Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Trip of a Lifetime

One of my students has a fairly well off step-grandmother. A couple of years ago, she decided that her grandchildren needed to get the travel bug and told them for their 13th birthday, they could go on a “trip of a lifetime,” anywhere in the world they wanted to go. My student, being the oldest of this woman’s four grandchildren just passed his thirteenth birthday last summer and this week will be hopping on a plane down to South America to tour the Galapagos Islands.

When I heard about this trip, my first thought was wondering how I could get adopted by this kid’s mother – she happens to be one of my co-workers – so I could get a trip like this as well. I guess you could say I was as green as Kermit the Frog with envy, but I got over it and decided to live vicariously through my student’s talk about the preparations of the trip. My only request was that he send me a postcard from South America. We’ll see whether that happens as I’ve had a chance to look at his itinerary, which he gave me yesterday and he’s going to be a very busy boy over those 10 days.

The itinerary intrigued me, however, because I noticed that he’s going to be in Quito, Ecuador for a good couple of days before he heads to the Galapagos. Knowing that he is a geocacher, I semi-facetiously asked him whether he was planning on getting any caches while down there. His initial response was, “Oh, there can’t possibly be any geocaches down in Ecuador.”

With the gauntlet thrown, I took up the challenge and did a quick search by country on geocaching.com and came up with 24 caches in Ecuador. I then quickly mapped it and put it into the Geocaching Google Map so he could see where the caches were. Most of them are concentrated in Quito, 17 in a very large metropolitan park in downtown Quito with a virtual about 8 miles north very near the equator. Once I showed him that most were regular sized caches, he was very interested. In fact, I think the words that came out of his mouth were something on the order of, “Oh, I so have to do this.” He says his grandmother will really love this, so in the process, we may hook another geocacher as well.

I quickly sent his mother an email stating, I had to look and see if there were any geocaches down in Ecuador. Her response back was, “I’ll have to send the GPSr with him when he goes.” The ball was starting to roll. They’re fairly new geocachers and aren’t premium members so they weren’t really familiar with Pocket Queries (PQ), so I volunteered to make a PQ for the local caches down there and upload them into their GPSr for him as he didn’t feel comfortable hand inputting all the coordinates. It was kind of funny to look at my GSAK filter of the caches and see that the closest cache was 3462 miles away from home.

When I asked him at first, I really wasn’t expecting an enthusiastic response, figuring his time would be booked, but he said he had some open ended time the first couple of days, so this would really be cool to do. Both he and I agreed that these once in a lifetime trips do really come only once in a lifetime, so you need to make the most of them. Besides, he’ll be able to come back and state that he found a geocache near the equator. Not many people around here can boast about that.

One of these days, hopefully, I’ll get down to the Galapagos. It is on my list of things to see before I die. Whether geocaching is still around then, who knows? But at least for now, I'll be able to cache vicariously through my student when I read his logs on the caches that he found.

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1 comment:

Terra Fenestra said...

Wow, what a lucky kid. I sure hope he realizes how fortunate he is to receive such an opportunity. The only thing I got from my grandmother was a hand print on the back of my head. Ouch!
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