July 30, 2006
Geocaching - Definitely an Adventure!
I've wanted to go geocaching for several months now, and finally had the chance to do it for the first time today. If you've never heard of geocaching, it's a combination of a treasure hunt and a scavenger hunt. People all over the world hide all manner of containers in all sorts of places. Most containers hold a logbook and an assortment of trinkets. The idea is to find a hidden container, make a note in the logbook, and leave something in the container. If you leave a trinket, you can take a trinket.
But how do you find the containers? Well, you need a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver and you need to log on to one of the many geocaching sites. I used www.geocaching.com . The GPS receiver uses the satellites in space to pinpoint your exact location on the earth. For geocaching, you need a GPS receiver that has software that will allow you to either download waypoints or to enter longitude and latitude information.
So, you log onto a geocaching site, enter in your home coordinates, and search for caches in your area. The GPS receiver I was using didn't allow me to download, so I had to enter in the longitude and latitude coordinates of the caches I wanted to visit. Each cache on the site I visited had a virtual logbook, and had descriptions and clues about finding it, as well as the coordinates. For example, one of the caches had a toy car theme, and the idea was to bring a toy car and take a toy car. Another had a "green" theme, so you had to leave something green in the container.
Once we had our list of the caches we wanted to find, we were off on our great adventure. I live in a suburban area, and I was surprised to discover that there are dozens of caches within a couple of miles of my house. Geocaching is a great activity for almost any mobility level; the geocaching site I used rated each cache by the difficulty of finding the cache and the difficulty of the terrain. We took the car, and let the GPS receiver guide us to the various caches. A couple were in parks, one was near a power transmission tower, and another was in an oasis of empty land accessible only by an easily-missed passageway between the fences of two houses. Each of the caches was where it was supposed to be, but each was cleverly camouflaged, so it really took some searching.
There's so much more to geocaching than I've described here, and I look forward to learning more about it and going on many more "treasure hunts." It was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and it got us thinking about creating our own cache!