Bodega Bay is known for it’s beautiful cliffs and hills, leading to stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Bodega Head in particular had a beautiful, relatively flat hike where one saw hills, beach, seals, and if you were lucky even a few whales. But hidden in the trail, sometimes just right off the trail, are treasures and secrets. But you have to know to look for them.
I am relatively new to geocaching. I was introduced to the fun by my dear friend A, husband of my best friend R. Geocaches are these boxes hidden way in public places. People who are part of the geocaching community mark the coordinates of the cache. Then, when hiking or walking, members of the community can use their geocache app to find these caches. Sometimes they are small and only have a log. Sometimes they are bigger and have small prizes inside. When you find a cache you are supposed to sign the log. If it’s a cache with a prize you can take something as long as you leave something for someone else. You can also log that you found it on the geo cache app. Then, you need to put the cache back in the same place so the next person can find it. It’s basically a giant adult scavenger hunt with thousands of players. It’s a lot of fun and keeps the kids engaged during the hike.
For A’s 40th birthday, a large group of us went to spend the weekend in Bodega Bay. The idea was to rent a house and hang out together. But it’s not a weekend visit to Bodega Bay without hiking. R decided Bodega Head was a perfect hike. It was a 3-mile loop, relatively flat, and most importantly had 7 geo caches in the loop. But this was a birthday hike for a man who was seriously into both hiking and geocaching. So to make it interesting, R went out and hid an extra cache at each location, specifically for the group to find. We were given instructions, split into two groups, and were off.
I was in the group with R, my family, R’s two children, and one other couple. The adults were enjoying the scenery. The kids were moaning that they had to walk. When it came time for the geocache, the kids suddenly became interested, wanting to be the first to find the cache, open it, sign the log book, etc. But once they saw the special birthday cache, they became very excited. It turned out each special birthday cache had little gifts for each of those in the groups. Little magnetic men, 40th birthday coins, salamander and bottle opener key chains, etc. Soon everyone in the group got excited and involved, climbing in bushes and bushwhacking off trail to find the caches. And while the real geocaches were nice, they just could not top the special 40th birthday caches.
However, children being children, and tired adults recovering from a previous night of drinking being tired adults, the short 3-mile hike in the cold turned out to be a little bit much for all. At the end, we abandoned searching for one of the caches and had R go ahead and pick it up so we could go straight to the car. But R informed us that there was one more cache we all had to drive to. She insisted that we wouldn’t want to miss this one. So we all drove to one last location.
As we pulled to the side of the road, R lead us up a hill and out of sight of the busy road. There in a clearing with a fallen tree, R instructed us to start searching. We all started looking around the tree, under bushes, around bark until someone found a red tool box with the distinctive 40th birthday sticker. The kids were super excited to open it up. Inside was special treats for all. The kids jumped in and immediately grabbed the Rice Krispie treats and juices, excited for the last treat. We adults laughed knowing they were missing the best part. Inside were little bottles of 4 different types of alcohol for the adults. Chartreuse, Genepi, Apricot liquor, and Raspberry liquor. As the kids feasted, we all took out a bottle and had shots, toasting the birthday boy and celebrating a fun hike and friends gathering together. My kids deemed the last cache their favorite part of the entire Bodega Bay trip. And I had to agree. Being in the woods, surrounded by friends, and toasting to the past, present and future is one of the best places in the world to be.