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GRUMPY'S BATHTUB - July 13, 2006

(Sitting in for publisher Helen Morris this week is Bill Bailey.)

The news waits for no one. Even though July 4th is a holiday for most folks, many people still work on the holiday. In order to get the paper out on Wednesday, it has to be finished on Tuesday, which was July 4 last week. I had to cope with two of the largest thunderstorms of the year trying to kill the electric power and, thereby, the work I was doing in my computer. I received a phone call from home telling me that our creek crossing in front of the house was too high for crossing so perhaps I should call home before leaving to see if it was safe. I made the call and found out that just after the last big storm two very wet people were seen trudging up the road coming out of the holler. Since no one else lives on our road, I knew they must have been geocachers.

Geocaching is a sport for anyone with a GPS (global position-ing system) unit. Geocaching (you pronounce it Geo-cashing) is an entertaining adventure game for GPS users. The cache is usually a waterproof container filled with small items, although some caches are simply of historic or scenic interest. Participating in a cache hunt is a good way to take advantage of the wonderful features and capability of a GPS unit as well as getting out into nature and exercising. Low tech walking plus high tech GPS equals fun. The basic idea is to have individuals and organizations set up caches all over the world and share the locations of these caches on the internet. GPS users can then use the location coordinates to find the caches. Once found, a cache may provide the visitor with a wide variety of rewards. All the visitor is asked to do, if they take something, is leave something for the next person who visits.

Geocaching.com reports there are 287,043 active caches in 222 countries. In the last seven days, there have been 208,453 new logs of finds written by 32,868 account holders. There are 869 caches in West Virginia, eight in Calhoun and many more in surrounding counties.

A friend had placed a multi-geocache, made of three parts, on Memorial Day called “Grumpy’s Bathtub,” which I am monitoring. No one had been to the cache and I was so excited I immediately changed into some old shorts and went to see if their journey had been successful. The man and woman seen walking up the road were a couple calling themselves “C-Team.” They are retired from Verizon Communications and live in central Ohio. Geocaching is what they do for entertainment and exercise. They had found all three of the caches, so I sent them an email of congratulations. They answered me with a diary of their adventure.

Since this is a multi-cache of three parts, they had parked before the first cache just as the first storm was unleashed. Wondering what they were getting into as they watched quarter-sized hailstones bounce off the hood of their car, they decided to wait half an hour. When the sun came out, they found the first cache, and the coordinates inside, telling them where the second cache was.

Before they found the second cache, the air filled, once again, with the sound of thunder and they were forced to seek shelter in a rock overhang beside the road. The storm raged for an hour around them and hail fell once more. It rained so hard, they were able to see the creek in front of them come up over two feet with limbs, leaves and debris raging past.

Once this storm had spent itself, C-Team located the second cache and retrieved the coordinates for the last cache. To get to it, they had to cross the creek. Under normal conditions, this can be done without even getting your feet wet, but not on a day after rain had fallen from two storms. C-Team managed to find a spot where they felt they could safely cross and promptly managed to fall in. They became the first people to take a bath in Grumpy’s bathtub. After the bath, they went on to find the final cache and returned to their car as quickly as possible before another storm could catch them. They said, “Thanks for an excellent hunt.”

This was not C-Team’s first visit to Calhoun. They have been here before searching for, and finding, other caches. They would love to see more caches here in Calhoun because they find the people are friendly and the area so scenic and peaceful.

If Geocaching sounds like a good idea to you, visit calhoun chronicle.com (click on the green geocaching logo at bottom right) or geocaching.com websites for information. If you own property in Calhoun (landowner permission is necessary) and would like to have a geocache placed in an interesting or scenic spot on your land, call Bill Bailey or Lisa Minney, 304-354-9373. The geo-cacher’s motto is “Cache in, trash out,” so you will not have to worry about anyone littering. It is an interesting and fun way to promote Calhoun County and entice people from other areas to come here and see the beauty and peace we enjoy every day.

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