This article is part of an upcoming series featuring interviews with geocaching Community Volunteers.
That’s what Community Volunteer Reviewer The Seanachai helpfully suggests to those struggling with the username, which is gaelic for “storyteller” or more accurately “keeper of the old lore”.
A Reviewer for Tennessee—appropriately known as the ‘Volunteer State’—The Senachai has been reviewing and publishing geocaches for the community since 2009. His love of the game began six years before that, when a friend suggested that geocaching could provide a new way to explore familiar places. Sound familiar?
“My best friend, who caches under the name FullCT, told me about this cool site he had found that promised something for us to do on the ‘3rd weekend in Cleveland’. That phrase was a longstanding issue for us as we both traveled extensively in our jobs and found ourselves returning to the same locales over and over. Nothing against Cleveland, but it somehow came to represent our problem. The first trip you hit the major tourist things, the spots the place was famous for; on the next trip you hit some of the lesser known treasures that you learned about on the first trip, but by the third time around you were running out of places to explore and Geocaching fit that niche perfectly, as it gave us a tour of cool spots as presented by the locals. Of course, this was 2003 when there were far fewer caches and by their nature they were often at cool locations.”
“It is a cliche, but when I was asked to become a reviewer in 2009, I was truly honored to be given this opportunity to to give back to this game which has given so much to me. My life has been enhanced in a hundred ways by my involvement in the game, from losing a significant amount of weight, to meeting new friends, learning new skills (like kayaking and rappelling), exploring around the world, to finding a hobby that my wife and I, and now our son, can all enjoy together. My favorite part of being a reviewer is getting to help my fellow cachers navigate the sometimes tricky path to getting a geocache published. I see a big part of my job as helping geocachers to not only work within the guidelines, but to help them understand why the current guidelines are in place. In my experience, every single guideline is in response to a particular event or series of events which made that guideline necessary. I find that once people understand why a particular guideline was enacted, that it helps them in their future geocaching plans. I also enjoy the chance to help open new areas for geocaching, especially when that help involves local geocachers and geocaching groups who are working with their land mangers in a responsible way to promote the game.”
“I am not particular when it comes to type. Just like in my everyday geocaching, I like all types of caches and experiences. I do love reviewing geocaches where there has been a lot of thought put into the placement, where the cache owner is truly excited to share a location or bit of history with their fellow geocachers and they have worked to create a geocache that is about a total experience. It is exciting to review a geocache that looks so cool that it inspires you to get out and hunt it at a later date.”
“When it comes to having your geocache published quickly, the more information you can provide, the better. We have several criteria that we have to look at and questions we must ask before we can publish a listing, so having the answers on the cache page or in a reviewer note really helps us out. If you can go ahead and describe the cache container, how it is hidden, who owns the property and who has given permission for the hide in a reviewer note, it really, really, really speeds up the process. Plus, all of that information is removed before the cache is published, so there is no worry that the surprise will be ruined for your fellow geocachers.”
“Tennessee has a great community of geocachers across the state and an incredible variety of geocaches to hunt. Whether you want to hit a power trail with friends and find hundreds in a day, rattle your brain with a mind-bending puzzle or get away hiking in beauty and solitude to find only one cache in nature, Tennessee has exactly what you are looking for. I am very proud of the great diversity of geocaches and the great sense of community among cachers here in the Volunteer State, but I am even more proud to be a part of a global community of geocachers who show that being awesome is not a trait exclusive to Tennessee geocachers. I have had the good fortune to find geocaches in 49 states and 16 other countries on 4 continents and I can say from personal experience that geocachers are the most incredible group of welcoming people no matter where you are on the planet. The sense of camaraderie shared by geocachers all over is amazing and it is an honor to be a part of this global community.”
“Geocaching is my favorite hobby/lifestyle and it has crept into most aspects of my life, but when not caching, I love to read and travel, I write from time to time, do a little painting, play music and sing with more passion than skill, enjoy cooking with my family and friends. I am an amateur blacksmith, like to attend concerts, live theatre, lectures, etc. and although it doesn’t sound much like a hobby, I really enjoy working around our farm and playing with my wife and our son Liam. I work hard when I need to and play hard, when I can.”
“That is a dangerous question, because once you set a goal, well…that is how you end up on the road to adventure. I normally seek out the oldest caches in states and countries, just to see where things started for an area. I also try to seek out caches with lots of favorite points when I am traveling in order to see the best of what geocaching has to offer wherever I am. I also travel to a number of Geocaching events including many mega-events each year. Consequently, I have been lucky enough to find many of the “feather in your hat” caches from world famous caches like the Unoriginal Stash and Geocaching HQ; to local favorites such as the Necropolis of Britannia Manor in Austin, Texas, or challenging 5/5’s like The Ghost Orchid in the Everglades. My most recent geocaching goals included seeking and finding the last remaining Project APE cache in Brazil and traveling to Germany to be a part of the world’s first Giga-Event last year.”
“So, if I could go geocaching anywhere in the world, I guess I would want to visit the three remaining continents to see what geocaching is like there. I’d love to travel to Antarctica to find any of the geocaches there, but if I could do only one it would have to be Ross Island, the oldest cache on the most distant continent. I’d also love to visit Australia and seek out the EarthCache at Uluru/Ayers Rock, it looks like an incredible experience. That said, the only one that I am seriously considering at the moment is a trip to Asia to seek out the most-favorited geocache in Thailand, Safe in the bowels of Kao San *Welcome to Bangkok*.”
Original post written by Andrea Hofer
We recently had the pleasure of receiving the following letter from Bannack of Cave Creek, Arizona. Here’s an excerpt:
Hello, my name is Bannack and I am a geocacher from Cave Creek, Arizona. I would like to say thank you for everything about Groundspeak and the geocaching because if it wasn’t for this, I wouldn’t be seeing amazing places, going on treasure hunts, and meeting great people. You have made my life change in a good way. I would like to ask some questions about geocaching to help me with my geocaching career.
A few of us here at Groundspeak/Geocaching HQ answered with some of our thoughts:
My name is Andrea and I have worked at Geocaching HQ for 2 years. Through geocaching, I have met many wonderful people, yourself included! I’ll do my best to answer your questions with the help of a few friends at Geocaching HQ…
If I had to pick only one geocache to go to in the U.S. where do you think I should go?
I personally am excited for my upcoming trip to find the very first geocache. It’s near Portland, and it’s called GCGV0P Original Stash Tribute Plaque. One day I’d like to hike the Zion Narrows in Utah to find Earthcache GCZ5YD Zion Narrows.
There are too many amazing geocaches in amazing places to pick just one, so I’d say go to visit GCK25B, Geocaching HQ. It is a unique experience to visit HQ and there are many, many excellent geocaches nearby to experience as well. The cache I am looking forward to finding one day is GC2B034 Necropolis of Britannia Manor III in Texas. I will get there someday!
My favorites are EarthCaches, but it’s hard for me to pick just one. I’m looking forward to finding GC1F7W3 A Dynamic Earth, on the summit of Mt. St. Helens, this summer!
Which mega geocaching events have the best trackables and geocoins to trade and keep?
At just about any event I’ve attended, I’ve found at least one geocacher showing off their personal trackable collections or offering up their personal trackables for trade. However, if trackables are your passion, you won’t find a better place to embrace that passion than at a Geocoinfest event. These events typically happen twice a year – once in the United States and once in Europe and they draw diehard trackable enthusiasts from all over the world. You’ll have the opportunity to browse the latest and greatest in Geocoin designs from vendors or find new friends willing to trade. Just make sure you set a budget before leaving the house when attending Geocoinfest – all the beautiful new coins or rare collector coins may be hard to resist.
Geocoinfest – there are lots of trackables traded at every event, but nothing comes close to this.
Every Mega I’ve been to has had tons of trackable trading. Although, I bet the Giga events in Germany have even more since so many people attend.
Should I go to the Geocaching Block Party this year?
Absolutely. The 2015 Block Party on Saturday, August 15, will be our 6th and last, to give us more opportunities to focus on other ideas and projects. You’ll get to see the HQ cache and get/trade some great trackables. I also recommend signing up for one of the HQ tours. Then on Sunday, don’t miss the Going APE Mega-Event up north.
I’m posting this to our blog to give the geocaching community a chance to share their answers to your questions, too. These will be included in my letter back to you. Happy caching!
Now it’s your turn, geocachers! Who, what, where, when, how, and why do you geocache? What would answers would you suggest to Bannack?
When you go to find your next geocache it’s not uncommon that you’ll step on, over or near a benchmark. There are over 700,000 benchmarks in the United States alone. And you know what? You can log them on Geocaching.com.
Benchmarking, also known as benchmark hunting, is a hobby in which explorers find benchmarks aka survey markers or geodetic control points. Hunting for geodetic markers is a fun and challenging activity just like geocaching. If you haven’t tried benchmarking, now is your chance! The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) is hosting a contest encouraging geocachers in the United States to take a photo with the official NCEES Trackable at a benchmark and upload it to social media using the hashtag #PSnoboundaries. Photo submissions will be automatically entered to win a trip to the 2015 Geocaching Block Party in Seattle, Washington. Official contest rules can be found here.
Benchmarks can be found at the top of peaks or in a village square, and you’ve probably walked by at least one without even knowing it! The most common survey marks are cast metal disks with a stamped legend on their face, set in rock ledges, sunken into the tops of concrete pillars, or affixed on the tops of pipes that have been sunk into the ground.
Long time geocacher and new benchmark enthusiast Cammy aka “Cammy7” tells her story of hunting for one of her first benchmark finds, KW0802.
“I took the trackable to KW0802, Columbia E. Base located on the Wrightsville Bridge in Columbia, Pa. While photographing this benchmark, a man was walking across the bridge and asked what we were doing. I explained benchmarking and the contest to him. He then told me he had something I needed to see at his bookstore. The bookstore is located within walking distance just off the bridge on the Columbia side of the river. My mom and I followed him to his bookstore where he showed me a spot on the front step where a benchmark was located. He explained how he found the benchmark inside the store when he bought the old building. He called NGS and got information about the disk. It was reported missing in 1956. The bookstore was originally a general store.
KW0802 on the Wrightsville bridge is a triangulation station disk and a reference point is JV4845, Susquehannock. JV4845 is located at the top of the Turkey Hill Nature Preserve Trail along the Susquehannock river. Geocache GC1QAP3 “TAKE A HIKE!~Look-out Turkeys!” is located at the benchmark. The benchmark is a concrete marker with a brass cap used to attach survey equipment. The view of the Susquehanna river is beautiful with the Wrightsville bridge in view.” – Cammy7
Geocachers across the United States are embracing the challenge to hunt down a benchmark and upload a photo to win the ultimate prize, even if that means running away from bears in Alaska!
SCARLY <3Rellimer13 shared her story with us: “Finding benchmarks was new for me. If it weren’t for the contest I might not have even discovered that I could log benchmark finds on the website! Just like before I went geocaching for the first time, I did as much online research online the night before as my eyes could tolerate. The different types of markers/way points, how to look for them.. I was nervous to go out and look without coords, I didn’t want to come up empty handed before releasing the traveler again. Each benchmark on the geocaching website was spot on though, and I had a really successful 24 hours of hunting before handing over the tag to a fellow cacher! It’s cool how old some of those NGS descriptions are, and they are still relevant! Amazing. The first one I found at night because usually I prefer caching in the cover of darkness anyway! But I completely spaced out what time of year it was, and when I found the cache that was near the benchmark I was searching for, it had been chomped on by a very hungry bear that must have just come out of hibernation. I was very spooked (I had no form of protection! I didn’t think they were awake yet..) I got out of the woods ASAP! And continued my benchmark quest the next day, in broad day light ” –SCARLY<3Rellimer13
Whether it’s in the woods, near a monument, or on the sidewalk near your home, there is a benchmark waiting to be found….and potentially a prize to be won!
Over the next few months, we’ll all be going on a geocaching journey to celebrate 15 years of geocaching. You’ll have the opportunity to complete five geocaching quests, each of which will earn you a special souvenir for your geocaching profile. Complete all five and you’ll earn a sixth, extra special souvenir.
After each quest begins, you’ll be able to complete it and earn your souvenir until September 2, 2015. So pack your bag, load up on snacks and set your road trip playlist, because here are your quests and their start dates:
No road trip is complete without a trusty co-pilot. Sign up below and we’ll remind you when each new quest is launched. We’ll also send you helpful hints and tips for this fantastic voyage.
Finding Your First Geocache
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