It has been some time since I’ve made a post about the Summer of Awesomeness. Should my loyal readers take this to mean that my life has been…(gasp!)…less awesome?
Never, unbelievers! Just the other day, I embarked upon an adventure known as geocaching!
It all began a week ago, as I was hanging out with my friend Jason (whose blog you may here peruse). Fort Wayne, where he currently hails from, was drained of electricity, and subsequently, of sanity, so he took refuge in Upland.
He told me about a hobby he’d taken up called geocaching. I’d heard the name before, but had only a vague idea of what it entailed.
Essentially, geocaching is like treasure hunting. You receive GPS coordinates for a cache, go to the place where the coordinates indicate, and find the cache, which can be as big as a toolbox or as small as a pen cap. Inside is a logsheet, on which you can record the date you found it.
Intrigued, I looked up the official geocaching website. I created an account (if you cache in the Upland area, my username is MindlessProductivity), listing P13RCE as my referrer. By signing up for a free account, you can keep an online tally of caches you’ve found and see them marked on a map.
The next day, I looked up the five caches in Upland. One of them, Chugging Into Upland, was only a mile away, so I found the coordinates. I don’t have a GPS, but I found the location on Google maps, which led me to the Upland caboose.
After about 30 minutes of searching, I found my first geocache.
I opened the cache and found a rolled-up piece of paper stashed inside. The previous finders had listed their geocaching IDs on this paper. I added my own.
And then I returned the log to the cache and returned the geocache to its caboosy hiding spot, to await the next eager searcher.
Later that day, I went out caching with P13RCE, and together we found the other four caches in town, including one that he had previously searched for without success.
Fort Wayne was still a war zone, and so the next day, P13RCE and I went caching again, this time with randomrachel14. Having exhausted Upland’s cache supply (except for the caboose cache, which they still have yet to find, despite multiple searches :^) ), we went to Marion, where we found three more caches, including one with a 3 and 1/2 star difficulty called Open The Floodgates. This was a three part cache. The description led us to two different locations, where we found clues that led us to the location of the actual cache. The clues and searching gave this one a fun Da Vinci Code vibe, and it’s the most enjoyable one I’ve found so far.
Another week later, I found a few more in Fort Wayne, which had powered up and calmed down in the interim.
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Now it’s your turn! Sign up for a free account at Geocaching.com. If you want, write down my ID (MindlessProductivity) as your referrer, and add me as a friend. If you’re in Indiana, who knows? We might even find some of the same caches.
Then you can search for geocaches near you. On the front page of the site, you can enter your zip code, which will bring you to a list of nearby caches. You can also look at a map, if you’re more visually inclined. There are caches all over the place! Although the majority are in the US and Europe, there are caches in places like Greenland, Easter Island, Madagascar, and even Antarctica!
If you have a GPS (either for geocaching or driving), you can enter a cache’s GPS coordinates and go to the spot where a cache is hiding. If you don’t have a GPS, don’t worry! You can use GoogleMaps or the Geocaching map to get a pretty accurate idea of where the cache is. After getting nearby, using streets and other landmarks to find the spot, you can use the cache’s description or hints if you need more help finding the cache.
When you go geocaching, remember to bring a pencil along. Having a pair of tweezers on you isn’t a bad idea, considering how hard it can be to get the paper out of some of the really tiny caches.
And after you write your name down on the log sheet, remember to check off the cache as found on the Geocaching website, so that you can keep track of how many you’ve found. I’m up to 11…a humble beginning, but not bad for only three caching expeditions. Maybe you’ll find even more.
And Jason and Rachel…you still need to find the caboose cache. :^D