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How Geocaching Can Change Your Life

Hey guys. As I have said previously, geocaching is my favorite hobby and it has changed my life for the better in countless ways. That’s why one of the first things I do, whenever I make a new friend, is to make sure to recommend it to them, if they’re interested.

You know, geocaching is so much more than moving around, and staring at automatic watches and maps and GPS devices, as people may initially think. It has numerous benefits you won’t even think of, if only you give it a chance. Naturally, if you’re not into this kind of stuff, there are many other great hobbies you can take up, but with this post, I want to draw attention to those benefits and maybe spark your interest!

Geocaching will definitely get you to move your body, and need I even talk about the ? And mind you, this isn’t some strenuous HIIT workout or a boring run on the treadmill (not that there’s anything wrong in doing that if you like it!), but it’s more of an unconventional exercise that engages your body, your mind, and your senses. So with geocaching, you’ll get those glutes activated while getting some fresh air and exploring some new and amazing locations. Not to mention you get to discover hidden treasures, so yay for the treats!

In addition to making your body stronger, geocaching makes your mind stronger, as well. What I’m talking about here is that it boosts mental health: it can relieve stress, help you unlock your creativity, and also help you break down any mental blocks you might have. Overall, it makes you more present and sharpens your mental skills, thereby . Being in nature often does all of this, but when you add the element of purpose – to follow a map and find the hidden cache – the experience is much more stimulating and rewarding.

It is also highly educational, so for you trivia geeks out there, geocaching is perfect! Did you know that many of the popular geocaches are located either at or near historically or geographically significant sites and many of them will contain some info or even trivia about the location? Also, whenever the geocachers explore a new area they are required to learn something about it beforehand tо help them orient themselves. With geocaching, you really do learn something new every day!

And lastly, you’ll make tons of new friends and make many new wonderful memories. Now, isn’t that worth it?

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My Dream Home

Obviously, geocaching is something you do locally unless you care to travel quite a ways. As busy as I am, I will stick with the regional version. I am busy setting up shop and getting acquainted. I move around a lot and you might say that I am a “serial renter”, a person who lives in all kinds of houses and apartments and has a stream of things that I’ve from previous locations. I certainly know what I like and don’t like in a home. Fortunately, I met someone in town who is in real estate when not geocaching for fun. She listens to all my ranting and raving about getting a steady address when I am finished with the military. I go on about the size and number of bedrooms and the square feet of the kitchen and baths. I have even imagined a picture window in the living room with a clear view of the tree-lined street. Yes, I insist on residing amid ample greenery in every direction.

Apart from the scenic vistas from my home, I want to have all the practical amenities associated with comfort and ease. To be ecologically-minded, I want a complete solar installation to save energy costs on things like heating, air conditioning, and hot water. Speaking of that, my real estate friend mentioned the trend in space and energy saving tankless systems from . This is a must if you have more than one bathroom and a heated swimming pool. I wouldn’t mind adding that to my list of “musts.”  I was lucky to meet someone like minded who enjoys geocaching and shooting the breeze about lifestyles. My big move to my ultimate home could be any day now.

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PCSing Means New GeoCache Locations!

Military life means lots of moving around, all over the world. There are definitely drawbacks to that kind of lifestyle, for you, your stuff, and your family members – broken or missing stuff every single time you pack up and move, trying to sell your old place and find a new place to live, learning the ropes at a new command, new school for the kids, the struggle spouses have when trying to find another job, leaving good friends and the loneliness you feel until you start making new ones.

But there are a lot of great things about moving as well. You just have to look at it the right way – it is a fresh start, a chance to reinvent yourself and start anew! If you didn’t like the way things were done at your old command, or who you had to work for, it doesn’t matter anymore! You’re going to a new place and chances are, things will be better.

I always use packing up as a chance to purge all the things I don’t want to bring with me. I like donating things that are still useable and letting go of the stuff that isn’t. Getting rid of stuff you no longer need is a great feeling. Plus it cuts down on the boxes you have to unpack at the other end! Speaking of unpacking, if the place you’re moving is bigger than the one you left, you get to go shopping! That’s not such a bad thing, either!

My absolute favorite thing about moving – or any traveling, really – is the opportunity to find new geocache locations. Geocaching is a great way to explore your new neighborhood. Some items might be hidden in parks or green spaces, some in random hiding spots near interesting sites, heck I’ve even found one or two in the parking lot of good places to eat! You never know where you are going to end up, and lots of them will end up being places you want to return because there is a great view, it’s a good hike on a nice day, or just a super cool place to be. New places, new treasures, new experiences: sounds pretty good to me!

Using forums and websites, you can find other geocachers in the area and meet up with them. Then you’ve got an instant connection with your new neighbors, too. There’s meetings you can attend or volunteer work like “cache in, trash out” days (where geocachers make an extra effort to clean up any litter or debris around the cache site) that you can participate in.

The best part is that you don’t need new equipment for each place you live. If you get service on your phone, you’ve got a GPS unit and can do some geocaching. Just pull up the map online or through the app, find a place you’ve never been and are interested in exploring, and you’re good to go!

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I am Not My Uniform

When people see me in my Class A uniform, or any other uniform, they don’t really see me. They just see the uniform, the shiny buttons and the colorful ribbons. I guess that is the point of wearing a uniform: I am not Jenn when I’m wearing it, I’m a soldier. It’s not supposed to be personal. I am part of a unit, not an individual. But sometimes I want to be an individual. I want to be more than the uniform.

I like being Jenn sometimes. I’ve got my family, I’ve got my friends, and I try to find and shape the time around my job to make a life for myself.

I am the kind of person that needs a hobby. I need something to look forward to, something to do on my off time. Some people play video games, others dominos, others build things, make things, play sports, or cook things. Not me. I wanted something that helped keep me fit but that didn’t feel like PT. I needed something that would get me outdoors and moving around, because being indoors when I don’t have to be makes me a little crazy. It also had to be cheap – I don’t get paid all that much. My hobby also had to be something that I could do no matter where the Army sent me.

Geocaching checked all those boxes and then some. It’s really a great hobby. Just about anybody can do it no matter where you live. You can even go geocache hunting on vacation because there are caches all over the world. Maybe not some of the places the Army might deploy me to, but most of the places the rest of you go.

There’s physical effort involved, which is perfect for me. However, they aren’t all super hard. There’s always terrain descriptions, so you’ll know if it’s uneven, on elevated terrain, or if the cache is on a well-maintained trail. You can hunt by yourself or with friends, which is perfect for me – sometimes when I transfer, I don’t have friends right away, or my friends have different work schedules than I do. And it’s a great thing for just about everyone: you can bring small kids along and some of them are even handicapped accessible. People also bring their dogs sometimes, depending on permissions at the location.

Some caches are challenging mentally. You might have to solve clues spread out over several caches or interpret hints. Some caches even have codes you have to solve! It can be a really fun puzzle!

If you don’t have a hobby, I really think you should get one. I’d offer geocaching as the perfect one to try of course. Remember you’re not just your job either. Take that vacation day and enjoy the outside for once.

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Tips for Geocaching Noobs

Geocaching is sort of like a secret club. First, caches are probably hidden all over your neighborhood and if you don’t know they are there, you can walk right by them and be completely oblivious. Second, when you are on the hunt, you don’t want anybody else to know what you’re doing. And third, there’s a serious lack of commercials and advertisements about it, it’s mostly word-of-mouth. If you don’t know someone who does it, chances are you won’t hear about it at all.

What I’m trying to say is that it can be hard to break into the hobby if you don’t have somebody with experience helping you out. Lucky you, you know me now, and I can help! The first thing you’re going to want to do is check out the app. The official app is by a company called Groundspeak, so beware of imitators. Once you have the app, you’re ready to find your first cache!

Next, study the Geocacher’s Creed. It gives you basically the rules on how to hide caches safely and respectfully, and how to seek them without causing property damage or negatively impacting the environment.

The next thing you need to familiarize yourself with are the different types of caches. Some are official, some are just plastic containers or baggies. There are Ammo Cans, which are exactly what you think they are. They’re good to use because they stay dry and are decently sized. There are Bison or Bison tubes. You’d think these would be huge but they are not – it is the brand name of the first manufacturer. They are watertight cylinders that can be small and magnetic – perfect for hiding all kinds of places. Tiny caches are called micro regardless of what they’re made from. But there’s even smaller ones called Nanos, if you can believe that! They’re about the size of a pencil eraser and you feel pretty accomplished when you find one. There are all different kinds of things like puzzle caches, multi-caches, reverse caches, and others. Check out the Geocaching website to learn more.

There are some acronyms you’re going to want to be familiar with as well – same as the Army. “TOTT” is Tools Of The Trade. That means a GPS receiver, the app, anything that you use to find caches. There’s “BYOP” which means Bring Your Own Pencil. Usually it means that you’ll need something to sign the logbook. Another great term to know is “CITO” and that means Cache In, Trash Out – it’s something that geocachers have been doing for a long time, cleaning up trash in the areas where they are hunting. D/T will tell you the terrain difficulty. Now, in the log or on the site, you will find some things, too. There’s “DNF” which means Did Not Find. If you see enough of these noted on the cache you’re thinking of hunting for, something might have happened to it. If you are the first person to find a cache, you can write “FTF” in the logbook, and the next person can write, “STF” Another thing people write in the logbook is “TFTC” which means Thanks For The Cache, or “TFTH” (sometimes T4TH) which means Thanks For The Hide. There’s also “TNLN” that people can write meaning Took Nothing Left Nothing. If there is a “SL” added, it means Signed Logbook.

Now that you have some general knowledge, get out there and find your first cache!


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Today’s Cache In, Trash Out Event

Work has been crazy busy, so I haven’t been able to get outside and enjoy myself in ages. But the planets aligned today. I managed a day off from duty and the weather cooperated enough that I got to be outside. I knew just what I wanted to do: a geocache event called a Cache In, Trash Out that was being held at a local park that isn’t too far from where I’m living now. I’ve done other Cache In, Trash Out events but none here. I figured it would be a good thing to do, both for me and the environment a great day in the park having fun and also volunteering. Doesn’t get much better than that, does it?

If you don’t know, a Cache In, Trash Out event is like a park cleanup, only you hunt for geocaches at the same time. You can find organized events, although it can be as simple as bringing a trash bag with you whenever you go geocache hunting. You clean up as you search, leaving the area better than it was when you started. Don’t forget to bring your own gloves because sometimes… well, people can be gross.

When I got to the event today, I went to the organizers to check in. They gave me a trash bag and a small map, marking the area we would be cleaning. They told me that the event ended in a few hours but that I could leave whenever as long as I signed out. It was nice to know that they were treating everyone’s safety as a priority and wanted everyone to be accounted for.

I started to head north. I had already made a list of caches I wanted to hit, and there were a couple near each other in the same area. There was a group of three people about the same age as me already going that way and they called me over. That’s something I like about geocaching, you have something in common with everyone right off the bat. Just like I have with other people in uniform.

So we all hiked around together, picking up trash and hunting for geocaches. They had a great GPS unit that made it pretty easy to find every Ground Zero we were looking for. We took turns signing the log and we even found a trackable Bug in one of them. One of the other members of the group was about to go to Europe so we let her have it. We thought it would be very cool for the owner of the trackable to have it go overseas.

I met a lot of really nice people today. I’ve even made plans to meet up with some other geocache hunters at another event in a couple weeks!

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“Treasure Hunting” With My Nephew

My current post is close enough that my older sister can come visit on a day trip, which is great because we haven’t seen each other on a regular basis since she left for college. But this past weekend, I offered to babysit my nephew Frankie while she and her husband went away for the weekend. I know, I’m a great sister aren’t I?

Before I headed over there, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what I was going to do with a seven year old boy for two whole days. Order pizza and watch movies? Of course. Play video games? Heck yeah! But what else? I don’t know what seven year old boys are into. I asked around at work and they gave me a few ideas but then I remembered: Frankie is obsessed with pirates. And pirates bury treasure, and geocaching is like finding treasure!

I ran it by my sister, who was cool with it as long as I remembered the bug spray and sunblock, and checked Frankie for ticks afterward. That was just good sense, so I agreed to her terms. Then I found a couple of little trinkets (a fridge magnet, a Mardi Gras bead necklace, a challenge coin from my boss, a little action figure that came in a cereal box) and made sure to throw them in with my toothbrush and clothes and stuff.

I waited until my sister and brother-in-law left before I let Frankie in on the plan. I told him about how there are real life ‘treasure hordes’ all over the place and that I had a map. I wish you could have seen the way his face lit up. I am officially the coolest person he has ever met!

I showed him the app and let him pick the first location – a park near enough that we could walk. I coated him with sunblock and doused both of us in bug spray, tucked my SWAG (stuff we all get) into my pocket, and we headed out. It took us longer to get there than I thought – I forgot how slow kids move even when they’re excited about something. But we had the park pretty much to ourselves, which is always better for geocaching.

We got to the general location and then I read my nephew the clue so that he could figure it out. It was great to watch him find it! We opened up the container and there was a log for us to sign. I let Frankie write his initials in it, and then we looked through the SWAG items so he could pick what he wanted. He chose a bouncy ball and we left the challenge coin.

We went back home for dinner and a shower. It was a good night, and Frankie was ready to go early the next morning. There were a couple more nearby so we hit them all. Frankie got some cool loot and we left everything we had. I was hoping there would be a tracker in one but there wasn’t. Oh well, maybe next time. And trust me, Frankie was insistent – there will definitely be a next time!