Friday, July 15, 2011

2011 WEEK 28: Hidden Treasures

Way back when, around the time that I became a proud iPhone owner, I downloaded a bunch of Apps with the intention of being more productive, more technologically in-touch and more adventurous. Of course, half of these Apps have been gathering digital dust ever since. But this week we took one of those forgotten relics for a test-run. The App is Geocaching!

For those of you unfamiliar, Geocaching uses the GPS technology of your handheld device to lead you to hidden caches of treasure left by other users. On booting up the App all you need to do is click on "Find Nearby Caches" and a list pops up detailing caches in your area together with how far away they are, a GPS Google map locator and a description of the hide. Each hide is categorized by level of difficulty and type of cache with some being puzzles that have to be solved in order to unlock the GPS coordinates and others being a series of caches linked together to form an entire treasure hunting adventure.

Being total newbies, Mel and I decided to go for individual caches all of which were ranked at pretty much the lowest level of difficulty and were all within walking distance of our home.

Finding the genreral location of our first cache in the West End of Vancouver was easy. Finding the specific spot where the cache was hidden wasn't so easy... We spent a few minutes shuffling around, our eyes gazing at the iPhone before a nearby "uniformed stranger" pointed us in the right direction (any more detail of this stranger's identity and it would give away the hide!).

Somewhere in here there be hidden treasure mateys!

Not exactly "pieces of eight" or "a king's ransom" for us to retire on but this is what we found:

We added a lollipop to the treasure trove and headed off on our merry way in search of cache #2 mysteriously known as "***** House Blues"...  It was somewhere near this heritage home:

Nestled in the shadows of this noble turreted dwelling...

Again, despite the difficulty level of only "1" we still spent a few minutes wandering up and down searching bushes, looking underneath benches, etc. until we found this little package hanging from a hook:

This is what we found inside:

Inside most caches is a tiny little log for treasure seekers to record the date of their discovery.

Mel added an entry for our treasure find and then we were off in search of cache #3 with the intriguing title of "Cache De Vine".

I immediately knew where the general location of the cache was hidden based purely on the use of the word "Vine" in the title. Finding the actual hiding spot was... well difficult to say the least! We spent a good 20 minutes drifting around a street corner like a couple of idiots. The GPS tracking is good but its not THAT good. In other words, it gives you a location within fifty to one hundred feet but it doesn't pinpoint the exact spot. Further confounding us was the cache description which referred to the hide as a "magnetic micro". We weren't exactly sure what that meant other than it was probably small and it was more than likely stuck to something metallic.

Underlining just how popular Geocaching has become, another stranger passing by pointed us in the right direction. Based on the grin on his face, I'd say he's seen many a fool shuffling back and forth, iPhone or Blackberry in hand, who needed guidance.

This is what a "magnetic micro" looks like and this is what was hidden inside...

If you have a thirst for mystery and uncovering hidden secrets or you're looking for a new way to explore your city then I highly recommend Geocaching. The App only costs $9.99 in the AppStore.

DISCLAIMER: Vignetting and cropping used in all these photos to help preserve the mystery!

Until next time folks...