Summer Fun goes high-tech: Geocaching Adventures
Adding another great dimension to RV Travel
Call it high-tech adventure if you want, but geocaching adventures, a growing craze among travelers who own GPS units (geological positioning systems), may be becoming so popular in part because the sport offers much of the same appeal as historical exploration and discovery, and provides a way for the modern traveler to transform a casual getaway into a vacation of mystery and intrigue. For Rvers, geocaching is the perfect entertainment vechicle to help find unique places to visit along your travel route.
What is Geocaching?
To make it simple, imagine being handed a treasure map and told to follow it - to the letter - to discover a buried treasure. The treasure site may be somewhere simple like an empty lot in your home neighborhood. Or it could be somewhere exotic - like on a deserted beach on Roatan Island, Honduras.
Now substitute the outdated paper map with an electronic, hand-held device - a GPS, which indicates the exact coordinates of the treasure site.
That's all there is to it!
Well - tsort of. There are actually several types of geocaching adventure games, some really simple and designed for all age and skill levels. Then there are the "serious" geocachers who invest large amounts of time, energy and imagination in developing treasure sites that offer physical and mental challenges to participants.
Some of the more challenging treasure sites have included hidden caves, cliff sides, mountain summits, and more. So before you buy a GPS and head out to discover your first treasure, become familiar with the rules of the game.
Let's Talk About The Treasure!
If you're thinking you might grab a GPS and discover the Lost Dutchman's Mine or Davy Jones locker - forget it. While there are some elite geocaching games that offer attractive purses to the winner, most are for the thrill of the ride more than they are for the worth of the treasure.
Geocache treasure found in plastic containers in the hollow trunk of a tree.
To begin with, most geocachers who play the game are also the same ones who plant the treasures, meaning geocache treasures are usually limited to simple items like books or CDs, or even hand-written poems or carefully wrapped energy bars. Goodness knows you've picked up something of interest in your RV travels you can leave behind for another geocacher to find, right?
And in most geocaching circles, when you discover a treasure site, you are to take something from the treasure cache and replace it with something of equal value and interest.
In some games, discovering a treasure may just be the beginning of the adventure, as the result of your search often turns out to be another set of GPS coordinates to a different treasure site.
How To Find Geocaching Adventures
This may be the easiest part. There are plenty of Web sites that offer GPS positions of hidden treasure sites all around the world. Even the Garmin Company, the leading GPS equipment manufacturer, maintains a Web site with literally thousands of GPS, geocaching adventures. Company officials admit the sport of geocaching promotes their products, but say they believe it is also a great way to get families outdoors and in touch with the basic elements of adventuring.
Another advantage to the sport is that it doesn't really matter if you're going on vacation abroad or just spending an afternoon or weekend scouting around your own hometown. There are geocache adventures on just about every corner - worldwide.
It takes about $100-plus (US) to purchase a basic GPS device, and more depending on how sophisticated you want your unit to be. But don't worry about making the investment and not being able to find adventures near to you. There are plenty out there. In fact, you aren't limited to published games in order to play. Chances are good there is already a geocaching club in your own neighborhood, or you can start one by simply introducing the sport to a few friends and family members.
Here are a few links to geocaching sites so that , once you have acquired the GPS unit, you get started on your first adventure right away. Happy geocaching!