"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.