I recently spotted my first Rotolog in a geocache in North Carolina. I think this is the best logbook design I have seen. Unfortunately, it is a German product and does not appear to be readily available in the US. Gone Cachin' used to sell the product, but they do not appear to be taking orders any longer. It does appear to be available through Amazon.
We have found many fake log geocaches. Ironically, one of the first we found, Just Another Log To Sign, placed by Pirate & Crafty in the Allegheny National Forest in 2005 was one of the best.
We recently were fortunate to find another of these hides which really stands out for the design of the container.
With the drawer turned away from the seeker, the hide is extremely tough to spot. Good coordinates helped us with the find. It was a fun stop on a good day in the woods.
It doesn't matter where I am or what the season. The site of an ammo can on the trail with a log book brightens my day. The days are getting short and the weather can be gloomy so now is a good time to go out and find an ammo can in the woods. Think of it as a wellness program.
We recently enjoyed a short vacation in Texas and Oklahoma. Our main goals were to visit and hike the LBJ Grasslands and Wichita Mountains. We enjoyed both. We were also able to add another virtual extreme to our cache finds when we visited the world's littlest skyscraper in Wichita Falls.
Whoa, that's four floors shooting upward toward the clouds!
The Newman-McMahon Building was built in 1919 after cash was raised from investors to build a 146m tall building or so the investors believed. What they really invested in was the 14.6m tall building shown above. Yes, it was a scam created by a local oilman. At 146m, the building would have been 40% of the height of the Empire State Building. In the low skyline of Wichita Falls this four story building would still give a great view of the town, but it appears to be used for retail.
This wasn't our first virtual at a little place with big plans. We also enjoyed visiting the world's smallest park in Portland.
Mills End Park was another fun stop on our too brief visit to Portland in 2011.
I am happy to see virtuals have returned for at least one encore. Like all of caching, they were a mixed bag of good and uninspired, but many like the two above give us a reason to visit fun, quirky places we haven't seen and wouldn't see except by sheer luck. We have been lucky to be awarded one of the new ones to locate. Our biggest issue so far has been deciding which of the out of the way places we want to share with only one winner possible.
Yes, it exists. We were hiking in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge (beautiful area) and got off at an exit marked cache. After the day's hiking was over we passed by the highway and made our way into cache to see the town. It's a lot bigger than I expected, but lacks any grocery store. For decades it was home to a popular amusement park. The park closed in 1985 when insurance became too much to remain profitable. We didn't actually find any caches in Cache since we don't load micros when on vacation. The town is populated with micros. Does anyone remember when a nice community park would have a small or a regular Tupperware-like container? We enjoyed our brief visit to Cache, Oklahoma.
We've been caching long enough to remember when many cachers had recognizable signature items they left behind in caches. Many were designed and hand made by the cachers. They were quite creative and for a time very collectible. We see few of these among the caches we find now. I was surprised to see a new sig item placed by a local caching couple, CLE Caching Couple in a newer cache. The sig item is a wire formed into the shape of a puzzle piece. It is fitting as a sig item since they are avid solvers and finders of puzzle caches.
Despite the game's popularity, the geocaching community is a small one. So when we see a vehicle it seems natural to think we must know them. We were on our way to an afternoon caching between Elk and Clearfield counties when we spotted this rv trailer in front of us at an intersection on Route 62. With its four-color geocaching sticker, we immediately noticed the trailer. The ASPGB sticker also meant we had probably both been to the ASP Geobash together at some time or another. The ANF sticker meant these cachers had possible found one of our ANF hides. Alas, the vehicle turned toward the Kinzua dam and away from our path east. We could only guess the occupants were making their way back from GeoWoodstock in North Carolina. Geocaching can make the world smaller.
We recently had the opportunity to find another library cache. I always enjoy these hides and will go out of my way to find them. This one had a twist which included solving a five panel sudoku retrieve the coordinates for the first stage which led to the final. It was fun and will certainly earn a favorite once we finally log our find.
The containers for library caches are almost always large enough for dropping travel bugs. We left a Dream Big promotional trackable and an unactivated Volunteer trackable for the next finder.
Maybe so if Knightscope has its way. The Silicon valley company has developed a mobile security robot for both indoor and outdoor patrols.
The article notes the robots aren't armed (yet) so they just provide video and utter metallic voice commands. I can hear it now in a metallic robot voice saying "STEP AWAY FROM THE LIGHTPOST." or maybe "DROP THE SKIRT NOW."
This one appears to be ready to apprehend hunters of a micro hidden on an unknown parking garage floor.
Uh oh... this pair has already heard of LPC's. Could it be they are caching converts? ;)
So far, it appears the K5 has only been rented to companies and stores in the Silicon Velley area. I'm not so sure they will be effective where there is snow or ice.
They appear to have a bit of an updated Dalek look to me. ;)
We've been seeing a number of plastic ammo cans in the woods as cache containers. In December, Harbor Freight began offering one variety for $4.99 at their stores. I bought two and decided to see if the inside would stay dry during a NE Ohio winter.
After two months in a meek and mild winter, the answer was no. The ammo can had a small puddle of water on the floor and condensation on the inside of the lid.
The containers are still heavy gage and could serve well in a sheltered place like under a rock shelf. I plan to remove the gasket from one and use it as double gasket to see if that closes out the water. One user on the Harbor Freight site also said a bead of silicone provided a more compressible gasket and water-tight gasket. We will see how those experiments work. I really want one of these to be dry enough for a puzzle cache or two with combo locks. :)
I really don't like the "free" app. I don't find it user-friendly. It is certainly not intuitive.
It would be nice if someone instructed the developers that...
- There is NO MEDIUM size in geocaching. How about calling it a REGULAR? I know it's two more syllables, but try it.
- RECENT LOGS is a common-sense term for most users. ACTIVITY is not.
- Is it really impossible to add a second digit to the right of the decimal point for users not stopping in parking lots or by guardrails?
It seems the company has a never-ending drive to attract some mythical outdoorsy, hipster customer base no matter how much the existing customers are alienated. I see very few of that demographic group entering the game and staying. Free smart phone aps seem to be throwaways. After seventeen years is that where geocaching is headed? The game isn't unknown anymore and doesn't attract a buzz. It will never go viral. Those days have passed.
It will take hard, focused efforts to KEEP THE EXISTING, LOYAL CUSTOMERS and attract new loyal customers. Replacing a functioning, popular app with a free, less user-friendly app will not keep loyal customers.
I'm not sure what I will do. I have used the company's app because it was the right thing to do. I paid for it willingly. I am thrilled I still use my gps for the vast majority of geocaching and happy to have a spare, but it was great to be able to stop at a rest stop outside the area loaded in my gps and see on the app there was a happy bonus find in the rest area. I guess it is time to download c:geo to see if it meets my needs.
Beyond that, I am feeling like the company no longer cares if I am a customer. Have I gotten too old? Does my traffic to the site matter less than someone from another demographic? Am I too old fashioned because I like to find regular-sized caches in the woods? I understand an app user creates more site traffic than a traditional gps user, but gps users are loyal. They have invested money in the game.
I was unhappy to see Geocaching Challenges killed before they had a chance to grow and mature. I haven't Waymarked for years because it seems like an abandoned game left to wither. I was sad to see the heart carved out of Challenge Caches. To me, it was a clear call that the game was being driven by some other consumer segment of which I am not a part. I've been caching for nearly thirteen years. I expect if I am still walking this earth to be caching for another thirteen. That is more loyalty than the site can begin to expect from the next 100,000 smart phone app downloads, but they leave me feeling like a take it or leave it customer.
The good news is when I stop geocaching, there will still be trails to hike with mountains, flowers, birds, animals, and rivers to see. I don't need the game as much as it needs me.
Just keep telling yourself it can be done. There are days when a micro in a parking lot can be a great way to take a break from everything else in your day, but they are all the same and don't give many good reasons to cache. Guardrails, lamp posts and big box stores all look alike. Who knows what adventure might be on a trail at a local park or what interesting part of history might be at a nearby cemetery. We started only non-micro caches on our vacation to Minnesota. We got to see so much more than stopping for quick roadside micros.
It has been about ten years since my first allergic reaction to deet. It was swift and brutal leaving me with a crushing headache. I've been exposed enough times since then to know my body has no tolerance of the chemical. Each encounter has been very bad. On a recent visit to Florida, we found an alternative to Deet-based mosquito repellents in a product called No Natz. It worked well, lasted for a long time before re-application was required and gave me no headaches. :)
We were caching along the Tamiami Trail near sunset when we suddenly being stalked by a drone. It was clearly following us at very close range and there was no one else around. At Ali's request I held back from my desired reaction of taking the drone down with a hefty thrown rock, but still feel the behavior was intrusive. It was on a public trail so there was no question of our trespassing. I hope this isn't some new strange form of stalking. The next time, I will take the privacy invading machine out of existence.
Despite the privacy invading jerk, we found the cache and enjoyed the super bright snow moon rise on the last evening of our Florida vacation.
We started our 12th year of geocaching at Hatch Run in Pennsylvania. Phineas the Geobeagle started the new year by slipping his leash at Hatch Run and sending us on a multi-mile chase through the woods and across icy cold streams.
Phin came home after a neighbor to Hatch Run called us about 2am. His condition was much less worse than his blood covered coat his kind rescuer found him wearing. Life is never boring, or quiet, with a beagle.
After Phin had time to rest and recover, we took advantage of a very mild winter to begin the Stark Parks GeoTour. It was relatively easy winter caching with plenty of trail time and finds.
The mild winter continued into February and allowed us the opportunity to visit some nice rock caches while I was burning a personal day I was about to lose at the office.
I made my first trip of the year to Spokane and was able to find a few Spokane GeoTour caches after work. The winter in Eastern Washington was also mild.
The March caching in Tulsa was easy with spring blossoms on the trees during my visit.
We found our 14,000th cache in Elk County Pennsylvania.
In April, we cached through some of the season's deepest snow in the ANF.
I finished the Spokane GeoTour at the end of the month and made a first longer hike at Iller Rocks on a spring evening.
In May, we spent a very wet day with friends at the ASP GeoBash in New York.
We spent back-to-back days exploring Medina County as we completed the county's GeoTrail.
I took advantage of the latest sunsets of the year on a business trip to hike for an old cache at Keystone Lake near Tulsa.
We spent the 4th of July holiday time with visits to Sinnemahoning State Park and Shaggers Inn Pond where we were treated to seeing a nesting pair of ospreys on the water.
We spent a surprisingly enjoyable vacation exploring southern Ohio. Despite more than a little rain we enjoyed the sights and the areas and spotted our first five-lined skinks and their blue tales.
The trip was also filled with butterflies.
We also made a return visit to Mound City. It had been years since we last visited. This time there are geocaches there. :)
August was one of our most non-caching months ever as Ali spent the month managing the crews brought in to restore the exterior of our 1850 home. In car terms it was more of a resto-mod with some modern upgrades, but her efforts were well worth a nearly month-long hiatus from geocaching.
We were a little more active on the geocaching trails in September enjoying a late summer return to Hatch Run. Phineas stayed on his leash for this visit.
Sunsets were still late enough for me to hunt a few older Ranger Rick caches after work on my last business trip to Spokane.
Ali joined me in October for a business trip to Tulsa. We drove over the weekend through Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and used my travel day to make the last of the journey through Kansas and into Oklahoma. Our return trip home included brief visits to Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky.
While in Missouri, we visited our third section of the Berlin Wall while geocaching.
Sunset was fading as we stopped by the Kansas homestead of the Ingalls family. Ali hoped for a return visit when the buildings were open, but they have limited days. Hopefully we can reverse the trip on another journey
We stopped for a cache and a visit to this attractive old mill in Arkansas.
Our last big stop was Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. It was a super way to top the trip.
We didn't really expect to make a trip to Arizona in November. I try to have a member of my team visit a safety conference for molten aluminum every other year since many of our employees are on site at these locations each year. This year's conference was in Phoenix so I made time to make the trip. Ali joined me.
Phoenix was hot which made me very happy. Two visits to South Mountain Park gave me the opportunity to warm my bones and prepare for the inevitable Great Lakes cold. We were lucky to be in the desert at South Mountain as the Super Moon rose for the evening.
As much as I enjoyed the heat and the hiking at South Mountain, our visit to the Grand Canyon was awesome. Words and pictures cannot describe the sights of three days on the trail.
Winter weather and short days returned to the Great Lakes in force by December. Our caching was restricted to quicker finds until we reached the holidays.
Since geocaching is now all about the numbers, souvenirs.... I guess this post should include a few of them as well. We were hoping for 15,000 finds by the end of the year. We won't make that goal. I have no idea of how many we will still need because I am still logging July finds, but it seems we are around 14,850. A few years ago we had decided we had seen enough light posts and guard rails and began restricting our micro hunts. It worked as we now have many more regulars than micros and will soon have more smalls.
Being more selective continues to boost our difficulty and terrain ratings. We are up to 1.82 for terrain. We missed our double fizzy this year with two open squares remaining. We have six spots remaining for a triple fizzy.
We are now at 37 states with caches found. Alaska and Hawaii are looming nearer. The good thing as we get closer to finds in 50 states is all the amazing states still waiting for visits. New Mexico, Utah, the Dakotas, and Colorado are still there for visits. Nevada brings the promise of maybe a trip to the northern rim of the Grand Canyon. Louisiana and Mississippi are waiting as possible birding adventures along the Gulf Coast. It's been years since I visited Iowa, Nebraska, and Wyoming. There's so much to see still and ever fewer years...
2017 will be a decision point for me as a reviewer. I'm in my tenth year of reviewing and starting to wish for the chance to garden again. My career is busier than ever and I find myself reviewing more and more geocaches which hold no interest for me as a reviewer. I also can't remember the last time we got out of the house on the weekend or a holiday or left the motel on a vacation day before noon or later when the reviewing was done. I've met all the reviewing goals I had with the exception of reviewing ten years. The next few months will see. If the end is near, I will mostly miss the reviewer panels and getting to know so many great people.
Go out and find a cache to toast the new year. They are out there waiting for you. Try turning off the micros and maybe even the smalls and go for a walk to hunt a nearby ammo can or tupperware. Better yet, head out with a snap lock or a clean peanut butter container and place a new hide for others to find.
Happy New Year! May your geocaching memories in the coming year be many and may your DNF's be few.