So at this point you might be thinking, what the heck is geocaching?
Geocaching according to the Geocaching.com website is "a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment."
How do you get started?
Go to Geocaching.com to get started. There's all sorts of resources on the site to get you started. Mostly the only thing you need is a hand held GPS. You can find a range of GPS units from not too pricey to holy moly expensive. You can get them on ebay, Amazon.com, Best Buy or even your local pawn shop (each of the members of my family have gotten them from one of these sources). Also, iphones (or other Apple technology) has an app for it! Sign up for a Geocaching.com user name (make sure it's something fun and not just your real name) and find some caches!
Why do you want to do this nerdy thing?
- It's soooo much FUN!
- It promotes fitness! Who doesn't want to be more fit?
- It promotes bonding! Whether it's with your whole family (like mine) or with a boyfriend/girlfriend/partner (also like me) or to make new friends geocaching is a great time to bond and spend time with other people. You can also do it with children so it's a great bonding and educational experience for families.
- It gets you outside and more aware of your surroundings. It is a great way to get to know unknown parts of your city or state, can be a fun activity on vacations, and plain old gets you off the couch and away from the tv!
My sister and brother-in-law got Dale an eTrex for the help he gave them fixing up their investment house and as you will quickly learn, there are always better GPS units on the market and if you are as nerdy as us you'll always want something better. Leslie and Clint picked out a reasonable priced one that had lots of good reviews and seemed to be user friendly. When I was looking for one, I went a step up from Dale's to pick out one that had a few more features (and put it on my Amazon wishlist so my family could easily locate and purchase it for me, haha). Dale later had been itching to upgrade and visited a few local pawn shops and found one that is a step above mine for only $50! When my sister jumped on the wagon she found an awesome one on ebay. My favorite part of it was our conversation.
Leslie: So I got my GPS today.
Lindsay: Cool. What kind?
Leslie: It's a Magellan.
Lindsay: Oooh, Magellan's are nice.
Leslie: You know me, I tend to get the fancier electronics.
Leslie: When I turned it on it had all this stuff about geocaching...
Lindsay: WAIT. What kind is it?
Leslie: Uhhh, an eXplorist...GC?
Lindsay: GC stands for geocaching you nit-wit! You go the one SPECIFICALLY made for geocaching!!! It's expensive! Now I'm really jealous!!!
Leslie: hahahaha, I didn't even know!
So that's how dear sister got her really awesome one--dumb luck! Hilary came home from Michigan for the week and we went geocaching yesterday and I mentioned that there was an app for geocaching.com that she could download. She downloaded the basic (free) version and it seemed to work pretty good. It was limited in searching capabilities but worked well to try it out. You can purchase a more fully functioning version which seems like it would work better.
In-between the upgrading and other people getting on the wagon, I managed to convince Ange to keep an open mind about it and join me on some expeditions. This was going to be a bit of a job at convincing because Ange HATES looking for things. Whenever she asks me where something is in the house, unless I give her the exact spot she will just say she can't find it. "On the kitchen table" is not specific enough. She looks at the table and will say "I don't see it." Unless I'm like, "It's on the left side of the table, approximately 4 inches from the back, under the water bill" she won't look. So a game all about looking was going to be a hard sell. However, the fitness and bonding and being out in nature part of it I knew she'd like. And I'll admit, I thought if she could get good at finding geocaching, maybe she could get good at finding my keys on a 3 foot round table. Bonus.
The first time out we went with my mom and Dale. The weather wasn't great and Dale likes to look forever and ever and my mom finds geocaches the fastest. Ange wasn't a big fan that night. I told her we'd go just me and her and maybe it would go better. We finally got around to it one day and I was right! She loved it and was hooked! Now she wants to go every day that she has off.
I was pretty sure Leslie would dig it, we just had to get her to go with one of us a few times and she'd be all over it. She's now hooked and has a snazzy GPS unit.
Hil was our last hold out, mostly because she now lives in Michigan. She's been here for a few days and while Leslie, Ange and I were out with her she downloaded the free app to her iphone to try it out. She loved it and has big plans to geocache all over Michigan.
So basically what I'm trying to tell you is to get on it and start geocaching. The only drawback I realize is buying the GPS unit. Keep your eyes peeled for deals and hopefully you'll be able to find one in your price range.
A few other tips for newbies:
- Start collecting trinkets. Some geocaches have "treasures" for trade when you find the cache. These are usually not valuable but more fun little things. Think about the like 25 cent machines at the grocery store. Like that, but you get to choose. If you take something you should leave something.
- Think about where you are going if you are going alone. Some places can be a little dangerous (unintentionally) if you are by yourself. If you are hiking around and fall and break your leg and you are by yourself it could be bad. If you are somewhere you might get lost it could also not be great. One thing we never really thought of, specifically for men, is that you are more likely to look like a creeper. Dale was out at the park one day geocaching and there happened to be a group of elementary students doing some kind of nature day. The park rangers stopped Dale because frankly when you are looking for a hidden treasure and trying to be discreet about it (watch out for muggles!) you can tend to look like some lurking creature who could possibly be a Chester-Molester and that's not great.
- Always have a pen on you to sign the log book. Some caches are too small to house a pen, sometimes they get lost or sometimes they stop working.
- Take a look at some of the caches available on the geocaching site or on ebay. I think one of the hardest things at first is to know what you are looking for. Once you get an idea of the variety of caching containers it becomes easier to look. Some are easy, some are tricky. You never really know what you are looking for, unless they give you a really specific description in the log.
- Have fun!
A recent trip that Ange and I took:
She had to dig down deep to reach it.
She got a good grip on it and pulled it out!