Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Please forgive me while I geek out for a moment

If you prefer, you may want to look away.  Perhaps skip this post altogether, because I'm about to get nerdy.

This weekend, I geo-cached.  If you don't know what that is, I'll give you a brief explanation and send you on your way.  It's basically a giant scavenger hunt.  A huge, world-wide game of hide and seek.  First, someone sets out a "cache" somewhere.  A cache could be anything from a tiny pillbottle container with sheets of paper for signing to larger waterproof containers with small things to trade and a logbook to sign to virtual caches and earth caches that are simply things to see and a list of things to do to prove you were at the cache.

Once a person sets out the cache, they go to a website (www.geocaching.com) and record the cache with its GPS co-ordinates, a few details and maybe even an encrypted hint to help you out if you get stuck finding the cache's hiding spot.

Then people like me who have time on their hands, download these co-ordinates to a handheld GPS and we set off in hopes of treasure and glory.

J and I did this before a few years ago and then pretty much forgot about it because our GPS was kinda sucky.  It's ok, but not great.  And we found that geo-caching in the city was doomed to fail because so many of the caches get found and removed by people.  Or you get tired of people giving you odd looks as you lead your dogs off on a hunt through heavy brush and weeds.

The things I learned on the weekend are that geo-caching requires certain things.

  1. Daylight.  Yup, those little boxes and bottles are MUCH easier to find in daylight.
  2. Mosquito repellent. Weeds.  Underbrush.  Long grass.  I think the ones out at the Battle River Trestle were trying to carry me off and offer me as a sacrifice to the mosquito gods.
  3. Long pants.  In addition to weeds, underbrush and long grass, I met thistles, rose bushes, poison ivy and stinging nettles.  Fun.
  4. Proper shoes.  Not sandals.  Do NOT try geocaching wearing sandals.  My ankles and feet do not thank me today.
  5. Stuff to trade.  And good stuff, because really, it sucks to open a cache to find a cat toy and some business cards...
  6. No fear.  It helps if, as you're digging through heavy grass and underbrush, your mother isn't behind you mentioning snakes, spiders and other things that might jump out at you and cause you a heart attack. 
  7. Water and snacks because sometimes you get hungry and thirsty and you're in the middle of freakin' nowhere digging through grass, weeds and underbrush while trying to avoid snakes, spiders, critters and prickly things.
And I'm going to tell you something since you made it this far.  I liked geo-caching.  I liked all of the above, well, with the exception of the mention of snakes and spiders thank you very much. I had fun and even better, we introduced my parents to it and they liked it too.

We did our thing in Saskatchewan on the weekend, out around my hometown.  This week we're going to poke around the city in the evenings with our geo-dogs.  (It's a culture people.  A CULTURE!) and see what we can find.

Geo-dogs.  I can't believe I called them that.

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