Thursday, December 23, 2010

First Attempt at Geocaching

The sun came out today and I wanted to take advantage of it by getting out of the house.  I discovered that though there aren't many letterboxes around my neighborhood, there are tons of geocaches.  Go to http://www.geocaching.com/ and type in your address or zip code to find out how many are around you.  It's quite amazing. 

At first I just mapped the coordinates and wrote down a description of where the geocaches are located, but my daughter and I quickly found out that geocaching is nearly impossible in our area without the use of a GPS device.  There are these "greenbelts" (really dirt alleys) between houses in our neighborhood that lead to huge lots (like 20 acres) filled with sagebrush and trash.  We weren't having any luck finding the geocaches based upon an icon on a map, so we drove back home and grabbed both my son and my son's GPS device.

Once we had that, I just drove while my daughter watched the coordinates on the GPS change, and when they matched or were close to the coordinates of the geocache, she told me to park.  We found the first one right away.  It was a tin box filled with trinkets and a notebook or "log."  You are supposed to sign and date the logbook, and if you take a trinket, you are supposed to replace it with one of equal value.  I didn't bring any trinkets, so I left them alone.

The second geocache was a little more difficult to find.  We had to move a row of tumbleweeds against a fence and dig around.  I don't know what made me notice it, but there was a magnetic tin attached to a metal fence.  Unfortunately, the logbook was soaking wet, so I wasn't able to sign it.

The third one was on a road that was flooded...

We couldn't find the fourth one, but you can go to the website and read other people's comments, and apparently this one was camouflaged real well.

Here the kids are telling me to hurry up while we were searching for the fifth one...

They found it.  This is the expression my son gives me when he's sick of me taking his picture...

Here's an example of what a geocache looks like...

This one was ready for a new container, because it was rotted out from extreme weather conditions. You can inform the people who planted it that it needs maintenance on the website.

By the time we stopped to look for the sixth one, my son was complaining that he wanted to go home, so we had to hurry. This one was planted on the border of the planter's property. We turned over every rock and looked under the one tree, but couldn't find it. When we got home I read the comments from those who found it, and realized that I should have paid attention to the title of the geocache, because I had the container in my hot little hand and didn't even realize it! Needless to say, we'll be making a return trip the next time I can convince the kids to go with me.

So far the biggest difference I see between geocaching and letterboxing is that I've never found a letterbox in a location that made me feel uncomfortable, while some of these geocaches were in very inappropriate locations. For instance, one was located on a lot overlooking a main road, right on a blind curve where people are supposed to be driving 25 MPH, but instead drive 45 MPH. Anyway, my daughter commented that no one was watching the road. All the drivers were gawking at us. Next thing we knew, we heard the sound of tires squealing and someone leaning on a horn. There was a near miss in which one driver nearly rear-ended another, so we quickly left without further searching for that geocache.

Also, many geocaches were planted in residential neighborhoods, and as soon as I parked my car, people started coming out of their houses to watch us, which makes me think that the people who planted the geocache did not bother to ask permission from the residents, and the residents are probably trying to figure out why strangers keep driving into their neighborhood, parking, and wandering around.

I like my privacy, so I can totally relate if neighbors are annoyed by all of the activity. Also, many of the geocaches were in locations near private backyards and our presence created a stir among the neighborhood dogs. I think in the future I will just stick to those located along trails or in business districts.

In the end we found four geocaches, didn't find two with the GPS device, and didn't find four without the GPS device. So, I made ten stops, all within ten miles of my home. I think the nearest letterbox to my home that I didn't plant is a twenty-minute drive, so it was nice to not have to burn so much gas geocaching.

6 comments:

fernvalley01 said...

Sounds like an interesting outing. you have great kids , that they want to hang with you and do things together , or they have a great mom , or both ! Merry Christmas!

Mikey said...

It sounds like fun to do, but I'd be concerned too, going so close to people's properties. I know there's a few around here, but I've never gone looking for them, just tried to figure it out from the descriptions online. (I don't have a GPS)
Hope you all have a Merry Christmas!
Had to laugh at your son. Tell him to quit ruining your videos!!!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Well you already know what I think of geocaching, but I do love that it's a neat way to fill in some spare time, especially having fun with your kids.

You're right about the caches being everywhere and anywhere....basically just pell mell, wherever someone decides to drop one. That's one of my biggest issues with the hobby, too.

And of course, the second is all the useless junk and "trinkets" within. It all just feels kind of....dirty inside. We always carry a bottle of the anti-germ gel to use after we're done geocaching. lol!

We just really like the 'gift' of the handcarved stamp found in a letterbox. Someone spent a lot of time carving and trying to relate it to the location they place the box. And most letterboxers try to choose locations they want to share with you to show you someplace unique and beautiful.

That being said, I'd be happy to go geocaching with you someday. And I'll even bring the germ killer gel. hehe!

Your kidlets make me smile. It's great that you all still enjoy spending time together even as they grow older (and so much bigger now, too!). A big part of that is that you're a cool Mama who enjoys getting outdoors, visiting new places and exploring. In a kid's eye, that makes you pretty hip.
;)

Merry Christmas, my wonderful friend!
~Lisa

Rising Rainbow said...

Sounds like it was an interesting day but not sure if I would ever try geocaching. I have enough trouble finding the places I'm supposed to be without trying to find places just for something to do. I'd be lost full time.

Merry Christmas to you and your, Nuz Muz!

Paint Girl said...

Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!!!

Reddunappy said...

I would like to do some geocacheing, and or letterboxing, it sounds like a lot of fun. Hubby and I have looked for a few but only found one. We havent gone out just to do that yet.