It's like using million-dollar satellites to find Tupperware in the woods.
At least that's how Jennifer Gulau describes her geocaching hobby. While still relatively unknown, geocaching has created quite a following in Northern Ohio.
Using a global positioning system unit, or GPS device, people hunt caches that can be hidden anywhere -- including woods, cemeteries and public and private property.
"It really is inner city or outer city. People even put them in their front yard," said Gulau, who goes by Peacetrain in the geocaching community.
How it works:
People interested in hunting a cache can start at www.geocaching.com. By entering their zip code, they can get coordinates of nearby caches. There are more than 1,600 caches in the Sandusky area.
Having the coordinates doesn't mean finding a cache will be easy. A cache can be as small as a film canister or as large as a shoe box.
Caches can be hidden almost anywhere -- including in a tree, under a pile of leaves or in a hollowed-out tree stump.
All caches have at least a log list on which people can sign their names and record what they found. Many caches, however, have a variety of trinkets geocachers can take as long as they leave something in exchange.
"You take something, you leave something and you put it back the way you found it out of respect," Gulau said.
The world of geocaching has specific terminology, nicknames, icons and gadgets.
Recently Gulau, who has found nearly 80 caches, went geocaching in Sandusky with her daughter, Abby Desautels, 9. They found caches in Perkins Cemetery, Pelton Park and even the small patch of vegetation in the Wal-Mart parking lot.
"I like to geocache because I like to get out of the house sometimes because I'm a stay-at-home mom," Gulau said. "It's not like I'm going grocery shopping; it gets me out in nature."
She said geocaching is family-friendly because all caches must be approved for their location and contents before they are published online.
Abby, who has found 28 caches, said sometimes her friends don't understand her interest in geocaching, but she still plans to continue her hobby.
"It's just fun, and it's a way to get out of the house and exercise and learn more about nature," she said.
Abby hopes to someday build and hide a cache that is shaped like a beehive.
Gulau and others started a Web site as a way to connect with other geocachers in the area. Visit www.ncogeo.com to learn more.