I’ve been geocaching for about 15 years… I don’t actively seek out caches anymore like I used to but maybe the Mega Event that I attended in Yuma, Arizona will re-ignite my geocaching spidey senses and I’ll find myself checking to see if there are any cache locations nearby wherever I am.
If you’re not familiar with geocaching, I describe it as treasure hunting with a web page and a GPS. Of course, these days, everything is resident on a smart phone – and my iPhone is included in that – so treasure hunting is far more easily done these days than when I first began caching. Geocaching is free to join and the app is also free for your phone. Basically you open the web page and set up a user name for yourself, then download the app and log in with the username you just set up on the web page. The app will open with a map of where you are showing all these little icons for the caches around you. (You can also search for other areas, i.e. if you wanted to go on vacation and do some geocaching while you were there.) Then you click on one of those tiny little icons and go to town. Or rather, go find the cache!
Before you go, however, make sure you click on the Help button to learn about the different types of caches, find out how to locate a cache, learn about geocaching etiquette, and answer any questions you have.
A geocaching mega event is a big get-together of 500 or more cachers (people come from all over the world to attend these events) and usually lasts a good part of the day (minimum is 4 hours, according to the “mega event rules”). Yuma’s annual event is held at the West Wetlands Park on the Colorado River – it’s a beautiful location that includes a huge children’s play structure, a hummingbird and butterfly garden, lots of picnic tables and grassy areas, a little pond (that people can even fish in), an owl habitat, a boat ramp to the river, and a disc golf course – and yes, there were hundreds of people there! Among the things to do at the event was a poker run of geocaches where the poker cards were located in temporary caches set up throughout the 110-acre park (the first-place prize for the winning poker hand was $200), an accuracy challenge where you put a little flag in the ground where you thought the GPS coordinates were located, many raffle prizes including GPS handheld units, trading and discovering travel bugs*, and getting your picture taken with the geocaching mascot, Signal the Frog! *(Travel bugs are physical items that are numbered by Geocaching Headquarters and are trackable in your profile through their website. Some travel bugs travel from geocache location to geocache location and others simply track a vehicle or even a dog. Click here for more info from geocaching.com.)
The day was windy, but clear and sunny with the wind dying down by noon. I located 64 travel bugs to log – official stickers on people’s cars, tags on t-shirts, travel bugs to trade or discover (when you discover a travel bug, you simply log it – you don’t take it to leave in another cache) and tags on dogs’ collars, walking sticks and any other thing you want to put a trackable travel bug on. I met people from all over the United States and a few from other countries. Got my photo taken with Signal the Frog. Ate a couple of shrimp tacos. Wandered around the hummingbird and butterfly garden – saw some hummers but no butterflies. Signed my name on the big board along with all the other cachers.
In previous years, I’ve also done the flash mob cache event, the party-after-the-party, and the geocache meet-up in Los Algoldones, Mexico, all of which are coordinated around this mega event. This year however, I only went to the one-day thing at West Wetlands Park which was certainly fun but going to all the other happenings is a hoot. Next year, I think I’ll catch a few more events – it’s a great way to spend a few sunny, warm days in the desert in the winter.
All in all, a very fun day… but I do have to admit, it would have been way more fun if you’d been there with me 😀 Maybe next time, you’ll go with me!
PS. Don’t forget to go to geocaching.com and check it out. It’s a great way to get out and discover new places in an area; you might even be surprised at what you find in your own hometown!