Thursday, July 5, 2007

Treasure Hunting in Lahaina, Hawaii

For my birthday this year, I received a Garmin eTrex Legend personal navigator, better known as a GPS device. I asked this for this little wonder, so our family could engage in something called GeoCaching. After a few test runs around our neighborhood, we were ready to take it on vacation, and what better place than the beautiful island of Maui!

Our family loves to travel, but with two kids age 5 and 7, spending long days looking at tourist spots is not going to cut it. And in Maui, too much time on the beach turns us all into lobsters. A mid-day treasure hunt would allow us to learn more about a locale, at the same time providing my kids an outlet for their boundless energy.

Consulting, an online repository for hidden caches, I downloaded a plan to find a cache in downtown Lahaina. This was not far from where we were staying in Kaanapali, and a quick ride on the West Maui Shopping shuttle put us right behind the movie theater on Front Street, a good starting point for our search.

I already knew from reading the other reports about the cache, that it was hidden close to the Banyan Tree on Front Street. That tree alone isBanyan Tree worth a trip to Lahaina - the tree was planted in 1873 and is currently 60 feet high and takes up about 2/3 of a acre at Banyan Tree Park. After snapping the required photo of kids next to one of the huge trunks, we moved away from under the tree (the signal was not able to make it through the canopy) and got a line on our treasure.

Lahaina LighthouseWe were after a virtual cache, which meant there was no hidden treasure to find, but there was a plaque for us to locate with some significant historical information. We were to find the plaque and email the answer to the question to the cache owner. From Front Street, we headed towards the water, around the side of Banyan Park. On the way, we went past local musicians playing ukuleles, and many island crafters with their wares set up on blankets in the park. As we got closer to the water, we could see the cruise ships out at sea. Our GPS device was telling us we were very close, so we started to look for a plaque. The only one we could find nearby was in front of the lighthouse. And reading the plaque indicated we had found the right place! Our job was to find out how much the Hawaiian caretaker was paid - $20 a year! In addition, we learned that the Lahaina Lighthouse was constructed in 1840 to help navigate the tricky waters through the narrow coral reef. At this point, my kids lost interest and spent the rest of the time climbing on the posts around the lighthouse. However, we decided that all in all, the adventure was pretty successful. The husband and I learned more about our destination and our family had a fun puzzle to solve. As soon as we found it, the kids were asking what our next cache was going to be!

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