GeoTripping

In my last post, Patience in Purgatory, I mentioned something called GeoCaching. I thought I’d take a moment and see if I couldn’t recruit a few of you to join our obsess — er,I mean our little game.

Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. geocaching_whyalla

This crazy game was introduced to me by my uncle back in 2007.  All I did was ask if he wanted to join us for a family reunion and he asked for the coords (short for coordinates).  Now I read maps in the Air Force, but I never had a civilian ask me for coords. He explained that it was a scavenger hunt (world wide) where one could find various types of treasures in the woods and parking lots using something called GPS.

I went to the GeoCaching website and after trolling the pages for a couple of hours, I decided it was something I must go do. I loaded some coords in my car GPS and set it to walking mode. Next thing I know I’m tramping around the state park looking under brown leaves, holes in trees, and under rocks. A couple of frustrating hours later, I took my unwanted hitchhiking chiggers home.

After soaking my feet and scratching most of the night, I pulled on long pants, better socks, boots, and lathered in OFF and set out the next morning. I HAD to find that lock-n-lock Tupperware container in the woods. I must not be defeated by the scavenger hunt.

Morning brought me success and satisfaction. Enough that I found several more that day in the park. It was great, hiking and solving the riddles. After I got home and struggled my way through logging my first few finds, I trolled the pages some more. As luck would have it, there was something called a GeoPinic in a couple of weeks in that same park. (Notice how we start everything with Geo?)

I made a dish and joined a bunch of people I didn’t know, who were as obsessed with hiding and finding things in the woods, in the parking lots, and in well, in just about anywhere you can safely hide something for other people to find as I was. It was a great picnic and I made friends that to this day I still have in my life. We talk about more than geocaching, but not much more.

That little pot luck picnic has turned into a Mega Event. If you are ever in Newport News over labor day weekend, I suggest you check out the GCHR picnic. The people are fun, helpful, and great cachers.

It was at this picnic that I learned a car GPS was not going to get me very far. It wasn’t the GPS’s fault, it just was meant for getting from one place to another. It was not accurate enough to get you within a few feet of something that someone hid in the middle of a huge forest.

GeoCaching is a microcosm of life. The community is made up of all types of people, from all over the world, with different backgrounds and a multitude of reasons for caching. Some for fun, some for health reasons, some for socializing, and the list goes on and on. The caches range from easy light post skirts to hard climb up a mountain to snorkeling in the ocean. If someone can dream it up, it will be a container someone hid somewhere. There is even one on the Space Station!

One of my greatest adventures was a couple years back when a friend of mine talked me into going to my first GeoWoodstock. We decided that we would drive there, from Virginia to Missouri and back. It was an awesome trip. We found some of the oldest active caches in the world, we grabbed a cache in each state we drove through (because there is a challenge to get at least 1 cache in each state), and, thanks to RoadSide America, we found a cache that was co-located with the World’s Largest baseball; and yes, we added another layer to it’s boulder like size in Indiana.

GeoTours is a new term that I was told about recently. Apparently, this is a spin off combination what we call puzzle caches and bling trails. These custom tours use geocaching to introduce you to new locations, like the Birth Place of Texas. The old fashion way was to search for caches you wanted to get in places you were going to visit anyway, plot them on the map and then head out on a road trip and collect the smilies. Some people, like we did, road trip through several states locating the oldest or coolest places (like Cadillac Ranch) or historic sites. They have been known to cache for several days through several states and put hundreds of miles on a vehicle to play this game.

I have a wish list of caches myself which is growing thanks to watching the adventures of other cachers road trips or chatting about challenges at meet and greet events. I want to get a cache in all 50 states (still in progress), get the oldest cache in the world: Mingo (check), a cache on top of a bluff in Big Bend where I need an off road vehicle (this has more to do with me wanting to drive a jeep on something other than a freeway (not checked)), a cache in Ireland, England and Italy (my favorite European spots (not checked,not checked, not checked)), and a water cache where I need to snorkel or dive for it (not checked).

I didn’t know where geocaching was going to lead me, but I have seen some amazing things on my geotrips. I have climb some boulders and semi safe cliffs and watched the sun and eagles, I have discovered American War cemeteries, and visited civil war monuments tucked away in little parks in the middle of the suburbs. I love this game as it gives me a destination when I don’t have one and I may just learn something about the country or state that I am in.

It’s never dull and always good for a laugh. So come join us using multi-billion dollar satellites to find Tupperware in the woods.

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