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I breathe trees. Meaning, I don’t just see them on the fringes of the outdoors. Nada. Trees occupy my very being, me intently watching their leaves flutter in the wind the way Dr. Zhivago did out of the refugee train window, running my fingers through the cool, soft needles of toddler White Pines, listening to trees howl in monster wind or rustle in a baby breeze; staring up from my hammock through delicately patterned Honey Locust layers, inhaling big gulps of Cedar fragrance.
It’s that Cedar spiciness that heralds visitors to Door County. My son says he can smell it, upon arrival, as soon as his car door opens. Me, I can hardly bear to close a window and miss any of it. Some folks are hooked on the Today Show; I’m addicted to tree scent. And, if I don’t get my fix, I know where I’ll be headed. Don’t tell me they are just plants. You try to successfully grow out of a crack in the concrete. See how you make out. There they are, each leaf strategically placed, straining to catch the sun, inhaling our dirty carbon dioxide and gifting us with fresh oxygen in return. Creating shady nooks on scorching days and rolling panoramas of green oceans to the ends of the land.
Now, a very fun way for me to get my tree fix is to go geocaching - searching for hidden treasure. You get clues and you have to set out and solve a puzzle: the “where-is-it-puzzle.” Get a GPS unit or see if your phone can accommodate. Log onto Geocaching.com to find nearly endless caching opportunities for bumbling around the county, into highly populated or secluded spots, looking for specific kinds of boxes that someone else has hidden and you are looking to find. I usually begin by entering the zip code of an area I plan to be near. Then, you can choose one geocache that looks interesting, thus bringing up a map, then a larger map view, on which all of the geocaches around will show up. Hover over anything that looks appealing. Then, read the description to see if this is a geocache you’d like to go for. They’ve got caches that work in the winter, series caches, double caches, huge ammo box caches and weensy micro caches; even Virtual caches where you count coup on a view, not a box. My first time out caching, I miss-entered the GPS coordinates and ended up traversing the wrong woodlot. But what could be better than traipsing aimlessly around a woodlot? Now, I’m a pro. Got my bag of caching gear: tree-picture playing cards to tuck as swag into caching containers, my GPS unit, my Door County map. I hit my nemesis cache, though, at a local cemetery (also terrific places for trees because they are allowed to grow big there. I went back SIX times to find that little baby. Lots of OTHER people were finding it. But I couldn’t see the cache….for the tree. I’ve got 3 caches set out myself, all south of Sturgeon Bay. All tied into the theme of….yep, trees. My codename is too: EmbraceArbre (French for: Tree Hugger).
One of the great side benefits about this entire geocaching business is that it will take you places you never set out to visit on purpose. I discovered my second-place cemetery, with a view of Lake Michigan (in case the kids don’t make it to my first choice with my ashes), many stop signs, a giant, leaping, fiberglass deer, the base of a lookout tower, stumps of trees, both a natural and a human-made rock wall, the edge of a restaurant parking lot, a romantically placed bench on a cliff. There isn’t anyone ever bent on traveling to LaSalle County Park (lower) until they get there; then, the turning waves, the precariously rocky shore, the giant firs that line the entrance, work their magic on folks. You’d think, with the euphoria they thank me with, for the cache, that they’d discovered a gold mine out there. Maybe they have.
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