TattooBarbie Discovers Geocaching

After attending Geocoinfest 2013: Las Vegas, Nevada, TattooBarbie and her friend cybercat completed the El Dorado series. They had so much fun they decided to also do the Route 66 series!

This is the story of a woman with Asperger’s, who became a geocacher with Asperger’s. It’s not about conquering a disorder or beating an affliction. It’s about something more. It’s about the most human of all conditions: adaptation. It’s a condition geocachers are known to excel at, and Toni Brown first discovered that at work.

In many ways, Toni (Username: TattooBarbie) is a geocacher like many others: adventurous, fun, and outgoing. But this has not always been the case.

Long before she discovered geocaching, Toni was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome.  She says, “With Asperger Syndrome, it’s sort of a problem with your social life. You just don’t fit in. You don’t understand people and people don’t understand you. That has led me to have a rather secluded life.” Like many others with Asperger’s, Toni found it difficult to meet new friends and to get outside.

Then, one fateful work retreat, she found a way to do both. Toni works for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). TPWD uses geocaching as an educational tool for its Outdoor Family Program, and so the department decided that it would be a good idea for TPWD employees to test out geocaching during its annual retreat. For Toni, this activity turned out to be more than fun – it turned her life upside down (sometimes literally).

“Geocaching changed my life…I finally fit in somewhere. I’ve even hosted events when I travel out of town just to meet other geocachers.  This activity is so much fun that no matter where you go you can meet perfect strangers and share a common bond.”  With nearly 10,000 finds and 200 hides, Toni now spends a lot of time outside exploring. Her geocaching dream is to travel to Brazil to find the last remaining Project APE geocache. She also would like to find the International Space Station geocache, but concedes that “Brazil is [more] doable.”

telephone pole
Toni climbs out of her comfort zone (and ours!).
TattooBarbie’s trackable treasure chest tattoo.

Toni has been hooked on geocaching ever since that first experience at the TPWD retreat. Don’t believe us? Check out her rad trackable tattoo, featured in the video below. It’s in the shape of a treasure chest, which she thinks is the perfect representation of what geocaching is all about.

We think that Toni herself is the perfect representation of what geocaching is all about. She has used geocaching as a tool to step outside her comfort zone, to explore new places, and to surround herself with a wonderful community of folks united by their shared love of this crazy thing we call…well…geocaching.

Has geocaching helped you to overcome a challenge or step outside of your comfort zone? Tell us your story in the comments below.

Watch the video below (created by TPWD) to learn more about how geocaching helped Toni overcome the challenges associated with Asperger Syndrome:



Paige Edmiston
Paige (ThePaigeTurner) is a Marketing Specialist at Geocaching HQ. She likes books.
  • Popcorn313

    As soon as I saw the geonickname “TattooBarbie,” I knew who this is (and I live way up in the PNW). She’s famous!

  • goblincamper2004

    That is awesome the someone who has Aspergers syndrome has found geocaching to be a great hobby that will help them to meet other people and be able to fit in. In a way, I can relate to her with my more mild form of aspergers. I love geocaching, and have met some of the most wonderful people and friends around. Geocaching give people the chance to explore and get to know the area they live. I have done that here in St. George, UT. Geocaching will help those that do it become more familiar to the areas in which they live. Thanks for sharing this great story.

  • L@zyboy

    I love this story. And I love geocaching. I always tell people that I wish I could geocache more often but life keeps getting in my way. Thank Toni for sharing your story, you are an inspiration.