Monday, August 15, 2011

Tag Updates

My apologies if your email or RSS subscriptions have been flooded with updates today.  Ever since I changed this site over to the newer style Blogger template that includes labels, I haven't gone through to update all of my old posts until today.  All of my posts should now be properly tagged with the Blogger labels.

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. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Blog Fade, Cache Fade, and Resurrection - Part 3

In the final part of this "blog fade" series of posts, I want to share with you about an exciting new service that I've integrated into the individual posts of this site - Readability.  A few weeks ago - on January 29, 2011 to be exact - the team at Arc90 released the new version of the Readability service.  Previously, Readability was a little browser bookmarklet that stripped away all the cruft from a website leaving just the text behind - almost like a print-preview if you will.  Now, the service from Readability does that and so much more!

From their website (
Read comfortably — anytime, anywhere.

Readability turns any web page into a comfortable reading view right in your web browser. Too busy to read right then and there? Readability makes it simple to save your favorite articles for reading later.

Readability works on all major phones and tablets. It detects your device and optimizes your reading view for maximum comfort.

As a Readability subscriber, you’ll be a part of something bigger: a sustainable publishing ecosystem. Here’s how it works: every time you use Readability on a particular article, a portion of your subscription fees go right to the content creators. You get a fantastic reading experience. Publishers and writers get compensated for the content you enjoy. Everyone reads happily ever after.

Arc90 is also working with Marco Arment (founder of one of my favorite web services - Instapaper) to create a Readability app for iOS devices.  In addition to creating the app, Marco is an advisor for Arc90 about the Readability service so you know it will be good.  You can read Marco's blog post about his involvement with Readability here,

In order to make it easy for you to use Readability, I've discretely added the Readability button underneath the post header for all individual posts and pages.  Since Readability isn't designed to work on main collection pages, the main page of this blog will not contain Readability links.  So if you want to try out Readability, click on the the title of any blog post to visit that individual article.  Then simply click on "Read: Now" to see that article optimized for your reading pleasure by Readability.  If you like it, consider joining to support future development of the service and to support content creators - including me!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Blog Fade, Cache Fade, and Resurrection - Part 2

In the time since my first post in 2005, blogging technology has changed dramatically, so it was time that this site change as well.  In part two of this post, I want to briefly share what is new and different on this site before I return you to your regular geocaching programming. 

For those who might not know or remember what this site looked like before - and I'm not so vain to assume that you do - this site used a somewhat customized version of the Rounders 3 template provided in the old template library in pre-2008 Blogger.  

The old blue/green/tan template worked well for a number of years.  But it was not widget-based, so any customizations including side-bar changes required direct editing of the main template file itself.  To work around this limitation, I used multiple embedded JSON feeds from ( back then) to display both the popular posts list, tag-based categories, and the other blogroll-type lists on the page.  At the time, this was a fairly unique use of social bookmarking.  Now, it is just old and kludgy.

The new site uses a version of the Picture Window theme built from the Blogger Theme Designer that was customized slightly for my personal use.  It is widget-based and allows me to reorganize and rearrange the sections of this blog simply by dragging-and-dropping.  It uses Blogger's built-in (powered by Google) search, popular posts lists, list of followers, and category labels.

The old site contained Google Adwords at the top of each and every post.  The new site doesn't.  I still use Google Adwords, but never within the posts themselves.  They are limited to the small gap between posts and only appear after every 3rd post.

I also changed the manually-coded sharing/subscribe section to use a customized widget from  This new "Bookmark and Share" section displays popular sharing/bookmarking options that are unique to each visitor based on the sites and services that each visitor has used recently.  All visitors will see the GoogleFacebook, Twitter, Instapaper, and Evernote buttons [my personal fave five], but the rest could differ for each visitor.  For example, if visitor "A" normally shares links on Digg, that button will appear higher in the list.  If visitor "B" normally shares links on Tumblr, that button will appear higher in the list.  If visitor "C" normally bookmarks links on Diigo, that button will appear higher in the list.  Altogether there are over 300 various bookmarking and sharing services available to users that can be accessed under the last AddThis button.  So regardless of where you like to share or bookmark links, you can now do so quickly and easily!

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!