Monday, February 2, 2009

Geocaching Fun

I went geocaching for the first time several months ago, with a friend I met in Kansas. She showed me the rudiments of using her GPS unit and trusted me to be her navigator while she drove to various caches. It was a lot of fun; we got to explore several places I never would have experienced just driving around.

A friend gave me a GPS unit as a late Christmas present last month and I finally figured out, through reading the directions and by trial and error, how to make it work. I learned to enter waypoints and coordinates, and how to navigate using those waypoints. Wow! This is like magic.

I found the geocaching website, Geocaching: The Official Global GPS Cache Hunt Site and began searching for caches in the area. So many of them so close. It made me wish I had my pickup with me or that my friend with the 4WD vehicle could take time off in the middle of the week. However, I'm up here at the Desert Tower, overlooking the freeway, surrounded by rocks, rocks, and more rocks. The cache sites appear to all be right off the freeway in those rocks. But, there's no way I'm going to risk walking on the side of the freeway, especially with tight curves going downhill and no shoulders. So, most of those caches will have to wait.

However, I have found three nearby, the latest one this morning. The first was very, very close to the Tower and quite easy to find. The second one I found across the road, hidden under a huge boulder. That one required some rock scrambling but it, too was fairly easy to find. The third one stumped me, though. I double-checked that I'd entered the coordinates correctly and everything seemed to be in order. But there was just no way I could find the cache. So, I gave up on that one, until this morning.

Yesterday we spent time out in the desert with the 4WD vehicle, searching for three caches and finding two of them.

We drove out to the location of the first one but couldn't find anything. Since we found people target shooting nearby and lots of destroyed junk from that shooting, we figured that the cache had been destroyed. So, we gave up on that one and drove out to the location of the other two caches.

One of those required quite a long hike. Since we had four little dogs with us with their short little legs, there was no way they'd have been able to walk the 3/4 mile to the cache. So, my friend took three of them back to the car, leaving one of them with me. He assumed I'd wait there until he could find a way to drive the car down into that area of desert. I waited--and waited--and finally just started walking towards the cache site, carrying the little dog under my arm. Since I could see the car perfectly, I just assumed my friend could also see me. Wrong.

Anyway, that little Pekinese started getting kind of heavy. I kept switching arms, even put him down to walk. However, he didn't last very long doing that. We finally reached the coordinates and found the cache easily under a small bush. I wrote my screen name in the small logbook, chose a small trinket from the cache, and replaced it with one of my own. We then started walking back. I could still see the car.

By that time I was getting kind of thirsty; it wasn't really hot yesterday, but the day was pretty warm and I had water in the car. And, that little dog was getting REALLY heavy; my arm started to feel like rubber. The dog and I finally made it back and found that my friend hadn't been able to see us at all. We both agreed that next time we'd also take cell phones. I drank a bottle of water and we were ready to find the next cache.

It was very easy to find--up in a tree. I let my friend search for that one. We hiked back on an old railroad track, finding quite a few old, rusty railroad spikes along the way that had somehow been dislodged. So, yesterday was successful. The GPS unit worked beautifully and I had become more familiar with what it could do.

This morning I got up early and walked back to the site I had searched before. This time I looked around more carefully and finally found what I'd been searching for. There it was, the tiny little pill bottle covered with camouflage-colored tape to keep the magnet from falling off. I won't give away the location or what was inside. However, I gave myself a couple of high-fives on the way back.

Now to find more.


Old Newsie said...

Sounds like a lot of fun, that geocaching. I heard a lot about it from Yarntangler. Traveling in a
4wd with a friend with a GPS sounds like the way to do it. Noticed you referred to that person as "my friend" and those two words hae provided me the clue I needed tonight for a new blog. You can read it tomorrow.

Yarntangler said...

The more I hear about this the more I want to do it. Maybe a GPS unit would even be cheaper than new hips! Be a good way to get me hiking again.