"Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
---Walter Elias Disney

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Oh, The Places You'll Go

The Oak Island Geohound
We Stiteses are wanderers, goers, doers, seekers. One hobby we indulge in that plays to all those traits is Geocaching. If you've never heard of it, geocaching involves hiding and seeking containers of various sizes all over the world using a GPS enabled device and the geocaching.com web site. There is a great video right here explaining it all, if you are interested.

Geocaching has given us an excuse to wander more times than I can count, and when we are in new places, we always check for caches and often end up finding spots we would never have seen otherwise. I can go on and on about the joys and rewards of seeking tupperwares in the woods, but today I wanted to talk about my Geohound, who has been places I've never been even close to. Yet.

Not only do we geocachers travel from cache to cache ourselves, we also send proxies out to travel the world, called travel bugs. Soon after I found the hobby of geocaching, I ordered my first travel bug dog tag, that's the metal tag you see on the chain in the above picture. The tag has a number unique to itself that is used to track the item, in this case a Happy Meal toy my son gave me to keep me company in my car at work, as it is discovered by geocachers and moved by them from one cache to another. Cachers log the number on the geocaching web site and the tag's movements are recorded, along with comments and often pictures, on its very own web page (the Oak Island Geohound can be found here, complete with a map of his travels). Trackable items often disappear and get lost, it's just the nature of the game, but I really lucked out with the Geohound. I set him into the world on May 29, 2007 and he is still active and traveling today. I got an update on him just this morning, in fact, from Germany.

Skijorring outside Fairbanks
The Geohound was charmed from the start. His first trip was a long one, from Oak Island, North Carolina to Fairbanks, Alaska. He spent some time skijorring, which I had never heard of. Apparently, skijorring involves putting cross country skis on and tying yourself to a few sled dogs. It's like dog sledding without the sled. I can't wait to try it next time we get enough snow. Or not.

He went with the cacher who found him to St. Paul and then back to Alaska before being picked up and moved to Maine, where he traveled a bit before once again going cross-country and ending up in Washington State. He seemed to be having a fine time. He moved back and forth between Washington and Oregon for a bit then headed south for California. I started getting a few pictures from the beautiful Los Padres National Forest and watching him tour all over the greater Los Angeles area.
The North Fork in Los Padres NF

The Smallest Post Office in Wheeler, CA

This morning, I got word that my little Geohound had left the bounds of the good old US of A and landed himself in Germany, Niedersachsen, Germany to be exact. It's near Hannover. I think I have some extedned, in-law-type family there. 

In 5 1/2 years, this little stuffed dog has traveled 23,600 miles. I'm frankly shocked a Happy Meal toy has held up for that long. Following his travels, we've learned new things and been put in contact with new people from all over the country and now the world. I've checked out the places he's visited and added to my own "bucket list." Now I'm using Google translator to read the logs. As an educational experience, this really can't be beat. As a bit of arm chair globe-trotting, it is perfect. Even when we're sitting still, there's no reason to stay at home after all.

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