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Ken Jennings Writing a Book on Geocaching--Can You Help?


kenjennings
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Hey, long-time lurker, first-time poster here on the Groundspeak forums.

 

I'm an author currently working on a book about map and geography enthusiasts of all kinds. I wrote Brainiac, a minor bestseller about trivia nerds, and I was also the guy on Jeopardy! for much of 2004, if that rings a bell.

 

I'm planning a chapter in the book that will cover geocaching and other GPS games, so I'm trying to get up to speed on the culture and appeal of geocaching. (My six-year-old son and I have taken up caching ourselves this summer and are pretty well addicted. In case someone asks: we do log our caches on this site, but under a separate account.)

 

This forum seem to be a large, lively community of cachers, so I was hoping some of you would be willing to help out with your anecdotes, opinions, etc. What I'm looking for at the moment are funny/surprising stories that show amazing devotion to caching. Who are the real hardcores? Who here has planned elaborate vacations around geocaching, met their spouse caching, used caching for a proposal or a wedding, run up numerically amazing totals, made unbelievable sacrifices for their hobby, etc.? If not you, do you know someone else who has? The thread down below about Ventura_Kids' 413-cache day is exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for.

 

Feel free to reply either in this thread, or by private message. As far as I can tell, I'm not violating any forum guidelines by posting this inquiry here, but I'm sure someone will be along to tell me shortly if I'm wrong. :blink:

 

Thanks in advance!

Edited by kenjennings
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Really, the real Ken Jennings. When I read the name I said no it can't be. Actually saw you 3 times last week on the Jeopardy 25th Anniversary special 5 show week.

 

Not sure what type of information you are looking for but here are some things I have done while geocaching. I have found caches in every county in 5 states (PA, MD, NJ, NY, DE). I have found 117 caches in one day (by no means close to the record). I routinely plan my vacations around geocaching/hiking. I do not ever go to a new place without finding at least one geocache. I have found a geocache of ever difficulty/terrain rating (known as "well rounded cacher"). To date I think I have found caches in about 20 states without looking at my map. I am also hopeful in my lifetime to complete the Cache Across America cache (find a specific cache in all 50 states to get the final in DC). I currently have only found 7 but hope to get 6 more on my vacation next week. Not sure if this is what you are looking for, but I can give more details if so desired.

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I'll take "Geocaching" for 1000, Alex!

 

Numbers aside, I feel that geocaching should be the adventure. Plan a vacation but not the route.

Spend time on the Hiways and Byways instead of the interstate.

You will often hear how a cacher will say, "I never would have known this was here had it not been for geocaching and finding ....... cache."

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Wow, if it's really you, welcome!!!!! I LOVED watching your run on Jeopardy, just say last week the rerun of your last game and can't believe it's like 5 years.

 

I have kids your age myself (8 year son, 6 year old daughter) and we find that geocaching is not only something they find fun, but a great way to get the young ones outdoors and appreciating all about it. While many caches are parking lot micros, many others (and the best ones) take you to parks you never knew of before (many with playgrounds and often in your own backyard so to speak), gorgeous views that are "off the beaten path", and lots of nature!

 

We ourselves have a hide in a nature preserve surrounded by a very urban part of the Bronx that few people, even locals, know about. One amazing part of it is that when you get to the final cache, you cannot see any of the buildings of the neighborhood around you, it looks like you're in the deep forest! Secondly, it is a "multi" and to get at those coords, you have to read off a sign at the park entrance phone numbers of how to both get a guided tour of the woods and how to volunteer to clean up and preserve them. I talked about it in a "Letter to the Editor" in response to a US News and World Report article last year about how to get kids outside and it got published. Check out this cache:

http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_detai...a9-502ac4faa097

 

I hope you continue to enjoy it, we're at 4 years and counting.

Edited by HaLiJuSaPa
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Feel free to reply either in this thread, or by private message. As far as I can tell, I'm not violating any forum guidelines by posting this inquiry here, but I'm sure someone will be along to tell me shortly if I'm wrong. :huh:

I don't know either, but it wouldn't hurt to send an e-mail to Groundspeak (contact@geocaching.com and pr@Groundspeak.com) - it might be interesting for your book to interview someone in HQ as well.

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I hate to do this but I am a bit skeptical. Let's see a valid email address on the profile or something about this project on the site actively maintained by Ken Jennings. My apologies in advance for being a skeptic is this is on the level.

 

He stated in his opening comment that he created the account separate from his Geocaching acount for the purpose of this discussion.

I can see a reason to do this. If I were remotely of celebrity status, I wouldn't want to disclose too much personal information about myself. Giving out his actual caching ID would be giving more information than a higher profile person might want to give.

 

I say give him the benefit of the doubt.

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I don't believe that Ken Jennings won 74 straight Jeopardy! games. That sounds very unlikely. That would mean that he either got the Final Jeopardy! answer right or was in a unbeatable position going into Final Jeopardy! 74 times straight. The odds are that in one or more games there would have been a few categories that he was less familiar with than the other contestants. Certainly he didn't get every answer right! And he claims to have won $2,520,700 over his 74 wins. That would be over $34,063.50 per game. $34,063.50 is a very good score for a Jeopardy! game. Nobody could keep up that rate for 74 games. I don't know. If he claimed only 37 games I might believe this but 74, no way! Maybe he got Alex Trebek to ask him only the easy questions. That's not my idea of winning at Jeopardy! And how can this be a record? Every Jeopardy! game has different questions. Where is the person who had the record before Ken Jennings. Why aren't they complaining that Ken Jennings got easier questions and dumber opponents? :huh:

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Mr Jennings,

 

The post above this one is a parody of another topic in this forum. I am sure the poster means no disrespect and does not actually dispute your amazing accomplishment.

 

Please forgive them for tying to be funny. I'm sure they do not understand how a post like that could be construed as offensive to a new(er) forum poster.

 

Additionally, the lack of class of this parody is not a representation of the geocaching community as a whole.

 

I hope you understand.

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Mr Jennings,

 

The post above this one is a parody of another topic in this forum. I am sure the poster means no disrespect and does not actually dispute your amazing accomplishment.

 

Please forgive them for tying to be funny. I'm sure they do not understand how a post like that could be construed as offensive to a new(er) forum poster.

 

Additionally, the lack of class of this parody is not a representation of the geocaching community as a whole.

 

I hope you understand.

Come now, Mr. Bittsen, wouldn't have it just been easier to point out that Ken Jennings' accomplishment was video taped, and there are probably a bunch of notarized documents in a file at Sony Pictures that attest to it as well.

The point of my post was actually more in parody of this thread and how many people had to post that they doubted it was the real Ken Jennings posting. It seems that geocachers - or at least a certain group of them that hangs out in the forums a lot - are a skeptical bunch.

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A few things:

 

1) What does it matter if the OP is who he says he is? He merely asked for some interesting personal anecdotes about geocaching. Would it be any different if he claimed to be/were anyone else? I guess my answer wouldn't change regardless of the voracity of the OP's claims. It bugs me a little though to see normal skeptics toadying and scrambling to apologize for the climate that they explicitly nurture....

 

2) Since I'm not a skeptic and generally believe reasonable things I feel no discomfort in saying: Heya Ken, I enjoyed you on Jeopardy and liked the fact that the streak came with a renewed interest in the show and trivia; I'm a big trivia buff. I think that for some stories you might enjoy you could look a the section of these forums that details the odd hunt or the online geocacher.... a site that publishes reader submitted geocaching adventures.

 

3) It's another suggestion but I didn't want to have just two numbers in my list: Check out regional geocaching sites; a great starting place would be the webmasters... they are probably highly tuned into the community and know when there is a good story to be told....

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I believe that you will find that few of us are really "map/geography geeks", much less “map nuts and geography obsessives” . Maps/geography are really only peripheral to geocaching. We follow and arrow and watch the distance drop to near-zero, then start looking around for something. Really has very little to do with maps or geography on the level that we are using our GPS units.

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Driving down those old dirt roads with grass in the middle higher than the grill of the pickup is always fun to us. I can't stand to drive on Interstate highways anymore because the good stuff, the things worth seeing that will take your breath away are far from civilization. And even though you can grumble the whole two mile hike to a cache, when you get there, it all goes away, and the walk back is something pleasurable. But the thing that makes the sport for myself is a chance for my wife and I to enjoy something together, and even though arguments are inevitable (when a map is involved), I wouldn't rather be anywhere or doing anything else.

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There was a similar game that was as a promotion to a movie. You could list geocaches if they sent you certain materials. The cache had cards you could collect in order to solve a mystery. gpsthegame.com I believe it was called. Anyway, Sissy took a two week vacation to visit her sister in New York. She drove from South Carolina. It took a long time to get there and back, because she cached all the way up and back seeking only caches listed on that site. For overnights, she'd park at a McDonald's so she was close to a bathroom and coffee in the morning. She'd take showers in a truck stop. (She a truck driver, so that's not too far of a stretch.)

 

She loved it.

 

She doesn't do much caching any more because caching today is not like caching when we first started--or with GPStheGame. While a lot would argue the point, many of us see the hobby as a lot different. There are plenty of threads on the subject, but "evolved" or "devolved?" Better or worse? For a lot of us, worse.

 

Nowadays, if order to get Sissy out caching I have to hand pick caches she'll likely like. We haven't been a couple of years, but we'd plan our vacations around geocaching. We'd figure out which caches we'd want to seek. Mostly it's around some sort of adventure, hike, or epic puzzle or multi. Rent a cabin. ...and simply spending time wearing ourselves out having fun and enjoying each others' company.

 

We always liked caches that took us away from the "everyday." It could be very remote or it could be just off the parking lot of an urban mall. The adventure starts just past the hood of your car, off the beaten path, in the shadows of the canopy, as you are watched by things of nature, and ends when you say, "I was here." The best are the ones were you lay in bed that night, freshly showered, and think "what a day" as you remember the memorable.

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I hate to do this but I am a bit skeptical. Let's see a valid email address on the profile or something about this project on the site actively maintained by Ken Jennings. My apologies in advance for being a skeptic is this is on the level.

 

He stated in his opening comment that he created the account separate from his Geocaching acount for the purpose of this discussion.

I can see a reason to do this. If I were remotely of celebrity status, I wouldn't want to disclose too much personal information about myself. Giving out his actual caching ID would be giving more information than a higher profile person might want to give.

 

I say give him the benefit of the doubt.

I'm really Tom Cruise...but don't tell any one...especially Katie...she has no idea I am into this stuff...

:huh:B):(

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I believe that you will find that few of us are really "map/geography geeks", much less “map nuts and geography obsessives” . Maps/geography are really only peripheral to geocaching. We follow and arrow and watch the distance drop to near-zero, then start looking around for something. Really has very little to do with maps or geography on the level that we are using our GPS units.

 

Hey I am, seriously! Have been LONG before geocaching (since age 6 or so). Ken, if you have any questions about that, email me via my profile (where I mention this a little bit too). Again, I'm really not joking about that, I collect road maps galore for one, and a lot of my interest in caching does relate to maps and geography.

 

But that said, a lot of what is said above is pretty much true though.

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I believe that you will find that few of us are really "map/geography geeks", much less "map nuts and geography obsessives" . Maps/geography are really only peripheral to geocaching. We follow and arrow and watch the distance drop to near-zero, then start looking around for something. Really has very little to do with maps or geography on the level that we are using our GPS units.

 

Hey I am, seriously! Have been LONG before geocaching (since age 6 or so). Ken, if you have any questions about that, email me via my profile (where I mention this a little bit too). Again, I'm really not joking about that, I collect road maps galore for one, and a lot of my interest in caching does relate to maps and geography.

 

But that said, a lot of what is said above is pretty much true though.

 

 

Oh, yeah, and I know there are others. But I think that, today at least, they are probably in the minority.

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Hey. thanks to all who have responded so far, including privately...looking forward to more. Some quick responses:

 

1. It is really me. See here, for example. But tozainamboku was cracking me up...I had read enough of that Ventura_Kids thread to get the joke.

2. Those links to Podcacher, Online Geocacher, and the Hunt / Unusual forums were very helpful. Checking them out now.

3. I visited the folks at Groundspeak a few months ago, and will probably look to do so again sometime soon now that I'm getting a little more hands-on caching experience.

 

Finally: the overlap between general geography fans and cachers is an interesting question. My guess is that the initial crop of diehard cachers (say, 5-8 years ago) WERE almost exclusively map/geography buffs of one kind or another. Who else owned a handheld GPS back then?

 

But as the sport grew, it accreted millions of fans who had no interest in geography at all: kids who liked Happy Meal toys, gadget geeks who just wanted to play with the cool new thing, outdoorsy types who liked the adventure, collector-mentality folks interesting in racking up big numbers of finds, etc.

 

But still, at the core of it, come on, it's a treasure hunt using geographic clues. With caching, the clues might be numerical coords instead of "100 paces west of the hangman's tree" or whatever, but it's still essentially treasure-map stuff straight out of Treasure Island. Which I imagine is a big central part of what turns people (especially kids) into geography nuts in the first place.

 

So I think there is still some kind of primal connection there. Am I crazy?

Edited by kenjennings
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Hey. thanks to all who have responded so far, including privately...looking forward to more. Some quick responses:

 

1. It is really me. See here, for example. But tozainamboku was cracking me up...I had read enough of that Ventura_Kids thread to get the joke.

2. Those links to Podcacher, Online Geocacher, and the Hunt / Unusual forums were very helpful. Checking them out now.

3. I visited the folks at Groundspeak a few months ago, and will probably look to do so again sometime soon now that I'm getting a little more hands-on caching experience.

 

Finally: the overlap between general geography fans and cachers is an interesting question. My guess is that the initial crop of diehard cachers (say, 5-8 years ago) WERE almost exclusively map/geography buffs of one kind or another. Who else owned a handheld GPS back then?

 

But as the sport grew, it accreted millions of fans who had no interest in geography at all: kids who liked Happy Meal toys, gadget geeks who just wanted to play with the cool new thing, outdoorsy types who liked the adventure, collector-mentality folks interesting in racking up big numbers of finds, etc.

 

But still, at the core of it, come on, it's a treasure hunt using geographic clues. With caching, the clues might be numerical coords instead of "100 paces west of the hangman's tree" or whatever, but it's still essentially treasure-map stuff straight out of Treasure Island. Which I imagine is a big central part of what turns people (especially kids) into geography nuts in the first place.

 

So I think there is still some kind of primal connection there. Am I crazy?

 

You aren't crazy, as near as I can tell.

For me, and I'm sure some others, the "game" is about the scavenger hunt, yes, but also about knowing where all these little hidden things all over the world that the general population has no clue are there. It's sort of along the lines of a "National Treasure" type hunt. They are everywhere and nowhere.

 

On a different note. Perhaps add a part to the story about the odd habits of cachers.

I heard a story the other day about a cacher who hangs out in his vehicle in an area prone to new publications. He has his wireless devices ready to go after a new publication and get the all elusive FTF. His prowess is not all too different than a wild animal waiting for its prey to emerge.

Or the cacher who does most of his caching at night, braving whatever might be lurking in the night.

 

The possibilities are almost endless.

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Finally: the overlap between general geography fans and cachers is an interesting question. My guess is that the initial crop of diehard cachers (say, 5-8 years ago) WERE almost exclusively map/geography buffs of one kind or another. Who else owned a handheld GPS back then?

 

So I think there is still some kind of primal connection there. Am I crazy?

 

Nope, not crazy at all. I don't know about almost exclusively, but probably a better percentage than there are now. I know that's why I first started looking into GPS technology and then consequently into geocaching.

 

I like to see those 'in between' places. When I was planning a month long road trip vacation I realized that a road atlas just wasn't going to cut it. The possibility of going thru about 15 states kinda ruled out fold up maps too as they are rather hard to manage while driving. A handheld GPS was just what I was looking for. The expense was pretty steep for the potential use tho. Then I found out about geocaching. Bought a unit and 6+ years later I think I can say I got my moneys worth out of it.

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I do enjoy looking at maps, but I'm no expert at reading them. I remember in 4th grade when the teacher taught us about latitude and longitude -- I was awestruck. The idea that a given number would always describe an exact location on Earth blew me away. Maybe it was my first exposure to applied math, I don't know. About a year later I discovered a board game called "Lost Treasure". The board was divided into a numbered grid, and a computer randomly hid a treasure in one of the grids. You told the computer where you were, and it told you if the treasure was N/S or E/W of you. Twenty-odd years later, I still have that board game, and I also have this real-life version.

 

My dad had a handheld GPS before geocaching. I was fascinated that I now had the power to use that concept I had learned years ago. It was a few years befoer geocaching was big enough to be practical for me, but as soon as it was, I got my own GPS and started playing.

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Finally: the overlap between general geography fans and cachers is an interesting question. My guess is that the initial crop of diehard cachers (say, 5-8 years ago) WERE almost exclusively map/geography buffs of one kind or another. Who else owned a handheld GPS back then?

 

One thing I find interesting, Ken, is the democratization and spread of geospatial technologies into geocaching and society in general. I am coming up on my 5th anniversary as a geocacher. I started geocaching shortly after receiving my master's degree in geography. Much of my coursework and my work as an intern involved geographic information systems software and I currently work as a GIS Coordinator. When I started geocaching, I saw GIS as a natural companion to geocaching. I would load the cache coordinates and aerial photography to help visualize the location of geocaches. I am sure other people viewed caches against aerial photography in GIS or whatever particular websites were showing aerial imagery at the time, but I don't think it was a widespread practice. When I had more spare time, I used to create geocache density maps of my region to show where the densest clusters of caches were located. One of the cooler projects I worked on (with some help) involved creating an animation showing caches appearing and disappearing on a map as they were placed and archived over time. I think my geocaching handle is apropos.

 

Anyway, I would say it is now common for cachers to load geocache info into Google Earth via pocket queries (GPX files) or the geocaching KML maintained by Groundspeak. The DeLorme PN-series of GPS receivers allow users to download assorted maps and aerial imagery to the handheld. When I started geocaching, you would have needed a PocketPC and ArcPad (mobile GIS software) to view imagery and map data in the field. The iPhone 3G offered GPS and a programming interface that proved suitable enough for Groundspeak to write the Geocaching iPhone app last year. I certainly didn't foresee the ability to eventually use a phone to read a cache description, see the cache location on a map, use the phone to guide them to the cache, log the cache, and possibly take a geocoded photo. Geography is everywhere thanks to the changes in technology.

 

You posited that the early geocachers were more likely to be map and geography buffs. I am wondering if the reverse has happened. Has geocaching exposed more people to 7.5-min topos, aerial imagery, GPS, map projections, and coordinate systems than there would have been otherwise? Were it not for geocaching, I don't think there would be as many people interested in GPS, mapping, and geography.

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Finally: the overlap between general geography fans and cachers is an interesting question. My guess is that the initial crop of diehard cachers (say, 5-8 years ago) WERE almost exclusively map/geography buffs of one kind or another. Who else owned a handheld GPS back then?

 

I disagree on this one. Geocaching was not invented by geography buffs but rather by GPS/gadget hounds. And I don't think it has ever been dominated by them, either.

 

7.5 years ago, when I joined, it was almost exclusively outdoor/hiker types, along with a sprinkling of gadget hounds, rather than the geography buffs. While I am sure there were a few, they were definitely the minority. In fact, I can remember discussions from a few who were very leery of this newfangled GPS technology and who used it only as an adjunct to their treasured paper maps; those people were very definitely on the fringes.

 

I personally learned about the nitty-gritty technical details of GPS after joining the sport, rather than before. In fact, I wrote FizzyCalc in part to teach myself geodesy, etc.

 

The democratization, as you describe, has probably brought more map/geography buffs into the sport rather than fewer.

 

But the observation that the demographic of geocaching is much broader than it was at the beginning is right on. In particular, the proliferation of urban caches that do not require any hiking at all is a big change from the early years of the sport.

 

Don't hesitate to contact me privately for more information...

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Let's see a valid email address on the profile or something about this project on the site actively maintained by Ken Jennings.

He even managed to perfectly emulate Ken Jenning's writing style. Probably because it is him. Doubting is all the rage around here lately.

I didn't have any trouble finding that post before I posted my request last night. That post was from March of this year. Anyone could have picked up on that and used the information as posted here.

 

There is an email listed on the site referenced. My question continues to be why can't that email also be listed on the Geocaching profile? Or why can't some mention be made in the daily blog posts regarding this line of research?

 

I am still not convinced and would be happy to be shown actual evidence that this is on the level. It appears to be but there is no hard evidence.

 

Beat on me if you want. ;)

 

Edit to add that after posting this I saw the post from Ken. Unless it is a hacker this is valid. Thanks for the response Ken. :)

Edited by WRASTRO
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Hey. thanks to all who have responded so far, including privately...looking forward to more. Some quick responses:

 

1. It is really me. See here, for example. But tozainamboku was cracking me up...I had read enough of that Ventura_Kids thread to get the joke.

2. Those links to Podcacher, Online Geocacher, and the Hunt / Unusual forums were very helpful. Checking them out now.

3. I visited the folks at Groundspeak a few months ago, and will probably look to do so again sometime soon now that I'm getting a little more hands-on caching experience.

 

Finally: the overlap between general geography fans and cachers is an interesting question. My guess is that the initial crop of diehard cachers (say, 5-8 years ago) WERE almost exclusively map/geography buffs of one kind or another. Who else owned a handheld GPS back then?

 

But as the sport grew, it accreted millions of fans who had no interest in geography at all: kids who liked Happy Meal toys, gadget geeks who just wanted to play with the cool new thing, outdoorsy types who liked the adventure, collector-mentality folks interesting in racking up big numbers of finds, etc.

 

But still, at the core of it, come on, it's a treasure hunt using geographic clues. With caching, the clues might be numerical coords instead of "100 paces west of the hangman's tree" or whatever, but it's still essentially treasure-map stuff straight out of Treasure Island. Which I imagine is a big central part of what turns people (especially kids) into geography nuts in the first place.

 

So I think there is still some kind of primal connection there. Am I crazy?

Ok, I see the link and I offer up my hearty welcome to the site. I wish you well and appreciate your stepping up with the evidence I requested. ;)

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I believe that you will find that few of us are really "map/geography geeks", much less "map nuts and geography obsessives" . Maps/geography are really only peripheral to geocaching. We follow and arrow and watch the distance drop to near-zero, then start looking around for something. Really has very little to do with maps or geography on the level that we are using our GPS units.

 

Hey I am, seriously! Have been LONG before geocaching (since age 6 or so). Ken, if you have any questions about that, email me via my profile (where I mention this a little bit too). Again, I'm really not joking about that, I collect road maps galore for one, and a lot of my interest in caching does relate to maps and geography.

 

But that said, a lot of what is said above is pretty much true though.

 

 

Oh, yeah, and I know there are others. But I think that, today at least, they are probably in the minority.

 

Learned surveying and cartography in college 40 years ago. Used a LORAN before I ever saw a GPS.

The first GPS I ever used cost the Commonwealth of PA about $5000 with all the bells & whistles. It weighed in at 3.8 Lbs.

The most costly to complete cache for me was Counting Counties in Oregon (GCR9XY) which required finding the most difficult (terrain + difficulty) cache in each of the 36 counties in Oregon.

Not too many of us old guys who used GPS before geocaching was invented.

Good luck with the book. Read through "The Complete Idiots Guide to Geocaching"

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Ken, an interesting side-aspect I think you will find interesting is that in New York City (specifically Manhattan) there is a major predominance of very difficult "puzzle" caches compared to other places.

 

The reason this has mostly come about is the uniqueness of Manhattan for geocaching. First off, the tall buildings make for poor GPS reception (though more modern technologies like the SiRF chips have improved on it). This means that except for "urban" micros (and then with extensive hints), most Manhattan caches are in Central Park where there's some openness from the buildings.

 

But the fact that Central Park is almost always crowded during all daylight hours of any day of the year and gets visitors from around the globe means that caches get muggled far more frequently than most places.

 

What many clever cache hiders have done about this is dominate Central Park with very intriguing and complicated "puzzle caches" so that the coordinates are not easily "given away". Here are a couple of examples:

 

http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_detai...af-dd5132971eb8

 

http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_detai...98-fe9161182c17

 

http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_detai...16-99d924c05eb7

 

http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_detai...a8-ab4e0e708a4c

 

http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_detai...93-61be4c56b6e2

 

To be honest, I haven't a clue on most of these, but they are really in the spirit of the old "pirate treasure map", etc. (in fact, the last cache I listed uses a map of Manhattan designed to look like one with "pirate" style instructions).

 

There are 3 or 4 of these "master hiders", I think my listings here noted 3 of them. They're not very active on here but are on the Metro NY Geocaching Society forums. Go to www.metrogc.org to learn more. I am one of the "sub-moderators" that of the "Introductions" forum.

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My guess is that the initial crop of diehard cachers (say, 5-8 years ago) WERE almost exclusively map/geography buffs of one kind or another. Who else owned a handheld GPS back then?

 

But as the sport grew, it accreted millions of fans who had no interest in geography at all: kids who liked Happy Meal toys, gadget geeks who just wanted to play with the cool new thing, outdoorsy types who liked the adventure, collector-mentality folks interesting in racking up big numbers of finds, etc.

*cough* I think you answered part of your own question ;)

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Finally: the overlap between general geography fans and cachers is an interesting question. My guess is that the initial crop of diehard cachers (say, 5-8 years ago) WERE almost exclusively map/geography buffs of one kind or another. Who else owned a handheld GPS back then?

 

 

The democratization, as you describe, has probably brought more map/geography buffs into the sport rather than fewer.

 

 

 

I agree.

I got involved in geocaching because of the whole secret society/James Bond/pirate aspect of it.

While I have known how to read a basic road map for as long as I can remember, the topo maps I had seen B.C. (before caching) looked nifty, but I had no use for them and never gave one a second look. Now I use them on a regular basis to plot routes through difficult terrain.

 

Also, cachers have been called on to map previously unmapped areas by hiking in specific places and uploading their track logs. Here are a couple of examples: Switchbacks.com and this event.

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So I think there is still some kind of primal connection there. Am I crazy?

 

Geocaching is, at it's core, simply hide and seek. Hide and seek is a primal game. Heck, it was probably the FIRST game of any kind that humans consciously played if you think about it long enough.

 

Hunting and gathering is simply hide and seek so it's more than just human nature... It IS nature... Uh, when you think about it long enough. Am I making any sense?

 

Caching itself, as a survival tool, has existed since the stone age. It only took a few hundred thousand years to turn it into a game. B)

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...7.5 years ago, when I joined, it was almost exclusively outdoor/hiker types, along with a sprinkling of gadget hounds, rather than the geography buffs....

 

I'm trying to think back. First I consider myself second generation. The first generation came, found the 1 there was to find, placed one, and for the most part left. In my area it was the second generation who stuck around because the first blush of critical mass had been achieved. You didn't have to wait 6 months for someone to find your cache, or wait 6 months for someone else to place one. First generation guys had to deal with that.

 

Some of my first finds were placed by gadget nuts (hams), Search And Rescue folks, resource agency guys who were out in the larger world as part of their job, and one orienter. I'm talking 1 each of these guys though. There weren't a lot of the first gen guys to go around.

 

While they may not have been geography buffs directly they had a geography component to what they enjoyed. The Ham guy volunteered for remote events where radio would be handy. Can't recall if was some kind of race or orienteering. The resource guy was out there as part of the job, the orienteerging guy well, was geography.

 

Us second gen guys in my area may fall short of buff but geography and reading a topo map was childs play because there were a lot of great things in the world and we were interested in them even if we didn't make the time. Along comes a box and something hidden to find and now it all comes together. Geography, Gadetry, Adventure, Exploratin, and the stupid box that make it all happen because it's the goal of the quest.

 

Starting with the third gen you could get away with being an urbanite who is clueless about topo, geography, and who needs help wiht a PC and GPS and directions across town. Even then though they get all the same thing out of it the 2nd gen guys get. Just on an urban scale.

 

That's my fuzzy memory on it.

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Geocaching is, at it's core, simply hide and seek. Hide and seek is a primal game. Heck, it was probably the FIRST game of any kind that humans consciously played if you think about it long enough.

 

Hunting and gathering is simply hide and seek so it's more than just human nature... It IS nature... Uh, when you think about it long enough. Am I making any sense?

 

Caching itself, as a survival tool, has existed since the stone age. It only took a few hundred thousand years to turn it into a game. B)

 

Only 6000 years if you believe the bible.

 

~LOL~

 

I am guessing, throwing evolution into the mix, that it only took about 500 million years to turn it into a game.

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Hey. thanks to all who have responded so far, including privately...looking forward to more. Some quick responses:

 

1. It is really me. See here, for example. But tozainamboku was cracking me up...I had read enough of that Ventura_Kids thread to get the joke.

2. Those links to Podcacher, Online Geocacher, and the Hunt / Unusual forums were very helpful. Checking them out now.

3. I visited the folks at Groundspeak a few months ago, and will probably look to do so again sometime soon now that I'm getting a little more hands-on caching experience.

 

Finally: the overlap between general geography fans and cachers is an interesting question. My guess is that the initial crop of diehard cachers (say, 5-8 years ago) WERE almost exclusively map/geography buffs of one kind or another. Who else owned a handheld GPS back then?

 

But as the sport grew, it accreted millions of fans who had no interest in geography at all: kids who liked Happy Meal toys, gadget geeks who just wanted to play with the cool new thing, outdoorsy types who liked the adventure, collector-mentality folks interesting in racking up big numbers of finds, etc.

 

But still, at the core of it, come on, it's a treasure hunt using geographic clues. With caching, the clues might be numerical coords instead of "100 paces west of the hangman's tree" or whatever, but it's still essentially treasure-map stuff straight out of Treasure Island. Which I imagine is a big central part of what turns people (especially kids) into geography nuts in the first place.

 

So I think there is still some kind of primal connection there. Am I crazy?

 

Hmmm, that link still doesn't rule out the possibility that someone HACKED KEN JENNINGS'S WEBSITE!!!

 

How about telling us some information that only the real Ken Jennings would know? Like "Does Alex Trabek wear pants while he's taping Jeopardy?" B)

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On a different note. Perhaps add a part to the story about the odd habits of cachers.

I heard a story the other day about a cacher who hangs out in his vehicle in an area prone to new publications. He has his wireless devices ready to go after a new publication and get the all elusive FTF. His prowess is not all too different than a wild animal waiting for its prey to emerge.

I gotta say, that's exactly the kind of story that would be ideal for the book. Do you have any more info? I'd love to track this cacher down.

 

I second the recommendation for Island of Lost Maps. On different lines, another recent book called Maps of the Imagination is also great. It's more about how we relate the way we think to maps, metaphorically.

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On a different note. Perhaps add a part to the story about the odd habits of cachers.

I heard a story the other day about a cacher who hangs out in his vehicle in an area prone to new publications. He has his wireless devices ready to go after a new publication and get the all elusive FTF. His prowess is not all too different than a wild animal waiting for its prey to emerge.

I gotta say, that's exactly the kind of story that would be ideal for the book. Do you have any more info? I'd love to track this cacher down.

 

I second the recommendation for Island of Lost Maps. On different lines, another recent book called Maps of the Imagination is also great. It's more about how we relate the way we think to maps, metaphorically.

 

I will send you a PM.

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