There's more?

The DH and I started geocaching last summer, but the fall and winter got in the way of our outings. Friends of ours recently got into it, and that renewed our enthusiasm for getting out there and getting more finds under our belt. That, and it's finally spring-like.

As I was updating our profile and logging today's find* at geocaching.com, I started to look through the various types of caches that are available now. Geocaching is high-tech scavenger hunting. With easy (and relatively cheap) access to the multi-billion dollar global positioning system in the form of a GPS device, one uses a set of navigational coordinates to locate hidden canisters, tins, tupperware containers, etc. At least, that's the case with a traditional cache.

There are two (new to me) types of caches that really excite me, and that don't require us to bring along our Dora The Explorer hair ties to trade in for other trinkets. An EarthCache is "a special place that people can visit to learn about a unique geoscience feature or aspect of our Earth." In Minnesota you can find, for example, glacier remains like The Whale's Tale in the northeastern part of the state, or limestone caves in the southeastern part. Some other types of EarthCaches include thermal springs in Idaho, possible meteorite collisions with Wisconsin and many other sites around the globe. What a great way to get to some these sites that may be quite close but that we don't know much about or don't take time to learn about them. WayMarks are "interesting and useful locations around the world," that should be somewhat out of the ordinary. WayMarks are manmade, and include museums, interesting headstones, painted barn quilts, and Carnegie Library buildings to name a few.

Why search for Carnegie library buildings or volcanoes with a set of coordinates and a GPS device, rather than an address and a map? Not having sought these types of caches out (yet), all I can say is that the pleasurable part of geocaching for us is the hunt, the exercise, and the joy of getting off the beaten path and finding hidden away places we might not have otherwise explored. So, if geocaching just happens to be coupled with finding cool mineral deposits or non-coastal boardwalks, I'm game.

I don't think I have to say this, but the lists on Earthcaching.com and Waymarking.com aren't comprehensive lists or subject matter authorities (although the GSA approves EarthCaches). Just a great way to get coordinates from someone else who took the time to mark them.

*When I say today's find, I mean the DH's find. He did the actual digging around for great hiding spots, while I slow-poked along behind him with the GPS and pointed at things. I'm still healing from a recent surgery and was just happy to get outside and walk more than a block and a half.


Chris said...

Waymarks and earth caches take you to some unique places that aren't always common knowledge. Fun to combine history, geology, and geocaching!

Amy Mai said...

I am supposed to be doing some paperwork today, and now I'm researching GPS units. :)