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The CoolRVers are actually a couple of retirees, Judy and Luke Rinehimer and our 5 year old German Shepherd Dog, Miss Shady Lady. We are "extended-time" travelers with a home in Cool, California. Thanks for following along with us as we travel North America in our "rolling condo", enjoying the RV lifestyle. Your comments are always welcomed.



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Saturday, April 8, 2017

"G" IS FOR "GEOCACHING" (#AtoZChallenge)

The assigned letter of "G" for my "#Blogging from A To Z Challenge"  has me posting "G" is for Geocaching.  Geocaching is the perfect hobby for RV travelers on the road so today I will focus on our first experience Geocaching and where that has taken us over the past decade.  


Get settled in for another long blog full of information and photos. 



"The Geocaching Logo is a registered trademark of Groundspeak, Inc. Used with permission." 

There are five videos posted on YouTube to help you learn about the game of Geocaching. This first video is 1:15 in length.

GETTING STARTED WITH GEOCACHING...


The best starting place to learn about this hobby is clicking this link to the home page for Geocaching.com.  Take a look at the LEARN tab at the top of the page and you will see the following outline for "Geocaching 101".

There are five videos posted on YouTube to help you learn about the game of Geocaching. This first video is 1:15 in length. 


OUR FIRST GEOCACHING EXPERIENCE


We were introduced to the game/sport/hobby of geocaching on a trip in 2007 to the Cascade region of eastern Oregon to visit with our niece and nephew and their spouses.  And so the adventure began. Here are photos from our first geocaching adventure. You, too, can get started.


Luke learning to use a GPS


Our family members were experienced "cachers" so they showed us how to locate hiding spots using the Geocaching.com website, how to load the coordinates into a hand-held GPS, and then how to do a "hunt".  Once we were in the vicinity of the hidden container (cache box) we started using our "geo-senses" to narrow the places to look.  We were in a wooded area and it took a group effort to "FIND" the cache containers.  Inside we would find hidden "stuff" referred to as "SWAG - Stuff We All Get".
Richard:  "No, not here!  Keep searching"
Yes!  The cache container was an "ammo can" and was buried under the fallen tree debris. Niece Sandra reveals the container while the rest of us look on.  We will all claim we found it.  The "official" name of this cache on Geocaching.com is "Sad Hill...Tread Softly" - GCJZNR.  It has actually been moved and is now located at N 43° 43.607 W 121° 26.319

AFTER THE FIND...


An important part of the geocaching experience is SIGNING THE LOG SHEET hidden in the container.  You can also exchange items to leave in the cache container.  Normally there is very little of "value" in the hidden containers. You are allowed to take something from the cache but game etiquette suggests you should replace the item with something you brought of "equal or greater value".  Geocachers carry a supply bag with "SWAG" - Stuff We All Get".   If there is a TRAVEL BUG - TB (see below) you can take it with you with a promise to move it along on its stated goal

Once you replace the container EXACTLY WHERE YOU FOUND IT your next step would be to go online to geocaching.com and POST you FOUND THE CACHE.  Write a comment about your search in the space provided so the "cache owner" knows you were there.  They may compare your entry against the signed log left in the container.  If you took a TB you will also go online to "log" the TB and then also POST you have it in your "inventory" and where you move it eventually so the TB owner knows where it is.  When you drop it in a future cache you will once again post its new location. Hopefully, it keeps on moving!!! 


Niece Susan and her husband Richard record the coordinates and what contents they exchanged.  Later they would "post" the successful "FIND" back on the Geocaching.com website.

Here I am documenting our geocaching adventures with my camera. I was just recuperating from a broken ankle so sometimes it was better for me to be safe and not take chances by going where the others were searching.  

This was one of the first found CACHE containers, an ammo can, we claimed as the "COOLRVERS" - our adopted geocaching nickname.  We all signed the log sheet inside and later went online to post our successes.

TRACKABLES AND TRAVEL BUG ADVENTURES


"A Trackable is a sort of physical geocaching "game piece." You will often find them in geocaches or see them at geocaching gatherings. Each Trackable is etched with a unique code that can be used to log its movements on Geocaching.com as it travels in the real world. Some of these items have traveled hundreds of thousands of miles thanks to geocachers who move them from cache to cache!

There are three main types of Trackables: Travel Bug® Trackables, Geocoins and other Trackables.

A Travel Bug is a trackable tag attached to an item that geocachers call a "hitchhiker." Each Travel Bug has a goal set by its owner. Goals are typically travel-related, such as to visit every country in Europe or travel from coast to coast. Travel Bug Trackables move from cache to cache with the help of geocachers like you. See the "What do I do when I find a Trackable?" section of the guide for information on how you can help Trackables move.
Geocoins are customizable coins created by individuals or groups of geocachers as a kind of signature item or calling card. They function exactly like Travel Bug Trackables and should be moved to another cache, unless otherwise specified by their owners.
Other Trackable items come in various forms including patches, key rings and more. A common feature of Trackable items is that they bear a unique ID code and text noting that they are trackable at Geocaching.com. More information about Trackables can be found here."

MY FIRST TRAVEL BUGS... 


The glove pictured below was our first TRAVEL BUG.  Notice the metal "dog tag" that contained a unique identification tag with a tracking number.  [It is not appropriate to re-post its "TB number" so others can't claim it by only looking at a photo.]  We found it on July 1, 2007 and it has since been found 262 times.  

This is what we wrote on our first log posting:  "Decided to give a helping hand to the "Helping Hand" travel bug and move it along. It will travel with us through the Northwest and then east to Idaho or Colorado."  We actually placed it at another cache location in Moscow, Idaho while attending a "Life on Wheels" RV learning rally.

"Helping Hand"

We exchanged "Helping Hand" for another travel bug -- "Mr. Incredible".  CURRENT GOAL:  "Mr. Incredible is on a mission to fight crime! Take him where ever injustice lurks! Action photos of him are fabulous publicity for this Incredible superhero!" So far, he has traveled 5,578.2 miles since it was originally hidden in May, 2006.  CLICK HERE to see his journey displayed on a map.


"Mr. Incredible"

Escapees Geocaching Club

A logo contest was held for the new club and I was the lucky winner!  
That first adventure into the woods was my introduction into Geocaching.  My background as an educator said I needed to share this hobby with my fellow RVers. That walk in the woods eventually connected me with Arlo Thomas, our group's official "Founder". Arlo wanted to start a "Birds of a Feather" (BOF) group for other Escapee Club geocachers. I was able to provide him with the names of Escapee Boomers who I had learned were out geocaching. That list provided enough names to get approval from the Escapees organization to create a "GeoCache BOF". A year later the group held its first rally on a patch of desert land near Quartzsite and I was there helping. I would become a "mentor" and then I joined the BOF Administrative Team.

Following is the "official description" of the club:  [Source:  https://www.escapees.com/fun/bofs?id=341]

GeoCache BOF is for Escapees who share an interest in Geocaching.                  
"Escapees BOF (Birds of a Feather) groups are comprised of people who share a common interest. In order to belong to a BOF, one must be a member in good standing of the Escapees RV Club.

GeoCache BOF provides a communication link allowing members to be in touch with other SKP geocachers.  When arriving in a new location it will allow an easy way to find others who have a similar interest.  It will also be a forum for sharing information about geocaching as it relates to the RV life style. 

Experienced members will provide mentoring for new and prospective geocachers.
All communications will be posting on our Yahoo Bulletin Board; no fees will be collected.
 

Come join our GeoCache BOF....  It's easier than finding a cache. Simply send an email to SKPGeoCacheBOF (at) gmail.com with your name(s), SKP number, geocache.com handle, email address and phone number. Within a few days, you'll be welcomed into the BOF and be subscribed to the Yahoo Group." 

I designed the current Geocaching BOF "banner" which gets displayed during the group's rallies and at informational tables where we recruit new members.

Here I am recruiting members to the Geocaching BOF during an Escapees Club Open House in Quartzsite, AZ

GEOCACHING RALLIES

During my seven years on the Geocaching BOF Admin Team I was proud to be actively involved in helping to organize and promote the annual Quartzsite Rally.  The rally would typically last four days and include learning seminars in the mornings and "buddy caching" activities in the afternoons. "Old Pros" take "Newbies" out to learn first-hand out to use their GPS, make a find, and then log their found caches. On geocaching.com (or other caching apps like "c:geo" for Androids) you can search for caches by putting in a location by city name, zip code, or even your current GPS coordinates. There are nearly 1,000 hidden caches within 10 miles of Quartzsite on this map.

One of the greatest rally Event outings was in 2015 to PARADE OF TOILETS   (GC4YRBG) placed by "Silverheels", Linda Molzhan, a member of the BOF Admin Team. We had 115 attendees that day.

The plastic flowers were still present when I visited the mining site cache location in 2016.

FOR ME, IT'S NOT ABOUT THE NUMBERS...



While I enjoy geocaching, I am not about finding the most caches. This is a running joke within the Geocaching BOF club:  "Who has found more caches than Judy?" then there is the infamous quotation:  "Those who can't do, TEACH"!   Over the years I have been one of the designated teachers of total beginners because I can still identify with "newbies". I "only" have 386 found geocaches Since starting this hobby in 2007.  Many of the cachers I have taught now have over 5,000 finds.  Others in the "Old Pro" category have logged 10,000, 20,000 and even more than 30,000 geocaches!!!  We say they are "about the numbers".  Congratulations to all geocachers regardless of all the 😊 "happy faces" they have recorded for successful geocache finds.

Geocaching does take us places we may not go on our own.  As an RVer, that is especially true for us.  For the record, I have logged 372 caches in 28 states (including Alaska), 11 caches in 3 Canadian Provinces, and 3 caches in Mexico.  On my geocaching.com profile page I can see my statistics right down to which day of the week I have logged the most caches - Sundays in August! 

BOF RETIREMENT TIME


Last year I decided it was time to cut back on a number of labor-intensive activities I had made commitments to within the Escapees RV Club.  I "retired" from the Geocaching BOF Admin Team and passed my duties onto others.  They had a very successful "2017 Geocaching Rally in Quartzsite" this past January.  Thank-you to Barbara and Tom Westerfield for taking on the organizing and teaching duties and thanks to all the BOF Members who stepped forward to assist in true Escapee spirit of caring and sharing.

We also announced our retirement from hosting the "ABQ Boomers and Balloons Rally" which we have been involved in since 2006.  We hosted or co-hosted eight Albuquerque Fiesta rallies and Boomers Jim and Gail McManus have accepted the hosting job for 2017 and will do a great job!

I have also tried to cut back other "teaching" opportunities at rallies but I doubt I will be totally successful at walking away.  As I like to paraphrase John F. Kennedy's famous inaugural challenge: "I am passing the torch to a new generation!"  Others have picked up the torch and are running ahead full speed.  

My life's lessons learned throughout my career has been we can all be replaced. We will continue to enjoy the RV lifestyle as our health permits.  Who knows, maybe I will reach 400 geocaches found this year!

BE SURE TO GOOGLE SEARCH THE OTHER BLOGGERS PARTICIPATING IN THE "#A TO Z CHALLENGE"

TOMORROW:  "H" STANDS FOR ________

4 comments:

John Pickard said...

Good article, Judy!
SKP120041

Judy Rinehimer said...

Thanks! It was fun capturing the last 10 years as a geocacher. -- Judy

Emily Bloomquist said...

Sounds like a fun and a way to see areas that you might otherwise skip. What a great way to learn how to use a GPS, too.

Emily | AtoZ | My Life In Ecuador

Donna B. McNicol said...

Ahhh, a subject near and dear to your heart!

G: Galapagos & Glacier Nat'l Park
DB McNicol, author & traveler
Theme: Oh, the places we will go!