2 Kids & A 20: Geocaching
Written by Cindy Morgan
I have been meaning to take the kids geocaching, a sort of hi-tech treasure hunt, for years but it filtered down to the bottom of my to-do list, somewhere near re-grouting the kitchen sink and organizing baby photos. Until recently, we couldn’t try geocaching because it requires a GPS and we were possibly the only family in Orange County without one. When I realized my husband’s new smartphone came with a GPS, I no longer had a good excuse and quickly planned a fun-filled morning of geocaching for my kids and I. The thirty minutes I planned to spend figuring out how to geocache the night before turned into more than an hour spent on the geocaching.com site and the c:geo app. I learned that “caches” are usually small containers with sign-in logs hidden in public places. These containers are hidden all over the world by people with geeky handles who give them clever names and cryptic clues. After downloading the free app c:geo I spent half an hour trying to enable the GPS on the phone. I went to bed completely discouraged and considered moving geocaching back to the bottom of my to-do list.
Determined not to be outsmarted by a phone, I went to the Verizon store the next day. The surfer behind the counter took approximately ten seconds to enable the GPS. Apparently the phone and the monosyllabic twenty-year old salesman are both smarter than I am.
Cache #1: “Look at the size of that dump . . . ster.” The c:geo app revealed two caches in the Mission Viejo parking lot outside the Verizon store so I handed the phone to the enthusiastic child (not to be confused with the sullen child who had no interest in geocaching) with strict instructions not to drop the phone, we set out on foot. As the name suggested the cache was hidden somewhere near the dumpsters—not really where I wanted to be poking around with my two kids. But poke we did. Short of climbing into a dumpster we looked everywhere.
Cache #2: “Booger on Fire.” Thinking maybe the dumpster cache had been removed we followed the phone to the next cache. A booger in geocaching speak is a big metal boxes that houses electrical components. After rooting around in the bushes and turning over rocks around the booger my son and I were discouraged. My daughter had wandered off so that anyone who saw her wouldn’t think she was associated with the two lunatics in the shrubbery.
Cache #3: “Indubitably.” A few folks who had found this cache, posted how quick and easy it was to find. My daughter didn’t even get out of the car while my son and I bushwhacked on a corner in Mission Viejo for fifteen minutes failing to find yet another cache. Is this supposed to be fun?
Cache #4: “Fountains are Cool.” The two of us got back in the car and drove to a cache that had been spotted two days before. This was it. If we didn’t find this one, geocaching was dead to us. The GPS led us to the fountain where the cache was supposed to be and my son and I spent our usual fifteen minutes combing the bushes. I thought I had it, only to realize the rusty can I had only had an empty liquor bottle inside. Gross.
“It says here it isn’t hidden on the ground.” My daughter, hopelessly bored had picked up the phone and was reading user posts. I had only read the most recent posts to see if the cache was still in place, but she found additional clues posted. Helpful clues as it turned out. My son and I scanned the trees and within minutes I spotted a small canister wrapped in camouflage duct tape on a tree branch. We called it a victory and headed out to find some lunch the old-fashioned way—without using a phone, GPS or app.
What I spent: About two hours searching for elusive plastic containers around Mission Viejo
What they learned: Cell phones are for more than talking and games: you can use them to help find hidden treasures.
What I learned: I am not smarter than a fourth grader, a phone salesman or a phone for that matter. But I am smart enough to realize you should always quit while you are ahead.