Rule number 1 of geocaching is to be stealthy. You are never supposed to let anyone see you find, sign or replace a cache. After all, that's how they end up disappearing, or get muggled as we say.
Over the course of 3 years of caching, we have applied many techniques to our bag of stealth mode tricks. Sometimes we take the dogs and pretend we are walking them. I've been known to use my girlfriends daughter as a decoy. I'll hiss at her, "Go swing on the swings Abby while I rummage around in the bushes behind you. Don't look at me." Mom is really good at sitting on park benches and feeling around the seat with her fingers. We kneel down and pretend we're tying our shoes, talk to imaginary people on our cellphones and one time I practically crawled on the ground behind a bus stop shelter where 2 people were sitting and waiting for the bus. Sometimes I feel like I'm 10 years old and playing "Hide and go seek."
The other day we had a fiasco that perfectly defines how not to be stealthy. The cache was called Money Bags.
The scene was a small island in the middle of a suburban street, that was covered with grass and 3 small trees. Dad pulled the car to the curb and we surveyed the area. No neighbors were out and about, nobody was peering through their windows at us, no kids were anywhere playing. The coast was clear so we shoved Laurie out to find the cache.
There weren't too many places to look for a cache that was the listed small size, so she quickly determined where the cache was hidden, made the grab and scampered back to the car to open it. The cache container was a small box that had to be opened a particular way. We quickly handed it to the resident puzzle box expert and he made quick work of opening it. We signed the log sheet, threw in a few trinkets, shut the box and he handed it back to Laurie to go re-hide.
Just as she opened the car door to put the cache back into the tree, a man came out of his house and decided to "weed" his yard. I totally think he wanted to see what we were up to. Mom poked me in the shoulder and told me to go pretend I was taking Laurie's picture in front of the tree. So Laurie takes the cache back toward the tree and I follow her with my camera, because you know, everyone who is anyone takes pictures of their sister posing in front of a boring tree in the middle of an island in some random neighborhood.
So Laurie is posing and goofing around and she doesn't realize I am really taking pictures of her, which makes it so much funnier to me. The guy is kneeling behind me in his front yard "weeding" and watching us out of the corner of his eye.
Then Laurie makes a swift move, turns, puts the cache back in it's hidey hole and swivels to strike another pose... Just then the cache box promptly falls out of its hidey hole, hits the ground, breaks open, and spills everything out all over the place. At which point I burst out laughing. You cannot plan stuff like that!
She crammed everything back into the container, stuffs it back in the tree and we go running back to the car, guffawing like a pair of hyenas. Dad quickly drives away and I am sure that the second we pulled around the corner that guy was running over to the tree to see what we were doing. If that poor cache is missing, it will be totally our fault and I do feel really bad. If it goes missing, I'll have to email the cache owner and let him know why. ** UPDATE as of 7-1-12. Several other cachers have found the cache since we did so the cache is safe! A big sigh of relief!
So there's your lesson on how not to be stealthy and I don't think anyone will be asking us to be spies anytime soon.