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Brian Halstengaard has been geocaching since 2009, and has started several geocaches himself, including a multi-cache in the Dunton Locks area.

Geocaching

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Detroit Lakes,Minnesota 56501 http://www.dl-online.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/5/0304/geocache-1.jpg?itok=TmPfwhMu
Detroit Lakes Online
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Geocaching
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

It's affordable. It's fun for families, couples and singles alike. It's exercise. It's an exciting hunt and find. It's geocaching.

"It's pretty simple to get into -- you just need a GPS," Brian Halstensgaard said.

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Two mothers and their families that have taken it up for those reasons are Sue Ivankovich and Angie Skyberg.

Skyberg said her niece in Colorado was interested in geocaching and introduced it to her daughters. Once the niece went back to Colorado, "she left and I had to substitute," Skyberg said.

Ivankovich got interested in geocaching when Skyberg, her co-worker, started talking about it at work.

"It's interesting and it's fun," Ivankovich said.

Geocaching can be done once you have the ability to find coordinates. Some phones have geocaching applications with GPS capabilities, and then there are GPS (Global Positioning System) units. Halstensgaard explained that phones are less reliable for pinpointing a coordinate because they are based off cell phone towers, while GPS are based off satellites.

He got started in geocaching a few years ago when his girlfriend's dad talked about it. Halstensgaard decided to see what Detroit Lakes had to offer and about six caches popped up. He found his first one on April 10, 2009, (the computer keeps track for you) on the north side of town and has been an enthusiast since.

"For being a smaller town, we have a good variety (of difficulty ratings)," he said.

There are different types of geocaches like multi-step, puzzle and traditional, the most popular one where there is only a set of coordinates needed to find the cache.

The traditional ones are easiest for people traveling to just stop and find the cache and move down the road to the next town or stop.

Some of the more difficult ones can include mountain climbing or scuba diving. Geocaching is a worldwide activity, with caches hidden on every continent.

It's considered bad form not to log in and comment on geocaches -- found or not -- and geocaches are rated on how difficult they are to find, and the difficulty of the terrain, on a scale of five.

Some geocaches even take people on scuba diving and mountain climbing ventures.

Skyberg said her family stops to find caches anytime they travel, and has found them in Minnesota, North Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois and California. She just downloads the caches along the way to their destinations.

"Every hour there's a rest stop. It really broke up the nine hour (drive) with kids," Skyberg said. "I do all the public areas. Along the county roads, those are more difficult."

Minnesota state parks also have a geocaching system, called Wildlife Safari, with "critter" caches hidden in every park. They offer a "critter card" that is a reward system with points earned for caches found.

Only geocaching for a couple months now, Ivankovich said that while her family is new to it, they're enjoying it and did on a trip to Montana.

"I didn't know (about geocaching) when we were in Hawaii, but I wish we did," she said.

And they're learning lessons along the way.

"In some areas, you definitely want to wear pants. We got scratched up," she said.

Halstensgaard is a more seasoned geocacher, having found 897 caches, and "my goal is to break 1,000 this summer." Something very obtainable, he said. He's found 64 in one day, and he has hidden, or started, 25 caches.

Once he spent 12-15 hours looking for a certain cache, and to this day, he said, they are still the only ones who have found it.

"Geocaching is fun, but it makes me curse a lot," he admits.

But, he adds, it's all volunteer, so if a person doesn't enjoy it, they can quit with no consequences.

"I have the worst luck by myself," he said. "It can be fun by yourself, but it's definitely more fun with somebody else."

There always seems to be one person in a group that has enough patience not to give up until the cache is found.

"My oldest, she won't give up," Skyberg said.

"My husband won't give up," Ivankovich said with a laugh.

There is a whole geocaching vocabulary, including mugglers, travel bugs, hitchhiker and letterboxing.

Geocaches can be searched by about any form -- zip code, address, altitude/longitude, name of cache, mile radius, etc. Then a list of all the caches in the selected area appears with descriptions, coordinates and difficulty and terrain ratings.

There are 100 caches in a 20-mile radius of Detroit Lakes.

There are all kinds of different caches and all sorts of hiding spots. The person who creates the cache can use their creativity.

"Some take you on a nice hike, some are in parking lots that are boring," Halstensgaard said.

The most useful item in a geocache he's found was a cell phone holder, and the most disgusting, a pair of women's underwear.

Skyberg said for the most part, her family hides McDonalds Happy Meal toys or other little treasures in the caches they find. They've also hidden homemade Fargo (where her family lives) bracelets and hope to see one that has been found and placed in another cache somewhere else.

For much more information on geocaching, or to get started, visit geocaching.com.

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