Geocaching is sort of like a scavenger or treasure hunt. People leave a cache somewhere with clues and coordinates to follow. When you find something, you can sometimes exchange a small trinket for something of equal or greater value.
We tried it out for the first time today, and it was so much fun! I’ve been interested in geocaching for several years, but didn’t want to buy a special GPS gadget for it. I recently realized that our new smartphones have the same capability, so we planned for an outing on the Stanford University campus.
I downloaded the c:geo app, which is free. It gathers information from geocaching.com, which required a free registration. We drove to Stanford, and I turned on the GPS function of my phone. Then we browsed the cache listings to find something that had a difficulty of 1 out of 5… we wanted success on our first hunt!
We chose a cache that was only about 500 meters away and had some interesting clues. It’s called “Not the Biggest, But the Best.” As I pressed the navigation button, my smartphone became a compass, guiding us in the right direction. It even counted down the meters as we got closer and closer.
Spoiler alert: I am giving details away about this specific cache, so if you think you might ever try to find it, stop reading now!
Once we were within 10 meters, the compass feature stopped being useful, so we had to look at the clues for help:
“Situated among the humus, this cache is an homage to what keeps Stanford as lush as it is — a healthy head. Look for red (er, cardinal).”
And an encrypted clue: “Gently lefty loosey; don’t pull.”
This is when our adventure started to feel a bit like National Treasure. We were walking around a clump of trees and bushes and talking about what the clues could possibly mean. Greer immediately said it had to be a sprinkler head or poo. (I’m glad the cache wasn’t actually hidden in manure, fake or not.)
We found several sprinklers and prodded them unsuccessfully before locating the one that was marked with red. I gently turned this sprinkler head lefty loosey, and viola! Very clever.
Inside were the logbook, a pencil, and two trinkets (a crayon-shaped eraser and a small vial of bubbles). We did not make a trade this time because I didn’t have anything small enough to fit inside.
All in all, it was quite exciting, and I can’t wait to try it again!