This is Baytown Bert in Baytown, Texas August 22th, 2014 and this is Podcast 09.
How many times have you said or heard someone complain there isn’t anything to do around here? Too many to count, right? That’s right and wrong, because there is a lot to do right here in Baytown and with the help of a bunch of good people and the public relations group in Brenham, Texas, there is going to be even more.
Brenham? What? The ice cream and antique rose capital of Texas is going to do what for Baytown?
|Baytown Bert visiting historic mansions as part of the Geotour.|
Back in early 2013 the Brenham/Washington County Chamber set out to attract tourists to the county and Brenham specifically and tasked Website & Social Media Manager Jenny Mills with making it happen. This delightful lady came to Houston and met with a number of us geocachers who were planning a strategy for our team to compete in Bastrop for the 2014 Texas Challenge and that is when we met her.
Geocaching.com had instituted a program called Geotours and Jenny wanted to bring Texas its first Geotour and use it to accelerate tourism in her county. Geotours were so new, most of us veteran geocachers hadn’t heard much about it and this lady had all but had it up and running, which after spending 3 days this week in Washington county doing the tour, I realize is an amazing accomplishment.
Now before I go any further, let me once again explain what geocaching is. For those of you yawning, please be patient, as it gets better and may just concern you. In a nutshell, Geocaching is a nerdish game where people use a smartphone Ap of a GPSr receiver/device and look for hidden containers in parks, cemeteries, parking lots, wooded areas – and historic sites.
It is terrifically addictive and fun and on top of everything else – it is something to do.
When you find the container, you open it and sign your geocaching name and date on a logbook and then later record this online to your http://www.geocaching.com/ account and the number of finds and site locations are tracked for your personal statistics. I have found over 4500 geocaches and am ranked 41st in South East Texas. I am also the Southeast Texas Rep for the Texas Geocaching Association.
While on the Geotour in Washington County, my lovely bride and I traveled down beautiful country roads, saw old mansions, numerous wineries, a lavender farm, the little creamery in Brenham, the antique rose Emporium (spent $44 there), Los Cabos Mexican restaurant (had embarrassingly large portions of delicious Mexican food), many old cemeteries, and so many historic and interesting places that we plopped down in our motel room at the end of each night… happy and exhausted.
Altogether we found about 75 caches on this trip.
The three day trip including food, lodging, gas, and shopping was well under $500 and I challenge anyone to see and do more on a mini-vacation for less. We both feel like we “got away for a spell” and the drive to Brenham from Baytown is less than 2 hours and that includes stopping in Hempstead at the veggie stand to grab a melon or two.
Now what in the world does this have to do with Baytown and your personal need to do something that will get the blood flowing and help all of us get off the couch you may ask? Anna Enderli, our tourism director, along with Patti Jett, Baytown’s spokesperson, and our Mayor want to bring a Geotour to Baytown in 2015 and the local geocachers are going to help make it happen.
Now here is how it works, a person will go online, or go to the tourist kiosk at Bu-cees and obtain a Geotour Passport. In and around Baytown will be a good number (20-30) of places the player will have to visit and find a geocache container. Each container will also have a code letter or number in it and this will be recorded in the correct blank on the passport. Each geocache will also be an official GC.com cache to be recorded to your personal account online.
There will most likely be 3 levels to satisfy for collectable and trackable geocaching prizes. All participants will get extra points for dining inside a restaurant, sleeping in a motel over night, and making merchandise purchases of over $25 at one of our many stores. If you find all of the Geotour caches, you will get an additional prize.
In the Baytown area, there are already close to 500 geocaches in place, so outsiders will flock to Baytown and not only learn about our history and do the tour, but to grab as many smileys (a geocache appears as a smiley on your account page after its found) as is possible while they are in the area, thus creating revenue for Baytown merchants and the city.
Bringing a Geotour to Baytown will cost something, as geocaching.com oversees it and the city will have to put it up for a vote on budget concerns, but Brenham has found out it is well worth the cost and our people are meeting with their people to get some numbers together. In Mayor Don Carlos’ words though, “We are going to have the best Geotour in Texas with the best prizes,” and he said that to me after hearing about the program.
So, when you hear and see the word “Geotour” being tossed around in the future, nod your head that you are in the know and let’s bring people to beautiful Baytown for more than just work.
This is Baytown Bert in Baytown, Texas