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I had pretty much given up on trying to explain geocaching to my ‘friends’ on Facebook. Whenever I have posted photos of enjoying my outdoor experiences, it is normally met with indifference. No ‘likes’ here, or God forbid, someone make a comment. Yet a different person could post a single vacation photo or sadly, and even more common, a photo of a plate of food from a restaurant … and the flood gates open with comments and the ‘likes’ pour in.
I can honestly say that for awhile there, it upset me. How does a plate of food, with its distorted Instagram filter, rate higher than a beautiful sun-drenched day outdoors, with smiling faces of people who have hiked into the wilderness, and experienced the joy of finding an object that very few people have ever found (or you had the honor of finding it first)? The excitement of venturing out to places in the world that you never knew existed only adds to the joy of this activity.
But then … it hit me. The answer was right in front of me. What appeals to these individuals about a plate of food is merely the fact that it’s an activity that we all share – eating. Who among us doesn’t enjoy a good meal – especially when we’re surrounded by people we care about. There’s little difference between loosening your belt after a gluttonous feast, and picking the briars out of your clothes after signing the logbook. Well, ok, there is a difference, but still, it’s all about the experience and sharing a common activity.
So, I took it upon myself to ask a FB friend (former classmate from school) to join my wife and I in the hunt for a few geocaches. We drove to her home, picked her up and off we went. She lives in a more suburban location, so the finds were very common placements and not very exciting. One cache find was somewhat eventful, as the location put us at the end of a fence line of a driving range. We soon became the goal of every golfer who had the power to hit a 300+ yard drive. I’m not sure if our laughter was out of fear or just the absurdity of looking for a loc-n-loc under fire. Regardless of the reason, she no longer wanted to be an observer … she now wanted to play this game for real. She brought out her smartphone, opened a new account on geocaching.com, downloaded the app, and we were on our way to the next cache. Just like that, a casual observer became a player. And at the end of the day, she wanted to know when we can do this again.
So, now when I post a photo on FB from caching, I can rely on one additional ‘like’ or possibly a comment, other than from a family member. It’s one small victory in sharing this activity with others. Not everyone will enjoy this, which I understand. But it’s my mission to see more photos of smiling faces holding a travel bug, than a massive plate of gravy-dripping carbohydrates.
Let the conversion begin … (FB post: “Who’s up for an adventure?”)
I really enjoy receiving updates on my trackables. For some time, I was buying travel bugs from geocaching.com quite frequently and sending them off on their way. During GeoWoodstock IX (GW9), we released about 6 travel bugs and a couple of them have put on thousands of miles since the 2nd of July.
One of the things I like to do when sending out a travel bug is to create a custom tag that is attached to the rider. With the ability to engrave on either a plastic, weatherproof tag, or anodized aluminum, I provide instructions and a link back to this blog. I am always fascinated at where these little buggers end up. With all my trackables, I request that a photo be taken of either where the bug was found or placed so I can visit where they end up … or a photo of the cacher with the trackable. I can’t decide which I enjoy more as both have been fun to view.
From GW9 in Pennsylvania on July 2, 2011 here are a couple updates on my travel bugs…
Howl at the Moon – 4,225.6 miles
From Pennsylvania to West Virgnia and then a huge jump to Northern Scotland, Howl at the Moon then made its way to Southern Scotland at the Edinburgh Castle. The geocacher who recently picked up the bug took a photo of a dog statue with my travel bug on its head (photos below).
A quick Google search told me about the statue and its location. This statue is of a three legged dog called “Bum”. It is located at the King’s Stables Road entrance to Princes Street Gardens and was gifted to the Town from San Diego which is one of Edinburgh’s Twin Cities.
My Bushy Brown Beaver – 6,363.6 miles
The beaver was traded at GW9 in July 2011 and has been the long distance traveler from my trackables so far. From Pennsylvania to Florida and then a flight to Germany, this beaver has seen more action than Vegas showgirl.
While in Germany, My Bushy Brown Beaver had visited some interesting sites including the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, Hamburg Dungeon, cranes in the port of Hamburg and even the Queen Mary II which is docked in the harbor. Amazing places this beaver has been, and I have been an armchair traveler visiting right along.
Another fun part of the travel bugs visiting foreign countries is translating the comments made by fellow geocachers. I’m pretty sure those in Germany didn’t get the suggestive name I gave this travel bug, as a comment was made which read, “Da haben wir doch nun endlich einen Biber aus USA. Also Mr. Beaver, auf gehts…”. Translated, they said, “Because we’ve got now finally a beaver from the USA. Mr. Beaver So, let’s go …”
I feel this geocacher summed up everything nicely with his parting comments… “Wir haben meinem Neffen Geocaching gezeigt und nun ist er genauso verrückt danach wie wir es sind. Kartoffelbrei war sein erster Cache. Wir wünschen brown beaver alles gute für die Zukunft, ciao Matilas2007”. “We have shown Geocaching to my nephew and now he is just as crazy as we are. Mashed Potatoes was his first cache. We wish you Beaver Brown all the best for the future, ciao Matilas2007”
Geocaching is an addictive and thoroughly enjoyable activity. I’ve tried to explain it to others – some seem interested, some dismiss it as a waste of time. If you don’t have a sense of wonder, enjoy traveling or the thrill of the hunt, then I suppose it would be considered a waste of time. But for me, it is an incredibly fun activity that I enjoy with my family. I enjoy visiting places I never would have known existed and trying to get inside the head of someone I’ve never met … to experience their thoughts on cleverly hiding something.
I’ll keep on sending out travel bugs and geocoins. I’ve lost many of them along the way through various means. Some have been stolen, or in one case, a flood took one away. What a story I’ll have to tell if that one ever shows up again. It can be frustrating to lose a trackable, but for such a small investment, I have the opportunity to travel the world from my computer at home.
My first GeoWoodstock didn’t disappoint me. I guess in a way I was expecting something different, but I can’t complain about anything. My only real beef had nothing to do with the event itself, but rather the heat and humidity. I was a walking commercial for anti-perspirant – the sweat was rolling off me. Obviously there’s nothing you can do about that, so overall, it was a great day. I was having issues with my cellphone once we got out of the car and on the fairgrounds. I was hoping to meet P.J. from A ‘lil Hoohaa, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I was trying to contact him through Twitter, but alas, no signal.
The vendors had some nice gear and I bought a couple geocoins and geocaching containers. I wanted a GeoWoodstock IX ball cap, but they were sold out. I was told they can be ordered online, so I’ll be doing that soon. I also sat in on a couple of the podcasts going on and it was pretty cool seeing the shows that I watch online occur live in front of me. Gave me a little perspective on how things work for those who report on geocaching.
I tried shooting some video and taking a few photos, but that massive tripod I was lugging around got to be a real nuisance. The heat was making me miserable and shooting video soon became a chore. So I know when I go back and look at what I’ve shot, I’ll get pissed at myself and try to piece together something salvageable from all the crap.
We took six trackables to exchange and brought home six that belong to others. Amazing to have a trackable that has traveled over 42,000 miles. I hope mine travel just as far. My only real request is to have those that find my travel bugs to take a photo of either where it’s found , where it’s dropped or of the geocachers. I have yet had any of those options take place.
So, I understand that GeoWoodstock X will be held in Indiana. Woo Hoo!!! A quick trip across the border and it’s going to be in May of 2012. I hope the weather holds out and it’s not a Spring monsoon. I know I will definitely be attending more than just one day. I feel gipped that I only spent a few hours there today. Next year, I will be better prepared.
With all the hype of Judgement Day on May 21st, we decided what better way to end our lives than by finding a few caches. We started out with an area in mind and left the house around 10:00am. That’s probably been the earliest departure we’ve managed to attain in quite some time. On weekends, it’s really our only chance to sleep in, so we take advantage of it.
Our route took us in a direction that we’ve only recently started to explore. Since early spring, we’ve gotten to drive around and become acquainted with a few different counties of Ohio, and so far, we like what we see. Plenty of rolling hills and wide open country. Lots of farmland and small towns that dot the map here and there. There’s always something nice about visiting a small town. While they are fairly similar, each one holds its own unique attributes.
With the increased amount of rains we have been getting, it was such a nice change to go for this long drive with the sun shining and our windows down … enjoying all the sights and smells of the farms and fresh tilled fields. We passed many farms where family members or workers were busy with countless chores that have been put off until dryer weather.
This was probably one of the least productive cache finding weekends we have experienced in quite some time. All week I had been anticipating the number of caches I hoped to find – but in the nearly 8 hours we were out, I had only two finds. This wasn’t due to difficulty or any other negative factor at all. It was merely because we were having too much fun enjoying each others company, sightseeing, spending inordinate time in cemeteries and just goofing off. All my plans for a treasure trove of finds were completely thrown out the window – and the best part of it all was that it really didn’t matter to me. I was enjoying a fantastic sunny day with my wife – my best friend. Earlier this month we celebrated our 28th anniversary … twenty-eight years of an extended honeymoon. She enjoys geocaching as much as I do, and this has been a great activity for us to share.
I mentioned in a previous post about findagrave.com and our involvement with that website. Whenever we are in a cemetery, my wife will look up that particular cemetery on her phone by logging onto Find A Grave to see if there are any gravestone photo requests. We try to help out whenever we can, but sometimes the cemetery is just too large to walk the rows looking for a particular stone.
While we only found two caches, I did manage to hide two caches as well. I’m looking forward to receiving notices on both that they have been found. I’ve been thinking about a couple of interesting hides that I plan to initiate. I’ve been researching caches that people have placed that have been quite inventive and resourceful. I’d like to either duplicate those ideas or come up with my own idea for a unique cache.
Overall, it was a fun Judgement Day … and luckily we still have a few more days ahead of us. Since none of us really know when that day will come, I think its best to just enjoy the hell out of every day! Whether you’re in it for the numbers or the individual cache experience, it really doesn’t matter. Just keep on caching!