Monday, February 24, 2014

Modern Day Treasure Hunting

RDB and I started a new adventure this past weekend at Goliad State Park: Geocaching.

It's a modern day treasure hunt - using GPS technology we can find little treasure boxes that other geocachers have left behind.  There are more than 2.5 million caches worldwide (we were happy with the 7 we found this weekend). Check out the official Geocaching website for more details - and to start playing!

TPWD sponsors Geocaching in the State Parks, where they have hidden ammo boxes in 90 of our State Parks, and I knew that Goliad was a participating park.  So, after downloading the's app to RDB's phone Sunday morning, we went off on our first geo-caching adventure!

***SPOILER ALERT: If you're a geocacher and don't want the surprise of these finds to be spoiled, stop reading now! I'm posting details and photos of our finds!***

The Geo-caching App is really stellar and super easy to use - simply hit the "Find Caches Near Me" button and it will load 20 of the nearest caches to your location.  Read the description in the cache, determine what size it is (they go from ammo box large to key chain small).  The TPWD caches are all in ammo boxes - which helps us newbies to the sport.

The compass in the App will show you if you're walking in the right direction, and will also tell you how many miles/feet you have left to get to your cache.  Once you're within about 16ft (that's the accuracy of the iPhone) you have to start using your treasure hunting skills. I'll be honest - RDB is *much* better at this than me! 

Even though RDB tends to find them before I do, I still get pretty excited! There's a  sense of accomplishment when you realize you've found it.  The TPWD ammo box was hidden under a number of sticks - I had walked past it about 4 times as I tried to search out in the undergrowth for the cache.  

After this first one (which we walked to while breakfast was cooking - love my rice cooker!) we were hooked!  Goliad SP's check out isn't until 2pm, so we knew we had a bit more time than usual to play around Sunday morning.  A quick check of the Geocaching App showed several more caches in a very near radius.  We jumped in the truck and took off.

The first few were in a series that took us back near Fort Defiance and the outlying cemeteries.  It was amazing to see tombstones as old as 1916!  Discovering the nearby surroundings is one of the main attractions for Geocachers - you can have someone you've never met introduce you to some pretty cool stuff by hiding a cache where they want  you to go.

We were able to get 6 while camping this weekend.  The last one of the day was a bit tricky (Once again it was in a cemetery.  And once again, it was RDB who found it!)  Some of the caches - like the TPWD one - have loot, or swag, inside that you can trade for.  Fun stuff like collectors cards and bracelets, coins and stickers.  We left our blog card in that one.  Other caches are so small they only contain the log paper to sign to show that you've found it (the App also lets you log online that you've found the cache).  The last cache of the day was about the width of a soda bottle cap and about 6 inches long.  It had one of the neatest swag items I think we'll ever see...

"You've found Jack Squat.  Nothing Nada Nil Zip Zero Zilch."  Now that's my kinda humor! ;-)

RDB and I are both very excited about this new aspect to our camping trips - we love the thought of having destinations to explore around the camp grounds we stay at - as well as another reason to get out and walk around when the weather is beautiful (which it certainly was this weekend).

So, if you see a couple crazy people walking around a cemetery or the woods, looking like they're lost with a phone in their hands - know that they're not lost: they're just playing a hi-tech game of hide-and-seek.

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