There’s a game afoot, one that has become increasingly popular over the past few years. It’s called ‘geocaching’, and if that term confuses you, it means you’re a geomuggle, which is what people in the groove call non-geocachers. And we sneer when we say it. Although geomuggles are considered more or less benign, geocachers will go to considerable lengths to keep them away from the treasure troves.
Treasure troves? I saw your ears perk up. Yes, treasure troves, over a million of them - little hidden caches of treasure waiting to be uncovered/discovered/recovered/water-logged. There are over 500 within 50 miles or so of my house alone, for all I know my house has one hidden somewhere in it. It might explain the strangers who keep wandering through with their GPSs. Mostly, though, caches are stashed in quiet wooded areas.
Your inner pirate will come out if you take up geocaching, so it pays to have a sword. Or you could pretend to be a no-goodinsky hellbent on a life of crime, remember a movie called ‘It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World’? Well, geocaching is sort of like that, except the hidden treasure is not a cache of stolen money, more’s the pity. Instead, the caches contain, well, trinkets. You know the junk drawer in your kitchen, the one with dozens of odd bits that you’ve been thinking about tossing? That’s what you’ll find in a typical geocaching cache. Odd bits.
So you ask, why would anybody in their right mind want to look for relatively junky treasures? First up, nobody said you had to be in your right mind, which will probably be a relief for a good number of my readers. Second up, it’s fun to skulk around looking for hidden treasure, you’d be surprised at just how much fun. When you find a cache, you’ll be very excited about it, and will, knowing you, dance crazily around the area and shout out loud. Animals nearby will roll their eyes at you, and possibly eat you if you annoy them enough. When I geocache, I am, in my own scattered mind, a pirate, seeking the long-lost treasures left by Captain Nasty-Bones or one of his ugly kin. A sad side note: you aren’t allowed to run geomuggles through with your sword while on a hunt. Okay, I guess if nobody’s watching, you could jab a couple for the fun of it. I know I do.
How does one go about finding the treasures? It’s easy, you just pay me $500 for a treasure map. Or I guess you could pick out cache coordinates at geocaching.com, then use a GPS to get to the site, but really, I’d much rather you pay me the $500.
A GPS is the way most people find caches. Many GPSs even come with a geocaching component, but if you don’t already have a GPS and don’t want to buy one because you’re cheap, which doesn’t surprise me, or if you just prefer to do things the hard way, which also doesn’t surprise me, you can use that mouldering compass you still have from Boy Scouts and a downloaded map from the geocaching site.
Geocaching.com is a worldwide geocaching online community, it’s free to join, so go there right now (hurry! hurry!) and type in your postal code, see what comes up for caches near you. You’ll be shocked to find out that you’ve been walking past rocks, bushes, trees, woods, and so on, all this time, and seemingly under every single one of them are geocaches. The things are all over the place, they’re in cities, the country, above ground, under ground, in your dog’s ear, everywhere.
To play this game, you need a certain amount of moxie, at least enough to be indifferent to the stares of strangers who are wondering why you’re scratching around a bush looking for all the world like a mass murderer checking to make sure your victim is well hidden. It’s important to keep geomuggles from seeing the cache, so if you spot one, cackle evilly and look furtive, and maybe shout at the ground, “That’ll teach you, dammit! I told you I needed chocolate, and did you listen? No!” At that point, the muggles will almost certainly look nervous, so it’s a good time to brandish your sword at them. I suppose you could be modern about it and just brandish your GPS, but it’s not really the same.
Along with the sometimes dubious treasures, you’ll also find a notepad and pencil in each cache. The notepad is for saying thank you for the goodie you’re about to take, etcetera, and it’s nice to leave a compliment, too, ie, “Thank you for hiding your cache inside a bear’s den, such creative thinking on your part. I took the bandages, and left a couple of torn-off fingers.” Sometimes there’s a camera, too, in which case you can take a picture of your shredded self standing beside the bear. Then you need to put the cache back exactly as you found it so that the next hapless geocacher can find it.
The Okanagan is a hotbed for geocaching activity, and seems to have better treasures than elsewhere. It’s a game that can be pretty addictive, until you smash your GPS against a rock in frustration over an unfound cache, then it’s just expensive. Kids love geocaching, dogs love it, adults love it, and cougars and bears think it’s weird as anything. And we pirates are born to do it, it’s in our blood, at least until we find Captain Fingelsnit’s hidden treasure trove of real gold, expensive chocolate and BMW Roadsters, at which point we will be too busy being obnoxiously rich and full of chocolate to do anything much at all. Until then, if you're out in the woods and see a lunatic waving a sword around and cheering madly over a plastic box, don't worry, I won't bite. I might stab, but I won't bite.
When geocaching, be on the look-out for Captain Nasty-Bones. (Photo: Contributed)
by Jo Slade - Story: 57493
Oct 14, 2010 / 5:00 am
Oct 14, 2010 / 5:00 am
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