A few months ago, I found myself belly-crawling through the dirt under a merry-go-round.  Looking up at the underside of this playground staple, I reflected on how I willingly came to be in such a position for the first time in over thirty years.  I grunted, contorting my six-foot, four-inch,  42 year-old, slightly-heavier-than-it-should-be frame to better study the merry-go-round’s support structure. As I lay prostrate, hoping I wouldn’t knock my head on something, I spied my goal–a small metal case that had once held cigarettes but now held a tiny slip of paper and a pencil.  Victory! I found the Geocache.

Crawling under an old merry-go-round in Crete, NE.

Crawling under an old merry-go-round in Crete, NE.

Returning from the Mayo Clinic last fall, we got hungry for lunch.  We pulled off I-35 in northern Iowa into a “prairie area” we’d not yet explored hoping to find a quiet, pretty spot to enjoy a picnic lunch.  As Ann was preparing our sandwiches, I headed back to our car to grab something.  Suddenly, an older gentleman called me over to his car.  Let me pause in my storytelling here to go on record as saying that I don’t normally approach older men at rest areas on interstates.  I only went over because he called me and my Nebraska politeness kicked in before I could think.  Long story short, he told me to look at the left end of a sign near our picnic table.  He said there was a capsule there that I should look at, that it contained the names of people who’d found it before.

The Geocache was a small, pill bottle wrapped in tape and secured to the back of a sign with wire.

The Geocache was a small, pill bottle wrapped in tape and secured to the back of a sign with wire.

I said I’d look, and headed, intrigued, back to where Ann was and together, we looked behind the sign. There, hanging by a wire, was a plastic pill bottle wrapped in camouflage duct tape.  We opened it, and entered the world of Geocaching.

Geocaching started years ago when the U.S. government first allowed civilian use of GPS technology.  No sooner was the system turned on, than a guy went and hid something in the woods, challenging others to find it.  People did, and wrote on-line about their experiences.  Soon many more found the item, while others hid still more items for people to find.  They gave the practice the name “Geocaching” combining the idea that the world, “Geo,” is the playing field and you have to find the hidden “caches” of goods.

Back to our rest-stop pill bottle.  Inside, there were several tattered strips of paper filled with the names of people who’d already found this cache along with the date they were there.  We jotted “Postcardjar” and the date on the paper and were hooked.  Right after we got back in the car, we download the app to Ann’s phone so we could play, too.

Now as we drive down the road, we check to see if there are any caches nearby.  If there are, their location (latitude and longitude) are displayed along with information about the cache.  (The app even gives us a handy line to follow.)  Here’s the catch:  You are directed to the exact location of the cache, but then you have to find it.

A small Geocache made of an Altoids box.

A small Geocache made of an Altoids box.

Some caches are very small, others are big.  All are hidden to some degree…some better than others.  And you have to be discreet when looking, as geocachers don’t want “muggles” (non-geocachers) to know what they’re doing.

There are a lot of caches out there, somewhere in the neighborhood of 2.5 million.  They are hidden right out in public, sometimes in plain view.  Every day, hundreds or even thousands of people might pass by these caches without knowing they exist or giving them a second thought.  I guarantee you’ve gone by hundreds of them without knowing.  The best part is that anyone with a handheld GPS (or even a GPS equipped smartphone) can play along.  You just have to want to take a few minutes away from your car to explore someplace new–like the underside of a merry-go-round.

Have you tried Geocaching? Let us know about your experiences. We’d love to hear from you.

  • Late breakfast, early lunch. Time got away from us this morning so we had a bit of a brunch. We have been on an oatmeal kick this year for several reasons. It's inexpensive, filling, tastes great, and is typically readily available at grocery stores and hotels that serve breakfast. ⁣
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One cup of oatmeal cooked in water is about 160 calories (and a "green" food on our @noom weight loss app). We like to add a teaspoon of brown sugar, a little cinnamon, and lots of fresh berries. Other options are: bananas, nuts, nutmeg, diced apple, flax seed, or dried fruits. ⁣
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What is your go-to breakfast these days?
  • See how we lost a combined 150 pounds in a year while traveling! It was one year ago this week that we began our healthy living journey. We are travel bloggers with a new post (just click on the handy dandy link in our bio) about what we've lost and gained in one year.
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See what we've learned about calorie density, exercise and ourselves in the process. We are so thankful for the resources that have helped us, including @noom and the @mayoclinic Healthy Living Program. (This is NOT a paid partnership) We feel like new people and hope our story will encourage someone else who wants to make a healthy lifestyle change. To stay up to date with our weight loss and healthy living journey, be sure to follow @PostcardJar on social media.
  • Our daffodils are in full bloom here in Nebraska and they just make us smile. We brought the  bulbs for these flowers from Ann's first house when we got married and moved here. Ann had dug them up from her grandma Rashleigh's home in Fremont, Nebraska, and her grandma had brought them to the U.S. from a trip that she took to England. ⁣
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Ann's grandma passed away several years ago. Each spring, these flowers bloom and remind Ann of her grandma and her beautiful soul.
  • We love to travel but we're staying home to flatten the curve. As travel bloggers, writers, and influencers, we all have canceled trips, postponed adventures, and rescheduled experiences. ⁣
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We know this is temporary and soon enough, we'll be traveling again. But for now, we are all staying safe at home and encourage you to do the same. And while you’re home, check out some of these influencers’ feeds for travel inspiration.
  • Last week, we had the pleasure of making handmade pasta (via the internet) with our friends, Deb and Massi, who were in their home kitchen in Italy. ⁣
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You can read all about it, and get the recipe, on our blog. Yep, you guessed it, the link is in our bio. ⁣
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We met Deb and Massi of @italyunfiltered a few years ago when they created an amazing food and wine itinerary for us. We've remained friends and it was so good to see them, even if they were a world away.
  • We were supposed to be in Rochester, Minnesota, this week for Ann to see a cardiac sarcoidosis specialist about some recent issues with her heart. Of course, we did not travel to Rochester for her scans and doctor visits because of the coronavirus outbreak.⁣
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Instead, her cardiologists called her from their homes and her scans and tests will likely be delayed until June or July. We'll keep in close touch with them if anything changes, as well. We are so grateful for all of the healthcare professionals who are continuing to work crazy hours from home as well as in our hospitals around the world.⁣
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This is such an unprecedented and stressful time for all of them. Words will never be enough to convey our gratitude for the roles they are playing in the battle against this deadly virus while caring for those with other diseases and illnesses at the same time. ⁣
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Every healthcare provider we've talked with in the last two weeks has had the same message for those of us who don't have to go to work at a hospital. ⁣
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Just. Stay. Home.
  • Yesterday was Day 16 of social isolation for us. Because of Ann's underlying heart condition and suppressed immune system, we've cooked all our meals at home (no takeout). We've starting to get more and more creative as time has gone by. ⁣
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Last night, we made chicken and shrimp vindaloo and learned online how to make homemade naan.⁣
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It wan't as good as our favorite Indian restaurant, The Oven, but it did satisfy the craving we've had for Indian food. ⁣
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What are you craving these days?
  • We moved our living room furniture around this week and put two swivel chairs near the sliding glass door. Each day, we take time to turn around, rest our minds, enjoy in the view, and just be. #webelieveinhome

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