It was the kind of dream that you swear years later must have happened, but when retelling it to friends sounds just insane, and you laugh it off. Buried beneath your conscience you still believe it’s true. The dream ended as my mother and I were just about to embark on a treasure hunt across the continent. Trapped in a straightjacket of down comforter, between my thighs and calves was sticky with sweat. Dreaming or not, my eyes struggled to keep pace with my racing pulse. It became bottled-water clear to me that I needed a new hunt.
I googled Geocaching and immediately found several hits. All of the pixellated webpages created for a toddler-aged Internet that, many years prior I had visited twice, three times a day, had become $9.99 apps available in iTunes. I opted for Geocaching Lite! and the FREE button stamped beneath it. I pressed my finger to the small blue arrowhead on my screen to find my current location. Dozens of hits appeared with only a few miles of my home in Cardiff. A childhood adventure had apparently followed other people like myself in their travels across the globe.
The initial page reminds any eager newcomers of the basic understandings of Geocaching. Participants plant a secured container in a location. Any place in the world. These places are often meaningful to them. Be it beauty, history, the “planters” are hoping to share this place with anyone they can, any stranger will do. The general process involves you finding a Geocache nearby, using coordinates provided by the “planters”. You seek and find these places, using hints provided. In the container are small tokens and trinkets, where you can take one as long as you leave one of your own. Return the Geocache container to the hiding place, and record in your own logbook and/or online, in app. It’s the exhibit from national history museums that sends youngsters with a fake passport in hand across the property in search of a stamp to prove their adventure had happened, except it’s real.
The first spot is in a park that we frequent nearly four times a week. It’s nearly 5 miles if you walk the perimeter of ivy covered trees, gloriously green, alternating with lazy sheep and grazing horses in their separate pastures. The Geocache is named “Fore!” for the proximity to the golf course and the instructions to find the spot are as follows:
The cache is placed along the fence line of the golf club but you do not need to enter through the club itself to complete your search. It is hidden along a really lovely walk from Lavernock to Penarth. The ground can be slippery when wet/raining so please be careful. You are looking for a relatively small lock container in green. Please return the cache to its hiding place as you found it.
HINT: Between the 9th and 11th. Beware of the bearded lady.
The bearded lady the hint noted is a carving from a large tree stump along a side trail in the park. The moment I read it, I knew the exact spot. Finding the cache is an entirely different story.
There’s a rush of relief and connectivity when something you’ve hunted for is finally in your hands. Like the avid weekend antiquer searching for the rusted gold, or the swimmer looking for the perfect swimming hole to dive in, the hunt is an intriguing as the reward. A geocache is usually a small box filled with tiny remnants of human life. A miniature notebook records the visitors before you, and I had just missed the last by a few hours. We had both logged the same day in the cache’s logbook. A smile peeled across their face just as quickly as it did on yours. Their fingers had wrapped around the box in the same way that mine were now. Wrapped around both of your bodies is the peace that comes with human connection. Forgotten in a childhood memory, until now.