November 28, 2009

Hidden treasure

Well, Esperando is smitten—with the game of geocaching. It’s his latest craze and he goes and searches out hidden objects with his GPS. His morning walks as we travel from place to place include stopping to find a new geocache on the trail wherever he may be. So he has found geocaches in Denver, Northern California and Mexico just for starters. It all started a couple of months ago in Santa Rosalia when the Wyoming Miner introduced him to the subject, then we had to drive around and find all the geocaches which that individual had placed around our town. Then Esperando had to go plant a few of his own there.

For those not familiar with the subject of geocaching the official website states: “Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers (usually something small, waterproof and easily hidden such as a pill vial or tin) outdoors . . . and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment.” When you go to the website, you can easily find where buried “treasure” has been hidden by some adventuresome individual in your neighborhood or elsewhere across the world and get the coordinates so you can track it down with your GPS. According to Wikipedia, “Geocaching is most often described as a "game of high-tech hide and seek", sharing many aspects with orienteering, way marking and treasure-hunting.”

Finding unique and quaint places to hide your container can be as challenging as looking for the geocaches someone else has hidden. The container holds a small log sheet to sign in (you bring your own pen) and may also contain some little toys or tokens. If you take a treasure, you are asked to leave a new one. Your geocache must not be located nearer than 1/10 of a mile from the next nearest one. One of the rules of the game is to not be found out searching a site and opening up the container in front of ‘muggles’; anyone who has read Harry Potter stories will get the drift—you don’t want to be observed by those who are not into geocaching and would simply be curious to see what you are doing and possibly disrupt the location of the treasure. The geocache location itself has been logged onto the official website by the person who hid it, with the latitude and longitude as well as a clue defining it somewhat, for instance some clues have been: ‘a log’, ‘under a log’, and ‘well guarded’ (for one attached to a guard rail).

Imagine you are out on a trail in the country, you step off the trail and find a fallen log. See the small bottle with the straw. We hid the geocache there in the hollow of the log.

Then we put the top of log back in place, so the geocache is hidden. Unless you have a GPS and a clue what you are looking it is likely you would never know a geocache was there.

Geocaches are currently placed in over 100 countries around the world and on all seven continents, including Antarctica. As of November 22, 2009, there are over 945,023 active geocaches over the world. What are you waiting for, other than the cost of the GPS its free!

If you are lucky when you are out walking around hiding geocaches, you might even get to see some cloud parentheses in the sky.

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