Geocaching with Lucy and Jonny

There’s a game that requires a particular set of skills. Have we just described every game in the world? Maybe, but too late to get started again, so back to the point: there’s a game that requires a particular set of skills. You become good at it, when you enjoy wanderlust and having a good time. It involves discovering hidden treasures and fiding great spots. Have you guessed the game by now? It’s geocaching, of course. It was mentioned in the title, dummy.

We had a chance to sit-down with the nicest of couples: Lucy Hewes and Jonny Vickers to learn more about Geocaching and their experiences with the game. They share their stories with Geocaching, where it’s taken them and how it was involved for a very big day in their lives!

But first, what’s geocaching?

Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices.The game itself is simple:

You open the app. Pick a treasure. Receive the rough coordinates. Go to that location. Look for the treasure. Discover it. Glaze in happiness. Fill the logbook. Trade knick-knacks. Put the treasure back. And go on to the next thing.

But as some people always say, the proof is in the pudding! It’s about the experience of going out and exploring. You can elevate your travels or give yourself another reason to explore your hometown. You’ll become part of the Geocachers community and do crazy Geocacher things. The clues can be hidden in all sorts of creative places or even in space. Wow.

But without further ado, hi hello Lucy & Jonny, Jonny & Lucy! So how did you get started with Geocaching?

Lucy: I got into geocaching through a friend, who just happen to mention it. I had a go soon after and I was hooked straight away. Me and Jonny were already together at the time and I ended up telling Jonny about it, but I have to say that I’m involved with Geocaching more so than Jonny (laughs).

Jonny: I don’t really have an account and find my own geocaches, so I guess I sort of join Lucy as her sidekick and we discover the caches for her account.

Lucy: My first Geocache was in Covent Garden, in London. It was right on the main square and behind this electricity metre thing as it often happens that the Geocache is stuck on something magnetic. It felt really awkward and I thought everyone was watching me. Even though no one probably was (laughs)..

Oh right, there’s the rule that you have to be a bit sneaky

Lucy: Yeah, it was weird the first time, but in the end you just kind of get used to it. In the beginning it can make you feel like everyone is playing the game. On my first day I was sure that I spotted another person, who was looking for a cache, but it turned out he was just a lost tourist or something.

Did you at least spark up a conversation?

Lucy: No not that time, but it happens.

Jonny: Along the Embankment..

Lucy: We saw other people there, who we figured are looking for a Geocache and it did turn out this time that they actually were.

Jonny: We started a conversation. We were looking also looking a bit shifty and they asked if we are Geocachers and we in a way joined forces. They told us about a Geocache that was near the Charing Cross station, so we sort of swapped notes on some other places around London. You can definitely meet other people playing the game and that particular time was a really nice experience.

Geocaching Tallinn

Would you say that there’s a community feeling when you’re playing the game?

Lucy: Yeah definitely, I do think so. It’s normal to talk to other Geocachers when you spot that they are also looking for a cache. Even on their website, you can see that they sometimes organise events for people to go Geocaching together.

Jonny: When Pokeman Go was around, which was massive in the UK - I found it really easy to start talking to other players thanks to my experience with Geocaching. I would give advice to other players, because of my background in the GC community, which in a way has a similar feel.

Geocaching Tallinn

There was a pretty big overlap with PokemonGO, I guess?

Jonny: Oh yeah, big time. Lots of similarities between the two games.

Where has Geocaching taken you?

Lucy: Yeah we’ve gone Geocaching while travelling. We did some in Estonia and when we went to America, we played there also.

Jonny: I really enjoyed Geocaching in New York. I think it was the first time when I really started to enjoy the game. When Lucy said that we’re going to spend the whole day in geocaching, my heart sunk, it felt for a moment that that’s a whole day out of the window, but I was totally wrong. What’s great about Geocaching is that they are always hidden in some really interesting places. The ones in New York took us to the world’s largest chess board, which is set-up on a wall. The grandmasters there play one move every week, so the games last for like two-three years. We ended up there, because a Geocache was hidden there. Otherwise I’m not sure how we would’ve discovered that place.

We ended up on the only permanent tribute to the 9/11 attacks in midtown Manhattan, because of a Geocache. So I finally understood that Geocaching can take you to really interesting places.

Lucy: So yeah, rather than doing a bus tour of a city, you can just go Geocaching. You’ll find out interesting facts of each Geocache site in the game.

Jonny: Most of the Geocaches have been hidden by locals, who know the location and they generally pick out great places.

So you actually end up doing more than regular sightseeing?

Jonny: Precisely!

How about Geocaching in Estonia?

Lucy: I’m trying to think back now of the places where we went Geocaching. We went to a small town in the middle of Estonia to start out and we followed this hiking trail (RMK - editor) to find other Geocaches. Basically, all along Estonia there’s this really long trail, where all sorts of Geocaches are hidden, like hundreds and hundreds of Geocaches on the way, not too far apart from each other.

They’re there to motivate you to do this classic walk and make the way more interesting. After every couple of hundred of metres there’s a new Geocache. So the challenge is to do the whole trail and reward yourself with finding Geocaches on the way. We didn’t have too much time, so we ended up finding around five (laughs), but some people I know, have said that they want to the whole of it and I’m sure that there’s already people who’ve done it.

There was one in Tallinn that we spent hours trying to find, near by the Freedom Square. There’s some steps that go down below the ground and close to a church in the Old Town. We never actually found it, but our good friend Maarja, who was there with us, actually found it a few months ago.

Jonny: That’s the beauty of Geocaching, right. It doesn’t always matter whether you find it or not. It’s about the places that it takes you too!

So you actually end up doing more than regular sightseeing?

Jonny: Precisely!

Sometimes finding a Geocache too fast isn’t actually too rewarding?

Jonny: Yeah, if you’re there just racking up the numbers, you kind of lose some of the magic of it.

Lucy: Sure! It will be a bit different for example on that long trail through Estonia, where you do have to hike quite a bit so it’s nice that they are relatively easy to find. But if there’s one in the city centre, then it can be quite fun, when it’s challenging to find one. On the app you can actually pick the difficulty level, so in the end its up to you.

So you can pretty much pick your own difficulty and go from there.
Lucy: Exactly. You can get information of the terrain for example, if it involves climbing etc. and all sorts of information like that.

What would you say to the people who are just trying out? Should they avoid the most difficult ones and start off with something easier?

Jonny: I’ve always found that no matter what the difficulty is, so much of finding a Geocache comes down to luck. So I would not worry about the difficulty level and focus in on the locations. If you want to see something interesting, just start there!

Lucy: Yeah, exactly! The difficulty rating can factor in many other things like if it’s a crowded area for example. I found one Geocache quite easily in Trafalgar Square in London. I think part of why it has such a high difficulty rating is that it’s so busy down there and it can be hard to hide what you’re doing or be sly about it. That particular time, I found the Geocache really quickly: the clue was easy to understand and the cache was easy to spot, but the hard part was not giving away what you’re doing.

One of the big reasons we are interviewing you today is that we heard you have a great story with Geocaching, so Jonny can you tell us a bit how did you got engaged?

Jonny: Yeah, sure! I had the idea for this years ago, years and years ago, when me and Lucy had only been together for a short while. And then I discovered that someone else did it, maybe two years ago..

Lucy: I found a cache with the description on it, someone had said that they did it as a proposal. That they were in the woods or something and it turned into a proposal. I remember coming home to Jonny and saying something like “Can you believe this?! That someone did their wedding proposal as a Geocache”. Looking back now, he had already started with the planning, so I guess he wasn’t too happy about it.

Jonny: Yeah, I was really annoyed at that, it felt like someone just stole my idea. So I had to make my plan a bit different, so it wouldn’t seem that I had just copied. I figured that leaving a ring in a Geocache can turn out pretty dangerous, if someone else finds it, then there it goes (laughs). So when I knew I was going to propose to Lucy, I came up with other ideas.

I set-up my own Geocache, which wasn’t registered to the website and I made up this sort of nonsense story, that I had seen a couple setting up a Geocache so we’d be able to find it. Basically what I left there was a USB stick. I run a Youtube channel, called ‘I read books in nightclubs’ and I made a video in a style of one of my Youtube videos, for Lucy to find. I use my computer, all day, everyday, so I always have it with me. When we found the USB stick, I tried to act all surprised that how I fortunately have my lap-top with me so we could play the video. (laughs) The video was about me talking of all the reasons why I want to propose and then I proceeded to propose, like normal.

Like I was saying about the location. It wasn’t just about the fact that it’s a Geocache, which I knew Lucy would love. It was about the setting, it was next to Thames, overlooking the river and it really was a nice spot.

Lucy: Although, it was raining (laughs)

Jonny: Again, that’s part of Geocaching (laughs)

Lucy: In all weathers!

Jonny: Looking back, I think it was a nice element to be honest. It went really well and we still haven’t got around to it, but we’re going to set that Geocache up for everyone to find. Without the USB stick, but we’ll obviously include the story.

Alan Silmann

Have you found other great stories on Geocaches?

Jonny: I don’t know about a story, but my favourite Geocache is a bird in New York. It’s the world’s only self-tweeting Geocache. When you find it, it tweets that ‘I’ve been found’. And brilliantly, it’s actually a bird, like a plastic bird in a tree in Central park. I don’t really know the story behind it. You do end up reading about people’s personal experiences.

Lucy: I can only think of these travel bugs. These little key rings that you can put inside a Geocache. Someone else will come along, find it and can take it to a new location. You can give a challenge, like ‘I want my Geocache to end up in Australia and people will start passing it on it’s journey. There’s one I found in Estonia, next to a big road. There was like a travel bug hotel. It was a really really big Geocache, because lots of people pass through travelling on this road, so lots of people leave their travel bugs their for people to find.

I found this long see-through tube, that was pretty disgusting when we first found it. Inside it there were loads of cigarette butts and all old cigarettes. It was done by a person who wanted to help people stop smoking and it’s travelling around the world with that message.

Most of the travel bugs are just little key rings, but they can come with a great story or a powerful message. I once saw that a couple got married and they bought two key rings, I think it was Mr and Mrs Crab. They set them off at the same time in different directions, in hope that these key rings will eventually meet again, in another country maybe. Which would be really hard and I don’t know how that would happen, but it’s always fun to find travel bugs with these sort of extra element of ‘oh, where does this travel bug want to go to?”.

Coming back to your wedding, are you going to incorporate Geocaching for the wedding also?

Jonny: Now, that you’ve said that I’m sure Lucy’s mind is spinning and thinking on how we can include GC at our wedding.

Lucy: Maybe, we can leave clues for people to find where they are sitting..

Jonny: Oh no, what have you done? (laughs)

Lucy: Or come to think of it, maybe we can just make the guestbook as a log book. Everyone knows on how we got engaged, so it would be cool to have something related to Geocaching and I'm sure we'll figure something out!

Geocaching and Elleday

So why are we writing about Geocaching? We’re just a lowly start-up, a city guide looking for love. How are we ever going to be linked with a great game like Geocaching? Well, it started with our idea of wanting to get to know more people in the Geocache community. We feel that people who enjoy Geocaching would like to use Elleday and can help us with tips on how to create a city guide that’s actually fun.

We want to help you discover something new in cities. We will start out as a city guide to Tallinn and are looking to expand quickly to other cities soon after. In our core we are a personalised city guide. This means that you are not treated as a standard monkey. You will get suggestions catered for you! To make it easier for you to discover great places for you to fall in love in.

If you have any thoughts on what type of game elements to add to Elleday, we are all ears. What’s something you’ve always wished for in a city guide? What’s something you dislike about current options? Why would you start using the Elleday city guides? A big big thank you to Lucy and Jonny for sharing their stories and much love to the people who send us their thoughts how to bring in Geocaching to city guides at: feedback@elleday.com

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