Connecting With Future Generations

Will your descendants know anything about you? Two active grandparents are creating time capsules -- a novel method for reconnecting with their descendants decades into the future. It's an idea you might want to implement with your family. If you are interested after reading this article, go to their website for a clear, step-by-step outline on how to leave a legacy and communicate something of yourself to your progeny.

Two active grandparents have created a novel method for reconnecting with their descendants decades into the future. Nancy and Alan Bixby of Whidbey Island in Washington State wanted to leave a legacy that would prompt their city-based grandsons to experience the western wilderness. So, five years ago they started preparing time capsules to bury near their remote campsites in some of the most spectacular areas of the American West. "Our guess is that several decades into the future those two boys will likely be curious enough to search out the capsules with their own young families," says Alan Bixby, a retired video producer. "As they're having fun, they'll also be able to revisit memories of their grandparents."

Most every summer while the young boys and their parents remain anchored to an urban life in Portland, Oregon, their energetic grandparents escape to wilderness areas of Washington, Idaho, and Montana in their RV to bury a few more time capsules.

Using a hand-held GPS (Global Positioning System) device as their locator, the Bixbys have trekked through regions of incredible splendor. In these isolated areas they have discreetly hidden capsules of various sizes. GPS coordinates of latitude and longitude will identify the precise location of the drop-sites for any return trip ever.

What do the tightly sealed geo-capsules contain? A few things of material value simply to boost future motivation to seek them out. But the many diverse items in each stainless steel tube are mostly of family and personal interest.

"Our real motivation is to encourage a wilderness exposure for our grandsons when they become parents of their own children," says Nancy. But these planned adventures are double-sided because the Bixbys appear to have as much fun in preparing and depositing the capsules as the boys will in retrieving them.

The grandparents have researched materials and methods that ensure time-capsule survival through several decades. To make certain that the GPS coordinates and other details are never lost, they prepare lists of capsule contents, physical maps, digital photos and satellite images together with retrieval instructions to leave with the boys parents. For added protection, they give duplicate records to young adult relatives and they send location coordinates to the International Time Capsule Society, which maintains a permanent registry of known capsules. A website crafted by the Bixbys explains their step-by-step procedure for assembling and preserving these memory capsules. (

"Some people have asked if we think our grandsons may never have an interest in collecting the hidden treasures," notes Alan. "If you knew that there was a secret cache left exclusively for you in some remote area of spectacular beauty, just how many years could you live with that knowledge before you packed up the family and headed out for your own adventure?"

The idea has elements of a related sport called geocaching, but geocapsuling can have a deeper significance to parents or grandparents (and their descendants) by encouraging wilderness adventures while leaving an exceptional legacy.

The Bixbys have the advantage of living in a wilderness area. Most Grandboomers live in urban or developed areas where walking into the woods and burying a time capsule may also be trespassing. Before you start this project, make certain you have permission to bury your capsule where you want to. And, since access will come years down the road, choose an area sufficiently remote that your cache won't be accidentally destroyed as rural land is developed.

You can discover more about this project and learn how to do it yourself at

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