a peek inside the fishbowl

03 Nov, 2009

Exploring Barrhaven part 2: Geocaching near the Nepean Quarry

Posted by andrea tomkins in: - Ottawa for kids|Easy ways to make kids happy

At the end of yesterday’s post I had just whipped out ye old iPhone and fired up the Geocaching app.

First, I should explain a bit about geocaching.

Geocaching is an outdoor treasure-hunting type of activity in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) to find “treasure” a.k.a caches. There is a sizable geocaching community out there and there are caches all over the world, plenty of which are in Ottawa.

Participants can hide or seek a cache, or both. Seekers keep a log of how many they find, collecting their finds as if they were pirate treasure. (Alas there is no real treasure – no gold coins or strings of pearls as far as I know.) I should point out that the caches are not kept, they are always returned to their hiding spot.

The caches themselves are made out of waterproof containers and contain small items. Finders are encouraged to leave things in exchange for others (although this isn’t strictly necessary), and everyone signs a notebook to prove they were there.

We’ve had a few successful (and some not-so-successful) geocaching outings.

I will say that if you’re looking for something active and interesting to do as a family, this is it. As you can imagine the girls love geocaching, and it is very exciting to be the one who makes the find.

 (Here’s the official site in case you want to look into it.)

Anyway, the cache we were looking for near the Nepean Quarry was called “Iron Ring” (all the caches have a name) and it took us about half a kilometre off the main trail, away from the highway. I should explain that I find things like wandering off trail a tiny bit nervewracking. I have a fear of getting lost in the woods, even within hearing of a major thoroughfare. (Heck I have a fear of getting lost ANYWHERE.)

We walked until we suddenly arrived at the remains of an old home. There were no walls or windows or doors, but I could clearly spot remnants of a foundation coming out of the side of a hill. We had passed some old fencing along the way, piles of stones (an old stone wall or part of a kitchen garden?), all kinds of bits of bric a brac that was slowly being overtaken by the wilderness:

old brick

It was part junk heap, part archeological dig.

There were a couple of broken cups, a rusty old wringer washer, and a car:

taking over the family car

(it’s funny how some parts stay shiny, isn’t it):

Abandoned car door

Our quest to find the cache was took us to a very overgrown place which required some fancy footwork:

tip toe through the trees

I was too busy looking around to focus my attention on the task at hand. It sure was pretty:

Field of wishes

But there was a feeling. I had a feeling of disquiet.

This used to be someone’s home.

There were gnarled old apple trees everywhere, evidence perhaps of someone’s farming effort of long ago. Maybe homesteads had fruit trees – especially apple – to help get them through long fruitless Canadian winters.

I stumbled upon a flock of robins gorging themselves in preparation for the cold months ahead. It was a spectacle of colour; red-breasted robins in the brown and grey trees, the orange and yellows of fall, and that red red fruit. I was only able to photograph that mealy fruit rotting on the branches. The colour was remarkable and I found it hard to tear myself away:

apple tree

Much of the fruit was scattered on the ground:


There was one particular tree which had very long needle-like thorns, which I didn’t notice those right away. All I could see was the apples. Someone else (was it you Mark?) noticed that the apples had all been deliberately speared to the tree and were not there naturally. Each fruit was impaled on a long thorn. All these stabbed apples were mildly creepy, but perhaps it was an offering to the birds?

After about 20 minutes of poking around we gave up the search. The iPhone GPS isn’t very precise. It only gives the general vicinity of a cache which then leaves us to our own devices. We weren’t able to locate the cache, even with a huge hint that instructed us to “look inside a tree stump.”

On the way back to the main path we passed a big stump and I peeked inside. There it was! It was at the very bottom. Mark and Emma had to work together to coax it out. (I was worried about getting a hand full of spiderweb.)

found it!

We signed the book and left everything else intact.

The sun was starting to set and it was starting to cool down. We had a quiet, quick walk back to the car. And that’s when I started to *really* figure out where we had just been. More tomorrow.

12 Responses to "Exploring Barrhaven part 2: Geocaching near the Nepean Quarry"

1 | Jenny

November 3rd, 2009 at 9:52 am


This is my first time to your site. I just wanted to drop in and say hi. I’ve read a few of your posts and I like your writing style, so I’m gonna add you to my daily reads. :)

Thanks for having me and hope to see you drop by my blog. I’d love to have you. Have a great week!

2 | betsy mae

November 3rd, 2009 at 9:57 am


As you know, we are new to camping but I’ve realized many campgrounds (perhaps the provincial ones?) have geocaching. I wonder if my girls are old enough to give it a try next summer when we camp?

3 | CGB

November 3rd, 2009 at 10:32 am


I’m new to your blog, and love it – and now I find out you’re a geocacher too?!? Fantastic! Hope you post more often about your geocaching adventures – we have a toddler, and always like finding out about family friendly hikes, especially those that have caches hidden on them :)

4 | lacoop

November 3rd, 2009 at 11:56 am


Sounds a little ‘Blair Witch’ like: a feeling of disquiet, the home of people long gone, apples speared to a tree… Well, at least there were no pitbulls! :-)

5 | Cath

November 3rd, 2009 at 1:28 pm


The tree was likely a hawthorn – some birds like to use ’em to impale mice etc for snacks later on … sort of Tim Horton’s meets the Tower of London …

6 | Chantal

November 3rd, 2009 at 2:02 pm


oh the suspense!!!

7 | Laura

November 3rd, 2009 at 4:36 pm


Geocaching. This is the first time I’ve ever heard about it – sounds exciting (and a wee bit scary). Since we love hiking and exploring and our girls love Nancy Drew, this is something we have to try.

8 | Heather

November 3rd, 2009 at 5:01 pm


I loved your post. I was about to fire up my new site on geocaching in Ontario, and this gave me a real kickstart. I’ll now write a post and link to yours because its a great description of how much fun it is.

9 | Exploring Barrhaven part 3: The story behind Lytle Park >> a peek inside the fishbowl

November 4th, 2009 at 1:10 pm


[…] my last posts we had been exploring the Nepean Quarry and had participated in a little bit of geocaching. My legs were killing me but the girls desperately wanted to play in the little playground near […]

10 | Geocaching Meetup | Kids in Cowtown

May 19th, 2011 at 9:42 am


[…] some great articles on geocaching with kids check out DadCAMP and A Peek inside the Fishbowl. And if you’re ready to start then head over to the official site.  They have an iPhone app […]

11 | brian

August 16th, 2012 at 11:58 pm


please, send me an email. i want to find that car.

12 | Walden is wandering! >> a peek inside the fishbowl

July 3rd, 2013 at 10:16 am


[…] Walden is our little family project. It’s the Trust Experiment with a bit of geocaching thrown along with a measure of social media. Hopefully there will be community participation, but […]

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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