During the month of May, I am holding a Geocache Blogging Event. Geocaching is where you hunt for caches that have previously been hidden, using GPS coordinates and occasionally some hints. (The coordinates and hints are listed at www.geocaching.com.)
I hope you will join me in geocaching sometime in May, then post your experience about it. If you are unsure about how to geocache, you can read more about it in this post or browse through any of my earlier posts under “geocaching”. This weekend I planned our own geocache hunt. Of course to the kids, I called it our treasure hunt. There were several geocaches within walking distance from our home. I am pretty new to this myself, so I will share with you a few lessons I learned along the way.
We headed for our first cache which seemed like it would be a pretty easy find. The possible hiding locations were limited and yet, we found nothing. After going back to the website for this particular cache, I noticed a symbol that looked like a red cross sign on the far right side of the web page. This, apparently, means that maintenance is needed… i.e. the cache is gone. Also in the log notes of the cache web page several people noted that the cache was missing. DOH! Wish I had noticed that before we had set out for this spot. Lesson learned: Check for maintenance issues. This can be accomplished by either glancing at the right column to see if the cross symbol is there (it’s actually blue and white), or the cache website also lists the last date someone found the cache. If it has been a long time, there may be a good reason. The cache web page also lists “log notes,” comments left by prior cache seekers. Sometimes the notes have big hints about the cache’s location, so depending on if you want those hints or not you may decide to read the notes ahead of time. So now, after checking the notes for another nearby cache, we went a hunting again.
After some hunting and some hints by my husband, who had been to this cache before, we found the cache of our second location. It is customary to bring something of your own to exchange for something already in the cache. Most of the items that the kids had picked out as exchange items would never have fit in this container. Luckily I had grabbed a tiny item as a back up, so we were able to make an exchange. It was a good thing too, the kids couldn’t wait to adorn themselves with the two stickers that were waiting in the cache. Lesson learned: Bring small items for the exchange. Feeling good from our success, we decided we could fit in one more hunt.
This one was actually quite tricky for us. We read the description, read the cache notes (and cursed at those who added that it was a simple find), even looked at the hint. We never found the cache. I understand that urban geocaches can be more difficult sometimes than rural geocaches, simply because the urban hider has to make sure that the cache is not randomly spotted and removed. Only someone looking for the treasure should be able to locate it. Additionally, buildings can sometimes interfere with the GPS device’s ability to get you close to the exact coordinates. I felt sad for the boys that we went to three places and only found one treasure. As we had a snack at home, my oldest proudly emptied his pockets of the bottlecaps he had picked up while looking for the cache (unknown to me). Lesson learned: Treasure is in the eyes of the beholder.
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