Geocaching has been one of my favorite hobbies for years. Well before there was a Bug, we loved to get out on a Saturday, visit a local park, and find a few hidden treasures. In fact, I’m proud to say that our Cache Find #1100 was at a Buddhist temple in Seoul and The Bug’s first ever find was in the shadows of Seoul’s Olympic Stadium. Anyhow, after we brought The Bug back home with us, our caching excursions ground down to an almost complete halt.
But…wait…you may not know about geocaching and everything I just said sounded like gibberish to you. Let me explain.
Let’s start with the satellites floating above us in space. You probably already know that many of these satellites can team up together along with devices here on earth to pin point our locations pretty much anywhere on the planet. This may freak you out in a Big Brother sort of way, and I’m sorry about that. There’s not much I can do about that. Just enjoy the fact that your phone can now tell you where the nearest Starbucks is and give you directions to it. Now, keep reading.
There are people who enjoy using this cool yet creepy technology to hide things and make other people find them. These people are called geocachers. So, here’s how it works. Someone goes out and hides a container. It can be big like a box or small like a little magnetic dot about a centimeter in diameter. It can be in the woods five miles from anything or along a crowded city sidewalk. The important thing is to get the GPS coordinates before walking away. Go to www.geocaching.com and write up a description of your cache, including what to look for and any hints or stories you want to tell. Eventually your cache gets approved, then you sit and watch your email inbox. Other cachers will use your coordinates to go out and find your cache. When they open your container, they may want to trade stuff they find in it with something they brought along. (Think cheapo toys that somehow invaded your house when you became a parent.) They will also sign a log book you left in the cache to mark their success. Eventually, they will sign a digital log book to alert you that they were there. It’s a fun — yet geeky — activity that can be done in all weather and relatively inexpensively. (When I say all weather, I have cached in pouring rain, burning sun, and falling snow.) Every geocacher has a special code name. Our family is called the Steagles. (I’m an Eagles fan, my wife is a Steelers fan, together we make Steagles.) I call The Bug “Steaglette” in my posts.
If none of that made sense, here’s a video to explain it better.
Now that you’ve had that introduction to geocaching, here is what we did on Father’s Day.
If you recall, we celebrated Father’s Day a week early. We were going to go camping on the real Father’s Day Weekend, but that didn’t happen. Instead, we decided to go to Ault Park in Cincinnati to do some hiking and geocaching. It was a HOT day and The Bug was more interested in playing on the playground, so we only logged a few finds. I still had fun, though.
As we walked through the garden areas, I realized there was a cache only a few hundred feet away. This can be deceptive, since those distances don’t take into account that most humans can’t walk a straight line to all caches. We got to within 100 feet, and saw that we were on the edge of forest with a steep decline toward the cache. So, our nice little walked turned into a hike. We had to find a trailhead and weave our way through the woods to the cache.
As always, here are some pro tips for you.
- Get the geocaching app on your phone, but it’s also good to have a good handheld GPS. I once cached with a family who tried to use their car GPS. Not such a good idea.
- Bring plenty of water, a pen, and junk to trade if you want to trade junk. Don’t forget the bug spray too! I could tell you stories…
- Always plan time for playgrounds. Once you get going you just want to keep finding the next one, then the next one, and so forth. Always be prepared for the inevitable swingset to mess up your plans.
- I asked The Bug for good geocaching advice. She said, “Nuttin’.” She doesn’t like geocaching nearly as much as I do. Sad, really. (One fun fact is that she doesn’t call it geocaching or caching like we do. To The Bug it’s called, “finding treasures.” Cute.)
- Make it a fun time! Enjoy the hike, race to see who can find the cache first, and always end with ice cream.
I’d love to hear your geocaching stories! Drop a good one in the comment section.