Geocaching: The Joy and the Adventure
Geocaching. Now that’s a strange word some may know, but most probably do not. My definition is simply a treasure hunt for people with a lot of time on their hands. The word geocache is a combination of geo for geography and cache for hidden. Cache is the French word a trapper (mountain men like Jedediah Smith) used when they hid their beaver pelts to be picked up at a later time and transported to market. A geocache site on the Internet stated that cache is “a computer term for information usually stored in memory to make it faster to retrieve.” Those computer nerds don’t know their history. Nevertheless, Geocaching is a very fast growing game that requires a GPS, a sense of curiosity and a spirit of adventure. Did I mention fun? I consider it just plain fun. Well most of the time.
My husband, Gary, and I were introduced to the game a few years ago and to date we have found 155 geocaches in 12 states. Since the website tells us there are 493 caches within 20 miles of Twain Harte, you can see we are pretty casual Geocachers or we would have found a lot more. We currently have a goal of finding a geocache in every state. We geocache on trips when we have our GPS with us. Thus it was when we were recently in Florida visiting former Twain Harte residents, Joe and Sandy Gillotte, that we found ourselves in a park walking down a path that was lined on either side with dense, jungle like foliage. While Gary peered at his hand held GPS, following the coordinates, I kept my eye on the dense foliage. There were noises coming from that dense jungle undergrowth that I was certain came from an alligator – and me wearing flip-flops. What was I thinking? We got to the spot where the coordinates said the cache should be and began looking for something that seemed out of place. We couldn’t see much in all that green. Gary walked in a few feet, but found nothing. Usually I participate in the search – I enjoy being the one to find the hidden cache – but not today. There were creatures lurking in that jungle. I was sure of that. Gary kept looking, but as sometimes happens we had no success and decided to head back to the car.
We walked a ways back the way we had come when we saw it – a long, green, healthy looking snake stretched across the width of the path. Neither one of us were willing to simply step over it. Not on your life! We retreated back a few feet and began to cautiously throw rocks at it. Finally it began to move into the jungle alongside the path. We waited until we could no longer see it and hurried past the spot. We returned to the parking lot and the safety of the car. Neither one of us cared much for that geocache adventure.
We did find Geocaches on that trip though. Some in Florida, some in Georgia and two in Alabama. I liked the cache we found in Georgia. It was at the birthplace of Jackie Robinson, the first African American, major league baseball player. Combing history and Geocaching makes me really happy, as does Geocaching in extraordinary scenic places. You see because the person who hides the cache must maintain it, the cache is invariably hidden by a local who knows the area very well. We have gone Geocaching in beautiful areas that the tourist books don’t tell you about. In Oregon we spent more time gawking at the beauty all around us than we did looking for the cache – although we did find it.
If Geocaching sounds interesting to you, go to www.geocaching.com. That site will tell you all you need to know to get started and they will motivate you with the statement, “The sport where you are the search engine.” Now there’s an inspirational quote if I ever heard one. Just remember, Geocaching is fun…but watch out for alligators.