Thursday, August 17, 2006

Why I love Geocaching

Someone I know recently asked me to explain why I enjoy geocaching. (He had never heard of the game and was curious what it was all about.)

There are a lot of reasons - but for me, it has five key elements:

1) It gets me outdoors - usually in peaceful, pretty places. Sure, there are plenty of "in town" sites, but I choose the ones that take me by rivers or out to cool overlooks. I like being connected with nature.

2) It gives me exercise. I sit in front of a computer most of the day. Both my work and my main free time activities (reading/writing) are physically passive. They keep my brain active, but my body needs to move. Hunting for geocache is a great way to get me up and stretching, pumping more oxygen, and that's a good thing.

3) It gives me something fun to focus on. I've been told at times I put the A in Type A, being a rather driven sort of girl. While I don't necessarily agree with that assessment, I will admit I can get very caught up in work or task lists at home, being very focused on what I need to do. When I am geocache hunting, I put all that aside and focus entirely on the puzzle of the hunt. It is a time when I allow myself to completely relax and immerse myself in the adventure.

4) It appeals to my techie side. I love technology and seeing how to adapt different tools to use in new ways. I have a pretty cool GPS receiver that I am still learning all the features of. I like the sense of mastery I get as I develop expertise in using it to full capacity. However, it does not REQUIRE technology know how....that's just a fun sidebar for me. Even for someone who is more of a Luddite it is a very doable diversion. A LOT of families take their kids on geocache adventures.

5) It satisfies some of my craving for community. The people who play geocache "talk" to each other via websites and e-mail. After doing it a while, you get to where you "know" who hides the really tricky ones, who does the fun ones, what sort of things to expect. We compare notes about what we've been looking for lately and any particularly fun finds. So, not unlike what I've found in blogging, I've begun to build up some cyber-relationships that amuse me. We e-mail each other back and forth to discuss various elements of the game and read each other's comments on the logs.

Those are my main reasons....

A few others:

It also appeals to my sense of social responsibility. I practice CITO, which stands for Cache In, Trash Out - I almost always take a garbage sack with me and pick up any litter I find on the trails where ever I go. I like knowing that the place is left better because I passed by.

It appeals to my sense of adventure. Some of the hunts are very straightforward. You get a set of coordinates and then just need to find a way to get there and look around for whatever is hidden. Others are more complex. Some require some math calculation, some solving a riddle, or others are multi-phase scavenger hunt with each "find" giving you coordinates and/or clues to the next piece, culminating in the main cache. It's a grown up version of an Easter egg hunt with all the fun "ah HAH!" when you find it.

It connects well with my love of travel. There are geocache hidden all over the world. There are geocache sites hidden in small towns and in major cities. They are in every state in the union and most countries throughout the world. There are even geocache hidden in ANTARTICA. It's fun to look at the maps and think of places where I'd like to go someday to do some searches.

One of the biggest things I like about it is that it is an activity that can appeal to ALL ages. I have eight grandkids ranging from age 6 to 18. There are very few family activities that everyone will enjoy. Do you know a teenager who sincerely wants to play Candyland or a six year old who loves the mall? You get my point. It's just plain hard to involve our whole family in any other kind of activity because there are so many with such diverse abilities and interests. But every time we go to Michigan to spend time with the brood we have our traditional family geochache hunt. It's something they ALL look forward to and all enjoy.

All in all, it's a harmless diversion. It's a cheap date for when my love of my life and I want to spend time together, and a fun way to get to learn about the world. It's a cool game.

If you haven't been geocaching, those of us who play the game call you a "muggle".
Who wants that? Come join the magic. You'll be glad you did.

5 comments:

your said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
papa herman said...

"cache in trash out"
--thats fun to say.

another fun phrase could be:

"cash in on cache'n"

Pondering Pig said...

I have an old second hand GPS unit and it's been a lot of fun learning what I can do with it, even tho I can't download routes into it.

I haven't started geocaching yet, although friends have been encouraging me for a while. I also spend a lot of time hunched over my laptop and I think when I get out, I want to really start striding and cover some miles.

Working a treasure hunt into the hike tho would really add interest.

Paula said...

Oh, I want to go geocaching!! I know I'd love it, and I know of a really great place I'd PUT a geocache.

What kind of stuff so people leave at the cache? Poetry? Small plastic animal figurines? Hard candy? I'm dying to know.

Belladonna said...

Paula,

The contents of the various cache boxes really depend on who places them. One of the rules of the game is that they stay family friendly as a lot of little kids and conservative people play (so no party substances, X rated material or the like). Also no food items or candy since those tend to attract animals and/or bugs. Some of them are filled with junk toys. Some have had cool stuff ranging from CD’s (one guy burns a CD of his favorite mix of songs to put in all the cache boxes he finds) to small hand tools. I’ve found a psychedelic yoyo, fancy writing pen, and foreign coins. Some have specific themes – like all fishing lures or star trek memorabilia or whatever a person wants to establish. One I know of has paperback books in it – ya take a book and leave a book. Several I’ve found had religious tracts or AA books. Regardless of what the original person put in them to start out with, the contents are constantly changing as the people who find the cache take something and leave something. Some people like to go back to the same cache over and over (particularly if it is in a scenic location) just to read the log of everyone who stopped by and see if any new cool goodies have showed up! The micro cache just have room for the log and no trade goods.

I’m getting ready to place one – plan to go shopping for an ammo box this weekend. I’m going to stock it with stuff to suit a wide range of ages and interests. (beanie baby toys and a pass to local children’s museum for young ones, herb seeds, pocket knife, small flash light and a gift certificate to Walla Walla Roastery for grown ups.) I’ll also put in a Loonie and Twonie as coins are popular for the reward for First to Find. Also one of my trademarks is to put a plastic bag inside of one of those colored plastic Easter eggs and mark it CITO to encourage people to “Cache In, Trash Out”.

I recently had a GREAT find of a VERY VERY tricky micro...don't want to give it away as others who read this may be looking for it...but suffice it to say that a few of these things are camouflaged so well it takes some serious sleuthing to figure them out.

There are geocache hidden in MANY places, some very cool that I have loved discovering – some not so impressive, but nice to be able to get to easily from town.

When I check the Geocaching.com website I see there are 2469 of them in Alberta.

I love the game. It has been fun introducing a few people to it. If you were closer I’d say come on over and we’ll go find some. Considering the distance, that’s not terribly realistic. If you get a chance to get into it, let me know. I’d love to hear about it.

Build some new memories to write about on I Remember, eh?

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