Yes, I know, Pokemon Go, is the latest rage. But from what I've seen of that silly game that has so many people wandering around outside looking for virtual monsters on their smartphones, it's really a spinoff on something a lot of RVers have been doing for years.
Call it treasure hunting or its more technical name, geocaching – either way it’s a fun way many RVers are exploring new places around the world or even in their own neighborhoods.
Now when we say “treasure” hunting, let's be clear: Geocaches are not really worth anything, except bragging rights. Typically, the caches are a trinket, found in a small container sometimes, hidden in out of the way places. There is also usually a logbook with a pen and pencil. The geocacher enters the date they found it and signs it with their established code name. After signing the log, the cache must be placed back exactly where the person found it. Larger containers such as plastic storage containers can also contain items for trading, usually miniature toys or curios of little financial value, although sometimes they are sentimental.
The fun is in the hunt, solving clues to their locations, figuring out just where they may be. Along the way, you get a pretty good tour of the area you happen to be searching, often getting a feel and an appreciation for the area you'd miss without your up-close geocaching exploration.
And with about 2.7 million – and growing – treasures, or geocaches, out there, all you need is the right app to get started. Hard core geocachers like to also use a handheld GPS unit. But I have three apps that will get you started just fine.
Groundspeak Inc.’s Geocaching app is billed by the company as the official app of geocaching. The app is simple and user-friendly. You can easily search, hunt, and log what you find. The app also allows users to download cache locations before heading out, which means you don’t have to have WiFi or cellular signal access while hunting.. It’s $9.99 for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.
CacheSense is another geocaching app that accesses the official geocaching database. It features an attractive and intuitive user interface and works well for all levels of users. CacheSense also combines multiple map and navigation sources to make finding treasures easy. Other features include the ability to network with other geocachers and sign up to get emails for new cache notifications. CacheSense is for Android and costs $5.
Last, there’s Geocaching Buddy. The robust app is easy to use, allowing users to keep track of clues, use built-in calculators for clues, and navigate without being too complicated. Because of the way it works, Geocaching Buddy is a favorite of those who prefer to go on adventures involving multi-caches, or treasure hunts consisting of two or more locations. The app is $7.99 and available for iOS and Android.
Here's an NBC-TV video segment I did on this showing the three apps above: