"When you go to hide a cache, think of the reason you are bringing people to that spot.
If the only reason is for the cache, then find a better spot."
.... Briansnat


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Invisible Shield

Friends told us about Invisible Shield a number of years ago. Ali has used the material to protect the screen of her 60CsX for a few years. It's a cut above most screen protectors and really durable. Ali likes it better than the product I was buying because it cuts glare when navigating. Usually a pre-cut Invisible Shield costs about $15 for one gps. I recently spotted a three pack of sheets at the local Target for about $18. If you don't mind cutting your own template for your gps, you can save 60% of the cost of each protector. For gps units with smaller screens like the ETrex and Vista Garmins or the Magellan GC, you can cut six shields from each three-pack. From two sheets of one three-pack, I was able to cut protectors for my Vista HcX, my Magellan GC and two digital cameras.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

May all your caching dreams come true.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


We finally finished the Jasmer Challenge. We've always tried to find older caches when traveling, but the stars aligned this year, and we were able to pull off the last five months (May, June, July, August, and November).

We hoped to find three months on a trip out west in late May. Our hope for two in one day in Oregon fell by the wayside with a couple of signs posted at the edge of the forest.

Not to be deterred, we still had hopes for one grab in Washington before heading east. Snow and an avalanche at lower elevations put the hope of trying to get high enough for the Washington 2000 cache to rest.

We were able to grab an October 2000 cache on the trip west. We didn't need Iron Horse for the Jasmer, but it was an amazing hike to find a cache originally placed by Jeremy.

The middle of August brought another opportunity to grab one of the elusive months. The Spot in New York is a May 2000 beauty. It was a super cache and brought the number to four.

Our vacation in the south finished our quest. We started it off with a visit to the super cache Rock Town to claim a find for October 2000. We didn't need the month, but it was a good hike through some really big rocks. We loved the walk and the wildflowers.

Our November 2000 find came a couple days later at Yellow River Stash in Yellow River Park. It was an easy walk in the woods at a scenic park.

June of 2000 was Tour of Stone Mountain at Stone Mountain. It took hours to finish the multi. We did much of it on foot and got distracted with a bunch of other caches in the park, but enjoyed making a nice memory.

Our Jasmer journey ended successfully with two finds on Lake Lanier. Lake Lanier gave us an August 2000 cache while Marooned gave us a July 2000 find. We rented a boat with friends and spent the day island hopping and caching.

Enjoying the Journey

It was quite a journey. We logged our first year 2000 find in 2006 with State Game Lands #109, and finished with a find in each month in October of this year. We found fourteen year 2000 caches over the five-year hunt. We'll keep hunting older caches. If it wasn't winter, and I wasn't tired from work travel, we would take a road trip to Beverly to retrieve on of our travel bugs which just got dropped there. Some day...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Are Needs Maintenance Logs Still Effective?

I found a cache yesterday afternoon. It was a super location alongside a very scenic stream at the back of a little park in southeastern Pennsylvania. The coords were about 40-50 off, but it was a 50 cal ammo hiden in a strip of growth about 10 feet wide at the end of a field so the cache-o-flage made it an easy find. I was surprised to log the cache and find the cache now has a needs maintenance icon on the page. Why? Because the cacher before me couldn't find the container and decided it was missing. I guess it couldn't be their dnf. ;-)

I've seen a number of completely meaningless needs maintenance logs lately. It seems they have all sorts of uses for cachers most notably, I couldn't find the cache or the log was wet. We've been the recipient of needs maintenance logs for two of our caches that no longer had the swag in the container which we noted on the cache page.

It makes me ask the question, are these logs effective anymore? We log needs maintenance sparingly. We post about one needs maintenance log for every 300 finds or once every two to three months. Those usually come at the point where there is container damage or the log is a wet pulp that will never dry out or be signed again. We have also replaced more logs for cache owners than we've posted needs maintenance logs and replaced about as many containers.

Are these logs still effective? What do you see where you cache? Do you post needs maintenance logs?

Geo Food Mart

Note the sign in the back says they sell "Geo Gas" too. I wonder if it reduces dnf's.

I'm not so sure this rural store would sell Ali's favorite Geo Food (peanut-granola Kashi bars). I usually don't eat on the trail, but once in a while we will share a bag of gummi bears. Anyone else have a favorite Geo Food?


Okay, I've complained a lot about Garmin products in the past year. I've complained to everyone who would listen. The final straw was a dead Oregon one week before GeoWoodstock IX. I bought a Magellan GC and got on with life. Eventually the dead Oregon was returned to us from Garmin. I've spent the time since then looking critically at each of the models pictured above. They range from a 2005 vintage Legend C to the newer platform 62S. These are only the thoughts of someone with a lot of cache finds, but here they are.

Garmin Legend C: This unit is just old. It was great for it's time, but it is old. If you are on a budget, buy one of these used and a sheet of badge magic. The two will make you happy for years. It is a little weak in tree cover, but can be managed.

Garmin 60CSx: This is still a workhorse for Ali when caching. It is fast and accurate. If you travel a lot or are in a cache-rich area, 1000 caches will be a pain for heavy users. If not, you'll have to deal with the lack of a paperless feature, but it is a rock solid cache hunter. Ali's has been around so long the hard rubber casing is wearing through.

Garmin Vista HCx: This is still my favorite gps. I really like the small size. It fits easily in my hand and works wonderfully for routing with City Navigator loaded. It's not quite as good as a 60CSx in heavy tree cover; it lacks paperless capabilities, only holds 1000 caches; and you will eventually need Badge Magic. All that said the unit is rock solid and stable. Like the 60CSx, it is very easy to load using GSAK. I also think it is a super unit in close to a cache.

Oregon 450: The rebuilt unit has been around now for about 600 finds. So far it has been more dependable than the two previous Oregons which were returned to Garmin. The unit was returned with a firmware update which now permits loading of next stages when hunting multicaches without loading as an additional waypoint. That sounds minor, but it was a super improvement. I routinely load 2200 caches. The paperless system works well. The second returned defective unit had stopped functioning with whereigo cartridges, but this one has worked well for the few we've searched since its return. It is a little slower to respond on the trail than the 60CSx or the Vista HCx, but it is accurate. All that's a big improvement over the two failed Oregons, BUT the screen on this unit is horrendously dim. I had heard complaints from other cachers regarding difficulties reading their Oregons in daylight. The older defective unit was bright enough for use under all conditions. Not this returned unit. It is virtually impossible to see under some conditions. Why can't Garmin's products be consistent? If the screen were readable in all conditions, this would be an easy review to write.

Garmin 62ST: I've taken to calling this thing the expensive PDA. It has a really nasty habit of locking up when being used for caching. I think it is called stickiness in some forums. Since it can't be trusted to behave, Ali drags it along on the trail for its paperless feature, but caches with her 60CSx. If she needs to read the cache page, she'll check this thing, but otherwise, it just weighs her down on the trail. When she does use it and when it doesn't lock up, it always seems to be the slowest Garmin to respond. I know she was hoping for this to be a replacement for her 60CSx and a path to get rid of the old PDA's, but it's been a disappointment. I've used it a couple of times to hunt a cache. In general I hop out of the geomobile, get close to the cache location, and use my geosense while it settles down. It usually doesn't figure in the smiley.

Magellan GC: This unit is easy to sum up, 10000 caches and cache pages loaded at less than $150. The screen is small, but brightly lit and legible. The base maps work well. The downside is it seems to be the slowest of all the units to respond. It is easy to walk past a cache, then need to return and wait for the unit to settle. It is also difficult to use when adding waypoints for multis and puzzles, but the Magellan rep at ASP Geobash said that feature was going to be added with a firmware update in late 2012. If so, the unit will only get stronger. The Magelllan rep also note I am missing a few firmware updates which will greatly enhance the features and performance of the unit. The basics of the unit are really easy to master. It's paperless pages are designed so the user can see the size of an upcoming cache very quickly and tell at a glance if there have been any recent dnf's.

So which is the winner? For our uses, none really. The 60CSx, Vista HCx, and Magellan GC all do multiple things well, but all lack some key ingredient to be the clear winner. The refurbished Oregon and 62S have such major flaws that they don't show up in the pack. In the end, I expect to buy a car navigation unit to mate with the Magellan GC when the Vista HCx finally wears out.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ms. Wonderful

Ali doesn't trade or keep much swag. She'll trade for a foreign coin or an interesting stamp once in a while, and she's traded for a few arts/craft pieces made by friends. A few days ago she found a piece of swag that joined our troop immediately. Ms Wonderful is a talking doll. She comes pre-loaded with a host of catchy phrases including,

"Don't feel bad honey. I forgot it was our anniversary too."

"Your right. We don't need directions. Maybe we'll find a short-cut."

She was way too happy to add Ms. Wonderful to the team. I think Ali wishes she could add a few other phrases like:

"I agree. There was no need to load additional waypoints. It was more important to have 2000 caches loaded."

"We don't need breakfast. I'd much rather hunt the new guardrail powertrail."

And Ali's favorite, "You're right honey. Planning a caching route is for sissies."

Welcome to the miatabug team, Ms. Wonderful. Other suggestions for new caching phrases for Ms. Wonderful are always welcome in the comments section.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Our First Challenge Find

We completed our first challenge find yesterday. We completed the Take a Hike Challenge at Watkins Glen State Park. Although New York State Parks allow geocaches, there are no caches along the relatively dangerous gorge trail so it was a perfect place to enjoy a hike and claim a smiley. This is the photo we posted for the challenge.

There are a few items about the logging and challenge page that I wish would be changed. First, I am disappointed the image above didn't get added to our gallery. It's my image and my memory. I also wish I could add more than one photo to the completed it log. The park is beautiful, and I like to post images of our adventures. Lastly, I wish the image bar at the top showing photos posted by people completing the challenge would link to the log by that cacher. I have visited a lot of places based on the wonderful photos posted by other cachers.

We'll keep looking for challenges to accept and complete. I hope this is successful.

These are a couple other photos I would have posted if the page allowed.

GeoWoodstock Swag Sale

If you want to buy some trackable swag at a great price, now is the time to buy some of the GeoWoodstock swag that was not sold at the event last month. There are limited items of most goods that were sold at the event with the exception of the pathtag set. These are all sold out. You can still buy some quantities of the official geocoin, the bear and eagle cachekinz, and the event lanyard with the event pathtag. There are also some trackable shirts, lanyards, and USB drives.

This is a chance to buy some great swag at a reasonable price and do some good by helping the GeoWoodstock IX Committee convert the items back to cash so they can close the account. If your interested, please contact Wes of kcepenn at wes.kce@eaglezip.net

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Triad

We were all hyped that the chance had finally come to do the Triad. The opportunity to visit the Lily Pad, the location of the original hide, and find the APE cache was exciting. The thought we could tie a few vacation days together with a business trip was great too. Although I am a regular visitor to Washington, Ali hadn't been there in years. Neither of us had ever been to Oregon.

We started our journey in Seattle. A couple of days in a town like this never seems to scratch the surface. I've always heard about the rain there and was blown away by the mostly amazing weather we had. We spent the morning doing some caching around Seattle and had an afternoon visit planned to Groundspeak. Our visit was awesome. We have spent so long as reviewers that we forgot a lot of the things we were going to do (take lots of photos, trade items, leave some trackables, visit the photo booth). Instead we just spent time with people who have come to be our friends.

The "cache"

We had to be in Portland, Oregon by the evening but got to visit the area around the Lily Pad before our journey continued. We county hopped our way to Oregon with a nice detour to walk around Tacoma.

Our second Triad stop was Thursday at the Original Stash location. For both of us, this was a bit of a yawn. The words cache and dash best describe it. The road to the cache is filled with park and grabs too. Historically its cool, but the weakest of the three stops.

We were both also distracted at the thought of grabbing Oregon's two oldest caches. Since we chase old caches these were the perfect fit for us. It also helped that they were hiking caches in the woods and two months we need for the Jasmer Challenge. The caches are on National Forest service lands, but are accessed through private roads. We had not anticipated the sign at the gate near the start of the private road which read, Closed to Public Entry May 2, 2011. We called the number to see if the restriction had been lifted but the recording said no car access yet. We hadn't planned for the 18-mile version of this cache hunt. Sadly, we turned away and moved on.

We regrouped at enjoyed a super afternoon at Salmon River. Mount Hood and the river were gorgeous.

By the time Saturday rolled in we were both eager to head for Snoqualmie to hunt the A.P.E. cache and the last stage of the Triad. This trail, the A.P.E. cache and all the surrounding caches were all we expected and then some. It was in the 40's and raining with lots of snow still on the ground and raging streams from the snow melt. It was an awesome day on the trail.

miatabug at the APE Cache.

Since it has been muggled, I guess the spoiler won't matter.

It is strange to think we were one of the last finders of the Triad... maybe the last. It's too bad someone saw fit to steal so many caches from this area. We had a great time. The area is stunning. Hopefully, we will be able to return and claim a find on the replacement cache as well as making it to Lake Annette.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Benchmark #200 - TIDAL 112

It took us 4 years to find our second 100 benchmarks, but we did it in Tacoma, Washington. I knew part of the old city hall structure was a benchmark (it's the roof of the clock tower). What I did not know was there was a tidal disk on the building. We took some photos of actual building (which is a nice structure) and crossed the street to see if it was on the National Register. While there one of us noticed the disk which became benchmark #200. I know 100 in four years is only 25 a year, but that's almost a benchmark every other week. Hopefully, #300 will be quicker.

It Was Bound To Happen...

We lost a travel bug . We've moved over a thousand trackables, and we knew sooner or later something would happen. Still we felt terrible. We were caching in Medina and picked up our first Gecko from our second last find. It was with us at the parking lot. We grabbed one last find and were on our way home when I gathered the other bugs to place in my camera bag. Oops, where's the Gecko? We stopped and checked the geomobile, no luck. I checked again when we got home, no luck. The next day I went back to the two parks where we picked up the Gecko and our last find, no luck. The Gecko is gone. The owner was great about the loss, but we're still sad the Gecko never got to explore many caches.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Garmin Oregon Dies Again....

One week before GeoWoodstock, the Garmin Oregon has tanked again. The unit managed about 500 finds before it died this time. The first time it died during a firmware update. This time it won't start with the Garmin start screen blinking on and off. This $400+ piece of junk has broken twice in about 1,000 finds and is a sad showing for the company that was for so long the premier handheld gps for geocachers. Maybe if Garmin stopped spending resources on an outdated, retro geocaching platform to compete with Geocaching.com, they could spend resources fixing the nagging problems with their latest handheld platform. I will be purchasing a different brand this weekend. Garmin should hang its head for chasing a nine-year customer to a different brand.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Bang, Bang! Snip, Snip!

If you're attending GeoWoodstock, you'll notice a cache in the area called Bang, Bang! Snip, Snip! It seemed completely appropriate for a barber shop/outdoor store. The photo below from outside the business says it all. Please note, this place is the social hot spot of Youngsville on Saturday mornings.

We hope to see you at GeoWoodstock.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Find Me... the Movie

This movie with a geocaching twist came and went a while ago, but we were out caching recently and found a cache with a log book from the movie. Old timers (like me) will remember when matchbooks were shaped like this Hmmm... maybe they still are. I don't get out much anymore. It was an interesting log book.

Monday, May 30, 2011

New State

We added Oregon to our state totals two weeks ago. We were able to find a cache, find a benchmark, visit a waymark, and post a new waymark. It was a fun trip. We did the original stash, but really enjoyed our time along Salmon Creek in view of Mount Hood. Portland was a fun town to Waymark. Our lone benchmark was cheap. It was the dome of the Pioneer Courthouse and a lousy photo as well. I was too tired to plan for benchmark hunting or we would have visited some nice marks.

This brings us to 25 states with caches found; 13 states with benchmarks; posted waymarks in 24 states; and visited waymarks in 26 states. Its time to add a few license plates to our profile page.

Along Salmon Creek with good caches and a super view of Mount Hood

Pioneer Courthouse Dome... it really was a cheap benchmark find. The building is beautiful, but not very accessible to visitors. :-(

Portland art sculpture PoD visited as a Smithsonian Art Inventory category item

The bike tenders at Powell's Books in downtown Portland. The book spine bike tenders were creative and used. Any bookstore with over 1 1/2 million titles in stock is a mecca to book junkies like us.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Badge Magic

I really like Garmin E-Trex units. The size is perfect for holding in my hand, and they are easy to use. Eventually they all have one big problem, the band on the edge gets loose and will eventually come off the unit. Using a wide rubber band, I have taken preventive action with both my Vista HCx and my very old Legend C, my Waymarking gps.

A while back a fellow local cacher had mentioned Badge Magic as a means to re-attach bands. Some scouts use Badge Magic to attach badges to their uniforms. We were recently at a local store hunting for ammo cans when I noticed they had a scout section and asked if they had Badge Magic. I was a bit surprised to see it was a sheet of adhesive.

The Legend C was in poor shape with the band loose on both long sides. Without the rubber-band, it would have failed a long time ago. The good news is Badge Magic worked perfectly! The band is now snug and ready for some Waymarking.