Sunday, May 09, 2010

Give me Liberty – Liberty, Texas History



I spent yesterday in Liberty, Texas.  It’s an old town with a lot of history.  Although I had traveled through Liberty many times and my Bride and I got our marriage license at the courthouse, I had never visited one of the parks or drove the back streets.  I can’t say I have ever even eaten a meal in Liberty, Texas.  Now I can.

I wasn’t in Liberty on business, but pleasure.  My brother TJ Bustem and I were once again, geocaching and now, we were waymarking also.  Read about waymarking here. and of course geocaching here.    In short, geocaching is looking for hidden “caches” of goodies and logging an entry in a logbook located inside the cache.  Waymarking is simply finding interesting places, landmarks, and historical markers.

Baytown has many historical markers and two are at Bayland Park on Business-146 down by the boat ramp.  There will be a third added by September when the Bayland Guards marker is dedicated.  The two that are there are the Bayland Orphanage marker and the Confederate Naval Works of Goose Creek marker.  You can read about the dedication of the naval works marker here.  Make sure you watch the slide show posted at the top of the page.

My brother has often commented that the real reason he loves to waymark and geocache is because it takes him to new and interesting places he wouldn’t have experienced without following the GPS receiver to a point of interest.

This is how it works.  Using what is called a GPSr (global positioning Satellite receiver) or a smartphone with a GPS Ap (application) you visit (usually) www.geocaching.com, create a profile (free or paid) and then download close to home geocaches or waymarker points into the device.  You can also print maps and instructions and carry them if you do not possess one of the higher end devices, or bring it all on your Smartphone or laptop/Netbook, etc..

Then you go look for them…and its fun, a lot of fun, especially if you do it with a friend.

When you created a profile on geocaching.com, you created a unique user name.  Mine is of course, BaytownBert, so when I find a cache, I sign the date on the little logbook, located inside the cache and my username – then after I am back home, I log in my find on the cache’s site and upload any photos I may have taken.

Most geocachers carry a swag-bag.  Swag is cool stuff you leave in caches for other cachers and the basic rule of thumb is if you take something from a cache, then you leave something of equal or greater value.  As a geocacher, you also have to beware of muggles.  Muggles are non-playing observers who may watch your activity and then come over after you have left and remove or rob the cache.

Snakes, spiders, and poison ivy may be present in remote wooded caches and then there are the thorns and thorns may be so thick that unless you approach the cache exactly as the cache owner did, you will leave a scratched-up treasure hunter.

Baytown is home to what can only be called, an evil genius geocache hider.  His name is Aaron Barbee.  You may know him as the Texas Computer Guru and he writes a weekly column for the Baytown Sun.  I’ve posted a humorous youtube video here concerning finding one of his easy caches, but trust me when I say he has very few easy ones.

Now keep in mind that caches come in a number of sizes and shapes.  Some are tiny and only hold a small log (Nanos and Micros), but my favorites are the small, regular, larger all of which hold swag. And sometimes Geocoins and travel bugs.  Geocoins are trackable coins with a unique set of numbers that cachers record the number as a find online and then move to another cache.  The same with a travel bug, but it looks like a dogtag and has a small chain and hitchhiker item attached to it with a story.


I’m not much for finding nano-sized or even micro-size geocaches, as they are usually found in higher traffic areas and it doesn’t appeal to my sense of adventure.  I would much rather be visiting a remote forested area, an old cemetery with historic headstones and markers, or someplace that involves learning about history.

So far I have placed six caches and all are quart-sized regular caches with cool swag.  Three are in Barkaloo Park and three are in Jenkins Park.  It’s a great family activity, gets you and the kids out of the house and is fun to boot and a big plus is as my brother said: “it takes him to new and interesting places he wouldn’t have experienced without following the GPS receiver to a point of interest.”

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