Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

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February 8, 2014

(Geo)Caching in: New event shines light on downtown destinations

ASHLAND — There were more than 130 people lined up outside the Boyd County Public Library on Saturday morning.

And they weren’t there for the latest, greatest novel.

They were geocachers who were itching to get their fingers on the latest adventure coordinates — and it was right here in Ashland.

Visitors came from far and near — all the way from Fairfield, N.J. and Baltimore, Md. — to do some geocaching in a 10-block area of downtown.

While it’s new to this area, it has been going on since 2000 worldwide.

Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches.”

A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook where the geocacher enters the date they found it and sign it with their established code name. After signing the log, the cache must be placed back exactly where the person found it.

Once they have found all 15 caches in downtown destinations, they receive a coin as a reward.

“A coin you can’t even spend!” said Leonard Summerday of Lewis Run, Pa., who traveled 350 miles with his wife Elaine. They have together found more than 3,000 caches in their travels.

“We consider these events our travel agents,” Elaine said.

Bob and Penny Taylor from Somerset, Ohio, have found more than 7,000 caches since 2010.

“The history factors are what we like, even in our own backyard,” Penny said. “We sometimes come back to towns we’ve visited. Bob likes the old Ma and Pa restaurants.”

They traveled with four others, leaving Ohio about 5:30 in the morning.

Tony and Suzanne Hinton came all the way from Baltimore. They have found 19,200 caches in the past 31/2years.

There are an estimated 3 million caches around the world.

“We would have never gone to some of these places before,” Suzanne said.

But they don’t even have the most caches in Maryland.

Natalie Zimmerman of Cumberland, Md., has collected 19,400 in 10 years, she said.

“I like the hiking and the people,” she said.

Ashland’s geocaching was set up through Healthy Kentucky as a way to get people more exercise.

Ashland Mayor Chuck Charles, who headed up the program through Healthy Kentucky, was thrilled with the turnout.

Coordinates were released two hours early to anyone who attended the kickoff event. They are now available to anybody through use of a smartphone.

“Simply outstanding,” Charles said. “People are walking. It’s great for tourism, too. All these people coming here are maybe staying (overnight), eating here, getting gas here. Most of them will finish around noon and go to a restaurant.”

Charles also used his platform to invite visitors back to Ashland, plugging the annual festivals that the city is most known.

“We’re proud of our festivals here,” he said.

Charles handed out door prizes from area restaurants who sponsored the event. It was a party-like atmosphere inside the library.

There were 130 registered, including 21 children. They came from such destinations as Fairfield, N.J., Baltimore and Cumberland, Md., Pennsylvania, Louisville, Morgantown, W.Va. and Hazard.

Vic Nordman and his wife Libby of Louisville have been caching for 4 1/2 years, collecting 12,000.

“We have caches from Del Rio, Texas, to Key West, Fla.,” he said.

Several local first-time geocachers also came out.

Liz Trabrandt and Mary Robinson didn’t know what geocaching was but decided to give it a try.

“Anything that gets us out is a good thing,” Trabrandt said.

Jodi Floyd, a dietician at Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, was the first to come up with the idea of sponsoring geocaching.

“This is great,” she said. “Such a good turnout.”

Charles also commended Phillip Ratliff and Dewayne Adkins, who got him through the geocaching registration issues.

“I absolutely would never have made it without them,” he said.

State reviewers Danny Womack (Doctor Teeth) and Bob Moore (Thunder-Chicken) were also on hand from Lexington.

“This is an awesome turnout,” Moore said.

Charles encouraged area residents to take part in the geocaching experience.

“The coordinates are available to everybody now,” he said. “Go out and have fun!”

MARK MAYNARD can be reached at mmaynard@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2648.

 

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