There and Back Again- Part 1
Back in my younger and skinnier days, I used to help out on my family's farm. We owned horses and my job was to get on the least tame, most fiesty, most ornery horse and basically ride the hell out of them until they learned who was the boss and could be trained. Needless to say, I got thrown a lot and donated more than one pint of blood to the cause. But I learned one thing from that experience. Horses are stubborn; But not as stubborn as I am. Getting thrown just made me mad; made me get up, get back on, and ride harder. It usually got me thrown again, but it just made me madder. Eventually, the horse would decide it was easier to just let itself be ridden than to have to fight me constantly. And it was right. I HATE to lose.
So those of you who have been here a while can imagine what one cache, Fellowship of the Bling, has done to me. The Zen Bassmasters tried to tackle it the first time we ever went geocaching and, due to some pretty serious (not to mention comical) miscalculations in planning, it kicked our butts. If you don't already know the whole story, scroll to the bottom of the blog. It's the first post and it's a doozy.
Since that day, we vowed we'd come back someday. That we'd get back up on the horse and give it another try. We promised ourselves that when we'd lost some weight and the temperature got a little more friendly, we'd go back and this time we'd beat Monte Sano.
Today, we decided to try it. The temperature is nearly 40 degrees below where it was when we first tried it and the collective Bassmasters have lost around 100 lbs since then. It seemed like as good a time as any to give it a go.
Unfortunately, the Fates didn't think the deck was stacked against us quite enough and threw some added odds into the mix. First, we moved Tserof into his new apartment yesterday, necessitating about 20 trips up and down the stairs to his apartment, most of it balancing heavy furniture on our shoulders. So we were a bit sore. Second, we moved yet another friend into his new house this morning before the trip. This one didn't involve stairs and was really just a move next door so no problem, right? Right... Lifting a dresser to move out of their bedroom, my arms lifted and my back did not. Ow...
After the move, we made a quick trip home so I could take a painkiller and maybe commune with my hotpad for a few minutes, since we had almost an hour before we had to meet Fish at "Fluff Cache", which is near Yserof's new place. As I had just settled down with my hotpad, I hear the telltale sound of Fish's Jeep/monster truck. Sure enough, Fish had forgotten to reset his clock to standard time and had therefore not "Fallen Back" or even "Sprung Forward" for that matter but had joined the stubborn residents of Indiana who refuse to go anywhere at all. He came in and we shot the bull for a few minutes while he printed off the pages for the day's caches.
Finally, we were ready to go meet Tserof and Mad Mike. Just as we were getting ready to head out, I had a horrible sense of deja vu. "Did anyone ever solve the puzzle and get the coordinates for Bling", I asked. Fish and Ashlynne look at each other with that "I thought you did it" look. I sighed. This was not beginning well... Fish sat down and worked out the coordinates while I wondered what else we'd forget and if maybe just spending the day communing with my hotpad might not be such a bad idea.
We picked up Tserof and Mad Mike and we made our way down to Huntsville. You could cut the tension in the van with a knife. Well, except for from Fish, who hadn't been down the first time and didn't know the true evil of hobbits. Mike and I tried to talk about some of the music on my mp3 player, but it was halfhearted. We were all focused on the impending deaths we were all probably about to face. Gallows humour abounded as we made jokes about forgetting to get the phone number of the lady we met at an event who was part of the dog rescue team.
Finally, after a typically Zen Bassmaster Semi-Circular Course Correction, we were at the spot. Since Ashlynne had brought the camera, we decided to take a "before" picture of Tserof, since he was voted "Most Likely to Die on Monte Sano" and we wanted something nice for his funeral.
We pointed out to Fish some of the "landmarks" of our early journey, namely the creek we made Ash root around in thinking the cache was there (since Tserof had only loaded parking coords).
Finally, we'd messed around enough and made our way in. We narrated for Fish as we went. I felt like a victim who has gone to the scene of a tragedy to recover. There's the sapling that I used for balance. There's the stairstep rocks. There's the tree that we had to go over and under at the same time. The only thing that was changed was the tree, which had fallen a bit and now was a tree you had to go over and over again. Fish and Mad Mike made it fine, with warnings to us that the fallen leaves there made it slick. Tserof then went, slung his leg over the tree, and proceeded to rack himself as he set his foot down. Hilarity ensued. Tserof, who was now ready to apply to the church choir for high soprano, was not amused. He gingerly removed his injured part from the tree and stepped over, insisting that I wouldn't find it funny when it happened to me.
Having no intentions of causing any sort of damage to Ashlynne's property, I found a rock beside the limb that Tserof had overlooked, put my foot there, and climbed over without any damage to my guys. Again, Tserof was not amused.
Let me say again that, while fall may be a preferable time to cache due to the milder temperatures and lack of snakes, wet fallen leaves are slippery little bastiches and made our jobs tough. We slipped and slid all the way down, always making sure we had a firm grounding with our walking sticks before moving on.
Finally, we made it to the cave. Again, if you read the first blog entry we did, you know this cave (which probably has a name but which has evaded me now) is the thing that got us hooked on geocaching. It's a thing of beauty and even our 50 lbs heavier, 40 degrees hotter selves were happy we walked down just to see it. Better yet, we got to see that "first to find" sense of wonder again from Fish, who was setting eyes on it for the first time.
Last time we didn't have any equipment to explore the cave and so had to just look at it from the outside. This time, we brought flashlights and had every intentions of going inside to look around. We even brought water along, something we didn't do last time, and decided to take a picture to prove it to all the doubters.
We left Tserof up top with the cell phone in case we needed a good 911 signal. Fish and Mike went down first. Fish made it ok but Mike involuntarily ended up sliding down the first bit on his butt, leaving a nice skid of mud that I'm sure made us quite popular when we went to lunch after. I didn't even try to walk it down, deciding to take Mike's path by choice rather than by force. That gravity. It's always keeping the fat man down...
After the first bit, it was no problem and we were rewarded with an absolutely beautiful cave with a little waterfall in the back. In fact, since we're on pictures, here's a picture of my wife under the waterfall.
And here's a picture from the inside of what our trip back looked like.
We headed out, being quite careful of the slippery bits and all made it out fine except for Mad Mike who slipped and busted his knee pretty hard. Fortunately, he wasn't seriously hurt, although you could definitely tell he was feeling the pain.
Once we got up, Tserof's sense of curiousity overcame his sense and he decided to go down after all. Ashlynne and I stayed up on 911 duty while the took Tserof down. He was as amazed as we were. Actually, more so as some of the rocks in the cave apparently bore a passing resemblance to one of his favorite parts of Cali who is, sadly, no longer in Tserof's life and therefore no longer the favorite subject of our humour. Ok, that's not fair. She still is, but it's just not as fun now that Tserof's in on the joke. Anyway, I hear a piercing scream from Mad Mike and think his knee has given out again. No, it's worse. Tserof was apparently groping the cave wall and it was more than poor Mike's brain could handle. After quickly dunking Tserof in the cold waterfall of the cave to get his hormones under control, they started out. As you can see from the picture, it was an interesting tag team operation getting Tserof out of there.
We made it out and rested a bit before heading for the cache, celebrating our victory over the cave with a rousing rendition of the Zen Bassmasters theme song. Let's all sing along.
Eat 'em up
From there we headed down to the area where we thought the cache was. We found a big pile of rocks that didn't look to fun to climb down. We sent Fish and Ashlynne, the skinniest of us, down to hunt while Mike, Tserof, and I looked above. After a bit of poking, Ashlynne poked into a hole and heard a metallic sound... and then..
We found it!
Well, it's late and The Wire's on so I'm going to cut out. More to come later in the week.