Damara Hutchins

Geocaching gets another chance

My last attempt at geocaching did not turn out as planned. It happened about three years ago when my friend, Michele, and I dragged our kids into a creepy wooded area along the Peace River to search for a hidden cache just so we could say we found it. It sounded like a good idea at the time, but we weren't prepared to find ourselves in a setting eerily similar to something you'd see in the first five minutes of the television show "Criminal Minds." You know the part of the program where the people get abducted?

On a side note, Stephen King may want to consider writing a book about people who disappear while geocaching. Maybe someone accidentally hides a cache on an ancient Native American pet burial ground and it angers an alien who is hiding nearby. Call me, Mr. King. We'll talk about it.

Anyway, on that potential trail of terror, we didn't think we'd see a paw print in the mud that could have belonged to a large predator and I happen to have a serious problem with bears, thanks to the DNA in my brain cells that signals my "fight or flight" response. Okay, maybe it is more "flight" than "fight" because we left very quickly and I never tried to go geocaching again until last weekend.

The first major change that prompted me to reconsider this pastime was the fact that I went with my husband. For some reason I trust him implicitly with my safety. I'm not sure why because no one has scared the living tar out of me more than he has. Husbands are funny that way.

The second change was the fact that we rode in his truck from cache to cache. This made the treasure hunt more rewarding and less dangerous for vulnerable humans such as myself. Yes, you do have to exit the vehicle to find the cache, but the possibility of a bear attack so close to civilization is greatly reduced.

The caches are hidden in trees, under rocks, and in bushes all over Highlands County. We downloaded some free apps to our phones that assisted with the locations, but it was still a bit of hunting to find the containers.

Once found, you sign your name on the log books that are jammed inside and, if there is room, you take an item out of the container and replace it with one of your own. We left a Sam Jackson action figure, a Hot Wheels car, a Bahamas key chain, and several other items in the 8 caches we located.

My daughter found three, I found three, and my husband found three. I know, that adds up to nine, but I'm giving her an extra one even though I found it because she is so tenacious. I said it was in the tree and then she said to look in the tree. I said it first, but if you ask her, she found it.

The boy didn't go with us because he was busy hanging out at his friend's house, but he will be forced into participation next time.

We are looking forward to doing it again. Chris bought a couple containers to place caches which I think is super cool. You can count on one thing; the cache I hide will be accessible for people who are most comfortable wearing flip flops and do not like to venture too far off a paved road. I'll go ahead and say "You're welcome" to their implied "Thank you."