CacheCrazy.Com: Windmill Hunting in the Barrens

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Windmill Hunting in the Barrens

Nothing like starting a 4.5-star difficulty/4-star terrain cache at 5:15 in the evening.

And pretty much on a whim.

And with heavy winds and the occasional passing shower and even some snow thrown in.

And on a school night.

No worries, that’s just part of caching with the Dodger Lizard Crew and Bloodhounded.

Come on along…!


We had magnificent plans of getting the Cache Crazy team together for a group outing, but schedules just weren’t meshing. When it looked like all was lost for the weekend, suddenly gears started to click, and it became clear that DLC and Bloodhounded were both going to end up having Sunday evening free. What shall we do… what shall we do… Hey, let’s surprise our colleague and buddy DctrSpott by showing up in the logs of his brand new adventure cache “Windmill Hunting in the Barrens” (GC2RYXK)! It was too windy for fishing anyway so, like a couple of geniuses, why not go climb trees in the woods instead, eh? Time, conditions… none of it mattered. The idea was just too grand and took on a life of its own. With a big ha-ha and drunk from exuberance, off we went…!


5:15 PM. Blue sky above us, black sky hanging over the valley behind us, a stiff breeze pushing it all this way… And we were just starting. Nevertheless, optimism was high and we made short work of the beginning stages even as we got hit by the first smatterings of rain. Bloodhounded acted as our initial retrieval “expert” and made the finds like a pro.

Bloodhounded or a bear?

“Safety First” is our motto. Notice how the “expert” keeps both hands on the tree at all times… Oh wait… Forget it.

We were cruising! Where was this terrain? This the best you got, Spott? Ha ha! Bring on the rain! Bring on the weather! Bring on this “physically challenging” cache!

“You call this a storm?!?!?!”


The weather continued to toy with us. The rain changed to snow and sleet and, just as suddenly, the clouds moved off to the horizon and the overhead sky cleared. This strange pattern would continue the rest of the evening. Additionally, the terrain continued to morph until we were faced with pretty much of a swamp-walk right to the end of our journey.

Our trail to victory.

We realized based on a clue in the last hide that we were approaching some sort of field puzzle. We had written down the rather cryptic hint and marched on. When we reached the latest installment of Ground Zero, we poked here and there for a few minutes before the light bulb clicked on. After some assumptions and quick ciphering, we were 100% positive that we had the coordinates to the Final in hand. Clever boy you are, Spott, but nothing these Robert Langdons can’t handle. We declared triumph – “We’ve got it in our sights now!”

Still, something didn’t feel quite right.

Little did we know that despite having the correct coordinates, we were still a long way from signing the logbook. Even worse, we were going to do something I just don’t like to do – use the Phone-A-Friend (PAF) option.


It made perfect sense. Surely Spott used his field puzzle as the prelude to the grand finale. When we got to yet another new Ground Zero, I was even more convinced we were at the end. What a great place to stash an ammo can!

This preconceived notion turned out to be a big mistake, and it cost us dearly in our battle against nightfall. There were just so many good hiding places. Bloodhounded had Ground Zero nailed down and spent most of his time scouring that spot. I expanded out to well over 100 feet, checking every nook and cranny. Over and over and over… it’s here… it HAD to be here somewhere. At one point, I was sure I found it. I spotted the “cache” and went to reach for it. Whoa. Not so fast, slick.

That ain’t no ammo can.

After blowing an hour looking for the phantom ammo can, almost getting quilled by a porcupine, and now losing the fight against darkness, it was time to outline a new strategy. Getting a hint from Spott would not be good. First off, we didn’t want him to know we were trying the cache. Secondly, we both really like to solve these things without additional hints. That’s just the way we play the game. The problem, though, was it was already well after 7:00 PM. Did we want to try it again another day? Yes and no. Neither one of us knew when we’d get another opportunity. Finally I decided to bite the bullet and use a PAF…

Dodger text to Spott: “Stuck on (physical feature excluded to avoid spoiler). Hint?”

Spott response: “Are you on Stage ‘x’ and is that you CJ?”

Ha! Some “colleague and friend”. He didn’t even know it was his Cache Crazy teammates! That’s too rich. I was about to respond with, “Hey, dumb @$$, it’s us!” but Bloodhounded quickly cut me off - “No, no! Don’t tell him!” Ooh, very good! So without lying but without exactly telling the truth either, I responded, “Yes, Stage ‘x’.” The fun from our little masquerade quickly evaporated, though, when I got the hint. We were NOT at the Final. I spied the hide immediately and we both cursed ourselves, Bloodhounded for not seeing it initially and me for convincing myself the whole time that we were at the end. Hmm, so it seemed the good Doctor has more brass than I gave him credit for. I retrieved the stage, almost falling once and almost dropping the container once. With the needed information and a good deal of sand knocked out of us, we went on our way. Looking back now, I do have a question for DctrSpott – How did you rig that up? I no longer question your heart, just the reach of your arm.

We were left with another decision to make – bag it or press on knowing full well that we weren’t going to finish before sunset.


Screw it. Pressing on was really the only option. With darkness beginning to close in, we continued picking up stages. I got my turn to play “Stage Retrieval Expert” and quickly gathered up the coordinates.

Dodger or just another blurry picture of Bigfoot?

“Safety First” is our motto. Notice how the “expert” keeps both eyes open at all times… Oh wait… Forget it.


Finally, it started to make some sense where we were going.

That’s what we’re hunting.

The mechanical giant against dark skies.

For real now, the Final was near. So were those windmills. They just hung in the dark sky with their incessant WHOOSH… WHOOSH… WHOOSH. The howling wind, the on-and-off rain, the clouds moving constantly in front of the moon… It was spooky, no doubt, but very, very cool. We scrambled all over the place looking for the prize, but in the dark it was just a shotgun approach.

“Where are you?”


“Over here. Did you find it?!”


“No. You?”




And of course, the dreaded cell phone call from concerned wives…

“Where ARE you guys?”

“We’re still in the woods. We’re fine. We’ll be home in a little bit.”

(“Little bit” being a relative term...)

“Are you OK?”

“Yes! We’re fine!”

Just as I was about to pitch the stupid phone in the creek, I realized that we might need Spott again. I put the phone back in my pocket…

Well, what the hell. It was time for another PAF…


“He says it’s around here.”



“Wait a second, wait a second… YES!!!!”

“You got it?”


We signed the logbook with the aid of a flashlight, quickly swapped some swag, and made tracks for home.


Instead of backtracking through the woods, we decided to take one of the windmill access roads back to the parking area. It was a decent walk for a while – you could see all the lights in the Wyoming Valley from high atop the Wyoming/Penobscot Mountain ridge (elevation just over 1,900 feet), but we were gradually walking too much downhill. After a hike much farther than anticipated we started to parallel the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and then came out on PA Route 115 about 1.5 miles down the mountain from where we started. At this stage of the game we had little choice but to foolishly walk the highway shoulder back up the mountain to the vehicle. That was an adventure all in itself, but we survived.

The big cache quest had come to an end. It was 10:00 PM.


We never did tell Spott that it was us contacting him from out in the field. When we each got home, we went ahead and logged the find. About ten minutes later, my phone buzzed…

“Had I known it was you two, I would’ve let you get lost in the woods … Good job!”

Love it, DctrSpott!


I used “The Gunslinger” analogy once before to describe a cache, but if ever there was one that captured the essence of “The Dark Tower” series this is it. Readers of the books and attempters of this cache would surely see the connection – the barren landscape, the mechanical windmill giants, the peculiar weather, trying to do everything properly or be doomed to start all over from the beginning… It is a “DctrSpott meets Stephen King” adventure.

Each stage of the cache was laid out beautifully and not knowing how many you had to tackle really kept us on our toes. The care and planning that went into this cache is top-notch and it definitely is appreciated. It’s great fun.

I’ll also say that DctrSpott might be the guy who puts the “Crazy” in Cache Crazy. Of course, you obviously have your followers and we’re right there with you. As Obi Wan told Han, “Who’s more the foolish – the fool or the fool who follows him?” I scoff! That wizard’s just a crazy old man!

Geez, guys, I guess I’m still looped up from hunting those windmills...

Rock on!



Erika Jean said...

Sounds like one crazy adventure!


OK, so I’m bias being part of that adventure but, this is without a doubt, the single best writings of a caching adventure I have ever read! What an awesome job of depicting the windmills! Reading this was like redoing the cache all over again (without the sore legs). This cache was so cool. DctrSpott really put it all out there as it was quality all the way. Looking forward to getting back to my 3/3 on a nice warm summer day……

DctrSpott said...

Awww... brings a tear to my eye.

I gotta say, those windmills look AWESOME at night. That's an amazing shot. Might have to plant a night cache...

Nice write up, Dodger! I'm honored!

smithie23 said...

Awesome post! After my miserable failure (again) at the Seven Tubs cache this morning, I needed a pick-me-up. It sounds like it was a great adventure. I'm going to have to check this one out. I'll be sure to allow myself some more daylight, though!

BigAl said...

:( Not fair! I wanted to climb some trees too. I wish I could have made it with you guys. This sounds like it was one awesome time. Great article too. You really made me feel like I was right there, even though I couldn't be there. I also like night caching. So now we all have to get together and check out a cache. Yes, I'm jealous, but I'm glad you guys had fun and made it back okay. I tried to go out on Sunday, but it just didn't work out. So I worked on my signature item instead. It's going to be so nice. I can't wait to start using them.

Benizerith said...

I'm with Al... JEALOUS! Sounds like y'all had a blast!

ebjazzz said...

nailed this one today - and LOVED it!

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