CANYON CITY – Tanni Wenger, her husband and their two daughters recently started the trending family-friendly activity of geocaching.
It’s said to be the world’s largest treasure hunt with over 2 million geocaches worldwide.
Tanni had read about geocaching and, after her some encouragement from her friend Kimberly Walker, she and her family gave it a try last March.
Since then, the Wengers have found 75 caches, using a smartphone app – GPS units can also be used.
A visit to www.geocaching.com is the way to get started.
It’s free to sign up, and the instructions and coordinates for nearby geocaches at the website.
Coordinates are added to the phone or GPS, and the hunting begins.
Geocaches come in all shapes and sizes, and they usually include a log book for the hunter to sign and a trinket to take, with the expectation that an item of equal or greater value will be left behind.
Nine-year-old Lauren Wenger showed a plastic container holding all their finds so far, including small sunglasses, a dollar bill, key chains, Hot Wheels cars – they even found a 14-kt gold ring.
Tanni said they like to leave behind Grant Union Junior-Senior High School bottle-cap buttons they’ve made, or other small items.
Lauren said geocaching is a lot of fun.
“I like finding them, looking at the new trinkets and exploring new places,” she said.
She added, one of the hardest to find was near the Whitney cemetery, placed by a stump.
Using the phone app, a signal goes off when they are within 30 feet of the cache.
Tanni said they often stop to geocache while traveling out of town.
One of her favorite finds was near a local “shoe tree” (where discarded shoes hang from branches), and another was at Phillips Reservoir which lead them down a path to a scenic view.
Geocaching at night was something they tried recently – it was set up by Canyon City resident Tammy Bremner.
They used the flashlight on their phone, which gave directions on where to shine the light – it led them to reflectors in trees, and the nearby cache.
Tanni said one cache caught her husband by surprise. The container was a small velvet-covered rabbit bank, and, at first, he thought it was a real rabbit.
“It’s a nice family activity, and it shows you off-the-grid locations where you may not go to otherwise,” she said.
Already, Tanni is teaching others the joy of geocaching.
She and some Grant Union summer school teachers led a group of students to find six geocaches around John Day.
“I saw them out later that evening, geocaching on their own,” Tanni said.