I know it’s been some time since I last posted anything on here. Part of that was by design but most was just pure writer’s block. After a successful 3-part saga in the retelling of our Epic Road Trip this past August, I found myself struggling to come up with anything compelling to say about what was going on in our geocaching lives. That’s not too say we didn’t do anything, because that is the furthest from the truth. What I mean is that I have put so much pressure on myself to write good posts that I’ve pretty much made it impossible to live up to MY expectations. I’ve toiled with the idea of doing a group of posts to cover each topic of conversation, but while some would be worthy of my expectations, others would not, so I’m going to split this out over a couple of posts and just be done with it. I need to get these thoughts and memories onto the site before they start getting fuzzy. And, much like last year, I promise to do a better job of not waiting 6+ months to get it out there. So here we go, the last 8-months worth of caching in review….better late than never edition.
Midwest GeoBash 2012
Once again the wife and I headed back to Wauseon, OH for our 2nd MWGB. We had such a blast last year that we couldn’t pass it up. This year, however, we were joined by our good geo-friends, TeamAdorkable. We snagged the same site as last year and then reserved the adjoining site for the Adorkables. This being their first time, we wanted to make sure they got to experience as much as possible, so we left on Thursday. This afforded us the opportunity to cache more, as well as participate in activities that even we couldn’t do the previous year as we showed up too late.
Given my experience in setting up cache runs and the number crunching I performed for the epic Mingo trip earlier in the month, I set about creating cache runs for each day of the Bash. Beginning on Thursday, I hand-picked 50 caches that were north of the event site to focus on. By giving us a large number to choose from, this allowed for us to cache as little or as much as we wanted. For Friday, I chose another 50 caches that were located south of the event site. Friday evening we had decided to do an all-night run through Toledo, which led to a selection of 125 caches that were scattered all around the city. Saturday was a tamer day and the run I had chosen was for the majority of caches located throughout the town of Wauseon and totaled 32. As for Sunday, I chose just 13 caches for the day, as we would be focusing our efforts on striking camp and making our ways home….or so I thought as you will see.
Each team drove separately to the Bash as we had a few odds and ends to tie up before heading out. For us, that involved driving the kids up to Nana’s in Ft. Wayne to spend the weekend. We headed out around 9am and made it there shortly before 11 and had lunch with Nana and then dropped the girls off. At this point, we were still about 2 1/2 hours out from our destination, but since we were arriving a full day earlier than we did the year before, I knew that rushing was unnecessary.
The Summer of 2012 in the Midwest was the driest it had been in over 20 years. While 2011 was one of the hottest in recent memories, this one was slightly cooler, but a whole lot drier. All of Indiana was under some sort of a burn/water ban at this point…4th of July had effectively been cancelled due to multiple brush fires, and the ban extended all the way into Ohio and to the site of the Bash. To say things were dry is an understatement. I bet you can already tell where I’m going with this. As we were heading east, the sky, which was cloudless when we left, had grown overcast and was darkening to the northwest of us. When we got about 30 miles out, the skies opened up and it began to rain. It wasn’t a major rain event, there wasn’t much wind, thunder, or lightning, but it was enough to moisten the ground at our campsite. If there is one thing I can’t stand, it’s setting up camp in the rain. Fortunately for us, the rain let up as we were entering the town from the south and by the time we reached the fairgrounds, the clouds were beginning to break up and the radar (when we could get a data connection to bring it up) showed the rain was already passed with nothing on the way. Even still, we quickly got to work setting up our site. About 20 minutes later, the Adorkables arrived, and soon both sites were up and we were ready to hit the Event Store and check things out.
After we signed the event log, grabbed our swag bag, and looked around, we headed out to Wal-Mart to pick up a couple things we missed, and then dinner and caching. As we had done the previous year, both teams decided that it would be easiest if we dined out for our meals instead of trying to prepare all our meals on site. With the burn ban in effect, campsite cooking was limited to propane and electric stoves only. What fun is camp cooking if there isn’t a roaring fire? So after a quick bite at the local DQ, we made our way to the nearest GZ of the Thursday run.
After a couple missteps on one of the puzzle caches on the run, and some crazy backroads driving, we found 18 caches. Yes, this wasn’t the big numbers I was expecting, especially with 50 caches to choose from, but we did have an absolute blast during the run so we didn’t let it bother us too much. We got back to our site shortly before sundown and had to quickly fabricate some foil hats as it was Tin Foil Hat night at Area 51. The Wauseon Fire Department were on hand so that we could have the requisite bonfires, so the night, as well as the following nights, were not a “washout” with no fires to stoke our frenzy. We claimed our spot in the throng of cachers, set our chairs, and proceeded to ogle and giggle like children at all the tin foil creations. For those that have never been, this isn’t a contest…it’s just a way to extend your creativity to something silly. And while some, like mine, were uninspired and slapped together, others were simply amazing. I don’t know why I act so surprised…look at some of the cache containers these people come up with. Surely they can design a hat.
The following morning began with a trip to Smith’s Restaurant for breakfast. I don’t know what they’ve done in the year since our last visit, but the food was fantastic, the staff was very friendly, and the place wasn’t too crowded. Afterwards we went back to the fairgrounds to get our game sheets for the Poker Run. This was the one event I was upset we didn’t get to do the previous year so I made sure we were there. The Poker Run consists of 7 stops at local businesses throughout the area that have individual barcode stickers that you have to affix to your game sheet. All you’re presented with is the coordinates to the locations, so it’s up to you to figure out where they are and how to get there. The run began at 10am and you had until 3pm to turn in your sheets so there was plenty of time to get to all the locations. They took us to some pretty neat places. The first we went to was a little gift shop that had various homemade trinkets and soy candles with some pretty awesome fragrances such as “One-Night Stand” and “Motorcycle Exhaust”. Other locations included a flower shop, bakery, ice cream shoppe, and a winery.
Once we were done (and thoroughly lit from sampling some wines at the winery), we stopped for a quick lunch before dropping off our sheets at the designated table and began browsing the various vendor booths. And the prizes were pretty awesome. The top three poker hands each receive a GPSr and the worst hand also receives one. All for the entry price of FREE! At one point I held the 3rd best hand, but that was short-lived and, in the end, none of us won anything…but we did have a great time.
After they announced the winners, we were ready to depart to Toledo to begin our all-nighter run. We went back to our campsite to grab a couple things and button up everything since we didn’t expect to be back until around 4am or so. It was around this time that the skies to the west were looking rather fierce. What was once sunny and hot had become dark and windy. I was a little apprehensive about leaving before the obvious storm rolled through, but with everything closed up, it should have been just fine. We had technically never been in a storm with this tent, and while reviews said it would do well in one, I wasn’t going to take that as gospel, so I grabbed all our clothes and threw them into the back. We then made one final sweep to ensure everything was closed up, and headed east. We raced away from the storm and made it to the first GZ of the evening just as the leading rain bands began to hit. At first there wasn’t much wind and the rain was fairly light, so we figured this evil-looking storm had more bark than bite. We grabbed another 4 caches before things got really ugly. The wind was fierce and the rain went from a shower to a deluge. We had to abandon our searching and began looking for a place to eat dinner so we could wait out the storm. Originally dinner was supposed to be several hours later, but with it looking like it would storm for the next hour, there wasn’t much point in just sitting there. We found an Outback a couple miles down the road so we stopped, had dinner, and was back at it 75 minutes later. The sun had come back out by this point and it was beginning to warm up again, which basically meant it got really sticky outside, but we didn’t let this deter us from our adventures. Unfortunately, lack of cache maintenance had caused us to DNF quite a few caches, and by the time the sun had finally set, we were almost 3 hours behind where we needed to be. I skipped several caches and decided to head into Michigan to grab one more cache for the evening, which rounded us out at an even 20….a paltry number by any stretch of the imagination. The trip home was relatively quiet. I was deflated from such a bad run. The Adorkables were awesome about the lack of caches found, but I was not happy at all. But if I had thought I couldn’t feel any worse…that was about to be amplified by a factor of 10.
As we pulled into the fairgrounds, we saw quite a few people still out and about at Area51, but it was nowhere near as hopping as I expected. This should have been my first indication that something was off. It wasn’t until we headed into the campgrounds that I began to realize that this area got hit just as hard, if not harder. I dropped everyone off at the bathrooms and drove to the campsite, where I noticed that our canopy was no longer in between our two tents, but in front of mine. I pulled in and inspected things and was actually quite baffled at this. A few minutes pass before everyone makes it back to the site and we start taking inventory of what’s happened. The Adorkables discover some rain had gotten into their tent and begin the process of cleaning up. ooGROSSYoo from an adjacent site came over to tell me exactly what went down. Apparently during the worst part of the storm, a gust managed to uproot our canopy and sent it crashing into the road before pushing it into another site. They had gone out and brought it back after the rain subsided. It was then that I saw the damage inflicted to it. Several of the bars had become bent and the fly was torn. We had only used this canopy twice before so it’s basically toast at this point. As we were buttoning things up, that’s when I heard dripping coming from the tent. I immediately turned towards it and noticed that the rainfly that was to protect the open mesh of the roof was sagging. When I put a flashlight on it, I saw that it was full of water. This, in turn, was then dripping into the tent. I immediately pulled up the rainfly to drain the water, and discovered that one of the hooks had come loose, resulting in the water collecting. We then opened the tent and found that there was about 3 inches of water standing at the foot of the door. There was water pretty much everywhere, having gotten through the breech in the barrier caused by the sagging fly. We spent the next 2 hours pulling everything out and trying to dry the floor up as best as we could, using our dirty laundry and bed linens as makeshift towels. We finally made it to bed at 2am, miserable, and without proper bedding.
When we woke up the following morning, the mood had lightened a bit. We were alive and it wasn’t freezing, so it’s not like there was much we could really complain about. We went back to Smith’s for breakfast and to figure out our day. Wifey wanted to launder our clothes, linens, and sleeping bags, so we found out where the nearest laundromat was, went back to camp, grabbed our gear, and headed there. We dropped her off and did some light caching. We had found out that the Adorkables were going to have to leave that evening as Pa Adorkable had to be back on the road Sunday morning, so we were trying to make the best of everything. We had gone back to the fairgrounds to grab some of the caches that had been placed in the fairgrounds that weren’t there previously. At this time we had hooked up with DynamicDs and seekersearcher from the IAG group and planned on grabbing the Whereigo after picking up my wife. Once we had done that, we made our way into the Arena for the closing ceremonies. Sadness began to set in at the realization that we were going to be losing half our group as soon as the ceremony commenced.
We had decided to try to fix our tent while there was still light out so while the Adorkables were striking their camp, we tried to make the tent liveable again. As we watched their tent come down, we began to joke about just leaving too. I even jokingly mentioned finding a hotel somewhere on the way that we could take a shower and sleep on a comfortable bed with the A/C on full blast. The joke quickly became more serious as I was told to pull out my phone and look for one. Once the Adorkables had left, it was decided that we should leave as well, so we packed everything up as quickly as we could, said goodbye to ooGROSSYoo and his group, and hit the road. We hadn’t actually found a place to stay yet, but we figured we’d drive until we came up with something.
We stopped at a travel plaza along the Toll Road about 20 miles west of Wauseon and looked up some hotels and found one about 20 miles north of Ft. Wayne that had vacancy at a reasonable price. We called, booked a room, and hit the road. We didn’t make it to the hotel until after midnight, but it didn’t matter to us. We just saved ourselves almost 3 hours of driving in the morning to get the kids, and we were going to be washed and well-rested. The free hot breakfast the following morning was the icing on the cake.
In the end, I wouldn’t say the trip was a failure. Sure, we never made it south to find any of the caches I had chosen, we only found a 1/6th of the run I had planned in Toledo, and we didn’t even cache in Wauseon itself. Our tent was flooded, our canopy was broken, and our friends had to leave early. On paper (and looking at it on the screen), that sounds like a pretty crappy time, but we still had a blast. We’re already in the planning stages for this year’s MWGB, and while there will be cache runs, we’ve all agreed that we will NOT be making unrealistic runs and will instead be focusing on the events and the caches both Wauseon and the surrounding areas have to offer.
**This post will be updated with more pictures just as soon as I can locate them…I’ve switched phones since then and the pics appear to be scattered between 3 different PCs.**