Welcome to our new blog Outdoor Adventures Near and Far. We hope to share our family adventures with you; some of our favorite activities include mountain biking, windsurfing, hang gliding, camping, and geocaching.
This leads me to today’s topic – what is geocaching? Is it a verb? It must be since it has an “ing” on the end, right? Want to learn a new verb and explore your city a bit more? Try geocaching!
Geocaching (pronounced geo-cashing) is a worldwide game of hide and seek using handheld GPS (global positioning system) devices. Someone hides a “cache” (a container of some type) and then people look for it by searching for the latitude and longitude of the cache using a GPS. Sometimes that container is very small (smaller than a 35 mm film canister) or very large, like a metal ammo box or PVC tube. Micro caches can be stuck inside a street sign with magnetic devices. There are even virtual caches where there is no container at all.
We have one cache of our own that we created in a scenic area near our house named Tallahassee East Goose Creek. The location is beautiful and we feel that it is one of the prettiest spots in Tallahassee. We are working on placing another one nearby in a local greenway. The cache containers will almost always contain a log to sign when you visit, and when the container is large enough there will frequently be “treasure” as well. Some caches have themes. We recently visited a cache with a food recipe theme, so you can get / leave a recipe; it was right near a grocery story so the theme worked perfectly!
Depending on the theme of the cache, the treasure can be:
- traveling coins
- key chains
- lottery tickets
- cars and other toys
If you take something from the cache, then you should leave something as well. For most adults, it is about the “hunt”. For most kids, it is about the “treasure”! We recently found 4 in one day that were all micro sized caches, about the size of a pill bottle or 35 mm film container. The kids were into the hunt, but a bit disappointed that there was no treasure to seek! Some cache owners will leave a disposable camera in the cache for the finders to take pictures with; then the owner gets to view their cache from the visitors’ perspectives when the roll is complete.
Sometimes we bike to the spot, if accessible with children in tow, which makes for an even better adventure. On a recent adventure we took a bike trailer with some tools and a rake in it because we knew the area needed some maintenance / tender loving care. On the return trip a passerby commented to her daughters, “look, they are taking their rake for a bike ride”, which has made for a great story to help us remember that day. Our son loves the small, cleverly hidden caches, that are often magnetized and frequently very hard to find. For him, it’s all about the gadgets, and magnetic containers are at the top of that list!
After the geocacher finds (or does not find) the cache, then they log it online to share their experience. Comments placed online can also help other geocachers in their hunt by providing important information about the cache and its location.
As of February 2011, there are 1.2 million active caches and over 5 million geocachers worldwide. In the last 30 days, there have been over 3 millions new logs submitted (meaning that over 3 million people were attempting to find a cache and reported it online).
Geocaching is a great activity to get the family out and about. It’s sort of addictive, but in a good way. Hope to see you out exploring and geocaching!