It all started on a warm January day in 2012. We were volunteering for the National Park Service at Big Bend National Park in Texas, when Ken, a friend and fellow volunteer, said I should come with him while he looked for a geocache – an object or container hidden somewhere in the desert. It seemed kind of weird. There we were, wandering around following the pointer on a global positioning system receiver (GPS) until we got close enough to find the cache.
It seemed kind of silly at first. After all, why waste your time trying to find a container hidden somewhere when there is no reward for finding it. We found the first one, then a second, and by the third find it was starting to make sense. It was a challenge to get close and then use your powers of observation to identify where the container was hidden. By the way, the first one was a 35mm film canister stuck in an agave plant, the second one was a film canister under some rocks, and the third was an ammo can tucked into a gap among some boulders. Not particularly challenging caches, but fun for our first time out.
You see, geocaching isn’t just about finding the cache. It’s also about seeing new things, about going to places that you might not visit otherwise, and about challenging yourself to be observant and to persevere when the odds are against finding it. It’s also about the people that you meet along the journey, cachers and non-cachers.
We’ve made life-long friends while caching. Ken and Ginny taught us the game. They live in New Jersey, winter in Florida, and we stay in touch. We met our Dutch friends, Dick and Tita, in an RV park in Dawson City, Yukon and see them every couple years when they visit the US. Alan and Gayle knocked on the door of our motorhome one day after seeing our geocaching placard and we’ve been close friends ever since, frequently comparing notes about caches. Dan walked up to us at a geocache in Burns, Oregon, looking for the same cache and we had Thanksgiving with him and his wife last year. We met Billy and Roberta in Yuma last winter and had happy hour at their place every night for several weeks. And the list goes on.
So, here we are, at a milestone in our geocaching lives, our 10,000th cache find. How do we keep track? Well, that is done for us at geocaching.com. We register our finds; they keep the stats. Ten-thousand may seem like a lot, but there are those who have found well over 100,000! Even so, there are still a lot to be found. As of September 9th , there were 3,198,065 caches around the world.
I guess we had better get busy…. On to Australia and New Zealand!