Geocaching

Geocaching — What the heck is that anyway?

Geocaching is always fun, but it's even more fun when you do it while you’re on vacation. This high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices.

The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. It’s is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment.

I’ll admit — geocaching is something that I initially approached with some trepidation. I was initiated into this odd sport by my uncle, a gadget loving man determined to find activities the entire family can and will want do together — yes, even the teenagers. His enthusiasm rubbed off and on our way to dinner one evening I tried one with their family. I have to admit — it was fun!

What was immediately obvious to me is that this is a great activity to do with children, teenagers, and adults of virtually any age. Most of the traditional caches contain trinkets or treasures and what child (or adult for that matter) doesn’t love a treasure hunt? So, the next time I watched my seven year old nephew for the day we did it together and he loved it.

To my amazement, when I typed my zip code into the Hide and Seek a Cache search field for our first cache, I discovered over 246 caches within five miles of my house! I was literally surrounded by hidden treasures or caches and had no idea. On our first cache hunt we discovered a small park with a scenic view of downtown Seattle that I had not known was there. Even without my uncle’s snazzy hand held GPS receiver, we were able to geocache. I printed off the cache descriptions and then used my cell phone GPS for the hunt.

My love of this activity grew when I discovered that everywhere you go — and I mean everywhere (even worldwide), there are geocaches. Now when I travel, I make sure to bring my GPS device (yes, I have now upgraded to my own snazzy hand held device) loaded with caches local to the area I am visiting. At some caches I have been lucky enough to find travel bugs, trackable treasures that move from cache to cache. Those are great fun to drop-off in a new cache when traveling.

Since the purpose of my northwest coastal road trip was to explore, I brought my GPS and went geocaching. Needless to say, it took me to some unbelievably scenic places! I even found a wonderful travel bug near WorldMark Long Beach that I have since dropped off in Orlando, Fla.

Here are a few of my favorite places we went geocaching on vacation:

GC15YG6 - Depoe Bay Micro Series: Bench Views – Very close to the Depoe Bay resort — I’ll bet even frequent Depoe Bay visitors have never noticed this specific area before. Beautiful views! Note this one is a “microcache,”meaning that the cache is so small there is no room for treasure or swag — just a log. Microcaches are often found in “hide-a-key” magnetic boxes or small key chain tubes.

GC1VQPV - Boiling Over – This is another microcache near Depoe Bay, but easy to find and located in a very scenic spot. A great beginner cache.

GC1AW4Q - Lucy and Archie's Playground – Located near Seaside (and one of my favorite restaurants), this one has treasure! Talk about getting away from it all to a spot you may never otherwise see. Breathtaking and peaceful.

GC74C3 - Room with a View – This one is between Long Beach and Seaside at Cape Disappointment. By far my favorite cache of the trip! It is a little tougher terrain, a short slightly overgrown hike and slightly tougher to find, but well worth it! Seriously one of the best I have found to date!

Tips to get to geocaching on vacation:

Sign-up for a free account at www.geocaching.com.

Watch "Getting Started".

For your first caching adventure I recommend borrowing a hand held GPS unit (preferably one that allows computer downloads of geocache waypoints) or use your smart phone, like I did. If you are really ambitious, you can look into purchasing a hand held device yourself. I recently purchased one this year as using a cell phone requires cell service, and some remote geocache locations do not offer clear coverage. Check craigslist.com and eBay.com for deals and be sure to review the buyers guide. The good news is once you have a GPS, you can cache everywhere for free!

If you are just starting, pick easy hides and narrow your search to a traditional cache — once you get past level two for difficulty they are hard and I would hate for you to get discouraged. Also, the traditional caches tend to be the ones with treasure — more fun!

Print out or download to your phone, iPod or GPS device the cache description (be sure to click decipher if there are any clues).

Check the geocaching.com message boards to make connections with other cachers in areas that you may not be familiar with. Geocachers tend to be a friendly lot and there is always someone willing to help you with a caching adventure in a new place!

Hunt and have fun!

Watch out for muggles (nongeocachers)! It's always important to keep the hides...well...hidden!

If you take a treasure you must leave a comparable treasure — think small toys, trinkets, etc. Hopefully things that can get wet as some cache’s leak.

Bring a pen so you can sign the log book.

Once you are a pro, consider planting your own cache for others to find.

This article about geocaching on vacation was adapted from an article about timeshare rentals at Depoe Bay, OR, Seaside, OR, or Long Beach, WA that appeared in our timeshare owner's magazine.

Inquire about timeshare rental availability at any of the locations mentioned in this article: Depoe Bay, OR, Seaside, OR, or Long Beach, WA
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