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“Guwisti and mom” Geocaching Through the Fog of Alzheimer’s

momandI52finds
A record day for Carol and Kristie (Guwisti and mom) with 52 finds

Crumpled geocaching log sheets record simple, even fragile moments. Laughter, singing to classic country music and victorious thumbs-ups roll into three words for a daughter and her best geocaching partner. They sign logbooks with, “Guwisti and mom”.  If you’ve geocached around Arkansas in the United States, you’ve probably read those three words on geocache log sheets for years.

But Kristie Boucheer Moore says all those geocaches are becoming flickers of half-remembered moments from her mom. “Her Alzheimer’s began a couple of years ago and has slowly progressed… She has problems remembering recent events and tends to repeat herself. She’ll ask me a question and say, ‘I’ve probably already asked you that, huh?’ And then she laughs. I don’t mind. She has a childlike exuberance which is infectious.”

Kristie began geocaching in 2010. The librarian happened upon something called, “geocaching” in an article. Soon she and her husband found their first geocache. She said they’ve been hooked on the outdoor adventure ever since.

Carol and Kristie
Carol and Kristie

After her father’s death Kristie searched for ways to spend time with her mom. “My husband and I told her about our new hobby and she thought it sounded silly. We took her to find an ammo can and she found a plastic grasshopper inside as SWAG and has loved it ever since! This was when she was in the very early stages and quite independent. She’d go caching with us every once in awhile, but not as much as she does now.”

The more Alzheimer’s becomes part of their lives, the more they find themselves searching for geocaches, “You really have no idea how much my mom means to me or how much we love geocaching together!! I am so happy my mom and I have found ‘our thing’ to do together.”

“Guwisti and mom” is now appearing on geocaching log sheets at a record pace. They recently broke their record and found 52 geocaches in one day.

“It’s definitely me and her time, my husband will usually go have ‘guy time’ and mom and I go caching. We usually go on weekends, in fact when I call her on Saturday morning she always asks, ‘any new caches?!’ She thinks all caches are a First to Find opportunity.”

Carol has also discovered she’s part of a larger community where she’s welcome to just be herself. Kristie says, “She loves all types of caches and she goes to events with us as well, she might not talk much anymore but she loves being around everyone and hearing their stories.”

The quiet stops when Kristie and Carol start driving to their next geocache, “Caching has given us a way to connect in the outdoors. My mom has never met a stranger, all her neighbors love her and help look after her. Since developing Alzheimer’s she’s quieter in group situations. But she sure talks a bunch while we’re out caching. I’ve heard more about her childhood than I ever have. She loves to sing and we listen to old classic country and sing while we cache.”

It’s the activity of geocaching that Kristie believes builds something stronger than memories. They’re focusing on the moment being lived, not the moments that have been lost, “It’s a great opportunity to spend quality time with a parent who honestly might not even remember your name in another year or so. We’re creating memories out there and while she might not remember exactly what happened, I think she will remember the happy feelings and general good times. I will always treasure the memories made while out caching with my mom. It is also, I suppose, a stress free time for both us. She’s not worried about remembering something she has forgotten and I can step out of the role of caregiver for a few hours. Geocaching has us both looking for something that neither one of us knows where it is. It lets us live in the moment.”

Carol and Kristie
Carol and Kristie

 

 

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Worlds Apart, Geocaching Connects a Father and Son

fatherandsonworldsapart
Geocaching helps keep this father and son team together. Left: Relativly Simlpe grabs his 900th find. Right: FlyingFawks spends the afternoon geocaching.

When you ask geocachers why they love geocaching, they will usually say they love geocaching because it gets them outside or brings a sense of adventure to their daily lives or connects them with a wonderfully warm and inclusive community or even gives them an activity to share with friends and family. For Roger Collins (Username: Relativly Simlpe)  and his son Joshua (Username: FlyingFawks), geocaching is more than all that. It’s just a way to spend a fun afternoon together. It is the way this father and son can stay connected even when they are oceans apart.

Roger lives in Oregon. Joshua lives in Florida, but his career takes him even further away from his dad. He serves in the U.S. Navy. He says, “My first deployment was in 2010, and I have been serving for over six years now. I have been given the opportunity to travel all over the world – Asia, Africa, Europe, North and South America.” Through the Navy, Joshua has also been able to geocache all over the world. Some of his favorite geocache finds have taken him tromping through Japan, Italy, and El Salvador. He adds, “I have had the privilege to be First to Find for three geocaches on two different continents.”

wing
Just another day at work for FlyingFawks.

Through geocaching, Joshua’s father also gets to have adventures of his own. Roger describes his first ever geocaching experience, “It was a normal Oregon winter day, rainy and cold. I worked my way to the geocache, dove into a small cedar tree, and found the container. I was all wet with the smell of cedar on my coat. I sat on a we bench nearby, opened the container, and said, ‘AH MAN! Look at all this stuff!’ I was having the time of my life and I was hooked.”

Although they take place on opposite sides of the country, or even world, these experiences give Roger and Joshua endless opportunities to connect. Joshua says, “Geocaching gives us an extra excuse to talk to each other – as if being father and son wasn’t enough. When we come across a cool trackable or a geocache worth of a favorite point, we usually call or text the GC code so that the other can check it out.”

When Joshua is deployed, geocaching can even, at times, give Roger the comfort of knowing that his son is somewhere having a great adventure. He says, “We are geo-friends and I watch to see which geocaches he has logged, no matter where he may be.”

Whether your family lives in your house, down the street, or on the other side of the world, sharing your  adventures can truly bring you closer together – one geocache at a time. Take it from Roger, “It’s important to share the experience. Whether geocaching together or apart, the stories that we share with each other are priceless.”

 

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Geocaching in Harmony with Nature (Part 2)

            6 Tips for Finding a Geocache in an Environmentally Friendly Way

 

 

GeocacherTypeQuiz_Badges_vFINAL2_NatureLoverIn Geocaching in Harmony with Nature (Part 1), we gave you tips and tricks on how to hide an environmentally friendly geocache. A wise geocacher once said: “If you hide a geocache, someone will come and find it.” So this time we want to take a look at how to be a Nature Lover when hunting for a geocache.

We asked the geocaching community, Geocaching HQ-ers and Volunteer Reviewers for their tip-top tips on being kind to nature when searching for a geocache. Then we combined all the great answers into this list:

forest
Take a deep breath and enjoy the outdoors.
  • Come prepared. When planning for a geocaching trip, make sure to read the geocache description carefully. This way you’ll know the regulations and concerns for the area before you visit. Be informed about the seasonal changes in your area. Do not visit caves in which bears or bats hibernate during autumn and winter and do not disturb breeding habitats. Before searching for a night cache in the woods, check in with park rangers or land management to make sure that this is safe for you and for the natural area.
  • Stay on track. Stick to designated trails and don’t cut across switchbacks when navigating to the geocache. Doing so might disturb flora and fauna along the way.

  • Bring garbage bags. Geocacher Cindi Lee G. says: “We cache in and trash out every time we go geocaching or hiking.” We think that’s grand! Next time you go geocaching, include a few garbage bags with your geocaching gear. This way you can pick up litter on the way to  and from the geocache. And here is something we think is genius: there are some geocaches with an extra compartment for trash bags geocachers can use to Cache In Trash Out (CITO) on their way back out.

  • Leave the car at home. If possible, bike or walk to the geocache location. This is not only great for your health and good for the environment, the slower pace might even make you notice things along the way you would have never seen speeding by in your car.

  • bear
    Only hug wooden bears! (Picture by miatabug)

    Keep geocache owners informed. Let the geocache owner know if their geocache is damaged and could potentially be dangerous to animals or vegetation.

  • Respect wildlife and plants. Observe wild animals from afar. Never feed or try to touch them. Be conscious where you are stepping so you don’t destroy fragile plants and mushrooms.  Pro-Tip from Geocacher Sarah H.: “Please clean your footwear and gear when hiking in various places. Footwear caked in mud and plant material is a good way to spread invasive species.”

  • It is OK to DNF.  You have searched in all the obvious places. You took a good look at the geocache description and the hint, but you still couldn’t find it. Log your DNF (Did Not Find) online to let the geocache owner know that you did not find the geocache. Don’t keep on searching, turning over every stone, and potentially ravaging the area. Keep in mind: A DNF is not admission to failure, it is just honest communication.

We hope these tips will help you sharpen your nature senses and become a skilled environmentally friendly geocacher. Do you have another tip for environmentally friendly geocaching? Let us know in the comments below!

Find out how you can be a complete nature loving geocacher with our 6 Tips for Hiding an Environmentally Friendly Geocache!

 

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New Texas A&M Study: Geocaching Improves Physical and Mental Health

GEAR study

1,000 geocachers volunteered to be part of the first ever major study of geocaching and its effect on health. The 14-month Texas A&M study called Geocaching for Exercise and Activity Research (GEAR) launched in January of 2013. The first set of results from the study were presented on November 5 at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in Boston.

Each of the participants were given devices to track their movement and a logbook to record their level of geocaching intensity. The first results showed the effects of regular geocaching. Researcher Whitney says, “The GEAR study has identified an association between geocaching and improved health.”

Another researcher, Garney, goes on to say, “GEAR participants who report geocaching once a week or more are more likely to meet national guidelines for physical activity and are more likely to report good or very good health status compared to those who geocache less frequently.” In addition, research showed that geocachers reported fewer days of poor physical and mental health compared to state level data.

Follow Geocaching on Instagram for more epic and inspirational geocaching pics http://instagram.com/gogeocaching
Follow Geocaching on Instagram for more epic and inspirational geocaching pics http://instagram.com/gogeocaching

These findings are still preliminary, but nevertheless we’re excited about them. The study concludes in early 2014 and final data will be analyzed and presented later that year.

The health benefits of geocaching are often the subject of emails to Geocaching HQ. Have you lost weight geocaching or sharpened your mental skills? Share your stories about improving your health through geocaching in the comments below.

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Flood Tested – Geocacher Approved: Lost Cache Found Years Later 30 Miles Downstream

Geocache found after 3 years after washing away in a flood
Geocache found after 3 years after washing away in a flood

Isn’t a wet logbook the worst? Or maybe a geocache filled with water is the worst? Or a geocache that isn’t well-marked might be the worst? Or  maybe even a geocache that can’t be found because it’s washed away by a flood is actually, really, the worst. Well then Sandra, aka junglehair‘s, geocache is the antidote to all those “worsts.”

She’s found more than 13,000 geocaches and hidden more than 70. She knows her geocaching stuff. Sandra’s knowledge includes using the right container for the right circumstances. They’re containers that are durable and last years. She says those containers are most importantly water-tight. None of that seemed to matter much though when a spring flood washed through Manitoba, Canada in 2010. Even though her geocache named Splashing New York Style was hidden high on the bank of a river, it was swept away.  After a string of DNF (Did Not Find) logs, she replaced the geocache container.

Lost & Found
Lost & Found

Then the years rolled by, until an email popped into Sandra’s inbox. She says, “I found out that one of my caches that was washed away in a spring flood in 2010, was found on an island about 60 km North of where it was originally hidden.” The story goes, “The cache was found by Rob Bruce, Marsh Manager at Oak Hammock Marsh while he was on a hunting trip in Netley Marsh. He had been camping on the island where the cache was found.”

Sandra says the geocache survived those three years intact and water tight. It was well marked so Rob knew the container was a geocache and he also knew how to contact the geocache owner. The geocache just bobbed along for years before finding a resting place on an Island on the south end of Lake Winnipeg.

Sandra says, “The really amazing part of this story is that the log book and other contents of this cache were still fairly dry inside! It was hidden in a Lock & Lock container (the real kind, not a dollar store knock off).”

It’s a Lost & Found lesson about quality, well-marked, water-tight containers. It’s also a lesson about luck. It helped that it ended up in the hands of a friend who geocaches, a lot. OHMIC returned the geocache, but he happens to mostly find them with more than 15,000 finds.

What are your tips, advice, techniques, tools… well you get it…  for placing a durable, water-tight, well-marked geocache?