If you're not familiar with the concept, people hide little boxes of value-less trinkets (think happy meal toys with tracking numbers) in random locations and then post the Global Positioning System coordinates on a website. You download the coords and then try to locate the box using a hand held GPS navigator and a sense of adventure. Lots of fun, lots of variety, and a really nice way to get away from the computer and enjoy the outdoors with people you like. No PUGs in Geocaching :-)
And at the end of an afternoon of seeking out caches and hiking through all kinds of different terrain looking for little needles in a giant haystack of wilderness, all I could think was that this is just like Real Life WoW, luckily without the combat.
You start off hitting the geocaching website and looking on the map for an area you'd like to explore. Its like picking the next zone you want to quest in.
From there, you pick the individual caches you'd like to visit, that were put there by other cachers, ie the NPCs.
If you're interested, all the previous visitors to the cache have the option of posting comments to the website on what was notable about finding this specific cache. It's just like a wowhead or thottbot page for the quest, only on the nice side, you rarely get the trolls who post nothing besides "u r noob suxorz. l2p, i solo'ed at
Now, pack your bags with goodies like water, flashlights, extra socks, first aid kit, granola bars, a pad and pencil, extra batteries, insect repellent, sun screen, Fel Mana Potions, and your GPS doodad. Hmmm, feels a lot like getting ready for a raid.
And if you're smart, you'll do a little research on what the weather and terrain is like, and whether you should pack your parka and winter hats (aka, frost resist gear) or your thick pants to protect against thorns and poison ivy (nature resist). Or if you like wiping (swabs of calamine lotion), go in blind and see what's in store for you.
Now head off in your car (gryphon) to the general vicinity of the cache (quest objective).
From there, examine the terrain and hike in to the more specific location. You could travel on horseback, but I don't have a horse because I don't have the gold for an epic mount IRL.
Here's where I really started to think of WoW, and a change to herbalism in a not-so-recent patch.
As you get closer and closer, the inaccuracy of the GPS unit becomes aparent. Depending on your handheld unit's specs, these little puppies are accurate to about 3 meters in perfect conditions, and degrade considerable under the canopy of leaves above your head in a forest. As you get right near your destination, your range readings might jump by 20 yards with each passing step. Your directional indicator might wildly sway all over the place, even while you just stand motionless.
Now its up to you to more or less put the GPS down and begin to scour the immediate area, perhaps only using the GPS around the periphery of the area to see if you get a consistent general indication of an epicenter to focus on.
This completely reminded me of herbalism in WoW before a patch, perhaps 2.3. With the patch, they made all herb-able nodes sparkle so as to stand out visually and be easy to find.
Prior to that patch, you'd see the node on your mini map so you knew there was a nice treat waiting for you, but sometimes, it was just a royal pain to find the herb against the background of other plants and environmental elements. I remember Sungrass sometimes being the hardest thing to find, even though you KNEW it was there from Track Herbs.
In geocaching, depending upon what the NPC who created it decided to use, sometimes you're searching for a black film canister in a patch of woods 20 feet across. Or a .50 cal Ammo crate, completely burried out of sight under a stump. Just like the good old days of herbalism before the sparkles.
So you search high and low and reach your hands into all sorts of poison ivy and insect infested cracks in the rocks, and finally you locate your quest item. Depending upon the size of the cache, there will be all sorts of goodies stashed in there. At a minimum, there's typically a log book or just a simple piece of paper that you leave your geocaching callsign on and mark the date and any other message you'd like to leave.
Sometimes there's little trinkets or McDonalds happy meal toys or key chains or whatever.
Here's where the WoW ninja thrives. You can choose to take all the stuff and keep it, because your life is just not complete without another $0.42 Lisa Simpson plastic figurine. Or you can take one item, and replace it with something else you brought, and write in the log book what you took/left, just for fun.
Then you re-hide the cache just like you found it and then head to your next quest/cache, or hearth home. Log back into the geocaching website, and get your XP in the form of seeing your personal tally for located caches increase and also your growing list of retrieved/placed goodies.
So for the fully immersive WoW experience, I highly recommend Geocaching in the morning and raiding in the evening.