Howard County sports reporters Tim Schwartz and Brent Kennedy outline their Pokemon Go adventures to Howard County athletic fields.
Growing up, Pokemon played a big role in my life for a period of time. I had all the gadgets: the playing cards, Gameboy color (I think I had Pokemon Red). So when the new app Pokemon Go came out a little more than a week ago, I had to give it a shot.
My immediate reaction was disappointment. Where I lived, there were no Pokemon in sight.
But after giving it a little more time and figuring out how the game works (i.e. Pokestops) and how to catch Pokemon, the nostalgia factor definitely came into play.
So, I came up with an idea. Where are some of the hotspots in Howard County? And that's how my adventure on July 14 with Brent Kennedy began.
Our idea was to walk the track of all 14 high schools in the county and see what we could catch, but we eventually changed our mindset to local parks.
But before I give you a breakdown of how our five-hour adventure in the 100-degree heat turned out, here's a little background to start:
I was already a Level 5; I had caught 13 different Pokemon already; I didn't use any of the game's special features like Insense to help us catch any Pokemon; we didn't have the app open when we were driving (because safety first), and because of the data usage, I was the only one catching Pokemon; and our adventure was from 12:30 until about 5 p.m.
Here's how our day went:
Long Reach High School, 12:34 p.m.
Our first adventure started at Long Reach. We walked around the track and, well, caught absolutely nothing. The game said there was a Caterpie, Rattata, Pidgey, Weedle and a Spearow in the area (all were three footprints, which means we weren't exactly close to them). So our first area was a total bust.
Next, we went to Howard High, hoping for some better luck. Nothing. Again, we didn't catch a single Pokemon. The Centre Park Water Tower behind the stadium is a Pokestop, but we weren't close enough to it to get its goods. Like Long Reach, there were a few Pidgey, a Weedle, Rattata, Caterpie, Spearow and what looked like a Staryu (looked like the one Misty from the TV show always had; I'm showing my knowledge here). Ultimately, it was another dead spot.
This is when we decided to change our strategy. Maybe we didn't catch any because there aren't any residential areas near the high schools or because school isn't in session, but either way, we figured we would have better luck at some of the local parks. So our next stop was Centennial Park South.
Centennial Park – South Area, 1:12 p.m.
We entered the park and went and parked near the paddleboat pavilion. Right away when we opened the app we knew we would have better luck. The pavilion itself was a Pokestop, as was the Stephen W. Weise Memorial Bench and another bench in memory of Ida Woerz Mueller (we didn't walk around the lake; just a hundred yards or so). Also, the F. Leonard Dunn Ampitheater is a gym.
On our walk toward the lake, we finally saw our first Pokemon – a Magikarp (Combat Power: 12). I managed to catch it with no problems, and it was the first Magikarp I've caught in the game, so that was cool. We thought we would have better luck near the lake, but really the only thing that managed to pop up was a Rattata (CP: 51), which we caught. Nearby, there were two more Magikarp, two Rattata, a Catterpie, Pidgey, Zubat, what looked like a Psyduck and a Staryu. Unfortunately, all were three footprints away, so we decided to head to our next destination: Centennial High School.
Centennial High School, 1:32 p.m.
Just like the other two high schools, Centennial proved to be a major bust, though there were a full nine Pokemon in the area (all were three footsteps away again). Around there was two Psyduck, two Rattata, a Magikarp, Pidgey, Caterpie, Zubat and a Staryu. No luck catching any walking around the track, so we decided that would be the last high school we go to. Only parks from now on, and the closest one was Covenant Park.
Covenant Park, 1:50 p.m.
Right away opening the app we saw that the Covenant Ministry Center was a Pokestop, and we heard rumors that there are more Pokemon near the Pokestops (we can't confirm that's true, though). So we thought we would have better luck right away, and when we got out of the car with me getting the items from the Pokestop, a father and daughter (Scott Jendrek and Brittany Jendrek) asked us what Pokemon we had caught there so far.
After a few minutes talking about Pokemon, we were excited to learn that he had been there earlier in the week (picking up his daughter from soccer practice) and caught a ton of rare Pokemon there.
Right away, we were in luck. Within minutes, we caught a Pidgey (CP: 10), a Rattata (CP: 22) and a new one: Weepinbell (CP: 69). Unforunately, the app also crashed several times during our time at Covenant Park, which cost me a few other Pokemon. Still, walking toward the soccer fields, we managed to get some even rarer Pokemon, and one of my personal favorites from my childhood: a Scyther (CP: Unknown, but turned out to be 148). At one point, I had five Pokemon in my radius, and overall I managed to get a Caterpie (CP: 24), a Paras (CP: 11), another Caterpie (CP: 53), a Spearow (CP: 10), an Oddish (CP: unknown, turned out to be 175, my strongest Pokemon to date), another Paras (CP: 121) and even a Squirtle (CP: 117).
What hurt the most, though, was the missed opportunity to catch a Dratini, which is one of the most rare Pokemon in the game. My app crashed on me (while our two new friends managed to catch them amid lots of excitement), and when I opened it back up, it was gone.
For the sake of time, I didn't bother catching the Zubat, Pidgey and Rattata that were near my car after all that. All together, I caught five new Pokemon there and a total of 11 Pokemon in the span of about 20 minutes.
It would be our best spot of the day, despite just one Pokestop nearby.
We went right down Route 108 to the west entrance of Centennial Park, and there wasn't much there, though we saw that the sign at the entrance of the park was a gym. Nearby there was a Psyduck, Magikarp, Venonat, Pidgey and what looked like a fat worm that I hadn't caught before. All were three footsteps away, so we booked it for Cedar Lane Park.
Cedar Lane Park, 2:36 p.m.
There were two Pokestops in our area (the beach volleyball court and the fountain) and two gyms (Cedar Lane Park turtle sculpture and Cedar Lane Park west area sign at the entrance). I caught a Rattata (CP: 37) when we parked (they really are like rats; they're everywhere), but that was it. There was a good amount nearby, though, and some pretty close: a Kingler, a Meowth, a Psyduck (none of which I had caught to that point), three Pidgey and the same fat worm-looking thing as before (can't figure out what it is; maybe an Exeggcute?). Most were far away, so we headed toward Western Regional Park at the advice of our friends from Covenant Park.
Western Regional Park, 3:25 p.m.
We entered and parked near the playground near the entrance, and immediately I caught a Paras (CP: 116), which escaped the Pokeball about three times before being caught. The playground was a Pokestop, as were the lighted football/soccer/lacrosse field, the lighted basketball courts, the Western Regional Park sign and baseball fields #1, 2, 3 & main concessions stand). There were a lot more throughout the park as well. There was also two gyms nearby (the net playground and the Music of the Squares).
I caught another Paras (CP: 132) and a Pidgey (CP: 91), and nearby there was three Pidgey, a Venonat, Rattata and a Clefairy (the first one I'd seen). We spent some time walking around there, but none of the Pokemon got much closer. We off we went to our last adventure of the day: Rockburn Park.
Rockburn Park, 4:10 p.m.
We drove down toward the skills park, and right away notices three gyms (the skills park and the park's skill park (not sure why they were different, but they were a few hundred yards apart), and the disc golf platform). Right away I caught my first Vulpix (CP: 31), Spearow (CP: 64) and Bellsprout (CP: unknown but turned out to be 177) of the day. We felt like it would be a great spot, so we took a walk around the skills park and toward the baseball fields.
Ultimately, it was a lot of walking for not much reward. I caught my first Duduo (CP: 72), but only got a Caterpie (CP: 57) and Rattata (CP: 64) the rest of the adventure. We did find another Pokestop, though, at Orioles Saturn Field.
We met a few other people playing Pokemon Go, and it made us realize just how popular this game is considering the heat index outside was nearing 105 degrees.
If you're looking for Pokestops, walking around the lake at Centennial Park would be your best bet, though Rockburn Park also had quite a few a little more spread out.
If you're looking for some rare Pokemon, Covenent Park was our best spot. We also found the most Pokemon there (without walking a lot, too), though Rockburn Park had a lot of new ones as well (lots of walking required).
This was a fun day overall, and the walking component adds the idea of having fun while exercising.