First to Find

I’ve been spending a lot of my time out exploring our home that is still fairly new to me and vastly unexplored. One of my favorite ways to explore a new place is geocaching. It takes one down paths that otherwise might be overlooked.
This afternoon a new geocache posted (GC615JE) that sat all day without anyone claiming the FTF (first to find). Being placed by a local cacher who’s logs I usually giggle while reading, I knew if it was still unfound by the time I was out of work I had to make a run for it. Over my lunch break I called REI to reserve a kayak and there was no going back. As soon as our last patient was out the door I raced across Anchorage to REI, secured my vessel and headed towards Westchester Lagoon.
Once on the water, my nerves started kicking in. Anchorage had received an afternoon threat for an intense storm with flash flood warnings. The clouds were just starting to come into view from the north, so I knew my time was growing short. My kayak glided effortlessly across the lagoon to a tunnel underneath the Minnesota Highway that connects the two sides of water. I readied my headlamp, donned some gloves and pushed my boat into the darkness.

The cache location, deep within the eerie metal tube contains a multitude of reasons to never go into such a space. The cache owner himself describes the ‘Tunnel of Love’ as a score of reasons his significant other hated such a place: ‘It contains all the things she loves to hate; dark and scary places, spiders, boats, rusty/dirty metal and tight quarters which can make you feel more than a little claustrophobic.’ Along with that, you’re very well aware of the fact that hundreds of cars are rushing over you on the highway only a few feet above.

As quickly as I could, I steadily checked the metal barrier, rivet by rivet, for my prize – a small metal container about the size of my pinky finger known in the caching world as a bison tube. While retrieving the bison from it’s crevice was a challenge in itself, the biggest challenge was not dropping the darn thing in the water with my trembling hands. I’d never been first to find on a geocache and it’s considered quite the honor. As I unwound the cap and revealed the blank log underneath, I knew I had my very first FTF in hand!

With quaking fingers I somehow managed to sign the log and return it to its original hiding spot (I had to repeatedly reposition my boat under the hiding spot as it drifted with the current). When I emerged from the tunnel the rain was just starting to fall. I returned to the truck, but not before a quick victory lap around the lagoon. What was a little flash flood if I was already in a boat? (Forget about this entire story mom, I saw the weather report on the news and went straight from work to the safety of my house.)

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