JUDIQUE: A new digital art form has hit the Strait area.
Recently, a new geoart design showed up in Inverness County. Creator, 17-year-old Vincent McDonald of Halifax, chose a musical note because he plays the fiddle and he put it in Judique because his grandparents live there and that’s where his family puts their camper in the summer.
The first geoart in Inverness County was a fiddle in Port Hood, previously the only one in Cape Breton, which followed the Celtic Shore Coastal Trail from Port Hawkesbury to Inverness, McDonald noted.
“The idea was, when they first were putting out geocaches, the trail was a good spot to put them, so later on, they discovered there were free spots on the trail. The Celtic Shore Coastal Trail designed a fiddle in the geoart shape and the coordinates of those are in Gaelic, and you have to decrypt them and find the final coordinates,” he recalled. “Mine, the musical note, is a fiddle tune and you have to figure out who composed the fiddle tune and once you do so, you can find the final coordinates of the geocache.”
McDonald said geoart, comes from the world of geocaching, which is a world-wide treasure hunt started in 2000 where people hide containers, and sometimes trinkets.
“Geocaching is an outdoor activity that people go to, you find containers in the woods with GPS,” McDonald explained. “People post coordinates online on this web page, and people with their GPSs, or the app on their phone go out to look for these containers, and they each have little logs or pieces of paper in them, and people go out and sign them and then they find more. It’s a world-wide activity.”
And out of these geocaches came geoart in the last few years, McDonald said.
“There’s tonnes of different kinds of geocaches, is what they’re called, and some can be multi, which means there’s multiple stages to it, you have to find clues first,” he noted. “Some can be mystery, where you have to solve a puzzle in order to find the final coordinates, or the container. Some can be virtual, where you take a picture of yourself at the location, at the coordinates, and post it to this web page.”
In the case of mystery caches, McDonald said people can go on the geocache web page: geocaching.com to decode a puzzle and find the final coordinators of the geocache. Geoart forms a design that can be seen on geocaching.com.
The coordinates and clues range in size from micro (about the size of a little finger), to some the size of a lunch, and can be found anywhere.
McDonald said the dots on the map that form the musical note aren’t the actual locations of the caches, but provide a clue where the actual coordinators are hidden around Judique.
Across Nova Scotia there are others including a lobster, a lighthouse, a ship’s wheel, a moose, and a Mi’kmaq star.
In Guysborough County, participants can find Broadhorns (35 caches), Chedabucto Geo-Fish (27 caches) and Code Caching Art (40 caches, including a bonus).
Some mystery caches even offer clues that take participants to different places. One starts in Havre Boucher, goes to North Sydney and then to Port Aux Basque, Newfoundland.
Ian McPhee, from Judique, directed McDonald to Sherry Fillmore who was responsible for mapping the coordinates of the design. McDonald said it took five to six hours to place all 29 caches and even longer to record the exact coordinates on GPS to give to Fillmore.
McDonald advises that anyone new to geocaching should try traditional, simple ones first, then move up to the mystery geo-art caches. He said it’s a great way to get fresh air and exercise for the whole family, while discovering new places.
“I got a GPS from my parents as a Christmas gift, and I had seen there were different kinds of apps on this GPS, and one was geocaching,” he stated. “I remember doing it when I was a little bit younger, and I started to realize there’s a whole world of containers out there with logs that you can sign, and log on web sites. That’s how I got started with it.”
With 30 pieces in his musical note series, McDonald added he has 50 geocaches of the musical note along with traditional geocaches.
“I may, put out in the future, some traditional ones but I’ll see, depending on how many, and how many I have to look after,” he added.