## Monday, July 9, 2012

### Geocaching: A Steeple Chase Challenge

A few weekends ago, Brennan and Tim came back from a Boy Scout outing and were talking about geocaching. That night they found a few simple caches within a mile or so of our neighborhood. The next afternoon, they found a more adventurous challenge. Even though we live in a relatively small town, someone has created a Steeple Chase.

We left home with a list of 24 coordinates, photographs of 24 church steeples,  a clue sheet, and our GPS.

When we found a set of coordinates, we'd be sitting near a church. The first challenge was to match the steeple on that church with the photograph of the steeple. It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be. I agree with someone on the geocaching website who said that all of these churches must've ordered from the same steeple catalog.

When we matched a church steeple with a picture, we could find out its code number. You can see my scribbles where we recorded the name of the church and its matching picture.

Our job was only half done when we figured out which number belonged to which church steeple. While I was marking off which coordinates we had visited and which church belonged to which photograph, Brennan was looking at the code sheet.

To decipher the final geocache coordinates, he did the math problems needed to translate 3A BC DEF 09G HI JKL into coordinates.

As we neared our final set of coordinates, I began to worry that we may not have gotten all of the steeples matched up correctly. A single mistake might throw off all of the calculations. I was quite relieved when we pulled up in front of the final church and saw that its steeple did indeed look exactly like the remaining unmatched photograph.

Brennan quickly finished the last math problem and gave us the deciphered coordinates. It was getting dark, but we headed off to find the cache. We found ourselves back at one of the first churches along our route. Lauren was excited to finally be out of the car and was eager to see what treasures were in the cache.

We only thought the hard part was over. We found the coordinates but then had the hardest time finding the cache. At one point, we unwrapped a bundle of plastic bags that we found hidden in the bushes only to find that it really was just trash. Finally, I found the ammo box hidden under an overgrown shrub.

Lauren traded a plastic toy bear and a tape measure for a deck of cards and a McDonald's toy.

Brennan claims he hit the jackpot -- he traded a matchbox car for a lint roller. If only every geocache had such great treasures.