It’s been awhile since my last post and awhile more since I’ve actually posted anything about the US. Sorry about that, I guess I’ve been preoccupied with life, work and all of that messy mundane stuff. But now, time to rectify these issues.
So I’ve learnt that when the weather is good in St Louis, you should make the most of it because there is absolutely no guarantee that it will stay that way for long. The temperatures here fluctuate too fast, especially for someone who has always lived near that great regulator, the sea. A swing of 10 degrees C overnight seems to be the norm here rather than the exception.
But I digress.
My point was that, with the beautiful weather we’ve been getting, I decided that I really had to get out of the house. I’ve also been working so hard that I decided to take a break and go on a quest… for treasure. For a few years now there’s been a movement called geocaching. It’s been described as a high-tech treasure hunt. People hide a small object – the cache – and record the GPS coordinates, which are then posted online. To find the cache, you need to obtain the coordinates, then use a GPS receiver to track down the location.
Sure, you might say, hey that’s simple. But I feel like I should point out that while the GPS is quite good for directions, there’s still typically an error of several metres. That means you will need to search through a region about that big. Also, these geocachers can be pretty skillful at hiding the cache. But don’t worry, there are different levels indicating the difficulty of finding the cache itself. Since this was my first time out, I picked an easy one.
The hunt itself was pretty fun. Since I started at a rather odd place in Forest Park, it took me awhile to figure out how to get to where it was. It felt a bit like a real quest, there was a lot of backtracking and going down these paths that I probably wouldn’t have taken otherwise. I knew it had to be close one of the main roads so I tried to figure out how to get there. But really, all of this is just the beginning.
The real thrill is discovering that cache itself.
I was using the GPS on my phone (a rather cheap Huawei IDEOS) and saw that it was pointing in an odd direction. There were some steps nearby so I climbed those. But the instant I got to the top, the indicator started to point in the opposite direction. What? It was then that I realised that my GPS was even worse than I thought. Rather than narrowing it down to several metres, I had to search an area of 10 m! So I cast my eye around and noticed a tree that looked suspicious. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that some of the branches looked like it had been arranged. Hmm… I checked it out, moved some out of the way and lo and behold!
There was the cache with it’s treasures and log book.
That was heaps of fun! I’ll be doing more of these in the coming weeks.
If you are interested in geocaching on your own, check out geocaching.com. It seems like there are geocachers just about everywhere. All you need is a GPS receiver (or for a harder challenge, you can try to locate it by with just a map). It was an excellent excuse just to get out and explore!