"Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
---Walter Elias Disney

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"Treasure Hunting" In the World

A US Geodetic Survey marker in New Bern, NC
Ok, maybe it isn't treasure in the usual sense, but it's got me excited. It's the perfect storm of Geekdom! We have the opportunity to combine two of our family's favorite things, a trip to Disney World and geocaching. Geocaching involves using a handheld GPS receiver to find hidden "caches." These caches could be anything from a large metal container to a tupperware to a tiny tube and are hidden everywhere from the deep woods to parking lots. No geocaches are hidden on Disney property, they aren't allowed, but I find that an offshoot of geocaching called benchmark hunting is possible in the parks.

Benchmarks are small markers, usually a metal disc, used to permanently mark a location. Most are placed by the government to help with surveying and keeping track of boundaries. Most markers are embedded either on roads or walkways or the sides of buildings, but some are on concrete posts out in the grass and trees. They tend to often be in interesting places and/or hidden by time and disuse, so finding them can be a lot of fun. Private companies use survey markers as well, and thanks to a blog post in MiceChat, I find Disney has them scattered all through it's property.

A Disney Benchmark
Being Disney, these aren't just plain old brass discs with some initials and numbers on them. Disney benchmarks feature Mickey Ears placed on a globe with lines of latitude and longitude on it. There are a few web sites devoted to finding and cataloging these benchmarks. One of the best I've seen so far is Patty Winter's Disney Benchmark Pages. She has them broken down by resort and park and "other places," so it's easy to find the locations near where you plan to be. Each section features a .loc file with the coordinates so geeks like me can easy transfer them to a GPS unit. I'm sure from looking over the site that there are many she doesn't have listed. Most of the resorts don't have a list yet and I'm sure there are more in the parks as well. This presents the fun part, the challenge if you will. Not only will the Pooh Sticks family be seeking out all the previously found benchmarks, but we will be keeping our eyes to the ground hoping to discover, photograph and mark some "new" ones.

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