I walked into the Powerhouse today to pursue one of my leads for "Yesteryear." As I'm walking in, I see a sticker for "Geocaching." I've heard of the hobby before. It's basically a worldwide, perpetual scavenger hunt. People hide little boxes, or caches, in the world and submit their coordinates to the website. From there, hikers and outdoor people use a GPS to locate the cache, sign a log saying they were there, and add or exchange a small item for the next person to find.
Way cool, but I have no time to mess around with a GPS in between everything else I'm doing. That didn't stop me from asking Josh Noble about it, though.
He pointed me to the Geocaching app on my iPhone (and for Android, too) and said there was one in the parking lot somewhere. I had already done my research for the day and had five minutes to spare, so I downloaded the app and went hunting.
I must have been searching for 20 minutes before I realized I had another article to write and went back to the Miner. The app is awesome: it displays a map with all the caches around you. The parking lot cache was gray, meaning that only Geocaching premium users can get more information on it. While the coordinates and the game itself are free to play, upgrading gets you more detailed logging tools, small details on all the caches beforehand (such as size, difficulty, etc.) rather than just dots on a map, and access to some other types of caches.
I'll have to look into this when I have some free time. This could be fun.
I went back downtown again and decided to dedicate some more time finding one of these caches. The app let me get details on one of the caches for free: easy access from the sidewalk, low difficulty setting, medium size, and someone reported finding it only three days ago. Perfect for a beginner.
My phone pinged me once I got to the location and told me to look around. The GPS on most phones is accurate to about 30 feet or so, and at that point you're on your own.
It took me to a parking lot with this giant tree growing near the sidewalk. The sun was setting, so I flipped on my phone's flashlight to help in my search.
Right next to the trunk of the tree sat a rusty metal box. It looked very out of place, so out of curiosity I opened it - and found my first cache.
The box was stuffed with various small toys and knick-knacks. I took out the logbook and thumbed through the entries before signing it. People from all over the world have found this box!
Taped to the lid was an old newspaper article describing the history of the tree. I read it for a minute or two before hearing footsteps in the distance. Not keen to look like a crazy person, I turned off my flashlight and returned the cache to its location. I'm going to have to do this again.
I'm at five caches found. Child's play, considering there are more than 400 in the Kingman area and millions around the world. Baby steps, Ryan. Baby steps.
The caches I've found so far have ranged from just a log book to mini time capsules about that location. One I found located up on a hill overlooking old Kingman. It was a side of town I've never been before. Finding a cache is great, but sometimes the journey getting there and the view is the real treasure.
Busy week at work, but I was able to log another five caches between running errands and driving around town. I subscribed to the premium version of the app, which gives me virtual activity logs and access to all the caches in town. $10 for three months isn't bad, as this new hobby has provided me with some great entertainment so far.
There's one cache that has been troubling me. I go back every couple of days to try to find it. My phone keeps telling me it's in this tree, but I have yet to spot anything. It has to be there. Other geocachers keep saying they've found it. I'm too stubborn to let this one slide.
I'm in the middle of the desert looking for a micro-cache (a really small geocache) and just made the realization that I'm hooked. Fortunately, I'm not alone. The Kingman geocaching community is very active, and while I've never met any of them in person, I'm starting to get to know a few of them by the logs they leave and the items I find. A dad and his daughter like to leave balloons in some of the caches around town. A mom and her two children seem to be one step ahead of me, as I see that they logged in just days before me on every cache I find.
It does feel like a giant adventure, where the world is my playground and the game never ends. Once I find enough caches here, I'll probably start creating my own. I gotta think of something clever ... or find this cache.
Seriously! Where is it?