3/19/06

TNLN

So today we took a shot at geocaching. It's this fantastically novel and fun activity where you roam around in the woods searching for something you already know the precise location of.

I'd been wanting to try it for awhile, but hadn't gotten up the gumption to actually buy a GPS (Global Positioning Sensor) until a couple weeks ago. (Penny scoffs openly at my GPS, calling it a "glorified compass" and "nothing you can't figure out by just looking around." I'm just thrilled to have something else to toss into my manbag.)

I was going to go into all sorts of detail about the process, but good ol' Tom Stahl already did that, and I'd recommend you just check it out there.

My big report from the geocaching episode is that I didn't find *squat.*

Oh sure, we had fun, bumbling through the brambles with Vince leading the way, peering down at this little gizmo after every step, awaiting further instructions. The idea is to discover a cache someone's hidden there, which could be a thermos, ammo box, tupperware container, film canister or any other essentially watertight enclosure, and access the goodies therein. You sign the log, maybe take one of the little trinkets stashed inside, maybe leave one of your own, and forage back to your original coordinates.

Does that even sound fun? It really was. I don't need much of an excuse to take a walk in the woods on a sunny Sunday afternoon with my wife and smiling dogger, so having a legitimate goal, a pre-existing item to track down, endows the act with an intoxicating sense of purpose - a whole new dimension to the kind of aimless exploring most of us take to so naturally.

Honestly, I don't even care that we didn't find the cache. (If you'd care to look for yourself, it's at N 39° 38.689 W 086° 11.529. Look for a big fallen tree.) I'm just glad people do this, that they take the trouble of all this getting outdoors and hiding and seeking.

It reminded me of something... the whole process. I'm not sure what...

Wandering... and coming across something... and smiling with surprise (even though it's what you were looking for)... then deciding what to do with this secret discovery.

"TNLN" means "Took Nothing; Left Nothing" in geocaching parlance. It's always an option. It's saying "I WAS HERE" with the intention of proving it, realizing you left no trace otherwise. You can sign in, or not; add to the cache, or not. Either way is fine. Most people sign, though. Most want others to know They Were There.

I was thinking of placing a geocache of my own. There are a lot of back roads and trails I explore on my motorcycle, and I could easily hide a little something something somewhere on one of those excursions.

Maybe.

I kind of already do it, though... hide things in plain sight, hope someone will seek them out, check every so often to see if anything's been added to the cache... and freely give out the precise coordinates:

http://onlikepopcorn.blogspot.com/

2 comments:

Thomas said...

Good point, on like popcorn. I think you'd enjoy what we go through. No GPS, but just a map and compass, and 16 square miles with 10 small ammo cans waiting for you to find them within an 8-hour timeframe. Pack a lunch!

MadFlyTom said...

I think it's great that you've taken the leap and started the hobby.

It's a lot of fun - and don't get too down on yourself for not finding the first one. I didn't find the first few I went after either. It takes finding a couple to see the patterns people use when hiding. It's almost always in, under, or around a log or strange looking tree. Usually they will be covered in loose tree bark or sticks...and will stand out somewhat from the surroundings. That is, of course, unless you're going after a micro that's rated at 5 stars for difficultly. If that's the case...hope you have all day to wonder about...you'll need it!