We’ve found a new hobby the whole family can enjoy — geocaching! I get to hike, my husband gets some much needed exercise and he gets to play with gadgets, and my kids get to play with gadgets and go on a treasure hunt! It’s the perfect family activity!
You can find out everything you ever wanted to know about geocaching (including where to find caches near you) at www.geocaching.com. Basically, it’s a treasure hunt for a waterproof container of some sort…usually there are some little trinkets inside the containers (though not always…some caches are just little film canisters). You have the GPS coordinates for where the cache is located…and your handheld GPS will get you within about 20 feet of the cache, so then you have to hunt.
If you find the cache, you sign the logbook inside and you log your find on the website (it’s kind of fun to read the logs sometimes). You can take something out of the cache if you replace it with something else. What you find in there really varies…the first one we did on Christmas Eve, we took a bag of Legos out and replaced it with a signed copy of one of my books (I signed it to the “Intrepid Explorer…”)…the other day we took a small Christmas ornament (which I’ll put on the tree every year to remember our first geocaching experience) and we replaced it with a children’s book magnet. Most of the caches we’ve found we TNLN (took nothing, left nothing).
Some of them are single step (the coordinates you get take you right to the cache), others are multi-step. For instance, the other day we did the “historic Coralville cache,” which started at the old schoolhouse. We needed a date from the sign there. Then we continued on to the new bridge, where there are a bunch of plaques on the history of Coralville…we needed more dates there. Then we had to do some math to get the coordinates for the next step…which led us over the bridge and off into the woods. We found a mini cache there that contained the coordinates to the final cache, which required a bit of stealth to get to because it wasn’t too far from the new dog park. You’re not supposed to let anybody see you find the cache (non-geocachers are referred to as “muggles”…just like in Harry Potter).
It’ll take us a little while to find all the caches in the area…but it’ll be more fun to find them when we’re away from home. It’s something that will make those difficult trips to see my dad a little easier…