(Geo)Caching’ in on the Fun

Geocaching helps RVers turn their GPS Systems into a Global Treasure Hunt

Sue and Ken Pace still remember the day when they first noticed them – a group of people wandering the landscape, eyes scouring the ground as if they’d lost something.

“We asked what they were looking for and they began to tell us about geocaching,” recalled Sue. “We trailed after them, watched them find a cache, signed the log and went home to look up how to play the game.”

That road game has turned into a delightful hobby for the Paces and thousands of other RVers, mobile mavericks who use their GPS devices to help lead the way to a “cache” of surprises hidden anywhere around the world.

As a hobby, the Paces found it easy to get started. All they needed was a hand-held GPS system, a computer and an open sense of adventure.

Going online, the Paces found a used GPS for sale, which they bought for $50.0 “We still have it, and I think it’s easier to use than the fancier high-tech one we purchased later,” Sue said, laughing at the sense of competition that springs up when they’re on a geocache hunt.

“I had to have my own GPS because Ken would always walk faster and find the caches before me! So now we race to the cache and laugh when one or the other finds it first,” she said.

Global Treasure Hunt

Geocaching burst onto the national scene about a decade ago and has grown in popularity, spawning books and websites devoted exclusively to the pastime. The most popular site, www.geocaching.com, lists more than 300,000 searchable sites scattered about 22 countries across the globe – a number that has grown tenfold in the past four years.

Today, you can find caches all over the world, typically plastic containers containing dollar-store trinkets. Geographic coordinates to the site are posted online, along with hints to help searchers, who download coordinates and plug them into a hand-held GPS system to locate the cache.

For the Paces, the game was a natural fit. With Sue’s love of computers, and Ken’s good directions, “we found that we made a good team,” she said.

“We printed out many pages of caches in groups, spent three or four hours at a time finding as many as we could in a particular area, got a lot of exercise, and saw some wonderful places.”

They located their first “cache” near Lake Havasu. “It was easy and we had fun with it,” Ken recalled. “We even took our friends back there to show them how to do it. So we found it twice in one day!”

A Great Hobby for RVers

Since then, the Paces have been busy, locating upward of 700 caches around the country. “We go in spurts,” Sue said. “When traveling in the RV, we find some in every town where we stop. We have a wireless computer in the RV, so we can plan and look up caches in all the towns we visit.”

The Paces are no strangers to the RVing lifestyle. They both drove and camped in RVs before they met in 1999. Ken had used a cabover camper to take his family on vacations, then bought a Class C when he retired, which he used to volunteer and visit National Parks.

The couple met at an RV event for singles. “Then we got married, and the rest is history,” Sue quipped.

These days, they like to call themselves “wannabe full-time RVers” – they now travel about nine months out of the year. “We have a 34-foot Class A,” Sue said. “We usually pull a four-door Chevy four-wheel drive, which we use for side trips, four-wheeling and caching.”

They tend to plan their travels around club activities, music festivals, volunteer works as National Park docents, and volunteering for Habitat for Humanity.

They’ve found that geocaching can also serve as an electronic tour guide, directing participants to never-discovered historic sites, hiking trails, parks or scenic locations.

Addicted to Adventure

For the Paces, geocaching works nicely with their time on the road.

“This is the greatest thing about geocaching: You can start and stop anytime you wish,” Sue said. “You can spend an hour or a day. We find ourselves ‘addicted,’ so to speak. We can’t go too long without caching.”

In fact, they’ve now presented seminars to other RVers about how to geocache. “We’ve had over 100 new cachers in those seminars,” Sue proudly reported.

“We called it ‘Geocaching 101,’ and use lots of visual aids, showing types of caches, and even hiding caches around the grounds for participants to practice on.”

It’s always exciting to locate a cache – even when the contents are silly or odd. Participants like the Paces value of thrill of the hunt over the “swag” they’ll find at the end of the trail.

What keeps pulling them back out to geocache? For the Paces, it simply makes a wonderful shared hobby.

“Geocaching has given us something we can do together,” Sue said. “Ken plays tennis, I golf and watercolor. We do kayak and bike together, but he is better at both those activities.”

“With geocaching, we are on even soil – both challenged, and we enjoy being out in nature together,” she added. “We find it a healthy sport and it takes us to places we would never go had we not been geocaching.”


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1 Comment

  • This weekend was a very enjobayle one for geocaching and definitely full of surprises! I remember visiting the Harding Memorial when I was younger and it was good to come back and refresh my memory about its history. This is a wonderful video and truly captures the beauty of this memorial.

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