Monday, 26 May 2014

Treasure Hunting

Cutler Beckett: "You're mad."
Jack Sparrow: "Thank goodness for that because if I wasn't, this'd probably never work."

Like the pirates of old, I enjoy hunting for hidden treasures of various types.  When I was a child, my friends and I used to send coded messages to each other in order to figure out where our secret meeting place was going to be.  These days I could be researching a segment of previously unknown family history, or finding an important misplaced item.  Such things will bother me until the mystery is solved.

I've found another outlet in a technological treasure hunting game called Geocaching.  Here's how it works: somebody sets up a hidden container and publishes its geographical coordinates on the web site.  Then others use a GPS device to find those coordinates and search for the container in the vicinity.

The containers, known as Geocaches, can have many forms.  Some are as simple as a plastic container wrapped in camouflage-style tape and hung in a tree.  Others can be hidden inside a hollow log or disguised as a fake brick.  Some are so tiny that it takes expert eyes to find them.  Inside is a logbook, and if the cache is big enough, a number of trinkets.  If you take a trinket, it's advisable to leave one of equal value to replace it.  Then you sign the logbook, and put the container back where it was found.

After returning home, you log into the web site to tell the story of your hunt.  Some people just write short messages like "Found it, thank you!"  Others have longer and interesting adventures.  One of my personal favourites was a cache in a wooded area where I plowed my way through thigh-deep snow in order to reach it; I had elected to hunt that particular cache in the winter in order to avoid the mosquitoes.

There are more than two million Geocaches worldwide, so most likely some exist near you.  Happy hunting!

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