I honestly don’t know what kept us from discovering this a long time ago. It’s not like plenty of people haven’t said, “You guys would really get a kick out of this!”
What am I talking about?
For the uninformed, geocaching is the act of searching out little boxes or packages hidden by others, using clues, hints, and GPS. With the proliferation of GPS-enhanced cell phones, it’s no wonder geocaching is catching on. In these little packages, there is a pretty standard list of objects. First and foremost is a log, where you add your name or pseudonym to a list, with the date you found the cache. There is usually a small collection of worthless trinkets. You may take anything you like, as long as you replace it with a trinket of your own.
Geocaching.com reports just over 2,500,000 registered geocaches worldwide, and over 6 million geocachers. In fact, much to my surprise, there are quite a few of them hidden within a 15 mile radius of my house. I’ve been driving past these hidden treasures for years, completely unaware.
Here’s what you need to get started. A cell phone, or GPS unit. In the case of the GPS, I supposed you’d need a list of coordinates. Fortunately, there is a free app which will sync with a map of your area and your phone’s compass, that will help lead you right to your target. Of course, civilian GPS is only good to within 10 yards or so, so even when you think you’re there, you may be 30 feet away. That’s where the hints and clues come in.
Gabriel and I had been out hunting, and it was getting late. I had downloaded this app earlier on the recommendation of my friend Angela. Thanks, Ang! I noticed that there was a cache only a few miles from where we had parked. I asked Gabe if he wanted to go treasure hunting, and of course he did. He’s an eight year old boy. We followed the blip to a recreation area just downstream from the Weldon Dam. We combed that place high and low, but to no avail. That’s when we discovered the hint. “Go all the way down and back up nine.” There is a large set of homemade steps leading down towards the river. We bounded down them all, backtracked nine, and began our search. Under some brush, tucked neatly beneath a stair support, we found it! It was a small Tupperware bowl wrapped in camo duct tape. Gabe was so excited. We found the log, added our names, and popped in the only thing we had for swag – a spent shotgun shell.
We still had 40 minutes before we were expected home for supper, and there was another one just 3 miles away. Off we went. This one was a little bit harder, but eventually we discovered it in the crotch of a tree. We were officially hooked on geocaching!
We had a quick supper, hopped into the van, and struck out. Literally. We tried two nearby caches, but came up empty handed. It was near pitch black, and we were getting soaked. We vowed to return tomorrow and give it another shot.