What fun! What fun! What fun!
Monday, April 20, 2009
Real Treasure on Jekyll Island
I'm walking Jacob, my large standard poodle, who unexpectedly darts off the paved trail down a woodsy path to, oh, I don't know, chase specks of dusts in the air. That's just Jacob.
But when he darts, I do, too, because we're tethered to each other, me and this dog. He scrambles through a copse of live oaks, their boughs dripping with Spanish Moss, to the edge of a great sea marsh. So there I am, too, with Jacob, looking out over this great sea of grass.
Jacob and I both look down to see how far we'd have to climb (well, me climb, him jump) to continue this dog's journey.
"Wait!" it's one of the few commands Jacob often obeys.
What I see excites me to the point of gasping. Excitedly. I'm thrilled.
Jacob has led me to a treasure. There, embraced by a tree trunk, I find a beat up, metal ammo box and I know exactly what it is. I clap my hands. Like a schoolgirl. Goodie! Goodie! Goodie!
It's a geocaching box, something people hunt for for hours, sometimes days, using their GPS and latitude and longitude coordinates they find online at www.geocaching.com. It's a worldwide adventure game I've never played. But have wanted to play for years.
And today, I'm playing it. Without warning. Backwards. I find the treasure first. But I'm playing it, thanks to Jacob.
I open the box and find it filled with trinkets from other people's lives: a little can of Playdoh, a baby-blue plastic flower ring, an orange rubber bug, a golf tee, an Army patch, religious tracts, seat belt safety notices, a little bag with one sea shell (see the slide show below).
In geocaching culture, you take a trinket, you leave a trinket. That way players collect booty for their treasure chests while replenishing the supply. I take nothing (I want no reward for Jacob's effort) but I leave behind a yellow hair thingy. Just so a piece of me is now in play.
I also find a red spiral notebook, a log, a diary of sorts from the successful treasure hunters, who've left their sentiments and memories behind for others to read. I sign in (admitting it's an accidental find). Then I flip through the pages and now know there used to be a golf ball in that can, but it was swapped for a tennis ball. Which was also swapped because it's not there anymore.
I sit down on the tree trunk because there's so much to read.
Someone took the wrist band and left a bouncy ball. Someone traded the bag of shells for Arnold the pig. (Must be that little bag had more than one shell at one time.)
And someone "took nothing but memories." Awwww.
Back in the motor home, I continue my backwards game. I log onto the geocaching Web site, join and track down my particular find using the island's zip code and a google map.
After a bit of online sleuthing, I learn my special box went into play Nov. 22, 2005. The guy who left it says this:
"This cache is located on a little finger of land overlooking the marsh. This is one of the best places on the island to watch the sun set. My family spends the week of Thanksgiving on the island and has watched many sunsets from this location. In the summer time don't come without bug spray. The container you're looking for is an ammo can."
I also learn 247 people before me peaked inside that can. I'm No. 248.
I also learn another geocache treasure is hidden on the island.
Goodie! Goodie! Goodie! Tomorrow, I'm playing this game forward. What fun. What fun, What fun.