We did something awesome today!
If you follow NYAM on Facebook, you may have seen my post a couple days ago asking readers to share some of their stay-at-home-for-spring-break-plans.
I thought it would be fun to compile a list of activities and ideas for those of us who aren’t off to Disney or somewhere tropical. (I know I’m especially in need of them since we are heading into the second week of a short break from swim team and my kids are already off the walls).
Then yesterday, I saw a post on Facebook. A friend of mine turned 50, and her daughter wrote her a message. It said something along the lines of, “…Happy Birthday, Mom! Thanks for taking me on lots of crazy adventures!…”
And I thought to myself, what a great thing for a kid to say. And what a great memory to have.
Then I thought about the fact that my kids are already bordering on TOOC (Totally Out Of Control) and it’s only the first day of spring break. With eight days left to go and no swim practice next week to help tire the kids out, I’m not sure we can handle too many at-home, creative activities.
So last night after reading my friend’s birthday message from her daughter, I decided this spring break is going to be the spring break of crazy adventures.
But they have to be crazy adventures that don’t really cost much because I just blew a shit ton of money sending Number 4 to Zones, and the crazy adventure bank balance is in the single digits.
One of the first suggestions someone made when I wrote that post on Facebook looking for stayacation ideas was geocaching.
I had never heard of it before. Am I the only one??? How did I not know about this?
I Googled geocaching right away, and it looked like a lot of fun. Plus it’s totally free, so giving it a try was a no-brainer.
If you are clueless like me, geocaching is basically a real-life treasure hunt. Geocaches are hidden containers that can range in size from something about the size of a film canister to a larger Rubbermaid container. They are waterproof and contain a log book, and some contain “treasures.” (I think treasures are usually more for fun and they aren’t really anything of much value).
There are millions of caches of various sizes hidden all over the world!
Last night I downloaded the app. As soon as you open a (free) membership, you can see where caches near you (and anywhere) are hidden. All you need is a phone with GPS.
Caches have descriptions, and many have hints, so some are fairly easy to find, and some are super difficult.
As luck would have it, there was a cache two miles from our house that was originally hidden by a seven-year-old (with the help of her parents), and it was intended for young geocachers.
So it was perfect for us virgins.
Last night I told the kids were were going on a surprise adventure, but I wouldn’t tell them what we were doing or where we were going. This morning, I pulled them all into the kitchen and explained what the plan was.
They were mostly excited. One may have been a little less than enthused, but he eventually came around.
We loaded in the car and I assigned Number 3 the role of navigator. He sat in the front seat with the phone helping to guide me. We ended up at the nature center in our town.
Here is the kicker. We have lived in this town for eight years, and in those eight years, I have never been to the nature center. I didn’t even know there was one!
So not only did we go on an adventure, but we visited a (really cool) resource in our town that I had never even seen before!
We got to the nature center, got out of the car, and started walking. The app’s description of the cache gave us a clue which direction to walk in.
As you walk, the app has a built in compass, and it tells you how many feet you are from the cache, and it points you in the correct direction.
Once you get within thirty feet or so, you just have to start looking all around.
Number 4 was the first one to spot the cache hidden in a hole in a stone wall.
Inside the box were a bunch of little “treasures” — mostly pencils, some little trinkets, etc.
Number 3 and 4 weren’t impressed by the contents of the cache, but we had discussed before we got there that there may not be anything at all inside and that the excitement was in locating the cache itself.
The little kids were pretty psyched, though. Number 7 had brought along some things from home to trade for items in the cache just in case. She and Number 5 and 6 traded some Shopkins, a small toy ladybug, and a Matchbox car for some stickers, balloons and a pencil.
But here is the cool thing. Inside the cache is a log book. And when find the cache, you are supposed to fill out the log book and place it back in the box.
The girl who had hidden the box had written a message in the log book last year:
She came back to update the log book and maintain her cache. And read that last line — she is 18 now! The box has been there for twelve years!
That’s so cool!
So I left a message in the log. Number 4 wanted to write one, and so did Number 6.
Number 6’s message: Hi, I’m (Number 6) and I liked the geocaching a lot. Bye bye Guys. Have a nice day!
How cute is that?
We finished up our log entries, and then we explored the nature center a little more.
We found a pretty cool tree and swing. We spent some time there.
We did a little more exploring.
There were a couple bumps in the road along the way.
But overall, we had a great time, it was definitely a little adventure, and the kids were bummed when I told them we had to leave.
Number 4 said to me later this afternoon, Mom, today was a great day. If every day of spring break is like this, it’s gonna be an awesome vacation!
Ha! And it was totally free and two miles from our house!
Will I be able to make the next eight days as fun as today was?
I don’t know.
But I’m up for the challenge!
Where in the world will Not Your Average Family go tomorrow?
Stay tuned to find out!