#TwentySomething: Geocaching on Block Island
There’s hidden treasure underneath the Beach Pavilion. And I’ve found it.
It’s not pirate loot, and it’s not going to make anyone rich, but it is a lot of fun to find. There’s also treasure at the Island Cemetery, North Point and the Mohegan Bluffs, to name a few spots.
Last week, I went “Geocaching,” which is a game that uses GPS signals to find hidden caches, or containers. The containers can be small magnets, film canisters, ammo boxes or tupperware — the smaller ones contain only paper to sign, and the larger ones also contain little trinkets like keychains.
Here’s how it works, in simple terms: Go to www.geocaching.com, look up your town, and pick a Geocache on the map. Enter the latitude/longitude coordinates of the cache’s hiding spot into your GPS or smartphone application, and use the GPS/smartphone to find the cache.
I’m writing as a 20-something, but I’ll say this activity can be enjoyed by all ages, especially those who like the outdoors, or who are looking for something different to do. I’ve gone by myself, and with a group of friends. It adds another dimension to the normal nature walk.
In the dead of winter on the island, there’s only so much I can take of being indoors, watching Netflix and playing Xbox before I start to go stir-crazy. So I bundled up, went outside, and went looking for this “treasure.”
My first stop was the Beach Pavilion parking lot, and I found that Geocache in no time at all. This one would have been a little more challenging in the summer, when there’s people around, because you’re basically looking pretty sketchy, looking under bushes, in the grass, and around buildings.
Then onward, to the Island Cemetery (“Family Guy” was on to something when it aired the treasure-hunting Block Island episode). Okay, a little weird to be searching among tombstones, but it also gave me a chance to tour a place I wouldn’t necessarily walk around in, and see all those familiar and some unfamiliar Block Island last names. This Geocache was named “Dodge Ball,” because, yup, it was hidden somewhere between a Dodge and a Ball.
To explain a little further, you never know where the caches are going to be hidden, which is the fun of the game, but there are classic hiding spots: tree branches, rock walls, fence posts, and large stones. When the search is hard, look for one of the above. They’re often camouflaged so they blend in better — so look closely!
The containers are hid by other people who play the game, and once they are placed, they are supposed to remain in their hiding spot (meaning that when you find one, you’re supposed to put it back exactly as found).
The other fun part is you end up in places you never knew existed. Who knew there was a clearing behind the cemetery that leads past the West Side 20 and into a nature trail? I didn’t, and I live across from the West Side 20.
That Geocache was an ammo box, filled with all sorts of loot, such as boy scout badges (it was hidden by scouts) toy soldiers and toy cars. You can take a trinket or two, although you’re encouraged to leave another one in its place. Again, nothing fancy or expensive, but just another reward of the game, and it makes it great for little kids, too.
I found two other Geocaches that day, too. It’s like being in on a secret, the “I-know-something-you-don’t-know,” thing. If you’re going to try this activity out, I’d suggest looking for the one hidden by the American Legion. That’s a tough one...