geocaching.comToday we went on our first geocaching trip. Geocaching is essentially a scavenger hunt, or a treasure hunt. People place a log (perhaps a piece of paper or a small notebook) along with other small trinkets into a box of some sort. The box can range anywhere from a film canister or a magnetic key holder to a larger plastic container. The other small trinkets are often identifiable to a particular person or team (like a wooden token with your name on it, or some home-made craft or some such), or sometimes just other small things. There are also geocaching “coins” which are numbered tokens whose location are tracked (via geocaching.com), and also “travel bugs” which are something other than tokens (usually something larger, like a small toy or something) that are also tracked on geocaching.com. After placing the cache, they are logged on some website (geocaching.com, terracaching.com, etc) where others then check to see what caches might be near them. For example, right now on geocaching.com, there are 3336 caches within 100 km of our condo!

Which brings us to today. As I’ve mentioned, I got a GPSr for my birthday. Today was the first day that we were able to get out and specifically go looking for some caches. I downloaded some local caches to the GPSr and loaded them up to my PDA too. The GPSr takes care of locating the cache while the PDA takes care of providing the details of the cache like what it is, and the hints on how to find it. The closest cache was one located on the bridge to Charleson Park. Gwen & I headed out with Aidan in the stroller and used the GPSr to get pretty close to the cache. Gwen climbed up on to the bank, looked under the ivy, and just like that, we’d found our first cache. The cache was a medium sized lock box with a bunch of stuff inside. Buoyed by that find, we made our way down to Granville Island where the next cache was located. This one was under a bridge, and while I was looking for it, it turns out that the person who placed the cache wandered by! She asked if we were geocaching, and told us we were close. Alas, I couldn’t find it, but Gwen went in and found it in no time.

We then went into the Kids Market and bought ourselves some tokens that we can place into the cache instead of just writing our name into the log. For us, it’s $0.50 stretchy-plastic speckled frogs. (♫ Five green and speckled frogs, sat on a speckled log, eating the most delicious bugs… ♫)

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The next cache, also on Granville Island, was a bit humbling. Apparently a magnetic key holder located near the west end of the island. I’m pretty sure we had the right location, but we couldn’t find the cache. We sure got quite a number of weird looks from the tourists milling around too. The pressure got to us, and we bolted.

The next cache was located at the feet of a totem pole near the Burrard Bridge on the Seawall. Once again, I looked for it but couldn’t find it. And, once again, Gwen found it with little difficulty. This one was also a magnetic key holder, with room for little other than a piece of paper for logging the find.

Next up was a larger cache … a reasonably large plastic jar … behind the Vancouver Academy of Music. This one apparently used to have a number of musical instruments in it, but when we Gwen found it, there weren’t any there. We had bought some small wooden castanets and left them in the cache. Our last attempt for the day was one up on the train line near 7th and Burrard. The clue was unclear as to what we were looking for (it was part of a multi-part cache) so while we were at the right place according to the GPSr, we didn’t actually look for the cache.

So, for the day, Gwen was 4/5! It was lots of fun, an we look forward to finding lots more caches. We were all tired by the end of the day, some 4+ hours of walking and searching, a little over 8 km according to the GPSr.