Tag Archive | Geocaching

Geocaching!

Tupperware Hidden In Nature

May 3, 2022

Astro – a member of Team Wrastro – checks out the Geocaching.com page

This activity has best been described, perhaps, as a global Easter Egg hunt. But rather than having a doting parent direct you to where the ‘egg’ is hidden, those who participate use the Global Positioning System (GPS) and hand held electronic devices to find their location anywhere on earth.

Dubbed Geocaching, the sport was launched on May 3, 2000, just one day after the US Government made it possible for ordinary people to find their location within 3 meters of a specific spot.

We turn to the Infallible Wikipedia for additional information:

“Geocaching was originally similar to the game letterboxing (which originated in 1854), which uses clues and references to landmarks embedded in stories. Geocaching was conceived shortly after the removal of Selective Availability from the Global Positioning System on May 2, 2000 (Blue Switch Day), because the improved accuracy of the system allowed for a small container to be specifically placed and located.

Site of the first geocache in Oregon. We found it the summer of 2005 before it was archived

The first documented placement of a GPS-located cache took place on May 3, 2000, by Dave Ulmer of Beavercreek, Oregon. The location was posted on the Usenet newsgroup sci.geo.satellite-nav at 45°17.460′N 122°24.800′W. Within three days, the cache had been found twice, first by Mike Teague. According to Dave Ulmer’s message, this cache was a black plastic bucket that was partially buried and contained software, videos, books, money, a can of beans, and a slingshot. The Geocache and most of its contents were eventually destroyed by a lawn mower; the can of beans was the only item salvaged and was turned into a trackable item called the ‘Original Can of Beans’. Another Geocache and plaque called the Original Stash Tribute Plaque now sit at the site.

Elroy, George, and Judy – along with our original GPS at Longview, Washington, circa 2005. The cacher on the left, cacher name Nudecacher, was NOT there that day. Jane’s epic editing skills are such that she was able to commemorate Nudecacher’s, er, contributions to the sport.

Perhaps the above description would lead one to believe that it’s easy to walk to a spot and instantly find the Geocache (or, the cache, as we call it). Au Contraire, my friends. Some of the caches can be wickedly difficult due, in great part, to the size and clever placement of the container. Others are challenging because one must solve a puzzle to discover the GPS coordinates.

George, Judy, and Elroy at “Room With a View Cache’ near Long Beach, Washington. One cool aspect of caching is that you sometimes discover places you’ve never been before… such as this one.

While a further reading of the Infallible Wikipedia article states that “A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook and sometimes a pen or pencil,” after finding just shy of 5,000 caches, our family has discovered that they can range from being as large as a shed to as small as a tiny button.

The first participants tended to be computer geeky types who spent their waking hours on networks like Usenet. But that soon changed as people learned, via word of mouth, about Geocaching. Families discovered that it was a new and unique way to get outdoors and take a hike. For kids, it was fun to open up a cache and see what sort of treasures might be inside.

Additionally, there is an element of stealth involved, as one does not want to reveal a cache location to those outside the Geocaching community who might wish to harm a cache. Non participants have – in the spirit of Harry Potter – been dubbed as ‘Muggles.’

Perhaps one of the greatest achievements of any Cacher is to find a container right under the noses of lots of people without those people knowing it happened. It’s definitely difficult to do so!

Our family began our Geocaching adventure on December 26, 2003. I had heard about the sport from a friend and thought getting the hubby a GPS device (cell phones did not yet have the technology) would be a good Christmas present. The hubby had also heard about the sport. He was thrilled and spent a great deal of time that afternoon reading and learning how to operate the device.

Of course, the first big decision would be what to call ourselves. All Geocachers have to have a ‘handle’ and we decided on ‘Wrastro’ in homage to our White, 1998 Chevy Astro Van bearing vanity plates of the same name. Of course, this led to calling ourselves by the names of the Jetson family: hubby, George; Jane, his wife; Boy Genius, Elroy; and Teenage Daughter, Judy.

George and Elroy caching in the middle of an Eastern Washington dust storm on August 12, 2005. One of our most memorable caching experiences ever. You can read the cache log here: https://www.geocaching.com/seek/log.aspx?LUID=eda7dbb8-14e0-469d-9f98-b2086150ed05

Identities established, out we went the next day to a park in Sammamish with Elroy, age 13 and Judy (not yet a teenager) age 10, to go to the park, walk up to the cache, find some excellent goodies, and then go on to the next one.

Hah! It took us waaaaay longer than it should to find the container which was, I might add, wrapped in a black plastic garbage bag and sitting in the crook of a tree. To us it looked like a random piece of trash!

That week we attempted all sorts of caches but, being newbie’s, made everything much more difficult. The good news is that we got better at it. Soon we could easily identify if something was an LPC or GRC. Or the always dreaded DNF. Don’t know those acronyms? Well, I’d be giving up sacred Geocacher’s secrets if I revealed them to Muggles. Sorry!

At the height of its popularity, Jeep sponsored what’s known as a “Travel Bug”. These are items you find and then move them to another cache for others to find. 5000 Yellow Jeep Travel bugs were released in 2004 and 5000 white ones in 2005. As you might imagine many simply disappeared as they were a coveted item. Here George displays the white one we found on the banks of the Columbia River in 2005

We also became familiar with some of the tricks of the trade and ‘how’ people tended to hide things. This was thanks, particularly, to one Geocacher in Redmond, Washington, who went by the name of Beamin’ Demon (BD). They were a legend as no one knew ‘who’ BD was; no one ever saw BD place a cache – it always seemed to occur in the dark of night; and BD caches tended to be miniscule, containing only a scrap of paper requiring one to bring their own pen. For months, the BD caches would show up and Elroy, especially, wanted to try to earn the coveted ‘First to Find’ bragging rights. So out he and George (usually) or Jane would go to find the smallest, most evilly hidden caches ever.

Elroy even ventured out with his own handle “I Like This Game” and started hiding impossible to find caches. Yes, we were out of control.

Alas, Elroy eventually moved on to other passions, and Judy found the activity irritating. George, however, persisted which is why, 18 years later, he still drags Jane out to find caches. Nowadays, one does not need a special Garmin GPS device to play. Cell phones work just fine.

George has also discovered that having Jane along is good for a couple of reasons. One, Jane can navigate; Two, she knows what to look for with the LPC and GRC’s and can grab those when George inevitably pulls up next to them with HER car door nearest the cache locations; and Three – this is the most important thing to George – he insists that she write up the log for the cache since, as he says, ‘you’re the writer.’ Personally, I think it has more to do with the fact that he has written the majority of the logs over the years and he likes the fresh perspective.

Rosie and Jane at the largest Geocache which Team Wrastro has ever found. Longview, Washington April 22, 2022.

Which leads me to find a way to wrap up this rather long blog post. But, hey, having found 4,882 4,883 finds (as of May 2, 2022), there’s a lot Jane – er, I – can say. Now if you want to read about Team Wrastro’s adventures, all you have to do is go to Geocaching.com and create an account. Then you can filter what you see by typing in the box where it says Found by the name WRASTRO. You’re welcome. Or not.

The Links:

https://www.geocaching.com/play/search

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geocaching

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jetsons