Thursday, November 29, 2012

Geocaching: The Best Hobby You’ve Never Heard Of

Please welcome Morgan C. Talbot as she shares an interesting hobby that is central to her new book First to Find. My apologies to Morgan and her publisher for messing up the November book tour schedule. Those of you who read my blog regularly know what a crazy month this has been for me. Because I do like to support other authors, I will leave this up until Sunday.


Geocaching is a versatile hobby, engaged in by millions around the world, that has been variously referred to as “using million-dollar satellites to hunt for Tupperware in the woods” and “a high-tech treasure hunt.” Geocaching.com’s succinct description describes it thus: “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.” Yes, geocaching is all of this, and more. 

Geocaching allows you to search for hidden containers at your own pace, whether they be easy and close to your urban parking spot or sneakily camouflaged at the end of a three-hour hike through the wilderness. It takes you to places in your own hometown that you never knew existed, like that tiny little park with the duck pond, or that great view from the top of the historic bell tower. Geocaching makes you pause to appreciate interesting locations you would otherwise never have sought out—a collection of bronze gongs behind a church, or a quiet cul-de-sac with a secret path into the back end of an enormous riverside park.

Geocaching teaches you to become more aware of the subtleties in your surroundings: that railing by the library could have a small magnetic container under it, and why is there a hole in that old brick wall beside the bakery, anyway? Geocaching adds another layer to your business trip, your family vacation, your trip to the mall. You can hunt for geocaches for as long or as short as you want, no matter where you are.

Geocaching encourages you to prepare for the unexpected—do you have a First Aid kit in your car or geocaching backpack? How about extra logbook paper, in case the log you find is wet? A flashlight, headlamp, or light app in case it gets dark, or if you need to peer into a mysterious crevice to search for an elusive container? What if the geocache doesn’t have a pen inside? Better bring a couple of your own—they run out of ink at the darnedest times. Some helpful geocachers even carry small replacement containers and pens, in case they find a geocache that’s been damaged or burgled. And if you or your children like to trade small items, best to have a handful of fun little things from the dollar store for swapping.

Geocaching gets you outside and moving around. Its tech aspect is a great way to get the indoor geeks outside and enjoying themselves—my father loves to control the GPS unit when my parents go out geocaching. This hobby helps you appreciate a well-maintained trail or road, readable street signs, and the adventure of heading out into the unknown…even if it’s just around the corner or down the block. Your GPS unit will always tell you where you are and where you’re trying to go, but getting there is so much easier when the signs are clear and the way is smooth! (Of course, there are those who appreciate the bumpy road not taken…)

Geocaching lets you venture forth alone or with as many people as you can find. Many eyes searching for a sneaky hide makes the discovery more fun, but some days, you just want to hear the sound of your own thoughts, or the rushing water, or the birds, and that’s okay. Geocaching lets you take your dog, your children, your camera, and your phone, and often these companions enhance your experience. People ask fewer curious questions when you’re chasing your dog or taking nature photographs, or if you’re crouching down next to your daughter’s pink stroller while your hand is fumbling around below the bush behind you, hoping to feel the nice plastic container you’re searching for. Geocachers will sometimes use a lifeline and call other cachers for a hint if they’re having difficulties in the field. And posting pictures of your adventures on the online geocache pages can make your experience come to life for others, too!

Geocaching is the most flexible hobby many people have never heard of. Grab a GPS unit or download a geocaching app and see what’s hiding in your neighborhood. Who knows what you will discover when you step outside your door?
"Death is the hardest puzzle to solve. Margarita Williams escaped death at a young age, but its shadow has followed her all her life. Now, amidst the chaos of a new Australian roommate and mysterious, menacing neighbors, Death has set the puzzlemaker a puzzle of her own. Someone is killing her fellow geocachers, one by one." First to Find


Biography

Morgan is an outdoorsy girl with a deep and abiding love for the natural sciences. Her degrees involve English and jujitsu. She enjoys hiking, camping, and wandering in the woods looking for the trail to the car, but there isn't enough chocolate on the planet to bribe her into rock climbing.

5 comments:

Maryann Miller said...

Morgan, I'm curious. How did you start this unusual hobby? I guess for some folks in the know it is not unusual, but this is the first I've ever heard of it.

Morgan Talbot said...

Interestingly enough, my parents got me into it. My mother's a photographer and my father's a tech gadget junkie, so this hobby, with its buttons and signals and plenty of outdoor visuals, was perfect for both of them. They gave me my own GPS unit for Christmas one year, too. How could I resist after that? I've been grateful ever since. I've learned a lot about people, places, and myself in the nine years I've been geocaching.

I've been geocaching so long that it occasionally does surprise me when I encounter someone who's not familiar with it. But that's the beauty of a planet with billions of people: there's always something new to learn. I love learning new things, and I'm glad I could share a new thing with you and your readers. Thanks so much for hosting me, Maryann.

JimC said...

I started geocaching after reading First to Find. Only 23 logged finds so far, but got my first FTF this morning. Whoopee!

Maryann Miller said...

I'm so glad you were able to be my guest, Morgan. I can see where this hobby would have great appeal for folks who are into gadgets.

Terry Odell said...

My daughter took us geocaching when she visited us from Northern Ireland. She'd collected a few sites in our neck of the woods. Despite our efforts, we never found the caches. We did get very cold, though. My other daughter's outdoor club had an 'intro to geocaching' hike, where we had more success--of course, they'd planted the boxes in fairly easy-to-locate spots.

Terry
Terry's Place