Stuart and Nicholas set out on a new adventure today - Geocaching! It's kind of like Letterboxing which we've done for a while except instead of having only clues to help you find the hidden treasures, you use a GPS system to locate the coordinates. You can go online at www.geocaching.com to find coordinates for geocaches hidden in your area. You can find ones that required a bit of a hike or ones that are more easily accessible. Then you go out with your GPS and try to find them. And they aren't always easy to find, even with a GPS unit. They are usually very small containers that may be camoflauged and are well hidden in a tree or under a log so that other people just passing by are not likely to disturb them. Once you find the geocache, there is a log inside that you write your name and date that you found it. Sometimes there is a little trinket inside. You can take the trinket if you replace it with an equally interesting trinket. When you get back home, you go online and record your findings so that the owner and others can keep up with whether or not the geocache is still there and the condition it is in.
Lots of people in our area have placed geocaches. The Town of Flower Mound even has a geocaching program called GPS Adventure in which they have placed 15 geocaches throughout the town to get people out to visit local parks that they may not go to otherwise. They even have GPS units that they will let you check out for 3 days at a time and they offer a class to help you get started on your hunt.
Stuart and Nicholas learned all about geocaching online and picked out 5 caches to search for. The coordinates took them to local parks and businesses.
They struggled a bit in the beginning, partly because we are still figuring out how to use our GPS. But on one of their hunts, someone approached them asking if they were out geocaching. The man also liked geocaching and he knew that they were near a cache - plus the GPS in hand and constant looking around probably helped to give them away. He showed Stuart a different screen to use on the GPS to make it a little easier to use. They talked some and traded hunting stories.
Then finally - Success! Nicholas was excited to open this geocache and find a foreign coin. He didn't have another trinket to replace it so he left it there for someone else to find.
Once Rachel was up from her nap, the boys came back to pick us up. We headed over to a park for a picnic dinner. They had already searched this park earlier for a cache that they could not find. But now armed with a better understanding of how to use the GPS, they decided to try to look for it once more. They found it!
"Give me Five!"
This is it. A little yellow container hidden deep in a bush. Very hard to see if you don't know what you're looking for.
We decided to go to Rita's to celebrate with some italian ice. Yum! (FYI - Rita's is giving away a free italian ice to everyone on Saturday, March 20th!)
We talked more about geocaching while we enjoyed our frozen treats. Nicholas said that he liked geocaching because he loves being outside and he had fun spending time exploring with Daddy. He said that it can get frustrating though when you can't find the geocache. But since most of them are placed at a park, he didn't mind so much as long as he got to play on the playground while he was there.