As part of our quest to find geocaches in all 351 Massachusetts towns and cities, we needed to visit the Cape. I had been looking forward to this family trip for a couple weeks. Sue and I both planned to find our 1000th cache.
On March 13, we finally had a relatively warm day to visit Cape Cod, and grab a geocache in all 15 towns while focusing on some favorites, older caches, and a hard-to-find Fizzy hide. We arrived just after dawn and left well after sunset.
The map below shows the path we followed to get to all the geocaches. I’ve left out the actual markers so I’m not giving too much away. In the end, we had to change a few of the caches we went to in order to streamline our visit.
I’ve marked where we started in Sandwich and where we ended in Bourne. This is the order of towns we found geocaches in:
While we got up pretty early, the sun rose about an hour before we got to our first cache container in Sandwich. We picked a tricky hide for this stop. In the end, Sue was able to use a previous clue a cacher had left in their cache log to notice something slightly out-of-place. When she fidgeted with it, the container dropped out of a hold on the bottom! This didn’t take too long, and we were off to a great start!
Our next stop was for a cleverly hidden cache in a conservation area, less than 600 ft from parking. We arrived at the hide site and started our search. After about 10 minutes, I took a look at the hint. The cache was marked as winter-safe, but the clue said something to imply we’d have to kneel down to find it. I had a tough time reconciling those two statements – if a cache was safe to find in winter, it shouldn’t be low enough to the ground to have to bend over to see it. At this point, Perrin suggested a different way to interpret those two ideas. Sure enough, after another ten minutes of searching, we found the well-camouflaged cache where Perrin suggested it might be. We bent over to grab the cache and sign the log.
We stopped for two old (placed in 2001) geocaches in Yarmouth. One was pretty typical: a large container near the base of a tree. There were quite a few thorns around (Sue got a good scratch from one), but we were in and out of there pretty quickly. The second one (pictured) was next to a 150 year old weeping beech tree behind the post office. It was very droopy, and imagine it looks even cooler in summer with leaves on it.
Our next stop was for a quick park and grab in Dennis. Unfortunately it had gone missing. Whipping out my GPS, I found another cache in the same park about 1000 feet away. There was a playground here that the kids wanted to run around, so I took off quickly down the trail. There were fitness stations at various points of the trail, which reminded me of a trail I had done a few months prior with my parents in South Windsor, CT. This one was in a bit better shape. As I approached some monkey bars, I saw a small geo-trail leading off into the woods in the same direction my GPS was indicating. About 75 feet into the woods, I found the ammo can hidden behind a large tree. We signed the log and headed back to the family and car.
At this point it was almost noon, so we decided to stop for lunch at a place recommended by geocaching resident of Cape Cod we had been talking to. We grabbed typical fried seafood fare from Kream n Kone. It was tasty, but I’m not sure it was better than the local Kimball Farms near our home in Lancaster. We ate quickly because of all the caches we wanted to get today, plus we had to be at the next cache at a specific time.
A specific time, you ask… why? The cache we wanted in Chatham is on Fox Hill Island in Pleasant Bay which can only be reached by foot over a sandbar around low tide. Any other time, and the sandbar is underwater. We didn’t have a canoe with us, so we had to time our arrive for 12:49 — low tide. We parked as instructed on the cache page and made our way down the beach near the water toward the island. Massachusetts has weird laws about property and beaches – apparently anything landward of “mean low tide” can be owned by a private individual. In most other states, private property ends at the high tide mark. This meant we had to stay close to the water to avoid trespassing. It’s a hot topic on the Cape.
We had no issue reaching the island, and we stayed and took in the view a bit, collecting a few seashells. On our way back, the tide had come in a bit and the kids started climbing up a sea wall which was jutting out into the tide. A woman semi-nicely asked us to not climb on the wall so we wouldn’t get hurt. She was basically telling us it was private property. So, we went around the seawall, whose top was at eye-level, and had to step on rocks near its base to not step in the ocean. All the while, the wind was blowing the sand from atop the seawall into our faces. It was touch and go, but no one got wet. From there, it was a relaxing walk along the wet sand back to the car.
I looked up the house with the seawall when I got home. It was nice, but nothing amazing. No trees, and scraggly grass. It sold for 3.85 million in 2010, to a couple from Farmington, CT.
This was the big stop of our visit. We got to visit Cape Cod National Seashore and take a mile and a half walk across the dunes to find Cape Cod’s oldest geocache. We got out of the car not knowing what to expect, especially since trees lined the roadside. I got my GoPro video camera ready to roll as Sue and the kids read the first informational sign and we headed down the path.
As we approached the man-made sand ramp up the first dune (it would have been too steep otherwise), I was surprised by how tall the dunes were. Just getting up the first dune was exhausting, and who knew how many more they would be. I can’t image doing this in the summer.
There were a few other groups on the dunes, but we were alone much of the time. It took about 35 minutes to get out there, but here’s a video condensed down to just a few minutes (warning: may cause motion sickness).
There wasn’t alot going on in Truro, so we picked a cache close to the street to keep going. It was after 3 o’clock by this point, and I was concerned we weren’t going to get all 15 towns before dark. We pulled into a sea-side rental complex, which is where it turns out the cache is located. It seemed a bit like private property, but the cache page said they had permission for the placement. I approached a bunch of pricker bushes, and saw the cache container in the middle. Sigh. I guess that’s one way of keeping non-cachers out. I reached it and got the cache, as well as three prickers stuck under my skin. We signed it and we left pretty quickly.
Wellfleet has one of a few remaining Webcam geocaches in the state. This is a geocache type where you have to capture a picture of yourselves on a webcam overlooking public land. I have done a few of these, including one at UConn, but new ones are no longer allowed. We had been warned that there is no cell service here, so we wouldn’t be able to grab our own photo. We had contacted Julie and a few geocachers ahead of time to grab the photo of us off a web page at a certain time. Julie plus two geocachers came through and emailed us the photo! You can’t really make us out, but that’s not required to log the geocache. You can see the live webcam, too!
Fun story at Eastham. I always enjoy learning about geology, and EarthCaches always offer something new. In this case, we stopped at Doane Rock, the largest glacial erratic (boulder left from a glacier) on Cape Cod. It was pretty large, but we have seen quite a few in central Massachusetts and out in the Berkshires. We dutifully collected the information necessary to log this cache, and headed out, as it was approaching 4:30. That’s not the fun part.
On our way back to Route 6, we were driving by the Salt Pond Visitor Center, which is maintained by the National Parks Service. Sue keeps a National Parks Passport, and was determined to get a stamp somewhere out here on the Cape Cod National Seashore. We had passed a station earlier, but it was closed.
As we pulled in, the sign said they are open daily until 4:30. Checking my phone, it was 4:29. Sue tears up the path to the doors, but there were locked. She came back to where I was with the kids (at the restrooms) and tells us. I suggest she go back up and keep knocking on the door – someone still had to be in there. Sue goes back to the front door, knocks and is waving her passport. Eventually a ranger opens the door and lets her go use the passport stamp, which is tied down (so he couldn’t bring it to her). I found the whole thing kinda funny, but Sue got her passport stamped, dammit.
Sue had solved a puzzle cache in Orleans. When we got there, the cache was not to be found. So, once again, we had to look up another nearby cache. In this case, it was a letterbox cache about 1000 feet away down a trail into the woods. When we got near the hide coordinates, we saw a tupperware container under a bench. It turns out that was placed by a school group, and not what we were looking for. We kept looking, and came up with the find about 20 feet away behind a tree.
One thing of note. We had notice some moss-like substance hanging from a few trees at previous caches, but it was all over the place here. I took a photo because it kinda spooky. I’ve seen nothing like it in Massachusetts off of Cape Cod.
Less than a week later, and I can’t remember any details about the cache in Brewster. In my notes, we grabbed it at 5:20. Sorry.
It’s getting late. Sunset would be 6:45. We showed up at this cache knowing it would be multiple stages – that is, one location gives directions to the next location, until you end up at the cache. I’m regretting picking this cache for our adventure, but alot of people had liked it and mentioned how short the walk was. So, we show up, walk about 100 feet along a boardwalk into the woods. We read the first stage is hidden near a bench. Sue and Perrin see it together at about the same time – a rather large tupperware container. Perrin opens it, only to find another container. It’s the Russian Doll of geocaches. Perrin opened all the containers, we finally sign the log, put the whole thing back together, and headed back to the car.
The sky is getting noticeably darker as we head to Mashpee. We stopped quickly at a very old cache near a windmill on the beach to find a cache (I kid you not, the public beach was about 3 feet to the water, and maybe 30 feet wide), and then re-route to a simple cache along the road in Mashpee. This one was hidden in a doctor’s parking lot in a specimen cup. Kinda a cool idea to mix those two things, but we’re running late on daylight and leave at 6:35.
OK, it’s definitely getting into dusk. We had packed a flashlight, and headed out on a short walk into the woods to get this well-reviewed cache. We got to the coordinates, and nothing jumped out at us. A bunch of trees and broken branches on the ground. After 10 minutes, I was worried we were going to get stumped and have to find yet another different cache, but this time in the dark. Just as we were about to give up, Perrin yelled “Found it!”. The small cache container had been hidden in a hollowed-out branch on the ground and plugged with a cork. No idea how he found it among all the other branches, but we were excited to move on to our last town.
No doubt, it’s dark now. We had to scrap our planned Bourne cache. With limited Internet access, we emailed a Cape Cod geocacher and asked for a quick night-safe cache near a place to eat, since we were getting pretty hungry. Thankfully, she came up with Travel Bug hotel at the Bourne rotary. Sue parked and pointed the headlights at the hide coordinates. The hide was pretty obvious, although a bit buried (which is generally not allowed), so I opened it up, signed the log for us and got back into the car. Unfortunately, the recommended restaurant had closed at 7:00. We did a quick Yelp search and found a nice family restaurant back over the Cape Cod Canal and had a tasty seafood dinner.
We got home just before 10 o’clock and collapsed, successful in our endeavor to get all 15 Cape Cod towns!