Quite some time back I happened upon an ad on Gumtree (a buy, swap and sell site) – a local man wanted to get rid of a large military style metal case, and at the $0 price tag, I was onto it like a shot – free ammo can? Yes please! – what I ended up collecting was a large and heavy metal case, not so much an ammo can, but certainly cache worthy… The question was how to use it. Being such a large container, and something a little ‘special’ on its own, I wanted to make it a cache that people would enjoy finding. For the next forever I tossed around a number of ideas, never really landing on anything that took my fancy as an idea worthy of my big metal case. And so it sat in my garage for goodness knows how long.
Somewhere along the line in the not too distant past my thought train took me to the “travel bug hotel” station, and I wondered if I could somehow turn my case into one… But me being me, I didn’t want to just put the metal container out in the bush somewhere with a bunch of TBs in it and call it a TB Hotel, I wanted to make it something a little outside the box…
If you’ve ever looked at caches on the internet I’m sure you’ll have seen the type of TB Hotel that takes my fancy – the ones that people have put time and effort into creating a more “bug-friendly” container. I’ve seen some that have drawers and compartments, and others designed in the style of a hotel, complete with ‘check in desk’ and ‘rooms’ – and that was what I had in mind. Despite never having found one of these creations in person (most of the ones on the web seem to be in America) it was pretty soon my mind was set on making something along those lines. Only problem really being my limited construction abilities.
After playing around with a couple of options, and many more months besides, I was shopping for Easter Hat parade bonnet bits of all things, and came upon a little home-decor build your own little shadow boxy thing (that’s the technical name) … Better yet, the design had roof eaves and little rooms and everything. Double bonus, it was 60% off! Over the next week or so I constructed the house box, fixing the bits with liquid nails… A bit of leftover green paint from when we redecorated Summers room recently ‘prettied’ it up nicely. I then glued the whole thing inside, to the back wall (bottom) of the case – it was a perfect fit inside the metal case (save for a tiny bit on either side of the eaves which I jigsaw end off), leaving just enough space at the bottom for a standard sized systema (which I planned to use to protect the log). It wasn’t quite right though, and needed those finer details – while doing the thinking, I’d gathered a few bits and pieces from the girls older toys…Polly Pocket and the like – and with a bit if superglue, a couple of beds, a couple of chairs, a sun lounge and table and a ‘check-in’ desk were added to furnish the rooms in this hotel. Now we were getting somewhere 😃.
But then came my next challenge – how might one “affix” this in the wild, while taking into account the ‘dickhead factor’, hopefully ensuring the longevity of the cache. The main issue was that I’d designed it so that the case needed to sit upright so the lid opened out like a door (rather than box with hinged lid, more of a cupboard) – but that meant I needed to account for the lip on the door, which meant it needed to be off the ground, at least slightly. Now I guess it depends on which side of the fence you stand, but I figured if I made a pole with the cache affixed, and then sunk the pole into the ground, then this might be considered burying part of the cache… I and I didn’t like my chances of finding a random pole in an out of the way, muggle safe position, that was perfectly placed just for my cache. Likewise, I was conscious of not permanently affixing it to anything, and certainly not bolt it to a tree. So then I figured my best bet would be to chain it into position up against a tree. So for a week or two I toyed with the how of attaching a chain to my box, that would then keep the container in the right position for cachers. But sometimes life has a way of giving us what we need – while I worked on my cache on the side, we were also helping the mother in law downsize in preparation to move… Which resulted in a lot of new “bits” being added to our work shed. You see, my MIL is one of those children of the depression who learnt to save things that might be handy down the track, and in among the ‘junk’ I found a can of “Mitsubishi Forest Green” car spray touch up paint. It looked like it was leftover from the 80s, and I’ve never known my MIL to drive a green car, but it seemed perfect for saving me a few bucks on “camo” – and with that the metal case was turned from grey to green. I continued digging, hoping to find some chain, and maybe some rivets or something I wasn’t entirely sure of, but instead found a role of old brown cabling. That’ll do. I found a couple of balustrade bolts that would allow me to form a loop at one end, and added it to my pile for placement. Then I figured to save myself from finding a perfect sized flat rock nearby GZ to stick under the container to lift it off the ground, a couple of broken bricks would do the job nicely. On the pile they went.
So my placement pile had a nice camo’d green metal container, with a neat looking ‘hotel’ inside, a systema container for the log and swag (I’d chosen one of those ones with the divide in the middle); a couple of bricks and my cable roll and the tools I figured I’d need in the feild…. This was certainly my most elaborate placement yet! Next I added a large geocache sticker to the outside of the door, and a couple of small hooks about the hotel.
I’d ordered a new logbook to fit (I like a good logbook, and I hate it when it’s a micro log in something that could hold bigger, or a folded logbook, so wanted a ‘snug’ fit), and I’d found a cute little pack of cache sized pens so added those to the container, and filled a snap lock bag with swag for those who prefer that to TBs… Geokids in mind. I’d also stockpiled a good pile of TBs since I’d made the decision to create a hotel (nothing worse than finding a TB hotel with no TBs in it) – so added those to my pile for placement too…
My personal track record with TBs is pretty dismal… I first sent off Trevor the Tuberhead, but unfortunately Trevor’s Tuber Tour was short lived and I fear he has died an untimely death…moved once he was picked up by a cacher of 9 finds who said it was headed out in their new cache – as it turns out, said new cache was placed in the local national park, and was subsequently reviewer denied. Seems that was enough for the newbie to throw in the towel and never responded to my requests for the coordinates of the unpublished cache 😞. Oh well, try, try again right? So while in Adelaide last year for graduation, at my farthest find from home (on the uni campus), I wished Nursey Kelly well in her travels home. But to date she has travelled a whopping zero kilometres. Picked up a week or so after I was dropped, and despite the cache. Who picked her up having found 20 or so caches since hasn’t logged or dropped the TB. So I guess it’s at the bottom of her caching bag and she’s forgotten all about it… In which case, there’s still hope for Nursey Kelly yet.
So with that in mind I decided to give the old “3rd time’s the charm” trick – and set about organising a new TB for a new adventure. After a bit of thought I figured this one could have an overseas mission – after all, if it wasn’t gunna move anywhere, it didn’t matter if its mission was domestic or not (my first 2 I figured keeping it in the country would give it a better chance, silly me!) But where? And then I figured why not use the power of the blogosphere I’m part of to try help it on its why – why not try get it to probably my most loyal follower (apart from familial cachers) and whose blog is the one I have probably followed the most readily, Washknight… And so with that, Here’s Cheers to the Blogosphere (in honour of his blog roll series of posts that wonderfully group the best of the GeoBlogosphere posts for your reading pleasure each month – seriously, you should Check it out 😀) was borne. To reassure myself putting Washknight ‘out there’ in my wilds was Ok I sent off a quick message to check my idea had his consent, and with his chuffed blessings in response, it too was added to my pile.
Last but not least, I decided my cache was of such a decent size that it may be found by a stumbling muggle, so I made a large ‘stash note’, and included a small bit about Travelbugs, and laminated it to go on the inside of the door. I also created a little label for my systema lid, that announced it as the check in desk and keeper of the logbook… And for a little extra fun just for me, I added the code for my ‘discover only’ Trackable, I Geocache 😀.
All that done, it was then off to the location I had figured on (based on the sat map and drive bys) but when I headed off into said spot, I found it quite unsuitable for my cache – especially so given the fences and development signs about the place. Luckily I had a plan B location, this time in a spot I knew wasn’t going to be developed – but despite my search, all the while carrying my heavy bag of bricks and tools, this location didn’t herald a spot suitable for this particular cache. Onto Plan C then.
This time I’d chosen a firetrail, a little further from the freeway interchange than I would have liked, but guaranteed to throw up somewhere for a large metal tin to hide. So off I headed down the fire trail, passing by the turn off that was the main track and continuing into the end of this trail that I’d notice finished close to the side if the highway, which went with the theme I’d been forming . Though the spot was right, the shrubbery was not, so I backtracked along the trail. Sadly all the trees I wanted on the side of the trail I wanted were beyond the freeway barrier fence, so I turned my attention to the other side of the trail. Eventually I spotted a nice large gum closer to the start of the trail, and when I started to think more carefully about things, I realised my brown cord would stand out a mile wrapped around a ghost gum trunk – but thankfully there was a perfect sized bark tree right behind it, the ghost gum partially obscuring it from the tracks view. Even better I thought, so I left my bits in situ, while I returned to the car to fetch my heavy trunk. My shoulders were sore from carrying the bricks and things this whole time, so I was pleased I had chosen to leave this for a second trip, and pleased even more my GZ was closer to the start than the end of the trail. This thing was bloody heavy!!
With everything in place I was now free to lash the container to the tree, using my cable and the bricks as a base for the container – and it all seemed to work like it was in my head, which pleased me…but I do wonder if routine Maintenace of my lashing will be required…only time will tell with that one though. I then enjoyed my final task of setting up my TB collection in my hotel and left it there, happy with my efforts.
Last but not least was the cache listing. To me, my ‘hotel’ had turned out a bit more like a ‘Backpackers’ or budget motel – so “BugPackers” seemed the appropriate title – and I’d intentionally placed it near the M1 motorway so as to encourage the bugs to move north or south, which landed me with the logical name – M1 BugPacker Motel. And it therefore stood to reason that my cache description sound like a motel that was selling itself to bug packers 😉. I decided to add a “tours” section, highlighting the end of the trail, where you could see the M1″ and I thought an appropriate photo place for travel bugs visiting the BugPackers, and figured I may as well also point out the fire trails actual point of interest – the Fountain creek and falls further down the hill, where another cache (and more beyond). Finally, because I’m a little allergic to HTML, I sent dad instruction to edit my formatting. In doing so, he asked whether I had out a cache near my first reference point/tour, especially given there was one near my second. No… But that’s a good idea!
So the next day, dad in tow, I headed out to the trail again with a simple small cache in hand – locating a suitable spot, just off the motorway, that was that. I whipped up a listing for that one easily Enough, especially given I had already talked about it in my “tours”, and named it after said tour for good measure a and just like that, there was a simple traditional cache called M1 viewing deck.
And that was that. A day or two later and both caches had “gone live” — Slow going to start, taking a day and a half before the first finders… who logged the find in such quick succession the first 2 came within minutes of each other. They’ve been published a few weeks now, and the M1 Viewing Deck gets standard fare logs. Fair enough given it is nothing but standard fare. And as suspected and anticipated, the visitors to the M1 Bugpackers Motel seem to be enjoying what I have on offer… unfortunately for me, an untimely glitch in the geocaching online system meant the first few finders who awarded favourites (as it says they did in their log) didnt have the point stick to the cache – hopefully something they’ll notice and fix retrospectively, but not to worry if they dont. I have a feeling this one will build favourites pretty quickly anyway. While its being found less frequently than I had hoped, I continue to look forward to the delight in the logs to come on this one. So far so good 🙂
Caches Hidden: 39 total (including events) – 31 Active
Date Published: 2nd May 2016
Location: Somersby, Central Coast, NSW