Geocache to Find Treasure with a Dork Machine

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Need a hobby that's not going to make you broke? Learn to geocache. This sport gets you outdoors as you search for treasure with a dork machine.
Yeah, that’s pretty much what geocaching is. And its fantastic. The “dork machine” is a GPS (Global Positioning System) device that, after you type in some coordinates, will tell you which way to go to find your “treasure,” which is the cache (or container holding a log book for those who found it at the least, and full of goodies ranging from a McDonald’s toy to a Gameboy Color my brother once found at the most.)
Sculpture gardent

An amazing sculpture garden I never would have known existed had there not been a cache nearby.

This activity is FREE. It gets you outside. You can choose to do incredibly easy or incredibly difficult caches, making it great to do with kids or a group of intensely active adults. You might not have a GPS device. The one I have is incredibly basic. Pretty much I can type in the coordinates for the cache and set a marker for my car so I can find my way back. If I really wanted to, I could probably figure out the two other functions that it has. But it works.

Have a GPS system in your car for directions or a cell phone where you can download apps? Odds are you can use them to geocache, as well. While most car GPS systems are not so great for off-road hiking, there are a few models that can do both.) Or, if you have a cell phone, odds are it has a GPS chip in it already. All you need to do is download the Geocaching Live App.

While initial investment can be extravagant, it probably doesn’t have to be.

You go to the official geocaching website and create a FREE account with your email address to find caches in your area. When you in your zip code, it will find a ton of caches (treasures) close to you.

You find one that fits your desired difficulty and goals (there are historical caches, eco caches, themed caches, the list goes on…) and plug the coordinates on the website into your GPS device (if you’re using the app, it’s a different but nonetheless easy process.) A lot of caches will also have parking coordinates so you’re ready to go.

Showing our travel bug some classic Pittsburgh at Primanti’s.

Geocaching is a very new and green sport. When you’re visiting the site, leaving nature better than you found it is more than encouraged. When you find the cache (which will be hidden under a rock, inside a stump, inside a crack in the cement, another endless list…) you will undoubtedly find a log to sign.

You may also find treasures. When you take something out, you MUST put something back in! Trade a pack of cards for a bracelet, or a pokemon toy for a batman figurine. Just try to keep your item equal to what you’re taking. I’ve used McDonald’s toys, cheap little things from tourist shops I’ve picked up while on vacation, and dollar store items to keep my caching cheap. Once you’ve started, you can also recycle items you’ve found but don’t necessarily need to keep.

If you find an item inside with a tag on it, it’s a trackable. These items should be logged into the geocaching website and be moved on to a new cache. My favorites are the travel bugs, which are little toys that you can take pictures with to upload onto the site. Then when they’ve passed on, you can continue to follow them and see where they’ve traveled after you’ve let them back out into the wild.

Geocaches are hidden WORLDWIDE so I’ve seen some of the travel bugs that have come into my posession make it to Australia, Guam, and all over Europe. It reminds me of Flat Stanley from Kindergarten.

Starfish at The Ovens.

The best part of geocaching is the adventures. One time we rescued a starfish and saw a seal on a cache. Another time we found a teepee someone had built in the woods.

It can also force you to be a tourist in your own town. I’ve been so many places in Pittsburgh that I never would have even known existed without geocaching.

One time we were visiting family in Maine, and found a cache in a place called the Ovens, which is a series of amazing rock formations that is covered by the tide during certain times of the day. Our family was amazed that they had lived in the area for 10 years without knowing this place existed.

I’d love to hear about your adventures and do my best to field your questions or help you get started!

For more information:
Geocaching Website
More Info on GPS Devices

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13 thoughts on “Geocache to Find Treasure with a Dork Machine

  1. femmefrugality

    Haha that would be nice, but don’t expect it! It’s less likely than finding a $20 bill in your coat pocket from last winter. Geocaching is a good way to save money by having fun without spending anything, but not a good way to make money.

    Reply
  2. Lindsay @ The Notorious D.E.B.T.

    I used to love geocaching! I did it all the time back in Alaska. I haven’t gone in two years since moving to CO, though. I need to get back out there and do it again.

    The weirdest thing I found out while geocaching was the entrance to a giant, 90-mile tunnel called the “Davison Ditch.” The cache was at the top of a huge hill, where the tunnel started. It must have been about 6 feet in diameter. It used to be an old waterway to bring water to remote gold mining equipment, but all that is left of it now is a giant hollow, steel tube. When we stood at the entrance to the top there was a hot, gusty breeze coming from the tunnel. I’m surprised they didn’t have the entrance barred off; if someone or something fell down it, they wouldn’t be able to get back out! We kept a close eye on our dog running loose, that’s for sure. 🙂

    BTW, If you want to see a picture, the cache page is here (https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GCNDY1_ditch-niche?guid=7854b3e9-a10f-4480-b2e0-9e41ca3593c2). We are the entry from 9/02/2012.

    Reply
  3. Mrs. CTC

    I did geocoaching a few years ago and it was quite a lot of fun! I’m not too cool to admit that it felt somewhat adventurous. Which is rather strange, since not much can go wrong, but still. We had a blast.

    Reply
  4. Harmony@CreatingMyKaleidoscope

    A friend just mentioned this to me the other day and it is definitely on our summer to-do list. I want to look around our neighborhood, but also plan to do some searching while we are on vacation in Maine. Thanks for the tips – I wouldn’t have realized what the tag meant.

    Reply
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