Geocaching in Columbus

GPS hide-and-seek game takes families on exciting outdoor adventures

As Mike and Rosie walked across the field at Antrim Park, they stared down at Mike’s phone. A blue dot was moving across the screen toward a green dot. They began to walk faster until the blue dot nearly covered the green dot, which we all hoped betokened a hidden treasure.

“It’s around here somewhere,” Mike said.

They searched for crevices in a brick wall, thumbing around for a small container.

“I found it, I found it” yelled Rosie, pointing to a small green capsule attached to a tree limb.

Father and daughter gave each other a high five. Rosie then unscrewed the top of the capsule, which bore no treasure – only a miniature scroll. Still, after the 20-minute site search, that was in itself a prize. Rosie signed her name on the paper coil, rolled it back up and returned it to the capsule.

We had completed our first “geocaching” family adventure.

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Geocaching is an outdoor-adventure game that originated in the year 2000. Players use a mobile app or GPS device to find cleverly hidden containers (or geocaches) around the world. It’s pretty simple: A geocacher hides a geocache, lists it on and challenges other geocachers to find it. There are more than 10 million registered users on

It’s a fun way to explore your everyday surroundings, where the possibility of a new discovery hides under a fallen tree, near a parking meter or within a short walk of wherever you happen to be.

We’ve discovered that geocaches can come in a variety of shapes and sizes – from a non-hidden structure containing shareable books in a neighbor’s front yard to an earbud-sized magnetic container holding a strip of paper hidden at Whetstone Park.

At minimum, geocaches contain a logbook for finders to sign. (So be sure to bring along a pen.) Some geocaches contain small trinkets for trade – such as rubber bracelets, pretty rocks and even money, as we discovered in one container. If a geocacher takes something from the geocache, they replace it with something of equal or greater value.

Geocaches are put back where they were found for the next geocacher. They’re never buried and shouldn’t contain food or dangerous objects. When we found the tiny scroll at Antrim Park, I made a note about the find on our phone, using the Geocaching app. The green dot transformed into a smiley face, signifying we’d scored one of nearly 2.5 million geocaches hidden around the globe.

So, how do you get started? At its simplest level, geocaching requires two steps: You first register for a free, basic membership at and you then download the free Geocaching Intro app on your mobile phone.

Opening the app reveals a blue dot signifying your GPS coordinates on a detailed map, and lots of green and grey dots that represent hidden geocaches. The geocaches signified by the green dots can be found with the free app, while the ones signified by the grey dots require you to purchase the premium app for $9.99. Reviews of the app seemed to indicate that you then need to pay a
monthly fee for access. We concluded that the free app provided a thorough-enough experience for playing the game.

Geocaching can, of course, get more complicated if you want it to. You can go to great links to hide and find them – in caves or even under water. You can learn the lingo by using words like “muggle” (a non-geocacher) or plot to be the first to find a newly hidden geocache – giving you the right to write “FTF” (first to find) on a geocache log. (Read the glossary here.)

Learn more about geocaching and register to play at

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Columbus Blue Jackets: Watching hockey game is only half the fun

Watching hockey game is only half the fun

The first time I attended a Blue Jackets hockey game was in the early 2000s while on a date with my now-husband, Mike. I remember the initial excitement of seeing the bright, white ice rink at Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus and the thrill of watching players slam against the Plexiglass panels.

Our enthusiasm for our city’s first professional hockey team kept us coming back. We’d regularly join in choruses of “Let’s go Jackets!” while waving paper cutouts of team member’s faces, such as the handsome Rostislav Klesla and the rebellious Jody Shelley, who was known for starting fights. We got autographs, too, including one from former team captain Rick Nash on my cell-phone case.

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Fast forward to a decade later in February 2015 when we took our two children to see their first hockey game – a matchup between the Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens at Nationwide, where the Jackets have been playing since the expansion team was founded in 2000.

Our 7-year-old daughter, Rosie, seemed especially enthusiastic about the outing. Our son, Max, 5, on the other hand, just wanted Dippin’ Dots – beads of ice cream frozen by liquid nitrogen – but none were to be found.

The surroundings, more than the game, enchanted our children.

First there was Stinger. The mascot, a bright green bug with bulging red eyes sporting a Blue Jackets’ jersey, buzzes around the stadium, interacting with crowd members, launching T-shirts and skating on the ice between the three-period game.

Second there were the prizes. The team’s promotional members hurled empty pizza boxes into the crowd for a chance to win a free pizza. And a remote-controlled blimp that Rosie called “Blimpy” dropped parachute-strapped paraphernalia – more T-shirts.

Next there was the cannon. A replica of an 1857 Napoleon cannon, it’s fired at home games whenever the team takes the ice, scores a goal or wins a game. The cannon complements the teams’ namesake and Ohio history, but be warned: It is loud.

Fourth and foremost there was the Jumbotron. The giant screen, seen by fans from four sides, displays the game and entertainment during commercial breaks and lulls in the action. Rosie kept mugging with her dad in the hopes that they would make it onto the big screen. Alas, they did not. I tried mugging it up with Max, but he was too far gone playing Minecraft on my cell phone to show much interest.

There are a few more things for kids to do around the arena. There’s the IGS Energy Zone, an area where kids can play a makeshift hockey game with soft sticks in a small rink that has a comfy floor. This area is staffed by adults. Our kids also enjoyed stopping at the Fox Sports Ohio Blue Line, the official team store of the Blue Jackets. It was packed with clothes, toys and Blue Jackets memorabilia.

Nationwide Arena’s website lists several no-nos, items that you’re not supposed to bring to a game. They include strollers, backpacks, laptops, air horns and (surprise!) fireworks.

While the Blue Jackets did not win the game, we enjoyed the action of the players battling it out on the ice. Hockey players seem to really earn their money, and it was a lot of fun watching the game from a bird’s-eye view.

The Blue Jackets made sure everyone in the family had fun. Now if only they can serve Dippin’ Dots.

For more information, visit

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