Minnesota Geocaching Association
Joined: 25 Apr 2006
|Posted: Wed Apr 26, 2006 6:30 am Post subject: Farmington Independent Article
Geocaching: A good excuse for a walk in the woods
Trey Mewes, contributing writer, Farmington Independent
Published Thursday, April 20, 2006
There is an interesting hobby in Farmington, and it's not just a walk
in the park. It's an adventure, and it's here. It's called geocaching.
Geocaching is an adventure game played using a Global Positioning
System, or GPS, to find hidden "caches." Coordinates for the caches
are posted on web sites such as www.geocaching.com.
"It's just a fun way to go out and do things," said Jason Towley, a
geocacher and Farmington resident. "I go out with my daughter and we
just have fun."
Towley has been a geocacher since December. He found out about
geocaching from a neighbor whose parents were geocachers. He decided
last winter he wanted to buy a GPS and try geocaching. He has enjoyed
it ever since. Towley is responsible for most of the handful of
geocaches in Farmington.
The point of the game is to find hidden caches, which can be placed
pretty much anywhere. Caches are containers of one kind or another.
They can be as small as a pillbox or as large as an ammo box. Inside
the box is a logbook where geocachers can sign their name to say they
found the cache, and then post their find on the web site. A cache
can also contain prizes, but anything taken from a cache must be
replaced with another item.
"The rule is if you take something you leave something," Towley said.
"My daughter loves geocaching because she can find a cache and leave
her old McDonalds Happy Meal toy for a new Happy Meal toy."
Prizes can be small items like toys, books, CDs, even recipes.
Geocaching relies heavily on modern technology. In order to play one
must have a GPS and access to the Internet. The websites have
waypoints for each hidden cache. Several are in Farmington, in public
areas people go by everyday.
"GPS units are like electronic compasses," Towley said.
According to geocaching.com, GPS units are electronic devices that
can determine your approximate location within six to 20 feet.
"I got a basic GPS on sale for $59.00. You can get a GPS at $59.00 or
$700. They all basically do the same thing," Towley said. He said the
only difference between cheaper and more expensive GPS devices is the
attention to detail concerning your surroundings. More expensive GPS
units will be able to identify roads and streams and provide more
detailed maps instead of major roads and rivers.
"My daughter and I love to go out and find caches. I'll go out
sometime during my lunch break and see if I can find a cache in the
area," he said.
It's time to play
In order to play, first go to www.geocaching.com and register. The
web site has a search tool to find geocaches in a specific area. It
will allow members to access information about caches listed in the
directory. From there, members are able to get outside and find
caches. To find caches in Farmington, search for the 55024 zip code.
"The whole point of the game is you just kind of keep it mellow." Towley said.
If finding caches just isn't exciting enough, geocachers can hide
their own caches. There are certain rules geocachers have to follow
in order to place caches, however.
Towley said caches are usually hidden in public areas. Caches can be
hidden on private land as long as the owner permits it. It must be
hidden well, so non-geocachers won't be able to find it.
"If you're doing it right, you should be able to walk by a cache and
you'll never know it's there." Towley said.
Geocaches are posted in several places around Farmington. They can be
found simply by walking out the front door with a trusty GPS and the
waypoints of the cache. But don't worry: everyone wins in this game.
"The goal is just kind of the thrill of the hunt." Towley said. "It's
like any other hobby. You do it to have fun."
There are various GPS-related events taking place now.
The South of the River Recreators group is organizing its first ever
GPS Amazing Family Race on Saturday, April 29 at the Apple Valley
community center. The race will pit family teams of two or more
against each other in a race through GPS checkpoints in SORR
communities - Farmington, Burnsville, Eagan Savage, Prior Lake,
Lakeville, Apple Valley and Rosemount.
For more information, go to www.ci.apple-valley.mn.us.
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