This evening I took my daughter to see her dad ride one of the longhorns in the Independence Day parade at Rising Star and after that, she went home with him. My son was off at his friends house at the lake so I was on my own. I took off for Comanche to hit a geocache in the neat park they have and then worked my way back through the country roads catching a few more caches (mostly cemetary caches which are not my favorite).
I knew it was going to be getting dark by the time I got to the last ones back toward Rising Star but I had my flashlight and was going to give them a shot.
The last one while it was still dusk was at a cemetary near Taylor Chapel. Then I took the backroads toward Sipe Springs and the roads kept getting worse and worse until I thought I had accidentally wound up on someone's pasture road. There were just two tire trails in the sand with grass growing between. I knew I was still on a marked road because my GPSr was showing me which road I was on. It was getting darker and what would have been a lovely country drive in the day, seemed more like Deliverance territory and once that thought occurred to me, the creepy strain of banjos kept playing in my mind.
Threre was a thumbnail moon low in the West and I had already decided to skip a particular cache because of the creep factor of finding it alone in the dark. I thought I was headed for the one at Sipe Springs but when I rounded the corner, I knew I had come upon the one I had intended to avoid.
The cache is called "Pains of the Wagon Train" and it is about 10 feet away from an 1870 grave next to the road. It is where a wagon train passed through and a three year old girl had died. They buried the little girl and had to move on.
There is no cemetary and I had been expecting just an old grave marker near the road like the one on the way to Moran. Neither grave has ever been moved. They both remain in their original locations as part of hsitory.
But when I rounded the corner and the jeep lights panned through the darkness, I saw way more than just a grave marker. Other stones outline the tiny grave and over the many decades people have left things all over this little girl's grave. There was more than one falling down Virgin Mary statue, old dolls in various stages of decay, a small chipped cherub statue, faded silk flowers, rosary beads draped over everything.
It was so close to the dirt road that if you put your toes at the stones, your heals were in the road.
I'm sure this would have been a very interesting stop in the daytime with some other geocachers. We would have looked over all the things that had been left. Taken the time to make out the dates on the ancient marker. But alone... at night... way in the back-country... this was super creepy.
Part of me wanted to say "Forget the geocache, I'm not getting out of this jeep." But I didn't. I dug out my flashlight, left the jeep running and found the cache across the road under an ancient fallen fence post. I logged my visit with the hairs standing up on the back of my neck. Even took a couple of photos with my cell phone.
I started to leave my phone and GPSr on the hood of the jeep while I replaced the cache but could just picture them being gone when I came back so they stayed gripped in my hands along with the flashlight.
After that, I found Rising Star as fast as I could and then drove the last 20 miles home with the psychological comfort of paved roads, cars passing by, and homes with lights on.
Whew. No more solitary night caches for me.
Okay, I've found a daytime photo that another geocacher took. Not nearly as creepy. But, man, it is really out in the middle of nowhere.