Thursday, May 01, 2008

Satellites, tupperware and unexpected creepiness

view from UBC rose garden

Part of my amazing plan to go outside more and get more exercise involves geocaching, which is kind of like a secret gps treasure hunt. I hate running, but when there's treasure involved then it's totally worth it.

You see, the US government spent billions of dollars putting satellites in the sky so that you and I can accurately locate tupperware in the forest. The object of the game is to find these caches without anyone seeing you do it, and then you log it online. Kind of.

I lost my gps quite some time ago so I bought a new one, and today was my first opportunity to test it out. I ran outside into the sun. It had rained earlier in the day so there was no one around and I didn't have to use my super stealth skills, other than to sit innocently on a park bench once to wait for a jogger to go by. I found two without any real difficulty.

I wasn't as successful finding the third one. The gps unit told me that I was within three metres of it, and that it must be underneath a tree.

It was a big cedar in a park, one of the kinds with big, downward sloping branches that almost reach to the ground. It's the kind of tree that is fun to play under when you're a kid because you know that underneath those branches, nothing is growing. The tree kind of forms a tent for you to hide in.

It was dusk and starting to get dark as I approached one of these branches and then I stopped. I saw a bicycle tire near the base of the trunk. As I looked harder, I could make out a figure of a man behind the branches. He was standing very still, like a deer hoping that it won't be shot.

I stood there for a moment longer and then I turned and walked away.

It really creeped me out! The ironic thing is that that the prizes in that cache were supposed to be spooky themed.