Finding Hidden Treasure


Today's post carries what sounds like a theologically heavy title, but after last week's series of posts and the amount of commentary they generated, I'm starting the week light. Honestly, this week is just packed, so my mind is on other things.

No, today's extremely off-topic post has to do with treasure hunting.

My son recently got interested in buried treasure. Trying to find ways to occupy a particularly precocious nearly-six-year-old boy whose physicality matches his William F. Buckley-like vocabulary is tough on a perpetually sleep-deprived dad. Looking for a book on Amazon a few weeks ago, Magellan eXplorist 210 Handheld GPS ReceiverI saw a sidebar featuring a handheld GPS receiver available for $79. Not realizing they'd come down so much, I was intrigued because the sport of geocaching interested me. Being an outdoors type, anything that smacks of orienteering, backpacking, or the like catches my attention.

Formerly the hobby of disaffected twenty-something Ivy League grads whose dads sat on the board of Conglomo Coproration, geocaching has seriously taken off now that many handheld units are available for under $200. I picked up a Magellan eXplorist 210 (with a computer connection for downloading cache sites—a must-have feature) for only $116 this last week. Considering that the biggest outlay for geocaching is the GPS receiver, the whole hobby/sport is really cheap fun. With more than 1000 caches listed within twenty miles of my home, we've got a lot of adventure ahead of us for quite some time.

Needless to say, my son has eaten this up. We spent a total of six hours out finding caches on Saturday and Sunday. One of the cache locations was near a covered bridge—a beautiful spot. Several were located in early 19th century cemeteries near us, making for an interesting historical journey. And our very first cache my son found and not me. I'll never forget that excitement on his face.

So we're hooked. Any number of people can be involved. If you're looking for  wholesome, family entertainment that can be done literally anywhere on the face of the planet, then check out the Web site. Many of the caches we found and the log books we signed showed proof that Christians are pursuing this sport in large numbers. Plus, it's neat to see that a tiny cache located only two miles down the road from us had seen visitors from as far away as North Dakota. That's wonderful.

Have a great week and consider taking up geocaching.

6 thoughts on “Finding Hidden Treasure

  1. Dan,

    You might also try Letterboxing. Similar premise, but no GPS required. Just a compass, a rubber stamp, a stamp pad and a notebook. You follow simple navigation instructions to find a small Tupperware box with it’s own rubber stamp and notebook. Stamp it’s stamp in your notebook and your stamp in the box’s notebook. We’ve been doing it off and on for a few years.

    With geocaching, are there and directions at all or just coordinates? With Letterboxing, the directions themselves are frequently part of the adventure. For example, one we found on vacation in MO lead us to a one time private cemetery for a former governor of MO. The instructions lead s to several grave sites and included historical information on each person. Last, it lead to a small recess in the stone wall where the box was hidden. We could have gone straight to the box, had we known, but it was more fun learning about each person along the way.

    It’s also fun to see others who accidentally found the boxes. That box in MO had been uncovered by a survey crew and returned to it’s place. One we found in Hocking Hills had been found and nearly tossed by a park ranger. After visiting the web site, she instead left a comment and put it back.

    • Dee

      Thanks for this tip. I see there are a couple of letterboxes in our town. I will have to try this out to see if my son would be interested. If so, maybe we can eventually invest in that fancy equipment Dan likes so well. (c;

      Actually, my husband will take any excuse to purchase a new toy!

      Do any of the lesser expensive models include street maps? My husband thinks he needs a Tom-Tom, but I balk at the $700 price tag on a small piece of electronic equipment that can be easily lost or broken. Besides, if he cannot find an address he can call me so I can google it for him for much less money. However, there are the times when I am not at my desk or I am out running an errand….

      • Dee,

        The unit I have has all highways and freeways, RR lines, forests, lakes, and so on, but not detailed streetmaps. Now I can buy that for the unit, but it costs as much as the GPS itself. For what I’m using it for, though, I don’t need that.

        The maker of my unit, Magellan, sells streetmap software for $150. You can also get detailed maps of Europe, Asia, and Africa, plus 3D topographical maps.

    • Doug,

      Yeah, found out about letterboxing, too. Geocaching incorporates letterboxing. Some multi-caches (multiple component caches) use a series of clues once you find the initial box. By giving GPS coordinates, though, you can put a cache in a nondescript place that would not serve a letterbox well. Considering that some letterboxes do wind up vandalized by people who stumble across them, this is a good thing.

  2. John

    I had never heard of Geocaching before reading your post. However, it sounds intriguing, and a good excuse to get outside with the kids. I live in a remote area of Louisiana, and I was surprised to see how many caches there are within a few miles. Thanks for the tip!

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