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The Lackey Geocoin: An Unexpected 26,000-mile, 5-Year Journey

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By Holly Walker, Geocaching HQ Guest Experience Coordinator

There’s the “you” when you begin a journey, then if by magic, there’s a completely different “you” when you finish a journey. As geocachers, we’ve all experienced this phenomenon. You learn and you grow and you change, even if ever so slightly, into a new person. And so it’s the same as we vicariously travel through Geocaching game pieces known as Travel Bugs®. We’re able to track an object as it moves around the world to new places. And sometimes when we see that Travel Bug, years later, the whole world we know has changed. This is one of those stories.

On February 7, 2010, Arkfiremedic placed a 2009 Groundspeak Lackey Geocoin in a Travel Bug hotel in Arkansas. The mission? “Try to make it back to Groundspeak Headquarters [in Seattle, WA] from Arkansas.” Lackey Geocoins are limited edition items annually released by Geocaching Headquarters. Commemorating its employees, or Lackeys as they we occasionally (and lovingly) referred to by the community, these Geocoins feature each Lackey’s unique pixel icon, an artistic characterization of each person and a rite of passage when hired. (You can see that latest Geocaching HQ Logbook Geocoin or Lackey Geocoin here.)

What could have been a simple 2,000 mile trip from Arkansas to Geocaching HQ across the country became, in the end, much more. This 2009 Geocoin, featuring just under 30 Geocaching Lackeys, spent nearly five years traveling to eleven different US states, visiting three countries across three continents, and logging over 26,000 miles all in an effort to visit us. To the delight of the coin’s owner, this lackey geocoin reached its final destination a couple weeks ago. On January 5, 2015, the coin finally arrived at Geocaching Headquarters and met a staff of over 80 lackeys! My how things have changed here at headquarters in the last 5 years!

TB-Map

Shortly after arriving, the Geocoin was discovered and photographed by the Lackeys and quickly retrieved that afternoon by a kind geocacher visiting HQ. Wondering where the coin is headed next? “The coin would love to come back to sunny Arkansas to retire the rest of its days in its owner’s collections.” And off it went back into the world…

This is just one of the many awesome trackable stories we encounter each day at our office. You’re invited to join. Schedule a hosted visit with us the next time you find yourself in Seattle. Discover all the interesting trackables our geocache contains and pick up your own Lackey Geocoin. Or activate a trackable from home and send it our way to travel the world for you. Who knows what kinds of adventures it may have.

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” – Ernest Hemingway

Holly in the Geocaching HQ lobby
Holly in the Geocaching HQ lobby

 

 

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It was a Dark and Stormy Night… for Reading about Geocaching

Geobook
Special thanks to Julie Henning (CalORie) for the perfect lead in image for this post.

We here at Geocaching HQ love to hang out with each other during work, while throwing a few back at a local happy hour, and of course while geocaching together on the weekends. So when one of our lackeys suggested starting a book club, we got pretty excited and wondered about geocaching-themed books that may be out in the world. Turns out that there’s a LOT. There’s even a thread in our forums about it. Here are some of our top picks for geocaching books out in the world:

Caching In: A Geocaching Love Story by Tracy Krimmer
“Can a compass lead you to love?”

Ahh, romance and Tupperware in the woods. In Tracy Krimmer’s Caching In: A Geocaching Love Story, we meet broken-hearted Ally Couper who’s, “…had enough with her ridiculous life. Her job at the bank is going nowhere, and her love life might as well be non-existent. Determined to try something new, Ally becomes absorbed in the world of geocaching. The high-tech driven scavenger hunt introduces her to Seth, and she realizes the game isn’t the only thrilling part. Ally’s bad luck may finally be changing, until the past threatens to halt her future with Seth. Can they find happiness together, or is love the one cache Ally can’t find?” I hope this doesn’t have any DNFs!

Romance & caching seem to go hand in hand, but apparently not as much as mysteries & ammo cans. Check out these “whodunits”:

Cache a Predator is a geocaching thriller about a father’s love, justice, and the unhinged game of hide-the-cache .
“Cache a Predator is a geocaching thriller about a father’s love, justice, and the unhinged game of hide-the-cache.”

Cache a Predator: A Geocaching Mystery by Michelle Weidenbenner is a Gold Medal Winner in the 2014 Readers’ International Awards and gets high review marks from online book seller sites. “M. Weidenbenner plants the emotion of one vigilante’s mission into the cache boxes of a gripping tale that will leave readers locking their doors…” Plus, someone is planting body parts in geocaching sites. I wouldn’t want to be FTF that geocache!

"While looking for a cache in the mountains he comes across a human skeleton..."
“While looking for a cache in the mountains he comes across a human skeleton…”

The synopsis of Cached Out: A Cliff Knowles Mystery by Russell Atkinson already has me on the edge of my seat. “Newly retired from the FBI and alone after the tragic death of his wife, Cliff Knowles takes up geocaching. While looking for a cache in the mountains he comes across a human skeleton and reports it to the sheriff’s office. Then a second body is found – a fresh corpse this time – right after Cliff found another geocache nearby. When it turns out the first remains are those of a fugitive he was supposed to arrest years earlier, he becomes a suspect in a multiple homicide investigation. He has no choice but to use his sleuthing skills to identify the mysterious cache owner, known only as Enigmal, and free himself from suspicion.”

But what about the kids? Oh the little ones certainly have a lot to choose from, too:

“Congratulations!” the note says. “You’ve found it!”

As a kid I loved the Boxcar Children series and the adventures of Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden. In The Box That Watch Found (The Boxcar Children Mysteries #113) by Gertrude Chandler Warner, their dog Watch discovers a mysterious box that turns out to be, you guessed it, a geocache! But just as the Alden kids start to embrace their new found hobby, they find that several geocaches in the area are disappearing. This book is a great way to introduce kids 7-10 to the world of geocaching or enhance their already established hobby.

"...Using his GPS, he uncovers the geocache-a small metal box-hidden deep in the woods..."
“…Using his GPS, he uncovers the geocache-a small metal box-hidden deep in the woods…”

Young teenagers might actually consider taking a break from texting and putting their smartphones GPS to use after reading Hide & Seek by Katy Grant. This 240 page chapter book follows 14-year-old Chase who, “…finally gets a chance to go on his first solo geocaching adventure. Using his GPS, he uncovers the geocache-a small metal box-hidden deep in the woods in some undergrowth. Inside, with a few plastic army men and a log book, is a troubling message for help in a child’s handwriting.” This one gets high points from both readers and educators in online reviews. 

Our Co-Founder Bryan and his family are on the cover of this good read.
Our Co-Founder Bryan and his family are on the cover of this good read.

Is this a good place to plug The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Geocaching: Third Edition by The Editors and Staff of Geocaching.com? No? Alrighty then, moving on… 😉

A geocaching novel in a geocache! Geogirl by Kelly Rysten can be found on Kindle

Finally, you clever cachers really have thought of everything, haven’t you? Including a book club themed geocache! If you ever find yourself in Ridgecrest, California and need a new read, hop on over to Paperback Book Cache GC1ADKF. The Ridgecrest California Geocachers Club says that this 2d/2t geocache is and easy to find, and bring a book if you want to take a book. One log said, “I took two books, one by Gordon R. Dickson that I haven’t even heard of, and one in the Honor Harrington series by Weber. Left two of Rysten’s books, signed by the author. Enjoy!”

So how about you? Read any good (Geocaching) books lately? Tell us in the comments below!

Mia San Giga 2014

By Andrea Hofer

On August 16, 2014, the world’s first Geocaching Giga Event took place. Annie, Andrea, Raine and Annika traveled from Geocaching headquarters in Seattle to the Bavarian capital of Munich to witness this historic moment. Below is a trip report in the Lackey’s own words:

The first-ever Giga was a blast! In geocaching terms, Giga means 5,000+ participants, but Mia San Giga 2014 had well over 8,000 participants!

A Giga would not be complete with a whole weekend of mega entertainment. The night before the giga, we attended the “ochsenessen,” where a whole ox was roasted on a spit in true Bavarian style. This was a chance to sit down and chat about local ‘caching customs. We learned that German cachers refer to each other using “Du” instead of “Sie” (both meaning “You.”) Normally “Du” is reserved for family, extremely close friends and sports teammates. This is an example of the instant community geocaching creates.

Photo Credit: rejuch
Roasting Ox- Photo Credit: “rejuch”

 

Photo Credit: rejuch
Delicious!- Photo Credit: “Rony90”

Saturday was the big event! The doors opened at the Munich Olympic Stadium and hundreds of visitors to our shared lackey/volunteer booth started flowing in. We enjoyed the wide selection of options available from vendors, including geocaching socks, Geocoins, and T5 gear. The food stalls, beer garden, and stage also provided constant entertainment. Particularly fun were the bavarian-themed games for kids of all ages including a stein lifting contest, a “cow” milking contest, and a coaster toss (the target was a barrel.) All the while geocachers ziplined overhead across the stadium and toured the rooftops of this architectural marvel.

Geocaching HQ Crew
Geocaching HQ Crew
Event Grounds-Photo Credit: vossis 71
Event Grounds- Photo Credit: “vossis 71”

On Sunday we rounded out the weekend with a great finale at the breakfast event in the festive hall of the famous Munich Hofbräuhaus. Together with hundreds of cachers we enjoyed a beer and white sausages for breakfast followed by a tour of the most interesting places in Munich thanks to 30 lab caches.

Sunday Meal
Sunday Meal
City Walks
City Views

We would like to thank all the friendly geocachers from all over the world for the fun, the insights, and the opportunity to participate in the geocaching community. A special thank you goes to the giga organizers and all the volunteers for their hard work in creating such a smoothly running and memorable experience.

 

Want more? This video immerses you in the experience (and it’s only 3 minutes!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IvdlzMI9Y0

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3 Ideas for Creating a Deviously Clever Geocache

A decoy from Before You Can Torment, You Must Learn to Annoy (GCK2BA). Photo by geocacher calipidder
A decoy from Before You Can Torment, You Must Learn to Annoy (GCK2BA). Photo by geocacher calipidder

I recently attended a the Berkshire Geobash #3 Mega-Event in Massachusetts and came across one of the most devious hides I’ve ever seen. So devious, it inspired me to write a whole blog post dedicated to creating geocaches that some may consider “evil”. Not evil in the possessed by spirits evil, but evil in that when searching, frustration is inevitable. If you’re ever in western Massachusetts, near Pittsfield, finding My Wife Thinks I’m Nuts (GC1MW7), created by Gary, is an absolute must.

The gum nano.
The gum nano.

Step 1: Decoys

Geocachers with a few finds under their belts will have developed a keen geo-sense, i.e. they know common places to look for geocaches. Some of these folks have seen it all, so getting past them can be hard. This is where decoys come in. Some geocaches have containers in all of the obvious spots, but instead of a logbook, it’s a note that let’s them know they’ve only found a decoy. Placing multiple decoys can create a fog of frustration that may cloud geocacher’s judgement when looking for the real container. (See image above.)

Step 2: Really Clever Camouflage

Don’t get me wrong—I love camo duct tape. It’s an easy way to add a little bit of cloaking to your geocache. However, when it comes to being truly devious, the right camouflage can make or break your hide. The real challenge is to make your geocache look like everything that’s around it—like it belongs there. Think fake logs, fake rocks, fake gum (ew) or even the always maligned fake dog poo.

 

Step 3: Hide in Plain Sight

You read that right. Hide in plain sight. This might mean skipping the traditional geocache container for something a little more creative. Just think: if your geocache looks like it’s just part of the surrounding decor, geocachers may not be apt to look there. This step is crucial for clever urban hides.

This just looks like it's supposed to be there. Surprise! Geocache! Photo by geocacher Lady Nomad.
This just looks like it’s supposed to be there. Surprise! Geocache! Photo by geocacher Lady Nomad.

 

These are just a few ideas. How would you make your geocache truly devious? Tell us in the comments. You can also check out some devious geocache containers at Shop Geocaching.

 

Geocachers are the nicest people: My trip to the 12th Annual GCHR Picnic Mega-Event

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Can you spot the Geocaching HQ’er? (Hint: Look for the green sunglasses.)

Editor’s note: Geocaching HQ staff are  attending dozens of Mega-Events around the world, shaking hands, sharing stories of adventure, and of course, geocaching. Each person at Geocaching HQ brings their own unique talent to advancing the adventure. Some write code for the website, others design images for the apps, and some shoot videos explaining it all. Paige Edmiston is a Communications Specialist for Geocaching HQ. She recently traveled to Hampton Roads, Virginia to attend the 12th Annual GCHR Picnic Mega-Event. Here’s her story.

I was the lucky Geocaching HQ staff member who attended the 12th Annual GCHR Picnic Mega-Event in Hampton Roads, Virginia. The event takes place at the crossroads of nature and early American history, where the best of both are highlighted through unique geocaching experiences. But that’s not what makes this event so special. This event is special because it has an extraordinary power to bring people together into community.

At my first Geocaching Block Party, a geocacher gave me a pin that read “Geocachers are the nicest people.” I thought it was cute, so I’ve held onto it all these years. But now, for the first time, I think I fully understand the truth behind that statement. It only took 2400 miles, hundreds of geocachers, and a dance with Signal the Frog (more on that later) for me to finally “get it”.

Geocachers really, truly are the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

What I learned from the 12th Annual GCHR Picnic Mega-Event:

NewGeocachingFriends
My geocaching chauffeurs.

You can show up knowing no one and leave with friends for life. In what world can you go to a party without knowing a single soul and immediately feel like part of the family? The geocaching world, that’s where. Heck, the geocachers at the 12th Annual GCHR Picnic made me feel welcome even before the event started. A lovely group of geocachers who had driven from Pennsylvania to Virginia for the event waited at the airport to greet me. Showing up at the farewell breakfast the morning after the big event felt like catching up with old friends.

Geocachers are always prepared — and happy to share. Virginia has a few wonderful things Seattle doesn’t, and a few not-so-wonderful things: namely, chiggers and ticks. Luckily, a geocacher at the event had come prepared with enough bug spray to share with an unprepared Geocaching HQ’er. In addition to bug spray, the delightful event organizer Penguincacher equipped me with a yellow, trackable Jeep so that I could drive around in style. And yes, this Jeep was inspired by the Jeep Travel Bugs!

Love is in the details. Sometimes, it’s the small things that reveal how kind, caring and, well, detail-oriented the people you meet along the geocaching trail can be. Just a few examples from Hampton Roads:

A larger-than-life log book.

LogBook2
The brains behind the log book. Think there’s enough room to sign your name?

A contest filled with creative challenges designed to reveal the true “GeoSurvivors.” I’m happy to report my partner Maingray and I took second place. I think that means we would survive a Zombie Apocalypse. Maybe.

GeoSurvivor
The epic slow walk of GeoSurvivor (second place) champions. Photo by steve-n-kim.

A special Lab Cache created to make me feel welcome.

Lackey, VA
Note: Lackey, Virginia. Photo by Monkeybrad.

And, of course, no portable toilet would be complete without a bouquet of flowers.

PortaPotty
An extra dose of geocaching love.

And finally, being quirky is awesome. Geocaching is about exploration, adventure, and discovery, but it’s also about being a part of a community that challenges you to step outside your comfort zone and, at the same time, appreciates you just for being you. I never dreamed I would ever be in a position where I had the opportunity — and the support — to show the world my love of goofy dancing by tangoing with a giant Signal the Frog. Then again, I should have known: geocaching is always full of surprises.