Monday, April 20, 2009

Geocaching on Marathon Monday

Area runners are conspiring to get me back on the roads -- I must have seen a dozen out today while driving the rural roads of the Brookfields. I guess everyone finds the Marathon inspirational.

As always I took today off, and was checking my email on the blackberry when I saw 3 emails in a row from - 3 new geocaches within a few miles of my house. The types of caches we do as a family are fairly limited right now: roadside hides are the majority, followed by easy walks. Rough hiking is just too hard with the stroller. So when I saw that all three were roadside caches I figured we should dash out and try and record our name first on each one (called FTF, for First To Find).

Of course, with a 10-month old, it's not that simple. Getting packed and changed and ready took a while, but we were soon enough on our way. The first geocache was at the site of the Woolcott Homestead in the Brookfields. The Woolcott family settled there in the 1680s and built a tavern which was often visited by travelers on the road to Boston (remember, Route 9 in Massachusetts was the main way to Boston before the Mass Turnpike was built). The Woolcotts played a small part in the often tragic history of relations between the settlers and the Natives; John Woolcott's wife and two daughters were killed by Native raiders in 1693. Though the family remained in the area, all that can be seen on the site now are marker stones. And near one of them we found the coffee canister which had been repurposed as the geocache. We took from it a trackable coin in the shape of an Easter Egg (appropriate since I startled a rabbit while searching for the cache).

We drove down the road to view another historical marker and turned around; by the time we drove by the cache site another family was signing the log book. We were first, but by less than 5 minutes!

We made our way to the second of the three caches, a few miles away by a pond. As we approached we saw a car pulled over and a man bent over peering through the underbrush beneath the roadside trees. We slowed down and considered joining him, but decided not to interfere with his hunt. After all, the third cache remained a possible FTF target! Bravely onward we went on some of the most beautiful scenic roads in East and North Brookfield to a small bridge that crossed a narrow stream. Hidden on the guardrail was a magnetic hide-a-key with a few folded pieces of paper within. We signed our name second (alas, today was not a multiple-first day) and took in a bit of the view before getting back on the road.

We considered returning to the second cache but with the baby's morning disrupted already and the drive longer than we expected we abandoned the hunt and took a more direct route home. As we headed towards Spencer we passed a field with nearly a dozen deer grazing, and a pair of turkeys, one posing most dramatically. We made it home and fed our daughter and finally got her napping a short while later.

While my wife dozed off and I watched the thrilling finish of the Boston Marathon, I knew I had to write this post. The views we saw today weren't spectacular, but they were beautiful and memorable. And we would never have seen them if not for this new hobby of ours.