The other weekend I embarked on another historical geocaching hunt commemorating the Battle of Brooklyn, beginning first at Fort Hamilton Park, which is easily one of my favorite areas because of its proximity to the Verrazano Bridge. A huge fog was rolling in from the Narrows and covered half the bridge while I was pulling off the exit to Hamilton. It made for a spectacular view, so I took a quick snapshot from the car:
The British forces had landed near here for the purpose of flanking the Americans from the east, effectively surrounding them on all sides… except for the north, where George Washington made his escape with his army virtually intact to Manhattan and beyond. Tee hee, almost had us there, didn’t ya lobsterbacks?
After finding a place to park, I got out and began my search. The geocache I was looking for is in fact known as a mystery cache, and in order to find its actual hiding spot, I had to first find several clues located throughout the Brooklyn area, then put it all together to calculate the GPS coordinates to the cache. While looking around I decided to take a short walk and took a few more pictures of the famous bridge. I love this area.
After finishing my walk, I found my first clue in front of a cannon inside the park, and jotted down the details in my iPod. It was now time to find the next clue, which was located in Bensonhurst at the site of the Liberty Pole.
Bensonhurst is also famous for its 18th Avenue stretch (among other things), but I was on a different mission today. I parked my car again and took a quick walk down the road before finding myself at New Utrecht Reformed Church. The famous Liberty Pole towered in front of it:
The flagpole here marked the spot of a Liberty Pole that was installed on Evacuation Day, when the British finally gave up and left — November 25, 1783. While many other flags were erected, this one, however, was the sixth in a line of uninterrupted successions on this site, making it the ONLY Liberty Pole in continuous use since the Revolution. And of course, it also contained the second clue too. Once I found what I was looking for, it was now off to find the next clue, at the oldest mile marker in New York City. I only had to walk a few blocks before finding it, curiously enough, at Milestone Park. The original stone marker had been removed for safekeeping, but the mileage information it displayed had been recorded on a bronze plaque and set into the angled top of a granite pedestal at the center of the park. The milestone, installed around 1741, marked the junction of the Old New Utrecht Road (today’s 18th Avenue) and the King’s Highway. The clue required a calculation of the distance to Deny’s Ferry, which only this marker could provide, so I made my calculation, then watched as others around the park settled in at tables to either play chess (or do other stuff I’m probably better off not knowing about.) No need to dawdle now, I still had two more stops to go, so it was back to the car to take a quick hop to the Flatlands.
Once I arrived at the Flatlands, I had to find a marker located at the Flatlands Reformed Church, a pretty clapboard building that stood adjacent to an ancient cemetery. I was now on the same spot where the British began its flanking maneuver to Jamaica Pass. General Cornwallis had also marched through here in command of one of the columns, and George Washington himself had traveled the same road a few years after the war.
After taking a quick walk through the cemetery, I went back to one of the markers and easily got the clue I needed. One more clue and I would have everything I need to calculate the final coordinates to the cache. This time I had to continue following the path of the British’s night march all the way to the Claesen Wycoff House Museum, an ancient farmhouse that was also used as a guard house for the British. Today it is now the oldest landmark in New York City.
I saw no place to park this time, but there was a McDonald’s next door, so I quickly turned in there and then got out to see the old farm house. My last clue was located on one of the entrance gates, so it only took a few minutes of scanning before I found the final piece of the puzzle. At long last! After jotting down the info I needed, I went back to Mickie-D’s and ran into an unexpected surprise:
MY CAR!!!!! It was just about to be towed away when I came back. I raced to the tow truck driver and demanded to know what the ^$*% he was doing. He kept writing on his sheet, then jabbed his pen at the sign I had parked in front of. The sign indicated that only patrons of McDonald’s could park here.
“Dude, I was only here for 5 minutes! Are you seriously gonna do this?”
“You’ll have to stop by this address,” he jabbed his pen again at the address on the sheet he was writing on, “and pay the fine before your vehicle can be released again.”
“Dude, I’M STANDING RIGHT HERE. Why do you have to go off somewhere when we can resolve this now?!?” I also told him who I worked for, and was amazed that it didn’t faze him in the least. Then I realized why: I was dealing with a privately paid tow truck driver this time. He must have been hiding behind the restaurant and went to tow my ride as soon as I went next door. Just like that.
At that point I seriously wondered whether I should just grab his head and slam it down on the steering wheel, tear up the sheet that had all my info on it, then hit the lever to lower my car so I could make my escape. I was sure I could get away fast enough before anyone realized what was happening. I started to reach out and…
“Look, I’ll tell you want, there’s an ATM machine inside. If you pay cash now, I’ll drop the car and you can go.”
I thought about it and decided I was better off just paying. I shouldn’t have had to pay to begin with since I hadn’t seen the sign, but it was clearly there and he had me dead to rights. Besides, I had already insulted his mother, his sister, and his last three girlfriends, so I acquiesced and paid the fine rather than watch him drive off with my baby.
$100. Plus city tax.
I went inside and also ordered fries so I could break the change I needed. Ironically enough I ended up being a patron after all, so in a way I had just paid for the most expensive order of fries I have ever had in my life.
Needless to say, I am boycotting McDonald’s for probably the next ten years now. Park THIS, Ronald.
My harrowing experience was finally over once the tow truck weenie unshackled my poor baby and drove away, and after settling down, I put together the coordinates I needed to drive to the geocache. As it turns out, it was hidden somewhere in Prospect Park. Oh boy.
I only had maybe 30 minutes more of daylight left to make a quick search for the cache, but for some reason half the park was blockaded by barriers today. I was gonna have to hoof it at least a half of mile just to where X marked the spot, so I decided to just drive around the barriers and park on the grass somewhere.
And of course, NYPD shows up 2 minutes after I had gotten out of the car to start my search.
Are these people following me around or something? I ran back to the car again and talked to the cop for a few minutes, who had this issue about me parking illegally on the grass in the middle of a city park for some reason. Yeesh, people are so ridiculously green these days…
She however, unlike that stupid evil tow truck weenie, let me go, having acknowledged my supreme awesomeness. I should have told her about him too, but I didn’t want to press my luck. I had probably already violated 15 different traffic laws just getting here from the Flatlands, so mum’s the word for now, eh?
Unfortunately my encounter with NYPD forced me to cut my search short, and I had no choice but to go home empty handed. Ah well. :(
On the upside, it did give me something to write about.