Jan 2, 2012

601 Geocaches

Geocaching was born May 2nd, 2000 when the US government switched off Selective Availability, meaning GPS signals could be received by civilian owned handheld models with much greater accuracy. A man named Dave Ulmer hid a five gallon bucket near Beavercreek, Oregon and posted the coordinates on a Usernet group, challenging others to find what he had hidden and sign the log book within.

Others began to do the same and soon Jeremy Irish created a website where these "stashes" could be listed for others to find. To avoid any negative connotations that might come with the word "stash" it was agreed to call the hidden objects "caches".

Since then 1.5 million caches have been place in over 200 countries. Almost 5 million people enjoy geocaching, making 4 million finds last month. A geocache could be as small as a chapstick container or as large as a suitcase. Ammo cans make a good hiding container and would be considered a "regular" size container. Smaller caches simply contain a log book or sheet to be signed. Larger caches might contain "swag" to be traded. Swag can be almost anything not dangerous or illegal. A deck of cards, local souvenirs, small toys and fishing lures all make for good swag.

To participate in geocaching all you need is a handheld GPS, a free registration at www.GeoCaching.com and access to the internet. You can search for caches in your area, plug the coordinates in your GPS and you are good to go. Your GPS will get you within 10 feet or so of the hide and then its up to you find the cache. Some caches are large & obvious. Some very carefully hidden & camouflaged and can be hard to find.

Christy & I learned about Geocaching from Daren Lindley, who is a traveling minister that was speaking at our church. This was June 25th, 2005. It was shortly after Google Maps introduced their satellite view. Daren was going to be speaking at a Saturday night service and beforehand a bunch of us were hanging out and checking out the satellite views of different places. Darren joined in and was looking up various places in his hometown in Oregon. He then had us go to Geocaching.com and was telling us a little bit about geocaching. We looked and saw that there was several caches in the area and Daren mentioned that he'd love to find one after the service. Service didn't get done until late and I figured he'd forget all about it. But Daren is a super enthusiastic, energetic guy and he was ready to go. So Christy, myself, Scott and Daren headed to the Crevasse Moraine trail system about 10 miles away. After a short walk, surrounded by clouds of veracious mosquitoes we reached ground zero and made the find.

The next day, after speaking in our Sunday morning service, Daren was itchin' to find some more caches. Christy and I had enjoyed ourselves the night before and so we headed out again, finding 3 more caches. The follow Wednesday Christy & I bought our own GPS and became regular geocachers. Since June 25, 2005 we have 601 geocaches. We've cached in 12 states and two countries. We've cached in hip deep snow and through swamps. We've cached in -40 degree weather along the banks of the Chena River and in 100 degree heat in Dallas. We've cache in hurricane force winds and in a torrential thunderstorm along the Louisiana Gulf Coast. We driven & hiked miles in search of caches, chewed on by mosquitoes,  encountering moose & bears.

Some of our best times together have been while caching. And, some of our worse fights have been while caching. We've seen some incredible sights and explored places we would've never been to otherwise. It's been a great form of exercise and gotten us up off the couch. For Christy, geocaching is the only time she can disconnect from the stress of her job.

You can read a little more about geocaching at it's Wikipedia entry or by watching the video below. And if you'd like to get started geoaching yourself, visit www.Geocaching.com and sign up for your free basic membership. You can also read more about geocaching here in the Mat-Su Valley by checking out the article I wrote for the MatSu Visitor's & Convention Bureau.

1 comment:

TB Botts said...

HI Todd- It's been awhile since I read your blog.The last one I had read was the dark chocolate. I read the 11 points blog with mixed feelings. I guess I have to give it some more thought. Don't feel like you have failed buddy.You aren't a failure. Anytime a person tries to do something that is ambitious there is going to be an opportunity to fall down. Doesn't the word say A righteous mand falls seven times? I suspect thats just in a day. Don't concentrate on what goes wrong,concentrate on what you've done right.If you were to get on a writing website like Funds for Writers, you would see that almost every wanna be author suffers with feelings of failure- and it gets worse if what you have written is rejected by an editor. On the geocoaching- I found it fascinating. While I was reading your blog I started getting excited. I think both of my boys do it. I may have to invest in a hand held GPS one of these days and give it a try. Like you said, its a good chance to get outside and get some exercize. Right now one of my favorite hobbies is finding lead at the cannery beach with a metal detector. I love finding things! Thanks for a great post. Keep on keeping on.