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Farmington Independent Article

 
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2006 6:30 am    Post subject: Farmington Independent Article Reply with quote

http://www.farmingtonindependent.com/articles/index.cfm?id=78&section=News

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.


Have fun!

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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