In the fourth part of this series, reporter Charles Kreutzkamp visits towns served by Record-Journal Weeklies to search for Geocaches. SPOILER ALERT: specific details ahead. For last week’s story, visit http://tinyurl.com/RJCache3.
Southington is by far the largest town that the weeklies cover, so it seems fitting that I, YFNReporter (“Your Friendly Neighborhood Reporter”), and my fiancée HisGirlFriday, sought after caches in urban settings, hidden in parking lots and community parks.
One of the caches we encountered is by far the cleverest I have seen. At a parking lot of a shopping center, we looked in all the usual places when seeking after this cache: under the skirt of a light pole, and the ever-popular spot nestled behind the post of a guardrail, which is where you often find caches hidden in magnetic key containers.
When we were looking for this cache, naturally we overlooked the outlet box near the coordinates. It was only when this outlet box was touched we realized that it was a fake, very cleverly placed to look innocuous where it hides in plain sight.
“I feel like we’re real Geocachers now!” my girl Friday (Kate) said after finding this clever hide.
Kate said that she was surprised at all the urban Geocaches, hidden in places “people go every day.” We even realized there is one hidden at the grocery store that we frequent – and most impressively of all, this one was large enough to contain Geocaching swag.
Most urban caches, it should be noted, are placed with the permission of property owners and store managers. The Geocaching guidelines specify that permission should be sought, and many caches specifically mention that permission was obtained. It’s not hard to see why: Geocaching does draw traffic near to the business.
Another one of the best parts of caching is being brought to a place you otherwise would never have known existed. Such was the case with the Southington Recreation Park, a park jam-packed with the community drive-in theater, tennis courts, baseball fields, soccer fields, the community pool, an elementary school and the kicker – the local water pollution control facility.
“I bet the kids tour pretty often,” Kate said.
One cache, named “The Bog of Eternal Stench” was located right behind the water control facility. The neighboring soccer fields give a decent view into some of the equipment. This is one of the cases where false advertising is a good thing: despite the title, the search for the cache did not involve smelling any sewage. Walking directly past the facility, the smell is not unlike that of a chlorinated pool.
Kate said she wasn’t surprised: she has toured water control plants, and knows that the part that smells bad generally lies underground.
Southington is also home to quite a few puzzle caches, including some rated with the maximum level of difficulty: five stars. While regular caches provide you with coordinates to follow, puzzle caches require you to solve a puzzle in order to determine what the coordinates are. Puzzlers often provide a way of checking your answer, as well, either on the web, or by using a computer’s checksum function, which, to paraphrase Wikipedia, grabs a block of data and uses it to detect errors by reducing it to a number that can be compared with another checksum. You might do this, for example, to make sure data being moved from one location to another is going through all right – but enough computer science, I abandoned studying that (majoring in it my freshman year) in favor of writing like five years ago.
After looking at several puzzles, my girl Friday and I didn’t even know where to begin. We knew we needed to get a certain number of numbers to fill in as coordinates, but after a look at a diagram of a fictional chemical compound, an enormous grid full of numbers, and six rows of arrows, we elected to search for traditional caches. We’ll leave the puzzles for when we’ve got a bit more experience under our belts and the desire to land a really tough one outweighs the urge to nab as many caches as possible.