Monday, 27 October 2008.
I have come as far north and as far west as I can. (The picture is of the Canadian border - mere blocks from Tee's house.) It's time to turn toward home, whatever THAT is. I'm going to head south now until I get into the middle of California and then turn back east. I didn't make it very FAR south today, but it's a start.
Through the coordinated efforts of Brian, Tee, and Suzanne, it was arranged for me to visit The Lilly Pad, also known as Groundspeak Headquarters. Groundspeak is the company that runs the Geocaching website (http://www.geocaching.com/), as well as develops new applications to add to the fun of the game. I'm sure they do a lot of other things of which I'm not aware, but I'm not engrossed in the hobby enough to look it all up. Suffice it to say that for many of the "hardcore" cachers, The Lilly Pad is a bit like Mecca. It doesn't hurt that they are in downtown Seattle within blocks of the bay, either. It's a beautiful place. I got there around 2 pm and was let in by Annie (they don't like folks just walking in and nosing around so they keep the door locked). I don't know if it was just random luck or her assigned job, but Annie was definitely a great choice for greeting the "pilgrims." I also met Jen. She is a big fan of Jeeps like I am (I'm currently on my third Jeep), so she is now near the top of my "Favorite Groundspeak Lackeys" list (sorry, Ken - she's better looking than you, too.) They both were very polite and friendly and are both very good at putting up with the random babblings of strangers. I got to see the interactive touch screen that tracks the latest finds around the world and shows them on Google Earth (THAT was cool!). I also got to log the cache that is just inside the front door - it's a full-sized treasure chest. Not exactly "hidden," but still very cool. I thanked them for their time and got back on the road. I had another geocacher friend to meet for the first time!
Loriahn is a cacher and a Soldier, too. She and I were both at camp Udari in Kuwait at the same time waiting to head north into Iraq back in June of last year, but we didn't know it at the time. We eventually made contact through e-mail and were able to keep in touch for most of the year that I was there. We both had rough times and we were able to help each other keep our sanity (or least not lose as much of it) during some of the worst of those times. When she heard that I was going to be out this way, she threatened me with bodily harm if I didn't stop in to see her. As our schedules worked out, it turned out that if I wanted to hang out with her I was going to have to go with her and her bridesmaids while she tried on her wedding dress. Seems she's getting married to a pretty great guy next summer. Lucky dog. So we had a quick dinner at RAM Brewery (LOVE their beer cheese dip!!) and then headed for the bridal shop. I mostly sat and made snarky comments and took a few pictures, but we had fun. She had to get up early the next morning for a uniform inspection, so I headed out right after she was done so I could find a room for the night. That's when the real fun started.
My first thought was to head for Fort Lewis, right around the corner from Loriahn. I needed a temporary pass so I stopped at the visitor center. First the guy tells me to take a number. I was the only person in the lobby. So of course my number comes up immediately (it was one of those automated number callers). Then he asks me for my license, registration, proof of insurance, and motorcycle safety course card. Ummm... I took that class in 2001 in Germany. Pretty sure I don't have that. "Well, sir, I'm afraid I can't give you a pass. They're really cracking down on that stuff." Great. I drive five miles down the interstate and spend half an hour checking with the two hotels at that exit. Both are booked solid. Now it's late and I'm getting cold and irritated. I wind up driving another ten miles down the highway before I find a place with a room. At this point I don't even care if the shower works. Just give me a place with an internet connection and a bed. I only rode 200 miles today, (total of 3260 so far) but I'm still beat.
Still, I had a good day meeting the lackeys at Groundspeak and hanging out with a "battle buddy," so I can't complain. And if finding a room is the most trouble I have this trip, I will count myself extremely lucky.