Catching Pokemon in the great outdoors

Gotta catch ’em all! Real life Pokemon!

I was getting out, hiking, walking and adventuring in general before the Pokemon Go craze hit.

I have a Fitbit. I also got a job where I’m on my feet and walking the majority of the time. So in order keep my job from killing me and take advantage of my spiffy Fitbit, I’ve been seeking out trails and walking paths all over the area. If it’s less than a 30 minute drive from me, I’ve likely been there, little dog in tow.

This has become a family thing, of course. My husband is on board, and my son is too, albeit reluctantly. My little dog, though, LOVES IT. She’s laying next to me right now, passed out from exhaustion from our day out today. My son’s summer school is an hour drive from home, but luckily it’s also at a fantastic park, so I took the dog with me and we walked the entire time my son was in class.

Just a few days ago, I had just gotten home from a few days straight of traveling and hadn’t logged nearly enough steps. So, after hearing all the positive news about Pokemon Go, I decided to install it and see if it might entice my kiddo to go out more willingly on a walk.

We went to one of our favorite spots, Kubota Gardens. There are fabulous walking paths, ponds, bridges, waterfalls and plenty to see. It’s a maze, which is great fun for my kiddo to tear through, despite his growing dislike of anything uphill.

I handed him my phone, and told him to find the Pokemon. Though he found one, he couldn’t figure out how to catch it and quite frankly was just not interested. So we wandered around while my husband and I kind of tested the app out for kicks. There were quite a few Pokestops in the garden, so we got a kick out of seeing how it all worked.

Then we noticed other people were staring at their phones, walking through the park. Almost all the people we came across seemed to be glued to their phones. Not looking around. Not enjoying the gorgeous garden and the brand new improvements I found and commented on.

At one point, there were about ten people standing around playing on their phones, clustered in the same area. It was a Pokestop where someone activated a lure or incense, I guess. I’m not that well versed on the game.

There was a guy with an adorable Corgi who wanted so badly to play with my dog. The guy barely looked up from his phone while our dogs sniffed and greeted each other.

That was the strangest part for me. When I have my dog, other dog people almost always stop to talk, especially when our dogs are actually getting along. It’s one of my favorite ways of socializing, mainly because people don’t talk to me as much as they talk about our dogs.

So, we moved on, my husband, my son and I, our phones in our pockets.

I want to get excited about this game because people are getting out more. I like the idea of it, and I get a kick out of finding places I visit are designated as Pokestops. I actually can’t wait to see if there are any on Cougar Mountain and how adventurous the people who set up the game were. There are some long hikes in that park, but I always have cell reception.

But there is another part of me that was a little weirded out by the people standing around, staring at their phones in a gorgeous garden. I can’t be too judgy about it, I stare at my phone all the time, taking pictures, texting, chatting and such while walking around. But it’s not to the same extent that I see with this game.

And the fact that even seemingly obscure places, like a secluded bench surrounded by thick grass and blackberry brambles that I stumbled on by accident are designated as a gym seems kind of dangerous to me.

I also kind of worry about data and battery usage. It’s got to be draining people dry.

But hey, they’re getting out and having fun. I’m glad for that. The sun and exercise is amazingly good for one’s mental health and physical health. I know I’ve been feeling fantastic since I started going out almost every day.

While I will probably play with the app a bit more, my more practical side tells me that I’ll get tired of dead batteries and wasted data. Plus, the social aspect of the battles and teams aren’t really my thing. I’m kind of a loner.

I think I’ll stick with continually upping my Fitbit goals and going on adventures with my little dog. Not to mention that I have already been finding creatures outside. Like the owl family I enjoy visiting around dusk at a near by park or the Red-Breasted Sapsuckers I saw flitting around an aspen today. I’m also able to help my son level up in Cub Scouting by learning all this great stuff to help him to earn his badges.

As much as I loved Pokemon, especially Jessie and James from Team Rocket, I think hiking, backpacking and bird watching is a better investment in the long run.

…though I must admit, I’m still a little conflicted as I head to bed to snuggle into my first generation Pokemon comforter.





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