So I started with a plan this morning to organize my closet. You know the drill…open the door, flip on the light, cringe, take a deep breath, and then just wade in and grab something. Well, the first thing I put my hands on was my GEOCACHING tub, sitting on the floor. To be honest, that’s when the day took a detour. I should have listened to the voices in my head screaming, “DON’T LIFT THE LID,” but I’m an infamous dawdler and I couldn’t resist. I drug it out into the room and began sorting through the contents, spreading them all over the floor.
Memories danced in my head, cutting in on each little piece. First was the ammo can that we bought (once a-dime-a-dozen at a sporting goods or army surplus store; worth a pretty penny now) we were planning would be our next cache to hide in the boonies. We even had the coolest spot picked out – for a night cache, and had purchased the reflective thingies to tap into fence posts to lead the way. There were some other geocache containers, and even one that we got as a first-to-find prize (it was a fake sprinkler head – you can’t see it, it’s in the backpack). And I found my pile of stickers and labels and muggle cards that we figured would turn any old mayo jar or coffee can into a viable geocache.
There were a couple pair of toe socks, a stuffed animal, two First-to-Find card games, a few “Signal” antennae toppers, and several other frog-themed trinkets that we had picked up as replacement items for our frog-themed geocache, hidden on frog rock, what seems eons ago.
And then there was my backpack, filled with zippy bags, pencils, little notepads, my notebook, a big zip bag filled with swag (compasses, little first-aid kits, key chains, hero-clix figures, and matchbox cars), gloves, a couple of flashlights, some small geocaches, and our hand-held gps, plus a dozen or so extra batteries.
The next thing I found was lying in the bottom of the tub. This is really what rearranged my day. It was a baggie with all the duplicate copies of our travel bug dog tags.
They had been attached to various toys, given sundry goals, and placed in a diversity of geocaches, out on their lone adventures in the world. I lived vicariously through each one, so excited to read the logs and follow their travels from cache to cache. Some of them ended up in Canada, and Europe, and even Kuwait. Some really fun members even took and posted pictures. Are we such dorks or what?
And then we moved away. Our lives became so restructured and scrambled that geocaching got misplaced. Caressing each of these darn tags in my hands made me wonder whatever happened to them. I can’t even remember when the last time was I got a notification. I got online to investigate…….and I discovered that sadly most of them are indeed missing, either because the geocaches they were placed in went missing (probably muggled, or put somewhere else by weather or surveyors or God knows), or the person who last logged having them never placed them, like they maybe lost interest in the hobby soon after starting. Ho-hum. I spent a brief moment mourning their sad and tragic disappearances. And that’s when a light-bulb-moment struck me that, well, ended up in the creation of a new and creative type of cache – a virtual cache hidden in cyber land…
…and while I was at it, bring new life to one of my dead Travel Bugs.
Needless to say the closet did NOT end up getting any more organized after that.
Now, perhaps you have stumbled upon this article and are wondering…
What in the heck is a geocache?
Ummm, well, let’s see, the only way I know how to explain it is……okay, let’s pretend you are out on a morning walk. You’ve got your earbuds in and you’re trucking down the pavement when you run into a person kind of loitering suspiciously around a park bench, looking somewhat annoyed at your sudden appearance and maybe a little bit guilty-acting, like you caught them doing something they shouldn’t be doing. You say hello hesitantly and jog on by, but down the trail turn to look back and catch them kneeling down, head poked in a bush like they are reaching for something. Your curiosity is roused and so later, when you pass back by that spot and nobody is around, you stop to investigate.
Do you see anything?
Not really? Try stooping down a little closer.
Try pulling back a branch. Squint your eyes into the darkness.
There, right there….now do you see it?
What the heck is it?
Looking around to see if anyone is watching, you snag the box, tuck it under your sweat shirt, and run like heck to your car. (BTW: You are a “muggle.”) Inside the box is another box and inside of it is a little notebook with writing in it and pencil.
There is a coin – something like a gaming token, some wooden nickels, flare, erasers, a compass, some Band-Aids, and a stuffed animal with a dog tag attached to it. The dog tag has a bug logo on it and a number at the bottom. A note inside the box asks you not to remove it from the place you found it, and identifies itself as a geocache. There is even a website listed. So, what do you do?
Well, hopefully you whip out your cell phone and go to the website and read a little about it. And when you find out that it is a game piece hopefully again you sneakily run the box back to its exact hiding place without telling anyone or being caught by anyone.
Once home, you revisit the website and decide, hmmm, membership is free, I’m gonna sign up. And when you do you find out that there are geocaches hidden all over your neighborhood….and all over your town….and all over between your town and the next town….and all over your state and the next state….and all over the entire freaking world, actually. You’re actually blown away at how many there are. And what’s crazy is people walk right by geocaches every day and don’t even know that they are there. It’s like this big secret, and now you are part of it. Now you want to go out and find one deliberately, so you download the app and the widget to your phone (or tablet) and the next day when you are out on your walk you hunt for one. And you are excited when you find it.
You go back to the website to log your find and it shows that there is a trackable in that cache. It belongs to someone who sent it out into the world with a goal – in this case the goal is to move around to geocaches near racetracks. You remember about your upcoming trip to Daytona, and so you decide to go back and get that travel bug. When you are in Daytona you find a geocache right near the racetrack and you place the little guy in it. You log all of this of course on the website.
After a few months of finding geocaches, all kinds of geocaches, geocaches that you have to search for at night with a flashlight, and geocaches that are part of other geocaches (multi-caches) that make you to solve puzzles or learn something about the location where they have been placed, geocaches in out-of-the-way-places you didn’t know existed, and geocaches hidden in plain sight in a busy shopping area that you really really really have to look hard for but not arouse interest by muggles. There are big geocaches (5-gallon plastic buckets) and medium geocaches (ammo cans) and small geocaches (hide-a-key boxes and medicine bottles wrapped in camo tape) and micro caches (that are sometimes as tiny as a watch battery). After a few you talk your friends into becoming geocachers, and drag your spouse and kids out with you.
Eventually you decide it might be fun to hide your own cache (not mentioning any names but – COUGH – Frog Rock, Toadily Fun, Truly Ribbiting Geocache, with a Feeling Froggy TB inside, and a bunch of frog themed stuff).
After a while when you’ve found most the geocaches in your neighborhood, it will become appealing to you to sign up for notifications when a new cache is hidden, and pretty exciting the first time your notification comes. The first time you might put off going to look for it right away, and when you see that someone logged finding it within 20 minutes of it being posted you’re like, wth? So now it’s your goal to log a “first-to-find.” After several failed attempts you become annoyed that apparently none of these FTFers have jobs, and you’re right…they don’t. Many of them are old retired duffers with nothing better to do. God bless them, at least they’ve found a fun way to stay active, but gosh darnit grandpa…you’re going down!
After that challenge is conquered there is always another – like finding the hard-to-find geocaches, the evil ones (as I call them). The ones hidden at like the top of mount Everest (okay, maybe we’re not that challenged)…
…or the ones hidden in truly devious containers – like that piece of tree bark wedged in the groves of a tree’s bark that has been carved with a geocache number on the underside, or the hollowed rock geocache hidden in a huge pile of rocks that will take you a decade to sift through.
…Or the water faucet that isn’t really a water faucet, or the sprinkler head that isn’t really a sprinkler head, or the fence post cap with a cache inside, or a switchplate on a wall that isn’t really a switchplate. Oh yes, they get evil. After a few failed attempts you message the owner for a tip or hint. And then you become determined to find these evil little b@$+@® )s without any hints or helps.
Out on a 4-wheeling adventure? Guess what, there’s probably a geocache somewhere along your trails – super fun to do with your friends/family!
Maybe you are taking a trip and want to find geocaches at every place you stop for gas, food, and lodging, as a way to stretch your legs and get the blood flowing again. Maybe your road trip leads to Seattle, the HQ for “ground zero” and you feel like snooping around the lily pad?
Maybe you will challenge yourself to find a certain number of geocaches in a certain number of days…or maybe the challenge will be to find all the geocaches in a certain geographic location (state park), or along a particular route (Route 66 from Kingman to Williams, for instance). Maybe you want to do only micros. Or only travel bug hotels.
In the course of this adventure you’ll meet other geocachers, and you might even start going to geocaching events, like a flashmob photo-op on a CITO day, or a meet-n-greet carry-in potluck at the park where the host has also hidden dozens of brand new geocaches that you get to compete with each other to find after lunch.
Or maybe it will be a Woodstock event, national, with it’s own collectable coins and everything. At some point you might even decide to organize your own unique event.
Maybe you’re a leader at your church youth group, or a scout leader looking for a new activity to do with your kids? The kids are going to be out of school soon. Get them away from the TV and take them (and their bikes) to a park (in town, out of town, on a mountain, by a lake, at a campground). No kidding, there are geocaches there! Perhaps you are an activities coordinator at a senior center looking for a new activity to introduce to your seniors. Truly, the sky is the limit on fun things to do with geocaching.
Sooner or later another hobby, or the weather, or life event is bound to come along and compete for your time…
…or maybe you’ll just become bored with it. That’s okay. Geocaching will always be here, everywhere, any time and any place the mood strikes. Believe me, the bug will bite again. Perhaps one day when you least suspect, one day when you are cleaning out your closet and stumble upon your geocaching tub. 🙂