Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What's that smell?

You know that smell you notice when you open up a cache and have discovered an unsullied log, bereft of any signature, except your own when you’ve finished logging the cache? You have a First to Find (FTF), which can be highly prized by many cachers. I like to call the smell, Virgin Log. It’s actually become a joke between some of the cachers in my area. Will Webfoot get a whiff of virgin log this time? Usually not, because I’m not really a FTF hog. I’ll get the occasional FTF and they always seem to come in bunches as well. I can go months without getting any, then three or four will fall on a day or a week’s period of time.

I’ve driven as far as 77 miles away for an FTF and as close as ¾ of a mile where I walked to the cache from my house. I got an FTF during a torrential downpour that let up right when the Tadpole and I got to ground zero. I’d picked him up from school and it was pouring. I asked him if he’d like to find a cache, and he told me not really. When I told him that there was a possible FTF involved, his mood changed and said, “What the heck, let’s go for it.” So we drove over to ground zero, which was on the way home. As we were parking, the rain stopped. We made the quick grab, opened up the cache and found that we were the first finders. So we signed the log in the car, because it was sprinkling a little, then I went back over and replaced the cache. As I got back into the car, the heavens opened up into a regular deluge. I think there was someone looking down on us for that FTF.

If you’ve cached long enough, you’re eventually going to get some FTFs along the way. In my first four years of caching, I got a grand total of 3 FTFs. And as I look over my bookmarked list of FTFs, I can see that only one of those three did I actually and purposely go out and try to get the FTF. Since that time, most of the rest of my 32 FTFs, I’ve gone out to get them. I probably could have more, but I don’t get email notifications, or blackberry alerts like others in my area. One cacher in our area likes to sign his logs stating that the log now has blackberry stains on it when he’s first to find. My signature line, that the local know about, when I get a first to find is, “Love that smell of Virgin Log.” Interestingly, of the 32 FTFs that I have, I’ve only actually written that on about 10 logs, yet local cachers know that it’s my signature line when I get a first to find and seem to expect seeing it as well. Go figure.

I would have to say that my most satisfying FTF was one where I had to do a pre-emptive strike to keep another of the local cachers at bay. This particular cache had been dedicated to me and several other local cachers, including the guy who I figured would probably be my biggest challenge to get this FTF. Once the cache was published, we actually started a running conversation on the cache page that, in retrospect, probably loses a lot in translation, but at the time was pretty hysterical. While this conversation was going on, I had the presence of mind to send him an email asking if he’d be interested in finding it together. When he responded in the affirmative, it became a go for the following day. It was pretty much guaranteed that the FTF would still be there, since it was a hike up in the foothills, so off we went and after finding all five stages of this great multi-cache, we were standing at ground zero and smelling virgin log. Nice.

That was my 7th FTF of 2007. I’ve since found three others for an even ten for last year. As I stated earlier, they seem to come in waves. I haven’t found any in 2008 yet, but then again, I really haven’t tried for any and probably won’t until summertime rolls around when I have more time away from work. Until then, I'll just be satisfied with what I find, when I find it, even if it doesn’t have that special smell to the log.

Pictures were taken at or near the following geocaches, which were all FTFs for Webfoot.

At One With Nature - by juniperb
North of 1951 - by Lostlad
Higganbothem Express - by King Camilomilo

Profile for Webfoot


Bob said...

I find FTF is nothing more than bragging. Find the cache, don't brag about having done so before everyone else because it just may be that it wasn't before everyone else.

BTW, nice site. ;)

Hick@Heart said...

My favorite is the FTF prize in the form of an unactivated geocoin. I do like the idea of an FTF signature. That special something that says "I was here". Consider the idea replicated. (That's a 6 Sigma term for stolen!) I'll make the effort to come up with my own verbiage.

Geocaching With Team Hick@Heart

chaosmanor said...

Well, bob, a little bragging never hurt, as long as it's in good taste and it's part of the game. I don't know how or where boasting about FTFs got started, but folks were doing it way back in the Spring of aught-one, when we started geocaching. I rarely see anyone make that big of a deal about it, beyond a "whoo-hoo" and a few smilies, and certainly not afterwards. I don't know how many FTFs we have, and the acknowledged local FTF-hound doesn't know how many *he* has, either. Which is not a condemnation of Webbie for knowing how many he has! I don't think he's ever mentioned the number to us before, so it isn't like he parades it around.

In any event, to my mind, FTFs are one of those neat little perks that come to those who check the listings regularly, and who are willing and able to go out at odd times and places to hunt for the box. Why not brag a little, especially if there was a DNF beforehand? My last FTF was one of those. Let's Fly and I were on a two-day drive up the Central Valley and down through Gold Country. A new cache popped up a couple of days before we left. It had two DNFs the night before we left. We spent 15 minutes in the gathering dark before Richard came up with it. You bet we were going to brag a little! Two out-of-towners stole a march on the locals who couldn't come up with it: gotta love it :-)

What must be realized, especially by those who have been caching for less than four years, is that for us really-old-timers, FTFs were a huge part of the game when we started. We were just a few hours late to be FTF for our second Find, and two days late on our third Find. Caches were few and far-between in 2001; the first page of listings from our home covered a circle about 15 miles in radius. I don't know if there's anywhere in the world, except maybe the poles, or the top of Mt Everest, where that would happen, now. Back then, a cache could sit for several days before it was found; our first FTF was one like that. That was our tenth find, six months after we started caching. There was a virtual in Northern California that we were FTF on 15 days (!) after it showed up, and we had already passed it once on the way up, but couldn't stop due to some event going on. That was in the summer of 2002. Yeah, few and far-between caches were, back then :-o

I like to put a "fresh" geocoin in our new hides; they are almost always greatly appreciated by the finders. Wish I knew who the first person to do that was, so I could thank them; they started a great tradition.

I have picked up Webfoot's "virgin log" comment for our own FTFs, and at least one local cacher has taken it up from me :-) I don't dance, so I don't do "the FTF jig", as some others do, and as much as I like smilies, I think that posting a string of 20 of them is a little over-done, but there are many who disagree, which is fine: to each his own. Which also means that if you don't want to celebrate your own FTFs, that's cool.

Bob said...

Well, bob, a little bragging never hurt, as long as it's in good taste and it's part of the game.

Did you red what I linked to? There has been hurt due to FTF.

I was reared to be modest. Going around proclaiming "Nanny nanny boo boo" doesn't fit that.

I find it interesting that you defend this. I don't recall anyone who plays Minute War or Geodashing running around thumping his chest. One of the things about Scout's site that is pleasant is how cordial folks are.

When I began caching in 2001 this wasn't a consideration. I didn't hear of FTF to until later.

Why do we accept behaviors in geocaching that we would not accept elsewhwere? When you enter a Burger King and someone scoots in front of you as you look at the menu, would it be kind if that person let the world know he beat you?

What about me signing the guest register at a wake before you and letting everyone know? Is that considered kind?

Then why is it okay for someone to brag that he found a cache before someone else?

P.J. said...

Sorry, but that's part of the game. Everyone plays it different. You don't get excited about FTF, fine. Others do, that's fine, too. The beauty of this game is that everyone can do it their own way.

That being said, I got a FTF today and thought it was cool. Did I bump my chest? No. Did I think it was cool? Sure did. If you think that's bragging, so be it. Life isn't all peaches and cream.

On a different note, I like the site here. Good entry for your blog.


Bob said...

It appears that either you have not read the linked article or you are excusing behavior that I certainly consider bragging.

I have not logged a cache at in more than three years, yet I am still called out in people's online logs that they beat me to the cache, that they "lost" the FTF because of me, etc. That certainly appears to be dragging me into a set of behavior I have no desire to.

As for it being part of the game . . . not always. It was late 2003 when I went back over my first two years of caching to see if I could determine those. And when I did, it was a private thing.

Around here, this is the type of log that is left to acknowledge FTF. I do not excuse this as "part of the game".

It is rude. Life is not peaches and cream, but don't talk about the "community" that geocaching fosters and then "accept" this kind of behavior. I loathe it.