Geocaching is like solving a puzzle - by travel and technology. You need a simple GPS system to locate your coordinates. Once there, clues are given to help you seek out the cache. Many people opt for small containers with just a log roll inside. Others choose bigger containers to hide gifts to be exchanged by each founder. I chose the prize caches because I knew this would be fun for Ava to see. While Aaron got the kids ready, I printed off 3 geocaches within a 5-mile radius. One of them had 3 cryptograms to solve - perfect for Aaron.
We navigated our way down Greenville and followed our GPS' instructions. This first particular cache was hidden back in 2005 and included a riddle about an elephant taking a bath. She included photos of various locations we'd see. Less than 4 miles away, we parked near a water plant facility - and started walking. Our GPS kept reading that we passed it. Surely they didn't expect us to go "down there" - so I kept looking. The plant had fenced barbwire and a security gate that was open. Maybe someone unknown to the geocache game found it and took it. Maybe it got washed up. Maybe it's here but we're not looking in the right place... I had an Indiana Jones moment. And just like that, I looked at the gated fence hidden next to bushes and right before my eyes - it just appeared. A bottle camouflaged with silver duck tape tied to string so that it could hang behind the retainer wall - out of view. There we found little trinkets and a log roll last dated in March.
We traded some of the trinkets for some of ours and signed the log roll with our names. Barely 11am, the sun sent us all racing to Braum's to cool off. It's going to be a hot summer already...
Over chocolate and butter pecan scoops, we discussed the cryptogram that still had Aaron stumped. So we decided to skip it and try the third geocache, which took us to Restland cemetery's reflecting pools. The clues had us believing the cache was somewhere hidden in the wind chimes hanging from the tree. But we found no such mystery box. Instead, we heard the soft clanking of metal swinging above tombstones. We decided the container was stolen by a squirrel at some point, so we got back in the car and drove over to the Islamic Garden.
I've only been to a cemetery a handful of times in my life - and I would have never imagined that today would be one of them. I found myself over my Aunt's tombstone reading her name and the year 1991. Really? 1991? It's been that long? I remember the phone call I got from my cousin telling me about her accident. And more vividly, I remember having to tell my father when he got home from work. It was the second and last time in my entire life that I witnessed my father crying.
Strange - isn't it all? I didn't know that going on a treasure hunt with my family this morning would ultimately lead me to my Aunt. Could it be that the geocaches I randomly picked from the website was actually no coincidence? I experienced a dose of reality after seeing her and dozens of other family members visiting their loved ones - on how life itself is very much like a treasure hunt. We are always in search of something - peace, happiness, the greater good... If we follow the directions given, the journey is less bumpy. If we are given riddles to solve, say challenges in life, than we have a much more rewarding journey ahead of us.
The people, experiences and wisdom we pick up along the way are the treasures we are lucky to find in this life so beautifully mapped out for us...