January 31, 2010

Finding Old Caches

As geocaching.com approaches it's 10th anniversary, it seems fitting that I've gained a renewed interest in finding old caches. By old, I mean caches that were the first treasures hidden in their respective cities/counties/regions/states/countries.

As you probably know, the very first cache ever hidden was done so by Dave Ulmer near Portland, Oregon on May 3, 2000. Of course, this happened before geocaching.com existed, although a cache listing was eventually created for it after the fact. That original cache is long gone, but there is a commemorative cache placed in its honor called, Original Stash Tribute Plaque.

There are also a number of great bookmark lists of old caches available. For example, this one lists the first 100 caches ever hidden.

A few weeks ago, a caching buddy of mine and I went after the oldest cache in our home county of Contra Costa, in California. The cache, named "Survival Cache", was hidden on 12/29/2000 by Mark and James in a remote open space area in eastern Contra Costa County. What was nice about this cache, is that the original log is still in the cache container, so you can see who the very first finders were.

You think this would have satisfied our need to find old caches, but instead, it exacerbated it. So just the other day, we headed out to find the oldest cache in the San Francisco Bay Area, "Firestone", hidden on 10/02/2000. This one was hidden in beautiful Mt. Tamalpais State Park in Marin County, overlooking Stinson Beach and the Pacific Ocean. Yeah, I know, life is rough. A little celebration was in order after finding this oldie but goodie:

So what's next? Well, there's always the oldest cache in Northern California, and of course, the oldest cache in the State of California...

Cache On!

January 23, 2010

My Top Ten Favorite Geocaching Tweets

As regular readers of this blog know, I'm on Twitter and follow a number of other geocachers there (you can follow me at http://twitter.com/geojoe). As we all know, geocachers are a clever bunch, and those on Twitter frequently offer up some rather weird, wacky, and occasionally, humorous tweets. 
With respect for and apologies to David Lettermen, following are my top ten recent geocaching tweets spotted on Twitter:
10. @klown13 I kinda wanna do some more geocaching today.

9. @CraigInCT I'm ready for a full day of #geocaching, #letterboxing, and #waymarking tomorrow - maybe a couple of pints along the way.  

8. @Cache_Flow #Geocaching: Geo-what now?  

7. @ScarletVarlet #Geocaching is the condition with which a person may become soaked to the skin in the dark, pouring rain to be First to Find. True but True!  

6. @Texatl I'm thinking tomorrow will have to go lunchtime #geocaching We have a few caches in some seedy places around office. could be weird.  

5. @GaryPaulson Tupperware Hunters Anonymous meeting tonight.  

4. @Cache_Flow #Geocaching: GeoCache: I'm NOT Obsessed... Right?: Cold, Rainy, Lunchtime GotD Fun.  

3. @ThGoonies Should I volunteer to be Signal the frog an upcoming event?  

2. @flamingwreck Wow, Law & Order: SVU really does not understand #geocaching.  

1. @gcbot Miles walked: 3.5. Geocaches found: 4. Pairs of gloves purchased: 2. Elements survived: hail, rain. Coat: none. #geocaching #insanity ...  

For more on geocaching and Twitter, see this post.  

Cache On!

January 12, 2010

Geocaching.com Site Update

By now you have probably noticed that the entire look and feel of the geocaching.com web site changed somewhat dramatically this week. The upgrade, according to Groundspeak, was done to "modernized the site to allow us to move forward with future projects in an effort to better address the needs of our users". You can read all the details, and many early reactions from geocachers, in the release notes forum post.

My first reaction was that of annoyance over all the extra white space that now appears on the site:

This will be very hard to get used to, but it was apparently done in the name of bug fixes and other site improvements, including:

  • No longer requiring username/password to remove oneself from the email list.
  • Cache submission now defaults to 1.5 star terrain for all geocaches.
  • Fixed error in DeLorme Send to GPS when one or more of last 5 logs contain a blank line.
  • Added http://www.geocoins.ca/ and http://geocachingshop.nl/.
  • Added http://www.logicweave.com/cachestats.html.
  • Added text describing how to print an info sheet and how to transfer ownership
  • of a trackable.
  • Added proper notation to .GPX to indicate the time format used is UTC.
  • Now requiring account validation to login.
  • Made some fixes to address the mileage update issues for Trackables.
  • Updated text for Premium Membership expiration email to remove erroneous information.
  • Updated Geocaching.com logos on the Logo Usage page.
  • Added agreement checkbox to submission pages when the Earthcache type is selected.
  • Updated home page cache counter with new text and statistics covering 30 days instead of just 7.
  • Fixed issue where the time zone drop-down reverted to GMT, overwriting user’s previous settings.
  • Map now reflects coordinates accurately.
As well as many others fixes and upgrades. Still, I have a problem with the new look of the site, but I'm sure it'll grow on me over time.

Cache On!

January 9, 2010

The Numbers, Part II

In my last post, I mentioned how I really like the FindStatsGen GSAK macro that generates all sorts of pretty charts, graphs, maps and statistics based on your cache finds. This drew a comment from blog reader David, who reminded me that there are many free (my favorite word) online tools available that can produce similar results.

It has been a while since I looked at some of the web-based geocaching reporting tools out there, and indeed, many more have cropped up since then. One such tool that I recently came across that really impressed me was My Geocaching Profile. If you want to see a sample of the output, check out my latest gc profile.

For the most part, the results that this tool generates are pretty similar to what you get from FindStatsGen. But some of the differences that I like are:

  1. The inclusion of "GeoAchievement Badges"
  2. Maps of Your Progress on Challenge Caches (such as the DeLorme series)
  3. The "Well-Rounded Cacher" Progress Report

To use this online tool, all you have to do is create a free account and upload the pocket query of your caching finds. You can then upload the output result to your Geocaching.com profile.

About the only thing I didn't like was having to enter my list of FTF's, one by one. And even though you can get a few more details from the GSAK macro, My Geocaching Profile is a nice alternative, especially if you do not use GSAK.

Cache On!

January 2, 2010

It's Kind Of About The Numbers

Don't let anyone kid you, the longer you geocache, the more it becomes about the numbers. Even the staunchest non-numbers advocate can't help but be the slightest bit curious about their caching statistics. And it doesn't have to be just about the most numbers of finds in a day/month/year. Although, I admit, I do keep track of those figures too simply because if the numbers are on the rise, then it means I'm getting off the couch and outdoors more; which is all I really care about.

But there are many more statistics that can be gleaned from your cache find data. One of my favorite tools to do this is the Find Stats Generator, a GSAK macro developed by lignumaqua. Not only does FindStatsGen report the typical totals you would expect in chart and graph form, but it also provides a number of other customizable, handy and unique find-related data, including:

1. Maps of finds in countries, states and counties

2. List of milestone finds (eg. every 100th find), with a forecast date of your next milestone find.

3. Number of finds by a) miles from home, b) cache type, c) cache difficulty/terrain rating, and even d) lowest and highest elevation.

4. List of FTF's

5. And many other numbers such as these:

After you run the macro, you can even upload the result to your geocaching.com profile, as I've done. That's right, my geocaching handle is "teampipperice" (don't ask).

You can read more about Find Stats Generator and download the macro from the GSAK forums.If you don't already have a GSAK license, this macro alone makes it worth getting.

Happy 2010, and Cache On!