We went to go visit my family last weekend for a mishmash of birthday and Passover celebration.
Passover, like many Jewish holidays, is the celebration of one of those rare days in history when Jews weren't being killed. It's a lot of fun. Thankfully, my family is kind of post-Judaism so all we really did to celebrate was eat some latkes (potato pancakes). It could have been a lot worse.
Meanwhile, my brother-in-law entertained us with the story of how he led a troop of Brownie Scouts (9 year-old girls) on a four hour hike the previous day. Did the girls complain about the length of the hike? Did they whine that they were tired 5 minutes into it. They did not, my bro-in-law explained. Why not? Because they weren't just hiking; they were geocaching.*
Geocaching, for those of you unfamiliar with this new activity is kind of like a combination between hiking and a treasure hunt. Breaking the word down into its Latin roots may be informative here.
Geo means earth. So, you know that you don't have to hike in outer space. That's a pretty handy starting point.
Cache means that you shouldn't expect to find any cash. It's not that kind of treasure.
These caches are small containers that various geocachers have hidden all over the world. Some contain nothing but a log book while others contain a variety of knickknacks. The idea is that when you find a cache, you sign the log book, and perhaps take something from the container, replacing it with something of your own.
You find the locations of the caches by going to the geocaching web site and entering a zip code or city. It then shows you all the caches in that area and you download the coordinates to a GPS device, along with some clues in case you get stuck. With this information, you then embark upon your quest. Or maybe you set up your own cache and upload that information to the web site, to wait and see who finds your cache and what they leave behind.
I'm not exactly sure which way to mock geocaching. Do I mock it for taking a pure activity like hiking and sullying it with technology and goals? Or should I instead mock the hippie-like concept of taking something while leaving something behind? I mean, really, was hiking not hippie enough? Would anyone be surprised if we found some granola and a joint in one of these caches?
So, it seems that geocaching is the perfect activity for your standard techno hippie geeks. And, apparently, that's what my family is filled with. My brother-in-law led us on a short geocaching expedition and Daisy was in hippie-heaven. She's a big fan of treasure hunts and the fact that you get to log your accomplishment is the cherry on the icing on the cake.
Geocaching, my friends, is in my future.
* That sentence contains my annual attempt to use a semi-colon.