The little things all around us

It’s the little things. They’re truly all around us.

Years back I heard about Geocaching, which is basically a real-world treasure hunt asking participants to find hidden objects by their GPS coordinates. Someone creates a geocache, uploads its coordinates to the main website — and then participants go find it. When they’ve tracked it down, they “log it” on the website and often write their name on a log inside the object itself.

That was sort of convoluted, but hopefully you get the jist.

I wasn’t totally sold on the idea, to be honest. Spencer has talked about it in the past, going out hunting with friends in New York, but I wasn’t convinced I would enjoy it. The weather in the D.C. area was glorious last weekend, though, and Spence was going to meet Dan, a friend visiting from out of town. Though my legs were screaming from Zumba-related stretching (getting fit is not fun), I reluctantly agreed to go. The plan was to walk around town and find a few geocaches before dinner.

And it was awesome.

The days I don’t plan — indeed, the days I plan to do something entirely different — often wind up being the most fun. We met up with Dan around lunchtime, enjoyed a champagne brunch at Murphy’s in Old Town and then settled into a Geocaching groove. After explaining the premise to me, Dan did a “live demo” — whereby we walked down the street, opened a certain object found on most corners in American towns and discovered . . . a geocache.

Right there. No bigger than my thumbnail. Hidden in plain sight. Tiny, innocuous — and completely cool.

Unscrewing it, Dan revealed a log of other Geocachers who had already tracked down this particular object. He carefully unspooled the log, revealing dozens of handwritten names. We’d tracked down this little cannister using only a few clues in the Geocaching app. (Yes, there’s an app for this — there’s an app for everything, it seems.)

We found two more before the day was out, wandering to a part of Old Town I’d never visited before. Though just blocks from the Torpedo Factory, where we usually wander and get ice cream, the Carlyle House had a beautiful garden with another geocache. That I have walked past this place countless times and never known a hidden black box was there, just waiting to be found, was exhilarating. After a few more finds — one at a cool spot near Gadsby’s Tavern — I can officially say I’m hooked.

I love the idea that these little things are hiding everywhere — real-life “magical” objects in their own way — just waiting to be discovered by those who know where to look. That I could pass a certain place a hundred times — or a thousand — and never know something is buried there.

Ever the practical one, Spencer had declared I would enjoy Geocaching before we’d even begun our hunt. I’d scoffed — but he was right, of course. “I feel like I’m in ‘National Treasure!'” I said at one point, running a hand along a slightly protruding fence as Dan read us a cache’s clue again. And since I had my camera with me, I snapped photos of places slightly off the regularly beaten path. Places I never would have seen without Geocaching’s guidance.

And now I need to go find some more.

12 thoughts on “The little things all around us

  1. I really like Geocaching. We actually organize a yearly Geocaching Competition here in Belgium with some friends: 4 teams, 4 locations, 4 hours. It’s always so much fun, and we end up discovering parts of the country we didn’t know existed. The best cach so far was a trail dedicated to WWI landmarks.


  2. I have friends who are BONKERS for geocaching (complete with custom license plate, haha), and one of them took me on a quick “demo” last spring — apparently there are several caches on campus. Just don’t try and find them in the dark without a GPS, it doesn’t work, haha…But it was soooo much fun trying! 🙂


  3. Isn’t it exciting!! Spencer and Levi introduced me to it a few years ago and I was hooked. It’s so great to find one. Let’s go when we come down! You really do see places you normally wouldn’t and that makes it even more fun.


  4. Oh, I love geocaching! I haven’t done this in a few years, and I miss it. Will you be looking for some more on your trip to California?


  5. I love this! A while ago Scott looked up some “manly hobbies” (no, not kidding) and this was one of them. I had never heard of it before so looked it up and was immediately intrigued. I love the idea of finding little bits and pieces hidden here and there. I hope you’ll continue to share more of your discoveries with us!!


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