. . . I've been told that I write novels for email messages. Perhaps this is the way to go. I'll try to make each entry, or Gemstone, a "precious" one. On mediocre days, all I might be able to produce is a "semi-precious" entry. In any case, an entry might be a "neat" Gemstone--something that is uniquely mine.

Monday, December 29, 2008


Last summer an old college friend took a detour to our home while on a summer trip from her home out to California. She and her kids introduced my oldest son to geocaching, which according to the geocaching.com website is: 
a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment.
All you need is a portable GPS device like the one Santa brought my son, an account on geocaching.com so that you can get the coordinates (and sometimes hints) for the caches, and the desire to get out and hike on a beautiful sunny day (sometimes going in circles). My son provided the first two items and we both love hiking on beautiful sunny days, so off we went with my dog, Lucy. Of course, we did cheat a little bit today by driving from one mesa to another one to find some different caches.

We had 6 geocaches programmed into the GPS device from the 943 listed within a 50 mile radius of our home coordinates. Anyway, we found the first "microcache" fairly easily--a tiny metallic capsule attached to a pole and we documented the visit. The second location was found after an easy mile walk along the mesa top but we couldn't find the actual cache and decided that it must be buried in the 2 feet of snow. Same happened with the third cache when we went to its coordinates. For the fourth and fifth caches, we would have had to walk down steep, snow-covered terrain to find them, and we couldn't even find the trailheads because of the snow. So we skipped those for today. But for the sixth geocache, we had a good time. We parked on the side of the road once we got in the vicinity and hiked to the location indicated by the GPS. Using the clues that were left on the website for the treasure, we hunted all over until we found it, and recorded the visit. Very creative! The cache was hidden inside a log.

Besides finding geocaches, you can hide them as well. I want to do this for my son once he teaches me how to use his GPS device to mark coordinates. Once you hide a cache, you can log the location on the website for others to find it as well. But if you hide one, you have to care for it, making sure it is in good shape for everyone.

We told each other that we'd go back to the missed locations when the snow melted in the spring. I know we'll do more exploring before then, though!


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