Well it seems I am addicted to a whole new sport. Geocaching.
What exactly is that you may ask ? This is something that I have had a few chances to explain (mostly to policemen who have pulled in behind me while I was out on an exploration)
It is a high tech adventure game using a handheld gps and a set of coordinates found at http://www.geocaching.com/ where you go in search of hidden things that have been placed all over the world by other addicted geocachers.
These little treasures may be as simple as a tiny piece of paper or a huge tupperware container filled with goodies. You pick something from the goodies and take with you as a treasure find and you replace that item with something that you leave behind for the next cacher to find. Swag or Loot are common names for the "junk" that we take in and out of a cache.
The point of the game is purely to seek. The search. The adventure. It is not ever about the object found at the final destination. However, it is very exciting on top of the other if you also get to discover a hidden treasure box and select things to keep.
These geocaches are sometimes very simply an old container from food or gum or candy that was re- purposed as a water tight compartment for a hide or as elaborate as a false screw in a sign or a blade of grass that is fake and housing a cache inside.
You get the coordinates and set out on your journey.
If you are in an unfamiliar area a Tom Tom or other driving direction based device is very handy. Once at the location you will hold the handheld gps and it will point you in the direction of the hide. Coordinates can be as close as X marks the spot to within 25 foot. Sometimes you walk right up to it and others you look for days before discovering you had touched it a dozen times before making the find.
I have tried to figure out what it is about it that hooked me. The best I can figure is that after a few finds along the way I discovered a hidden tube behind a local eatery and it had been placed so cleverly by a man who has hidden lots of caches in the area and something about the find...something about thinking he had hidden it with such care and craft...something made me think....this is something I might love. Then once I found the next one....it was my new addiction ! I found maybe ten a few years ago when my son was about 3 and it didnt hook me like it did this time. I have never driven more in my car and I certainly have never been to some of the places that the first 345 finds have taken me.
One of the best parts of caching is that it shows you the world thru someones eyes other than mine. Some other person will see a rock formation or cave or just simply a road sign and they stop what they are doing and place this item for me to find. I find that exciting. I love the search and I love the hide.
This week I stood atop a river overlook with my son and felt the fresh air on my face and I was thankful that the person who had hidden it took me to that spot.
I didnt even search for or find the cache that day. I just spent a moment there feeling blessed that I was with my son and we were healthy enough to climb down a mountain hand in hand.
I have spent more time with my family than I may have otherwise spent.
(this is the cache that hooked me)
I stood in front of a grave of an unknown soldier and I was thankful and said a prayer to God of thanks that my father had survived his term in Vietnam and returned home safe to have his life with me and my brothers.
I stood on a graveyard and looked at an old outhouse and was reminded that my life is full of luxury and that I am blessed. I found one that was at the base of three wooden crosses and after signing the log I realized I was knelt down at the foot of this cross and there was a moment there where I had to say thank you to Christ before I got up for what he did on the cross and I wondered if the person who hid it knew that it would touch me that way ?
I have met and discovered new friends who love the sport as much as me.
Walked across train bridges that I never knew were there.
I have lost 10 pounds ! LOL that is just an added bonus. But the exercise is amazing and must be mentioned.
I have stood at caches and looked down on the world in a way that I would have never taken the time to see otherwise.
I have climbed to the top of rocky mountains and felt a sense of power knowing (even though I didnt find the cache and will need to return another day to this one) that I am a girl and I am standing in a spot that most girls will not stand !
Stopped to look at everyday items in new ways. In different directions. Discovering the world again a new way. Things that are so much a part of the world that we dont even see anymore have new meaning to me when I cache. I have a new appreciation for a bolt in a guardrail. I see a screw on a sign and wonder if there is more to it than that ? I find myself setting on a bench and wondering if their is a micro nearby. I bend over to pick up a penny and wonder if it will lead me to more than a copper coin.
I guess its like a baby who sees things for the first time.
Geocaching has done that for me.
If you would like more information on Geocaching just go to the website at http://www.geocaching.com/ and check it out but if you dont want to be hooked...dont even look !!!
And whatever you do...dont find your first one because I am 345 into it and my new goal in life is to do as this sign I found says....
-Wendy or geocaching name.....whbaisden