In a CVS parking lot. On the back of a stop sign. On the edge of a goat farm. Under a bush. Inside a hollow tree. These are just a few of the creative places that we found cache.
So what’s a cache? Well, it’s short for geocache. It’s the ‘treasure’ you find when geocaching! This fun activity that Justin and I recently discovered (thanks to our friend, Jeff) can be described as a treasure hunt game played outdoors with GPS-enabled devices. Players try to find hidden containers, called geocaches, using a GPS or smartphone, then share the experiences online.
The basic concept: you navigate to specific GPS coordinates to find a cache hidden at that location. There are over a dozen different cache types, ranging from micro (tiny containers) to multi to puzzles to even virtual. Sometimes you’re looking for a plastic container or film canister or fake rock.
Once you find the cache, there is a logbook (or sheet) to sign so you can log your find (we usually carry a pen with us). When I write ‘logbook’ I’m not referring to a book size object; more of a tiny scroll. You sign the logbook and return the cache to the hiding place. We’re always discreet in returning the cache so people passing by don’t see us and come take it. No one wants to log a ‘Did not find.’
This may sound confusing to figure out but it’s actually fairly easy! And fun. There is an official Geocaching website that provides great information on how to get started, explains the different type of caches available, what you’ll need and other resources. I still refer to the Geocaching 101 section of the website every so often for a refresher.
On the website, you create a username that will be used when you log a find, search for caches in a
specific area, interact with others online and learn some really great information. According to the Geocaching website, there are 1,843,526 active geocaches and more than 5 million geocachers worldwide. So we’re a little late to the party but better late than never!
Jeff suggested we download the ‘Geocaching’ app to my iPhone to ensure we enjoy the activity before spending several hundred on a new GPS device. Great idea as I love the iPhone app. It is linked to the Geocaching.com website so you can find nearby geocaches, easily navigate to them, know what size/description to look for, log a find or picture to your username and get other useful tips.
Once in a while the app is slow to update the GPS coordinates or how close we are to the cache or the accuracy is good only to 16 feet, but overall it’s worked very well for us. Depending on how many caches we look for and how long we’re on the go, it can suck up the battery level of my phone so I recommend starting with a fully charged battery.
We have mostly found urban geocaches hidden in the surrounding neighborhoods, parks or businesses. It’s been fun finding a geocache, realizing how often we drive by it on the way to work or other outings. People are creative in where and how they hide a cache!
Since we’re newbies, we typically search for cache that are ranked easy to moderately difficult to find as we get more familiar with GPS coordinates and what to look for; although I have to admit that sometimes searching for the micro caches are pretty challenging since these are SO small and there are so many good hiding places. We attempted an Earth cache when we were exploring a nature preserve in Fort Myers, FL – we had to answer several questions on habitat and animals found throughout the preserve as we explored. This was interesting but we kept getting distracted by other things, like the alligator in the lake!
I’m excited to get more experience and try to find more difficult caches. We have several upcoming weekend getaways to northern Michigan scheduled for August so we’re planning to search for some cache. You never know what you’ll find or where it will be hidden!