Ever wanted to go for a walk but wanted to do something different then the regular boring scenery? Give yourself a challenge? Sure, we can walk on the treadmill at the gym while watching Oprah, but sometimes it is nice to mix things up a bit.  It helps keep the mind working and keep us motivated to move.

We love to go exploring, hiking, and walking. Yet sometimes we suffer from the same old rut that everyone else experiences. We just want to do something a bit different.

Enter geocaching. This is like treasure hunting. I remember doing this sort of thing as a kid. My friends and I would take a piece of our mom’s tupperware (shhh, don’t tell her that it was me that *vanished* her plastic!) and throw in some sort of garbage "treasures" and then hide it.  After that, we’d draw a map on a piece of paper.  Big red X, telling us to go so many paces due east of such and such landmark. Then we’d age the paper through various means. I remember rubbing the paper against itself to make it soft and using tea to stain it and burning the edges with a lighter.  The challenge to our friends – find the treasure!

Geocaching is much the same. People put together their little treasure box and a set of clues.  They head out into the wilderness and hide their treasure.  They upload the information to the internet along with the big red x – in the form of GPS coordinates. Through the magic of modern technology, we can access satellites and find our way to various locations.

We found our first geocaches in 2007.  It was exciting! 

Well, we haven’t done much with it since then. Partially because of our equipment.  Namely that we didn’t have any equipment. (We’d borrowed a GPS device.) Partially because of my health. Partially because of laziness.

However, we’ve gone out the past few days and had a total blast.  Here’s some of the cool things we’ve done and found:

First we took our finds from five Geocaches to sixteen! Yay! Second, we got to take some fun walks.  As if this wasn’t good enough we got to work towards a puzzle of finding what was missing in a photograph, getting clues from some historical markers to decipher a code (we still have to go find that cache), had to pose in a goofy way and upload a photograph, and check out a portion of the local bike path we’d never traveled down.

Today we found a lovely park we didn’t even know existed.  Sometimes this is one of the best things about geocaching. Those hiding will try to highlight little known sites to help bring people to them.  The bad news? This park has been left to basically rot. Sad.  Check out the photo:

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/ladyozma/4991457675/&quot; title="garden by Lady Ozma, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4092/4991457675_49514dee2d.jpg&quot; width="500" height="373" alt="garden" /></a>

Want to see a treasure we found while out caching?

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/ladyozma/4990583936/&quot; title="Cool treasure we found geocaching! by Lady Ozma, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4107/4990583936_75ca74680a.jpg&quot; width="500" height="374" alt="Cool treasure we found geocaching!" /></a>

Here’s some fun things that we found: 
– a tupperware container that was actually hidden in the parking lot of a grocery store. Yeah, now THAT is sneaky! I’m not telling you how or where. That would take away the fun!
– A secret tree log hidey hole of amazingness
– a cache hidden under a bench with only a log that we had to use the internet to continue a round robin story.
– fended off attack ducks
– another historical site that we didn’t even know existed. Even has markers. That’s the puzzle we had to decode, it was based off the signs. We still need to go back
– one of the best hides ever where a large tin was decorated to so match with the environment it was hidden in that we nearly missed it. Seriously, I’m glad it wasn’t a snake!
– I can’t even handle walking over a bridge without bringing on a near panic attack. That cache was left unfound and I don’t care. I don’t think I’ll be logging it.  I don’t think I can go on that bridge again even though I knew I was perfectly safe. EEEEK! Bright note? My kids took total care of me.
– found our first travel bug. Took it because I was going someplace 30 miles away. Only it took longer so I didn’t have time to look for a cache. Now i need to travel to hide it and make it move.
– camo duct tape really works! I mean REALLY works!
– my kids need to improve their ninja skills

What kinds of things did we find in the caches themselves? Magnets, receipts, drawings, ribbons, keychains, pennies, a bandaid (still in wrapper!), toy cars, army men, even a crystal bead.

My kids like to leave cool origami creations. They love to make origami.  I know it’s not glitzy like an Eiffel Tower keychain, but it can still be cool!

It is just a fun thing to do to pass the time and get a little exercise. It’s fun to learn about places when you travel or in your own backyard. 

–Lady O