Monday, May 7, 2012

Something to do--geocaching

Treasures inside a geocache to trade
We got hooked onto geocaching through a school project.  I needed to learn all the in's and out's in order to teach it to my students.  My in-laws gave me a geoMate and off we went--I thought.

It wasn't as easy as turning on the gadget and going on our happy treasure hunting way.  Our first trip out was a disaster.  We got lots of exercise, but found absolutely nothing.  Well, nothing except construction sites and a dead coyote.  The kids thought that was cool.

After getting home I went into the geocaching website, and did some research.  I found out that if I made an account, I could see the nearby caches and read the log books to see if the caches were still there.  The one we had looked for had been reported gone a year ago.  We found a couple using the geoMate and the website for research before we went.  Nothing spontaneous.

The next big leap in our geocaching expertise came when I upgraded to (as my daughter calls it) a real phone with 4g LTE and droid apps.  And I thought phones were for calling people!  Silly me!

I could now look up a cache on the phone and read the log at the same time-from anywhere!  Our next camping trip was to Lake Texana.  We hit the app button and off we went.  The kids thought it was great because we got to go off of the marked trails to find treasures.  And did we find treasures!  We carried our bag of trade items- McD's toys, pencils, cool erasers, mini puzzle books, etc.  We traded for Hot Wheels cars, a whistle (which I washed thoroughly in hot water), and wooden toys.  The kids were in heaven.  And my hubby and I got to hike and bird watch while they followed the compass directions-quietly too, but I don't know why...

So, My current best tips for geocaching with you kids on a camping trip:
1.  Carry water,snack, small first aid kit,  and bug spray. (duh!)
2.  Carry a waterproof bag with a pen and some small things to trade.  If you are traveling a distance, something about your home area would be a great trade.
3.  Make sure you have a watch.  You will lose track of time.
4.  Battery back up for the geocaching device you are using.  Sometimes the program seems to eat up battery power.

Speaking of that-I just got a solar cell charger for my phone for camping trips.  I'm using it almost all the time now.  Great investment.

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