>> Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Here's me discovering a night cache
Geocaching for Pregnancy
So maybe I can't walk 8- 10 miles for a day hike like I used to. Maybe I can't hike crazy places that require a bit of climbing or bouldering. And maybe I have to watch my balance since my big belly hides my feet. But after getting a handheld GPS for my birthday back in March, my husband and I started geocaching (geo-ca-sh-ing, like cashing a check). We've been completing day caches and night caches. And guess what? The best part of geocaching is that I've found it's pregnancy-friendly. Score!
Here's how it works:
Geocaching history states that geocaching originated with Dave Ulmer, a computer consultant who "wanted to test the accuracy by hiding a navigational target in the woods. He called the idea the "Great American GPS Stash Hunt" and posted it in an internet GPS users' group. The idea was simple: Hide a container out in the woods and note the coordinates with a GPS unit. The finder would then have to locate the container with only the use of his or her GPS receiver. The rules for the finder were simple: 'Take some stuff, leave some stuff.' On May 3rd he placed his own container, a black bucket, in the woods near Beaver Creek, Oregon, near Portland. Along with a logbook and pencil, he left various prize items including videos, books, software, and a slingshot. He shared the waypoint of his "stash" with the online community on sci.geo.satellite-nav: N 45° 17.460 W 122° 24.800 Within three days, two different readers read about his stash on the Internet, used their own GPS receivers to find the container, and shared their experiences online. Throughout the next week, others excited by the prospect of hiding and finding stashes began hiding their own containers and posting coordinates. Like many new and innovative ideas on the Internet, the concept spread quickly - but this one required leaving your computer to participate."
And "as of April 25, 2010, there are over 1,047,069 active geocaches around the world [...] in over 100 countries" (geocaching.com).
From there geocaching took off! Of course who wouldn't want to become a treasure hunter! Caches might not contain crazy treasures like gold or jewels like pirates might have found, but the thrill of hiking, searching, discovering, and leaving cool items for others to find is addicting.
In fact, one of my favorite parts of caching (besides discovering new trails and hiking areas) has become the find. What have others left? Who discovered this geocaching box last? What cool object can we leave in the cache for the next adventurer?
Of course even more exciting are some of the special finds in the cache boxes. Other than finding cool dollar store-type toys, geocachers have coins and travelbugs to entice treasure hunters.
Geocoins are coins with a mission and a tracking number. Like this one that Aaron and I discovered in a cache in Michigan:
This coin's goal is to: "visit caches by lakes, rivers, and streams in Washington State." And because of the tracking number they carry, you can check where its been and when its been there. This specific coin has been to Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, PA, Ontario, British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington.
We've discovered coins that have been to New Zealand, Australia, Germany, the Canary Islands, and other places around the world! Its so exciting knowing that there is a world-community who takes part in this fun.
Most recently, we went to Bear Creek, PA and discovered a night cache that had a geocoin in it that didn't have an activated tracking number. This means that no one claimed ownership of it. So now we can create our own geocache for people to find and send this geocoin wherever we want it to travel! We decided that we'd both love to visit Paris and we are hoping that our coin will make it to every state in the US! I can't wait to see its journey unfold.
There are also travelbugs to reel in hardcore geocachers.
These travelbugs are basically objects that have tracking numbers on them. For example here's one we found in Ohio:
"This Pinewood Derby travel bug is part of a national race. The "Race to 2010" ~ cars for all over the country are racing to the National Boy Scout Jamboree in Virginia!"
Its mission is to: "travel to as many caches as I can. I like scouting caches best, but any cache will do. First - I want to go to the National Boy Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill in Caroline County, Virginia. The dates are July 26 to August 4, 2010. Please take pictures of me with as many scouts as you can. Second - I want to return home to East Hartford, Connecticut. Specifically, to GC22ZYY - Treasures of Scouting - Connecticut Rivers Council."
We're going to take a weekend to find some caches south of us to help it on it's way.
Crazy Hiking Pregnant Lady
You must think I am crazy being 31 weeks pregnant (8 or 9 weeks to go!) and outside in the woods searching for hidden treasure while doing some off trail bushwacking and rough trail hiking, but I am completely convinced that geocaching is for pregnant outdoor ladies who can't groove with their regular outdoors addictions.
So I've compiled a list as to why pregnant ladies can get down with geocaching:
1. Most caches are within one mile of the parking area. So your feet won't ache too much if you have good hiking shoes.
2. Geocaches are hidden, but not buried and have to be accessible to everyone (including kids!). Meaning there's no digging, climbing, or contorting involved.
3. You can be sure of your safety. Do you have an FRS/PMR channel to find out if other Geocachers are in the area? According to geocaching.com, "The community has decided on channel 2 as the primary for both FRS and PMR, and 12 as the alternate FRS (Family Radio Service) channel and 8 for the alternate PMR (Europe). FRS and PMR radios are longer distance walkie talkies, like the Motorola Talkabout." And all of the places we've found so far are in my cell service (verizon).
4. It's a great way to get some cool pregnancy pics for your album or scrapbook.
5. The short hikes are a good way to prepare for an outdoor adventure with the newcomer to the family.
6. Pregnant ladies need stamina for birth. This is an easy way to ensure endurance for those hours of labor.
7. Discover some new places to hike when you need to get your pre-pregnancy body back in shape. In fact some of the trails would even be a good complement to your running stroller!
8. Some caches are in towns so you won't even have to walk far from the car!
9. It's never to late to learn how to navigate in the woods with a geocaching device or a compass and you might not have the time post-baby.
10. Keep your brain active during "pregnancy fog." Sometimes caches have more than one part to them requiring you to solve a puzzle to find out coordinates to the final cache.
Here are some book resources from wikipedia:
+Geocaching Crash Course by Benjamin Deeb (ISBN 0-5173-4859-X)
+The Essential Guide to Geocaching by Mike Dyer (ISBN 1-55591-522-1)
+The Complete Idiot's Guide to Geocaching by Jack W. Peters (ISBN 1-59257-235-9)
+Geocaching For Dummies by Joel McNamara (ISBN 978-0764575716)
+Geocaching: Hike and Seek with Your GPS by Erik Sherman (ISBN 978-1590591222)
+The Geocaching Handbook (Falcon Guide) by Layne Cameron and Dave Ulmer (ISBN 978-076273044)
+Let's Go Geocaching by DK Publishing (ISBN 978-0756637170)
+It's a Treasure Hunt! Geocaching & Letterboxing by Cq Products (ISBN 978-1563832680)
+Open Your Heart with Geocaching: Mastering Life Through Love of Exploration by Jeannette Cézanne (ISBN 978-1601660046)