This blog post requires a little bit of background on my friend Jordan. We met in college and have maintained a friendship fueled by the weird and unusual over the course of eight years. In 2011 we tried saving up enough money to attend a 2012 Seminar Camp, aka Drink-the-Kool-Aid-Because-the-World’s-About-To-End Camp. (Note: We didn’t make it to the seminar, probably because we spent the savings on booze and pot. And then the world didn’t end, so I’m glad we didn’t– it was like $400 each)! We spend hours on the phone talking about Scientology (scary), government conspiracies (scarier, and covered up) and how the Illuminati will put Beyoncé in charge one day and we’ll be first in line to kiss her ring (not that scary, kind of AWESOME)!
So when Jordan started telling me about her new hobby, geocaching, I expected it would be a little weird.
J: So I started this thing called GeoCaching.
Me: wtf is that?
J: you go around, find hidden boxes and there’s stuff in them sometimes, or not.
Me: what kind of stuff? What do you mean hidden?
J: like hidden under stuff, or behind stuff, or in stuff. And they have key chains, bouncy balls, little things like that.
Me: ohhh. Sounds …like a good way to get murdered.
Me: craig, I think Jordan’s on serious drugs.
And that’s how I got sucked into Geocaching. Geocaching is basically a worldwide scavenger hunt where people hide stuff and then you download an app and drive yourself insane finding it. Every time I explain this, the reaction is usually “So, you get money?” …No. “So, you get a prize?” …technically no, but the pride of finding the cache is reward enough. Geocaches range from thimble sized magnetic nanos to huge Tupperware containers hidden in plain sight. The goal is to find the container, sign and date the logbook inside, and trade small items that others have left. Typically they are put in areas of natural or historical interest, but sometimes they’re just hidden in parking lot lampposts. There are traditional ones, mystery caches, multi caches, virtual and cursed ones. There are events like ice cream socials and trash clean ups. Geocaching has been around for 15 years, and there are over 6 million active geocaches in the world right now with over 2 million crazies looking for them. Ever seen someone wandering around a parking lot looking aimless? Geocacher. That family always posting pictures of themselves with key chains? Geocachers. People who all of a sudden veer off the path in a park into the thorny woods? They’re all geocachers, not weirdos like you thought.
So you’ve decided you want to give it a try. Sure, you could download the app and just go right now…but you shouldn’t until you take these super important steps:
1. Choose a cool name: I went back and forth between a lot of options, including Kim Kar-cache-ian, before I settled on GeoKe$ha. My plan is to leave glitter in all of the caches I find, and to make the Kardashians happy I’ll start spelling them “kaches.”
2. Make a kit: After a few (several) hours researching geocaching on Pinterest, I realized being prepared is necessary in this sport. My geo-kit has a headlamp, gloves, extra paper and pens, tweezers, plastic baggies, a poking tool (people hide stuff in bizarre places) and small items to trade. Oh, and never let anyone know you have a kit because they will look at you like you’ve lost it.
3. Do some research: Chances are a geo is lurking right outside of your house, but I’ve learned from experience the ones in a parking lot of a strip mall aren’t that exciting. It’s way better to pick a park or walkable area that’s scenic. It’s a great way to get exercise, or explore new parts of a city.
4. Be nonchalant: Craig is the worst geocacher. He lingers, he stares, he pulls them out in front of non-cachers (or Muggles if you will…)– all no-nos in the world of caching. I guess the fear is if non-cachers know about the caches they’ll mess with it and ruin it for everybody. Plus I have a feeling not every business is cool with a hidden container on their property, so just get really good at pretending to tie your shoe or looking for your keys.
5. Don’t give up: The app brings you right to the area where the geo is hidden, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy to find. Usually there is a hint, but even that can make the find more puzzling. As you continue caching, you learn more and more weird spots that you should be checking, like the backsides of stop signs and under benches. Don’t take it too far though, as it can lead to breakdowns in friendships and relationships
My friend Josh knows the right attitude
6. Make it a friendly event: I have literally attempted to take all my friends geocaching. Some like it, some still think I’m weird. My friend Jolie was excited at first, but then realized she had to walk in bushes and stuff, and had worn a bathing suit. Josh was super into it and very intensely raced around looking at all things yellow when we read a certain clue (it was the fire hydrant…damn!). He was pissed when he found out where a tricky one was we couldn’t find. We went with our friends Jill and Ryan before seeing Kenny Chesney, and we all looked really inconspicuous while searching (I was the one who found it by the way). So if you’re not in this blog yet, you’re probably next!
Even though geocaching is totally weird, and I’ve had some minor drama with a few bullies and nerds that take it way too seriously, it’s a fun way to explore and see the world in a whole new way. It’s fun for the whole family, and you just might learn something new! Cache on!