They can be as big as military ammunition canisters hidden in hollow trees or as tiny as a nitroglycerine tube stashed behind a fake screw head. Geocaches in the Rockford area are increasing all the time, including the latest installed at The Rockford Squire office at 331 Northland Drive. This geocache is called “Free Since 1871.”
Geocaching is a fun sport that can be winter-friendly. It can be done as a solitary sport, as a creative family outing, and even as a competition event for groups—church youth groups, this may be for you. With a hand-held global positioning unit (GPS), find the coordinates of local caches at geocaching.com. The caches are usually on park or public land, but on private property only with permission. Find the hidden cache, sign in and log your finds, if you want to.
Our friend Bob at The Cedar Springs Post newspaper—“raffitz” to his geocaching friends—put this in for us last week. We’ve had the fun of watching people look for it during work hours, but have missed some of the after-hours friends. On our logbook are geocaching diehards “RedHeadMary” and “Nanncyan.” Also visiting “Free Since 1871” was “golfdiva,” “Dirty Gordy,” “Dafodil Mom” and more.
Our cache is a simple one-stop, one-stage. In multi-caches, the first coordinate gives you the second coordinates and so on. Caches can be as long and complex as desired. In Maine, the Acadia National Park staff created a multi-cache that covers many miles and is an educational series. One stop leads you to a board explaining how a fjord is created. Others explain the natural phenomenon causing particular rock formations or the history of a geographic oddity.
Here at “Free Since 1871,” some of our visitors have posted their thoughts online. “RonORock” was embarrassed because he “missed the obvious” and said he was glad we weren’t at work to see him make a fool of himself searching for the cache. “NinePatchNancy” came with her family on a perfect day. “Amajo” said she and her spouse don’t really like caches on private property and argued about who would go out to search for it. “Me and Mr. Amajo both went out so we could look like fools together,” she wrote. “Grizz Rider” also found the hidden container.
Our cache is too small to hide goodies in. Larger ones usually have a selection of “prizes” to choose from. They may be trinkets, and are sometimes cash (ours had a nickel in it this morning). Local sites can lead searchers to interesting places you might not know exist, like “Mr. Eko” just north of Rockford’s city limits. Some tell a story or are just an excuse to get outside and enjoy the day. “Dog812” found “The Good Muffin” cache after work the other day along with 27 other caches. In Rockford are dozens more, including “Indian Joes” (several different ones at Indian Joe’s old place), “Double Dog Dare” and “Smells Fishy.” There are at least a couple on the new Cannon trail which begins at Cannon Township Hall, where you can find “How Much Wood” and “Rusty Bucket.”
If you are looking for a way to enjoy your outdoor time, find new and exciting places, and perhaps learn more about your local parks and history, check out geocaching.com and make sure to make “Free Since 1871” your first find.