Friday, February 26, 2010

High-tech Gadgets

This was a day for high-tech gadgets. After a breakfast/staff meeting at 9 am (it is our day off, but I cooked an egg dish and we attended, anyway), we took off on our bikes to do some geocaching. In case you don’t know what that is, let me explain. People all over the world hide small containers—from hide-a-key boxes up to ammo cans—and post the coordinates for the hide on the web site. Then people who have a GPS (Global Positioning Satellite device) hunt for the hidden item, sign the log they find there, then go to the web site and log the fact they found it. Many hidden containers have numerous small items for people to take or trade.

Last night John wrote down the coordinates for several caches near Casa Grande National Monument. Today we went hunting and found two hidden containers.

We also responded to a virtual cache. That is when you find the cache by answering questions about the site or sending in a photo of something. National Park facilities don’t like people hiding things there because of possible damage to the property when cachers come hunting. But virtual caches encourage people to visit historic and natural sites and learn about them.

We enjoy geocaching because it takes us into places in the area we are visiting that we might not have seen otherwise. Over the years we have logged 89 caches found. That is nothing compared to some people, who have found thousands.

We have had our GPS since about 2004, before our trip to Alaska that year. John felt newer devices offer more than our old one. So yesterday he ordered a new Garmin Oregon 400T from After we returned from our bike trip we received a phone call from John at the Visitor Center front desk, announcing a package from FedEx. Can you imagine? It came in less than 24 hours.

And are we impressed! It has maps and many other bells and whistles. It will take us a while to learn how to use it. We can even download waypoints for geocaches, if we wish.

In addition to ordering the GPS yesterday, I ordered a 1-terabyte external hard drive to back up our photos and my computer, which is now nearly five years old. It is only a matter of time before we need to replace that. What would we do without our high-tech gadgets and on-line shopping?

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