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geocaching If you have never heard of Geocaching then you need to check out the Geocaching website: www.geocaching.com.  Basically, it's a treasure hunt game using a GPS.  People have hidden treasures all over the world then posted the latitude and longitude coordinates of the treasures they hid.  Intrepid explorers can use their GPS to find the treasure.  The treasure, or geocache, is usually a small plastic box with a log book and maybe a few trinkets.  The custom is to sign the log book, take something out of the box and put something else in the box.  You never know what you'll find.

GPS GPS The map above shows a green dot for each of the quarter million geocaches that are hidden all over the world.  It's obvious that most of the geocaches are in North America and Europe but they're certainly not limited to there.  I think it's amazing how many geocaches are hidden in the middle of the Atlantic.  It's also interesting that France doesn't have many geocaches, especially compared to Germany.  You can actually see the border outlined in green dots.  I guess the Germans are way into geocaching while the French aren't interested.  Indeed, I recently found a "Travel Bug" which started life in Germany and has made many stops in Europe, Canada and the east coast of the U.S. before ending up here in Hawaii.  There's no telling where it will go next.

Here on the Big Island there are currently 66 geocaches hidden.  I've loaded all the coordinates into my GPS.  It will take us awhile to find them all but that's the goal.  With the coordinates and a little searching some of the caches are easy to find while other caches take more effort.

The first geocache we found actually required us to go to two different locations.  We had to go to the first spot then figure out the clues and do a little math in order to find the second location.  Once at the second location we wandered back and forth for several minutes thinking "There's nothing here!  Can this really be the right place?"  Valerie finally found it.  It was a magnetic key box that was very well hidden behind some bushes and inside a rusty gate railing.  It was in a very public place so it had to be well hidden otherwise it may get looted by "muggles".

Banyan Cache Micro Cache
Hidden Cache Cave Cache
Another geocache we found was near the convention center in Honolulu.  The GPS had taken us to within 50 feet of the cache but there were a couple other people around so we sat on a bench and waited for them to leave.  Two guys were standing there looking in the bushes which made us wonder if they were also searching for the cache.  They didn't have a GPS and they weren't really moving around much, they were just standing there looking at one of those large green outdoor electrical boxes.  I figured they must be convention center employees or something. When they noticed us watching, one of them asked us "Is that a GPS you're holding?"  I couldn't help grinning as I answered "Are you also looking for the geocache?"

Click for a short movie
of the blowhole. (9MB)
It turned out it was actually the guy that had placed the geocache.  He was showing it to a friend that had never heard of the game.  They sat down nearby and let us finish finding it.  It was very well camouflaged.  He had purchased a small electrical junction box and painted it to look like the large metal one.  It looked real until you touched it and could tell it was plastic.  Instead of being screwed on, the cover was held in place with magnets so it pulled off easily.  Nobody would ever have known it was there unless you were specifically looking for it.  We signed the log book and talked to the owner a bit more before heading off to the next cache on our list.

The best part of geocaching is usually all the interesting places you discover.  We found a great cave on the side of the road that we must have passed by dozens of times without ever noticing it.  Another spot took us to a blowhole next to an interesting beach that few tourists ever find.  Some caches are in out of the way, hidden locations while others are surprisingly close to popular tourist destinations.

When we find a geocache the girls will usually leave behind one of their toys.  We'll also leave some coupons for free coffee.  We haven't found any really valuable booty yet but that won't stop us from looking.

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