Sunday, June 19, 2011

Geocaching, waymarking and other assorted geekery

Early this year I mentioned that I'd been poking around in the world of geocaching. "Poking around" is probably still the most accurate term for what I've been doing, as I don't have a GPS device and therefore must usually rely on Captain Midnight's trusty smartphone (with its handy-dandy geocaching app). Instead I've gotten into waymarking, geocaching's sister hobby, which usually doesn't require GPS navigation -- it's a bit like a worldwide photo scavenger hunt. CM has gotten much more involved in geocaching; he is starting to take more circuitous routes home from work, the better to find additional local caches, my dear.

On the 10th and 11th, we attended the annual ward campout at a nearby county park. (All those little bumps to the left in the picture are the tops of tents showing above the high grass.) Lots of families showed up and brought their kids. Miss V chose not to attend this year, as 1) she is not a big fan of camping on any occasion and 2) my mom and sister were visiting at the time, and neither of them particularly wanted to go camping, so they all stayed home. Silly them.

CM brought along his smartphone, having determined ahead of time that there were as many as 15 caches in the park. When it got to the time of the day when kids usually start getting bored and fidgety, Captain Midnight pulled out his phone and casually asked, "Who wants to go treasure hunting with us?" That got some attention. Some of the kids were skeptical that there was really treasure hidden anywhere in the park, so we took them to find a nearby cache box. It was both easy to find and laden with goodies, so their curiosity was piqued.

We took them to another small cache... and then it was time to tackle the bridge.

Here's the pedestrian suspension bridge spanning the river, with the Pied Piper-like Captain Midnight leading the pack running pell-mell toward the center.

And here's the river itself, with another vehicle bridge visible in the distance.

The kids did a bang-up job of searching for a teeny cache that was supposedly hidden somewhere on the bridge, but could not find it. We wondered if perhaps someone had dropped it in the river by mistake.

And then, mysteriously... snowed. In June.

It's cottonwood season here, and the trees were casting off fluff in such quantities that the whole area looked like a snowglobe for five minutes. Rather a magical occurrence (unless you happen to be allergic to cottonwood, which I thankfully don't seem to be).

After a long and fruitless walk deep into the woods to look for another cache, we returned to camp to brag about our exploits, and to make and eat s'mores. (No, don't worry, I was good and did not eat s'mores, though I did steal a small square of chocolate or two.)

We visited the campground restroom to prepare for bed...

...where I came across yet another iteration of the famous "Push Button, Receive Bacon" sign. (Lies, I tell you. I pushed that button three times and didn't get so much as a bacon bit.)

In the morning, the bacon situation was rectified by the manly men of the ward, who got up early and cooked breakfast for all who had stayed overnight.

Speaking of manly men, who is this strapping specimen muscling his way through the underbrush?

It's Captain Midnight! My hero! And he seems to have brought a drum! GIT DOWN TO THE FUNKY BEAT.

Actually, CM was on the premises to help deconstruct our nifty tent, which goes up and down in almost less time than it takes to tell about it.

Now you see it... you don't.

After packing up and loading the car, we goofed around for a bit in the area. Found another cache and a waymarking site, picked up ludicrously cheap locally grown asparagus at a farm, and considered wandering down this trail:

Seriously, wouldn't you? Too bad it was closed for maintenance. Perhaps later in the year.

Also, serendipitous emu sighting!

And then we drove home, passing a pack of racing cyclists en route. The end.


D. Cootey said...

Fantastic entry. I hadn't heard of waymarking before. Thanks for teaching me something new.

Soozcat said...

Waymarking is more scavenger hunt than treasure hunt... the point is not to find the cache; the location itself is the treasure. I think it came about because geocachers were putting up all kinds of "virtual caches" (which are essentially the same as waymarks) in places where traditional caches were impractical or illegal, and Groundspeak decided to put all these "check out the funky thing at these coordinates" entries onto their own site.

Posted on the site are several virtual scavenger hunts I'd like to finish. One's in Seattle.