February 9, 2014

Google Maps Engine

I started playing around with Google Maps Engine to see if it provides a nice environment for creating and storing cache information in an online mapping tool. Spoiler alert: it does.

While meant more for business use, you can also use the Map Engines Lite version for free. It's a great way to create and share your own personalized maps.

In the example below, I used GSAK to export a CSV file containing a filtered list of the most difficult caches (D/T rating > 4.0/4.0) in my neck of the woods. Then I simply imported that file into my GME account, and presto, a share-able, customizable map.

Cache On!

December 7, 2013

Locus Map - Android GPS App.

I had recently read a raving review about an Android mapping application called, Locus Map, and decided to check it out. It comes in two versions: Free and Pro. The Pro version costs $8.27 (as of this writing), and offers a wealth of features not available in the free version. What I found really impressive was the number of background maps that are available, both for online and offline use - over 20; although most of them are eastern European maps. But the one map I really liked was the USGS topo map, as it, of course, includes trails.

Even though this app. is primarily built as a GPS navigation tool, I was really only interested in testing out the geocaching features. The app. did a great job of pulling caches live from geocaching.com and displaying them over the topo map background. It also allows you to save the geocache information to your device's memory, either from the live screen, or even from your downloaded pocket queries; which is handy in case you find yourself outside of cell range.

My only complaint is that the free version does not allow you to upload your field notes to geocaching.com - you have to fork out the money for the Pro version in order to enable that feature. And since that is primarily what I use my device for when I'm caching (since I have a separate Garmin GPS device for cache navigation), I find myself sticking with c:geo for most of my geocaching adventures. But for people who hunt caches primarily with their Android phones, this may be the ideal app.

Cache On!

October 26, 2013

Where Has The Time Gone?

Today marks the 10th anniversary of my very first cache find. It seems like it was just yesterday when I loaded that cache's coordinates into my Garmin GPS 12 and headed out with my daughters on our bikes in search of our first cache.

But at the same time, it's amazing how much has changed in the geocaching world since then. The biggest change, of course, being the smartphone revolution with their built-in GPS's, and the development of various geocaching iOS and Android apps that can show you which caches are near you anytime, anywhere.

Back in the day, I used a program called, "EasyGPS" to load waypoints downloaded from geocaching.com into my Garmin device. And I used "Cachemate" to load the cache information into my Palm Pilot (remember those?). How archaic was that?

Not only has the technology changed dramatically in 10 years, but so have my caching habits. I started out caching with my kids, who loved geocaching at first, but as they got older, decided it was too dorky. See photo above, taken at our first find. Now they are young adults, and rarely have time to go caching with their old man.

So for several years after my daughters stopped caching, I did a lot of solo caching, cleaning out all the caches in and around my home base. More recently, my habits changed again, and I've been caching regularly with friends I've made along the way, and now rarely cache alone. We've also expanded our search radius, so to speak, covering thousands of miles on numerous road trips in attempts to complete various challenge caches (Quads, Counties, DeLormes, etc.).

In all this time, I've found 3,237 caches, which amounts to close to an average of one find per day. And the good news is, I still find caching as fun and enjoyable now as I did 10 years ago.

Cache On!

October 19, 2013

Tread Lightly

At the risk of sounding a little preachy, I thought it was worth sharing these excellent tips for responsible geocaching from the good folks at treadlightly.org.

A lot of this is just common sense, but there are some good tips to help geocachers leave minimal impact out on the trails and in the wilderness, as well as some useful personal safety tips. Of course, these tips don't necessarily apply to urban caching, so go nuts when looking for those LPC's.

Cache On!

October 5, 2013

Garmin Oregon 650t GPS Review

People often ask, "Why can't my GPS receiver be more like my smartphone?". Well, according to Sportsman's News Television, now it can; with the new Garmin Oregon 650t GPS:



Just be aware that when the reviewer talks about downloading caches directly from the internet, he is most likely referring to Garmin's "OpenCaching" site rather than geocaching.com.

Cache On!

August 24, 2013

Geocaching Day on NPR

You know your once-obscure hobby has hit the big time when this happens:


Cache On!

August 10, 2013

No-Touching Zone

Here's an opportunity to take a 5 minute break from trying to find a cache every day this month, and take some comfort in just just how difficult it was to navigate in the 1800's without a GPS; compared to how easy we've got it now:


Cache On!