log sign and rehide….only I realized I didn’t have a pen. It was at this point that my phone rang. It was Cyndi. Excited I answered the phone but before I could get anything out I heard a very scared “There’s a cop pulling up behind us.” My stomach dropped. Was I breaking the law being here? Why didn’t I park the car further off the road so no one could see us? Did someone call them on us for suspicious activity?
My heart racing, I rushed back to the van to see an officer standing with my wife and kids, asking her a bunch of questions. I quickly walked up and he asked me what I was doing. I explained to him the game of geocaching, making sure to include information regarding the rules of hiding caches. Since I still had the cache with me since I didn’t have a pen, I was able to show him the log as well as the container and the front sheet that explains geocaching to those who happen upon it without knowing what it is. He asked me if I knew that permission had been granted for this cache and I told him that it must have as caches placed without proper permission are usually either not approved or they are archived as soon as a complaint is raised. He seemed genuinely interested in what we were doing and I think we dispelled any suspicion that we were up to no good (why would I be with 2 little girls) but he stated that it would probably be for the best if we hurried up and moved along. I agreed, signed the log, and quickly returned it to it’s hiding spot, expecting him to be there when I returned. Alas he had left.
Hindsight being 20/20, I checked the logs that night to see that the cache had only been active for 3 months and it appears that a lot of people frequent this place for things other than caching (one log, from a police officer who caches no less, stated that when he went there shortly after it was published that there was a large group of teenagers there shooting a movie for school. As for the legality of this caches’ location, I can’t say for certain if permission was ever obtained or if this land is private and no one is supposed to be there. I can say this…the cache is still active and there has been 16 finds since ours. But for the record….no, officer, I swear we’re up to some good.