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No caches found, as I didn't set up my Geocaching.com account until March.
No caches found, as I didn't set up my Geocaching.com account until March.
Found 8 caches in the month.
I set up my Geocaching.com account on 15th March 2009, having been told about it by my sister. The next day we went out to see if we could find a cache. The first we found was Travel Bug Hotel-Any Rooms Sir?. Here we are with the cache.
Our first find
That day we initially had tried looking for Wellington's Booty, a multi-cache which started at the Wellington Monument in Aldershot. However we couldn't find it. Multis were hard for us at the time because we weren't using a GPS receiver (so we would usually have to go back home and figure out where the cache was on Google Maps). We returned to have another go a few weeks later and that time we succeeded.
My cache of the month: By Sounds 3: Don't you want to go to Dorking? by Tjapukai. A lovely cache in a very public location.
Found 7 caches in the month.
At the start of the month we went to Disneyland in Florida, and that provided us with the opportunity of finding our first caches in a foreign country. Of course caching wasn't our highest priority in America but we found two while we were there, the first of them being I-4 & US 27 TB (Travel Bug) Hotel Cache. We left behind a travel bug Spongebob Palacepants that we had picked up from our first find Travel Bug Hotel-Any Rooms Sir?. It's mission was to get back home to Long Island, New York and so this was a big step on its way.
Spongebob Palacepants is on the left
My cache of the month: Dorking Heritage Trail 1 (AA-08) by BaSHful. This is a multi-cache with a difference. It starts by taking you around discovering the history of Dorking, and ends with an online maze puzzle.
Found 35 caches in the month.
In May I found my first puzzle cache, and by the end of the month I had found seven of them. The first was Terse 8: Every combination initially looks awful by tjapukai. From that point on they became my favourite type of cache and I started solving puzzles whenever I had some spare time. Nowadays if I know that I will be in an area for a few days (perhaps if I'm heading off there on holiday) I will solve a few of the local puzzles before I go.
Near the end of May I discovered the Farnham Ramble Rally series of caches, created by Kitey and WestleyandButtercup. This is a series of 35 caches in a loop around Farnham. Most of the caches are multis with co-ordinates provided by information gathered by finding the earlier caches in the series. It has a huge variety of clever and surprising hides.
My cache of the month: Farnham Ramble Rally #11 - Green Forgotten Hills by WestleyandButtercup. This was one of many great caches on the Farnham Ramble Rally series. However I chose this one because it was unexpected and made me laugh.
Found 39 caches in the month.
We spent an enjoyable couple of weeks continuing with the Farnham Ramble Rally, picking up a few each visit. It's a great series but I'll just mention two of our favourites #4 - Water works and #23 - Crows Nest.
We attended our first geocaching event Send 'em to Horsell!, which was organised by the Woking Wonders. They had also set up a series of traditionals nearby which were published that evening. We were the FTF (First to Find) on two of them HG Ring 2 and HG Ring 4. They were both very exciting for us as we had never managed that before.
This was also the month when I hid my first two caches. One was a traditional cache Normandy Pond, and the other a puzzle Edwards Invisible Sundial. The Normandy Pond cache was found on the day that I hid it (by Woking Wonders), but Edwards Invisible Sundial proved much more difficult for people to find (because the Sundial really is invisible).
My cache of the month: Dorking by Sounds: The Glory Wood by Tjapukai. It's a nice puzzle and the final cache is hidden in a pretty area of woodland (as you might guess from the title). I was very proud of finding this cache. It took me three attempts but I managed it without using a GPSr.
Found 21 caches in the month.
I hid three caches in July. I started with an easy puzzle, Foreign Link, for which Kitey was the First to Find. Then Pewley Down Replacement Cache and On July 21st which both happened to be published on the same day. In the latter I promised a hint for Edwards Invisible Sundial which had still remained unfound after nearly a month. Croquetmike was the first to find both of them and then using the hint found the Sundial too. He thereby achieved a hat trick of FTFs on my caches that day.
View of Pewley Down
We reached 100 cache finds on 23rd July. To mark this milestone we chose Cryptic General an old puzzle from 2004.
My cache of the month: Nano! Nano! by Croquetmike. For this cache there were a six nanos hidden around the centre of Godalming. The first contained the co-ordinates for the second, which contained the co-ordinates for the third and so on, eventually culminating with the final cache. It took us three visits because we were still doing it without a GPSr, and having to use Google Maps to discover where they were. Even so we found some of them by dead reckoning by pacing out the distances between the nanos. Because of that when we reached the final cache we were very proud to become only the fourth to find it.
Found 41 caches in the month.
I had become enamoured of very terse puzzles by now, and so I was determined to create some of my own. My Box Clever series was the result: #1 - Superblot, #2 - Superman, #3 - Superjet and #4 - Superego.
One of the most memorable caches we found this month was Just another? by Woking Wonders. To reach it we had to dangle off a bridge over the River Wey.
View from the bridge at "Just Another?"
My cache of the month: Eine Kleine Nachtfrolik by Croquetmike. This was our first night cache. These generally involve you following a trail of firetack reflectors using a torch but this one had some additional steps. At this point we still weren't using a GPSr and because of that it took us five visits to finish it. Our first attempt didn't last long as something spooked my children, and another visit was in the middle of the day and a torch is fairly useless then. All together this was a brilliant cache and we had great fun doing it.
Found 28 caches in the month.
It had been two weeks since publication and nobody had yet solved any of the puzzles from my Box Clever series. So I added a fifth Box Clever #5 - Sun. The intention was that it should act as a little nudge for solving the others and so it proved - within a day Tjapukai had done that.
Later in the month I published another puzzle In Memoriam - four letters. Gary Honey and Tjapukai gave it a nickname, "The Bobcat", and that led to my son choosing that for his caching name.
My cache of the month: 'X' Marks The Spot IV - Migrant Genius? by Nanny Ogg. This is a marvellous cipher-based puzzle, and it feels almost miraculous as the co-ordinates appear in front of you. We had been planning to use it for our 100th find milestone but unfortunately couldn't find it (it was all my fault as we were working just from a map printout and I'd entered the wrong co-ordinates by mistake). We returned this month with a borrowed GPSr and found it easily.
Found 24 caches in the month.
My "Bobcat" puzzle In Memoriam - four letters had proved to be quite difficult. After a few weeks I started adding some hints, until just as the month was ending it was finally found by Tjapukai and Gary Honey.
To my huge disappointment Tjapukai had announced that he was retiring from setting puzzles. However with his last series of puzzle caches he certainly went out on a high. Central to this was A mega-puzzle of many parts which consisted of 13 separate puzzles, each of a different type. What makes it even more difficult is that you have to solve each stage in sequence: the puzzles are protected by passwords so you can't even see what you have to solve until you have completed all the previous stages.
He had very cleverly placed a co-operative puzzle as the second stage, and that really increased the interest in it. Nobody could make any progress past this stage until a sufficient number of cachers had signed up. We had only just broken through to stage 3 by the end of the month.
Going West - The Bobcat rests
My cache of the month: Dorking by Pictures: Go West Young Man by Tjapukai. This was his first-ever puzzle and was rated difficulty 5. In the three years since its publication in 2006 only 4 people had found it. After solving it I felt in very elevated company so I waited a bit in order to make it my 200th find milestone. A great puzzle and a stunning autumnal walk to get it.
Found 14 caches in the month.
In November the nights draw in and there's less opportunity for caching, and that means you can spend more time solving puzzles. However for me this month was dominated by one puzzle: Tjapukai's A mega-puzzle of many parts.
Up until now I had always worked alone when solving puzzles, but here I was invited to join a team. I think this was probably all because stage five appeared to be a tribute to my Bobcat puzzle, and the other team members thought that I would be probably able to solve it. Unfortunately I couldn't and the key breakthrough was made by CroquetMike.
We seemed to fall into a weird repetitive pattern for all of the hardest puzzles. This would involve Mike and me working late into the night producing loads of ideas but getting nowhere. Then the following morning Agglet would wade through them, throw away nearly everything or make a small advance with her own idea. The next evening CroquetMike would make another advance upon that. Day by day we continued this way until we completed the stage and moved onto the next. My contributions were definitely much smaller than theirs but I learnt a huge amount about how to solve puzzles.
I published another cache near a pond. This one was a puzzle Cutmill. Nobody had found it by the end of the month.
Tarn pond at Cutmill
November also saw the start of what was to become known as the "Watery Series". The first was Not a drop to drink As well as being our first FTF on a puzzle, my kids remember it as the night we drove 25 miles through a thunderstorm on Friday the 13th. At one point we even found we were driving up Spook Hill - scary!! I was also the First to Find for the second in the series Ultimate Natural Resource.
My cache of the month:Not a drop to drink by aitch two eau.
Found 7 caches in the month.
When we reached the end of the Megapuzzle we found that we had to solve another one, My last puzzle, to get the formula for its co-ordinates. That was quite a task in itself but we eventually managed it. By the end our team had grown to comprise Croquetmike, Agglet, BaSHful, Parmstro, Gary Honey and the Woking Wonders. We arranged a time so we could go together to collect the FTF for them both. Then afterwards Tjapukai invited us all back to his house for some mince pies. Unbeknownst to us Croquetmike had been hard at work overnight making a framed picture, and he presented it to Tjapukai to celebrate the occasion.
As my first year of caching came to end I looked back over my caches. I had the feeling that I was getting a reputation for setting very difficult puzzles, so I made Et tu Brute in the hope that people would find it easier.
My cache of the month: A mega-puzzle of many parts by Tjapukai.
Cache of 2009: A mega-puzzle of many parts by Tjapukai.