I've been noticing a lot of vehicles parked near a couple of gates that go out to the desert in my neighborhood, and I wondered what the attraction was since that particular part of the desert wasn't any better than the next, and the parking locations were rather inconvenient for drivers on the road. Last night I was perusing the letterboxing and geocaching websites to see if anyone planted anything new near me, and lo and behold, six new-to-me geocaches were hidden near those two crowded gates to the desert. My plans were to get out first thing in the morning before it got too hot and look for all six of them.
Unfortunately, I awoke with an upset stomach and had to let it settle out before I could leave. I drove there instead of hiking to save time because it was already getting quite hot out. I parked in a location that was less distracting for drivers along the road, and when I reached the site of the first geocache, before I could even hunt for it, I heard car doors slamming. I looked up and realized that I was right by the road and right by one of those entrance gates to the trails. What are the chances that other geocachers would show up to look for a geocache at the exact same time as me? I wasn't sure what proper protocol is in a case like that, because the fun is in finding it yourself. I didn't want them walking up, pointing it out to me, and making me wait while they signed it. I wanted them to give me my space.
Just in case they weren't geocachers, I pretended to be busy looking at a lizard, and the people disappeared. I found and signed the cache and headed off to look for the second one. I walked past their truck and saw that they left their dog in the cab. I didn't notice the license plate, but figured they had to be from a colder climate, because no one from Arizona would ever leave a pet in a vehicle on such hot day. We can't even get in our cars without getting burned some days after our cars have been parked in direct sunlight. We have to turn on the engine and air conditioner before climbing in, and wear oven mitts to steer. I hoped they weren't hikers who planned to be out for a few hours, so I decided to check on the dog on my way back from the next geocache.
I hiked a little bit down the trail away from the truck, and here came the truck owners around the corner. Now I was pretty sure that they were geocachers, because five minutes is not a very long hike. Plus they were dressed up like they were going somewhere fancy -- not for a hike, and the woman had a wry smile on her face. I wasn't so sure about the man, because he was trying to hold his pants up the entire time he was walking, as if I had caught him with his pants down and he didn't have the time to zip them up. I suppose they could have been looking for a bush to pee behind, but I doubt it.
I found and signed the second geocache and had to backtrack to reach the third. The truck with the dog in it was gone when I passed the location where it was previously parked. I got a little wigged out when I was walking through a wash and came upon something that could have been a homeless camp. I didn't want to stumble upon someone in a sleeping bag, so I went way around, found the third geocache and signed it.
The fourth geocache was a longer hike. I dug around and around and could not find it. Then I started sneezing. I had to dig through bushes, and each time I touched a bush, pollen flew up into my face. I dug around in my fanny pack for tissues, but had none. To top it all off, the pollen was upsetting my stomach too, so I had to scurry back to my truck to get tissues and race home. I looked down and saw yellow pollen dust all over my jeans and hiking boots. Ugh. I guess it's not the best time of year to be out hunting for geocaches. I'll have to return to it another day.
My painted rock group has been getting a lot of requests to paint and hide rocks for people, and despite having about 250 members, only about 5 of us are actually givers. The rest are takers. Most people obviously signed up so that they can hunt for rocks, not so that they can make them and hide them for others. A lot of people only give us one or two days' notice, which is frustrating since it can take a whole week to paint and label a batch of rocks. I decided not to let it stress me out, and to just paint and hide when I can, and if that happens to coincide with someone's scheduled hunt, good for them. I enjoy the painting part. I got some glitter paints and neon paints this weekend, and they offer some interesting effects.