October 31, 2010

Happy Cache-O-Ween

Wishing you all a safe, happy, and cachetastic Halloween. There should be plenty of Halloween-themed caches and events to keep you busy today. A quick search of gc.com of keyword, "Halloween" revealed 578 such caches near me.

Try This Search to see what you come up with for your area.

And if that doesn't generate enough caches for you, try other keywords like, "spooky", "creepy", or "haunted", for example.

Cache On!

October 23, 2010


You may have heard or noticed that a new geocaching web service recently launched in the U.S., called Opencaching. According to the site's wiki page,

"The goal is to provide a higher quality cache listing service in a user friendly format with features that members of the geocaching community have requested. The main difference between opencaching and traditional listing sites is that all services are open to the users at no cost. Additionally, Opencaching sites allow users to rate and report on existing geocaches."

You can listen to an interview with Opencaching moderator, Dudley Grant, on both the PodCacher show #289.0, and on the Geocaching Podcast show #174, for a detailed discussion about what the site has to offer.

In my second post ever on this blog (I'm sure you remember), I identified some of the other geocache listing services out there, but explained that this blog would primarily focus on caches from geocaching.com, since that site has the largest database of caches and the most features. I am impressed, however, with the opencaching site (free is good, and the cache search page is excellent), but I think they have an uphill battle on their hands. 

I don't see a lot of people dropping their existing geocaching.com memberships and switching to opencaching, nor does it seem likely that new geocachers would choose opencaching over gc.com, when there are so many geocaches available through the Groundspeak site, and so few on opencaching (or the other sites like Navicache and Terracaching). That's not to say that people can't enjoy both, and initially, you might see cache owners from gc.com list their existing caches on opencaching.com too. But for now and the foreseeable future, gc.com has the advantage by way of sheer numbers:

Cache Listing Site
Total US Caches
Caches w/in 10-mile Radius of Geojoe HQ
 1,221,513 (worldwide)
 0 (3 w/in 100 mi.)
 ? (see map)

One thing worth noting, however, is that Opencaching offers many features that are currently not available or not allowed on geocaching.com, such as virtual caches and a cache rating system. Interestingly, these are some of the features that gc.com is currently considering bringing back and/or adding. Coincidence?

In spite of the relatively few caches currently available on opencaching.us, I did create an account (if, for no other reason, than to secure the user id name, "geojoe"), and will probably list some of my existing gc.com caches on the site just to see what happens. Take a look at the site and see what you think.

Cache On (and Go Giants)!

October 16, 2010

Garmin Chirp

Garmin released The Chirp yesterday, a wireless beacon device that can communicate with, and be programmed by, any compatible wireless-enabled Garmin handheld (such as the Dakota, Oregon and GPSMAP 62 and 78 series devices). Chirp can be used to store hints, multicache coordinates, count visitors and confirm the cache is nearby. 

Apparently you would use this to load cache hints and/or coordinates for stages of multi-cache, and place it inside your cache container. Then, anyone with a compatible device can access those hints and coordinates when they are within range (32 feet) of the cache. 

I'm having trouble wrapping my head around this one, as it raises a number of questions: mainly,  "Why?".  $22.95 seems like a lot of money to pay for a device that will only help a small minority of cachers who own compatible devices to not have to manually type in the coordinate pairs of a multi-cache stage. Also, it would seem that Chirps, or entire caches containing Chirps, would be much more likely to go "missing" from the field. I'd hate to have to continually replace it at 23 bucks a pop.

Maybe there's more to it than I'm seeing at first glance. If you are using a Chirp, or plan to, I'd love to hear from you. GPSFix has a pretty detailed review of the device, and even though they seem to like it, I'm still not convinced. Some of the commenter's on this GPSTracklog review are equally as skeptical. In addition, apparently Groundspeak is not approving any Chirp-only caches due to the exclusivity of the equipment required, which could be problematic for Chirp-owners.

Cache On!

October 10, 2010

Ten - Ten - Ten

Leatherman Variant of the Public Domain Geocac...Image via Wikipedia
Don't forget to find and log a cache today, as part of Groundspeak's 10th anniversary celebration/promotion on 10/10/10:

"Plan to Go Geocaching on 10-10-10 We want to see how many geocachers can go geocaching on a single day! We've chosen 10-10-10, since the date represents 10 years of geocaching and 10 years of Groundspeak in 2010. Bring your friends, bring your family, bring your worst enemy (if that's what it takes) and let's see if we can beat the previous record of 56,654 accounts logging on April 18, 2010. Even one log counts since we are counting how many accounts log a cache rather than the number of caches logged."

Judging by how incredibly slow the geocaching.com servers are running today, however, I suspect today's promotion has already been a success. You may want to wait to log your finds until later tonight.

Cache On!

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October 2, 2010

Before And After

Sorry for the late post, but I was busy collecting DeLorme rectangles last week. My buddy Rohrerboy and I spent a few days driving through the upper reaches of northwestern California. Now I see why people up here call this part of the state "the real Northern California." It's an incredibly expansive and mostly undeveloped area full of nothing but old-growth redwood trees and numerous rivers. Not to mention it being absolutely gorgeous.

The trip was a lot of fun. Among other things, we saw a herd of elk grazing by the freeway, black sand beaches, historic landmarks, and some very clever cache hides including one inside a toilet bowl in the middle of a field:

Logging My Find

When all was said and done we ended up driving 1,227 miles and finding 24 new qualifying caches for the Northern California DeLorme Challenge, 16 new qualifying caches for the Golden State DeLorme Challenge, and 6 new qualifying caches for the California County Challenge.



This was my first taste of a real geocaching road trip, and it was well worth all the work that went into. In fact, we're already planning our next trip.

Cache On!