About two weeks ago the hubby introduced me to the sport of geocaching. Some people may disagree with me about the status of sport, but I challenge naysayers to give the hunt a try.
For the most part, geocaching is a very inexpensive sport, but it requires the knowledge of how to use a GPS, even a simple older model would work. If a person does not own one of these devices, it is impossible to participate. So it is safe to say that geocaching is expensive you have to purchase a GPS just to participate. However, for those of us who own one, it is a great additional use of the tool. I have one because my husband purchased it to help keep me from becoming hopelessly lost all the time. My sense of direction really stinks.
When a person decides to hunt for a cache, he must know the exact coordinates of the treasure. A person must have the exact longitude, latitude and decimal degree of each on the x,y coordinate grid. Luckily the GPS makes life really simple by simply decoding everything and pinpointing the exact location of the device in hand.
Once you have the coordinates, the hunt begins and this is where the sport portion comes in. Yesterday the kids, hubby and I went on a geocache hunting hike. We had planned to hike ten miles anyway which should only take about four hours, but adding the eight cache hunt brought on an additional three and a half hours to our exercise.
With GPS in hand we carefully glanced at the coordinates until we reached a location that looked close the degrees of the cache. Then left the trails and began walking through the brush and trees in search of the exact coordinates. Once we had identified the location it was time to really begin hunting. You see as wonderful a device it may seem, GPS’s are machines and can be off a little. With a less expensive the device, there is a better the chance that you will have a more difficult search. However, once you find the stash the reward is worth all the thorns, squishy mud, and snagging branches. It is even worth the effort of digging out a cache from a knot in a tree, unearthing it from a dead log, or even crawling under low hanging pine braches. The creators of these caches are some of the most creative people on the planet. Containers range from ammo boxes, to bored out screws, to plastic containers and each contains a log book and usually some sort of treasure that you can trade. My children love to bring along something they no longer want like an old kid’s meal toy to trade with something more exciting like a new kid’s meal toy. Sometimes there’s an extra treat like a post card from far distance locations or even an unusual coin. However, if the hunter is really lucky he will stumble across a cache with a travel bug.
The travel bug looks like a dog tag, with a printed bar code is in the shape of a beetle. This bug, TB, can be traded for something and then later placed in a new cache. Each travel bug has a special theme. We have discovered a NASCAR TB as well as a Big Water’s TB. The description for the NASCAR TB simply states that it wants to travel to locations with NASCAR sites nearby. The Big Waters TB wants to travel the globe and over many oceans. There is an infinite amount of bugs out there to go with an infinite amount of themes.
Once the cache is located, items are read, viewed and traded and the log book signed the cacher must then put the stash back exactly as found. Then begin the hike back to the trail.
Geocaching is a sport worthy of respect. It connects people of different cultures, life styles and backgrounds through one common goal. The hung also gets people outside, walking and crouching and crawling which is something many of us have forgotten how to do properly.
So I challenge you to go to http://www.geocaching.com and give this challenging sport a try. It is certainly a better way to spend an evening than mindlessly watching a predictable television show.