Whew!!! I write this the day after we drove 300 miles, hiked 3 miles or so, and found seven geocaches. What would possess us to do such a thing? It’s called the Captain John Smith Geotrail. This series of geocaches was placed in honor of the journey taken by Captain John Smith when he explored the Chesapeake Bay from Virginia Beach up into Maryland. The series is sponsored by the National Park Service, The Chesapeake Conservancy and the Maryland Geocachers Society. There are over 40 caches but if you log, post a picture, and get the clue word from the caches for 15 of the caches then you are awarded a special geocoin.
Every summer Lynn and I find some sort of neat outside adventure like this to do that keeps us active and out of trouble. Last year we did the Virginia State Park Wildlife Adventure Series and started road cycling. The year before we were into getting as many caches as we could in one summer.
This summer along with the Captain John Smith caches we are also doing another series placed by the Virginian State Parks in celebration of their 75th anniversary.
We found the first few caches on the Captain John Smith (CJS) Geotrail in the Richmond area already. Two were placed by our friend, Don, along the James River and another was placed by another geocaching friend, Ronnie, in Henricus.
Last week we made a trip to Jamestown and Chippokes State Park to get the CJS caches there (along the a Virginia State Park (VSP) caches in York River State Park and the aforementioned Chippokes.
Yesterday we made the trek to (in this order) Deltaville, Urbanna, Mathews, Reedville and Belle Isle State Park.
It was an amazing journey!!! The first stop was at Deltaville Maritime Museum. We didn’t go into the museum but made a quick cache grab and were on our way out when a guy from the museum invited us to visit. We acquiesced and thanked him. I kinda of regret not going in because of what happened later that day.
We went to the Urbanna Town Marina next. We’d never been to Urbanna but knew of it because of the oyster festival held there every year. We met a nice lady at the marina that politely asked what we were doing. Turns out she was a new geocacher so we exchanged stories, took some pics and were on our way.
We weren’t really scheduled to go to the Mathews County Visitor Center but it was too “close” not to visit. Mathews is very charming as were the docents in the visitor center which used to be a general store. The actual cache was inside the center. Here’s a picture of Lynn trying to look inconspicuous.
We then drove another 45 minutes or so to get to the Reedville Fisherman’s Museum. We had been to Reedville before on our way to Tangier Island. This was the most interesting site of the day because we took the time to talk with Bill the docent there. When we got there we were all business finding the cache and were in a hurry to get to Belle Isle State Park.
We had to use the restroom so we went inside and were going to get back on the road. Bill the docent had other ideas though. He as all over us offering to give a tour and talk about the museum. We tried to blow him off but when we told him why we were there his face lit up like a young child (Bill was probably pushing 65 or so) and he immediately wanted to know more. We took him out to show him the cache hiding spot and he was giddy with the excitement. We also showed him the clue which was the name of the skipjack moored nearby at the museum dock. We couldn’t resist letting him show us the boat and telling us the history.
After exchanging info about geocaching and skipjack tours with Bill we headed off to Belle Isle State Park. We’ve been here several times and love it!!! We’ve put in quite a few hot miles here and found several awesome caches. The VSP 75th Anniversary cache was a multi-stage cache which means you find one stage which directs you to another and so on and so forth. It took us a few minutes get this one. The CJS cache was another story. It was about a 3/4 mile hike to get to it which was good after all that driving. When we arrived near ground zero, there was a ranger truck nearby and a ranger clearing some low hanging vegetation away from the trail. He checked on us to see what we were up to and shook his head and laughed. He was used to seeing crazy geocachers, it seemed, and wished us luck. We headed into the bush to find the cache but it was awful with thorns and blackberry thickets. I’m famous for plowing through such deterrents but I usually end up donating a bit of blood in the process. My legs are a mess during the summer.
We must have looked for 45 minutes without any luck. I did find a letterbox on the opposite side of the trail. Letterboxes are old-school hides that date back to before 1900 so a good compass, clue solving savvy and an understanding of what constitutes a” pace” are needed. This one was newer so I signed the log. The newer letterboxes are usually also geocaches and can be logged online. This was not the case with this one.
Lynn eventually gave up and had a seat on a nearby bench. I widened my circle and did find it. We headed back to the car and were going to find a couple of more geocaches in the park but decided we were too pooped. We jumped in the car and drove the two hours back to town and collapsed into our recliners after a shower and some turkey club wraps.
I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a day. Finding new places, meeting amazing people, listening to music and podcasts and spending time with my bride. I’ll remember docent Bill for a long time. I’ll remember sweating and getting my legs bloodied, the long rides full of music and Lynn’s observations. I’ll remember the small towns full of people with kindness.
I love my job as a teacher but I do treasure my summers full of bike riding, geocaching, hiking, painting, baseball games, movies, home renovation and, of course, naps.
Here’s what I learned. For I a guy who wrote a blog on slowing down I really need to follow my own advice. Next week when we go on another long trip I’ll spend more time talking to the nice people at the places we stop and less time rushing around. That way I’ll have more memories.
Below are the links to the CJS geocaches we found in case you’re interested: