Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Geocaching with Nanny and Nette

Aunt Nanny and Aunt Nette came to see us for a few days and taught us how to geocache. Geocaching is a game/activity using your GPS and tramping-around-in-the-woods shoes to find containers hidden in public places. Some of the containers are large enough to contain "treasures" that kids can swap and some are the size of spitballs, with a few sizes in between. So Friday and Saturday, we spent most of our free time, even after YaYa and PopPop got there, trying to find caches. If you ever need an activity to distract your visiting family from accidentally discussing politics and/or religion, I highly recommend geocaching.

On Friday afternoon, Aunt Nanny taught Casey how to use the GPS in about 30 seconds flat and he took off in search of the first cache.

We had to stop a couple of times so that Casey could confer with Aunt Nanny on direction:

But we eventually found the treasure cache and the boys got to trade their own toys we'd brought from home with toys out of the treasure:

I think they traded McDonald's toys for a couple of strings of beads. If you are hoping geocaching will help you trick your children into unloading some of those horrible cheap toys you pick up at Chuck E Cheese and McDonalds, you're out of luck -- you'll just trade junk for junk.

We actually found two treasure caches on Friday -- the second one was much farther off the trail than the first. When the GPS leads you off the trail when you're geocaching, you're wise to see if geocachers who have come before left a trail through the brush for you to follow. Blazing new trail through pine flatwoods in Florida is not fun and potentially dangerous given Florida's large and varied snake population, no matter how many times you tell your eight year old that it's winter and all the snakes are hibernating.

Aside from distracting your family from engaging in political and/or religious debate, geocaching is also a means to force you into the outdoors so you can rub up against actual wildlife. Now, here at Casa Flamingo we have all the wildlife (dead and alive) that I care to see right outside my door, as you know, but Aunt Nette has apparently never seen an armadillo. By the end of the day Thursday, she had tracked and photographed at least three. Here she is stalking her prey:

The boys kept shouting at the armadillo because they wanted to see it curl up, but I've seen a lot of armadillos since we moved to Florida and I have never once seen one of them curl up into a ball like they do on TV. I'm starting to think that maybe Dora and Diego are not the animal experts they make themselves out to be.

On Saturday, we spent most of the day in Safety Harbor. In the morning we searched for caches in and close to Phillipe Park. I had downloaded the GeoBeagle software for Android on my phone that morning and was trying it out, so Aunt Nanny had to help me figure it out:

The first cache of the day was hidden underneath a palm tree that had fallen over. PopPop found the right tree, but I found the cache by poking a stick under the tree.

Which leads me to another advantage of geocaching -- if you bring your retired parents along, they will not be able to resist tramping around the woods with you in search of an elusive film canister stuck into the dead fronds of a palm tree. And watching your parents, who are in their 70s, wrestle with thickets and vines is just good plain fun:

My favorite find of the day was hanging undetected in the vines that were about even with PopPop's left shoulder in that photo above. I think it was Aunt Nanny who eventually spotted it --

I don't know what she was looking at there . . . she may have just been imagining all the things she would have said had we been sitting around a table at home having a political discussion, but maybe not . . .

Aunt Nanny pointed Casey in the right direction and voila! Easy Peasy, there it was!

What? You don't see it?

Totally cute container. Finding that one almost made up for not finding the "nano" (pinky-sized) cache hidden in downtown Saftey Harbor. We still had fun looking for the DNF (Did Not Find -- I am so hip with my geocaching vocab, right?). We got to see some cool sidewalk art:

Since Nanny and Nette left, Casey and I have found two caches on our own -- a third cache we couldn't find because we were interrupted in our search by some teenaged delinquents hiding their twelve-packs of beer. So I guess you can add that to the hazards of geocaching: thickets, snakes, and delinquent teenagers. But the hazards are far outweighed by the benefit of getting your kids off the couch and out into the sun.

If you'd like to give it try with your family, visit www.geocaching.com. See you in the woods.

1 comment:

  1. That was a great post! On a side note, the google ad below this post is a picture of Hilary waving and it says "Hillary Welcomes Global Gun Ban". Tell you senators to oppose the UN smalls arms treaty...LOL

    The one on the side of the post is Geocaching.com and Snake removal.com....


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