The seasons in Western New York are not always cooperative, so you really need to be able to accept all four of them – when you can get them. Because of this, I have a wide variety of hobbies that keep me busy throughout the year. During the winter, I enjoy watching the Sabres play hockey and getting outdoors to go sledding on a steep hill, snowshoeing through a local park or even start the occasional snowball fight with my soon-to-be 5 year old niece. In the fall, I enjoy taking long walks on leaf-covered country roads, taking a trip to the local orchard to pick a peck of apples or that perfectly round pumpkin, and watching Buffalo Bills football. The spring brings out the kite-flyer in me and allows me to start up my two-mile a night walks around the block with my husband, preparing me for the upcoming warmer weather. I like to do a lot of camping in the summer, aerobie tossing with friends and my casual 20 miles rides along the Erie Canal on my recumbent bicycle. However, there is only one hobby that I can do year round, and it is one that I am very passionate about. That hobby is geocaching.
I’m sure most of you have heard of geocaching, but you may not know what it is. Geocaching is an outdoor, high-tech treasure hunt. You go out into the world with a hand-held Global Positioning Satellite receiver, or GPSr for short, and find hidden containers called caches. Once found, you make a trade of a small trinket and then log your find. So, I would like to share with you some of my geocaching experiences.
I started caching in late July 2010 with my husband and we go by the caching name of “authorized users.” To this date, we have found over 130 caches! Included in that number are the caches we found to complete the Seaway Trail GeoTrail, which entailed a month and a half journey along the Great Lakes, from northwestern Pennsylvania to the Thousand Islands region of upstate New York.
If asked whether I prefer to cache in urban or rural areas, I would definitely tell you that I prefer to cache in rural areas. The caches in rural areas require more hiking and really expand your mind to a much farther capacity for your search.
One of our most favorite local caches is called “Bruce Wayne’s Lair” which is located near the old mining caves in Akron, NY. We trudged through about two feet of snow for about an hour to get to this cache, mostly because we took a wrong turn, but it was the most fantastic location to visit. Not only do the caves have a rich history, they also have, what I call, upside down icicles!
“Did You Say Ohio?” was a very fun multi-cache, putting a play on the town name of Akron. This cache took us to various historic buildings and businesses in Akron, NY. I have lived in this area for over 15 years and had never visited the places I was taken on this cache. This actually happens quite frequently, so I really appreciate the opportunities it give me to open up my eyes to the historic and natural places that are right in my own backyard. Unfortunately, this cache has been archived.
After three days and a lot of research, I was able to figure out the riddle to the first part of a puzzle cache in Olcott, NY, called “She’s A Lady… Bug!” The puzzle was actually a picture of several ladybugs with different patterns of spots on their backs. To figure out the puzzle, you had to decrypt the pattern into a math problem to determine the coordinates of the final location of the cache. I figured out the puzzle just as winter hit, and we only make it to Olcott during the warm months. Once the weather breaks, we will conquer that cache! I have a very special trinket of a wind-up ladybug that I plan to place in the cache once we find the final, in tribute of the complexity of the puzzle.
Also, we just recently experienced our first earthcache, which was in Akron Falls Park, and it was spectacular! It took us to an overlook of one of the falls and we had to describe to the cache owner our experience at the location, how much water we thought was coming over the falls at the time of our visit and what the weather was like while there.
I could go on and on about my geocaching adventures and journeys, as I have become truly passionate about this hobby. As a momentum, I like to keep a photo-journal of our finds, so that we can later reflect on the awesome adventures we have had, and even some funny blunders, that we have had while caching. To keep up with the times, we just created a Twitter account so that our friends and family across the country can experience our journeys and finds with us in real-time. We hope to have a webpage up for our family and friends to see our photo-journal, but that is still in the creativity stages.
My niece loves to come with us and calls it “treasure hunting.” She does a really good job of watching out for the pirates who may want to steal the treasure. I just think that everyone should experience this wonderful hobby – it is a great, fun and healthy pastime for people of all ages and lifestyles.
I would like to invite you to follow us on Twitter! We can't explain everything about our experiences in only 140 characters, but you will at least know that we are out there and you can look up our detailed logs on www.geocaching.com after our posts. Find us on Twitter as @authorizedusers (make sure it s all one word and plural!)
Also, feel free to check out our profile on www.geocaching.com. If you do not have an account, it is absolutely free to sign up!
We hope to see you on the trails soon! May you steer clear of muggles and be rich with cache!