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Who else stinks at driveby urban micros?


JennM
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I set out fairly early this morning, intending to be FTF on a new cache in a nearby town. Also took info on 2 other nearby micros.

 

My kids and I LOVE caches in parks... we enjoy bushwhacking and searching... but on these urban micros I just stink.

 

The first one I went to (the new one I wanted to be FTF), is at a restaurant. I got within about 5 feet, and I'm fairly sure I know where it is, but there were idle employees at the car wash across the street (about 50 feet away) and I just didn't have the cajones to start rooting around under the deck where the cache is supposed to be, so I weenied out and left. The restaurant wasn't open yet - which is why I went early.

 

The next one I tried was at a Salvation Army thrift store - I'm not sure just where it is but it was teeming with people I couldn't even get a parking space. I looked around a bit from my vehicle but couldn't quite figure out where it might be, so I abandoned that effort too.

 

The third one is at a Home Depot - I've grabbed a similar on on Christmas Day (no muggles around then!) well today there were plenty of people around. I checked in a lamp post that looked like a likely spot, but nothing, then the GPS suddenly told me I was 80 feet away. I looked around, wandered around as if I was waiting on somebody, then 2 trucks of contractors pulled up next to me and started exchanging equipment, so I moved to another space... closer to the target, but I just couldn't see where it might be hidden. With enough people around to make me feel conspicuous, I left there and went back to the first location to see if I could work up the nerve to try again - but the idle car wash people were still idle, so I gave up and left.

 

I'm 0/3 on the day - all within a couple of miles of each other.

 

I feel like a geo-failure :rolleyes:

 

I've read threads on how people use stealth, how they "hide in plain sight" but I think I just stick out like a sore thumb. What am I doing wrong? Some days the GPSr bounces all around - there's lots of clouds today but I seemed to get a decent signal, and I know enough that when I'm close to a target, to stop worrying about the reading and start looking for the target and start thinking like a cacher, but I'm just not doing something right. Even that Christmas Day micro I looked in about 5 lamp posts before I found the right one (duh!)... but at least there weren't watchful eyes wondering what the heck I was doing.

 

The first day I went caching with my kids and another relative, we found about 3 urban micros - but it was Labor Day and there weren't too many people around so it wasn't too hard to snoop around unnoticed - however, our first-ever find was archived that day because the next cacher to come around got busted by the police and the cache had to be removed -that put a bit of fear in me. The cacher wasn't charged or anything - but I can tell you if we'd been apprehended on our first cache that would likely have ended the hobby for us. I've got 25 finds now, but most are in parks and places like that where it's not unusual for people to be tramping through the woods, "exploring"...

 

Anybody else have micro-phobia?

 

Jenn

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Searching for any geocache looks suspicious, the ones in the parks and forests usually allow you to search without being observed. Especially now that almost anything you do is going to be viewed with suspicion, doing anything that makes you look even more suspicious is a program for trouble.

 

This hide is an example of hiding a cache in plain sight, which is how an urban geocache should be hidden. In other words, the cache (ideally) should be obvious to geocachers and invisible to everyone else.

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I sent a note to the owner of that new one I was looking for. If I'm correct, it's right on the underside of the deck of the restaurant - there's no way to be inconspicuous finding it at any time of day because cars whiz right past it.

 

Ones in lamp posts in the far reaches of a parking lot don't bother me so much because usually you can get in and out without too much fuss - but if I'm right about the location of the one I'm referring to - it's impossible to get without being seen by somebody, and rummaging around on the underside of a deck - well there's no easy way to do that.

 

I'll wait to hear back to see if I'm correct but my GPS said I was within 4 feet when I stood at the bottom of the deck and reached up underneath (the deck is above street level).

 

If that's the case - I won't likely return to it - it's too conspicuous for me.

 

Jenn

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Life became a lot more fun to me when I came to realize that I just don't "have to" go after all caches that are placed. Some are just not worth my time and effort.

 

Having said that, bring a clipboard and camera and orange vest with you next time - such folks sort of blend into the background.

 

I realize I don't have to hit every cache - in fact I have very little time to spend on the hobby - mostly Sunday mornings with my kids. I had some time on my hands, and that one was placed a couple of days ago and nobody had logged a find yet so I thought I'd give it a try. I just found it too "nervy" for me and wondered how others felt.

 

My vehicle is also marked with my business info - not conducive to an orange vest I'm afraid - although if I'm out of the vehicle it's no biggie I guess...

 

Actually my main "fun" with geocaching is getting out into parks on Sunday mornings with my kids. I work crazy long hours and that's a bit of "bonding" time that I have with my children - they're teenagers and they love the sport - we even recently each released a travel bug so that adds something else to it. We also drag their uncle around when he's in town. At first I think he thought we were a bit goofy - but he's getting good at making the finds :rolleyes:

 

Like I said the first few urban micros we tried were fairly easy and not a big deal to be stealthy - but these 3 today just kind of put me off.

 

I like this time of year for the bushwhacking caches - cool outside, not as many hazards (thorns, snakes) but I figured in the hot summer months, we'd probably do more of the urban micro types - but I'm not so sure we'll be very good at it.

 

Jenn

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I am not much of a numbers person, but once in a while the urge overcomes me to get an easy urban cache. Deciding when to go is the hard part. Do I want to try to do it during the day, and try to blend in with all the people, or at night when there aren't many people around? Certainly at night, in urban settings, someone looking around lamp posts and sneaking around a parking lot stands out quite a bit. Generally in either of the situations I feel terribly uncomfortable, so the mood really has to be right for me to try an urban cache.

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It's funny - there's a micro right near my place of business - a friend/client who told me about geocaching, placed it there with my permission, and my neighbours in other businesses know about it too.

 

It's fun for me to watch people trying to be stealthy while trying to find it - but plenty have come after hours. That one is a relatively easy find - and since we know about it, even if cachers are seen, there's a note in the cache info saying that we're geo-friendly - so people don't have to feel guilty.

 

The one I was referring to -well I just don't know if the people around know about it - so hence my nervousness. If it stated that management knew about it or whatnot, I wouldn't have worried so much. When I parked in the lot I got a weird look from somebody entering the building, and when I returned I parked next door but still just didn't feel comfy getting out to look - so discouraged, I just left.

 

I'm glad I'm not alone in my thinking. The comment above about whether to try during the day and blend in, or at night and risk looking really suspicious to a passer-by is also a concern to me. If I know it's a place where there are unlikely to be passers-by at weird hours, I'll give it a go - if not, I don't.

 

Jenn

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I've passed up a number of urban micros for the same reasons you cite.

 

There are SOOOOOOO many caches out there, it doesn't pay to fret over these dubius ones.

 

And if it appears that the cache was placed without permission, which seems to be the norm for urban caches, that's one more reason to pass it by.

 

I was second to find on a local cache placed in a tree on bank property. I was squeamish about it, but I was trying for a FTF. Anyway, later that day the cache was archived after another cacher had a run in with the authorities.

 

ALWAYS have alternative caches lined up, and you'll have no qualms about leaving problem caches behind.

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That's why I took 3 with me today - figured if I bombed on one (pardon the pun), I could score one or two more in the same area. Nope - all 3 were nerve-wrackers, so I came home empty-handed.

 

Lessons learned I guess...

 

On the way home I heard a news story about a "suspicious package/device" on some Credit Union property across town - all I could think of was, "I wonder if it's a geocache?"

 

I guess I'm a bit paranoid today :rolleyes:

 

Jenn

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Life became a lot more fun to me when I came to realize that I just don't "have to" go after all caches that are placed. Some are just not worth my time and effort.

 

I hear ya. I used to feel like I had to clear out my local area. I finally decided it wasn't worth the stress of going for caches that I just didn't like.

 

Urban micros? They're okay, but I'll only go for them provided the circumstances are just right. Basically when there's low chance of getting the evil eye from a citizen.

Edited by BlueDeuce
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Urban micros are far from my fave. I just placed my first as part of an experiment. I may or may not get it published.

(edit: forgot about my 3 urban micros. I lied. Oops.)

 

OP, you've got kids? Depending on their age, they can be a great excuse to go in strange places. They like to explore...

 

Dogs too. That's part of the reasoning behind getting my caching partner/girlfriend a puppy for Valentines Day. :P

Edited by jasond
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A few thoughts:

 

First - One night last fall I was checking my email before going to bed - bad idea! - and noticed two new hides about one mile apart and within about three miles from home. One near a Wal-Mart and the other near a restaurant. My GPSr was in the bedroom and not wanting to wake my wife I decided that after looking at Google Maps I could make the FTF grabs sans GPSr!

 

Well, I dodged Wal-Mart employees heading home for the day as the store was closing and was unable to find the cache. (After 4 trips, we were the 24th log when we finally found it! It wasn't in a lamppost, it was in a bush reachable from a planter near the entrance.)

 

So now with my tail between my legs, I headed over to the second potential FTF - again without my GPSr. I was all over the front of the restaurant, but ended up going home empty-handed. We went back the next day and got that one.

 

Two simple urban micros that I just couldn't get on my own.

 

Second - If a cache is hidden in such a way that you feel like you have to find it in the middle of the night, I don't worry about being seen. If the cache is hidden right next to the front door of a business and it gets muggled because of your searching, well, they shouldn't be hidden in such a way that you can't find them without them being muggled. (Before the flamethrowers go off, a little stealthiness is okay, but you can't expect every cacher to be invisible!) Besides, you will look more stealthy if you aren't trying to look stealthy! BTW - if "cars whiz right past it", they aren't watching you. The next time you drive down the street, do you see the people on the side? Nope! You are dialing you cell phone, fiddling with your iPod and yelling at the kids.

 

Third - If the hider has followed the guidelines of getting permission for an urban hide on private property, don't worry about hiding your actions from the business owners. They should already know about it. If permission was not granted and the hide is archived, that's not your problem.

 

My $0.02

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BTW - if "cars whiz right past it", they aren't watching you. The next time you drive down the street, do you see the people on the side? Nope! You are dialing you cell phone, fiddling with your iPod and yelling at the kids.

 

See, that is exactly why I won't do caches next to the road, people do not pay attention when they drive and will run you over. One little slip on your part or theirs and it's all over.

 

I have all but stopped doing urban caches, unless I can find one not next to a busy road or not in a parking lot. I stopped having fun when I did those caches, now I try to find caches where I can take my time and have a good hunt, without any muggles bothering me or vice versa.

 

So I guess you shouldn't say "I stink at urban micros." Just say you choose not to be good at it. :P:P

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I usually just go for it. If the hider puts the cache in a muggle rich area, then they better expect muggles to see us doing our thing and for the cache to go missing. Its not my problem if the cache goes missing. Maybe they should have put it in a better spot w/ less muggles.

 

Now if I know the hider spent some time on a quality hide, then I usually wont risk compromising the cache. But for a typical 35mm or hide-a-key cache, they aren't worth it.

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Jenn the one at the resturant s/b be easy with the kids becouse no one ever notices carpet crawlers running amok and when they do they just what is that parent doing. Becouse you tell one to go over by the deck and act like your chasing him or her down and make the grab.

 

TB

 

Well my "kids" are teenagers - if they were carpet crawling that would attract attention :P

 

Jenn

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I usually just go for it. If the hider puts the cache in a muggle rich area, then they better expect muggles to see us doing our thing and for the cache to go missing. Its not my problem if the cache goes missing. Maybe they should have put it in a better spot w/ less muggles.

 

Now if I know the hider spent some time on a quality hide, then I usually wont risk compromising the cache. But for a typical 35mm or hide-a-key cache, they aren't worth it.

 

Yeah this one was a key hide. The other two were a 35mm canister and the one at the thrift store was a "small tupperware"...

 

Wasn't worth the risk of 'splaining.

 

I emailed the owner of the restaurant one and asked if it was indeed on the bottom of the deck - he replied but didn't confirm or refute its location. Still, standing under the deck GPSr said I was 4 ft away (within whatever accuracy it held at that moment) so I'm sure I was on top of it, I just didn't feel like reaching under there for 5 minutes while the car wash brigade looked on.

 

If I find it on the first attempt, quickly - great, but if I don't and I end up lingering, rummaging, etc., that's when I start to get paranoid. If I find it fast I keep up that look as if I know what I'm doing and I'm fast about it - but if it ends up taking time, I chicken out and leave.

 

I much prefer regular caches with "stuff" in them - my kids (teens) like to trade for stuff, pick up and drop off travel bugs (I like that part too)... so the urban micro is often devoid of that kind of thing.

 

Jenn

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Jenn the one at the resturant s/b be easy with the kids becouse no one ever notices carpet crawlers running amok and when they do they just what is that parent doing. Becouse you tell one to go over by the deck and act like your chasing him or her down and make the grab.

 

TB

 

We did that but with a twist. Depends on the age of our kids though. there is a cache that's under an ornamental bridge in a shopping center. (not a micro, btw) I was sure that it was the location. So I sent the kids to "play." They were able to search for it without being noticed at all, made the grab and brought it back to me at the car ( 3 feet away). I had to instruct them on how to look without looking like they are looking. Now they are pros at it.

 

We try lots of things. We have code names for the cashe, "ball" is one. I ask the kids to help me find their ball. If anyone comes around, I turn to one and ask if they are sure this is where the ball is. They honestly answer that they think it is and muggles usually pass us by, leaving us to search for the lost ball.

 

Now me, I feel like I AM sticking out like a sore thumb. I must look like I'm looking for stuff. Adults don't duck down to hide behind something, or crawl around, or reach under/into bushes.

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If it is a lame lamp post micro, I will not worry about being seen. I will just go get it. If it gets muggled, too bad. Usually it is placed without permission anyway and should be removed. If I see the the poster obtained permission, I will be more careful. If not, boo hoo to the poster. I will always follow the rules and obtain permission to place any cache. I have been turned down many times by property owners and therefore, do not place the cache!!!! How many of you that have placed a lamp post cache at a local Wal**** have actually got permission to do so? I doubt there are many.

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My all time favorite urban cache was, (still is?), in a strip mall with some decorative landscaping enclosed by a 2' stone wall. Total area of the "garden", complete with Koi pond, was roughly 20'x10'. The large rocks scattered aimlessly about the garden were cemented in place. One of the rocks had a gap under it, which was where the ammo can was stashed. Because of the shadows, the ammo can was invisible. The retrieval involved sitting on the wall, reaching your hand in the gap, opening the can while it stayed in the gap, (not easy to do one handed), pulling out the log, signing it, then replacing the log, and closing the can, again with one hand. I had muggles walking right by me the whole time.

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I'm proud to say that of my 40+ hides, not a one is under a lamp skirt. I do have one in a parking lot, that routinely gets rave reviews, and another just outside the door to a business. The latter is placed with the permission of the business establishment. Both have killer spoiler hints, for those who want a quick find.

 

My thoughts on urban micros is that they should either be hidden in such a way that any cacher with 20 finds will almost instantly know where it is, or the cache page should just flat out tell you where it is hidden. The challenge should be to remove, sign, and replace the cache without arousing suspicion, not to crawl around on all fours while dozens of muggles qawk at you. It always kills me when someone hides a cache in the shrubbery in front of a busy establishment and then puts on the cache page, "Please be discrete when searching for this cache. It's been already been muggled 5 times." I mean, duh, what do you expect?

Edited by HoustonControl
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If it is a lame lamp post micro, I will not worry about being seen. I will just go get it. If it gets muggled, too bad. Usually it is placed without permission anyway and should be removed. If I see the the poster obtained permission, I will be more careful. If not, boo hoo to the poster. I will always follow the rules and obtain permission to place any cache. I have been turned down many times by property owners and therefore, do not place the cache!!!! How many of you that have placed a lamp post cache at a local Wal**** have actually got permission to do so? I doubt there are many.
I wonder how you would feel if your caches were muggled because someone didn't bother to show you enough respect to try to find a cache without being seen. I also wonder how you would feel if, because someone didn't try to use stealth, your cache was reported to the bomb squad.
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Well my "kids" are teenagers - if they were carpet crawling that would attract attention :D

 

Jenn

 

Teenagers! Perfect. Ok, go get the nerf guns... they shoot nerf darts, are harmless, inexpensive, and well fun for the kids and you too. You get out of the car, shoot each other, run to where the cache is, there will be running and ducking and laughter involved here, shoot around there and then just pick up your darts!

 

"I think one went under the ________. Do you see it? Billy, I can't reach that dart under there, can you get it?"

 

Done... Brilliant! (and modest too) :D Tell your friends!

 

Hardest part, getting the teenagers to STOP darting and go to the next cache! :( lol

Edited by shadohart
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I usually just go for it. If the hider puts the cache in a muggle rich area, then they better expect muggles to see us doing our thing and for the cache to go missing. Its not my problem if the cache goes missing. Maybe they should have put it in a better spot w/ less muggles.

 

Now if I know the hider spent some time on a quality hide, then I usually wont risk compromising the cache. But for a typical 35mm or hide-a-key cache, they aren't worth it.

 

Thats exactly how I used to feel, but now, I don't even bother hunting them. I don't "get" the excitement of acting strange in front of droves of people, and since most of them are hidden sans permission, I don't care for conflict with property owners.

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If it is a lame lamp post micro, I will not worry about being seen. I will just go get it. If it gets muggled, too bad. Usually it is placed without permission anyway and should be removed. If I see the the poster obtained permission, I will be more careful. If not, boo hoo to the poster. I will always follow the rules and obtain permission to place any cache. I have been turned down many times by property owners and therefore, do not place the cache!!!! How many of you that have placed a lamp post cache at a local Wal**** have actually got permission to do so? I doubt there are many.
I wonder how you would feel if your caches were muggled because someone didn't bother to show you enough respect to try to find a cache without being seen. I also wonder how you would feel if, because someone didn't try to use stealth, your cache was reported to the bomb squad.

If one of my caches were muggled because someone didn't use stealth, I would feel like an idiot for placing it in that spot in the first place. All of my caches are placed in areas that do not "promote getting muggled". And as far a a bomb squad, who wants to blow up the woods?

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If it is a lame lamp post micro, I will not worry about being seen. I will just go get it. If it gets muggled, too bad. Usually it is placed without permission anyway and should be removed. If I see the the poster obtained permission, I will be more careful. If not, boo hoo to the poster. I will always follow the rules and obtain permission to place any cache. I have been turned down many times by property owners and therefore, do not place the cache!!!! How many of you that have placed a lamp post cache at a local Wal**** have actually got permission to do so? I doubt there are many.
I wonder how you would feel if your caches were muggled because someone didn't bother to show you enough respect to try to find a cache without being seen. I also wonder how you would feel if, because someone didn't try to use stealth, your cache was reported to the bomb squad.
If one of my caches were muggled because someone didn't use stealth, I would feel like an idiot for placing it in that spot in the first place. All of my caches are placed in areas that do not "promote getting muggled". And as far a a bomb squad, who wants to blow up the woods?
It happens.
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If it is a lame lamp post micro, I will not worry about being seen. I will just go get it. If it gets muggled, too bad. Usually it is placed without permission anyway and should be removed. If I see the the poster obtained permission, I will be more careful. If not, boo hoo to the poster. I will always follow the rules and obtain permission to place any cache. I have been turned down many times by property owners and therefore, do not place the cache!!!! How many of you that have placed a lamp post cache at a local Wal**** have actually got permission to do so? I doubt there are many.
I wonder how you would feel if your caches were muggled because someone didn't bother to show you enough respect to try to find a cache without being seen. I also wonder how you would feel if, because someone didn't try to use stealth, your cache was reported to the bomb squad.

If one of my caches were muggled because someone didn't use stealth, I would feel like an idiot for placing it in that spot in the first place. All of my caches are placed in areas that do not "promote getting muggled". And as far a a bomb squad, who wants to blow up the woods?

 

Sbell111,

 

I understand your premise, but until someone can argue the intrinsic value of a piece of paper, and a 35mm canister that was hidden in full view of the general public, I wont lose any sleep when they go missing.

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I'm fairly new at this, but I've developed two techniques that I think are effective. People watching me might think otherwise. One is to pretend to be listening on a cell phone and occasionally saying a few words. It gives you an excuse to be walking around aimlessly. The other is to take a camera and move around looking for shots. The latter is better on trails as it gives you a reason for being stopped.

 

Some sites are just too public. One I tried is in a triangle between three streets which are very busy. The log often mentions that a women comes out of a store and asks if you've found it yet. There's no way you can sneak up on this one.

 

Another was in a deserted parking lot that I thought would be inconspicuous. It turned out the a man lived above a storage facility overlooking the lot and saw people looking for it all the time. He came up and asked me what was going on. Fortunately, he thought it was a lot of fun.

 

Curt

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I feel you pain.

 

i have much the same fears as you are experiencing. hiding "in plain sight" is not my forte, so usually i give up as well. the only solutions i have come up with so far are these 2....

 

1. try going back to the cache at a completely different time. i know going at night is hard with kids, but it's worth a try. this worked for my first micro find. went during the day the first time and got scared. then went back at night a couple days later and there was nobody around. found it in 1 minute.

 

2. just go for it. trying to look casual makes you look less casual and more suspicious. so my theory is just try to find it. if you look for a few minutes with no luck, leave for a minute. then go back and look again at another likely spot. sometimes just charging ahead will let you find it and leave before anyone noticies you are even there.

 

anyway, those are my approaches to urban micros. i HATE them...but they are so much fun in a way!!

 

top con

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I generally despise urban caches, particularly micros. I usually won't even bother hunting for them. When I do go hunting for them, I have found that the fake talking on the cell phone thing is a good way to do things without being noticed. Last week I had to try to replace a micro cache in a tight spot in the middle of a college campus. I couldn't figure out how I was going to accomplish it, but finally figured out that I could use the pretense of making a cell phone call (was able to put the cache in place while getting the phone out of my purse and then kick it into place while pacing around talking on the phone).

 

Most urban microcaches are not worth it for me. I don't want to create problems by either disturbing business owners or the police or by having someone see me and then destroy the cache. There are some very clever urban caches that I have found, however, so don't shut yourself off from them entirely. I found one on a road trip this summer that was hidden in a trap door in a flower bed and another that was stuck down a metal post (you had to retrieve it by pulling out a stake that had a rope attached that was tied to the cache container). If the owners put a lot of thought and creativity into them, urban caches can be very interesting. But I'm still generally not comfortable hunting for them when there are many people around.

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I love urban micros, I have a blast looking for them.

 

I went to GeoCoinFest in California last week and cached with a bunch of folk.

 

Wednesday through Saturday we did interesting traditionals from Mexico to Temecula. Saw some great sites. Met no other geocachers but enjoyed each cache.

 

Before the event Sunday we went micro-hunting... found almost as many Sunday morning as we did all week! There were dozens of carloads of people chasing micros before the event - you would pull up and find three or four cars already at the site, a crowd signing the log, jump in the car and go .5 mile and do it again with a different crowd! Met a lot of geocachers, saw a lot of sights and just had a ball!

 

There's no one way to play or enjoy this game!

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