The GPS on your car’s dashboard can get you over the river and through the woods and all the way to grandmother’s house. It can also be another way to answer the question “What are we going to do today, mom?” when it comes up over school break.
How? Well, it turns out that a GPS can also be used for a game of high-tech hide-and-seek, a sport now known as geocaching (pronounced as geo-cashing). Participants hide a small box–often with a prize or a notebook inside–and invite others to find it via its GPS coordinates. There are almost 1 million geocaching sites around the world, including more than a few right here in Verona.
Here’s how you play the game. Pretty much all of the world’s geocaching sites are logged at at a site called Geocaching. Enter our beloved zip code on its home page, and you’ll be presented with a list of sites in Verona, including one on the West Essex trail that we’ve already recommended for hiking. Basic searches are free, though you do have to register with your e-mail address to get the exact coordinates of the site you are seeking. Geocaching’s premium membership is $30 a year and lets you get and store cache information in a somewhat zippier way.
Enter the cache’s waypoints into your device and you are good to go. And if you think that this doesn’t sound like much of a sport, remember that the GPS only takes you within a limited number of feet of your destination, not exactly to it. A small box on the ground can can be very hard to find in 100 square feet of woodlands, which is why many of the cache-leavers also post several clues. When you find it, take one of the trinkets from the box and replace it with something of equal or greater value. Leave a note in the box’s log book, and record your find back at Geocaching.
Pretty much any GPS device will work for geocaching, but you can get some shopping tips here. Some cell phones, like the iPhone also work, though you have to get the app for geocaching first.