An interesting article recently landed on my desk from a geocacher in the Washington D.C. area. It seems he wanted a way to incorporate his love for geocaching with a way to raise money for a non-profit he’s passionate about. The following is a copy from FalconLoader’s cache journal of a recent seven state cache run to raise funds for the Fisher House—a home away from home for military family members caring for loved ones during hospitalization. (See www.fisherhouse.org) Here are FalconLoader’s reflections on his mission.
MISSION: FISHER HOUSE
December 8, 2008:
I’m leaving home (MD) heading south for my first set of caches. Temperature at the first cache was all of 9 degrees with a negative 6 wind-chill. By 0600, I had already completed 6 caches; things are looking good; but it’s too cold. Still, the mission was important. Fisher House cares for the families of my “brothers in arms.” This is a small sacrifice.
I crossed the Harry W. Nice Bridge into VA as the sun broke over the Potomac and set my mind on the first set of caches in the area. Cache 1 was not an immediate success: the area needed cito and the cords took me to a place that could have several hide spots… I need a PDA; going by the note on my Garmin 76Csx just doesn’t give enough a hint… Left the area to go after a historic cache: J is for James Monroe. (Darn it – it’s a multi and I need to bring up the computer) While it was up; I noted others had trouble with the last cache cords too… 75’ off!! I returned to that cache found it and completed a few others in the area.
Daylight has gone and I’m finally in North Carolina. I saw some great history and caches today. I’m not getting the numbers I had hoped for, but then caching for me isn’t about numbers: it’s about seeing and exploring. The mission at hand is to let others know about Fisher house and raise money for them. 14 caches total today.
December 09, 2008
Temps for North Carolina are cold but mission first so I set off to catch some “night caches” in Greensboro. The town is bigger than I thought but the quiet dark streets allowed me freedom to access a normal muggle-filled area. I enjoyed caching by the Christmas lights that adorned nearby buildings in this college town. There are miles I need to cover; and no time to tarry as the sun comes up. I have only a few days to make Florida and return to Maryland to complete my mission.
I hit Kannapolis, NC (home of Dale Earnhardt) at sunrise. Disappointment was right around the corner when I was led to “Urban Waterfall”. Though it was a find; it was a cache and dash with trash…and just not enjoyable. Mid morning brought me to South Carolina and I’m hoping to reach Alabama before too late. To keep my mission in focus, I sacrifice my preference for hiking and honor the clock. This time it’s about the mission.
South Carolina brought me in contact with the local police. An officer noted my vehicle out of state and near a store that had recently been robbed. After I explained what I was doing the officer thanked me. A bit of respect goes a long way when caching. This day is moving at a slow and steady pace.
Storms were rolling in along the countryside, but there were caches to grab! The local population was kind and had some interesting history. While viewing “High Flight” I had the pleasure of speaking with the grandson of a Tuskegee Airman! Very cool. Unfortunately, also pulled one DNF in the area…
Rolled into Alabama late and did one cache: “Guard Keeps me Safe” The name got me…being Air Guard, I had to do it. Found a quiet place to sleep near Lake Eufaula after reaching a milestone today: my 500th cache! 14 caches again today.
December 10, 2008:
Cached by Christmas lights in Eufaula before four in the morning and then headed for a pre-sunrise cache across the lake in GA. I don’t know what the big critter was that was moving in the woods, but bear comes to mind. The rest of my time in Alabama was a race against the weather… many caches were done in a down pour and I won’t forget wondering where the tornado was as I passed the town sign and heard the radio report that I was in the path…Dothan gave me some good caches and it was Florida bound for me.
Weather reports weren’t good but I was able to tack down 4 more caches before storms rolled in and exhaustion took its toll. Total caches for the day: 13
December 11, 2008:
I slept in a bit this morning with a wicked storm brewing outside. Refusing to surrender to the weather, I set off to cache anyway. Highway 98 gave me several quick cache and dash type caches and then it was going for a cache placed by a fellow weapons loader: this is where things got fun. The rain subsided and I was looking towards the backwater across from base. I soon discovered that a straight line isn’t the quickest distance between 2 points. I won’t tell too much here as it would be a spoiler, but let's just say I had to change boots, socks and all else by the time I found the correct way to get to “Volcanic Shores”. 13 caches for today.
December 12, 2008:
Today I headed north back into Georgia. Now time is not on my side and I’m just not able to cache nearly as much today. Regardless, there are still surprises to be had. Who would have known that there is a 100’ water fall in Florida! (What great secrets we geocachers share!)
Only 5 caches today, but lots of miles in between…
December 13, 2008:
I started this caching day right: with a several caches and a Georgia Geocaching meet and greet. To me, this is what geocaching is about: getting out on the trails, meeting good people, and the surprise of Macon’s biggest Ammo Can. 12 Caches completed today.
December 14, 2008
The ride into Fayetteville got a bit interesting late last night. Driving so many miles “solo” gets tiring so I pulled off for a minute to rest. When I returned to the road surface I was on lose gravel. This got the attention of two South Carolina police officers. One officer understood the mission the other well, let's just say they played good cop bad cop. Note to self: any future long-distance cache trips will have a “wingman” along. 14 caches completed today.
December 15, 2008:
I made it back to MD late last night but did not cross the “finish line” as I still needed to go to Andrews AFB and visit the Fisher House there to complete my run. At home, I packed up my sons and very pregnant wife and rolled across the Potomac for one final cache of this multi-state cache run: the virtual cache, Great Falls Overlook. I chose this to finish off the run as a way of seeing my family because that is what Fisher House is all about--keeping military families together when they are needed the most--during times of healing.
We completed Great Falls Overlook as a family and then together, visited the Fisher House on Andrews AFB.
My run was officially complete: 7 states in 8 days, 86 caches completed. Thanks to all those who supported me in my journey to support the Fisher House.
Originally published on May 5, 2009