Sunday, November 20, 2016

Old Farts at the Center of the Earth

Evil Rodan in the deep, dark underground

It's been many moons since Team Old Fart — Rob "Robgso," Robbin "Rtmlee" (a.k.a. "Yoda Rob"), Scott "Diefenbaker," and Old Rodan — got together for big a day of geocaching. But at long last, get together we did, and today we hit the northern Chapel Hill area, primarily to get in some hiking and caching at Hollow Rock Park, but afterward figuring to go hunting wherever the wind blew us. Happily, that wind (quite a brisk one) blew us a) into the depths of the earth, and b) to Dickey's BBQ Pit for lunch. We had not really pre-planned an underground venture, although I had noted there were a couple such caches in close proximity to the park — at least one of which I had visited in my earliest days of geocaching, before I had any idea there might be caches hidden in the drains, culverts, and hidden passages deep below ground. Here, the hider is one who is known to possess an exceptionally evil mind (Christian "Vortexecho," sometimes called "Gone2Far"), and the two we found today, while enjoyable and even a little challenging, were far from his most insane (see "Pandora's Box" for a fine example of his devilish mind at work). So after our hike, we decided to see what we could see by the lights of our puny little flashlights in the depths of the earth.
Looking down from the cache at "Concrete Tomb"

"Concrete Tomb" (GC1JZBX) was the first of our subterranean targets. The method of accessing this one became quickly apparent, and getting into the pipe without falling into some deep water proved to be a challenge that a casual onlooker probably would have found hysterical. Once inside, it was not far to ground zero, but snagging the cache itself required a relatively minor physical challenge that, had it gone wrong, likely would have resulted in either extreme wetness or a concussion. Nothing so untoward happened, but I was a little nonplussed when I pulled the container from its hiding place and Diefenbaker, with a nasty chuckle, told me I had just missed grabbing a rather sizeable spider that was lurking behind the cache. Whoopee shit, Mr. D. Anyway, getting back out involved something of a reprise of the maneuver we used to get inside, only in reverse, and I credit Yoda Rob's timely presence that prevented me swamping myself in the swamp.
Diefenbaker signs the log at
"I'll Show You Evil!"

It was back in 2008 that I first visited "I'll Show You Evil!" (GC1FBNG), and I spent lord knows how long poking around a sealed manhole cover, thinking there must be a brilliantly camouflaged container somewhere around it. Nope. Not around it — somewhere under it. But the only way to access the passage is to find the pipe that leads to it. Here, that could have been one excruciating challenge, had not Mr. Lee already experienced the joy of this particular evil hide. He led us to where we needed to be, and we knew by way of our GPS coordinates that we were in for a lengthy underground journey. Now, Old Robgso has never developed a fondness for the underground cache set, and initially it was his intention to sit it out while the rest of us went culvert diving. But peer pressure can be a powerful thing, and by the time we hunched ourselves over and crept into the pipe, Old Rob was with us. Now, I won't come out and say there followed a lot of swearing, caterwauling, and peeing of drawers, but there might have followed a lot of swearing, caterwauling, and peeing of drawers. Regardless, by the time we reached our destination, it wouldn't be unfair to say that Old Rob was enjoying himself. I've done enough of these underground hides that I'm relatively comfortable in the dark depths, but this one was of sufficient length to require a couple of rest stops, and there were sounds in the distance that made us think a) there might be a monster in there with us or b) there might be a monster in there with us. Clearly, since I'm here composing this account, the monster didn't get us, but the thing I glimpsed when I looked back, just before exiting the pipe, appeared not a little bit friendly and even less human.*

As I mentioned above, the ill wind that blew us underground also blew us right to Dickey's BBQ Pit for lunch, and a fine lunch of beef brisket and onion tanglers it was. For a chain restaurant, Dickey's pretty damn well rocks.

We picked up a good many other caches over the course of the day, but it was the challenge of the underground that made it all quite special. That, and the great company of old farts, who have been much missed on recent caching excursions. Old Farts Unite!

*I realized later that this was just Diefenbaker.
Mad men
L: What do you suppose that is up there? R: And the old man swore he'd never cache in such a place!
Rob and Rob taking a break from the rigors of traveling through the pipe — uphill, both ways.

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