GeoTouring!

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Last week we took the coach out for a few days of camping down at Lake Manatee State Park in Bradenton. We’ve been wanting to stay in the coach a few times before taking it down to Lazydays in April to have any warranty issues dealt with before we leave for our travels out west. It also seems like a good idea to get Honey accustomed to staying in it, along with Casey, and see if we could get him more comfortable in the coach when we we need to leave them by themselves.

We had caught the geocaching bug out in Colorado, when we were working at Chalk Creek Campground. Our co-workers Joe and Sandi we very involved in the activity, and we thought we would like to try it. Once we found our first few caches, and found the awesome, out-of-the-way spots some of the caches were hidden in, we were hooked as well.

I’ve been asked many times by people what geocaching is, how it works, and what gps device we use. Well, first Sandi had me sign up at the official geocaching site, creating an account and setting up my geocache name (we are “moseycat”, so if you see that in a log book, we’ve been there!). You can click on the “learn” tab, and go to “geocaching 101” and learn all about this hobby. Basically, it’s like a scavenger hunt where you have gps co-ordinates to guide you to “ground zero (gz)”, where you find a cache, log your find in the logbook and online, and possibly trade for some “swag” (small items left in the cache by others, that you trade for with something of your own. Swag can be anything, I like to find small keychains and magnets from places we’ve visited to leave behind. There are also items called “travel bugs”,(otherwise known as trackables) that are numerically coded items that are moved from cache to cache and tracked online by their id number. Some travelbugs have specific missions, set by their creator, to travel to a specific area. Others just want to be moved around anywhere. These are the very basics of caching, and you can get the complete discussion back on the website.

Oh, and we don’t use any fancy gps device, we just use the Geocaching app for the iphone. I usually use the maps online to pick out caches in the area we’re going to, then create a list in the app and download the co-ordinates for the selected caches. If I haven’t thought that far ahead :-), you can also use the “find nearby geocaches” function in the app, and so long as you have cell service, it will show you all the caches within a certain radius of your current location. We have found that it uses a lot of battery power, so we do have an extra battery case that we carry with us when we’re caching.

Last summer I had been chatting with Sandi and she was telling me about a GeoTour that she was working on. GeoTours are series of caches with a common theme, quite often showcasing a particular area, history, or scenery. Sandi was working on completing the Colorado South Park GeoTour, as she was working at Chalk Creek again that summer. It sounded interesting, so I looked it up to see if there was one close to us in Bar Harbor Maine. There is one called the State Parks of Maine, but the caches were spread all over the entire state, and as anyone who’s been to Maine, you know its a pretty big state :-). So I looked and saw there is one in Florida, called Taking Flight, and was located in the Bradenton area. Cool! I thought it would be fun to do, and decided to take a few days during the winter, set up camp and go caching. Luckily I found a site in Manatee Lake State Park that was open for a few days, and I pounced on it…anyone trying to get winter reservations in a Florida State Park knows you have to pounce!

So, last Wednesday we packed up some food, clothes and the dogs, and headed down to Bradenton. Of course,…