Friday, September 12, 2008

Lessons Learned While Geocaching

Geocaching is a fun, clean, and healthy activity that the whole family can enjoy. It can also be a bit frustrating at times, and there are a few dangers involved (depending on where you search for geocaches). I've only been Geocaching for a few months, but I've already learned quite a bit about it. Here's some of the lessons that I've learned so far.

GPS receivers are imperfect. My GPS unit will only get me in the vicinity of the cache, it will not put me right on top of it. I have to keep reminding myself of that, and remember to get a good bearing and distance, and then just go to that spot and search (and search and search and search). Bumbling around with my eyes glued to my GPS is only going to result in frustration.

Tree cover, tall buildings, and even large metal objects, can adversely affect the accuracy of my GPS unit. When approaching these objects, it's best to find a clear area, get a good distance and bearing, and then head to that on my own. I need to remember that once I enter heavy jungle, blindly following the arrow on my GPS is foolish.

If a cache has not been found in a while (a few weeks?), various wildlife may have made the area surrounding the cache their home. Here in Okinawa, spiders and snakes are the most common. Walking through waist high vegetation during habu mating season is dangerous. Making plenty of noise, poking through the brush with a stick, and taking it slow are good countermeasures. The spiders in Okinawa are not small, and they love to hang their webs across paths and trails. Some of them look big enough to take down a small child.

The steps leading up a 13th century castle can be very slippery after a good rain. The steps leading up a 13th century castle are very abrasive, and will easily scrape skin off of knees and elbows. Slipping on the steps leading up a 13th century castle doesn't make you look very cool at all.

If I find myself needing a machete, I'm probably searching in the wrong place.

If my searching is drawing unwanted attention from locals, my GPS unit can look just like a cell phone.

Geocaching is addictive.

Kids like to search for caches too.

Mosquitoes don't care if you've got a good reason to be there. The mosquitoes on Okinawa are big, plentiful, and love to congregate near caches.

All of these lessons are pretty simple, but they can be easy to forget when I'm tromping through the jungle, dodging spiders, and wiping sweat from my eyes. I'm just glad that I discovered this activity when I did, and wish that I had found it sooner. I've been to some really neat places during my time in this gun club, and it would have been fascinating to search for caches in some of those spots.


Me. Myself & Jonna said...

This is probably one of the most realistic and true post about how geocaching really is! Although, I never had the chance to cache while in Japan (I didn't know what it was!) I really wish I could go back to visit and grab a few. I wonder, is there a cache on Mt Fuji.. hmm.. put that in my "Bucket List"

P.J. said...

All so very true. The hobby is addictive, but it will run its course as far as "must do." Like, with me, I've got the initial "Oh my, I have to cache every day" out of my system. Now when I go, I plan better and make it better for the one or two days I do it here and there.

As for the spiders your way... ugh. Keep 'em!

Sues said...

LMAO!!! Glad you're enjoying your geocaching. I'm with PJ, you can keep the BFS over there!!