Ahoy, Me Hearties! Pour yerself a tankard of grog and gather round. I'd like to tell ye about Capt'n Harry and his lusty wench, Linda, who, last weekend, set out on a little modern-day treasure hunt.
Were they searchin' for golden doubloons, ye ask?
Dunno. All they knew was that if they found the spot marked "X" they would find a hidden treasure.
I'll let the lass, Linda, tell ye the story...Now pay attention or I'll have to make ye walk the plank! Aaargh!
A friend of mine, Julie Kresge, told me how she and her family enjoy geocaching, an outdoor activity that involves using a GPS to hunt containers, called "geocaches" or "caches." They're hidden all around the world. A typical cache is a small waterproof container that usually holds toys or trinkets of little value and a logbook where the geocacher enters the date they found it and signs it with their established code name.
I thought this sounded like something we'd enjoy while cruising in the '64 Chevy.
Last Saturday, around 2 p.m., he says, "Let's take the old car and do this geocaching thing," like we were just supposed to get in the car and take off.
"Well, I have to go on the website and find a destination. We have to get coordinates."
I log into the website. The first thing it asks is for you to "Browse-Search for interesting geocaches" and enter a postal code, country, etc.
"Where do we want to go?" I ask my Captain.
"I don't know. I thought it was going to tell us where we could go."
"Well I guess we'll have choices but we've got to pinpoint a specific location first. Let's just stay in the Monroe County area."
A whole bunch of listings pop up. I click on one called "Turkey Soup."
It said, "You must be logged in with a Geocaching.com account to view the specific location of this geocache. It's free!"
"If it's free, why do we have to have an account?" grumbled the Captain.
"This should only take a few minutes." Hah!
When completed, a message says it's going to send me an email and provide me with a code and validation link.
We wait. After a few seconds, Captain Antsy Pants asks, "Well, where is it?"
We wait some more.
Captain Antsy Pants walks off in a huff. After about five minutes, there's still no email.
Now I know Captain Antsy Pants isn't going to wait around forever. If I didn't get coordinates for a geocache soon he was going to rev up the cruise ship and we'd be heading out for a "Been there, done that" ride. We were both looking forward to a new swashbucklin' adventure and by gum, I was going to come through with one or my Captain might just send me to Davy Jones Locker!
I desperately search the Internet, click on another website and find one that gave four sites within comfortable driving distance. I select one for the Portland/Columbia area along the Delaware River. It gives me the coordinates to locate the geocache. We put in the latitude and longitude coordinates in our Garmin and set off to hunt for a hidden treasure.
We arrive at a landing along the beautiful Delaware River. Now the trick is to hone in on the exact coordinates. We get out of the car and start walking. We determine that the geocache is not going to be in the parking lot but in a nearby wooded area. We see a path and the Captain stops dead in his tracks.
"Why are we stopping?" I ask.
"Look down," my captain says. "That's all poison ivy."
And the treasure hunt is over for this timid wench. I hate to jump ship but I am what you might call, highly allergic. In fact, I immediately feel itchy.
My fearless Captain smells treasure and he is not calling off the search. In he went.
While I wait, I watch as several folks came drifting toward shore on their inner tubes, laughing and obviously having a great time.
As they climb out, they discover that no one has the keys to their car. I volunteer to drive one of them to their other parked car where they started their float. But the one dad says his brother-in-law's house is just up the road and he would walk there.
While I wait for Harry, the others in the group ask what he is doing. I tell them about the geocaching hunt and they say they never heard about it before. I explain what I know. I ask them about their trip down the Delaware and learn they do it every year as a family. There are two sisters and their husbands and children. One of the tubes holds a cooler filled with drinks and their lunches as they made a whole afternoon of it.
I thought about the river-floating family and our geocaching adventure and how much alike we were.
We're all treasure hunters in our way. The treasure we seek is not gold coins or jewels of great worth. The real treasure is spending time with the people we love, doing things that creates a memory so when we pull it out of our mental treasure chests, we feel rich beyond measure.
Did our buccaneers find their hidden treasure, ye ask?
Shiver me timbers! The lily-livered scurvy dogs gave up. But Ole Capt'n' Antsy Pants says he's ready to go in search of another booty. Aye, he's a scallywag after me own heart.
As for his wimpy wench? She got poison ivy. He shoulda made her walk the plank. Aaargh!