Along the Natchez Trace

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Soda Pop Trail

In 2004, daughter Celeste introduced us to the fun of geocaching.  Shortly after that, we bought a GPS and scored our first find in February, 2005.  This is a game that anyone can participate in at any time of day no matter where you're at.  There's no competition (unless you want it to be) and the hidden caches range from being wheelchair accessible to possibly requiring a boat, climbing gear, and nerves of steel.  They can be as small as your little fingernail or as large as a washtub.  There are over a million caches hidden all over the world so if you're interested, you are pretty likely to find one nearby.  

So far Bill & I have found over 2,000 caches, which is a low number for many people that I know.  We've found caches in 49 states (still have Hawaii to go) and if I remember correctly, in 16 countries.  

We finished up that gate-guarding job recently and headed back to the Granbury, Texas area while Bill's broken ankle heals.  There are rules and regulations to the geocaching game and one rule is that each cache must be at least 1/10 a mile from any other.  In the past few years there have been "Geocache Trails" established....  a whole series of caches, usually very similar to each other, that are hidden along a stretch of road.  These could be kind of boring and you wouldn't want to do one very often.   There are several of these "trails" in this area, and a few weeks ago a geocacher put out the Soda Pop Trail.

 Starting at the lower right corner, each of those little green blocks shows where a cache is hidden.  This trail has a total of 30 sites.  Usually these kinds of trails are located on low-traffic roads with enough room to pull over safely.  I didn't check the mileage of the total trail but would estimate it to be not much more than 8 miles.

We started out with me driving and Bill "manning" the GPS coordinates.  After a couple of stops we switched off...  Bill could drive the car, even with the boot, as we probably traveled less than 5mph most of the time with a complete stop about every quarter mile or less.  It was one of those Farm Roads that Texas has so many of...  and it had recently been oiled (or tarred) with fresh gravel added.  Temps have been in the high 90's - low 100's here and there's been no rain.  Hot, Dry, Dusty!  By the time we finished I was covered in grey grit and dust.
I believe the cache owner had stated that the bottles that held the log were made from recycled soda pop bottles.  The good thing was that they were all alike....  about 6" long, all grey with a black cap.
After a couple of finds I started calling it the "Poison Ivy Trail".  Texas grows a lot of things really big, and poison ivy is one of them!

It took us nearly 3 hours to look for these 30 caches....  we found 28 of them.  #14 was a "Did Not Find"....  try as I might, I couldn't find it.  #28 was the other "DNF"....  not only did I not find the cache, I got tangled up in a thicket of greenbriar ....  my legs look like I had a fight with a chainsaw - and lost.  

I hate to give up....  but sometimes you just have to.
However, I had my mind set on finding 30 caches in one day (I think the most we'd found previously had been 24, and that was at an all-day event)...  so, on our way back to the main highway, we checked to see if there were any others in the vicinity.

There was an earthcache nearby!
Those you don't find a container with a log, instead there is usually some kind of geological formation and there will be questions you have to figure out and send the answers to the cache owner in order to be eligible to post it as a find.

Often you have to submit a photo of yourself holding your GPS at the site.

This site is a (waterless) waterfall....  a natural formation created by water flowing over this limestone base.  We had to estimate the amount of drop (about 30') and the length across of the formation (150'-200').
Many State and National Parks do not allow a cache to be physically hidden on the land so Earthcaches are a great way to educate and still have some fun.

We found one other cache before we headed home which brought our total to 30 for the day.  It took us about 4 hours for the whole outing, but then it took me at least an hour just to log all those in to the geocache website when we got back.  

I know the cicadas are really noisy in many parts of the country this year.  In Ohio we've called them locusts, and boy! could they drive you nuts!   Well, we did hear some out there along that road, but were just amazed at the number of grasshoppers that were hanging on fence posts, fencing, and anything else!

Y'all probably know about the seagulls eating the crickets in Utah...  well, looks like they could use some of those seagulls out here in Texas!  These guys were huge!  There were dozens on a bush that was about 3' high...  I don't even know what the bush was as there was NO foliage on it whatsoever...  just bare stems and plenty of grasshoppers.  

It was fun to get out and drive some roads we'd never been on.  Yeah, there was dust and it was hot...  but, hey, it's not everyday that we have this kind of adventure.

That's All For Today!


  1. I made up two earthcaches for Laguna Atascosa when I volunteered there in 2007. They were called virtual caches at that time. I bought one of those GPSs back then, but just couldn't get into geocaching. Perhaps with a partner it would have been more fun.

  2. Even your pictures of grasshoppers give me the willies. I've never been in a real infestation except a time in Alabama we drove through a grasshopper blizzard. Those we have in the fall are enough.

    Oh, yea, congratulations on 29! Fortunately you put the grasshoppers at the end.

  3. Every so often I read about someone who does this hobby. (Sport? Obsession?) Maybe one day we'll take it up. I know someone who needs to get her knees fixed first though...
    Looks like fun. Well, maybe except for the possible poison Ivy and brambles.

  4. That geocaching seems to be fun. I may just have to try it. Hope you didn't get any poison ivy mixed up with tht bramble scratches.

  5. I've never tried it and really don't even know how to start. Guess I can google it, like I seem to do everything these days. Life is so interesting. Never a dull moment!

  6. We did it for awhile but never got really into it. It was fun but with so much bad weather here in Oregon, it was only fun for a few months out of the year. Yeah, I was a fair-weather cacher!!! Hope you didn't get any poison ivy on you.

  7. Oh, my!!! aren't those grasshoppers inordinately large??? and plentiful???!!! That is just creepy :)

  8. Remember the one you found in Weslaco when we went for lunch? I was amazed! It was hidden under a lamp post.

  9. Interesting post! Those grasshoppers look huge! We're just back from 10 days in Alaska, so I'm catching on my blogging.