Since I haven’t quite figured out Pokemon, it stands to reason that I am considerably confused about Pokemon GO. But I’ve been seeing bits and pieces about Pokemon GO in social media for a while now. I haven’t really paid much attention to it beyond noting that once again I have no idea what a Pokemon is and it makes me feel like I’m in the Dark Ages.
So I did what any baby boomer living in the 21st century worth her salt would do – I googled Pokemon GO. It seems Pokemon GO is a game played via an app on one’s phone in which one looks for virtual characters (called Pokemon) using GPS coordinates.
I’ve been doing that kind of thing for years. It’s called geocaching, and it’s been around since 2000.
Oh sure, geocaching doesn’t involve creation of an avatar or cool graphics. But there are literally millions of geocaches (actual THINGS and not virtual) placed around the world for which so-called geocachers hunt using the GPS devices on their telephones. It’s a blast.
Geocaching began in 2000 when President Clinton lifted the restrictions on John and Joan Q. Public’s ability to use GPS. Prior to 2000, the double secret government peeps felt it was too risky to let the plebes have access to such valuable information. So, while GPS was available, it was highly unreliable. You might have been trying to find your way to the grocery store and ended up instead at a Chinese massage parlor. Risky business.
Once Clinton lifted the restrictions, American people did what American people do – became creative and invented a game in which participants use their now-reliable GPS to find treasures, and called it geocaching.
My granddaughter Maggie Faith asked me the other day why it is called geocaching, and I will tell you exactly what I told her: I haven’t the foggiest idea but it probably has to do with something high techie. You can see why my grandkids ask me so many questions. My answers are so insightful.
And speaking of Maggie Faith, reading about Pokemon GO and thinking about geocaching got me in the mood to geocache. While I can (and have) done it by myself, it is much more fun to have a companion or two. So I sent an invite to the grandkids, and two of them took the bait – Dagny and Magnolia. They have been faithful geocachers with me in the past, though we haven’t often been successful. But they are always game for an adventure.
We drove (well, I drove and they sat in the back eagerly asking questions about where we were going) to an area in which I had noted there was an easy geocache. The notes on the website indicated it was large enough to hold some trinkets. (Part of geocaching is that some containers are large enough to hold little treasures such as inexpensive rings or fancy erasers; you can take one of the trinkets as long as you leave a replacement. There are no geocache police to ensure that the unwritten rule is followed; however, geocachers, like Morman missionaries, are an honest lot.) The note also said the container was wrapped in aqua duct tape.
While I tried to get my GPS up and running, Dagny and Maggie set off on the hunt. I was still fiddling with my phone when I heard Maggie holler, “I FOUND IT!” Indeed, she had. It was hidden behind a large tree. Oh, was she ever proud.
We did the trinket exchange, and set off on our second hunt just down the road. This one indicated it would be more difficult, and the heavy tree coverage impacted my GPS. We were in a very hoity toity Denver suburb not far from my not-hoity-toity neighborhood, so a yellow bug parked on the side of the street and an adult and two kids wandering around looking under bushes and rocks looked plenty suspicious. I wasn’t surprised when a car pulled over and the woman driving asked if we needed some help.
I tried to explain what we were doing so that the she wouldn’t pull out a concealed weapon. I described it as a scavenger hunt, and told her our instructions indicated that it was hidden on a horse trail. “Was there a horse trail nearby?” I asked her.
She was very nice and pointed out a horse trail that we hadn’t spotted. After thanking her, we took off. I followed my GPS’s directions until it informed me “YOU ARE VERY CLOSE.” Since I didn’t know the program notified me when the geocache is nearby, the three of us nearly jumped out of our skin. We began hunting, and it was only seconds before Dagny this time shouted, “I FOUND IT!” And, again, she had. It was much harder to spot as it was not wrapped in aqua duct tape, but rather in camouflaged tape.
Two for two. Nana’s turn to find the next one.
We drove to a nearby church where there allegedly was another geocache. My GPS got us to the point where it again told us “YOU ARE VERY CLOSE.” This time we didn’t jump. But we also didn’t find the treasure. And by this time we were closing in on the time the little ones were to be home for dinner.
But we didn’t give up; instead, we returned the next day, and brought along the big gun — Papa….
With his help, we found three more geocaches, including the one at the church (which I found, yay!, and had one fail.
We aren’t giving up. Our plan is to go again soon and find the one we couldn’t find during our last try. My two little game geocachers are already begging for more.
Take that, Pokemon GO!