VfAk48LJJrNcB1QnPEmU1bJ7a18 Geocache on: July 2012


Saturday, 28 July 2012

Addicting More People to Geocaching

I received an e-mail request this week from a friend whose son is in school with my daughter. She and her family have been wondering about geocaching and asked if I would take them out for a beginner's lesson. So yesterday morning we piled our three kids into her vehicle with the two of us and set out for Baker Park on the Bow River in Calgary. I had my iPhone with the geocaching app and my Garmin Oregon 200 to show them both options when they start out.

We began with the Dollhouse cache (GC1RT7C) to get the kids excited because I knew it had recently been found and was supposed to have good swag in it. This one took a bit of looking and then was found where we didn't expect it. The kids found it easy to follow the compass on the Garmin so I let them carry that one and worked off the iPhone with my girlfriend. The three kids took turns holding the GPS and telling the others which way to go. We followed along making sure they didn't get too far off course but they did very well. And we had our first smiley for the day.

The next cache we aimed for was Baker's Bark (GC1EV27) which was a different kind of 'micro in a tree'. No trades here, just signed the log and off we went to search for I Do (GCXJTA). This is a very beautiful area right down by the river with bright beds of flowers surrounding a stone wall. We watched a few young men leaping into the chilly waters across the river and a Zodiak float by with two life-jacketed paddlers aboard.

 The search was briefly interrupted by the appearance of two snakes who may have been guarding the cache and who caused all the children to leap upon the stone wall and scream! Luckily my friend and I were not deterred and continued to peer under rocks and into nooks and crannies. Unfortunately, no cache was unearthed and we had to leave this one for another day.

We moved on to look for one of the Calgary Parks caches called, of course, Baker Park (GC299K3). This was when I saw the change in my friend from 'interested observer' to 'addicted cacher' as she made her first unassisted find. Her face lit up and she got excited and declared herself hooked! I always love that moment!

Our last cache of the day, Baker's Hedge (GC1EV1Z) was also exciting for her young daughter when she made her own first find. We told ourselves it was because she was closest to the ground but really we all had our backs turned when she said ' Oh I found one." And honestly I didn't really think she had found one, but there it was! So much for me showing her how its done!!

After such a good day of caching I am sure we will be going out as a group again before too long. And we have another girlfriend with kids who we'll have to take out and addict!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Never JUST a rock!

My sister flew out from Vancouver for a visit last week while her kids were away on other travel adventures. Since she was curious about geocaching and had never been, we decided to take her out one day to Nosehill Park with our dog, Scooby Doo, and my daughter and just try one or two caches.

Our first destination was the infamous Your Mother was a Hamster (GC2TQZX) which makes me giggle every time I read it. Monty Python is everywhere! It was a very buggy day but the dog was very excited to get out and the littlest goat was happy to show her Aunty Otter our family hobby so off we went. As a fellow Vancouver expat, I wasn't surprised that my sister found the park very different from parks back home with so few trees and so much long grass. We laughed at the dog leaping up to see through the grass as she chased her ball. And before we knew it we were at the cache. It was really an easy find and a very cute container, well worth the walk. Just after we rehid the container we turned to see two beautiful stags watching us from the other side of the gulley. They kept their eyes on us as we back-tracked to the off-leash area and our next cache.

We were curious to see what the next cache would look like as it was a puzzle cache with an odd description. The Lockbox (GC3GMD0) was actually a two-part cache. You had to find the container first and then find a separate cache with the combination to the lock which was on the container. Took a bit of looking and lots of slapping at mosquitoes but eventually we found both parts and signed the log. I think maybe this one should be listed as a multi instead of a puzzle.

That was enough buggy adventures to give my sister a taste for geocaching but not wear her out on her first day. But the next night I was telling Otter about some caches I had been unable to find and she got excited and wanted to go take a look. It was already evening so we took flashlights and headed off to the first location. I won't tell you the name of this cache as I am going to spoil the container type by saying it was a micro hidden in a small rock which was blended into the actual rock base of a structure. We were feeling around the area looking for anything that might be hiding a tiny cache when my sister pulled a rock out of the wall, said "Its just a rock" and replaced it. I turned to her and said "What? Wait a minute..." and sure enough the bison tube was stuck inside the back of that very rock. For the rest of the night I kept saying "It's never JUST a rock!"
We went on to find two more caches that had been eluding me, including a creative micro in a tree called Nutz (GC2TROG).

Two days later we made a trip to the south for an appointment and took a few minutes to find the cache hidden in the Signal Hill branch of the Calgary Public Library. This was also creative and fun and we even had some help from the librarians who caught on what we were up to. We made two more finds that day and had my sister well and truly hooked on caching by the time we sent her home.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Just Do It!

Lately I have been trying to get my family out for more caching together. Although we always enjoy our caching adventures, it is still hard to motivate them to just get out the door. So a couple weeks ago I asked my daughter if we could try to do one cache a day for a week. And it worked. As long as she knew there was no pressure to get a long list of caches checked off, she was willing to jump up and go. And I made sure to choose cache locations that included a park with swings, or an easy drive-up find, or one we could bring a friend to. So we completed the week with eight caches found and a new outlook on caching. If you are trying to motivate others to go along with you or you are trying to motivate yourself off the couch or away from the computer, just set small goals and have fun on the way. As they say, its not the destination that is important but the journey.

Today the skies were dark grey with thunder and rain about to spill down any minute. But knowing that in Calgary, the clouds could just as easily blow away altogether, I rallied the family out of the basement and into the car for a quick drive to Nosehill Park. There were three caches fairly close to a parking lot (within 600m) and I thought we would start with the easiest one and if it went well try another. I gave my daughter our Oregon 200 GPS and I used the iPhone app from Geocaching.com to navigate our way to Bushdee (GC21RWH). Our chocolate lab Scooby Doo was thrilled to be along on this adventure and she bounced along the trail chasing the ball we were throwing for her. The trees and the gully we were walking in gave the iPhone a bit of satellite trouble but the Garmin had no problem and the cache was soon in hand. The littlest cacher was still happy so we continued up the hill to find Beating Around the Bush (GC1B5GZ). We had looked for this one before but were unable to find it due to the snow cover on the ground. So we were very happy when the oldest goat came up with the goods and we checked off another find. The littlest goat got her hair tangled in a tree and ended up with a sappy knot but it didn't dampen her spirits so off we went for a third search. I didn't really think we would be able to find this one, DUCKY TAPE ROCKS!!! (GC3NZ8G) as it was listed as a 5 for difficulty (on a  scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being easiest) and a 3.5 for terrain. We had to do a bit of bushwhacking off the trails and a bit of back-tracking while we looked for a good way down into a gully. The hint indicated that the cache container was going to be a fake rock so we checked a few rocks without success. And then the oldest goat found a rock that rattled and that made three happy faces for the day! And not a drop of rain.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Caching in the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

As a family, we enjoy birdwatching and any chance to see wildlife up close, so a day of geocaching in the Bird Sanctuary is three kinds of fun! Family time, geocaching, and wildlife viewing all at the same time.

There is a very creative puzzle cache called IBS: Gnome's Animal Lodge at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. The cache container itself is out in plain sight right at the entrance to the Sanctuary but in order to open the cache you need to walk around the trails and collect answers to questions on the cache page. This gets you visiting every part of the park and gives you a chance to view different songbirds, waterfowl, deer, muskrats, beavers, weasels, owls, and other creatures if you are lucky. There is a second cache called the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary Cache which gets you to do the same thing but the Final cache is off site. We collected all the answers for that one as we went around but didn't pick up the last cache as we were ready to go home by then.

As we walked we had amazing encounters with deer today. My daughter was thrilled when a young deer appeared beside her eating leaves that grow along the walkway. Alana held very still and watched with a huge smile on her face and then talked about it for the rest of the day. That is an experience she won't soon forget!

We also saw evidence of beavers hard at work.

The park looks completely different than when we have seen it in the fall, especially with the Bow River running high from the summer rains. The views along the river were beautiful as usual.
There were portions of the trails that were closed due to flooding but this would be temporary. Don't let it dissuade you from visiting the Sanctuary.

There is a third cache in the park commemorating the Colonel James Walker Historical Site. This is a regular cache with a container full of swag to trade.

Even if you haven't been bitten by the geocaching bug, there is lots to see at Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and it is well worth a visit any time of year.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Canada Day Caching

Yes, we finally got out to do some more caching!
Had a fun day in typical Calgary weather. Hot and sunny when we set out, black clouds swept in with a few thunder claps and a big downpour, then hot and sunny again. Took a day to introduce more friends to geocaching and we now have more caching buddies to go out with. The tiniest cacher (at 1 1/2 years) caught on quickly and was checking behind every bench after seeing us pull one nano out from behind a park bench.
We planned our cache adventure to start with a cache that the kids could trade swag in and out of, then a couple of micros for the grown ups and finally a cache at a play park for the kids to have some swing time. Luckily we had good luck and found 4/4 today and the kids enjoyed all of it, even the rainshower.

We did have to place a note on one cache that needed maintenance. The lid of the cache had a hole in it and the cache was filled with water when we discovered it. The pencil was wet and the paper was unusable. This is the sort of thing you need to let cache owners know about so that they can clean it up and repair the damage and get their cache up and running again.
Another thing to mention is that the regular size cache had a theme of 'Round' objects so my daughter took a yoyo and replaced it with a bouncy ball. It is nice to keep to a theme when trading if at all possible.

It was a fun way to spend Canada Day away from the crowds, but still outdoors and with friends. What did you do for Canada Day?