Saturday, August 15, 2009

GPS for Treasure and Fun

If you want to add an extra dimension of fun to your travels or everyday routine, try a little GPS treasure hunting, or geocaching. When you find a cache, you take an item, leave an item, and sign the cache's logbook. There are caches close to just about everyone and the whole family can get involved.

The two things you need for a successful search are a GPS and cache coordinates. The main website for finding coordinates and clues for caches nearby and all over the world is ( You can make a printout of the cache information and maps to take with you in your adventure.

If you don't want to use printouts but still want to play, you can get a GPS that handles paperless geocaching. One excellent example is the Garmin Oregon 400t (pictured here). The Oregon is my favorite GPS yet for geocaching. It comes preloaded with topographic maps for all of the United States or Europe. Road maps can be accessed with an optional micro-sd card. The newer Garmin 550t has the added benefit of a 3.2 megapixel camera. (

The Oregon is a high-end GPS, but caches can be found with a GPS that costs under $100. I started my adventures with a GPS utility on a Pocket PC. On the low end, I used a Garmin Etrex Legend. If you have a GPS-enabled phone, you may already have what you need to start your adventure. Groundspeak even has a new iPhone geocaching application.

On a recent trip to Baltimore, I decided to see if there was a cache I could pick up nearby. The cache had to be within walking distance, since I didn't have a car. I popped over to, entered my hotel's address, and downloaded the results directly to my Oregon. The closest coordinates took my wife and I a few blocks over to the Inner Harbor where we found a big cache.

What did we find? A Hello Kitty watch for my wife and a fallen soldier memorial trackable tag (Pfc. Sam W. Huff) for me. There were probably about 100 items, but we liked these the best. We left some Colombian coffee, a Disney Hero card, and an Eagles Football card.

Now, it's your turn to go over to and start your adventure. Who knows what you will find!

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