Last Friday the kids and I went for a walk along the reservoir behind our house. The older two ran ahead and I followed along with K. The kids abruptly stopped and crouched down to look at something on the side of the path. As I approached, I noticed they were looking at a large army green metal box with "Ammo" written on the side. I was a little nervous about what we might find inside, but figured that it was probably left there by a fisherman who had been using it as a tackle box. Cautiously I opened the lid and found.... a bunch of junk. There were a bunch of kids meal type toys, a notebook and a folded piece of paper. "Cool!"E exclaimed, "Treasure! Can we keep it?" I took a closer look at the paper and read "Congratulations you have found a Geocache!" It went on to explain the rules.
Basically, Geocache is a treasure hunt that takes place all over the world. You need a GPS to participate. You go online to get coordinates, and then follow them, along with some clues to a cache that is in a hidden location. Once you find it, you write your name in the notebook provided, and then you can take a "treasure" from the box, and then leave a "treasure" of your own. Then you hide the box back where you found it.
Clearly, the last person to find the box had not played along with the rules, or we would have never found it ourselves. Since they had left it out, rain had gotten in and soaked everything inside. I decided to take the whole box home and try to figure out where it belonged.
Once home I logged in the Geocache website and tried to figure out what caches were hidden in our area. The only problem was that we don't own a GPS, so I couldn't log in our coordinates. When that method turned out to be pretty fruitless, I turned to the notebook to see if there were any clues there. Inside, there were several messages that alluded to the hiding spot: "on the other side of the creek", "up in a tree" and it seemed as if it had been hard to find:"it took us 2.5 hours", "it took us 1.5 hours", "we had to come back another day". The last message in the book made it clear why it had been left out. Apparently a 14 year old girl had found it by accident a couple of weeks ago, and then just left it out.
So, armed with these clues the kids and I took another walk through the woods, checking the trees for any place that would hide a large metal box. I actually had a good feeling about the hiding spot, but I wanted to make sure. When we first moved here we found a large tree with a hollowed out trunk, big enough for a child to stand in. I remembered where it was, and so we made our way over. I asked E to look inside the tree, to see if there was anywhere that a box could fit. She cautiously stepped inside and stood up. A second later she excitedly called out,"There is, Mommy, there is! I can see a shelf for it!" I took K off my back, and poked my head in myself, and sure enough, about 4 feet up there were two large stake-sized nails.
We rushed back home to get the box. I quickly wrote in our story and names for the next treasure hunter to read. I then let the kids pick a toy to keep, and I put in a "This American Life" CD ("Big Wide World"). Ed came with us this time and he bravely (he was nervous about rabid racoons jumping on his head) put the box up into the tree.
Even though we kind of stumbled up on the cache, the whole experience was so much fun. When we get a GPS we will definitely do some more treasure hunts. But for now, I am going to look into finding some letterboxes in our area.