Scavenger hunting for nerds

I was talking with my sister-in-law, L1 about my new handheld gps (which I got at Christmas).  While Emily had a migraine on Saturday, the kids and I decided to try our hands at geocaching.  L1 calls geocaching, “scavenger hunting for nerds”.  Yes, that sounds about right, thank you very much!  Anyhow, I read a few hints about the first cache because I had no idea what we were even looking for.


We headed out and found the first cache which had a domino and a pencil sharpener in it.  With geocaching, the idea is to take something from the cache (which is any sort of weather-proof container) and leave something else in its place.  So, we took the pencil sharpener and left a jingle bell.  My gps, the Garmin Venture HC, has a feature called  “go to the next cache” so off we went.  I had no idea where it was taking us but we set off following the trail (which isn’t a trail as much as a general direction).

We headed into the city and found some more loot (we left the pencil sharpener and took a pencil).  Finally, we headed off on the trail of “the next cache”.  Of course, I was driving while following the gps.  The kids aren’t quite able to really guide us with the gps and the last time I let Isaac drive didn’t end well so I had to do both.

Soutside Bridge - Charleston, WV

We headed across one of the major bridges in town when the gps sounded the “close” alarm.  I debated stopping in the slow lane while we hunted but I decided against that.  Instead, we drove across to the other side and walked back to where the cache was located.  It was about 0.3 miles from the parking spot to the cache.  It was quite a thrill walking across the bridge as it is pretty high and pretty busy (we were on the sidewalk).  We hunted all over the footing of the bridge and found a dead pigeon, a snuff can and a half-full bottle of beer.  Ah, the family adventure.  We hunted all over to no avail so headed home.


The next day, Emily was better and came with us.  This time we parked on the correct side of the bridge.  We still looked all over and had about given up.  Emily was sitting in the van waiting for us to come back when she spotted it.  Wow!  The cache was small and well hidden and proved that we need to step up our vision care program.  Prior to finding the cache, she was not too impressed with geocaching.  Finding her first changed her mind though.

There are over 700 caches hidden around Charleston.  How on earth do we keep from tripping over all of them!  We have plans to find as many as we can and hide some new ones once we see some more.  Anyhow, the kids and I had more fun than we could carry in a bucket.  Each day, Abigail has asked me many times to go geocaching again.  I think we have  new hobby!

By the way, there are some more cool pics of the Southside Bridge…much better than mine.

Edit:  cheesychick asked in a comment who hides the caches…that’s part of what makes this cool…other geocachers hide the loot and report their stash on one of the geocaching websites.  We used and it seems to be the most popular.  They review the coordinates of the cache to make sure it isn’t at a school or a power plant, etc and then publish the cache.  From their site, I can download the cache coordinates directly into my gps receiver.   The last cache we found was hidden by an airline pilot who was on break overnight in Charleston.  He comes back whenever he is in town and checks on it (to make sure it is still there, isn’t wet, etc).  They can be all different sizes and should contain a log book and possibly other loot which people trade in and out as they find it.  We’ll hide some after we get a little more experience with geocaching.

14 thoughts on “Scavenger hunting for nerds

  1. Hey Warren,
    I’m a bit confused. Ya’ll know I do not get off the farm very often and even then, it is to go to a farming conference. What is this thing? Who puts the 700 caches around Charleston? Explain or I’m going to die dumb. And I remember that bridge well. We crossed it too many times in our Mother Ship (our old, extrememly small motorhome that gets amazingly good gas mileage)while attending a wedding in Charleston with all four youngins’, my two elderly parents, Cranky, myself and two dogs! We were lost. Can you picture this scenario? but I have fond memories so I guess it wasn’t all that bad!

  2. I don’t have GPS but I did stumble across one of these once. I also saw some people looking for one (I hope, or they were just strange) on the Cliff Walk in Newport, RI this weekend! Seems like it’s a cool way to explore a lot of interesting places.

  3. What a neat thing to do!

    Josh loves his garmin! He has a watch gps thingy too. It’s for work, I think.

    And you are welcome to man-crush on my husband. He’s terribly cool in that 007 meets Jason Bourne meets Joel Salatin kind of way. At least, I think so.


  4. Bring your Garmin in the spring. There are lots of caches in this area to find. I think we could have a lot of fun hiking trails, etc to find them.

  5. pa grandma is right. We have 3 caches hidden in President and one of them is really cool. We go caching every summer and it’s amazing the places you’ll find that you didn’t even know existed. They are even on the islands down the Allegheny. We hid one right out from our camp on the island so we can watch people try to find it. We all sit there with our binoculars and laugh. The kids really enjoy the multicaches though. Found a couple on Smokey Hill too…that was a fun day.

  6. Very cool, Uncle Warren, very cool. I thought about getting into that or letterboxing once, but I doubt we could find anything here in no mans land! Glad Emily is feeling better! 🙂

  7. Wow! With 700 boxes out there you won’t be running out of entertainment anytime soon! The give/take thing is a pretty cool idea. I guess with letterboxing it’s collecting stamps, which is nice because then you can show off your little book of stamps later, but I am always wondering why more of them aren’t stolen by some meanie out there wanting to spoil all the fun. I guess maybe in general people are pretty honest and want to have a good time and see others having a good time, too. It’s nice to know that.

  8. Tipper – we are going again this weekend…it’s a bunch of fun!

    cheesychick – I hope my edit to the post made it clearer. I changed my header pic on the blog so you can see another view of Charleston…it’s only temporary but specifically for you!

    Kris – The gps was $150 or so but that’s the only expense aside from gas!

    CR – try it…you’ll like it!

    Becca – I can’t believe more people don’t stumble upon these things. Anyhow, I am hoping we will see some neat new places too…we’ve already walked across the big bridge which many folks in Charleston have never done!

    Lacy – just don’t tell my wife!

    Mom – I already have them loaded in the gps

    Kristen – We’ll be up 2x this summer I think. I can’t wait to sniff around your neck of the woods! I didn’t know you were in to!

    farm mom – I grew up east and farther out in no man’s land than where you are and they exist there too. I’d bet you have some…go to and enter your zip…they’ll tell you what’s around!

    Lynnie – They are hidden very well and geocachers are warned not to get spotted by muggles…I think a lot of it is nasty people are too busy being nasty in other ways to mess up caches. We’ll see how our experience goes but I tend to think most people are live and let live, about that sort of stuff anyhow!

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