Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Day of Geocaching and Letterboxing

Titusville, FL

Linda and Michelle were off on a girl's adventure, so Jim Leibold and I took advantage of the day to get him started Geocaching and Letterboxing. We introduced Jim and Linda to Geocaching, Waymarking, Letterboxing, and Munzee very briefly last winter and resolved to do more when we returned to TGO in the fall. Today was a perfect day to start. Last night I logged into the Geocaching Website and identified a half dozen Geocaches in our local area that appeared to be "interesting". By interesting I guess I mean lazy. I'm not interested in Micros. They are too small for anything but a rolled up log sheet, so why bother. I also mean reasonable Difficulty and reasonable Terrain. Climbing Mount Everest, wading through patches of poison ivy, and reaching into a rattlesnake den does not excite me. I like caches big enough to hold some SWAG (Stuff We All Get) with a log book big enough to write something worth reading. Reading past log entries is part of the fun. I printed out the description sheets on these caches. I also printed the clue sheet for a set of four letterboxes that I already knew about to give Jim a bit of a letterboxing experience. All of these I loaded into my GPS Receiver. This is the unit I use.

DeLORME Earthmate PN-40 handheld

We met up about mid-morning. Jim wanted to drive but I insisted he navigate. Geocaching is a game of navigation not driving. Our first stop was Walmart and Staples. Jim needed a log book and I have been agonizing over replacing mine. I have been using a very small spiral notebook with cheap paper. Low quality paper is not good for letterbox stamp images and I have found a few letterbox stamps that were too big for the small pages. We checked out Walmart then opted to try Staples. We both settled on a Bienfang Mixed Media Spiral Notebook with 5.5" x 8.5" pages of acid free 90 pound paper. Spiral binding is important.

From Staples, we set out in search of our first Geocache. I selected GCZGXQ -- "Just Do It!" which is on a multiuse trail not too far from home. Jim and Linda are hikers and bikers so Jim noted that this is a trail they will revisit on bikes in the future.

Sometimes Geocaching puts you upclose and personal with ferocious wild creatures like this tortoise just minding his own business.

Reaching the cache required a short walk; that gave Jim a chance to get familiar with my handheld GPS receiver. After arriving at the coordinates, and a few minutes of tramping around in the bushes, I heard Jim shout out "I FOUND IT!". Success!

Jim Leibold's first geocache

Back to the car and off to downtown Titusville for our next search. However all that searching had made us both weak with hunger so we had to pause for lunch. Jim's expertise took over here. I didn't know that Jim was the go-to-guy for restaurant information. He is – and he guided us to Caffe' Chocolat Restaurant, Coffee Shop, Gift Gallery, Chocolate Factory. I had a Reuben and Jim a Portabela – both delicious. If you're a sucker for sweets, better stay out of this place.

Caffe Chocolat, Titusville, FL

Refreshed by that fine lunch we walked the two blocks to Space View Park. This park has become one of my favorite places in Titusville. Quietly understated, it is a tribute to the very early days of the space program – Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and the Space Shuttle. When I brought our grandson Andrew here last spring, I discovered he had no knowledge of those early space programs. I felt very old and very sad. Alan Shepard's first sub–orbital flight to Neal Armstrong's first steps on the moon is the space program of my life. Both Alan Shepard and Neal Armstorng are gone.

This quiet little park commemorates so much

We entered from the west so we traversed the park in reverse order. Starting with the Space Shuttle

Mission: Build and supply a space station with a reusable vehicle

We recovered a letterbox in the Space Shuttle area and logged its stamp.

Then moving to Apollo

Mission: Walk on the Moon

We recovered a letterbox in the Apollo area and logged its stamp.

Then to Gemini

Mission: Work in Space

The geocache and letterbox in the Gemini area are both missing.

Finally to Mercury where it all began

Mission: Put a Man in Space

We recovered a letterbox in the Mercury area and logged its stamp. An interesting side note here – the clue to the letterbox location directs one to a tall lone Palm tree. The tree has been cut down since I was here last spring. However, the letterbox was hidden in the shrubs that now surround just the stump of the palm tree. If I hadn't been here before, I probably would have missed it.

It was getting late and Jim had an evening commitment so we headed back home where we got him logged into and signed up with He chose "snailonthetrail" as his geocaching name. He told me there was a story behind that. I'll get that some other time. Jim logged his first "Find" and we called it a day.

It was a good day Jim. Let's do it again.

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