It has only been a couple months since the Nevada Department of Transportation stripped the desert along the Extraterrestrial Highway of its hidden treasures.
But that apparently is enough time for high-tech hunters to label our state geocaching unfriendly.
Who cares, right? Go hunt down an old-school $1.99 buffet. Go search for strip clubs that don't gouge customers. Go find a casino where the house doesn't win. Go haul in an honest do-gooder politician.
These days, those are real Las Vegas-themed challenges that could be made into their own sport.
But somewhat surprisingly, the E.T. highway's power cache series -- there were more than 1,000 treasures -- meant a lot to this growing group of traveling, money-spending, passionate geocachers.
In March, the transportation agency removed caches hidden -- but never buried -- along the E.T. highway near Rachel. Officials said the treasures were too close to the road and there wasn't enough room for vehicles to safely pull over to hunt them down.
Shortly after, geocachers who use GPS systems to find the boxes, which are listed online along with the coordinates of the location, fought back. They threatened to abandon plans to geocache hunt in our economically ailing state and go elsewhere.
They weren't planning road-tripping it to Nevada from Arizona or anywhere close by. These people literally come from all over the country and the world. And apparently their threat was real.
This is what William Kaatz from Northbrook, Ill., had to say: "I had future plans to go cache the E.T. series this year. I will no longer be coming either. I hope something can be done to restore the series and bring back visitors like me to that area."
Cha-ching. That's tourism dollars traveling on down the road to California.
Carol Naberezny, who goes by Loves to Fish on caching forums, told me she and her three cache-crazy buddies also nixed their plans to visit Nevada, opting for Barstow and Needles instead. Bummer.
"I also know that all cancellations will have a serious effect on those local businesses who fully supported cachers and were glad to have the revenue coming in with this economy," Naberezny said. "We cachers are a dedicated (politically correct word for nuts) group, and some of us go to great extremes to get caches."
Art and Gale McCall were fully prepared to dump their dollars in the Silver State. They also get the economic impact of the transportation division's rash decision.
"Our group of five older cachers are extremely responsible, and we had plans to spend five or six days in Nevada," the McCalls said. "Five people times five days in hotels and restaurants; now we are going to do the Route 66 line of caches starting in California. Sorry Nevada!"
Grandpa Alex and his cohorts from North Carolina remapped their trip, also canceling their car rental and motel reservations. Angry with the state transportation agency, they too will spend their gasoline money and food allowance to the west of us.
"It would have been so much better to have saved the baby and only discarded the bath water," Grandpa said, adding that several alternatives were available to the state.
"Removing the ones on dangerous curves; allowing caching only during times when there were no snowplows; placing signs on the roads where there were concerns."
Ed Conley was planning a trip from California with 12 fellow cachers. Now there is no place like home, apparently, when it comes to geocaching.
"Interesting that a state that relies so heavily on tourism hasn't got a clue. I wonder what the Las Vegas residents would do if NDOT were to drive through town closing the casinos because a small number of drivers and visitors caused problems," Conley wrote.
"I do recognize that there are problems here, but to turn away business, well, that just makes me glad I live in California. Perhaps we here really can compete with Nevada for tourism like our local TV commercials suggest."
You might have your beaches, Ed, but they don't compete with the bright lights of the Strip and a good game of bingo next to a smoke stack attached to an oxygen tank. Oh, wait, never mind.
Ed Yohn, a teacher from Lancaster, Pa., also planned a different route after news broke of the nixed power cache series.
"Why not shut down the E.T. trail during winter months when chances of snow are the greatest?" Yohn suggested. "Most cachers don't go when there is snow anyway. Why not remove every other cache, thus decreasing the power trail to 610? We would still come.
"The bright side for Nevada is that we are still flying into Las Vegas and renting a vehicle. Granted, once the tires roll, they won't stop until California. If the E.T. highway trail is ever reinstated, we'll be back."
You get the picture. These notes, which are a fraction of those I received after writing about the caches being taken away, definitely demonstrate how angry these people are and how much money our rural communities might be losing out on.
The transportation division has requested legal advice from the attorney general's office on the placement of caches off the highway in the desert land, some of which is public and some of which is the transportation department's right of way.
Transportation officials said they have yet to receive a response.
None of this, of course, will please our new brand of tourists.
"They may think that geocachers screwed up," said Mark O'Ffill of College Park, Md. "Well, look in the mirror and look who is looking back at you. Need a screwdriver?"
That's what we get for being a "geocaching unfriendly" place.
If you have a question, tip or tirade, call Adrienne Packer at 702-387-2904, or send an e-mail to roadwarrior@reviewjournal .com. Please include your phone number.