When we crossed the planked
Cornish-Windsor Bridge, the longest covered bridge in the world,
from Vermont into New Hampshire, our yellow, hand-held Global
Positioning Satellite unit said we were there. But there was a
dusty shoulder off a winding country road in New England, pretty
much in the middle of nowhere. All we knew was that within a few
feet of us lay a hidden treasure.
Welcome to the
addictive, fast-growing game -- or, to some, sport -- of
geocaching, invented on May 3, 2000, when someone hid a container
of goodies outside Portland, Ore. On May 6, the treasure -- or
cache, in the parlance of the game -- was found and a new pastime
was born. The game has attracted a growing number of adventure
weekend, my geocaching partner and I became two of its newest
devotees, with our weekend base camp at the Inn at Weathersfield in
The GPS handset
got us within 15 feet of our goal. We had to sleuth out the rest,
using common sense and some cryptic clues.
While I stared at
the GPS unit, trying to line up its arrow -- which seemed to mock
me -- with the coordinates, my partner started to walk toward the
river, demonstrating the instincts of a big-game hunter.
Knelt. Felt around the stones next to a guardrail. And found
It was a beat-up
plastic container filled with trinkets: toy soldiers, colored
marbles, a tiny airplane. Stuff like that.
We took a bright
marble and in its place left a ceramic magnet from the Inn at
Weathersfield, one of the few hotels in the country that offers a
geocaching weekend package.
We were hooked on
the game, also known as GPS Stash Hunt or Global Positioning Stash
To sum up
geocaching, players consult a resource, such as www.geocaching.com,
for coordinates to a cache, or stash of goods, hidden (or sometimes
in plain sight) in a given location. Caches and hunts usually have
interesting names. For example, caches within 25 miles of
Perkinsville include Top o the Arrow, Rude Girls, Paradise -- Find
It and Hops and Horsetails.
track down a cache -- which should contain a logbook and several
trinkets, or swag -- they can jot down a record of their visit,
take something from the cache, leave something else behind and then
set off on a new adventure.
Our second cache
of the day was called SpringWeather. Geocaching.com
offered the coordinates, so all we had to do was enter the waypoint
into our GPS unit, which led us to the beginning of an obscure
early-summer flowers and clover-covered valleys but had no idea
where our cache was. The coded clue sheet said to look for the
large downed tree with big branches. We entered the woods and
followed the trail over a rustic, wooden bridge, above a
fast-flowing, crystal-clear stream.
We charged up one
trail and down the other. An hour later, exhausted and laughing, we
admitted failure. No cache.
So, we sat and
ate the lunch the inn had prepared for us: Lentil and beet salad
with melon and ginger, some of Vermonts best cheeses and fresh
bread and fruit. Linen napkins and silverware were included, as
well. Defeated but happy, we returned to Weathersfield, where
innkeeper David Sandelman took pity on us, and gamely led us back
to the site, pointing out our mistakes.
A half hour
later, eureka! We found it.
Sandelman and his
wife, Jane, are avid geocachers. This is the second year theyve
offered a geocaching package, which Jane described as very
Weve turned a lot
of people on to geocaching, which is a great reason to get out and
take a walk in the woods, with a little prize at the end, she said.
Anyone who tries geocaching usually runs right out and buys their
own GPS unit.
appeal to clients looking for a novel adventure vacation. Agents
can pitch the game as follows:
that geocaching gives them bragging rights. This game will become
mainstream, so do it now and be among the pioneers.
mental and physical fun of the game. Call it an old-time treasure
hunt, using modern technology.
sending them to Weathersfield, point out that the inn is
quintessential Vermont, with lots of nearby small shops, farm
stands and terrific foliage in the fall.
The Inn at
Weathersfields weekend geocaching package includes three nights
lodging in a room with king- or queen-size bed and private bath; a
gourmet picnic lunch for two with house wine, real china, utensils
and linen napkins packed in a backpack; and one dinnertime chefs
tasting menu for two at the inn.
The package also
includes use of all geocaching equipment, including a loaner GPS
unit, maps, hints, exchange swag and a private lesson with David
are $699 per couple for a king-size room or $599 for a queen-size,
and are valid through Sept. 15. The inn does not offer any
packages from Sept. 15 to Oct. 31. Regular, per-night room
rates are $140 to $225, Mondays to
Wednesdays, and $150 to $250, Thursdays to Sundays. Holiday rates
range from $175 to $285, double. The
Inn at Weathersfield pays travel agents 5% on room rates and
The 12 rooms at
the inn, which was built in 1792, all have fireplaces, televisions
and DVD/stereo systems. In-room amenities include robes, slippers,
feather beds, fine linens and a full breakfast served in a
glass-walled nook, plus afternoon tea and cool drinks.
For more on the
Inn at Weathersfield, call (802) 263-9217, fax (802) 263-9219,
e-mail [email protected] or visit www.weathersfieldinn.com.
the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to [email protected].