Yes, I’m aware there’s not really supposed to be a Geocacher-Muggle Interface. Stuff happens, though.
I’m rather inexperienced at geocaching. As I write this I don’t even have a third of a hundred caches found to my credit. Even so, I know there are some basic rules all geocachers are supposed to follow. Some of these rules are good for the hobby, some of them are good for the planet, and some of them are just plain good, common sense.
One thing that’s good for the hobby is stealth. Stealth as in not drawing attention to oneself while seeking geocaches or to the geocaches one is seeking. I also believe that stealth applies to the placement of caches. It should in fact be possible to approach a cache in a stealthy way. Or at a stealthy time of day.
Still, as is true with any other large group of things in existence, the worldwide collection of active geocaches just has to have some outliers in all kinds of categories including caches that exist out on the edges of what’s good for the hobby. Recently I ran into just such a cache, a cache that’s almost impossible to approach in a stealthy manner.
GC1E1H8 “leaning tree” is back amongst the houses off Old Centreville Road (known as Compton Road where it crosses Route 28). “leaning tree” is literally in the CO’s front yard with GZ visible from the windows of at least three nearby houses.
That section of houses is really a multi-street cul de sac. There’s no need to go back there unless you’re going to a particular house for a particular reason. You can’t pass through there on the way to anywhere else, so anyone new or strange just orbiting around sticks WAY out. The houses are fairly close together, the streets are narrow and the potential for muggle interaction is rather high.
I went after “leaning tree” around 1:30 p.m. on a weekday, sort of after lunchtime but before the school buses started to roll. Even though many folks in the neighborhood should have been at work or in school I figured I’d only get one pass by GZ without arousing all sorts of neighborly suspicion.
As I emerged from my vehicle and made for GZ a next door neighbor climbed out of a car (darn it!) and gave me a good long look.
In a split second’s evaluation of my epic lifetime of experience assessing fraught interpersonal situations, I decided that revealing my mission in an honest but un-stealthy manner would certainly be better for me than simply jumping back in the ride and jetting out of there. We were standing mere yards apart and I was already in the CO’s fenced front yard.
“I’m a geocacher,” I said to Next Door Neighbor by way of explanation. “It’s kind of a treasure hunt. People hide things and other people look for them and sign a log to show they’ve been there when they find them. There’s supposed to be a geocache in this front yard.”
“Oh yeah,” Next Door Neighbor said. “I know [the CO] had one out there. A guy came by some time ago looking for it and couldn’t find it.”
So that was cool. Next Door Neighbor knew about geocaching and knew the CO once had a geocache in the front yard. “I think some kids got into it, though, and it disappeared,” Next Door Neighbor continued, watching me expectantly as I edged slowly closer to where I thought the hide should be.
What Next Door Neighbor apparently didn’t know (and what I knew from the cache description) was this: The CO had replaced the muggled cache just days earlier.
After a few beats it was obvious Next Door Neighbor wasn’t going to move along until I did something, so I decided to do the completely un-stealthy thing and just pick up the cache right then and there.
“Oh, here it is!” I said, removing GC1E1H8 from its hide with a flourish.
“What do you know,” Next Door Neighbor said. “[The CO] must have replaced it.”
Satisfied, Next Door Neighbor turned and made for Next Door Neighbor’s front door. I signed the log, re-hid the cache and drove nonchalantly away.
GC1E1H8 is right on the edge of not being good for the hobby because it’s all but impossible to go there without attracting attention from non-geocachers. I wouldn’t, for example, put a TB in this cache because it’s likely to be muggled again.
However, GC1E1H8 is a geocache and I did what geocachers do: I found the cache and signed the log. In the process I may have, just for a moment, successfully navigated the Geocacher-Muggle Interface without causing either realm any real harm.