In today’s modern “techno” world, with all its gadgets and hitherto unknown and, at times, strange social interactions, something has appeared on the scene called “geocaching,” (geo – meaning “the earth” and cache, like stash, meaning “to conceal” or hide away). It is a pastime centered on the prime piece of equipment required for a modern lifestyle: the smart phone. It seems these devices can access the Global Positioning System and tell you exactly where you are on the face of the planet. Combine that with a good old fashioned game of hide and seek or treasure hunt and there you go. There is even a website explaining this elaborate hobby where one leaves behind messages and trinkets in small, discrete weatherproof packages for others to find. The site even sells plastic hollow logs for hiding one’s stash in the woods.
We’ve known the geocachers have been lurking around the park for some time. They’re a secretive bunch, that’s the nature of the game. I’ve come across their hidden “caches” a number of times and they are usually reasonably well hidden. I’ve even had exasperated “cachers” blatantly ask me if I knew where a cache might be found. That kind of takes the fun out of it, doesn’t it? Two new packages appeared in the park the other day that were not at all usual.
One was sitting under a pine tree. It was larger than others we’d seen, wrapped in “survivalists” camouflage tape and poorly concealed. The next day a co-worker found an even larger one in a military ammo can. It was not concealed at all, just sitting next to the trail. Anyone, especially a curious child, could have walked up and opened it.
This is also the “Age of Paranoia.” I haven’t been the same since the Tylenol scare. Since the 9/11 disaster, villains have come up with the most dastardly, bizarre notions, like their ideas came from a “Batman” movie. Out of concern and responsibility for the public and with what was perhaps an over-abundance of caution, as we public servants are wont to do, we called the Sherriff’s Department to report the two suspicious packages. Why not? Local law enforcement was happy to be of help and we might have gotten to watch them blow up a couple of carelessly hidden geocaches.
The Sheriff’s duty supervisor considered the evidence. While it was known there was geocaching in the park, there WERE these two relatively large, flagrantly unconcealed packages in a suspicious military style sitting out in the open. Of course, he consulted his smart phone. The Geocache site explained there were several caches recently stashed around Camp Salmen Nature Park. The supervisor opened up the ammo can and he and his partner had a good laugh. They thanked us before they left
An hour later a lady came to the office door to report a strange thing she saw while strolling in the park – an unconcealed ammo can by the trail. Would we consider checking it out or maybe calling the police…?