Tuesday, June 04, 2002


When I was young, I liked the whole buried treasure/time capsule/secret hiding place idea, like many (I hope most) young boys. I'm certain there are still a couple of plastic-wrapped coffee cans of mine buried in the Rhode Island and Vermont woods of my youth. And no, they don't contain any doubloons, most likely standard childhood trinkets. But these buried treasures are not likely to be found unless future zoning changes lead to some widespread excavation, as I have no idea of the specific locations of those "treasures," and there certainly isn't enough intrinsic (or even sentimental) value there to inspire me to do as much random digging as would be needed to unearth those mini-troves.

Which brings me to this past Saturday morning. I was taking a walk through Rolling Hills Park in Fullerton, and noticed a bunch of small items strewn across the walking path. I squatted down and took a look at the things there. A keyring, a small yo-yo, a tiny pirate figurine, and what really caught my eye, a World War II campaign pin. My puzzlement grew. Then I saw a plastic army-surplus container about the size of a brick. On the container, with paint pen, was written: www.Geocaching.com. I also saw a small notepad with a series of dated entries, obviously written by different people, in adult handwriting.

The entries were along these lines: "5/20/2002 - Fairly straightforward find. Coordinates seemed right on, but I misread the clue and spent a lot of time searching at the top of the stairs before I realized I needed to look at the bottom. Nice spot. Took mini kaleidoscope, left Grand Canyon medallion." Okay, I was developing a good idea what this was all about.

Just them, my friend Michelle, who I was slated to take a walk with later that afternoon, called me on my cellphone. I related the find to her, and she went to the website and got the full story. It's meant as a sort of game for people with GPS units, and the idea is to use coordinates and clues to find a hidden cache of stuff, typically just little trinkets, but sometimes themed. There's a logbook at each cache, and online logs as well. Armed with that information, I wrote an entry of my own in the log about finding the stuff, and replaced the items in the container, and the container in a spot close to what the log seemed to indicate was the intended placement.

Later that day, as Michelle and I looked at the website and found a GeoCache location that appeared to be within a mile from her house, and we endeavored to find it without the aid of a GPS receiver. Fortunately with the coordinate-based-mapping available from TopoZone we got a decent mapped idea of where it was, which combined with the clues and her knowledge of the neighborhood, led to a promising search. We were off, and after a few twists, turns, and ganders under unfruitful bushes, we found it! I had a spark of glee, remembering the joys of childhood treasure hunts. There were no doubloons in this cache, but that was ok. As a child, I suspected that there were thousands of treasures out there, right under our noses, waiting to be found. Of course, that's true.


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