Showing posts with label Geocaching. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Geocaching. Show all posts

Monday, July 02, 2012

Cruise Caching

As I mentioned in my previous posts, I recently returned from a very enjoyable Alaskan cruise.  One of the best things about cruising is going to bed in one city/state/country and waking up the next morning in another or on your way to another.  For geocachers, that means finding a cache in one place, going to sleep, and finding another cache somewhere else the next day - a great way to collect finds in multiple cities, states, or countries without having to spend hours upon hours driving.

Another fun thing about cruise caching is seeing other cruise cachers from all over the world who have found the same geocache that you just found - often within a few hundred feet of the dock.  Occasionally, you'll even find geocachers from your local region who have signed the log before you.  On my recent trip, that is exactly what happened. 

While visiting Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on our cruise, I saw a geocache called Jaiden's Cache (GC23RBJ) just 300 feet from the bow of our ship.  Instead of finding it immediately after leaving the ship with the large mob of people around, I decided to wait to find it later in the evening right before I got back on-board the ship.  By that time, it was already dark, but it didn't stop my search for pathtags or other small signature items.  I struck out on pathtags in every cache I found, but I did find a nice wooden nickel here.  It was dark enough that I didn't really pay attention to whose it was or what was on it; I just dropped in one of my wooden nickels and a few extra pathtags and grabbed it out of the cache.  When I could finally get it into the light, I noticed it was from Mrs. Captain Picard - a local geocacher in Texas. 

I thought it was kinda funny that I picked up a signature item from a local cacher over 2,000 miles away in a foreign county, so I sent her a quick email to tell her about it, but apparently it isn't that uncommon!
Mrs. Captain Picard:  "We dropped that wooden nickel personally a couple of weeks ago while we were on OUR cruise!  A couple of ports behind us?  HiDude_98!  On our SAME SHIP - Normasgirl from East Texas, but we didn't know it until we started logging and saw hers.  WOW!"

Monday, June 25, 2012

Volcano Caching

My oldest daughter has a strong fascination with and deep interest in volcanoes.  In fact, when she was finally old enough to have her own Geocaching name instead of what I used to call her (Geo-Baby) she chose the name LavaRocks - though we haven't been diligent in logging all of her finds online.  Needless to say, she has always expressed interest in visiting an active volcano.  Ideally, she'd like to see an actively erupting volcano in Hawaii, but this time she'd have to settle for somewhat quieter active volcanoes in Washington - Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens. 

Before our recent cruise, we spent a few extra days in and around Seattle, WA.  On one of those days, we made a road trip south towards Portland, Oregon and spent the day visiting Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens.  There were two Earth Caches that I really wanted to find while visiting:

      Narada Falls at Mount Rainier
      Mount St. Helen's Earthcache at Mount St. Helens

At a summit elevation of 14,411 ft, the clouds were so thick around Mount Rainier that we couldn't even see the top of the mountain.  Apparently the peak is only seen approximately 100 days each year.  Regardless, we had a great time exploring Mount Rainier National Park, learning about the volcano, viewing the glacial waterfalls, playing in the snow high up the mountain, and hiking on just a few of the many trails.  The forest, rivers, and numerous waterfalls around Mount Rainier make it one of the most beautiful natural places I've ever been.  It is a surreal experience watching your children play on the slopes of what is considered to be one of the most dangerous stratovolcanoes in the world! 

Further south, Mount St. Helens is a totally different experience.  Although most of the area surrounding the mountain has recovered well in the last 30 years, the area directly across from the 1980 blast is still very much a barren wasteland. Huge trees are still seen lodged horizontally in the mountainside from when they were blasted across the valley from the eruption, and the entire area is covered in a fine, gray, ash powder (as is easily seen in the aerial Google Maps photograph).  The area directly across from the eruption is now home to the Johnston Ridge Observatory which was named in honor of U.S. Geological Survey volcanologist David A. Johnston who was on duty at the USGS, Coldwater II observation post during the May 18, 1980, eruption.  This is where we spent most of our time during our visit to Mount St. Helens touring the exhibit and watching the seismometers record real-time seismic activity from this active volcano.

UPDATE: My thoughts and prayers go out to the four injured climbers from my town recently injured in a tragic accident last week on Mount Rainier and to the family of the park ranger who died while rescuing them.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Geocaching at Groundspeak HQ

This month, I had the opportunity to go on an Alaskan cruise that left out of Seattle, WA. Needless to say, when a geocacher is in Seattle, there is at least one place that you simply MUST go - Groundspeak Headquarters.  I made an appointment several months in advance with Lackey Sara via email and was given the not-terribly-secret coordinates (and the street address just in case).

Upon arriving at the third-floor office, the first thing you notice is the gigantic treasure chest staring at your from across the room.  I've found some very large caches before, but this was by far the largest one yet.  I wanted to look around first, but my two girls were so mesmerized that they just made a bee-line straight for the treasure chest.  To my surprise, it was amazingly well organized - a box for U.S. destined travel bugs, a box for foreign country destined travel bugs, and a box for tradable geocoins.  The rest of the treasure chest was full of other unusual items like a full-size, trackable Darth Vader mask and a giant wooden Groundspeak Signal HQ Geocoin.  I had expected to find numerous pathtags in the treasure chest too, but sadly this was not the case.  In fact, I brought around 30 pathtags (most donated by the lovely caching couple DE_Cryptoman and Entwined55) and left about half of them in the cache anyway.

Another perk of visiting Groundspeak HQ is the chance to meet and visit with some Groundspeak Lackeys.  On this visit, I had the pleasure to meet a geocaching legend and Groundspeak Lackey, Moun10Bike.  In the rare event that you haven't heard of him, Moun10Bike is a not only a charter member of, he is also the father of geocoins and designed the very first trackable geocoin.  If you want to follow him, he is very active on Twitter, @moun10bike.  To help commemorate my visit, I was given one of the nice Lackey X-ing travel tags and a Moun10Bike travel tag.

The office area itself was off-limits since most of the Groundspeak Lackeys were still hard at work.  However, the lobby/foyer area is still pretty cool.  They have two large, flat-panel displays showing geocaching photos and logs in real-time on an interactive world map.  They also have a small store display where they sell hats, t-shirts, travel bugs, travel tags, water bottles, etc.  Recently, they added a photo booth too, but I didn't have time to get my picture made during this short visit.  Finally, the entire lobby area looked like an elegant cross between a high-tech computer firm and an outdoor adventure center - probably exactly the look they were going for!

Thanks, Groundspeak, for a nice afternoon visit!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Geocaching Pen Follow-up

Last night, the True Utility Telepen Telescopic Pen I ordered from Amazon arrived.  Naturally, I had the box open before I was even in the front door.  It is perfect!  Although it took me a few moments to figure out that there was no release mechanism for the pen from the cap -- just really tight friction -- it was exactly as I had hoped.  The collapsed length is just a little longer than traditional house keys and just a little shorter than traditional car keys.

Whenever I drive to a geocache now, I am guaranteed to have a pen with me!!!

Another exciting thing related to this pen was being mentioned on two fantastic podcasts.  If you aren't already a listener to the new Cache-A-Maniacs podcast network and the fantastic PodCacher podcast, you should be!  Both of these geocaching podcasts are regulars for me and feature the best news and information from the world of geocaching.  These are the two episodes that mention me sharing information about this pen:

   GeoGearHeads Beta.16: Hosting Geocaching 101s II

   Podcacher Show 368.0: An Unexpected Find

Monday, April 16, 2012

Geocaching Pen

I generally don't post many product links on this website, but sometimes I find a particular product that just blows my mind on its usefulness. Normally, I wouldn't put a pen in this category, but I've had too many experiences lately where I happen to find a cache while out-and-about without a pen handy to sign the log. In fact, this weekend, I resorted to scratching my name in a log with a muddy toothpick because I found a cache while out of town and didn't have a pen with me in the car.

This pen is a tiny, telescoping pen that attaches to your keyring or other keychain. With this, if I drive to a cache, I'm guaranteed to have my pen with me!

True Utility Telescopic Pen on

Thursday, February 09, 2012

RIP txoilgas

On January 28, a local caching legend, Alan Stricklin (a.k.a. txoilgas) passed away during a caching trip in Oklahoma. I first met Alan when he became a geocaching legend by becoming the first geocacher to complete my Texas County Challenge cache after having found or hidden a geocache in all 254 counties in the State of Texas! Alan, may you rest in peace (or begin creating a Heaven County Challenge for the rest of us).
If you have special geocaching memories of Alan, please feel free to share them with the rest of us in the comments below.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Festivus: Geocaching for the Rest of Us

It was exactly 14 years ago this week when Frank Costanza proudly announced that he created a new, fictional holiday called Festivus. Although Festivus is a fictional holiday, the celebration of Festivus has a very well defined set of events beginning with the "Airing of Grievances."
This usually brings participants into a circle of sorts in which each takes turns excoriating friends, enemies, relatives, acquaintances and strangers. When all who care to have taken a turn griping, there is no required hugging or making up. -

In the spirit of Festivus, please allow me to share some of my grievances related to Geocaching.
  1. Inappropriate sharing of personal information 
  2. Geocaching's status as a sport
  3. Overzealous geocachers (and people who take geocaching way too seriously)
  4. Rules-vs-guidelines (and reviewers that don't seem to know the difference)
  5. Know-it-all geocachers (and people that just like to fight a lot)
  6. Micros in the woods
  7. Bad coordinates 
  8. Reckless disregard for personal property or the environment
  9. Jeep and traveling coin collectors
  10. Poison Ivy!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

PEA Contest

Before I give you the information I'm supposed to pass along, I wanted to explain what this is all about first. I've been a long-time listen to the Podcacher podcast. Recently, they started a faux-secret-organization called the PEA (Podcacher Endorsement Army). Those that join are able to compete for prizes (including a special PEA pathtag) by spreading the word about the Podcacher podcast. The contest started several weeks ago and ends in 9 days, but I was behind in listening and just joined yesterday. If I'm going to have any sort of chance to win, I need your help! All I need is for you to visit, then visit and fill out the short form (your caching name & my caching name - M-T-P). Oh, and the best part, you are eligible to win prizes too just for helping me out! Thanks for your help! (Now for the message that I'm supposed to send out in the words I was provided.)
Hi, my caching name is M-T-P and I'm on a special covert mission. You can help me accomplish my target objectives by doing the following 1) Go to and listen to some shows packed with geocaching goodness. 2) Then go to and fill out the short affidavit testifying to your collaboration as part of my strike team. NOTE: Your confirmed participation gives you the chance to win some super swagalicious goodies and it also advances my ranking among the operatives. The deadline for completion is midnight June 19, 2011 Make sure to listen to an upcoming show to see if you won. Once you have accomplished these mission objectives, please destroy all evidence and eat these instructions.

Thursday, May 05, 2011


Many years ago, when I first learned about geocaching, I was driving through my neighborhood when I saw a very interesting little, metal footbridge. When I saw it, I thought to myself - "Self, this spot is the perfect spot for an urban geocache." Later that day, I went home to my computer and looked online. Low and behold, there *was* a geocache at this spot. That cache became my first geocache find!

That cache was "R U NUTS??? (UMM #7)" placed by TheGeoGoes on May 3, 2004. TheGeoGoes were prominent geocachers in the Waco area from 2003-2006 and placed numerous well-loved hides. Unfortunately, they seem to have taken an extended break from geocaching for the past several years and only surface every year or two for about a month. The cache itself was a small magnetic hide-a-key container painted to match the bridge and was surprisingly difficult to locate under the bridge. The name was always somewhat funny (and maybe a little tacky too) because this bridge is on a public path near a row of hospitals and doctors' offices, but most closely in front of a local psychiatric hospital.

Last month, TheGeoGoes finally decided to archive this cache and several other geocaches despite the container still being there and found fairly often. So in honor of that cache by TheGeoGoes and to celebrate my first find, I placed a new, identical geocache designed to finally answer the question asked by their original geocache so many years ago - I M NUTS!!!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Introducing the New Website

Groundspeak recently announced that they are going to completely redo the website.  To see a preview of what is coming on May 4th, view this short clip released by Groundspeak.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

M-T-P Pathtag

I've noticed in my most recent comeback to geocaching that pathtags have finally made their way into central Texas. It is certainly possible that they've been around this area for quite a while, but I never really saw them before except for in the north Texas area where I picked up two pathtags created by TXOILGAS and Muddy Buddies at an event. In one of my recent cache finds, I discovered two other pathtags from two central Texas cachers - Entwined55 and Nip-N-Tuck.

I had been considering the possibility of creating a signature pathtag for several months, but after I saw cmiked's new Twitter icon of his pathtag, I knew it was finally time for an M-T-P pathtag.  After many weeks of design tweaks and blueprint modifications, I am pleased to announce that I approved my blueprint and production of my first pathtag has begun!

Monday, March 14, 2011

EarthCache Master

When I first began Geocaching in 2004 and throughout 2005, EarthCaches were extremely rare in Texas.  In fact, until December 2006, there were only three EarthCaches within a 200 mile radius of my home caching territory - the closest of those being almost 70 miles away.  Because of this, I have always viewed EarthCaches as somewhat of a rarity and something really special to be found.  It wasn't until October 2007 that I found my first EarthCache - Canyon Falls of McCormick's Creek (GC16PX4) in Indiana.

Last week, I found two more EarthCaches - just enough to qualify to become an "EarthCache Master" at the bronze level.  One of these EarthCaches was the one around 70 miles away from my home territory - Dinosaur Valley Earthcache (GCQMHY) in Dinosaur Valley State Park, TX.  If you've ever wanted to step inside *real* dinosaur footprints still in their natural state, this is the place to go!  The other cache was around 180 miles away - Wichita River (GC1PN9J) in Wichita Falls, TX. 

There are many other EarthCaches closer to my home territory now.  In fact, there are 73 EarthCaches within the same 200 mile radius at the time I wrote this post with some created as recently as last month.

So what exactly are EarthCaches?

EarthCaching is an Earth science/geography-based educational activity that draws from the ever-increasing use of GPS receivers and the growing popularity of geocaching. Educators and others realize that Earth itself offers its own treasures to uncover and endless opportunities for exploration, discovery, and learning. EarthCache sites, then, are “virtual” caches that provide the visitor who finds them with new knowledge or insights about the location itself - an “educational treasure” which is arguably more valuable than a trinket anyway!

Instead of leaving or taking anything from the site, visitors are asked to follow the EarthCache notes, make and record observations while at the site, and then log their visit on the EarthCache web site by reporting what they learned. Like geocaches, EarthCaches are developed by people all over the world. However, because they are meant to be educational, all EarthCache sites that are posted on the EarthCache web site must provide some scientific information about the site. All EarthCache locations that are submitted for posting are subject to approval and oversight by the Geological Society of America (GSA).

If you are interested in EarthCaches, I recommend that you begin by visiting the website to learn more about this cache type and then search for EarthCaches near you on the website.  Once you find at least three EarthCaches in at least two states/countries, you too can qualify to become an EarthCache Master.

Monday, February 21, 2011

FTF Hunts

Image from
One of the things that I really enjoy about geocaching is the thrill of being FTF - First To Find.  This special honor comes from being the first geocacher to find a newly published geocache, and is usually accompanied by a little Jig known as the FTF Dance - a slightly longer and more vigorous version of the normal Geocaching Happy Dance.

Over the years, I've been FTF on just over two-dozen caches.  In fact, my only traditional cache find in 2010 was an FTF on a monstrously difficult puzzle cache that stayed unfound for well over two years - GC18N56.  A couple of weeks ago, I saw another cache published about 20 miles from home and decided to be FTF on that one too since it was still unfound after several days.

However, neither of these recent FTF's were really true FTF hunts.  Don't get me wrong, I was the first finder on both geocaches and signed a clean log book, but both caches were published online for several days (or years in the first example) before being found.  This usually happens with out-of-town geocaches and difficult puzzles.

A true FTF hunt is different.  A true FTF hunt usually occurs when a new geocache is published in the middle of a safe, suburban area and is sought after by numerous geocachers within hours of being published.  True FTF hunters often have email and SMS alerts notifying them of such caches and are often ready to be FTF anytime day-or-night. 

Although I don't have email or SMS alerts notifying me of new caches, I decided to go on one of these FTF hunts anyway last week.  The cache was published in the early evening hours and was just 2 miles away in a very safe and easily accessible residential area.  I knew when I saw the cache listed on the website that it would be popular that night, but I didn't realize exactly how popular until I checked Twitter and signed the geocache log as STF. 

This is the Twitter dialog from that night.  Both of the first two messages were posted at almost exactly the same time -  9:17pm.  The last message was posted at 9:35pm. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Blog Fade, Cache Fade, and Resurrection - Part 1

Whether you are (were) a long-time subscriber to this site or are a new visitor here, you will no doubt notice that the post just prior to this one was dated over two years ago (2 years 147 days to be exact). As you have no doubt guessed, this site was a tragic victim of "blog fade" - the fictional blogging condition where blog authors gradually stop posting to their blogs and often abandon their blogs entirely over a period of time.

Sadly, if you look at my cache stats on my geocaching profile, you'll notice a very similar trend there too. When I first began geocaching in 2005, I found 168 caches that year. Since then, my cache finds have steadily decreased to almost none in 2010 (only 1 traditional and 3 virtuals at Disney World).

The good news is this - I'm back!  Of course I can't say how long I'll be back, but in just the first few weeks of 2011, I've already found 15 caches.  If you need help with the math from the chart above, that is the same number of cache finds for 2009 and 2010 combined!  While that total may not be very many for most geocachers, it is tremendous amount in a short period of time compared to the last 4 years for me.

So in the spirit of my return to geocaching, I decided to resurrect my Adventures in Geocaching blog too!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Too many bad coordinates!

Although I've been geocaching for several years now, I've been taking it easy for the past year or two. In my recent return to geocaching, I've noticed something that I never really noticed a few years ago - coordinates WAY off from where the cache is described to be. For some, the coordinates seem to be just too inaccurate and well beyond any normal range. For others, the coordinates appear to be taken in one format (DegDec) but posted online in another (MinDec) without proper conversion.

These two examples come to mind:

1) Kinder Island by cwnation (GC1E5JD) - This cache includes the following statement, "should not be to hard once you make it to the island." However, the coordinates place this cache in the lake almost 100 feet from any island. This is an example of grossly inaccurate coordinates.

2) Jacobs Latter by Rohan Clan (GC1G7M5) - This cache includes the following statement, "Located on a populer path in camron park." However, the last time I checked, the Cameron Park with a landmark called Jacobs Ladder near a popular path is in Waco, not in Peoria. That's over 26 miles away! This is an example of coordinates recorded in DegDec format, but posted online in MinDec format without being converted. [Yes, that matters; no, you can't just move the decimal over a couple of places.]

Is this coordinate confusion becoming the new trend? How is it possible for a cache owner to view their cache page, see the map of their cache so far away, and do nothing to fix it? My little yellow eTrex can at least put the cache in the correct county! Isn't THIS the reason we have reviewers?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Geocaching Without a GPS

Is a Global Positioning System (GPS) Receiver necessary for modern Geocachers?

In this modern age of detailed street maps, satellite maps, and now even "street view" photographs available at your fingertips, is a GPS receiver still necessary? To illustrate my point, I was in downtown Houston last week for a conference and was staying on the upper floor of a deluxe hotel. Even though I forgot to bring my hand-held GPS with me on the trip, I decided to locate my hotel on a map to see how many geocaches were nearby. There happened to be two caches within a block of my hotel - one of which was right outside my window. Despite not having my GPS receiver with me, I decided that I wanted to go hunting for these caches anyway.

To find each cache, I thoroughly read the cache description, pulled up the Google Map view of the coordinates, zoomed in as much as possible, and could identify within approximately 10-12 feet exactly where the cache was hidden. If fact, I felt more confident about finding this cache than I usually do whenever I use my GPS. Not only did I know what area of town the cache was in, what street it was near, and what park it was inside; I could tell which tree it was under and almost which side of the shrubs it was on. Needless to say, it took me longer to ride the elevator down from my hotel room than it did to find this cache - even without a GPS.
Aerial views are great, but Google has now gone one step further and added Street Views to its maps for most major metropolitan areas. This extremely close view can help you pinpoint exactly where a cache is located from ground-level. Using this feature, urban geocachers can not only see what an area looks like from above, they can view extremely close details of the hide location allowing them to scout out an area well before they arrive on the scene to begin searching. So, is a GPS receiver still necessary for Geocaching?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Indiana Earth Cache

I've been hoping to have the opportunity to find an Earthcache since the first day that I began caching. Earlier this month, the opportunity presented itself while I was at a family reunion in McCormick's Creek State Park near Spencer, Indiana. While staying in the Canyon Creek Inn, I pulled up, entered my current location, and noticed that I was surrounded by caches of varying difficulty. Since I didn't have too much time, I had to make my decision carefully, and that is when I noticed GC16PX4: Canyon Falls of McCormick's Creek. This was my first cache in Indiana, my first Earthcache, and my first cache in about six months.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Year in Review: March 2007 - March 2008

Over a year has gone by since my last post. Sadly, part of this is due to my own lack of geocaching over the past 12 months. In fact, I've only found 16 caches this past year. In this post, I'll bring you up to speed on my adventures in geocaching and let you know some exciting news about the Texas County Challenge.

This past summer, I took my family with me on a business trip to Boston, MA. It was fantastic and we all had a great time. However, no trip out-of-state would be complete without finding at least one geocache in the process, and that's exactly what I did - found one geocache, Troll Lord Magnar - Boston's Mine. It was a nice cache in the middle of the Boston Common near a large statue and an old WWI mine. Although my family and I walked all over Boston during the week we were there, this was the only cache that I attempted to find. Otherwise, I found a couple of caches in north Texas near the Oklahoma border and a handful here in central Texas.

There was much more excitement with the Texas County Challenge. Just to refresh your memory, the Texas County Challenge is a physical cache that can only be found after finding or hiding a cache in all 254 counties in the state of Texas. In April 2007, TxOilGas became the first geocacher to complete this challenge. In May, his finds and hides were verified and he was the FTF on the Texas County Challenge. Later that summer, the second, third, fourth, and fifth cachers to complete the challenge also found the cache. A HUGE congratulations goes to TxOilGas (FTF), Blizzard (STF), Little Red Wagon (3TF), Enduroking (4TF), and les7h (5TF).

After the celebration event for the 5TF, les7h, I handed the reigns of the Texas County Challenge to the #2 man, Blizzard by allowing him to officially adopt this cache.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

4, 3, 2, 1... Jeeps!

A short while back, I noticed one of the new green Jeep travel bug icons next to a local cache listing on one of my regular pocket queries. I made a mental note to go out and find that cache on my way home from work that day. However, by the time I actually finished my work and could go home, I checked the pocket query to see if the Jeep was still there and noticed two more Jeeps in another nearby cache. This time there was a new 2006 green Jeep and also a 2005 white Jeep. I went home, grabbed my GPS and some good swag including a couple of new movie DVDs (I wanted to trade fairly considering I was planning on snagging all three jeeps), and dashed out the door with my 3-yo daughter behind me to find these three jeeps in two caches. Success!

I managed to come home with two green 2006 Jeeps and one white 2005 Jeep, but the fun didn't stop there! After putting the girls to bed and sitting down on the computer to log these exciting finds, I ran the same PQ expecting to see the same three Jeeps and noticed one more green Jeep pop up on the list. I couldn't resist finding 4 Jeeps in 1 night, so I grabbed my GPS, another DVD, and my headlamp flashlight and dashed out the door again! I ended up approaching this cache from the worst possible way and spent just over an hour getting to the wrong location and back again before I finally found the cache and my 4th Jeep TB for the night!

4 Jeeps at
3 Caches in
2 Hours on
1 Day

4, 3, 2, 1... Jeeps!!!

A few days later, I met another cacher, LifeonEdge, at another nearby cache and we swapped two of my green Jeeps for one of his green Jeeps and a yellow 2004 Jeep. Now, I have in my hands a yellow 2004, a white 2005, and two green 2006 Jeep TBs ready to be distributed! I think I'll plan a meet-n-greet event soon and distribute them that way once I complete the 2006 Jeep's missions.

Friday, September 15, 2006

PodCacher Ultimate Motivational Primer

Sonny and Sandy at have created a really great 2 minute audio file designed to pump you up and get you ready to go caching!

Check out The Caching PUMP!