I have always had a hard time aligning my love for the outdoors with my love for my phone. I love to go fishing. But that doesn’t mean my phone should be held by my slimy, fish hands in the middle of the bay. This also applies to floating the river, kayaking, or boogie boarding at the beach. Don’t even get me started about biking and using your phone. Phones and the outdoors just don’t seem to really mesh well.
So what can you do with you and your phone outdoors? The answer is…Geocaching!! It’s a mix between treasure hunting, exploring, and technology. It’s an international version of hide-and-seek involving trackable coins, crafty caches, and a GPS. It is also a super affordable way to spend quality time with your friends, significant other, or family. [Disclaimer: by affordable, I mean free. You can upgrade your basic membership to a premium account for a small fee, but it’s definitely not necessary.]
I’m here to give you the advice from a girl whose just been introduced to the Geocaching world. I was a bit skeptical; I mean I thought Geocaching was just for Boy Scouts in the beginning! However, after trying it out, I am HOOKED! The benefits are mind-blowing. It’s a fun exercise that I enjoy, and provides an opportunity for some outdoor play with my family. The coolest plus it that it’s taken me to places I’ve never been before. The old Oak Tree on Texas Avenue? I’ve driven past it a million times, but have never once stopped to really take in its astounding beauty…until I realized there was a geocache there and off I went! Below are some easy steps to get you started in the right Geocaching direction.
Step 1: Download the Geocaching app on a smart phone.* Then, create your account. You can make it as serious or as fun and goofy as you’d like! Mine is called BaytownTourismIntern (real clever, I know).
Step 2: Grab a small fanny pack, backpack, or other type of bag, put on some comfortable clothes,(preferably long sleeves and long pants, as there are some caches that provide a small adventure through some woods) and grab any other items you may need. Here is a list of some items to bring with you:
A pen (This is a must; you will need to log your account name once you find a cache.)
Water (Don’t allow yourself to get dehydrated, stay on top of your water intake!)
Bug Spray (It’s Texas; we’ve got Texas size mosquitoes here.)
Step 3: Before leaving home, open your Geocaching App and press the middle
button. Here you will see a screen of multiple little dots. These dots represent caches near you.
Step 4: Choose a cache you would like to find, click the green dot, and then press start. Then, you will find a screen that gives you a direct orange line to the cache as well as the distance you are from the cache. It also provides some “Geocache Details” about that specific cache, such as level of difficulty, level of terrain, and size of the cache. Cache sizes range from XS to Large, therefore they can be tricky to locate.
Step 5: Once you’ve hit start, and read through the details, let your imagination take over, travel to, and search for the cache!
Step 6: After you find the cache, there should be a roll of paper inside the container. Make sure to sign and date on the next available line. This allows other Geocachers to see who has found this cache. Then you click “Log Geocache” on your app, and write a short note about your experience! This will be posted along with all of the other notes from fellow Geocachers.
Step 7: Place the cache in the exact same place you found it. But make sure no one is watching you, you don’t want the cache to get Muggled!**
And there you have it folks, a short step-by-step process to get you on the road to being novice Geocachers. Now, go get your cache on!
* Reminder, it is free for a basic membership! You can try using a tablet or iPad, but it may be difficult to obtain GPS capability.
** Muggled: a term used to describe a geocache being tampered with by a non geocacher. Refers to the situation when a cache has been dismantled or removed unknowingly by a non-player.