Lauri has recently got interested in Geocaching.

For the uninitiated, this is like a "Modern Day Treasure Hunting"......  "Treasure" is hidden in various places all over the world. It can be hidden in something as large as an ammo box, or smaller than a film can, pill bottle or anything waterproof.

"Treasure" is a bit of an exaggeration. The contents of these Caches usually are kinds on trinkets, such as compass, golf balls, toys - whatever. Sometimes there is nothing except the log.

The purpose of geocaching is not to find free treasure - the whole point is the fun of finding the cache. Also they can be hidden by anybody, so there is fun in both hiding and finding them.

So, typically if a cache contains some trinkets, you can take something, and leave something in it's place.

Since the purpose is to find the cache, there must be some way of letting others know where to search. Also to let the person who hid it, know that you have found it.

She likes geocaching because it is good exercise, and she gets to find lots of interesting places that are off the beaten path. All I seem to find is poison ivy !!!

This is where the "Modern" part of my description as "Modern Day Treasure Hunting" comes in.

If Lauri was to hide a cache, she would have to ensure it is hidden on public land. Trespassing is not allowed. Also she would need to be careful to ensure that nobody thinks she's hiding a bomb somewhere sensitive. In order to accurately record  it's position, she would take a handheld GPS receiver with her. Then she can record the latitude and longitude

For Christmas I bought Lauri a Garmin GPS60CS GPS receiver. It's a very nice unit and has built in maps as well as the basic lat / long coordinates.   

Next she has to let others know where to find the cache. This is where the internet comes in. www.geocaching.com is the site used by geocachers. They can both record where caches are hidden, and also log caches they have found. They can even upload pictures like THIS or even  THIS ...

HERE  is a hyperlink to a typical local cache. You have to log in (free account) to see the lat / long but you can see it is a "cammo'd pill bottle" that's camouflaged and any other hints. At the bottom of the page there are comments from people who have found it.

Since the fun is finding it, there must be a way of recording the fact that you  actually found it. There are two ways of doing this. First, the cache contains a logbook you sign, and second, you record the finding on the web site.

Geocachers have some of their own language. For instance, you don't want to open a cache when strangers are around. This is in case they steal / destroy the cache. The term used for non-geocachers is "Muggles". If you hide or find a cache when Muggles are around it could get Muggled.

Sometimes they will contain a "Travel Bug". That is an item such as a toy person, or dinosaur, that wants to go somewhere. For instance, one was a toy "Woody" (from the film toy story) who wanted to go to Hollywood and meet Meg Ryan. If you are going in that direction you can move Woody to a cache closer to California, until he gets there. Often these travel bugs have things they like to do. For instance one may like to eat. So geocachers will take him to a restaurant, have it's photo taken, before being placed in the next cache. Indeed, there are many photo's of geocachers doing stuff with travel bugs posted on the website.




Here are some useful links.

Geocaching.com

Geocaching - Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ

Travel Bug - FAQ

MAPORAMA

If you have an address use these to find the lat / long
MAPPOINT         INSTRUCTIONS

or WAYHOO - their Map Interchange is useful

GPS Coordinate Converter, Maps and Info

Cryptogram Helper