Today, we have a guest post from Teacher and Author Amanda Zeiba, and are presenting a sneak peak of the entire first chapter of her new book “The Birthday Cache”, which is on sale now! She has graciously allowed us to give away a copy of the book. Simply post a comment to the post for a chance to win. Seeing as the OCNA blogger is going in for surgery the day after this post, we will leave this contest open for two full weeks; the comments will be assigned a number 1 thru X, and the winner will be chosen on Tuesday, January 23rd, via a random.org drawing.
Amanda Zieba is a full time teacher, a wife and mother always, and a writer any minute she can squeeze in. She is the author of numerous children’s books and one adult novella.
In addition to writing, she loves visiting schools and facilitating writer’s workshops for young writers.
Diet Pepsi and Cherry PopTarts fuel her beautifully manicured fingers to fly across the page in an effort to share her stories with you. You can find her online at www.amandazieba.com
Molly stomped through the woods clutching a brand new GPS receiver in her hand. Following the path highlighted on the screen only occupied part of her brain. The rest was busy listing complaints.
Complaints about their life on the road. Complaints about the lack of privacy for a twelve-year-old girl inside an RV. Complaints about missing her grandparents, friends, dance classes, and a thousand other things in Boston. But her biggest complaints were about her birthday.
I wish I was celebrating my birthday with my BEST FRIEND. But noooo, instead I am walking through the middle of the woods, for FUN. I’d rather be with Gabby, eating ice cream or going to the mall, or doing ANYTHING else NORMAL!
Molly paused, looking left and then right. Frustrated with every part of the adventure, she sighed loudly and mentally gave up.
“Here.” Molly shoved the GPSr into her twin brother’s hands. It’s a better present for him than me anyway. She folded her arms across her chest and dragged her feet, letting Mason take the lead. Their parents walked behind them, sandwiching Molly between them and her obnoxiously happy brother Mason.
“Some happy birthday this is,” she muttered.
“What’s that, Mol’ Doll?” her dad asked.
“Nothing.” She spoke a little louder than she meant to, causing a nearby bird to cry out and fly away.
The foursome wove through the trees, doing their best to follow the directions displayed on the GPSr. Mom snapped pictures with the camera that was permanently attached to her hand.
Mason rattled off facts he had learned from the Internet about geocaching. “The GPS receivers use a series of twenty-four low-orbiting satellites to help geocachers find what they are looking for. At first it was only used for military stuff, but in 2000, they started allowing civilians to use it too.”
Molly rolled her eyes, but continued to follow her know-it-all brother. He was always spouting annoying facts. Finally they reached the spot they had been searching for. When they discovered that it wasn’t a traditional cache, Molly’s annoyance grew.
Instead of unclasping the hinges of an old ammo can or prying the cover off a film canister, they stood huddled around a square sign. It read: Original Stash, the first geocache placed here, May 3, 2000. N 45° 17.460 W° 122 24.800.
A traditional cache was a hidden container that held something you could take with you as a souvenir. Once you picked out an item, you replaced it with one of your own. They’d collected all kinds of things from caches: coins, keychains, and magnets. Here they were stuck with no treasure to find or trade, just a plaque to look at.
Dad pulled his phone out of his pocket and began putting his writer’s research skills to work. “It says here that the original cache was a five-gallon bucket containing all sorts of things—a little money, a book, a cassette tape. Lots of people came here to find it. Unfortunately, a road crew’s lawn mower destroyed it by accident.”
“Bummer,” Mom said.
“Definitely. Instead, they put in this plaque to mark the spot of the first geocache ever. It is called a virtual cache. No treasures, only a location to find.”
“Virtually lame,” Molly said, and then guiltily shrugged when she realized she’d said it out loud.
“Check this out,” Dad said. He continued to read from his phone. “Geocaching urban legend says that if you place your GPSr on top of the plaque, it will grant you extra-long battery life and super-good satellite reception.”
“Well, we can’t miss out on that!” Mason said and put the GPSr on top of the plaque.
“Do we pray to the GPS gods or do a rain dance or something?” Mom asked.
“Nope. It should be good,” Dad said.
“Great. Can we go back to the RV now?” Molly asked.
“You guys can hang around a bit,” Mom said. “Molly and I will walk back.”
Without saying goodbye, Molly turned around and began walking back to their home on wheels. Mom gave Dad a weak smile and then turned to follow her daughter. They walked in silence for a bit before Mom said, “I’m sorry you don’t like your gift. You guys seemed to really like geocaching last summer when Dad had to try it out for the Outdoor Explorer Magazine article he wrote. We thought you’d be excited to do more of it this summer.”
“The present is great, Mom. It’s just that the only place I want to be exploring is Boston. I know you and Dad work well this way, writing and taking pictures all over the place. But this whole wandering nomad lifestyle is getting old. I want to have a regular home, with regular friends and a regular school. That would be the best birthday present ever.”
Molly’s mother grimaced but said, “Let’s get through the summer, and then we’ll think about regular school again in the fall, okay?”
“Really? You’re not just saying that?” Molly asked, stopping to look at her mother.
“I really mean it,” her mother said and gave Molly’s hand a quick squeeze.
Maybe Gabby’s plan isn’t totally hopeless, Molly thought. She almost told her mother the plan she’d worked so hard on right then and there. She opened her mouth but then closed it when she saw her mother was already several feet down the trail. Molly shrugged. She’d tell her parents the plan later.
For the rest of the way back to the RV, Molly walked instead of stomped.