Monday, February 24, 2014

Treasure Hunting

Following the GPS
Have you heard of Geocaching? I could be the last one ever to find out about it, but it's so much fun that I have to share anyway!

A couple weeks ago, a choir buddy of mine was sporting a brand new, very beautiful engagement ring. Being someone who falls for engagement stories, I asked how he proposed, and in order to share the story, she first had to fill me in on Geocaching.

She explained that it's a world-wide treasure hunt for small caches (hidden containers with things inside). Some caches are as small as a film container, and the Geocacher who finds it just signs her name to the log inside, but other caches are a little bigger and contain trinkets other Geocachers have left inside. There's a free app that uses GSP and hints to help Geocachers find the hidden items. (View the video explanation here.)

She said she likes to go searching for Geocaches here in the city, but that she finds it to be a really fun way to explore other cities when she travels. So when her fiancé proposed, he hid a big fake diamond ring in one of the caches so they could find it together a little while later. After she pulled the fake ring out of the box, he offered up "one that might fit better." So sweet.

When she told me this story, I was immediately intrigued by the idea of Geocaching, and vowed to head out on a adventure of my own. So this weekend I downloaded the app, popped a little trinket into my pocket, leashed the pup, and asked my wife if she'd like to go on a Central Park adventure. We headed out towards the lake in search of our first hidden treasure.

*Part of the game is to not let strangers see you take the box out of hiding, or to let them see you put it back, so none of the following pictures will give anything away.

We followed the arrows on the GSP to the opposite side of the lake, decided we were wrong, and headed back to a slightly more Southern spot. Once we knew we were in the right area, it kinda felt like we were searching for the Survivor idol. Walking around and around, I was determined to find it, but finally decided it must be covered in snow. We gave up and headed to a different cache.

Footprints across the frozen lake...
Along the way, we saw footprints across the lake where someone had trusted the ice enough to chance walking across to the other side.

...not far from a watery part of the lake.
And then we found the second-choice cache! When we did find it, we were very careful to be as stealthy as possible. We were successful...We're quite certain no one saw us take it out or return it, but strangers may have been curious about our excitement over signing our names to the log.

The trinket we returned with was a lot less exciting than a diamond ring, but it was a really fun little date to take advantage of the unseasonably nice weather. I'm looking forward to discovering more caches here in the city (including that first one I couldn't find this weekend!), as well as while traveling in the future. Maybe I'll even trade trinkets with you at one of the hidden spots... Wouldn't that be neat?

Have you been Geocaching before? Did you find any exciting trinkets? I hope I'm not the only one who had to give up on a hunt!

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