May 2018 ttimes web magazine

Page 59

Geocaching Across Delmarva by Julie Soforenko

Tor r ent i a l r a i n h a s kept me cooped up for the last two days, but it’s finally tapering off to a fine mist. Wavering between coziness and claustrophobia, I take a sip of chamomile. I don’t want to wander far, but a walk around the block isn’t inspiring me to abandon my slippers. I grab my smartphone and open the geocaching app, scanning the location-enabled map for clusters of caches within a half-hour drive. Jackpot, there are plenty. What is geocaching, you might ask? Groundspeak, the company that maintains the game, describes geocaching as “a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.” There are over 3 million geocaches hidden in over 190 countries. When geocaching began in 2000, players needed a dedicated GPS device, but these days smartphones are the way to go. The app lets you browse caches and then provides all the tools and information necessary for finding the one you choose. These include an in-app map and compass, a description, a hint (if

you’re lucky) and an activity log. I always check the activity log before committing to a cache to make sure it hasn’t been reported as missing or in terrible condition. Many geocaches possess actual “treasure.” You might find stickers, a key chain or some other trinkets in the container. The idea is to take something and replace it with an item of equal or greater value. On a future rainy day I’m planning to buy a $3 bag of polished river rocks from a craft store and paint an army of adorable ladybugs to delight future cachers.

Is geocaching a solitary or social activity? The answer is, whichever you prefer. You can geocache by yourself. It’s a great activity for families with kids. You can even make new friends through geocaching. In 2017, over 39,000 geocaching 57

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