Adventure with Geocaching and Splinterheads
I had been thinking about writing a hub about wooden nickels and decided to see what information could be found about when they were first used, etc. While doing the research, I found that wooden nickels have gained some recent popularity by their use in geocaching. I had no idea what geocaching was, so I decided to investigate further.
Geocaching(pronounced geo-cashing) is an outdoor adventure activity in which the participants utilize coordinates on a handheld Global Positioning System (GPS) to hide and seek containers called geocaches (pronounced geo-cashes) or simply caches (pronounced cashes). The first documented cache was placed in May 2000 by Dave Ulmer of Beavercreek, Oregon. It contained software, videos, books, food, money and a slingshot. As of September 2009, there are over 900,000 active caches hidden all over the world.
Typically caches are small waterproof containers that include a logbook, pen or pencil, and small trinkets or toys for trading. The caches can be as small as the end of your finger and called a nano cache. Or they can be as big or bigger than 5 gallon buckets. A geocacher hides the container on a publicly accessible location and then posts the coordinates of this location on a listing site. Other geocachers can then find the coordinates from this site and then set out to find the cache using their own handheld GPS system.
It is customary for the geocacher to record their details into the logbook found in the cache and online. They are free to take other items in the cache, but must leave something of equal or greater value for the next person to find. The trinkets and toys are usually inexpensive items, but sometimes people leave unusual coins or the specially marked wooden nickels, CDs or books. Some geocachers leave what are called travel bugs or geocoins that have tracking numbers that they want you to log online. These items are being tracked because they have been assigned a specific goal by their originator. Sometimes the goal is for the item to be ultimately placed in a certain country or to travel faster and farther than other travel bugs it is competing against. It is generally understood that dangerous, illegal items, weapons or pornography are not acceptable items to be included in a cache. Food is not a good idea because of health concerns and the risk of animals finding the cache.
Occasionally, geocachers will find that a cache has be vandalized or stolen. This is referred to as muggled. When this is noticed, you simply make note in the online listing site so that the cache owner can replace the cache or deactivate it.
When visiting the listing site and typing in my zip code, I found dozens near me, including one within walking distance of my house. Some of these I can find without the GPS just from the descriptions given. This sounds like fun! I know what I want for Christmas now, a handheld GPS!
Controversy Regarding Geocaching
As you can imagine, having hidden containers in public places can sometimes cause alarm. Cachers have been known to be questioned by police for acting suspiciously. Other times, bomb squads have been called in because of a cache being found and someone not knowing what it was.
Some people consider the placement of caches as a type of littering. For this reason, many geocachers have started a policy of actually cleaning up litter wherever they go to ensure that they are always leaving an area in better shape than they found it in.
It just takes common sense to place caches where searchers won't be seen as acting suspiciously and to always make sure the owner of the property realizes that people will be periodically showing up there searching for it. Some geocaching sites actually prohibit certain types of placements, so it's best to research your options before hiding one.
Splinterheads is a movie starring Thomas Middleditch and Rachael Taylor that is the story of a man whose rather ordinary life is turned upside down once the carnival comes to town. The carnies call themselves Splinterheads. There is a segment in the movie featuring geocaching. I've included the movie trailer, as well as the geocaching segment. This movie debuted in theaters in November 2009 and was released to DVD in February 2010.
Splinterheads Geocaching Teaser
Tips for Geocaching
- Wear appropriate clothing. You may be required to hike into wooded area. You will want you feet, arms and legs protected from insects, poison ivy, scrapes and snakes.
- Make sure you know how to get back to your vehicle.
- Go in groups. Never attempt geocaching alone.
- Take a backpack with all sorts of items to trade since you never know what you'll find that you will want to trade for. Remember, you have to leave something worth as much or more than what you take. Whatever you leave has to fit in the container. So, be prepared.
- Keep a first-aid kit in your car.
- Drink plenty of water before you go, take water with you and bring along some high energy snack bars.
- Bring along a trash bag and pick up trash that you find along the way. Always leave the place better than you found it.
- Incorporate geocaching into your next family trip.
Update from KCC Big Country
Today I found my very first geocache! It was located at the site of the Crash at Crush just north of Waco, Texas. I was so thrilled! I'm going to be doing many more of these! If you'd like to learn more about the Crash at Crush site, click here for my hub about it.
Great Links and Resources
- Geocaches by KCC Big Country
Geocaching is an international game of treasure hunting. According to the Geocaching.com website, there are close to one million documented geocaches hidden around the world. Anyone can search for them...
- Garmin.com - Geocaching
- Splinterheads (2009)
Directed by Brant Sersen. With Thomas Middleditch, Rachael Taylor, Christopher McDonald. Visit IMDb for Photos, Showtimes, Cast, Crew, Reviews, Plot Summary, Comments, Discussions, Taglines, Trailers, Posters, Fan Sites
- Texas Geocaching Association - TXGA | Since January, 2003
Texas Geocaching Association web site
- Geocaching.com - Getting Started with Geocaching