Our New Family Pastime

Our new iPhones have opened up a new activity for our family: geocaching! From the official site description: Geocaching 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. So far, I’m up just over 50 finds, and Ellie and Evan are right there with me with 26.
This past weekend, we all went out to Ellanor Lawrence Park for a little geocaching hunt. There were several caches hidden in the park within a reasonable hiking distance from each other. We ended up hiking a total of 4.3 miles over the course of about 4 hours, and we found 9 geocaches! The kids did great too, even during the “bushwhacking” through the deeper grass and tripping over fallen tree limbs.
One of the goals of every geocacher is to get an FTF: “first to find.” When a new geocache is hidden, an alert goes out to users notifying them, and the race is on. Usually, in our area, new caches are found within a couple of hours. Sunday morning, I got the word that TWO new caches were hidden in McLean, not far from us. I was still tired from the previous day’s hike, so I decided to have breakfast and wait a little while to see if anyone would stake a claim. Sure enough, one of the two was found fairly quickly. But the other one, a “multi” cache with more than one thing to find, was still out there at 10, 11, 12 o’clock! So the kids piled into the cars, and off we went.
When we got to the first part, we saw the standard brick wall sign welcoming us to a subdivision. We searched around that wall, knowing that the hider would not have intruded on the plants nearby, but still unable to find anything. Finally, we sat down in the shade of some nearby trees to cool off (it was getting up near 100 degrees, again!). We stared at the back of that wall for a while until Evan finally said, “Daddy, I think it’s a magnet.” Something clicked in my brain, and I flashed to something I had seen on the Spy Museum’s geocaching page. Sure enough, the message was hidden in a rusty magnetic bolt, which perfectly matched the rusty electrical box it was stuck to.
We dashed over to the next stage, knowing we had a chance for a FTF, since no one had logged it yet. This part was much easier to find. One of the key things to look for in the woods when searching for a geocache is a UPS: “unnatural pile of sticks.” We saw it immediately, and took the box out. The box held a reward for us as the first ones to find the cache, what a nice surprise!

We signed our names to the log book, posted our story online, and headed home for a celebratory Slurpee which was well earned on a searing hot July day!

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