I know this is hard to believe, but yesterday I went out and found a cache. I found myself in a different urban park near the University of Texas, a green space behind one of the older dormitories. I knew the park was there, but I hadn’t had reason to go in over a decade, so there’s something to be said for geocaching taking you to places you wouldn’t normally go. I walked along a well-worn path and found myself at an archway in a stone wall, the inspiration for the cache’s name. The hint pretty much revealed the cache’s location, hidden behind a wooden retaining post supporting the arch. I gently pulled at the post. It came away from the mortar about an inch, just far enough to insert fingers and pull out the DNA tube nestled in the stone. I signed the log and almost lost the tube to vines and brambles while returning it to its resting place.
We, as cachers, often think about stewardship of nature. As some are wont to say, leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photos. The same thinking needs to extend to urban environments for similar reasons. We don’t want to harm ourselves or break things that serve a purpose in maintaining human life and society. We also want to preserve what we have for others to see and enjoy. I don’t know how old that wall was. I don’t think it was a century old, but it had to be close, and that assumes that I’m right about its youth. Poking around in the stonework, pulling at the post, seeing bits of mortar falling to the ground, I realized that maybe we were doing a disservice to it as great as any branch breaking or extreme bushwhacking. Little hidden things like this have enough competition: urban development, environmental challenges, and the relentless march of time itself. We shouldn’t be another source of destruction. I was once told that, for similar reasons, geocaching on old bridges is severely frowned upon in Europe. The last thing that centuries-old bridges need is people picking at them for no good reason. Just because the US doesn’t have infrastructure going back to Justinian or Charlemagne or the Houses of Lancaster and Plantagenet doesn’t mean we don’t have little old gems like these dotted about. It may be true that the works of man are destined to crumble into the dust, but that doesn’t mean we have to help the process.
7 thoughts on “Archenemy”
As a New Englander, what I notice and cringe at is when caches are placed in stone walls. I have seen old stone walls in the woods destroyed by folks seeking the cache. If I can’t see it, I don’t even try, not worth taking stones out and trying to replace. The reviewers are not supposed to ok caches in stone walls for that reason.
We have no sense of preservation here. Time and again I see historical buildings torn down for a new development. A historic former inn, turned restaurant, was torn down here in town to make way for an Autozone. historic boarding house for quarry workers was torn down, rather than renovated and possibly turned into housing that is desperately needed. The land sits empty now – it’s still for sale (they thought tearing down the property would make it easier to sell). At the same time, there is no local funding to preserve these buildings. Everything that’s done is in regard to getting more tourists here to support the economy, rather than preservation.
Well, don’t get me wrong… I’m not one of those grognards who says that everything older than a decade needs to be preserved as a historical building. Progress has to happen and sometimes the old has to make way for the new. That also being said, too many of these choices are being made based on someone’s pocketbook. Too many developers want to throw up new condos that nobody can afford. A lot of organized NIMBYs fight to preserve neighborhood character is really just them protecting their home values. The City Government doesn’t even care if it’s in the way of something they want to place somewhere. And JEEBUS FORBID if you live in poorer neighborhoods because your opinion will be treated with a pat on the head at best before whomever if trying to blank you over just does whatever they want anyway.
As you can probably tell, this is a bit of a thing for me…
LikeLiked by 2 people
I agree though. We need to strike a better balance than treating our history as disposable for the sake of progress. Sometimes preservation is done for the right reasons, and sometimes it isn’t. I visited Newport, RI and while some people visit the mansions and think they are beautiful, I see them as a sign that too many people had too much money while others suffered in poverty. There are lessons to be learned everywhere, and sometimes it depends on your background on what you take from it.
Great food for thought.