Ever since Dylan was born I think we’ve fallen into a rut of feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work it takes to leave the house and so our family outings are usually short and close to home, but this weekend we were pretty active: visiting Alki Beach to wander along the water, heading out on several blackberry-picking expeditions, and embarking on a geocache route that took us — heaving along one stroller and one push-bike — through a long and winding forest path.

We haven’t gone geocaching in a long time, and I had almost forgotten how much fun it is. If you’ve never heard of this activity, you can read up on it here; in a nutshell the idea is to locate containers other geocachers have hidden outdoors, using a GPS. You log into the Geocaching website to find a cache, plug the coordinates into your GPS, and head on out. Caches can be big or small, and are often hidden close to trails or parks. A cache can contain a bunch of random little items — toys, pencils, sometimes even a buck or two — you can take something, and leave a treasure of your own behind. Or just sign the logbook that’s usually inside the cache.

I’ve found that part of the fun of this is that we almost always discover awesome places that we may never have known about otherwise, whether it’s a park, a trail system, or even just a hard-to-find area of a place we’ve been to hundreds of times before. Plus, there’s the fun of actually looking for the caches, which can vary in difficulty. We’ve done some that have been super easy, and a few that were so hard I had to email the cache owner (via the Geocaching website) and plaintively beg for more clues.

A cache can be a single hidden item or a series of items, each providing clues for finding the next step. That’s the sort of cache we found today: the first two caches were very small (plastic film containers) that only contained the waypoints for the next clue, and the final item was a large cache with the logbook and treasures.

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Here’s JB plugging in the next coordinates after finding the first cache.

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I’m pleased to report I was the one who found the second cache, so much so that I may have performed a peppy little touchdown dance when I spotted it. Note that it was hidden inside that culvert thing, which I foolishly stuck my hand in with NO REGARD WHATSOEVER to the presence of spiders, or extremely tiny zombies.

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Here’s the second cache. If you’re wondering why in hell I was wearing a churchy-looking dress in the woods, that’s a good question. It about killed me, though: cotton from head to toe is fairly miserable when you’re producing your own personal sweat tsunami.

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Final cache, filled with random stuff. And now that I’ve shown it to you, I’m sorry, but I’ll have to kill you. What? Those are the rules of geocaching.

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Lastly, Dylan. Who gurgled contently the whole time, even when I almost accidentally let the stroller go flying off the trail to his doom.

The whole trail led us in a big loop, and I guess if I had known it was going to be so long and steep and muggy I wouldn’t have wanted to go (or at LEAST I would have maybe brought some water, and a bottle for Dylan), but it actually ended up being a fantastic time. Riley was in high spirits, galloping along and sometimes riding his bike, and Dylan remained happy throughout, despite the dog-breath heat.

I’m feeling totally re-motivated about geocaching, especially now that Dylan’s in that prime not-yet-mobile, not-needing-intervention-every-two-minutes age. It’s the perfect sort of thing for getting out of the house, having a great outing with the kids that isn’t totally lame for the adults, and it’s free. Next time, though, I’ll wear some damn shorts.

Comments

48 Responses to “Geowhatnow?”

  1. honeybecke on August 17th, 2008 9:46 pm

    sounds like a fun outing for the family! we’ve gone before and had a great time. it’s like treasure hunting for the whole family.
    and yep, i did wonder about the dress…

    oh, and about the blackberries- how about making syrup? i “lucked” into syrup last fall when i failed miserably at making crab apple jelly. basically just use less pectin. we use it on pancakes a lot and the kiddos love it.

  2. sas on August 17th, 2008 10:00 pm

    you guys are such nerds!
    here in wellington, new zealand we hide our geocache’s under doo-doo. yes

  3. sas on August 17th, 2008 10:01 pm
  4. Aerodoq on August 17th, 2008 10:01 pm

    Very cool. We started caching when our boy was just a little over a year old, and now at 3 1/2 with #2 on the way, we’re still going strong. It’s a great way to get out and discover new places. Our boy particularly likes one series up here in Vancouver that takes you on a tour of ‘favourite playgrounds’ for the kids of one of the local cachers.

    There’s a good thread (if I do say so myself) on the Geocaching.com forums about caching with toddlers:

    http://forums.groundspeak.com/GC/index.php?showtopic=179812&hl=

    Cheers!
    A>

  5. Kristi on August 17th, 2008 10:07 pm

    Thank you for briefly mentioning the dress (although, still no real explanation) as the weather this weekend was akin to breathing ass sweat! That is THE first thing I wondered when looking at the pics. Combine that with sticking your hand into the pipe? and a less loyal reader might think you batshit crazy….

  6. Connie on August 17th, 2008 10:17 pm

    I heart geocaching. We have 1000 geocaches within 10 miles of our house. I won’t explain why we only have 100 finds. However, we have foudn parks that we never would have known about before.

  7. Joel on August 17th, 2008 10:18 pm

    My parents have been geocaching for more than a year now, and it’s been great for them. Like you said, gets them out of the house and they’ve found lots of great places that are off the beaten path. I’ve talked to them a few times about how great it would have been when my siblings and I were younger, for the family camping trips. As long as Riley’s interested and you promise to keep posting pictures of the GORGEOUS scenery, it can be a lot of fun for everybody.

    Seriously, SO jealous of that forest. They don’t grow ’em like that in Texas.

  8. Jennifer on August 17th, 2008 10:38 pm

    You guys do the funnest things on your weekends!!

    I had never heard of this before, thanks for the great explanation and pics. Maybe now I have an excuse to get a GPS.

  9. k.... on August 17th, 2008 10:42 pm

    That sounds so fun! I’ve never even heard of this before, thanks for teaching me something :)

  10. Liz on August 17th, 2008 11:00 pm

    Last year my husband got a bug up his ass about geocaching. He did tons of research and picked out the perfect GPS for our purposes. He talked about buying boots and socks so he could go tromping around in the forest. He looked up all the caches within miles of us.

    We went caching TWICE. I’m so glad we spent all that money on the GPS.

  11. mojavi at simple things on August 17th, 2008 11:19 pm

    I am doing my first geocache on Tue this week with our playgroup. I am really kinda excited :)

  12. donna on August 18th, 2008 12:35 am

    I love geocaching too, take the parents the kids, the grandkids, the dogs, anyone who will go with me.
    Damn girl, don’t you have snakes there? Don’t stick your hand inside stuff like that!
    (that was my public service announcement)
    I bought a buncha sundresses at walmart for like 12 bucks each, made of like jersey material, feels like t shirts though, and have been wearing them like crazy, so comfy, and would have totally worn one out like that too. And you looked cute, so there.

  13. Keri on August 18th, 2008 4:41 am

    Shorts…and maybe a backpack to use for Dylan so you wouldn’t have to lug that stroller around? ;)

  14. Crystal on August 18th, 2008 4:51 am

    We letterbox. Almost the same except you just follow clues, instead of a GPS.
    Letterboxing.org

    Fun times.

  15. Christy on August 18th, 2008 5:03 am

    Sounds awesome – yet another reason why we need to buy a GPS!

    On another note, I heard this song yesterday and immediately thought of you. Check it out: “Zombie Me” by No More Kings.

  16. Libby on August 18th, 2008 5:15 am

    I thought cotton was supposed to breathe! That’s what the old commercials for it used to say, anyway. I purposely buy cotton to stay cool – is it MAKING me hot? (Hey, you brought it up.)

  17. superblondgirl on August 18th, 2008 5:29 am

    Geocaching is really fun, if dorky – we used to do letterboxing, which is the lower-tech version (no buying any special equipment but a stamp and inkpad = far more in my budget). I actually really miss it, we need to start back up again. Plus some people make really awesome stamps, so our stamp book is very, very pretty.

  18. Kelsey on August 18th, 2008 5:41 am

    That looks like so much fun!

    My youngest has an adjusted age of three months so we are still mostly in the “needs intervention every two minutes” stage. He hates his stroller/car seat which only makes it worse.

    I’m looking forward to a time when it is a bit easier for all of us to head out together (we also have a 3 1/2 year old).

    Random other note: I know it doesn’t rival that other website for controversy, but you seem to have stirred up some very strong feelings about sheets and fabric softener at SundryBuzz!

  19. ashley on August 18th, 2008 6:04 am

    We are big nerds too and go geocaching a lot. Hey it’s good, clean family fun. It gets you outside with a purpose, instead of just meandering aimlessly. I like having a purpose. Plus you can get rid of some McDonalds toys while you are at it.

    We have a rule in our family; you have to take a picture of the person who finds the cache. We have all sorts of geocaching pictures. :)

  20. Rae on August 18th, 2008 6:10 am

    Yay! I didn’t know you were a geocacher! Do me a favour and send me your user name (if you go on geocaching.com that is) and I will see if I can’t get something to you out there through caches!

  21. Stephanie on August 18th, 2008 6:20 am

    Sounds great! I had never heard of that before.

    Love the Got Milk? bib.

  22. jonniker on August 18th, 2008 6:47 am

    I haven’t gone since I wrote that piece on it, which sucks, because it WAS really fun.

    What was not so fun is that geocaching in Florida is seriously scary as hell the second you move off of the most basic caches. The giant (GIANT) spiders! The people who think it’s HILARIOUS to put the cache near a freshwater pond with alligators in it, something you have to report online to the local cache-master or whatever (ours was named Palmetto …)

    I have a funny feeling VT caching is much safer. And less harrowing.

  23. Eric's Mommy on August 18th, 2008 6:53 am

    I would love to do that! Looks like fun!

  24. Naomi in Oz on August 18th, 2008 7:01 am

    We started geocaching a while back after reading about it on a previous entry of yours. We even have our own dedicated blog to our geocaching adventures at http://www.thismechanican.wordpress.com
    We have seen so much of the country side that we would have never bothered with before. I guess I never really thaned you for introducing us to this “sport”.

  25. Maura on August 18th, 2008 7:47 am

    That sounds like so much fun… to me, but I’d have to hog-tie my husband and put HIM in a stroller to get him in the woods! Where there are bugs? and snakes? and (gasp) dirt? I think I’ll be the out door influence for my future kiddos.

  26. mrsgryphon on August 18th, 2008 7:53 am

    Ah, we love geocaching… haven’t gone much lately, but I definitely want to do it more often now that the Bean is older. She’s loved the few that we’ve done this summer!! I love that it’s a way to teach city-bound kids about getting outside and doing some exploring.

  27. Katie on August 18th, 2008 8:37 am

    We absolutely love geocaching! Our 2 boys love it too, but this summer has been too much work and family weddings and such, we haven’t been geocaching since early July! Plus, here in Idaho, it’s been so hot and dry, hitting the backroads isn’t advisable due to fire danger. I do so love the crazy places here in the Twin Falls, Idaho area that people put the caches, like in little crevices in the deep canyon or on islands in the middle of the river. Makes one become very inventive in ways to get to the caches!

  28. laughing mommy on August 18th, 2008 9:32 am

    The dress may not have been comfortable but you look so pretty in it… that has to be worth something, right?

  29. MichelleH on August 18th, 2008 9:37 am

    We used to do this all the time until our car got broken into and someone stole the GPS!! But it is really fun and we have all kinds of random little tchotchkes from doing it. You can do ones where you have to do another cache and let someone else find it and then you track on a website to see how far the item has traveled, which is pretty fun too.

  30. Jenn Perryman on August 18th, 2008 10:39 am

    I started geocaching with my 20-month old last month as an inexpensive way to pass those long weekends with the kid while my husband Is deployed. I love finding all these places I never knew existed! If you guys want to meet up in kitsap to cache sometime let me know!

  31. sweetcheese on August 18th, 2008 12:55 pm

    I’ve only been on one geocaching, but it was great fun (especially since the main purpose was the beautiful hike). I’ll have to keep this in mind for my future baby-days–and pray like the dickens that my spawn are half as happy as Dylan looks. So cute!

  32. Leah on August 18th, 2008 1:02 pm

    Numerous are the caches I’ve been THISCLOSE to but didn’t find because no one wanted to stick their hand in the spider-infested hole. Geocaching is not for the faint of heart.

  33. Dianna on August 18th, 2008 1:15 pm

    How cool! I’ve signed up and there are quite a few close to where I live. I’m really excited to try this!

  34. Mom, Ink. on August 18th, 2008 1:40 pm

    Riley’s face is priceless when peering into the final cache. That alone would be worth the sweat tsunami!

  35. April on August 18th, 2008 2:14 pm

    Well you’ve totally talked me into it. I just got off the phone with my 60something year old mom who went to camp this weekend (yes, “outdoorswoman” camp) and took a geocaching course. I have thought about doing it and she got me re-interested…then I clicked over here not 10 minutes later and it’s like a sign. I need to go buy a GPS right now. We have a five month old and I thought it sounds like a baby and dog friendly activity for the weekend! Thanks!

  36. All Adither on August 18th, 2008 2:26 pm

    This sounds exactly like something our family could get into! And don’t you look darling in your hat!

  37. Cheryll in CR on August 18th, 2008 3:38 pm

    We just had a get-together Sunday to meet a few geocachers that I found out were in our little town (Castle Rock, WA) and it was quite a lively group — some oldsters, some new to the sport.

    While I was cutting up fruit and my husband was making his tasty, tasty salmon dip, he said “You do realize we’ve invited total strangers to our house.”

    Ha! There are no strangers among geocachers.

    p.s. And, I have hidden a few caches just off I-5. They could break up your long trips to Oregon!

  38. Nancy on August 18th, 2008 4:22 pm

    I can’t wait for our twins to be a little older so we can go caching again. Of course, it’ll be a great excuse to buy a new GPS because I loaned ours to a relative who is a slob and has probably lost it by now. Caching really is a fun activity!

  39. WhenSheWorePonytails on August 18th, 2008 7:46 pm

    Wow! How neat!! I’d never heard of that before and now I want to check it out.

  40. Craig on August 18th, 2008 8:52 pm

    Wow, Sundry. (Sorry, but this comment has nothing to do with your latest post).

    I remember when you were just a link on my friend Scott’s blog. You were amusing as hell, telling drunk stories, and then writing lyrics to win an invite to gmail.

    Now you’re big time.

    One of your off-shoot blogs (how many do you have now?) recently had a post that was picked up by one of my favorite geek-blogs (lifehacker). Soft sheets, indeed.

    Crazy. Keep up the good writin’!

  41. Beyond A Mommy on August 19th, 2008 4:52 am

    I saw you in that dress out there in the woods and thought “holy crap, she is so much more of a girl than I am” LOL. Looks like you guys had a ball, so great to be outdoors and enjoy the weather!

  42. beej on August 19th, 2008 5:47 am

    I really love geocaching. It’s most fun when you go at night with a group of friends and a backpack containing beers. It’s such a great way to discover a place where you live that you’ve never been.

    Uh, yeah, in that dress in the woods you kinda look like you should be in a feminine hygiene product ad. But a badass feminine hygiene product, with that tattoo on your arm. Like, if Harley Davidson put out a line of tampons, you’d totally be in that ad. LOL.

  43. Danielle-lee on August 19th, 2008 9:58 am

    You guys are all so adorable. Love the smile on Dylan.
    That sounds fun! I might have to try it, except I’m a klutz, have bad luck with buggy things, and well, hmmm, I hate doing stuff alone!

  44. SJ on August 19th, 2008 2:10 pm

    Me and my boys LOVE to Geocache! It’s so much fun and you are right, it’s free!

    And I can’t get over how stinking cute you and your family are…..it’s killing me!

  45. SART on August 19th, 2008 2:37 pm

    I’ve been on one geocaching adventure with some friends and really enjoyed it. When I was in high school we used to do orienteering which is just a compass based version. My biggest problem with us actually doing it is that I know I blow a couple hundred on a GPS and then never be able to get chubby hubby off the couch to use the darn thing. I wonder if there are any decent GPS unit under a hundred that wouldn’t hurt so bad if it is never used (like his iPhone, camcorder, treadmill…) I actually saw a hack someone was working on to turn my kindle into a GPS. Too bad the network sucks so much b/c I’d be all about reading and hiking.

    Either way, you guys seem to have a really good time and that is pretty darn cool.

  46. Hobbies New and Old at The Arbolog on August 21st, 2008 9:37 am

    […] Inspired by a blogger I read with regularity, I think I’d like to try geocaching in a few months when Kale is older. Fortunately, my workplace sells GPS units so I have put an email in to get a price quote to see if my staff discount can justify the purchase. […]

  47. Heather on September 4th, 2008 8:35 am

    I think you look adorable in your hat and sundress. And I am glad that your family had such a good time out and about together. It’s inspiring!

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