Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Geocachers Among Us

Geocacher thinking he's doing something in secret.

On day in March of 2012 I glanced out my front window and saw a red jeep drive up to the highway sign and a man got out and went to the base of the sign.  He crouched down and seemed to be doing something at the base of the post.  He shortly got up, went to his jeep and took off.  I wonder what was going on.  Did I witness a drug drop-off or pick-up?  Or maybe a money transference?  I even wondered if a spy network was operating out here.  Silly to consider now that I’ve had time to put it all in perspective.  It is a rural area, zoned for agriculture, and would be a good place conceal things. 

Over the next few weeks I started to see more people and cars showing up to fool around at the base of the sign.  All different types, from elderly to the young,  but all adults.  I went and looked at the base but didn’t see it at first, and only on a second examination did I see it.  A small, magnet key-holder box.  Oh, so people are hiding their keys at the base of a road sign out in the boonies?  I decided not to open it and see what happened.

I started to document these people coming and going in still photos and video clips.  I filmed them from my bedroom window.  Eventually, I called the Sheriff’s department and talked to a deputy there.  Basically, there was nothing to warrant any illegal activity so no police officer was going to come out for a look.  This was disappointing but I could understand their position since I hadn’t really seen anything that was actually illegal.  

Still seeing these people coming on going, mostly at noon, I decided to do some detective work of my own.  Late one night I drove out to the sign with my latex gloves, flashlight, and my camera. By 10 PM the traffic is nil so I was free to check it out undisturbed.  Removing the key-holder box I slowly opened it.  No keys!  Instead I discovered a long series of folded up papers, white, and stapled at one corner.  Written, in different inks form different pens and seemingly different writers.  dates and what appeared to be codes were written there such as BG35 and T.W.O.  

The contents of the key-holder box.
I had told a friend in Scotland about this curious event and told be about geocaching.  After doing some research online I found out who they were–Geocachers!  This is a hobby where people use the GPS that is built-in to most phones and geotag a location, put something there, in this case a key-holder box, and then post the coordinates on a geocaching web site.  Then other people show up to find it, and in this instance, write their initials or screen name down and the note which becomes a log.  In other instances just about anything could be in a cache.  Coins for example.  Or puzzles.  Caches are placed in parks, benches, rural areas, and generally anywhere out of prying eyes.  

It all amounts a secretive, inside game.  A game for geeks with it’s own underground culture.  I assume it allows people with too much time on their hands to play secret agent.  I frankly don’t get the attraction but whatever floats your boat.  For people to come out here to do this, takes up about 15 to 20 minutes just to get here, one way.  I guess the lure of the game is so great they don’t mind burning up the gas.  

Oh, and they call us non-players, Muggles