|Geocaching in the Southwest|
A new Global Positioning Satellite system known as GPS was developed for military purposes in the latter part of the 20th century. Signals received by a compact handheld receiving unit from these satellites provide a precise real-time location for the user within ten to twenty feet with consumer-grade equipment. This is more than enough accuracy to find hidden objects anywhere on the earth, provided enough satellites are within range at a given moment.
Up until a few years ago, an error factor was entered into the system by our military to counteract the use of the system by hostile forces. Only the military GPS receivers had the algorithm built in to decode and correct the error. Now that factor has been removed and we can obtain accuracy within nine feet or better using a differential satellite.
Regardless of the science involved, the system works very well using simple and inexpensive units. Children easily become adept at operating a GPS receiver. The entire family can enjoy hunting for geocache treasures and learn about the area they live in. This is a very healthful sport and the geocache sites available for finding range from wheelchair access to extreme physical exertion.
Most hidden sites have weatherproof containers holding toys, coins, and other small objects that may be exchanged "pack rat style" for an equivalent item in your backpack of items. We generally carry a coffee can full of various items like costume jewelry, toys, coins, and other unusual things for this purpose. Some caches are very small, containing only a piece of paper for logging your visit. These are the real tough ones to find. One site in our area consists of a hollow bolt in a stop sign.
Some sites are "multiple" caches where you must work your way through a series of geocache locations, each having a clue to the next site in the series. If you are skillful, you will eventually reach the final treasure location which usually has some pretty nice objects to exchange as a reward for your efforts.
There are geocache sites all over the world and there most likely are hundreds or even thousands within 50 miles of your home depending upon where you live. The "Geocaching" website provides information for each registered site with geographic coordinates, difficulty of access, a map, and maybe even a clue or two if it is well-hidden. You also will find comments written by people that have already visited the site and sometimes even a picture or two. Usually the actual hidden cache location is not "given away" or "spoiled" in these comments.
We have found 168 caches in our local area since we began doing this a couple of years ago. In addition, we have provided two caches of our own for people to find in the Pahrump area. Take a look at the following URL if you would like more information about this great family hobby and join the fun. Go to Geocaching web site at http://www.geocaching.com/
Here are some photos from recent geocaching expeditions:
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