The Geocaching Blog


3 Reasons to Rediscover Your Home Coordinates

Alex on June 17, 2014, 8:04 pm

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You might think this is an ordinary pier in Blaine, WA, but GC2VW16 is nearby.

You might think this is an ordinary pier in Blaine, but GC2VW16 is nearby.

You’ve read about geocaching in far off lands, on ships and mountains…even in space. Wild, exotic geocaching stories make the news so often, that sometimes they seem more common than, well, the commonplace.

 

But for once I’m tired of palaces and underground tunnels! I’m even tired of spaceships! We’re going geocaching in the most exciting place of all—this geocacher’s home coordinates.

The small town of Blaine is packed so tightly into the northwestern corner of Washington state that it looks like it’s hiding from the rest of the country. The town itself feels that way too—which is odd, considering a population of around 5,000 and the presence of two international border crossings. It doesn’t seem like the type of town where anything terribly exciting is likely to happen. I grew up in Blaine, so you’d think I would know.

Turns out, all it took was a weekend of geocaching in Blaine to completely derail my perspective.

Over the course of two days, my mom, dad, sister, and I made 15 finds and 4 DNFs. (For all you hard-core geocachers out there, stop your scoffing! These are impressive numbers. My 16-year-old sister had recently come into possession of her learner’s permit and was driving us for the very first time. For once I was appreciative of my town’s severely conservative speed limits.)

Those 15 finds were accompanied by three realizations about why my hometown was the best place I could possibly go geocaching—and why the same is probably true for you.

1)  Learning new things about old places

GCD65A, Canada, and the United States of America all share this area of land.

GCD65A, Canada, and the United States of America all share this area of land.

The Peace Arch (yes, there’s an actual arch) that stands on the international boundary between Blaine, Washington and Douglas, British Columbia, is supposedly one of the first earthquake-proof structures in North America. Had I not gone geocaching at the Peace Arch, it’s likely I would have continued to lose sleep over the fate of unsuspecting border-crossers in the event of an earthquake.

2)  Writing logs with a personal touch

It turns out writing a log for a geocache in a place you know is very different to writing a log for a geocache in a place that’s new to you. When caches take me to new places I find myself writing with much the same sentiment: “Beautiful spot! Never been here before, but now that I know it’s here…” And so on. In Blaine, I found myself adding my own memories of places to my logs. I wanted the CO’s to know that I too really loved this spot, because of that one time we jumped off this pier in the middle of winter…

3)  Revisiting old memories

Blaine is a small town. Spend fifteen years there and you’re bound to have a memory tied to every lamppost, street corner, and homeland security office. One geocache took me to the forest where I first met one of my best friends on a field trip. Another took me to the sewage treatment plant they built to replace the one near my house. Both good memories, happily re-lived in the name of geocaching.

So what’s the take-away here?

Blaine really is a lovely town, worth more than a drive through on your way to Vancouver or Seattle. Geocaching at home can be as rewarding an experience as something more fanciful and exotic. And, whoever decided that learning to drive at 16 makes sense clearly never met my sister.

 

What’s your geocaching at home story?

 

This is right between a sewage treatment center and GC3A175,

This is right between a sewage treatment center and GC3A175,

  • kwcahart

    I was stationed at Blaine AFS in the 60’s. I loved that town, and hated to leave when the AF sent me to Clark AB. Sadly, I never returned. I even worked at the saloon in downtown Blaine as a bartender bouncer.

  • Marvin Sowers

    I really enjoyed this story and totally agree that there is often much to discover in your home town. Caching here in Central Illinois might initially seem to be a boring place. But in fact through geocaching we’ve discovered ancient fossils on rocks left by glaciers; stagecoach trails, Indian trails and even Civil War burial grounds. We would have never known these existed had we not been geocaching.
    Thanks again for the article!
    MNM1011

  • judybugg

    I think your article was terrific. We never really appreciate what we
    have nearby. It’s always “the grass is greener” someplace else. We were
    close to your “neck of the woods” last summer at all of your National
    Parks and I must say you live in a beautiful state but it’s a long way
    from here (Texas) Thank you for taking the time to say what you did as
    it makes one stop and think about their own area. We are Sr citizens
    and we love geocaching because it helps us get out and get moving. I
    guess we don’t have to worry about your little sister here. : ) Good
    caching! Judybugg

  • Jon Hockersmith

    I’m from Lynden, just a few miles away from Blaine so I consider that whole area my hometown too. I grabbed a lot of those same caches two years ago while visiting “home” for that whole summer. Thank you for allowing me to go down memory lane.
    Sherry (Lifeisguud)

  • Alex at Geocaching HQ

    I can imagine (and have seen some photos) that Blaine was a little different different in the 60’s, but maybe only in a few basic ways. Some parts still look and feel like the old fishing town it was when the cannery at Semiahmoo was open!
    Folk tend to stay around in Blaine, so I bet if you visited today you run into people you knew while you were there!

  • Alex at Geocaching HQ

    That’s great! I definitely owe much of my knowledge of historical tidbits to the geocachers whose caches brought me to different places and explained their significance.

  • Jared B

    I am from just down I-5 from Blaine about 90 minutes and west of the mainland by two bridges. When I go back home, I do some caching because I can from mom’s house and do learn things from time to time while revisiting old haunts. To this day, I still learn something that I did not know was just off of the road or across the way. You can even cache on the old playground where you learned to jump from a swing just as gravity took over!

  • Kelle

    Great article Alex! really enjoyed “touring” our town with you through words and pictures. Blaine is SUCH a lovely place and soooo undiscovered it is really nice to read that a young person appreciates it as much as we do (old folks! ha, ha, ha)
    kelle


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