Geocache treasure hunters get their game on, and play by the rules
September 17, 2008
Bill Bashaw drives through a bank parking lot reading from a small screen.
118 feet. 113 feet. 109 feet.
He stops by the bank’s sign and points to a pile of rocks at its base.
The screen on his Global Positioning System handset says zero feet.
He digs up the rocks in front of the Bank of the West in Carson City and pulls out a small Tupperware box.
“It’s that simple,” Bashaw says.
This is geocaching, a treasure hunt game played worldwide by either hiding an object called a geocache or by trying to find one.
The location of the geocache, an object that could be almost anything, is listed on http://www.geocaching.com.
One of these geocaches was destroyed by a bomb squad Tuesday in Carson City after a man called the police because he thought it might have been a pipe bomb.
But whoever hid this, Bashaw said, broke a rule of the game by failing to get permission of the property owner to put the geocache there.
Most people who hide geocaches get permission, however, he said, though the approximately 150 hidden geocaches around Carson City are hidden anywhere from casinos to the mountains.
Bashaw, 37, said some like to find creative ways to hide the geocaches, some like to be the first to find a geocache and sign the log inside, but he just likes the adventure.
“For me, it’s about the cache itself and where it is,” said Bashaw, a freelance computer repairman. “It’s a chance for me to get out and explore. If it wasn’t for this sport, I wouldn’t have been able to see half of what I’ve seen so far. I would have never been to Tonopah if it wasn’t for this.”
Bashaw started playing the game about a year ago after he was introduced to it by his girlfriend, Teri Ligon.
She said she found out about the game while searching for a GPS and, after seeing the game, thought “that looks like a whole lot of fun.”
Ligon, 29, likes to find geocaches that are creatively hidden, like one that was glued to a tree branch and camouflaged with bark.
Bea Vandenberg of Reno started playing the game in 2002 after reading a newspaper article about it. She has since traveled across Europe geocaching and written a book on the game called “Geocaching Around Reno with Team Laughing Gravy.”
She said she and her husband were attracted to the game after they realized they were always doing the same thing during the weekend.
“We were always taking our dogs to the same park, and they were always peeing on the same bush,” she said.
Vandenberg said her favorite part about the game is simple, though.
“I like the places that it takes me,” she said.
– Contact reporter Dave Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1212.