Thursday, April 1, 2010
Geocaching ~ A New Family Activity?
I have been intrigued by the idea of geocaching for several years. Now that the boys are a little older, I think it may be time for us to give it a try.
What is Geocaching? Well sir, I have recently learned that it is classified as a sport. If you ask for a book on geocaching, you will be taken to the sports section, who knew? The basic idea is this...there are "caches" hidden all over the world, 1,020,027 of them to be exact. Using GPS coordinates found on geocaching.com, you travel to the general location of a cache, and poke around until you find it.
What is a cache? It is a small container that usually contains a visitor's log and small trinkets that have been left by others that have come before you. When you find it, you sign the log and exchange one of the trinkets inside for one that you brought along. The only rule is that the item you leave should be of equal or greater value. You may be walking or driving past one or more every day, without even knowing it!
After finding one, you log back on to the website and make a note of your find.
These things are hidden in the woods...hidden in the city...hidden all over!
As a matter of fact, I just entered my address into the geocaching.com search engine and found 184 caches within 10 miles of my home. Wow!
The one necessary tool of the trade is a handheld GPS. If you have an iPhone, there is an app that you can purchase for about $10, according to Christy over at Southern Plate who is also a geocacher. (You MUST go try some of her recipes!) Since we don't have an iPhone, I started researching handhelds and discovered that you can spend from $70 to several hundred. The typical starter unit is the Geomate, available HERE. My concern with this one is it's lack of maps. Instead it has an electronic compass.
Enter my BFF. Knowing of my hunt, she called to tell me that there is an article in this month's Family Circle that discusses geocaching. In this article they list several sites through which you can rent a unit for a few days, to see if you like it. As I perused one of these, gpsrentals.biz, I discovered that they have retired units for sale. The same model that is currently available to rent (retailing for several hundred dollars), for literally a fraction of the cost.
I really wondered if this was too good to be true. So, I checked out the company with the BBB. And, they are BBB accredited. I still had a few questions, so I called the number on their website. Whatdaya know, the owner of the company picked up the phone. I had a nice conversation with Mr. Skinner. He assured me that the unit would come with all of the pieces that it came with new, including the USB adapter and car charger. Then he knocked my socks off. He said, "I don't think I have this up on the website, but if you have equipment failure within the first 6 months, let me know and I will replace it for free." Get...Outta...Town!
I placed the order online yesterday afternoon, and received notice early this morning that it had already been shipped and should be here by Friday.
I plan to go treasure hunting one day next week. I really hope the family enjoys this as much as I think they will! I'll keep you posted!
*Geocache Container image courtesy of Geocaching News.