X Marks The Spot
The news last week had a bit about some treasure hunters that located an old British ship reported to have around a billion dollars worth of gold coins aboard that went down with the ship in the 1700's. Many of you have likely heard of the lost Dutchman Mine in Superstition Mountains of Arizona, and those of you with metal detectors have likely found some "treasure" of your own.
What is it about hunting for treasure that draws so many adventurers? Most likely it's the thought of unimaginable riches in an old shipwreck or the gold buried under a pile of rocks that some miner hid and forgot where he put it or died before he could return to claim his cache. When I was a kid, we'd play pirates and make our own treasure maps. My friends and me would don our skull caps, eye patches and swords and go out in search of whatever we thought was at that magical point where "X" marks the spot. Of course we never found anything that way, but it was a fun game to be sure.
The fact that lost treasure is well... lost, keeps most people from looking for it, but there are plenty of folks that do go in search of treasure just the same. For some, it's the thrill of the hunt and expectation that riches are to be found, for others it's an excuse to go out and do something even if there is little chance of finding riches.
For me and Margie, we're in the latter group of above mentioned treasure hunters. Yep... we look for stuff left by somebody else just for the fun of it. The good thing about our searches is that we almost always find what we're looking for, even here in Nebraska.
Take yesterday for example. The perfect 70 degree weather was ideal for treasure hunting, so we visited a web site with all the information we required to find hidden stuff and went out and found everything we were looking for, all within 15 miles of our house. We located 4 separate hiding places in less than 2 hours, and learned a little history while we were at it. We discovered hiding places we'd driven by numerous times, got some exercise, and burned a couple three gallons of gas at the most.
What we were doing is called geocaching, and if you have a hand held GPS unit and some spare time, you have everything you need to go on your own treasure hunts. Check out http://www.geocaching.com and hit the "Hide & Seek A Cache" button on the left hand side of the page. You get presented a list of ways to search for hidden locations, but just using your Zip Code is as good as any. By punching in the Zip for Cambridge, and limiting the search to 25 miles, we discovered there are 48 hidden places (cache locations) to go searching for. Plug the GPS coordinates into your hand held unit and off ya go!
Yesterday, besides finding two hidden stuff (cache) locations near Harry Strunk Lake, we were to the old Pleasantview-Denney Cemetery and the ghost town of Orofina. We found what we were searching for, and even traded some "treasure".
Registration is free, and you get to keep track of your finds on the geocaching.com web site. There is a premium membership available, but over 99% of the caches listed on the web site don't require anything more than the free basic membership to find and log. In most cases, cache locations are in interesting places, and our adventures in Arizona had us finding ghost towns, abandoned mines, WWII training sites, and very unusual places that you would likely never find on your own.
So we recommend giving geocaching a try. It's a great activity for the whole family, and there are over 725,000 caches so far worldwide to go searching for. Most are pretty easy, some require technical mountain climbing skills or underwater diving equipment, but all are just plain fun to go looking for.
To help get you started, check this page to find geocaches in the McCook area...