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We are known as PaWingers or just The Wingers by our Geocaching friends. When we found our first cache we had to come up with a name to log the find. We came up with this name simply because of residing in Pa. and because one of our many passions is cruising this beautiful country on our Honda Goldwing. Aside from geocaching we are passionate about most anything outdoors including hiking, kayaking, snowmobiling and biking. We are blessed beyond words with a wonderful son and daughter in law. We're also blessed with some terriffic family and friends. We consider ourselves very fortunate due to the fact that after being married over 40 years we still enjoy these things together.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Still Wandering Aimlessly

Ten years ago I was snooping around on the internet and I stumbled onto something while I was looking at the new Garmin GPS's .  I had owned a couple Magellan handhelds but never really cared for them.  During my years with a local Search and Rescue Team I became a real fan of the Garmins.  So as the story continues I stumbled onto something called Geocaching. I still remember telling my wife, "we gotta try this"!  And so it began and so it continues.

What the heck is Geocaching??
Geocaching is a hi tech treasure hunt utilizing handheld GPS's. Basically you log onto Geocaching.com and do a simple and free registration and then the fun begins.  You begin by entering your zip code or the zip code of where you may be heading.   After doing that a long list of hidden caches pop up on your computer screen.  You page down through them and make your selections based on your own choices.  You might choose based on closest to your home.  You might also choose based on the difficulty and terrain rating.  The higher number of stars the more difficult it is to find and/or the more difficult it may be to hike to.  You make the choices.  Every cache has a unique name and that name may be the reason for you selecting it.

Okay so now you have selected one or more geocaches to look for and you have printed out the descriptions.  All you need to do is to enter the coordinates in your handheld GPS and get moving.  You drive as close as you can by following your GPS and then start hiking.  We also check out the locations on our mapping software so we already know our approach.  You pick your line and let the GPS lead you to the hidden geocache. Once your GPS tells you that you have arrived you have to begin thinking like the person that hid it. Hmmm...if I was going to hide something where would I hide it!  You know you're close but where could it be.  You first use the methodical approach and search carefully and neatly and chances are you may find it quickly.  That isn't always the case as hiders like to make you work for it.  If the search goes on for some time you begin to look like a crazed animal tearing stumps apart, overturning every rock in sight and sticking your hands into places that common sense would tell you not to.  Common sense doesn't matter at that point, because you are in search of a geocache and you haven't come this far to go home with a DNF (did not find).

Ahhh, your persistence pays off and you found the cache.  In this case it's an ammo box and you hold it with that "I have conquered" look on your face.  You open it up and you sign the log book.  You sign it with some clever geocaching name you have chosen for yourself.  You look through all the trinkets and if you see something you like, you take it and leave something else in the box.  You now have found a geocache.  All you need to do is rehide it as you found it and then move on to the next cache.  Are we having fun yet?  Once you get home you log onto geocaching and go to the cache that you found and log it as a find.  You can make some comments about your find.  Your comments might include, found cache on cold rainy day, tore off part of my right ear with blackberry briars, ripped out my crotch stepping over deadfall, found bees nest in hollow tree, pulled tick out of my left butt cheek, couldn't find car after hiking back from cache, but  had a great time.  Don't forget to take pictures and upload them onto the cache page.  Preferably not your left butt cheek.

How did this all begin
In the year 2000 President Clinton removed SA or Selective Availability from the GPS satellite systems that continually hover high in the sky all over the world.  Perhaps Monica told him it was a good idea so he put down his cigar and made it happen.  Prior to SA being removed civilian GPS's were only accurate to 100 meters.  That would make searching for something in the woods a bit frustrating.  By removing SA civilian GPS's would be accurate to roughly 10 meters and so let the games begin.  Within days of that being removed a fella named Dave Ulmer hid something and gave the coordinates and lo and behold people went looking for it.  They had so much fun, they hid something and more people went looking and I think you see the pattern.   A group called Groundspeak got hold of this and the sport took on a whole new look.

Basically there are roughly a million things hidden all over the world.  Some caches may be large like an ammo can while others may be a little magnetic nano cache stuck to the bottom of a parking meter.  There's a type of cache that appeals to everyone. 

So how did our first cache hunt go
We will always remember our first cache.  At that time, roughly ten years ago, geocaching was in it's infancy.  We didn't have a lot of caches to choose from.  We printed out the nearest one called "Elk Country Cache".  We knew approximately where our hke would begin so we entered the cordinates in the Garmin and headed down the road. After hiking for maybe 15 minutes we got to the place where the cache should be hidden.  We looked around and truthfully didn't expect to find anything.  We jammed our hiking sticks into every nearby hole and brush pile but still found nothing. We were close to giving up when we jammed our stick into another pile of brush and we heard a metallic sound.  Could it be that there is something hidden in there. We cleared away the brush and sure enough we found our first ammo box. The rest is history, as the saying goes.

Yes, we were instantly hooked.  Over the past ten years we have found nearly 3000 caches and have hidden nearly 40 of our own. Geocaching is loaded with rewards.  We have seen so many amazing places  and met countless great friends thanks to geocaching.  Give it a try, you may just get hooked!  We sure did!

One More Day
There's the saying lucky in love, lucky in life.  I have been lucky in both!  Here is a video I made for my wife and life long friend (one in the same)  a few years ago for Valentines Day.  It is loaded with good memories of our life together.  Most of the pictures just happen to be taken while we were wandering aimlessly looking for geocaches.  I thought the title "One More Day" was appropriate and what we wish for each and every day.  Hope you enjoy the video.  Bear in mind the quality of the pictures are the result of old images taken with cheap cameras and we never figured one day we would put them in a video.  Whoda' Thunk ten years ago when we found that first ammo can we'd still be wandering around in the woods tearing apart stumps and overturning rocks.  We sure wouldn't have but here we are.

Start video by clicking white triangular button.  Video can be viewed full screen by clicking full screen tab or double clicking on video while viewing.


PaRacers said...

Great job, guys...we recognize a few of those spots and we totally agree!

Willard said...

I am still laughing. What an excellent post. I have been aware of geocaching for years, but did not the details of how it is done. I'm sure glad Ole' Bill took the time to put they ceegar down and set things right so that gps's could be more accurate.

I also enjoyed the slide show, and that one close the end about life's journey is priceless.

Anonymous said...

Your blog was very funny and entertaining. I loved the video at the end. Some day I'm hoping to find someone that will do those things with me. I long for that kind of relationship. I'm so happy for you both. What you have is a blessing!!