Geocaching…What Is It?!?

I have a new hobby that is pretty much free and a lot of fun and gets you outside.  It’s geocaching (pronounced geo-cashing).  The idea is that you are given a set of GPS coordinates and your goal is to find a hidden container.  The container can be just about anything and can be big to extremely small.  The container can be hidden in plain sight or require some serious sleuthing.

The most essential part of geocaching has been the app I downloaded to my smartphone, appropriately titled Geocaching.  There is a free app that shows you caches hidden nearby, or for $10 you can get the full app that allows you to search all caches.  After finding our first cache, I decided to spend the $10 for the full app and I don’t regret it.  This app also gives you clues, lets you log your finds, and comment on the individual caches.  It tracks your GPS coordinates and lets you know when you are close to the cache.

Here is Kris finding our first cache, which was hidden about half a mile from our house:

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As you can see, inside the camouflaged plastic container there is a log book that you can write in, and various small knickknacks.  You can take something out of the cache, but you are supposed to leave something behind if you do.

While we were home for the holidays, we checked out some caches in Rib Mountain, Wisconsin, where I am from.  My dad came with us.

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Kris found the next two caches we looked for and I was pissed happy for him.

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Finally, I found the last cache in the park.  This was a very cool one, hidden in a tree trunk in the woods.  The hints said it was a little stinky.

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Inside the hollowed out (fake) skunk was a log book.  People get so creative with the caches that it’s very fun to go find them.  Once found and you’ve logged your victory, you put the cache back in the exact same spot so the next geocachers can find it.

We also found one in Niles, Michigan, about a quarter mile from Kris’ parents house. This one was a magnet stuck on a street sign.

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Caches are really all over, and wherever you live, there are probably quite a few within walking distance of where you live.  Some caches are unavailable during different times of the year (they get buried in snow or weeds grow up around it in summer).  That’s where the app becomes very helpful because it has those hints.

There was one cache near our house that we didn’t find (you can log these online as DNF).  We are determined to find it this spring when it’s warmer and easier to be outside searching.

Overall, geocaching is a great activity and fun for your whole family.  Someday Kris and I look forward to putting together a cache and hiding it for others to find.  We can’t wait to delve into this hobby some more.

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2015, the Year of the Finance

2014 was amazing for me.  Got married, bought the house, traveled internationally twice, did a ton of home improvement projects, paid off both cars, and got assigned to some different attorneys at work (a step in the right direction jobwise because I’m working for the boss man now).  It’s a year that will be hard to top, if not impossible.

What will 2015 bring?

I have some pretty lofty goals for this year.  One of the biggest is to knock out my husband’s student loan.  We worked hard after we got married in May 2014 to drop that sucker from $26,500 to $19,000.  Our goal in 2015 is to get rid of it forever and then focus on my loan, which is sitting pretty at $13,100 right now.  We will get that down to under $9,000 by making our usual payments and then plan to kill it in 2016.

As an aside, I hate student loans and wish there were better education out there about loans. That being said, my husband and I both have master’s degrees that helped us land the (good) jobs we’re currently in.  We probably would have both taken out a little less in loans had we been better informed, but there is no way we could have gotten our degrees without loans.  I hope anyone taking out loans, especially young people, research their options and study what repayment will mean to them.

We also plan on doing a little more with the house.  I am currently obsessing about buying a fainting couch for our library.  We would like a new dishwasher and a bigger microwave with a vent.  Because this happens every time I make breakfast:

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We’re also investigating new bathroom floors and countertops.  My wish list for the house is about $70k long, but we can only tackle a little bit this year since we are being so ambitious elsewhere with our money.  I think we can double our net worth this year, pushing us into the six digits.  I use mint.com to track our net worth and keep tabs on our debt.

We also have some FUN lined up to keep us sane while we save money.  My office gave us $200 in Wisconsin Bed and Breakfast gift certificates as a wedding present that we’ll use in early March to go up to Bayfield, Wisconsin and hopefully see the ice caves.  We will also be camping up there in August, so it’ll be cool to see the contrast.  We’re staying at the Old Rittenhouse Inn, which I’ve always wanted to stay at.  When I was a kid, I remember seeing this giant, beautiful mansion and thinking I wanted to live there.  Well, staying for a night will have to cut it for now.

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credit:  rittenhouseinn.com

Kris has a work trip in Philadelphia that I’m planning on tagging along with in July.  I’ve always wanted to see Philly, so I’m looking forward to that and I better start mapping out my thrift store plan.  I mean…my plan to see history stuff.  Yeah.

Best of luck out there with your plans for 2015!