I’ve always loved getting out to explore new areas, and while at Borrego Springs I discovered a new pass-time to do just that, with a bit of seek-and-find fun thrown in for good measure. I’d never even heard of this until a few months ago, but in just a few weeks of “practice” I’ve come to the realization that I’m joining a massive worldwide group of enthusiastic seekers! It’s Geocaching -> the art of finding hidden caches (containers) using GPS coordinates. It’s modern-day treasure hunting, it’s perfect for RVers, it’s HUGE, and it’s rather addicting too.
It all started the day GPS (Global Positioning System) became available to the public. Originally strictly for military use, GPS was de-scrambled and released for general use on May 1st, 2000. Two days later Dave Ulmer decided to celebrate the event by hiding a bucket of trinkets in the woods outside Portland, Oregon and announced its location in a posting made to the USENET newsgroup sci.geo.satellite-nav. “ Take some stuff, leave some stuff! Record it all in the log book. Have Fun!” were the basic instructions.
Little did he know he’d started a treasure-seeking revolution.
Within days more caches had been placed. By January 2001 there were ~300 caches and by November 2001 there were 10,000+ geocaches on the web. Today it’s estimated there are over 5 million little treasures hidden worldwide. Holy cow, that’s several life-times of activity!
This sounded like my kinda thing, so without further ado I signed up for a free account on the most popular geocaching website (geocaching.com, the place to be!) and did a quick search on geocaches within 15 miles of our lonely spot at Borrego Springs. I expected to find maybe a few, but what showed up was no less than 263 hits. The site is uber-cool and sorts everything by location, size and difficulty, even giving you extra hints (if you want them). There’s a phone app too. I wrote down a few of the easier ones, grabbed the phone and went a-seeking.
And I LOVED it!! You get to roam around in nature, act like a modern-day pirate and still get to see a bunch of interesting stuff. The rules of the game are the same as for the original cache -> take something (if you like), leave something (if you take something) and sign the log book. Then re-hide the cachce in the same place for the next seeker. Over the next days I hooked a bunch more caches, several of which I just took on the bicycle and made a day of.
Back in San Diego I’ve continued my hunting, and of course here in the big city there’s even more angles to it. San Diego not only has a geocaching meet-up group, but they keep a geocaching photo gallery, offer events for people who cache with their kids (Geo Kids) and hide special caches for those who go multi-legged and seek with pooch (Geo Dog baby! -> and YES Polly is now officially a Geo Dog). Even the County Parks have gotten into the deal, openly promoting geocaching at several of the preserves.
And what if all this sounds too laid-back for you? How about extreme geocaching? Combining the fine art of seeking hidden trinkets with extreme biking, swimming, zip-lining and running into one, perhaps? Oh yeah, Wild Canyon Games has exactly what you’re looking for! This is not something limited to the US either. There are groups in Australia, UK and all over the world.
So far I’ve had a blast. Paul isn’t quite as enthousiastic as I am about this, but between Geo Dog Polly and myself we’re planning to hunt the city dry. Or at least log a few geocaches along the way
Geocaching Hint: If you’re using a Droid smartphone with google maps to hunt your coordinates, enter the code ”loc:” (e.g. loc:32.77383, -117.2194) into the search box to get an accurate lock on your GPS point.