Friday, October 1, 2010

Geocaching in Atlanta Part 1

I guess any blog post about geocaching should start with an explanation of what it is. It's basically a high tech treasure or scavenger hunt. You log onto, do a search of a location you want to geocache in, put the coordinates on a GPS and then go find the cache. A cache is a container that contains at least a log book that you sign once you find it. It can also contain trade items. These are items that you can take if you leave something else in the cache.

I got into geocaching a few years ago when visiting my friend Dave (whose geocaching name is Juicepig). He had been doing it for a couple of years and was very passionate about it. The first cacheI ever found was at an abandoned campsite in Utopia, Ontario. It was interesting to visit and we would never have gone there if it wasn't for this geocache. This is one of the great things about geocaching in a city you are visiting; it takes you to places you never would have known about. That was one of the reasons I decided to geocache in Atlanta while attending the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. The other reason is that before I left for Atlanta, I had found at least one cache each day for the last 58 days and wanted to keep up my streak.

I also wanted to find two caches that were really far apart on the same day. So on Monday September 27th, before leaving for Atlanta, I found 'OLYMPIQUES 3 - TIGRES 2' near the Robert Guertin arena in Gatineau, Quebec and once in Atlanta, I found 'Birds Eye View' with Terri and Gail. The distance between these two caches is about 1500 km (900 mi). The 'Birds Eye View' cache was magnetic and stuck on a pole that had to road signs on it.

On Tuesday September 28th, Gail, Terri and I spent the day at the Atlanta History Center (you can read about it here) so I didn't end up caching until after 5pm. Gail and I decided to find a cache before heading over to the Hyatt to pick up our badge and swag for Grace Hopper. We attempted 'Folk Art Park Part 2' but couldn't find it. We moved onto 'Folk Art Park Part 1' and found it without any trouble. Both of these caches brought us to two interesting parks with Folk Art.

On Wednesday September 29th, I went to Centennial Olympic park and started working on finding 'Quilt of Nations'. This cache is what is called a multi cache. It takes you to several locations and often you have to collect some information at each spot in order to find the next stage of the cache. The first stage took me to a 'quilt of nations'. I had to count the number of flags, add it to a particular number and that would complete the missing portion of a coordinate. I did this and went on to the next stage.

This stage was at a building that used to be a church but is now a music hall. I had to find the three numbers to the left of the box office and add them to a number and this gave me the missing portion of the coordinate for the final. I made my way to the final but there were two police officers nearby so I moved on to another cache called 'Shining Light' which was at one of the entrances of Centennial Olympic Park. Its container is the smallest kind of container in geocaching. It is called a nano and I'll talk more about this type of container in my next post.

After finding that one, I headed back to the final for 'Quilt of Nations' and easily found it. One of the hints on the cache page told you to remember the numbers from the music hall. I needed it in order to open the combination lock on the cache. The final for this cache was a gray plastic container attached to a telephone poll. It is out in the open but unless you were looking for the cache you would never give it a second look.

In 'Geocaching in Atlanta Part 2', I'll talk about the rest of the geocaches I found in Atlanta as well as explain what a travel bug is.