Hello, I’m Emily C, a 9th grader in APHUG. I was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, and moved to Austin in the beginning of 5th grade. I do not speak any foreign language, but I am currently learning Latin in school. I have travelled to many states including New Mexico, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, and North Carolina. Sadly, I have never travelled out of the country, however I wish to travel across the globe one day. Traveling out of the country and soaking up the cultures associated with different regions is such an incredible experience that I someday wish to partake in.
Chapter 10, Overedge, of the book Maphead is primarily focused on the creation and evolution of a relatively new “sport” called geocaching. Geocaching is a system in which people can share certain coordinates, or waypoints, with each other all around the world by posting them online. These waypoints lead to hidden boxes known as caches, that contain tiny trinkets and a logbook. Geocaching was created on May 1st, 2000, after selective availability (SA) was shut off, allowing much better GPS accuracy. Dave Ulmer created this game due to the enhanced non-SA accuracy GPS receivers now possessed. Geocaching is a global game, played by people all over the world. Jennings explains, “There’s a geocache hidden in a stone wall at the Vatican, and one in a high temple niche at Angkor Wat, and another in the crook of a tree by Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Run your hands along the bottom of the front gates at Las Vegas’s Bellagio casino, and you’ll find one magnetically attached. There are six on the slopes of Colorado’s Pikes Peak and two at Antarctica’s McMurdo station.” (Jennings, 192) After describing geocaching to his readers, Jennings announces that he is skeptical of the amount of enjoyment and satisfaction finding a cache creates for an individual. He then takes his son Dylan on a geocaching adventure in their neighborhood. Dylan isn’t as intrigued as his father, but when Ken finally manages to find the cache, they both bounce with joy! Ken continues to explain that there are two types of geocachers in this world: casual and extreme. Casual geocachers are “sensible, temperate souls, not prone to crazy obsessions of any kind, and so they are deeply respected by their neighbors and community. Let us speak no more of them.” (Jennings, 196) Extreme geocachers, however, are the exact opposite. They dedicate and constantly risk their lives by embarking on perilous journeys that lead to caches all over the world. These cacher’s train and take their time on each cache, opposed to power caters, who favor quantity over quality. They find as many cache’s as they can, as fast as they can, for as long as they can. After describing the types of geocachers in this world, he informs us that he has become addicted to the game. “Some people are born with a genetic predisposition to addictions like alcoholism, but, like Lynn Black, I seem to have been born to geocache, and to geocache obsessively.” (Jennings, 209) Jennings admits that after getting questioned by someone because of searching around a dumpster for a cache, he realizes he is going about geocaching the wrong way. “Geocaching is supposed to be an excuse to explore the world’s hidden beauty spots, but I’ve made it from a means into an end….I decided to broaden my horizons: I need to get out of the city.” (Jennings, 209) Jennings concludes this chapter by describing his journey up a difficult slope that is very dangerous compared to his typical urban explorations. He easily finds the poorly hidden cache after the somewhat difficult trek up the slope of waterfalls. After finding the cache, he decides to take advantage of the beautiful location the cache led him to, and ventures up the side of the mountain.
I personally enjoyed this chapter more than any other in the book. Jennings expertly described geocaching in detail, and this chapter made me want to get out of my house and start geocaching immediately after I read it. Ken Jennings is a remarkable writer, in my opinion, and manages to smoothly weave humor and factual evidence together to create a very relaxed, yet sophisticated tone throughout chapter 10, and the entire book. I was first introduced to geocaching in fourth grade, when my GT class embarked on a journey in a nearby park, and spent the class period searching for small geocaches our teacher had hidden all over the area. Since then, I have not geocached, but this interesting section of Jenning’s book sparked my interest once more.
I have never been very aware of current events, and before reading Maphead, I would’ve struggled immensely if I was given a blank world map and told to label as many countries as possible. Now, I make an effort to be aware of the current events around me, and around the world. Also, I have been trying to become much more geographically literate. I would not consider myself a “maphead,” but I did extremely enjoy reading this book! I think it is very important to be aware of what is happening in the world around you, and to have knowledge of where places are located on a map. Jenning’s book enhanced my knowledge on maps, and I am extremely glad that I had a chance to read this book.