Geocaching in Florida

Geocaching in Fort Clinch State Park

Last week I traveled to Florida to participate in the Amelia Island Geocaching Challenge. Because school is back in session, I took the opportunity to travel solo with my almost four-year-old son Owen. Sandwiching a three day stay on Amelia Island, we flew into Pensacola and visited family on either side of the trip. Primarily geocaching on the island and in the town of Fernandina Beach, we broke up our visit by caching all across the Florida panhandle.

The distance between Pensacola and Jacksonville on I-10 is slightly over 350 miles. Along this drive, you’ll find a rest stop approximately every 30 minutes. At these rest stops are informational kiosks with maps, travel tips, and the “Snakes of Florida” poster. Read this poster; you’ll be surprised to learn that cottonmouths can be aggressive when provoked. I “heart” aggressive, venomous snakes, don’t you?

You may also want to know what a banana spider looks like. While not venomous to humans, a banana spider bite can be painful if not traumatic for the arachnophobe in us all. Having personally walked face first into a banana spider web, my first thought was to find the spider and then to wipe massive stands of thick silk away from my mouth. I think my hyenia-like scream may have successfully scared us both.

Let’s talk about heat and kids, shall we? Even in mid-September, temperatures in Florida were still pushing the mid-nineties. Having already carved pumpkins and stocked up on apple cider, reverting back to summer heat was a shock to our pale-white bodies. Here’s how the toddler tantrum went down: 1. Florida is hot. 2. Out hotel has a lovely swimming pool. 3. Kid sees swimming pool. 4. Mom has paid $622 in airplane tickets to geocache in Florida (We’re geocaching and you WILL like it.). 5. Kid doesn’t care. 6. Mom drags kid into aggressive snake- and fist-sized spider territory. 7. Mom and kid both get crabby. 8. Water bottle runs dry. 9. Banana spider incident. Cache abandoned – DNF! 10. Kid learns new four-letter word. 11. Mom stomps back to swimming pool. 12. Pool is really nice. 13. Kid smirks.

On our trip, we did have the opportunity to introduce my sister and her family to geocaching and we all had a blast. As my brother-in-law (an Alabama native who makes the best grits in the South) reminded me, snake-attacks are rare and it is miserable to stomp around in deep snow. Geocaches were plentiful wherever we went. Use common sense, and if your gut is telling you not to walk along the bank where another cacher has uploaded a photo of an alligator with the caption, “Watch out!,” try somewhere else.

Below is a four minute video I assembled using clips from the road trip.


About the Author

Julie Henning
Julie Henning is a freelance writer and journalist based out of Eugene, Oregon. She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and owner of the family-travel website RoadTripsForFamilies.com. She is a recent past member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association and the Association for Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. Julie is the Oregon Coast destination specialist for Bindu Media, an itinerary-focused website launching in Spring 2016 and featuring the work of 200+ professional, indie travel writers. Julie has been published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal, The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Illinois), the Rochester Post Bulletin, Wisconsin Natural Resources (DNR) Magazine, Sustainable Chicago Magazine, Group Tour Magazine, Student Group Tour Magazine, Silent Sports Magazine, Intercom Magazine, Roadtrippers.com, and FTF Geocacher Magazine. Julie has appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio, Ohio Public Radio, and KCBX FM Central Coast Radio and is an affiliate producer with the Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, a National Public Radio travel podcast. She has blogged for TravelWisconsin.com, Travel Oregon, and VISIT Milwaukee. Julie travels with her three kids and black lab as much as possible and lives by the motto, "Not all who wander are lost." Check out some of her best work at www.juliehenning.com.

1 Comment on "Geocaching in Florida"

  1. I would freak beyond belief if I ran into a spider like that! Will be doing some major geocaching in FL when I drive my snowbird-folks down in December. A friend of mine is flying in, and we hope to tackle Jonathan Dickinson State Park. Hopefully it will be cool and dry, and we’ll leave the kids behind!

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