Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Searching for Treasure



Every day, while you are walking around -- going to the grocery store, running to the dry cleaners, living your life -- you are walking by hidden treasures. And I don't mean this in a stop-and-smell-the-roses, Hallmark-y sort of way. I mean that people have literally hidden millions of these tiny boxes all over the world and there is a game being played to find said treasures called geocaching.

Once I found out about this a few years ago, it kicked in my inner skull-and-cross-bones, plundering side, and I desperately wanted to join the hunt and find these treasures, which often are nothing more than a notebook where you sign your name. It's more the joy of the find than the gathering of riches, though we do own several more random plastic figurines due to this experience.

I mean, how insanely cool is it to discover that you've walked by a point in town several billion times without knowing that underneath a stone someone has hidden something and only those in the know are meant to find it?

The twins and I started geocaching several years ago, sans GPS. You may wonder how this works, and in short, it doesn't work very well. What we do is plug the coordinates into Google Maps and look at the topography of the area. We take notes at home and draw our own map. And then we go into the woods and just start walking, trying to find a certain pattern of trees or a natural marker to point us in the right direction. We are rarely successful.

With the remains of our REI money, we bought a Geomate Jr, a GPS meant solely for geocaching and kids. It is preset with 250,000 caches. The idea is that you turn it on, it finds the closest cache to your location, and points you in the direction to walk. Sounds like a much easier way to geocache instead of our ass-backwards way (and uses fewer pieces of paper, and requires fewer stick-figure-like drawings of trees) so we thought we'd have a go at it.

We brought it home, fed it some batteries, turned it on, and within 10 minutes, the thing had died. We gave it two more batteries, turned it on again, and within 20 minutes, the thing had died. After much cursing and very loud sighs, we drove it back to the store where we got to test REI's amazing return policy. The employee took the box out of my hands, asked a few questions, and refunded the entire amount. Just like that.

We had to go to a different REI location to get a second Geomate Jr. Armed once again with the mini-GPS, we headed out to the inner harbour at Baltimore, certain that it was the sort of spot where someone would hide a little treasure.

We exited the aquarium and turned on the device (after feeding it two batteries -- for the love, please don't eat these batteries, tiny machine), and within a few minutes, it told us there was a cache maybe a quarter mile from our current location. We started walking in the direction of the arrow.

The Wolvog held the device because he is into all things gadgety:



Though I had little faith in the product at first, it turned out to be very easy to use:



Following the GPS took us to places around the aquarium that we had never explored despite our constant visits, and we found a cool sculpture during our walk:



The GPS didn't seem concerned that it was telling us to cross the harbour. It took a moment to convince the twins that it didn't really want us to jump into the Bay and swim, so we backtracked and found a bridge so we could continue on our way. It led us to a small park which we began exploring. Within a few minutes, I spotted the cache hidden up on a metal beam.



It seemed insane that it was that easy: just step out of the aquarium, follow the directions on the GPS, and find the cache within a few minutes of looking. But apparently, when you do geocaching the correct way by using a GPS, you actually find caches. We opened it and signed our names to the log, and then returned it to the hiding place. Actually, first we did a happy dance on the rocks, then we all repeated in various ways that we couldn't believe we found it, then we put it back.



The GPS now lives in my purse, in the compartment usually meant for a cell phone. It is programmed with 250,000 caches all across the United States. As we travel about -- both on vacations as well as just moving through errands -- we can turn it on and see if there's a cache in the area. By always having it with us, we leave open the possibility of filling empty minutes with a treasure hunt. Which is pretty freakin' cool.

So that's how we're getting outside this summer (as well as fall, winter, and spring).

What outdoor activity do you pledge to do with your family this summer and how would a $100 REI gift card help you get there? Take the REI Outdoor Pledge and submit your comment to be entered.

The Rules:
  • No duplicate comments.
  • You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
b) Tweet about this promotion and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
  • This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older and runs from 9/7 – 9/27 .
  • Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail.
  • You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
  • The Official Rules are available here.

144 comments:

Trinity said...

I've only done letterboxing before, which is kind of similar, but I think you've now sold me on geocaching. :)

If the weather holds up, we're taking a long walk along the river this weekend. It's crazy swollen with all of this rain...

eggsinarow said...

I live in Vegas. It is 110 on average during the summer. But come fall, my hubby, the dog and I like to go hiking in the red rocks area. So beautiful and peaceful. And it's exercise disguised as dog time, so the husband will play along!

areyoukiddingme said...

My husband is looking for an "off-the-grid" weekend, where he goes all survivorman. He is in need of a gore-tex overcoat (I don't know what they're really called) for his sleeping bag. While he's doing that, I will stay at home and take pleasant walks on our very lovely concrete sidewalk. Because I am a city girl and will never change. :)

peg42 said...

I pledged to ride bikes with my family.
Thanks so much.
rickpeggysmith(at)aol(dot)com

peg42 said...

I tweeted: http://twitter.com/#!/peg42/status/112270006452101120
Thanks
rickpeggysmith(at)aol(dot)com

JULIE B said...

I pledge to take my family kayaking often this summer. But I'm thinking this geocaching might be a fun outdoor activity for this winter. I'm going to have to look into this.

JULIE B said...

http://twitter.com/#!/PLSvote4me/status/112274198520528896 tweeted by @plsvote4me

JC said...

I pledge to take kids to hiking. I'd love to get hiking shoes at REI.
tcarolinep at gmail dot com

JC said...

http://twitter.com/#!/tcarolinep/status/112281131931549696

Mami2jcn said...

I pledge to go on hikes. REI would help me because I would buy hiking shoes and socks!

mami2jcn at gmail dot com

Mami2jcn said...

tweet:

http://twitter.com/#!/mami2jcn/status/112309970845966337


mami2jcn at gmail dot com

Mysharona said...

We've pledged to go camping and a card would help us get hiking gear for our hike into the campsite.

Courtney said...

i took the pledge and I would love to go hiking! great giveaway!

vanitizebaby at yahoo dot com

Courtney said...

tweet

http://twitter.com/#!/MeandBells/status/112333593669410816

vanitizebaby at yahoo dot com

Kristin said...

I would LOVE to do some geocaching with my kids. It sounds like so much fun.

Kristin said...

I tweeted this I http://twitter.com/dragondream/statuses/112387891761643520

clc408 said...

I already took the pledge. The card would help me get a new pair of walking shoes for daily walks at the track at the park.

clc408 said...

Tweet
http://twitter.com/#!/clc408/status/112533956448092160

sarah said...

i pledge to go outside and play tennis with my family!

Chez Us said...

That looks like so much fun. Would have never thought to pick one up at REI. Now I am intrigued to do this with my god-daughter. If not that we do plan on getting in some fall camping and a new tent would make it even more cozy.

ohstac said...

My family & I have been jogging together. We would love to be able to get some cool weather gear.
nrdunningATgmailDOTcom

ohstac said...

tweet
http://twitter.com/ohstac/statuses/112587147881615361
nrdunningATgmailDOTcom

Stephanie said...

camping and could buy a tent
tvollowitz at aol dot com

bleush said...

want to go for walks and buy clothes

buzzd said...

took the pledge and plan to walk more with my family

. said...

omg my roommate in college used to take me geocaching and it. was. so. much. fun!!! But I can't do it now because it was his gps haha but I would love the opportunity to buy my own! Thanks for helping with the giveaway!!

Kerry said...

We love to go camping together and could use some updated camping equipment.
nuthouse(at)centurytel(dot)net

Kerry said...

tweeted: http://twitter.com/#!/KerryBishop/status/113072400823881729
nuthouse(at)centurytel(dot)net

janna @ feedyourpig said...

bike riding
Thanks so much!! Janna Johnson jannajanna@hotmail.com janna@feedyourpig on gfc

Scott said...

I pledged to ride bikes with my family. I would use the gift card to buy a bike.

Mimi said...

We love to camp and could sure use the gift card to upgrade a few things!

sunnymum said...

Geocaching sounds so fun! I pledge to take my family camping. I'd love to get some camping supplies, like nice warm sleeping bags for fall camping.
cbeargie at yahoo dot com

sunnymum said...

I also tweeted: http://twitter.com/#!/sunnymum/status/114143575457005569

susan1215 said...

We love to camp and would use the REI Giftcard to buy some new camping equipment

s2s2 at comcast dot net

susan1215 said...

http://twitter.com/#!/susan1215/status/114150681576869888

s2s2 at comcast dot net

Nancy said...

Well summer is over, but I pledge to take a couple of fall camping trips while the weather is perfect. We could use this gift card to upgrade our tent.

Nancy said...

Tweet: http://twitter.com/njhhb/statuses/114323366957158401

Melissa Borchardt said...

I love geocaching but we don't have a fancy GPS to help us. Maybe a $100 gift card will help out...hint...hint.

ctrmother said...

What a great idea with your geocaching! We went once with a friend and his boys and had a blast. I had no idea there was an instrument that would locate caches close to wherever you were at the moment. How cool is that!

Angel Jacklyn said...

REI'S GOT SOME REALLY NICE RUNNING GEAR - ONE OF MY FAVORITE ACTIVITIES BY THE WAY! YOU CAN IMAGINE MY SUMMER! LOST 20 LBS!

kytah00@yahoo.com

Angel Jacklyn said...

2ND ENTRY TWEET @ http://twitter.com/#!/kytah00/status/114761458235080705

kytah00@yahoo.com

Deb said...

I pledge to attempt at least one of our peak here in the Adirondacks this fall with the family and a Rei gift card would be great to get a utilitarian back pack and some good quality water bottles for our adventure.

Deb said...

tweeted
http://twitter.com/#!/fairydancer35/status/115109216846483456

Meg said...

How fun!! Would love to get a new bike helmet. I need to be a good example to my son who is learning to ride his bike. What a great pledge. Thanks!

hbbs55 said...

I pledged to take family on a weekend hike, and the gc would be used to buy a good pair of hiking shoes

hbbs55 at gmail dot com

hbbs55 said...

tweeted
https://twitter.com/#!/hbbs55/status/115509780835086337

dawns41 said...

I plan to do more walking. My husband like to take pics of the scenery.
dawns_horizen@yahoo.com

Tracy said...

Would love an opportunity for geocaching if we had the chance. This summer we rode bikes more.

MTgunfighter said...

One more backpacking trip before winter...

mtdoonmeister at gmail dot com

MTgunfighter said...

http://twitter.com/#!/mtdoonmeister/status/115574094132543491


mtdoonmeister at gmail dot com

LN said...

I'd love to get nice sleeping bags and a tent to go camping next summer.

If that's too ambitious, then a gps for geocaching sounds really fun also. My friend and her two sons have been geocaching for years, and they all love it.

slehan said...

Took the pledge for more hiking and that's what we did this summer. The REI GC will go toward some new hiking boots.
Thanks for the contest.

slehan said...

blogged: http://slehan.blogspot.com/2011/09/win-100-rei-gift-card-from-blogher-rei.html

Erin from Long Island said...

I pledge to make my boyfriend go biking, running, or rollerblading with me!

Erin from Long Island said...

tweeted

https://twitter.com/#!/erunuevo/status/116083795131764736

Tracy said...

How fun! I haven't geocached for years, but your post makes me want one of these for myself and my daughter... REI, here I come!

Cat said...

I've always wanted to get into geocaching, especially during the time I spent in the Pacific Northwest! I haven't done it... yet!

Polish Mama on the Prairie said...

My husband does geocaching with the kids. He actually turned his sister and brother in law to it. A GPS would actually be a great idea for it since we just switched cell phones & don't know how to use the GPS on the new phone.

kp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kp said...

http://psthisisthelife.blogspot.com/2011/09/perfect-use-for-blog.html

kris10pace at hotmail dot com

kp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kp said...

can you tell it's late and I'm not thinking straight?!
I made my pledge, I have a crush on REI and would be so excited to win

kris10pace at hotmail dot com

sweetsue said...

I pledged to take my family on a hike. We have so many good hiking trails in the Mt Hood area! The gift card would help with new backpacks.
smchester at gmail dot com

blue65829 said...

I pledge to take more walks with my family, even though its getting dark earlier and earlier!
blue65829 at aol dot com

Anonymous said...

we like to walk in state parks and rei can help with boots



ptreskovich AT hot mail dot com

Anonymous said...

http://twitter.com/#!/pattie43/status/116683349669580801



ptreskovich at hot mail dot com

Anonymous said...

I did this with my twins and foster children at the time and you reminded me of it and how great it was! Doing it with the REI gps sounds wonderful. I look forward to doing this again and will give these as a graduation gift to each of my twins (college) for them to continue their outdoor adventures wherever they may end up living now! Thanks!!!

DevilsHeaven said...

We just went camping last weekend, and even though we FROZE on tushes off it was still great fun!!! I love cooking over the camp fire!

DevilsHeaven said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tania said...

We would use it to update our camping gear.

Tania said...

Tweeted: http://twitter.com/#!/hypnotania/status/116906931528019968

Georgia said...

We as a family love to camp. That is our outdoor thing. We could use new camping equipment for sure.

gmissycat at yahoo dot com

Georgia said...

Tweeted here too

http://twitter.com/#!/gmissycat/status/116918393604538369

gmissycat at yahoo dot com

memorybau said...

Haven't done that before. I would love to join the fun!

growinguphappy.org said...

Would love to get new camping gear, especially with the added little one now :)

Anonymous said...

we'd love to go camping and could use some new sleeping bags
sherricrawford70/at/yahoo/dot/com

Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun said...

What a fun thing to do with kids! I have heard of geocaching before but never thought of it as a family activity. I love goign on hikes with my family...maybe we will have to add some treasure hunts to the mix. ;)

Lana @ ilovemy5kids said...

I so want to do this with my family! I've heard of letterboxing but would love to do both! I wonder if I could just use my iphone...
~Love the outdoors with my family...we try as much as possible!~
Blessings,
lana (loving5kids at yahoo dot com)

*~*~* Tracy said...

We pledged to go hiking. Letterboxing sounds like so much fun! We haven't tried it but I think we will in the future.

*~*~* Tracy said...

I tweeted (tracyrunning)
tracyrunning Tracy Machen
REI and The Field Trip givin' stuff away- http://showandtellfieldtrip.blogspot.com/2011/09/searching-for-treasure.html
Favorite Reply Delete

and I linked this on my blog

Jenn S. said...

I pledge to do more camping and hiking with the family. REI could help out with either great walking/hiking shoes or a new tent.
jas8929(at)gmail(dot)com

sksweeps said...

I'm going to take an outdoor photography class at REI and then my daughter and I will go on nature hikes and take pictures and I'll share what I learned and learn from her different view of things that we see. The REI gift card would pay for the photo class and some sun hats for both of us!

I've taken the REI outdoor pledge.

sksweeps (at) earthlink (dot) net

abitnerdy said...

I pledge to get out doors and hike with my family and friends. Also go out and bike more with the significant other. I love that there is a GeoCache for kids, I think I may get my god-daughter, nieces and nephews into geocaching what a treat. :P I'd love to get proper hiking shoes, instead of wearing my worn out runners with an REI giftcard

abitnerdy said...

http://twitter.com/abitnerdy/status/117799345033715712 :) I tweeted!

abitnerdygirl at gmail dot com

bikeohio said...

I'd love to use this GC to fix up my dad's bike so we can go on a nice bike ride.

bikeohio2010 at gmail dot com

Gina W said...

We love camping and plan to do more of it with our 6 y.o. My husband also bought 2 kayaks from REI that we plan to spend more time on.

gina@walczakphotography.com

Romapr said...

I pledged to get a group together for a camping trip. And I would buy the REI Camp Bed 3.5 Self-Inflating Pad with my gift card so we could camp comfortably. I love going to the mountains so this is an easy pledge to make. Thanks!

Romapr said...

Tweeted http://twitter.com/#!/romapr09/status/117834361411338240

Tina said...

camping. I need a new tent
merleandtina@yahoo.com

Tina said...

http://twitter.com/#!/HappyTina0115/status/117884514264551424
merleandtina@yahoo.com

Mariana @ The Domestic Buzz said...

I'd love to take my daughters on a hike :)

Mariana @ The Domestic Buzz said...

I tweeted! http://twitter.com/#!/SegunMama/status/117975451988799488

amy9777 said...

I can't wait to take my son camping for the first time!! REI will be our go to place from his first sleeping bag to some cool Klean Kanteen water bottles!

vmkids said...

I am doing to try camping with the kids

vmkids3 at msn dot com

angie lilly said...

I would love to take more hikes and country trips, maybe including some picnics etc. One thing they have that would be great for any of that is the KIND Fruit and Nut Bars! They are all natural and vegetarian and come in 5 different flavors so everyone could get what they like! Great for on the go and you could just stick one in your pocket or backpack!
Angie
14earth at gmail dot com

angie lilly said...

I tweeted here: http://twitter.com/#!/FotoMacro/status/118034539779076097
Angie
14earth at gmail dot com

~dab said...

I pledge to go camping which my son LOVES! Winning the gift card would allow me to buy a sleeping bag (my son has one, I don't)

MaryBeth said...

The pups and I are doing the hiking. REI has awesome pup stuff, I wonder if they would enjoy the geo craze. I guess I'll have to wait for grandchildren...

Debbie C said...

Gardening is my usual outdoor activity but I want to add in more walking. I need good walking shoes for that and I think REI could help.

chrisdeglen(at)gmail(dot)com

Debbie C said...

@chrisdeglen Tweeted -

http://twitter.com/#!/chrisdeglen/status/118163010945679361

chrisdeglen(at)gmail(dot)com

lewalk said...

I so want to try geocaching but we live in such a small place that there's nowhere to do it. Boo.. I want to have a camping trip with my family before my daughter graduates high school next year.

lewalk(at)hotmail(dot)com

lewalk said...

Tweeted.

http://twitter.com/#!/lewalk76/status/118186301022416896

wizardewu said...

I'd love to go camping and do some serious hiking in the beautful White Mountains.

eugeniewu at gmail dot com

Lee said...

I plan on going camping and doing lots of hiking.

Lee said...

I plan on going camping and doing lots of hiking.

leedhowell (at) gmail (dot) com

KowgirlsRule said...

We pledge to do more outside games and the gift cert would help us buy more games for outdoors.
kowgirlsrule at gmail dot com

Karen said...

We LOVE GeoCaching !!!

Karen Gonyea
ktgonyea at gmail.com

cennywenny said...

The best way for our family to get outside is to tend our garden, what a fruitful exercise (hehe).

kiwidragon117 at yahoo dot com

Erica C. said...

I'd love to be able to go bike riding with the kids! I'd be able to get a bike at REI!
ericacarnes(at)gmail(dot)com

Barbara said...

We like to get out as a family and walk in the evenings after it has cooled off. We could all use some new walking shoes from REI.


3oink63moo484@gmail.com

Valeen said...

We want to take the kids hiking and camping! The REI gift certificate would go towards new daypacks for the kids or new sleeping bags!

sweepyhead at gmail dot com

Julieh said...

I pledge to go camping more and an rei tent would really help us go! honeypie411 at yahoo dot com

jakiesmom said...

WE WENT CAMPING THIS SUMMER WITH A BORROWED TENT, WOULD LOVE A TENT OF OUR OWN SO WE CAN GO EVERY YEAR
nannypanpan at gmail.com

spirit_kim said...

We commit to walking the dog more and taking him to play Frisbee more. We love taking him to play Frisbee but, a walk get us moving too. A REI gift card would get some new walking shoes.
gabe411 at hotmail dot com
spirit_kim

guettel78 said...

I'd definitely like to get the family out camping, hiking, and fishing at least one more time before the weather turns for the year. An REI gift card would be handy for buying new water bottles, food cooler, and compass for safety. Thanks!

gkaufmanss@yahoo.com

guettel78 said...

Tweet: http://twitter.com/#!/guettel78/status/118518297485516800

gkaufmanss@yahoo.com

kbruson said...

I pledge to go camping with my family to stay active this summer. The $100 REI gift card help get me a down payment on a nice tent from REI

kbruson said...

tweet is here: http://twitter.com/#!/kbruson/status/118519826988806145

kakihara said...

I pledge to go trail running with my family! A REI giftcard would help-because with 3 teens I never have money left to spend on myself--I could use some new shoes!
kakihararocks@gmail.com

pauline15 said...

My kids have the option to pick a sport to participate in every season. I have informed him that they can pick whatever they want, but they must pick (I always want them to stay active). However, this also entails numerous supplies and accessories. REI works for everything associated with these sports!
pauline15_01(at)hotmail(dot)com

Dee said...

http://twitter.com/#!/DeeGee13/status/118551778022268928 tweeted! :)

deeg131 at gmail dot com

Dee said...

I pledge to go hiking and Rei can help by getting us the appropriate walking gear and equipment :)
deeg131 at gmail dot com

Liz said...

We pledged to do some hiking, and an REI gift card would allow us to get some boots and supplies!

eemoody77 at gmail dot com

Liz said...

I tweeted!

http://twitter.com/FakeGradSchool/status/118563722582167552

eemoody77 at gmail dot com

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

Oh, man, that sounds so cool! I totally want to try geocaching now.

Our family is going to try car camping. Adventure awaits!

mail {at} HoboMama.com

brich2222 said...

I pledge to go on more bicycle outings on the weekends. The gc would help us buy the gear we need

brich22 at earthlink dot net

brich2222 said...

tweet
http://twitter.com/#!/brich2222/status/118660209534185472
brich22 at earthlink dot net

A Happy Hippy Mom said...

I pledge to go hiking with my family! A $100 REI gift card would help purchase some supplies!

Kendall said...

Sounds like so much fun! I love to go geocaching

degood said...

We went camping this summer and I could use the $100 to buy more gear.

kerrie@mayansfamily.com

susansmoaks said...

i pledge to go on a family bike ride more often and rei will help us get there by letting us get new water bottles and new shoes for our son
susansmoaks at gmail dot com

Melissa said...

I love this idea! I think I would buy this product & use it to get out hiking & exploring more with the kids!

Donna C. said...

We love to hive in the fall. The cool weather is perfect and the trees are gorgeous. I could buy a new backpack with the $

Chisum Crew said...

I pledge to go hiking with the kiddos. We enjoy walking on our acreage and seeing the wildlife. trinitygsd at yahoo dtocm

brianpiero said...

Thanks for the giveaway...took the pledge; we spent the summer going on bike rides, and swimming with the kids !

senorpiero [at] yahoo [dot] com

brianpiero said...

Tweet: https://twitter.com/#!/brianpiero/status/118751038873415681

senorpiero [at] yahoo [dot] com

Lisa said...

Hicking. msmith572@yahoo.com

Lisa said...

Tweet: http://twitter.com/#!/flowergirl523/status/118777961192230912

msmith572@yahoo.com

Lisa said...

Bogged: http://insanityisforthelame.blogspot.com/2011/09/field-trip-searching-for-treasure.html

msmith572@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

camping and hiking!! myanjim@yahoo.com

barblong said...

I pledge to go camping with my family and a REI gift card would help buy supplies.

longbarb1@aol.com

Heather W said...

I pledge to go leaf peeping!
Lovefool827 (at) yahoo (dotcom)

ms-texas said...

i pledge to take a family camping trip!

debbiebellows (at)gmail (dot)com

ms-texas said...

tweeted:

https://twitter.com/#!/bellows22/status/118912450568523776

debbiebellows (at)gmail (dot)com