Having visited some friends in the Boston area, I decided to take the scenic route home and do some geocaching. On my “random” list I found one fairly nearby that had over 300 favorite points and decided to go for it. I ended up on a lovely trail system with trail markers made to look like tiny bird houses, and the roof color matched the trail color! Three of these had numbers I needed to collect in order to open a combination lock when I reached the cache. (Other bird houses had numbers, too, and I wondered why.)
Along the way I began to find little vignettes with various objects making a little scene. They were randomly placed on top of rocks, tucked into hollows, and arranged at the base of trees.
I was enchanted already, but when I reached Ground Zero I was completely flabbergasted! Someone had built a raised train track, a little deck with a sitting area and table, and all sorts of little vignettes and displays in and around the trees. WOW!!!
I happily took pictures and then unlocked the bench containing the cache. Unbelievable! I sat at the table (Ha!) and looked through the logbook before signing it. Just as I was finishing I heard some people approaching so I quickly put everything back. I was just replacing the locks when they came into view. They were in fact geocachers, and they actually recognized me from the Rhode Island geocache Facebook page! They had specifically sought out this find as their 2000th cache, and it was wonderful to have someone around to share the joy that this installation inspired.
I was so enamored by this remarkable discovery that I began researching the place as soon as I got back home. I read everything I could find online about the creator, Jim Metcalf, and why he constructed this woodland wonderland. While the name of the cache is “The Depot” (for obvious reasons!), he christened the site “Martini Junction” in honor of the site’s original purpose: to provide a pleasant setting for him and his wife to enjoy a martini alongside a little stream near his house. When his daughter showed him the train she had bought to adorn her Christmas tree display, his imagination was sparked. An engineer by trade and an artist at heart, Jim went to work designing and constructing. It’s an ongoing project both for him and for the visitors; objects are frequently added as time goes by. I didn’t find answers to all of my questions, but I learned a great deal. Some people had written about their good fortune to have discovered the Depot when Jim was there and they got to see the trains running. Now I’m dreaming of another trip out to Needham, Massachusetts! 😀
Before publishing this blog entry I did contact Jim and ask permission to post pictures. He said that I was welcome to do so and that there are loads of them already available to the public. Many are posted as part of geocachers’ log entries, of course, but there are many more to be found on the web.
Someday I hope to revisit Martini Junction and, if I’m really lucky, get to see the trains running in person! A huge thanks to Jim Metcalf for this remarkable gift he has given (and keeps giving) to not only his fans but also the many who are yet to discover this wondrous place.