Friday, November 12, 2010

Sharing the Love

It's been a LONG time since we've been out caching. And even longer since I blogged about it. That's me and my attention span. But today Taz had a day off from school and we finally got back out "treasure hunting." This time we took some friends along!

We had planned to spend the day somewhere indoors, but fall in Central Ohio is nothing if not unpredictable and we've had a glorious Indian Summer this past week with temps around 70. We quickly ditched our indoor plans for a chance to spend some time outside.

First we hit a cache nearby at a local school playground. Since it was the first time our friends had been out caching I was happy that a) we found it and b) it was big enough to hold some loot.

We found this cache using the iPhone app from Groundspeak. It worked pretty well. I noticed the compass was a little quirky - pointing in different directions (away from the cache) when we were near. But it got us reasonably close enough to find it. If I were going to the woods or something I'd definitely rely more on the Garmin, though. I downloaded the free trial version which only locates the three caches closet to your current location (a nice feature). The full featured app is pretty steep as iPhone apps go - $10. While it's awfully nice to have the map feature (which cuts down on driving aimlessly while trying to look at the GPS and figure out which friggin street to take to get where it's pointing**), it's still not a replacement for the traditional handheld GPS unit. And like many iPhone apps, the reviews indicate it's quirky and crashes sometimes. While that's an annoyance when you're trying to find a restaurant review or Google whether or not dogs can look up, it's a bit of a bigger deal when you're wandering around the woods with young children in tow. And it doesn't provide the actual coordinates so you could plug it into your GPS as a back-up. THAT would be a terrific feature.

After that we headed back to the same Metropark that we had visited years ago with lofty goals of looking for the three caches there. One was the same one we'd found before, but I was the only one who even remembered going much less where it was located. Elf was only about 5, Taz was 2 and Xena wasn't even around yet. I figured I was the insurance policy that the kids would find another cache. I handed the older ones the GPS and let them lead the way. Turns out they didn't even need me and found it like old pros.

The reality is that it wasn't really their first time caching. See, our kids are lucky enough to have the best PE teacher EVER. Thanks to him, the school was able to get some grant money and purchase a few GPS units which he's been using to teach the kids about geocaching. They've taken them out and looked for caches that he's hidden at the school! All I remember about PE was running laps and nightmarish, for me anyway, "fitness tests". Oh, and that it was ALWAYS the class that blew my GPA. (Not that I'm bitter.) Anyway, my baggage surrounding elementary PE is a whole other post for a whole other blog that I'll probably never write so never mind. Today reminded me, once again, that our kids are having a totally different experience. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Caching with a toddler in tow always adds a degree of difficulty so it's not much of a wonder that I have absolutely ZERO pictures of the kids with the second cache. Or that we abandoned our plans to hike the whole trail and look for the others in favor of heading back to the car to get lunch. The woes of sore feet (that whole 1/2 mile from the car to the cache) and obsessing about food reminded us that flexibility was a key tool in this whole endeavor. It also reminded me about why, perhaps, it's been years since I did this.  

It was an awesome way to spend a day off enjoying the beautiful fall weather with some great friends. And I really hope that the dust doesn't settle back on the Garmin before we head out again.

Fellow shutterbug and the leader of the other half of "Team Squeekels."

** A quick check into Google maps and I discovered you can take the GPS coordinates and input them instead of an address to give you an approximate location.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Parking Lot Caching

Today was another absolutely GORGEOUS spring day in Columbus. The temp was near 80 degrees with a nice breeze and plenty of sunshine. Makes you want to put away the winter gear. Unfortunately there are predictions of snow by the end of the week. That's Spring in Ohio.
We spent a hectic (bordering on hellish) day at the zoo yesterday. The crowd and construction were overwhelming. Thankfully the company was grand!Today, we decided some low-key outdoor fun was in order. So we headed out to snag some quick park and go caches.

Here's Elf retrieving our first "target". And - it's actually at Target! Yuck, yuck. It was another tiny micro-cache hidden in the light. We felt like pros since we knew right where to look after finding another one like this last week. We signed the log and stuck a few tiny shells in the cache. I bought a bag of teeny shells for the little micros like these so that the next person has something to keep from even the smallest little caches.

We found another one up in the branches of a tree in another parking lot. That one took us about 10 minutes to find. It gave Elf and I a chance to work up a "story" in case anyone asked what we were doing. The story is we're homeschoolers working on a project. That or we just had to stop for an emergency diaper change for Taz. We figured either one should get rid of "muggles' pretty quick.

The last one was in the parking lot of an office complex. According to it's listing it was put there in view of the cache owner's office window so he could watch people look for it! Poor guy must have a boring job. We found it after a few minutes then all stood and waved at his window. It was too bright to see if he was there, but we did it anyway.

I had intended on one more stop, near a park with a playground. But Taz was getting cranky and I could tell nap time was coming. So instead we stopped at the Field of Corn that we passed on the way to the last cache. I remember the realtor showing me this while BG interviewed for the job that brought us to Columbus many years ago. I still find it just as humorous. Here are the kids in the field. They are either pretending to be caches or just trying to make me crazy. I choose to believe the former.

Oh, and for once I took a picture to prove I was actually there, too.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

April Fool's Day

Despite dire predictions of rain from both the local forecast and, today is a gorgeous spring day in our neck of the woods. Speaking of woods, that's where we headed today. Into one of our beloved metro parks and about half a mile down on of the trails was our fourth find. See it? No? That's okay. Neither did any of the other non-cachers milling about this afternoon (geocachers refer to them as "muggles".) We wouldn't have seen it either unless we were looking for it (which, of course we were.) It was fun to try to look for the cache and nab it without anyone seeing us. We grabbed it and took it to a nearby bench for a look-see. Sneakiness isn't necessarily part of the game, but it's nice to try to keep the cache location safe so no one messes with it. Stealth is hard to achieve with Elf and Taz around. I thought maybe it would help if I explained to Elf why we needed to keep the caches safe. I told her about the muggle-thing. Being a Harry Potter fan I thought she'd get a kick out of it. She did, but I soon learned it may have been a mistake to share it with her. I asked her to be the lookout when I retrieved it and again when I returned it to it's home. Each time she insisted on yelling "Muggles!!" anytime anyone approached. She'll never work for the CIA.

This one had some neat stuff in it and I was glad that we brought some things with us to trade. Taz picked a toy saw and Elf and BG each grabbed a wooden nickel:

Here is a close-up of the wooden nickels. There was a whole bag of these that, according to the listing at, were stocked by the cache owner this past January as rewards for finding it.

We left a beaded zipper pull and key chain like these, which I made last night, as well as some neat little shells in exchange for the stuff we took. According to what I've read, people often leave trinkets that reflect their interests, so it seems right that I should leave some hand-made stuff.

Also pictured is the bear hitchhiker with her travel bug attached that we picked up on Friday. We'll drop her off in a cache out of town later next week.

We saw some beautiful sites along the way. One of the coolest things being this snake:

I heard someone say it was a black rat snake. I'll take their word for it. All I know was that it was far enough away for it to be cool instead of scary. Now that we're home, it finally dawns on me that if there are snakes in the trees, it's a safe bet that there are snakes on the ground. Which means we are all wearing our hiking boots on future adventures. A snakebite is not a souvenir I want any of us to take home. Even if they're not poisonous, being bitten by one doesn't seem like much fun.

Here was something else we learned about:

And, despite what we learned last week about not caching when Taz is tired, we went today anyway even though we knew nap time was quickly approaching. He had fun, but asked BG to carry him on the way back and promptly fell asleep. Daddy had to carry the poor little dude half a mile back to the car, which resulted in this when we got home:

Another lesson learned. Next time we have to do anymore than the shortest amount of walking to find a cache, we MUST bring the kid-carrying backpack with us to schlep back anyone with worn out little legs.

Friday, March 30, 2007


We found THREE caches today! It may not be much by experienced cachers' standards, but for us newbies with little 'uns in tow, it was a banner day!

I took Elf and Taz back to the park where we were last night and found it in just a few minutes. The GPS was right on! And it was right on last night when we stood NEXT TO the cache repeatedly, scratching our heads because the GPS said it was RIGHT THERE, but we weren't looking for a micro-cache so we didn't see it. There was no loot, but Elf signed the log for us and it was a thrill nonetheless. We stayed and played on the playground a bit, then headed on.

We stopped on the way to see Brew Guy at work for lunch at another location. This one was a parking lot cache. That's right, there are even ones hidden in parking lots. This one was in the lot of the grocery store we shop at regularly and we never knew it was there. I think that's part of what is so much fun about this game. Finding each cache is like being in on a little secret. This one actually had a few goodies in it, so we took a souvenir and left some trinkets behind. Elf is VERY proud of her carabiner shaped like a dog-bone. lol

When BG got home, we headed out again! Stopped for a quick bite and headed to another park. It was a place we've driven past countless times and never visited before. That's another thing I like about this whole deal. It's like being a tourist in our own home town. We're actually SEEING places we look at daily, but never notice.

It was a gorgeous park, overlooking the river, with a pavilion and a playground and the coolest sculpture. Not to even mention the cell phone tower disguised as a tree, complete with half a dozen BIG birds roosting in it! We think they were eagles. Do eagles even live in the Midwest? Well, we know they were big arsed birds! We found the cache, grabbed a travel bug to take to the next cache (or maybe up to Cleveland with us), and fixed up the cache a bit. Some of the items were damp, so we put them in some extra baggies I had in our pack. And Elf and I engaged in some CITO (Cache In, Trash Out). It's a wonderful caching motto. Cachers take the initiative to clean up the area surrounding the cache by picking up trash, etc. I explained to Elf, it's sort of like saying thank you to the park for hosting the cache.

It was a great night. I got some cool photos, too. It made me realize that my next hobby will likely be photography someday down the line. Not that I have any particular talent for it, but I do have a really good time behind a camera.

And so it begins...

Another hobby/passion/obsession. This is one we can all share, though. We went on our first geocaching outing last night and I can tell I'm already hooked.

We didn't find anything last night, but I learned some things.

What to do:

  • Leave more time - caching with two little kidlets makes even an easy rated cache harder to find
  • Read the ENTIRE listing, including the comments for a little help so we have and idea of what we're looking for. This helps with the above situation.
  • Bring snacks even on a short outing. Inevitably, said kidlets will get hungry even though it's only been 20 minutes since you all finished the dinner you brought to the park.
  • Seek out caches located near playgrounds for when attentions wane.

What NOT to do:

  • NEVER cache in the evening when Taz hasn't napped. I repeat NEVER cache when Taz is tired. No good can come of it in the end.