After a couple of hours at geocaching.com and flipping through Geocaching for Dummies, J-Fav, Toby, and I decided to give it a try. It was great fun! (Yes, the experience broke right through my usual stick-in-the-mud inclinations about things like this.)
Here's the low-down: someone once realized it would just be cool to take a little box, put neat stuff inside, hide it somewhere, and then publicize its GPS coordinates to entice people to hunt for it & log their names on a little notebook inside. There must be thousands of objects scattered around the world.
We searched for caches near our ZIP code and found a bunch, ranked by difficulty. Each has a bunch of (potentially spoiler) notes from people who've found it, often in the 100s. We started with GCTANY, "Return to Tradition #4 - Snowbirds at Turkey Hill" because it's near our house, is reportedly kid-friendly, and seemed within our grasp.
It suggested where we park along a residential street and between which two houses to sort of walk up an embankment directly into the woods. I never would have known it was a portal into a reservation. We walked along with Toby in tow:
We walked up hills, down hills, told J-Fav and Toby to wait while I scouted some stuff out and... eventually our GPS coordinates matched the cache site. Now what?
We looked around wondering if we had gotten it right, and whether we'd ever be able to bring Toby out of the woods, when we found our first cache! No, I won't tell you where it was, but here's what it looks like on the outside:
That's a little tightly locked Tupperware container covered in camouflage tape. Inside were all manner of trinkets and a log book that we signed (as did Toby):
With that, we were bitten by the geocaching bug, tanked up with some ice coffee, and headed out to a second station located at a public park / beach site.
J-Fav honed right in on the location (wonder what the picnic-ers and volleyball players were thinking). Actually, it's dangerous to arouse the notice of the public ("muggles") in case they also dig up the cache & take it home without realizing it needs to stay put. Turns out that's what happened to us... an hour of looking, and we couldn't find it. We met two very nice other cachers there (walking by with GPSes) with 2000 finds under their belt -- and they agreed that it might've been stolen.
So if any of you are up to it, let me know. Really all that means is picking a few places that look fun, driving over there, and walking around a little to find hidden treasure.