By early 2021, we had reached the breaking point. The seemingly endless pandemic-induced lockdown had long since lost its survivalist charm. We had assembled (and reassembled) a plethora of jigsaw puzzles, fallen asleep while trying to find something new on Netflix, and engaged in the occasional squabble about what day of the week it was.
Clearly, we needed a breather and, since people were starting to venture out in public, we decided to “mask up” and take some cautious steps off the front porch as well. We didn’t want to dive into the deep end right away, of course, so we looked around for something that would get us out of the house, involve some physical activity, and keep us away from crowded places.
For us, the solution was a simple one … we decided to join the multitude of others playing what amounts to the adult version of hide and seek. Known as Geocaching, this rendition of that venerable childhood game is equal parts treasure hunt, problem solving, and outdoor exercise, and it has become our “go to” weekend pursuit.
Geocaching, as an outdoor activity, took shape in May, 2000, when 24 previously secure global positioning satellites were made available for civilian use. With that change, folks could locate items anywhere in the world based solely on their GPS coordinates and, without a doubt, they have done so … there are now more than 3 million active geocaches hidden in 191 countries on all seven continents (even Antarctica)!
The “caches” we search for are generally small capsules or containers holding a piece of paper that, when signed, will register your find. And though there are varying degrees of search difficulty one can select, we lean toward those that are relatively easy to locate without a great deal of extraordinary effort. But be warned … people who hide these things can be very clever … we have found caches among the branches of trees, under rocks, and hanging from fence posts. That, of course, is part of what makes this such an enjoyable activity.
The process for tracking down a cache is simple: (1) check the geocaching.com web site for caches hidden in a particular area, (2) select the one you would like to look for and, (3) follow the directions on your phone or GPS device. This will bring you very close to your goal and, usually, it is then only a very short walk (and search) before locating the cache.
In addition to the obvious benefits of being outdoors engaging in physical activity, geocaching has taken us to beautiful and unusual locations we had not previously visited, and immersed us in the fascinating history of the areas we have explored. In short, we are smitten.
And if you are looking for us next weekend, you know where we will be.