"Commentary from the Countryside"
Thoughts on current events,
history, homesteading, preparedness, real food, and anything else I find interesting, from a cranky, middle-aged woman's common-sense perspective.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


The trees are starting to show color, the air is crisp and clean, the sun is warm and gentle - it's really the best time of the year for some outdoor activities!
Here's one of my favorites - and before we go any further, I have to warn you, once you try it, you'll be addicted and your whole life will change.


Have you ever heard of it?  It's been mentioned occasionally in different television programs or newspaper write-ups, but depsite it's popularity, most folks don't know what it is.  Basically it's a high-tech form of a scavenger hunt.  All one needs to play is an internet connection, a GPS reciever, time to wander the countryside, and the gas money to do so.  Someone will hide a container, often food storage like tupperware, in a hollow tree or at the base of a fence post or in a bush or under the cowling of a light pole, places like that, and post the coordinates of the hide on the website.  Other folks will download those coordinates, go find the container, and then record their finds online.  I have around 500 finds; there are actually people out there with over 10,000 finds.  I can only suppose that they are  a) retired, and b) independently wealthy.
There's a cache hidden just off to the right of the path

This was the view waiting at the end of the path

A Catholic shrine visited for a virtual c
Sometimes there are little trinkets in the container; beads, happy meal toys, marbles, etc., called "swag".  Swag can be left, taken, and traded from geocache to geocache.  There's a real competition to be "First to Find" a new geocache.  Sometimes there's a special prize in the container for the first to find, sometimes not, but a FTF is always good for bragging rights.  Some of the containers are tiny, no bigger than a watch battery, and contain only the paper log to sign and claim the find, some can be as large as the giant jugs that pickled bologna comes in.

Finding the containers is fun, but some of the best geocaches are "virtual" caches.  These caches will take you to see something of historical interest, scenic views, building murals, or wild and wacky sorts of things.  Usually these finds are claimed by taking a picture or answering a question about the site.

Some caches are accessible only by kayak, some by 4x4.  Some are educational, where you have to measure the output of a flowing well, learn about cave formation, or study beach erosion; some you have to solve a puzzle to get the coordinates, and some are just magnetic key holders stuck to a guard rail by a bridge.  The variety is almost endless and there's something for everyone.

It may all sound a little odd, which is what I thought when my friend introduced me to the hobby, but once I tried it, I was hooked.
I'm almost standing on a cache at this point
 Within a few weeks, I had purchased my own GPS unit and was out looking for them on my own.  I've been to some great places - some that were close to home that I had never seen - and delved into some fascinating history.  Many geocaches are in cemeteries, and I've always enjoyed the history there so it's even more interesting.  Central Michigan has many caches seemingly in the middle of nowhere; yet they are placed where there are ruins from an old logging town, CCC camp, or even the remains of a millionaire's castle on the banks of the river.
A cemetery with wooden crosses in a national forest miles from any town
The game began in America's northwest, and has since spread worldwide.  There are caches everywhere from Mammoth Cave to the Space Station; from Alaska to the South Pole.  The website is www.geocaching.com.  Check it out sometime - but don't say I didn't warn you!

1 comment:

  1. Good explanation! (from the friend who got her hooked *LOL*)