Food, Family, Fan — May 27, 2010

May 27, 2010 // 0 Comments

Family fun is around the bend and along the trail Summer is prime geocache time It isn’t just about the trinkets kids can collect at the end of the search. Geocaching is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and summer is a perfect time to get started. For the small investment of a global positioning system (GPS) and a can of bug spray—under $100—families can begin finding “treasure” all around. Geocaching has become increasingly popular and GPS prices have dropped since the hand-held devices first came out. Here in Rockford, geocaching can offer tidbits of history and direct hikers to new vistas. By visiting and plugging in coordinates to caches, anyone who can hike can find a variety of treasures. Some geocaches are handicap accessible as well. Geocache hiders can leave behind the traditional ammunition container or be creative with Tupperware, other plastic containers and even “micros,” such as the film canister hidden on the property of The Rockford Squire office at 331 Northland Drive. Many caches are on public land but some, like the Squire’s, are on private property with permission. Here at the newspaper office we love to see geocachers searching around out building trying to figure out where the cache “Free since 1871” is hidden. Our cache is a good example of how geocaching can educate residents about the history of their community. “Free since 1871” refers to the fact that the Squire, formerly the Rockford Register, is the oldest business in the city. The first issue came out February 1, 1871. While geocaching during business hours, we invite anyone to pop in, say hi, and see what the first page of the first issue looked like. We have it framed on our wall. Another in-town cache is at Pioneer Cemetery. This one is a multi, which means finding the first set of coordinates is just stage one. You use the information on the gravestones to figure out your next set of coordinates. While completing the mutli-stage cache, searchers receive a mini history lesson on some of Rockford’s earliest residents. Caches in Rockford include Pickerel Walk View (in Pickerel Park), Indian Joes 7, also in Pickerel. Who remembers when the property was known as Indian Joes and the resident used […]

Latest, greatest outdoor sport—available at the Squire

July 23, 2009 // 0 Comments

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 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 […]

Hide and go seek: Outdoor sport heats up in warm weather

April 30, 2009 // 0 Comments

by Roger Allen Have you heard about “letterboxing”? It’s an organized game of following clues to find items that other participants have hidden. It requires good walking shoes, access to the Internet, and a sense of adventure. Letterboxing began in England in 1854 and is still a popular pastime there. The idea came to Dartmoor resident James Perrott, who placed a bottle in a wild, nearly inaccessible local area. In the bottle he included his calling card so future visitors could contact him. They could also leave their own calling cards. In the past ten years or so, letterboxing has come to America and beyond, spurred by a 1998 article in the Smithsonian magazine. Participants are both hiders and finders. At the Internet site, they post their own directions (for locating small items they have hidden) as well as retrieve the clues of other hiders. Following a printed-out series of directions usually requires a fair amount of walking, often in nature areas or parks. Once the seeker finds the “treasure,” he or she uses a rubber stamp in an included logbook to announce success. The box may also contain goodies for the finders. The letterbox is then closed (think waterproof zip lock bags) and carefully replaced for the next finder. Directions to a box (called “clues” or “the map”), can be straightforward, cryptic, or any degree in between, depending on the hider’s personality and ingenuity. New technology has come to letterboxing. Today’s modern version, “geocaching,” involves a Global Positioning System (GPS) unit to help locate the hidden object. A geocacher can place a geocache anyplace in the world, pinpoint its location using GPS technology, and then share the geocache’s existence and location online. Anyone with a GPS unit can try to locate the geocache. Geocaching was imagined shortly after the removal of Selective Availability from GPS on May 1, 2000, because the improved accuracy of the system allowed for a small container to be specifically placed and located. The first documented placement of a GPS-located cache took place on May 3, 2000, by Dave Ulmer of Beavercreek, Oregon. The location was posted on the Usenet newsgroup sci.geo.satellite-nav as 45°17.460N 122°24.800W.  According to Dave Ulmer’s message, the original stash was a black plastic bucket buried […]