Saturday, March 28, 2009

Adding more dots

I've always been interested in maps from a very early age. I can remember being asked by my 5th grade teacher to place all the states on a map of the United States and was able to do so correctly at the age of 11. Whenever we traveled by car, I ended up being the navigator for my dad on camping trips. I loved to watch the miles fly by on the map we'd use as we traveled. In college, as a freshman at Santa Ana Community College, I took a Physical Geography class and I was hooked. Originally, I'd planned on majoring in Political Science, but once I started taking the geography classes in college, that was what I planned for my major. I transferred to Humboldt State University, located in Arcata, CA and received a degree in Geography in June 1981.

I'm not using my degree specifically, but I do use the information I learned as part of my daily curriculum that I pass on to my students in their history classes I teach. So in a way, I'm using my degree as part of my career. I'd say I probably use my degree, or interest in geography in my hobbies more so than in my career. I discovered Where's George?, the money tracking website back in its early stages in January 2000. The concept that you could track your money after you spent it and see where it went was intriguing. I've seen the money I've spent travel to every state in the United States and several foreign countries.

I can't imagine people not being interested in geography if they're at all attracted to geocaching. The entire purpose of the game is to work with latitude and longitude to get to a certain location on the globe. It's all about geography. I know of at least one person who geocaches without using a GPS unit, instead preferring to find caches by using Google Maps and topo maps and orienteering. Finding a cache in a parking lot sans a GPSr is one thing, but finding a cache in the wilderness alongside a trail without one, in my opinion, is impressive.

The geographic map I have in my head of certain area every now and then needs to get tweaked a little bit. I would be willing to bet that most people, if they think at all of regions of California, probably break the state up into two main regions, north and south. Earlier this week, I was caching in eastern California. Sometimes, I find it difficult to wrap my mind around that one. The state if long and lean, so I don't really think about it as being east and west, yet there I was, in what can really only be considered eastern California.

Inyo County is located on the eastern edge of the state, bordering Nevada. I knew I was east, yet when I added my cache finds to my caching map, I was surprised to see where the dots ended up on the map. I shouldn't have been, since I knew I was only 27 road miles from Pahrump, NV, yet I just thought those dots would show up farther to the west. That's one of the reasons I keep that map updated. It keeps those misperceptions I have about the geography of an area in check.

I'll continue to add more dots to this map as I continue to geocache. Expect to see more dots show up on the western side of the state. My older son has been accepted at University of Santa Cruz. Besides the regular trips I take to visit my daughter in Stockton, I'll now be adding trips to Santa Cruz as well. Santa Cruz is located near the ocean, south of San Francisco along the northern edge of Monterey Bay. You can see two cache finds on the map, one of which was a webcam cache that we found in the city limits of Santa Cruz. Our first scheduled trip up there will be next month during his spring break.

I've enjoyed the past two years watching my daughter spread her wings in college and the next few years I hope will be just as enjoyable as my son does the same. I will miss him much like I miss my daughter, but at the same time I understand that he needs to be out on his own now. He has changed so much since his geocaching days. His time with us full time is growing short. I guess I'll just have to travel more often and visit him where ever he is.

Picture was taken at THE LOST AMADEUS - by LIZARD

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