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The Wacky World of Geocaching

As I posted recently, I finally bought myself a GPS device for my car and I have gotten into the sport of Geocaching. Geocaching is a great sport for RVers at home and on the road. It is a world-wide treasure hunt; a chance to sneak around, share secrets, see cool places near you that you may not have noticed, spend time with family or a friend, get some exercise, and maybe be rewarded with a trophy at the end. So far, I have been able to use my Garmin C330 car GPS to find about 17 caches. It has taken me awhile to learn how to best use it for that since geocaching is certainly not it’s main focus but it is working very well for city caches.

Maybe I can save someone else some time by noting what I learned here.

  1. Garmin devices are designed for download of the cache locations from http://geocaching.com directly or through your free account at their site at http://garmin.com .
  2. If you download from those sites directly into the device, the names it uses for Favorites is the GCxxxx cache identifier which I personally find unhelpful. I downloaded GSAK and run most through there as .loc or .gpx (premier members) so I can choose to use the cache given names instead which are easier for me to remember such as “Wiley’s Tank”, etc. You can also edit them in the GPS device if you have the time.
  3. When going to a cache via GPS, be extremely careful as one time it ran me 8 miles around in a circle and then I ended up on a freeway bridge overlooking the road it was on when it said I had arrived. LOL. Did something similar another time when the item was just on the other side of a fence by the freeway. Keep plenty of gas on board and a sense of humor. Use your brain.
  4. When you arrive at the destination, cancel/stop the drive to location on the GPS if it has not already stopped. 
  5. VERY IMPORTANT: Zoom the GPS in. If you forget, the cache will tend to float all around the arrow and you may find yourself quite far away from it. On mine, the cache looks like a cute little treasure chest. Also, be aware that you may see more than one cache in the area at the same time which is great!
  6. With your unit zoomed in, walk toward the cache until you are right on top of it. In my experience, it has been getting me within 1-4 feet of it with WAAS enabled. Pay attention to your surroundings and you may need to set a waypoint at your car before you follow it if you are going far. Watch for poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, shady characters, holes, muggles (non-geocachers), etc. If you are in the woods, you may need to keep moving to an open space in the trees to get a bearing or keep crisscrossing your path.
  7. If the arrow seems to stop and not move as you walk, turn the unit off for a minute then back on. Go to the cache location again on the GPS and repeat from step 4.
  8. Look around for anything out of the ordinary or anything mentioned in a hint such as a fence, type of tree, formation, etc. Some are easy and some are really hard to find. Two I found under skirts at the base of light poles. At first I thought they were metal and part of the poles but then they moved. Very sneaky. The cache may be magnetic and found on metal like a sign, a guardrail, under a picnic table, on a tank. LOL. Caches are NEVER buried. They are usually in tupperware, 35mm film canisters, hide-a-keys, ammo boxes, pill bottles, camoflauged peanut butter, jelly, or nut jars, and any other container that is either waterproof or will be placed in a weather protected place. However, if you take a look on Ebay, you will find fake pinecones, flowers, turtles, leaves, rocks, bricks, BOLTS!, CURB REBAR!, sprinkler heads, etc. They can get quite sneaky so you will have to think sneaky at times. 
  9. Two I had to come back at night after the nearby places closed due to too many muggles. We don’t want them noticing what we are doing since they may destroy the cache or take it. If someone does notice, you may need to explain the sport to them and possibly infect them as well with the treasure hunting bug. 😉 Be careful and safe out there if you want to cache at night. Also, be aware that night caching is guaranteed to attract unwanted police or neighbor attention sooner or later. Be prepared to explain and don’t lie.
  10. Be sure to log at the cache and online what you took and what you left if trading, particularly traveling items such as travel bugs, geocoins, travel tags, etc. If you can’t help a traveling item with it’s mission, leave it. I’m about to start 2 traveling items. One I want to try and beat me home since I will be out traveling for quite a while yet. The other I want to tour amusement parks and have photos added to it’s key chain.

That’s the basics. You can learn much more at Geocacher University . Below are some pics of a simple ammo can hide (usually they are also covered with leaves or pine neadles but not always) and some of my “treasures” I have found. I look at them as trophies. Some caches only have logs to sign while larger ones also have trinkets. I have seen books, CDs, DVDs, cash in some and have heard of someone finding a Disneyworld ticket in one. Be sure to bring trinkets to trade of different values in case you find something you really want as the rule is to trade even or up. Dollar stores are great places to find both useful and fun stuff for all ages including radios, flashlights, fans, velcro ties, batteries, glow sticks or necklaces, toys, stickers, etc.

Innocent scene  Not so innocent  Geocaching swag/trophies

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