My sister in law blogged enthusiastically about geocaching: It took me a while to figure out that a global positioning system was, well, global, and it may be possible to do this in the Netherlands, too. She sent me the link http://www.geocaching.com/ and I signed up (its free) to find that here are thousands of caches stashed in the Netherlands.
It took a bit of persuading to get my daughter interested, until she found out
- its internet based
- you can’t get lost ‘cos you use the sat. nav. in the car
- you don’t have to walk too far – just drive to the correct coordinates and get out and stroll around a bit until you find the cache.
Well today was our first geocaching expedition. I had read the instructions on the website on how to prepare for your first hunt but I did disregard some of the more extreme measures, like looking out for bears, and taking a water filtration system. I picked out three sites, and printed out the coordinates, then packed a bag with drinks and mars bars, programmed the navigation system with the first set of coordinates, added two children to the rest of the stuff in the car, and set off into the unknown.
We drove about 10 minutes away into the countryside around our village, and reached our first destination without mishap, now we had to find the cach. My sister in law told me they find caches in Tupperware boxes under trees, so when the kids asked what they were looking for that’s what I told them, but twenty fruitless minutes later I reassessed the situation, and we started looking for something smaller. They finally found a strange plastic tube, filled with concrete, marked with GC, hidden behind a fence post. Underneath this was a Kodak film pot, and inside this was a rolled up log book. I might have known the Dutch would do it differently!
We were so excited; it was our first find. We jumped around bit and shrieked, before we filled in the log book, then realised there was a campervan full of people waiting for us to finish so they could put their names in the log book, too. I had a chat with the mother while their daughter was going towards the cache we had just put back.
I told her it was our first find, and she laughed! They had been addicted to it for a year! They had driven up from Central Holland the day before, geocaching all the way, and had stayed overnight in Hoorn. I’ll be looking out for the “Boompjes” on the dutch geocaching site!
Full of enthusiasm now, we plugged in the coordinates of the next site, and set off again in the car. We came to the next destination, and, now we knew what we were looking for, found the cache within a few minutes.
But pride comes before a fall, and we arrived at the last search area much too confident. This was going to be the best area to search, as I knew we had to park the car in Broek in Waterland and walk to the site. I carried the TomTom, but its not as effective when you are walking, and although I got to the destination, we could not find the cache anywhere. We finally gave up, as I began to suspect that I was reading the instructions wrongly and was missing the most important set of coordinates.
The day was most definitely voted a success, however, and easy to repeat. The final bit of excitement came as we logged onto the internet at home and entered our first finds. When you have a successful hunt the cache on the map changes to a yellow smiley face! Now, I’m determined my map is going to be full of smiley faces by this time next year. Obsessive? Not me!