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Life Magazine Article.


JMBella
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Anyone see this? Pretty good read and a nice section on Geocaching. What's really interesting is the part about the upcoming TV show. Basically it's caching for $1 mil. Not clear if there will be a GPS involved but thought you'd like to read about it. I scanned it into word. Not sure if it's on the www somewhere.

 

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The first rule of treasure-hunting is simple-. Seek and ye shall find. Two summers ago, Idahoan Steve Burris was exploring an old raining camp in Ganes Creek, Alaska, when his metal detector started chirping like a hungry baby robin. "It was right there on the surface... gold!" says Bums, 67, whose two-pound, heart-shaped nugget was valued at $25,000, Mark "Duke" Brodhagen of Green Bay, Wisconsin, was combing a downtown construction site for loose change during a lunch break in 2001 when he locked on a cache of seven gold coins datingback to 1852. Ping! "My hands wouldn't stop shaking," says Brodhagen, 50, whose noontime find was appraised at $2,600. "I called my wife and said, 'Honey, I'm taking the rest of the day off.'"

 

With that kind of payoff lurking near the surface, it's no wonder so many Americans are out there searching. "If you're 16, you've walked over your fortune at least once," insists Keith Wills, 54. He covers five miles each day around his native Texas, pocketing belt buckles, hubcaps, and toy trucks, while tossing aside the Bane of all hunters—thousands of old aluminum pull tabs. But he's also found more than 800 rings valued at upwards of $1,000 each (including a band of African blue diamonds and Honduran rubies appraised at $11,200 and 58 class rings, whose happily surprised owners he's tracked down), 11 jars of money, and an old Ford Model A.

 

Few people will ever see a haul like Wills's, but long odds do nothing to dampen two powerful human instincts—to solve puzzles and to score something for nothing. And those desires seem to be burning hotter than ever. A little over a year ago, author Michael Stadther stashed 12 gold tokens, redeemable for a total of $1 million worth of specially designed jewels, in the knotholes of trees across the country and then self-published the illustrated fairy tale ^4 Treasure's Trove, which is filled with clues to the hiding places. The response was overwhelming: Trove became an instant best-seller, moving more than half a million copies, and had fans racing from state to state, decoding clues and hoping to land the grand prize—a $450,000 jeweled spider with a sapphire head and a 21-carat-diamond body.

 

Even Hollywood seems to have a serious case of treasure-hunting fever. National Treasure, in which Nicolas Cage chased after lost Revolutionary War-era riches, was a surprise hit and the top DVD rental of 2O05. (A sequel is in the works.) The movie adaptation of The Da Vinci Code, the blockbuster novel in which a secret map points the way to the Holy Grail, will be released in May. NEC has a treasure-hunting reality show in the works. And this fall, Survivor and Apprentice mastermind Mark Burnett will partner with AOL (which, like LIFE, is owned by Time Warner) to produce Gold Rush, a multimedia chase for 12 caches of gold worth $50,000 to $100,000 secreted throughout the U.S., with a final prize of $1 million in gold bullion. Clues will be dropped on the Internet, TV, and radio. "I needed a great theme for this," says Burnett. "And the most accessible seemed to be a good, old-fashioned treasure hunt."

 

Why the sudden interest in treasure? Could it be a revival of the get-rich-quick dreams that imploded at the end of the dot-corn boom? Or a reaction to Americans' growing sense of financial insecurity? Robert Thompson, a professor of popular culture at Syracuse University, says that these films and shows are a sign that even in uncertain times, Americans remain optimistic that something good is waiting around the corner. "Even Antiques Roadshow, at its heart, is all about treasure-hunting," he says. "It's the fantasy that you will turn over a board in your attic or look into a box in your basement, and suddenly your life will be transformed."

 

For many hunters, though, the quest for riches is outweighed by an even stronger urge: to get out of the house on a sunny day. "Everybody, in the back of their mind, wants to find something the Smithsonian will buy for a billion dollars," says Hily Greene, the president of the Central Coast Treasure Hunters Association in San Luis Obispo, California. "But a lot of people join because it's just fun." There are now more than 175 organizations nationwide for treasure-hunting enthusiasts, most of them family-centered groups that get together for pleasure rather than profit. (A list of groups can be found at www.fmdac.org.) At the last annual gathering of the Central Coasters, an area was seeded with coins and tokens that the 100 members and guests could trade for prizes. A junior hunt was held for "treasure-hunters in training," ages 12 and under. Part of the appeal of such groups—on top of the cookouts and camaraderie—is that they don't require Indiana Jones-level expertise to join. Start-up costs are relatively low—about $200 for a basic metal detector that a 4-year-old can operate. (If you are going after the Lost Ark, you might want to check out one of today's advanced models, which can pinpoint the tiniest nuggets of gold, or work underwater, or even distinguish between a dime and a quarter buried 10 inches underground.) "Finding an old quarter or some weird thing at the park is really cool," says metal detectorist Alex Castaneda, 16, who is a member of the Central Coasters along with his mom and his kid brother, A.J. "It's the only thing that can get me up early in the morning."

 

Ironically, no one's getting rich from what is perhaps the fastest-growing segment of treasure-hunting: geocaching, a sport that has mushroomed in the past five years. The only hardware required is a $10O GPS unit; anyone can log in at sites like www.geocaching.com to get the coordinates for the more than 230,000 caches that have been hidden by fellow geocachers in 220 countries. The GPS gets you within 20 feet of the box, which usually contains trinkets, a logbook, and even toys. How popular is the pastime? "The word 'addiction' gets thrown around a lot," says geocaching.com cofounder Bryan Roth. Some 10,000 new caches are posted every month. Roth recently received a letter from a new convert who'd found more than just a box of stuff. "My daughter and I hadn't been able to connect for years," wrote the man. "Now we go out geocaching. It's brought my family back together." Sounds like he's discovered the second rule of treasure-hunting: Treasure is in the eye of the beholder.

Edited by JMBella
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That metal detector guy really should trash out those aluminum pull tabs instead of tossing them aside! :D

 

As one of those "metal detector guys" I can tell you that I and many more do trash out those pull tabs. We also trash out sharp nails, and rusty stuff from beaches etc. If nothing else we don't want to find the same darn pull tab again if we return to a site!

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Ironically, no one's getting rich from what is perhaps the fastest-growing segment of treasure-hunting: geocaching, a sport that has mushroomed in the past five years.

 

Mr. Irish is probably quite rich...

 

Good point, or at least I hope he's getting there at this point.

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