Sunday, July 3, 2011

Geocaching - Lancaster, PA

I haven't been geocaching much at all these last few months, not from lack of interest, but primarily from a lack of time. There are too many other things going on, and there are not enough caches close to home anymore. Admittedly it hasn't been a real high priority either. Which made it all that much nicer that I was able to get out for a long day of caching yesterday.

In what is becoming a very nice tradition, if you can call something that has happened two or three times a tradition, my friend Ellen was in the area for the week visiting family, and had a day where everybody was busy with other things. So we were able to plan a full day of geocaching. Since there isn't too much left around home for me, and we had most of a day to play with, we decided to head out to the Lancaster area. There are a lot of caches in that area, and I have barely scratched the surface of what is available. She would be able to get a couple of virtual caches out that way that I already had, and we would both be able to get a bunch of new caches in a scenic area that is nice to spend time in.

To make the most of the day, Ellen picked me up at around 7am. There was a difficult cache near home that we had looked for on one of her previous trips and been unable to find. It was a 5/5 rated (toughest possible) in a dam, and proved to have gone missing. It has since been replaced, and downgraded to a 5/3. I have found it already, but a difficulty 5 cache is worth getting, so we began by driving over and parking in a little lot in the Woodlawn Tract. We walked down to the dam and found that cache, which was a great way to start the day.

From there, we drove out route 1 past Kennett Square and up 41 toward Gap, making a stop here and there. We stopped and got a few caches around Atglen, including a virtual that was a roadside historic marker sign out in the middle of farmlands. In Gap itself Ellen got a priceless picture of an Amish horse and buggy at the gas pumps at the Wawa. Leaving Gap, we made our way slowly cross-country to Strasburg, where we failed to find a cache I wanted to get, and then over to the southeastern part of Lancaster itself. We were in no great hurry, and it was a very nice day, if hot.

Over the course of the next several hours we spent a lovely day in parks, cemeteries, parking lots and walking on greenway trails, talking, exploring, laughing and finding a decent number of caches. As 3pm neared, we figured we had better make our way toward home to meet our goal of having me home by 5pm and her by 6. We headed back the way we came, making our way down 41 to 1, and then down 52 to Smiths Bridge. The covered bridge there is only a little ways from the dam where we started out, and there is another difficulty 5 cache in it that I have been unable to find. We were considering looking for it, but it was hot, we were tired, and the bridge itself is a filthy mess covered in black road dust. Looking for that cache is a fairly disgusting endeavor, so it didn't seem like a great way to end the day. Instead, to fill the little bit of time we had left, we made our way back to where we had started the day to look for a couple of nearby caches. There was a cache hidden in the rocks on the stream bank right across the road from our little parking lot, and I had found it before, but this time we spent a bunch of time looking and never did find it. Maybe it had washed away. But with that, our time ran out, so we headed back to the van and went home.

What a wonderful day. The weather turned out hot but not too bad. Showers that had been forecast as a possibility never showed up. I ended the day with 23 caches, and Ellen had around 30, so it wasn't a big numbers day by any means. Given the heat and our leisurely pace, it was about what I expected. Most importantly, I got the opportunity to spend a day geocaching in the company of a good friend. It's always nice to get out, and on the rare occasions that I get out with someone else, it makes it that much more special, especially a friend I only get to see once or twice a year.

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