Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Spreading the Geekiness this Holiday Season

Typically any walk I take with my father starts with a series of lies. The first is when he calls it a walk when in fact the proper term is hike or trek or, most accurately, death march. The walk is always “short” and has “hardly any uphill” and “will defiantly not make your legs fall off.” On the few occasions when I have pointed out that he lies about hikes and that I would rather spend my afternoon lounging in the sun with a book and a glass of spiked lemonade and (ideally) a laptop while someone paints my toenails and tells me how pretty I am dad has immediately turned to guilt. “Oh, right, you’re lazy. And you hate nature. And you want to be fat. And you don’t love me. Or the dog.” And then I’m hiking. On the trail (you know, assuming we’re not off-roading on our hike which is incredibly optimistic) the lies continue. “We’re almost there!” “This is hardly steep at all!” “It just seems like a long walk because you’re young, time is relative!”

So it should be seen as a testament to the holiday spirit and family togetherness and possibly my own fleeting sanity that on Monday I offered to go on a walk with my dad. Of course this was no ordinary walk. There was treasure to be had! Dad bought himself a GPS last spring when he found out that his friend Tyson had a gadget that he didn’t yet own and was forced to fork over $300 or be deemed totally uncool. Since then he has used the GPS to dress up jeans and tshirt for evening and as a mighty pretty dashboard decoration for his truck. I think he might have also carried it around in the woods a few times but the way I see it this is all months of wasted time that he could have spent geocaching! The fastest way to turn me from “lump” to “hiking aficionado” is to coat the trail with a thick layer of geekiness. What was once a walk is now an adventure. Trek? Now a scavenger hunt. Nature? Now realistic simulated arena for a battle of wits. Bring it on.

For our first foray into high tech geeky hiking Dad and I took on this challenge -- mostly because Dad knew the area and we thought that would make things easier. And it probably would have been easy – easy and boring. Don’t worry, I took care of that. One of the ways to make geocaching more challenging is to totally not read the GPS correctly. There are lots of ways to do this but I choose to turn on the “pan map” function which allows you to point at a location on the map and get that location’s coordinates and then accidentally start going towards this random point instead of the place where the geocache was placed. Because of this we ended up climbing an extra hill for no reason! I’m sure my dad enjoyed this mostly because the only things he loves more than watching me trudge up a sandy hill is forcing people to eat animal flesh of questionable nature (hey, have you ever had newt? Sure you have, I baked it into your dinner!”) and driving me crazy by implying that he totally loves George W Bush. Because of the holiday and because the extra hill was all my fault I suppressed my natural tendency to follow hill climbing with a heavy dose of whining. Merry Christmas Dad.

We finally righted ourselves and climbed back down the hill (Dad didn’t even mock me, which I considered his greatest gift to me.) and found the correct spot and began turning over rocks and glancing under bushes and eventually bemoaning the possibility that maybe the cache got stolen and we were screwed. But eventually I saw a beam of sunlight glint across a bush and thought “hey, bushes aren’t made of metal!” and low and behold like the star of Bethlehem the ammo case of treasure was revealed to me. The treasure inside might not save me from my sins (especially since it contained an unscratched lotto ticket and I think gambling is not so cool with the savior) but it did make my Christmas. Geocaching rules dictate that you take one prize and leave another we took a matchbox car (which we gave to a friend’s two year old.) and left a Christmas bow which, in retrospect makes us incredibly lame. See, when leaving the house we thought, “it’ll be cute, a bow because we found the cache on Christmas!” but now that I’m thinking more clearly (my mind finally out of the cookie/candy/pie induced coma) I realized that a bow is the lamest prize ever. Probably people in the hip geocaching community will now shun my dad and I. Probably “yeah he left a bow” will be the hip new way to say “What a loser.” Probably the next cache we find will contain a little note saying that if we so much as consider “bow-ing” this cache a stealth agent will be dispatched to take away our GPS forever. Probably our nerd credentials will be revoked.

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