Sunday, July 15, 2012

A weekend spent geocaching

It's wrong to call something a craze when it's been around for 10 years already, but "Geocaching" was something I only discovered by accident last week when I looked on a webpage of 'things to do with kids during the holidays'.

Essentially it's a treasure hunt using GPS co-ordinates. What makes it incredible is that there are literally thousands of locations around the world where people have hidden things and cataloged them for others to find using GPS. Some are as small as a matchbox, others huge boxes containing 'treasures'.

When I first read about it I assumed it would be restricted to the US (where the idea was born), but I found that even in the suburb of Canberra where we live, there were about a dozen hidden treasures (or caches to use the correct term).

The website allows you to search in a particular location and then if you've got a fancy GPS equipped phone (or GPS device) you can track down the item to the nearest couple of metres. Have a look if you don't believe me - there'll be a geocache somewhere near where you live.

Saturday afternoon was a bit dark and gloomy in Canberra and so rather than face an afternoon in front of Dorothy the Dinosaur, Audrey and Eli and I set out for our first 'geocaching treasure hunt'. Actually I think I sold it into them as a "pirate treasure hunt" and so we walked off down the road variously "ooo-arrring" and "shiver-me-timbering" to each other.

It was only a shortish walk and my phone (which provides a handy compass which the kids loved) told me that we were within a metre of our first cache. A small tin box secreted under a sign (you'd never have found it if you hadn't been looking for it). Inside the box a small 'log book' (bit of paper) and a tiny pencil. We wrote our names on it and re-stashed it. We were hooked. Obviously we made sure that no muggles saw us (muggles is a term for a non-geocacher - I was a muggle until Saturday!).

Eli, who until this point had complained about feeling tired was suddenly rejuvenated and then like Audrey and I wanted to head to the next point (a short walk along a path hidden amongst trees) I couldn't find it at all and started getting dispirited but then the kids found a small metal box with another log in it. It was great! Then rain came and put an end to our hunt, but not before Audrey had spied a beautiful rainbow over our house.

Sunday led to two more cache finds - one hidden cleverly in a brick another in a fencepost. 4 geocaches in a weekend. Many more to follow I'm sure!

A purple sparkly cache in Manuka

Elis showing the cache found in Morgan Place

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