When I first started geocaching in 2008, one of the first caches I found had a geocoin in it. It was a diabetes awareness one and it looked beautiful. Being a type-2 diabetic, I was enamored by it. We grabbed it to move along. I held it for a few days before understanding trackables and eventually releasing it back into the wild.
But I was hooked.
Geocoins were gorgeous. These items were detailed and so nice to hold. While travel bugs are nice, geocoins are amazing. Sometimes they were hard to find, though. People stole them or held onto them for way too long.
My personal collection grew through events or purchasing etc. I even finally was able to buy one of those diabetes awareness coins when they were made available for the public to purchase. In mid-2010, our local geocaching group decided to make a coin. Group members had the chance to purchase them and then we placed an order of about 150, give or take. The coins came out wonderful, but it was a simple design. I didn’t have to design on that one – we gave the company (Oak Coins) the rough design and they brought it to life.
I always knew I wanted a personal geocoin. For years, though, I wrestled with the costs and knowing if I was going to invest in one, it had to be a design I loved and something I believed in. I didn’t just want a coin for the sake of having a coin. To me, a coin is much like a tattoo. With the investment being so high, it had to be something where there was passion.
Did I want a softball and some bats, because my geocaching name was softball29? Did I want something just to have it? Nah. That’s what pathtags are for. They are much cheaper, and I have plenty of different pathtags (many still available for trade …)
So, I kept on plodding along. I’ve seen some wonderful personal geocoins. So many have things that make you want that coin. There’s a personal touch, a story or something completely else.
Then Harper came along. Harper is my first dog and it took nearly two years for me to settle on a breed (golden retriever) and to be able to find a puppy. I looked at rescues and shelters as well, but nobody seemed to have a golden or one that “fit”. And with the pandemic, I’m sure if they were out there, they went fast.
I accidentally came across the breeder that had Harper and I’m glad I did. Though highly frustrating at times, she’s been such an important piece to my world over the last year and a half. For my physical and mental health, I can’t even speak to the importance of having her. I’ve also learned a lot from her and have had the chance to meet people because of different dog interests. To say that she’s become my best friend is an understatement.
Once she grew some, we started exploring a ton. She geocached with me and with friends. She loves being outside. Sometimes it can be a chore to get her in the car to travel to these spots, but once we get somewhere she loves it. She’s been on major trips (including this summer’s 2,600-mile, 11-state trip), short trips, and anything in between.
So there’s my passion.
The more I started thinking about it, the more I realized I finally had my geocoin idea. It was Harper and me. It meant something to me. It was my passion. It was something worth spending that kind of money on but how would I pull it off? What would I do with the design?
Who would design the coin was never in question. Chris Mackey is one of the most well-known and respected coin designers out there. I’ve known him, obviously through geocaching, for more than a decade. He’s designed the bulk of my Pathtags as well. But just having the designer picked doesn’t mean the idea is set.
Again, it had to mean something.
When I started geocaching, my name came because of my love of playing softball and my uniform number. Looking back, I probably could have come up with something better, alas, it was a moniker I used in different places already, But other hobbies include photography and board games and writing/blogging etc. So how would I turn this into an idea that made sense?
Then it just happens.
My original plan was simple – to take a photo of me and Harper on one side of the coin, and one of just Harper on the back side of the coin and frame it like a Polaroid. Then have a saying on one side and our names on the other – with her Instagram handle (you can follow at @harper_dublin).
Sometimes miscommunication works out best though.
I likely didn’t explain this well enough. So as I was talking the idea out with Chris, this coin just developed into its final version. It started to be more about the whole idea, not just something small. For those of you who are old enough to remember traditional Polaroids, or for those who may use them now, one of the things to do was use a marker and write on the white part … it could be signatures or dates or whatever. But we all did it.
That’s what this coin developed into.
I knew from the beginning I wanted the part with me and Harper to be how I sign us on a geocaching log. And on the opposite side – my original idea was a much longer quote, but it just came down to “Adventure Awaits.”
As for the photos?
I am not the best selfie taking person, but I’m getting better, especially with Harper. I had one I took at the end of the winter of me and her on a trail. The sky was blue behind us and it was just one of those photos I really liked. It’s rare for me to like photos with me in them!
The back took a little work as it was a photo I took in Banff National Park on a trip a few years ago and Chris worked his magic to put Harper into the scene. It’s crazy to see the ability of somebody work with several photos and turn it into what the coin became.
It’s not a small one, either.
The coin is 2.5 inches, which is awesome. It has a thickness of 3mm, so it feels truly solid. The colors, too, pop. There are a total of 150 coins that were minted, so I hope to trade over time. All of them have geocaching trackable numbers. Alas, just 100 are part of the trade batch.
And this is the first time I’m mentioning this, but there are three versions. They are all black nickel finish etc., but there are three looks.
The first is the one, which is open to trades, you can see in photos here. Two others are numbered limited editions. One is numbered to 35 (limited edition) and the second is numbered to 15 (extra limited edition). I have yet to decide the plan on what I will use the special ones for. They are not going to be easy to obtain and it will likely take me a while to decide. I can say that I’ve already stashed away a few full sets that will be off limits for a good long time. So that XLE is really going to be tough to get – but it is super cool, I will say that.
The journey getting to this point and having my own coin has been enjoyable. I have ideas for another coin in the future, but I’m going to wait a bit before jumping back into this process. But it definitely will have Harper on it!
If you have personal coins etc., and are interested in trading, drop a line in the comments or find me via geocaching.com. Would love to see your coin and see if we can make a deal!
I may also, eventually, do a giveaway or two on the blog and/or social media at some point in the future. But I’m enjoying the trade aspect for now!
Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, please “Like” A ‘lil HooHaa on Facebook! You can also find me on Instagram @hoohaa29. Harper is also on Instagram @harper_dublin.