Explore Life Coaching, Patti Phillips

Finding New Adventure

Just this past week-end was the August long week-end. It was unusual for me to actually be in the city and not out somewhere taking advantage of the outdoors somewhere camping in Manitoba. I was feeling kind of bored on Monday and wasn’t sure what to do. Something that had piqued my interest in the past was geocaching, but I had never done it and so I decided that this was as good a time as any to give it a try. I Googled “geocaching in Manitoba” and it took me to The Official GPS Global Cache Hunt Site at http://www.geocaching.com/ . They define geocaching in the following way: “Geocaching is a 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. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment.”

So the first thing I had to do was sign up for a free membership and then I could access a list of caches in my area. It was so interesting to see how many “treasures” had been hidden within about 1 km of my house. I do have a GPS that I use for running, so I got the coordinates for my first actual search and ventured out on foot with my partner and dog in tow. Each cache that is listed on the website includes a fairly detailed but riddled description of the location. For my first geocache ever, it was recommended that I needed to be discreet in my search because of the many muggles (Harry Potter for “people” if you didn’t know) getting on and off the city limo (bus). I got to the exact longitude and latitude of the cache location, but it put me in the middle of a flowerbed with nothing obvious in sight and the description said to not trample the flowers. There was a teen muggle waiting at the bus stop who asked me what I was looking for. When I said I was geocaching, he looked at me with curiousity and was definitely intrigued when I explained the concept, and even offered to help. At that very moment, two men were approaching from the opposite direction, GPS enabled phones in hand and the teen and I both concluded that these guys were doing the same as me. My partner and dog watched patiently from a distance in the shade as I searched under, behind, and around the benches ( I was not being very discreet, I must say).

So when these two guys got to my location, it was confirmed that they were also treasure hunting, and it was actually their first time, too. WEIRD! One of them was the first to find the treasure, which was a small oval case (about the size of a hockey puck) that included a pad of paper and pencil to log our visit. We each wrote our names and introduced ourselves to one another with handshakes. The website talks about geocaching as a community and on my first venture, I was already experiencing this. I felt like had been bit by a bug.

The guys were carrying on to search other caches, but sadly I had not taken note of others in the area. They offered to share a location and with a quick glance on one of their phones, I was pointed in the right direction and had a really good idea of the location even without an actual longitude and latitude coordinate so I was virtually geocaching without a GPS. Dog and partner followed faithfully to the next cache and it was found within 30 seconds, making me feel like a geocaching veteran. This time the treasure was a pill bottle that contained the log book. Two for two on day one felt like a great start.

Tuesday morning I was ready for my next hunt and with a new download to my GPS, I was going to be even better at geocaching. My dog got to join in again. I have already concluded that geocaching on foot and dog walking is a great combination. My find took a little longer this time and had me traipsing through the bush for a good 10 minutes stirring up the mosquitoes, but I was determined. This cache was a plastic sandwich box wrapped in camoflage tape. Very cleaver but it did not outwit me and I was three for three.

Three more cache locations were entered into my GPS for a second search in the same afternoon. Unfortunately, this time I was shut-out and didn’t find any of the treasures. It was definitely disappointing but probably a reality check. I really only spent about 5 minutes searching for each one before I gave up. I plan on going back to each of these locations and give them another go.

If you have any tips for a new geocacher or would like to do a search together, let me know. I can be contacted at [email protected]

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