Use Vehicle Placard for Safety when Geocaching

October 12, 2014 at 5:26 pm (Geocaching, Personal, safety, security) (, , , )

I’m just putting out a little Public Service Announcement (PSA) today to encourage safety while geocaching.  Every year, we hear a couple of stories about folks who went geocaching and got lost or injured, and while things generally turn out ok, there are a few things one can do to ensure a happy ending to their day.  It’s mostly common sense, but crazy things still happen.  You don’t want to be one of the Darwin award winners for the year.  ((Note: for the uninitiated, the Darwin Awards are the annual awards given, often to surviving family members, for acts of incredible stupidity).  

It’s always a good idea to use the buddy system when geocaching, partly because it’s just fun to cache with a friend;  but for those occasional times when you just want to go it alone or no one is available to go with you, there are a few things you can do to make sure you arrive home safe and sound after logging those smileys for the day.  Always let someone know where you are, especially if you are going geocaching in a remote area.  Make sure you have your geokit with you which has geoswag, snacks, and water, in case you have a flat tire, car trouble, or an accident. An emergency battery pack for your cell phone is also a good idea, since we know having the GPS enabled on our iDevices runs the battery down much quicker.  I picked up a super little solar battery pack from Amazon for under $10 and it works great, giving me several hours of extra battery life.  It’s also a good idea to have at least a small first aid kit and an emergency whistle so you can let folks know where you are if your cell phone is lost, damaged, or dead. 

Geocacher Vehicle Placard

Another thing you can do is hang a geocaching placard from your rear view mirror.  I found a nifty placard design at the Geocacher University website.  It looks similar to a disabled placard, but it is green and has the familiar geocaching logo on it.  There are two large white spaces on either side.  One side is for vehicle and owner contact information. You can enter as much info there as you are comfortable with.  I listed my first initial and my last name. I didn’t want to list a phone number, knowing that police could easily verify my vehicle, and they could also access my phone number if needed.   The other side is for the geocache information.  You can enter the GC# for the cache, or even the actual geocache coordinates.  I printed a couple copies then took them to Kinko’s and had them laminated.  That way, I can use a dry erase marker to enter the GC# of the cache each time, and just erase it when I return to my vehicle.  

Sometimes, we think we’re going to just dash into a park a couple hundred yards off the road, so we leave all our gear in the car.  Then you trip over a log and end up with a badly sprained or broken ankle, and all of a sudden that quick trek into the park becomes a minor emergency.  I used to think it meant I was less independent if I had to let someone know where I was going.  Now that I’m older (and after working many years in the ER and ICU) I see that it is just the smart thing to do. This placard is a great addition to every geokit out there.  It lets folks know where you are, what you’re doing, and helps keep you safe at the same time.  That’s good for a smiley all by itself.  

Do you have any other ideas to promote safety when geocaching?  Let me know in the comments.  Until next time, be safe, and cache on!

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Geocaching: 7 Souvenirs of August

August 1, 2014 at 10:15 am (Geocaching) ()

What’s your favorite type of geocache?  Do you love the big ammo can full of swag? Do you enjoy logging film canisters and race your friends to the latest skirt-lifter? Do you groan or do you rejoice when you realize the cache you thought was going to be filled with travel bugs is actually a magnetic nano smaller than your thumbnail? Are you one of the first to go after the latest puzzle cache as soon as it’s posted, or do you pull your hair out because you’re not a good puzzle-solver? Some folks stick to one kind of cache, be it because of comfort or just not being familiar with the others.  Now is your chance to spread your wings. 

Explorer

The month of August will shed some light on each type of geocache. You will earn six unique souvenirs for your geocaching profile. They correspond to each of the following cache types: traditional, mystery, multi, virtual, CITO or EarthCache, and event. Once you get all six, you will get a special seventh souvenir:  The Achiever.  The souvenirs will show up on your profile at geocaching.com. If you use the Geocaching app on your iDevice, the souvenirs can be found there as well.  The souvenir shown is the “Explorer”, which is associated with the Traditional cache.  

What is your favorite type of cache?  Leave a comment and let us know which type of souvenir will be hardest for you to achieve. Remember, it’s all about the journey.  Cache on!

 

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Geocaching: Creative Caching Redux

March 18, 2014 at 5:39 am (Geocaching) (, )

With the exception of “Can you help me fix my (insert Apple product here)?”, I probably get asked about geocaching more than anything else, by friends and strangers alike.  I have written a couple of posts about geocaching, and folks frequently ask me about new caches that I’ve made.  Since it’s been awhile since I’ve mentioned any here, I decided an update was in order. Following are a few of my recent “creative caches”.

 

SmileyCache

  The first is a small finger puppet that fit perfectly over a pill container sold at the drug store for a few dollars.  It has an 0-ring, making it waterproof.  I just glued that puppet onto the top of the container, so it will still unscrew without any difficulty.  Just add log and hide.

 

 

 

BirdCache

  Next, is one of my favorites.  It is a bird decoy that I picked up at the hardware store for a few dollars.  It has a small plastic tab at the feet, which is where I chose to place a plastic screw top container that came inside a nano bison container.  The size was perfect. Now, I can just add a clamp onto his other foot, and perch him on a branch in a tree.  

 

 

NestEggsCache

  To go along with the bird, I have a nest with a couple of eggs.  I used one of those “everything tools’ to hollow out the inside of one of the eggs, and glued a plastic screw-top container inside (again, one of those little tubes that was inside the nano bison tubes). I lightly glued the eggs into the nest, to make it easier all around.  The nest will be attached to a tree branch with some brown wire to enhance the camouflage. 

 

 

Lantern cache

  Next is a little lantern that I picked up in the miniature section of the hobby store.  The lantern is a couple of inches tall, and it was the perfect size for the top of a nano cache to be attached to the bottom of it.  I did a test run and hid it hanging on a gazebo that gets a lot of foot traffic to see if it would get “muggled” (that’s when a non-geocacher either destroys or steals the cache); it has been there for about 3 months without incident. I even received an email recently from someone who “discovered” it whilst scoping out hiding places of his own, and he signed it as the “First to Find Before Publishing”.  That isn’t an actual designation, but it happens occasionally, and I’ll definitely give him credit for it.  

MushroomCache I think I’m finally ready to publish the coordinates and let folks find these caches for real.  🙂   Last, but not least, is a little mushroom that I picked up at Walgreens in their seasonal section along with other gardening-type decorations.  It had a little spike attached for sticking it in a plant.  I glued a plastic screw-top container to the underside of it, and stuck it in the ground near a tree stump.  It is just the right color that it looks like it belongs where I placed it.  I’ll be excited to see that comments that come back on that one. 

 

 

 

I hope you enjoyed getting a sneak-peek into a few of my recent “creative caches”.  Let me know what kind of caches you’re making these days, and if there’s something in particular you’ve run across that’s particularly creative or devious, let us know about it.  I’m going to go double-check my coordinates and publish some new caches for folks to find!  Until next time, cache on!

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First Aid: Cache Style

May 10, 2013 at 10:03 pm (Geocaching, Productivity) (, , )

Ok folks, it’s springtime!  You know what that means.  Spring cleaning…oh joy…and cache first aid.   For the geocache. First Aid for the human geocachers will be another post. 😉  Yes, it’s time to check on your caches to make sure they fared well through the winter, and to make sure they are ready to be found by a new group of eager geocachers. I’ve already provided a little first aid for some caches I’ve come upon in the past few weeks. They were exhibiting typical signs of post-hibernation wear: spider webs, water damage, mold, ants, torn baggies, full logs, and occasionally a few other unpleasant discoveries.  To combat those little hindrances, I keep a Cache First Aid Kit in my GeoBag. It’s handy for performing those little random acts of geokindness that give one the warm fuzzies, and because it’s just nice to do nice things for others. Karma, and all that. 

Cache 1st Aid

Start with a small bag or container.  Then just add the things you’re most likely to need for performing a little cache first aid or some minor repairs. Some large and small ziplock bags are essential. IBB’s (Itty Bitty Baggies) can be found at craft stores, such as Michael’s or Hobby Lobby, and are great for keeping small logs protected from the elements. Carry several sizes of replacement logs in your bag. These can be found online and printed from several sites. Geocacher University’s site has a page devoted to Downloads and Printables,  where one can print logs for a variety of containers, as well as FTF certificates, stash notes, geocaching brochures, and more. Another good resource is MadCacher. They include links to most sizes as well as options for logs in color or black and white. 

A multi-tool is essential for caching in general, but it also helps for things like prying open rusted containers, getting stuck things unstuck, cutting things to fit, sizing tape, etc. I keep small pencils (grab a couple extra when you play mini-golf) and a knife can be a great pencil sharpener in a pinch. It’s not a great idea to keep ink pens in caches because they don’t fare well with the elements. They dry up or worse, leak or explode on the logs. Mix that with some moisture, and it’s a recipe for disaster, not to mention unreadable and forever ruined log sheets.  So, small pencils work best. It’s quick and easy to sharpen them and return them to their cache. 

Super glue is almost a must these days. It works great for reapplying velcro tape to cache containers and works really fast. I keep a couple strips of velcro for replacements purposes as well, along with a couple of magnets, rubber bands, craft wire (for rehanging containers on branches if their wire has been twisted one time too many), and a black sharpie marker. I also try to keep a couple of small O-rings, in case I come across a cache that has lost it’s “waterproofness” because of a lost or worn out O-ring. A quick replacement fixes it, and keeps the log dry again. 

Duct tape goes without saying. It is the one thing I would have if I didn’t have anything else. Now that it comes in so many colors and patterns, we don’t have to stick with basic grey. I generally have some black 1″ tape along with the standard 3″ camoflauge pattern. Both are great for quick and easy repairs, to cover containers, seal leaks, and can even be twisted to “hang” an item if needed. What would we do without duct tape?  😉   

Once I’ve provided a little love to the cache, I write a note on the cache’s listing page and submit it so the CO (cache owner) will see what was done. Sometimes, there have already been a couple of “needs maintenance” notes submitted, and doing a few little things like replacing a log or an O-ring will save the CO a trip.  That’s really all there is to it. Did I leave anything out that you do for spring cleaning? What other equipment do you keep in your Cache Maintenance kit? Keep on caching!

 

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What’s in Your Geopack? A Look Inside the Geocaching Bag

November 18, 2012 at 11:04 am (Geocaching, Productivity) (, , , , )

What's in my Geocaching Kit?

Last month, I asked about the Top 5 geocaching tools in your bag.  This time around, let’s just dump that bag on the ground and see what’s there. I decided it was time for a reorganization, as I couldn’t find anything anymore. You know how it is.  You grab something in a hurry, then toss it back on top. Before long, nothing is in its place anymore and nothing can be found.  So, much like doing a nuke and pave of the computer, to start with a clean slate, I’ve done that with my Geopack, to start with an empty bag and gradually restocked it. Let’s see how it goes.

I took a photo of the empty bag, contents all nicely laid out and photographed.  Then I tagged it on my Flickr Photostream, partly so I could see what all I had, and partly to share with you, my geocaching friends. Here is a similar photo, although you will have to see the one on Flickr to get the annotated version (click the photo above to be transported to the Flickr pic).

The primary contents of my bag, and those most often used, includes the following: extendable mirror/magnet, flashlight, hemostats, tick key, whistle, duct tape, Field Notes, baggies and logs, insect spray, and hand sanitizer.  Not listed, but always with me, is my Smith & Wesson .38 Special.  I always have it, especially in the woods (we’re in snake country, remember?).  Thankfully, I don’t have to use it often, but when I do, I’m really glad to have it. I generally use the Geocaching App on my iPhone 4S, but I’m trying to learn to use the GPS.  The iPhone App is just so easy, plus I can log my finds as I find them, rather than having to jot them down and log them when I get home.

My primary bag is an XPS Camelback. It’s a small backpack, which is what I wanted.  I have some larger ones, but I wanted as light as possible. I tried to use a Dajo Adventure Gear waist pack, but I just couldn’t do it.  I tried several times, and the messenger bag style strap did help, but having all that stuff hanging around my waist and hips just drove me crazy.  I did like the way the Dajo pack was set up, but in the end, it just didn’t work for me. With the XPS, which I got on clearance for about $12 (great deal!), I keep the things we rarely use in the back, the things more often used in the front section, and the things we use all the time actually go in a little space between the front and back sections.  It works great because there’s nothing to open and close. We just grab it and go, then put it back when we’re finished. It’s not perfect, but it will do for now.  One day, I’d like to design a modular pack that would satisfy the needs of most of us.  Until then, I’ll be on the lookout for the perfect multi-tool and the perfect Geopack.

I was amazed when I checked out some of the bags of geocaching friends.  Some of them have everything but the kitchen sink in their bags. A grappling hook?  Really?  I suppose there might come a time when I might need a grappling hook, but if that happens, you can bet I took a wrong turn somewhere 😉 Another item that frequently appeared was a folding ladder. These have become very popular, and I might seriously have to check into one of these.  However, considering my luck (or lack thereof) with ladders, that might not be a good thing for me to have.

I did pick up a few useful tips.  I’ll be adding a few things to my bag very soon. One item that kept coming up repeatedly that I hadn’t thought about stocking in my bag was glowsticks. I’ve used some for swag on occasion, but several folks noted that they could be handy in an emergency, especially if the batteries went out on your flashlight and you were lost (or delayed 😛 ) in the woods. I just picked up a roll of neon colored survey tape over the weekend for marking areas, especially when on a not-well-marked trail, as it can be confusing to tell where you’ve already been.  Tie the survey tape along the way like breadcrumbs, and it makes it much easier to get back out…just grab the tape on your way out to leave the area as you found it.

Binoculars were another often mentioned item that I hadn’t thought about previously. It would make it easier to search some areas, especially those with dense ground cover when searching for the elusive ammo can, or for looking skyward for a very small nano. I have an inexpensive pair that will be perfect for tossing in the truck for occasional use.

What about you?  What do you have in your Geopack?  List any must-have items in the comments, or post a link to you bag contents on Flickr to share with the rest of us.  Until next time, be safe and cache on!

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Your Most Important Geocaching Gear: Top 5

October 15, 2012 at 8:18 am (Geocaching) (, )

You’re going geocaching, but you are short on space; therefore, you can only take 5 items, besides your GPS and a pen. What do you take? It’s nothing tricky…you’re not after anything particularly difficult. It’s just a normal day around town.  So, what do you take with you?  What are your go-to pieces of hardware? Mine are as follows:

Whistle. Good for general safety, as well as emergency use. Know the International Whistle Code: 1 tweet (no, this has nothing to do with Twitter): Where are you?; 2 blasts: Come to me; 3 blasts: I need help. 

Flashlight. I love this flashlight, first sent to me by GxProxy, and now I see them everywhere. It has a magnet on the back so you can stick it onto any metal surface. It also has a small hangar that pulls out from the back to hang it on your belt loop, on a branch, or just about anywhere else. It has a small bright beam at the end or a large flood on the face with, I think, 27 LEDs. It is very bright and just uses standard AA batteries. 

Extendable Magnet/Mirror. Good for poking around, looking under and around things, as well as retrieving nanos. We found one not long ago that required the use of a magnet to retrieve. It was stuck inside a space that, by design, was just snug enough to prevent anything from digging it out.  You had to use a magnet, or it wasn’t coming out. Clever. 

Tick Key. Here in the south, where we have the little buggers nearly year-round, this is a must. One day, after only a 5-minute foray off a path, I ended up pulling 29 (yes, 29!) of the horrid little things off me. Many of them required the use of this ingenuous little device. Using tweezers is bad because it can actually transmit the poison from the tick into your bloodstream by squeezing its head in an attempt to dislodge it. This gizmo extracts the tick without squeezing its head and releasing the poison. Brilliant.

IMG 0272

MultiTool. I initially put hemostats in this list, but had to retract that entry. I do keep a pair of hemostats in my pocket when I cache, usually, but being allowed only five tools, I eliminated the hemostats in favor of the multitool. I did this primarily because this particular multitool has a nice pair of needle nose pliers, which effectively replaces the hemostats. It gets into those narrow places to grasp a nano log out of its itty bitty cache, and also allows me to use its narrow end as a log roller for rolling up those pesky itty bitty logs. I’ve gone thru many a Swiss army knife and multitool over the years, but my current one is one of my favorites. Oddly enough, I didn’t set out to purchase this one.  Instead, it was a freebie with a tool I purchased from Kobalt. This one has not only my requisite needle nose pliers, but also has scissors, wire cutters, flat and phillips screw drivers, file, cutting blade, bottle opener, awl, and key ring. Quite a nice little tool. I’m always on the lookout for a better multitool, and while I have found a few that have a few more tools, I haven’t yet found one that has them all in this very compact size. This one fits nicely in my small hand, and is easy to grip because of the Kobalt’s “grippy” rubber coating. I have heard a lot about the Switch by Quirky, which has 18 different attachments that you configure yourself.  You can use a few of them or all of them, depending on what tools you want in the device.  It is a little pricey at $80, and the reviews are either glowing or downright awful, which makes me a little hesitant to make the jump.  However, it isn’t available at Quirky at the moment, which makes me think that maybe they are reworking it to address the issues in the bad reviews.  For now, I’ll just stick with my wonderful Kobalt freebie 🙂

I do keep all of these together with a carabiner, which makes it super easy to get one off quickly without having to deal with the rest (like using the pliers on the multitool without all the other things banging against my hand). 

What are your top 5 “gotta have ’em” geocaching tools?  Let me know in the comments.  Be safe and cache on.

 

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Creative Caching

September 15, 2012 at 10:22 am (Geocaching, How-to) (, , , )

Most anyone who knows me knows how much I love to geocache. If you aren’t familiar with the term, *geocaching* is basically a high-tech treasure hunt. A container, or *cache*, is hidden somewhere (anywhere, from a park to a field to a parking lot) by the hider and the coordinates are recorded and published to a website. Then the seekers view the published listing and go searching for it, using a GPS unit or a GPS-enabled smartphone (iPhone, Android). When the cache is found, they sign a log inside the container, then log their find online. It’s loads of fun, largely because it can be done anytime, anywhere.

The containers are classified into sizes ranging from nano (tiny) to large (really big). Common examples include film containers (very popular for what’s known as *”park ‘n’ grab”* hides because they are usually very quick and easy to find), magnetic key boxes, lock and lock (Tupperware-type) containers, and ammo boxes (metal cans once used for storing ammunition are popular for hides in the woods).

So, with that explanation of introduction, I’ve been having a great deal of fun making my own geocache containers recently. Some call them “evil” caches. I prefer to call them “creative” caches 😉 These can be made out of just about anything. Before deciding what type of cache to make, and how to construct it, you have to answer a few important questions:

• Where are you planning to hide it? A hide in the woods might use a pine cone or a hollowed out stick, whereas a city hide might be more suited to a fake electrical switch, a retrofitted cable, or a bolt on back of a signpost.

• How devious, er, difficult, do you want it to be? Geocaches are rated in difficulty from level 1 (easy) to level 5 (difficult). The rating takes into account both the difficulty of the container as well as the likely amount of “muggle” (non-caching persons) traffic in the area.

• How much time and money do you want to put into your creations? Many creative caches can be fashioned with little more than some good glue and household items. Duct tape comes in many patterns and colors now, camouflage being one of them. A clean plastic jar, such as a peanut butter jar, covered with camo tape makes a great container for hiding in a tree stump or under some branches. Add a rotary tool, such as a Dremel, to the mix, and you’ve just upped the ante quite a bit in terms of what you can do. Making whizbangs (see previous post) is super-easy and costs nothing but a little time. If you have some money to spend, you can make some diabolical cache containers with things like PVC pipe, water hose and spigots, drain covers, and more.

Here are just a couple of examples that I’ll leave you with today.

Penny cache

The first one is similar to the Bottle Cap cache I detailed in my last post.  However, rather than using a bottle cap from a beer or soda bottle, this one uses a penny as the decoy.  .The penny is glued to the screw top or flip top of a small cylindrical vial. When dry, drop in your log and you’re good to go.  These work great as hides in neighborhood parks or parking areas near a convenience store where there is a little gravel mixed with dirt. Just dig up a little bit of dirt, slide it into the ground, and the penny is flush with the ground as if it was just dropped. Sneaky 😉  I recently saw it done with a small colored rock as well. It was glued in the same way, but was just a little different. Put your own individual touches on it.

BranchCache.jpg

The next one is still a work in progress. I hollowed out a small stick, and slid a bison tube inside. I was thinking about hinging the other part of the stump where I’d cut it, but I think I’m going to just glue the bison into the hollowed out portion, and leave it sticking out slightly. That way, it (hopefully) won’t go missing from the stick that houses it, and it won’t be too difficult to find. Then, the finders will simply have to unscrew the top of the bison container, sign the log, screw the top back on, and replace the stick.

What ideas have you come up with for your own creative caches? Let me know in the comments. Until next time, cache on!

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Bottle Cap Caches

August 18, 2012 at 12:47 am (Geocaching) (, , )

Not long ago, I came across a type of cache that I’d heard about at GeoWoodstock, but had never seen.  The cache title, which referenced good luck, had me thinking that maybe I was looking for a penny on the ground  The site is a neighborhood park near my house, and the coordinates led me to a slightly rocky area over a drainage ditch, with lots of small gravel rock interspersed with grass.  So, I started looking.  Sure enough, about 10 minutes later, I saw a penny on the ground.  My heart started beating faster. When I picked it up, lo and behold, it had a tiny container attached to the bottom with a flip-top lid. The vial was pressed into the ground so that only the penny was visible, just like when you find one lying on the ground.  I signed the log, and replaced it into the ground, excited to add to my collection.

BottleCapCache

On the way home, I was thinking that I could easily make that, but,  not wanting to use my hard-earned pennies, I decided to use bottle caps.  I had some bottle tops from a few glass Coca-Cola bottles.  I rinsed and dried them then put a couple drops of contact cement in the cap.  I let them dry overnight, then checked them.  They turned out great.  I put a tiny little log in the vial and it is ready for its new hiding place.  The good thing about this type of cache is that it can literally be hidden almost anywhere, from a park to a playground to a parking lot.  I’m working on some ideas for some slightly more challenging caches now.  I’ve heard a lot of interesting ideas, and I know the types of areas we cachers are likely to frequent, so watch out for some upcoming evil caches.

Fee free to suggest some “evil” or otherwise challenging caches for me. What’s the most creative or challenging cache you’ve seen? Let m know in the comments.

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Make Your Own Whizbangs for Geocaching

July 24, 2012 at 12:08 pm (Geocaching, How-to) (, , , )

Making Whizbangs

Making Whizbangs

While we were at GeoWoodstock X for the annual geocaching convention, we saw a lot of really nifty, innovative caches.  One, in particular, is quite easy to make, and costs practically nothing, as it uses your discarded soda pop or sports drink bottles.  I’d seen this type of cache around here before, but always heard it referred to as, “two bottle tops glued together”.  I found out at GeoWoodstock that they actually have a name: whizbangs (sometimes seen as whizzbangs).

After we returned home, I started playing around with making these, and have come up with a pretty decent system. Here’s how to make them:

Start with your drink bottle.  I drink a lot of sports drinks, so there’s no shortage of those bottles. But, they come in various sizes, so whatever you use, just make sure you have two of the same size, because you need two bottles for each whizbang you want to make.  I usually make about a dozen at a time.  It doesn’t take a lot longer to do several than it does to do one.  Start by using a hacksaw or Dremel-type tool to cut the tops off the bottles.  I prefer a Dremel because it’s quicker and easier for me.  Also, I can use a cutting tool to cut the bottle tops, then switch to a sanding disc to tidy the edges a bit.

You need to cut them right below the ‘lip’, where it juts out a bit just below the little plastic ring that remains after you open the top.  You’ll see what I mean in the pictures if it doesn’t make sense.  If the cuts aren’t perfectly straight, don’t worry about it.  You can fix it by using a little sandpaper or your Dremel to sand it later.  Once you have your bottle tops, sand them a bit, if needed, to have the bottoms fairly smooth. It makes it easier to glue them together if they are more smooth. Again, it doesn’t have to be perfect, as the glue will take care of a little bit of it.

Now, you’re ready to glue the tops together to form a single piece.  I generally use Gorilla glue for a couple of reasons:  it expands as it sets, which helps to cover any imperfections (like the bottoms not being completely smooth), and it makes it more impervious to the elements, since no one likes opening a cache and pulling out a wet log. Yuk. It also takes paint nicely if you plan to paint them. However, you can use any just about any kind of glue you want.  I’ve experimented a bit, and use different kinds depending on how my pieces ended up.  If I’m gluing together a couple of really smooth pieces, and I’m not going to paint it, then I might use a clear contact cement. It’s totally up to you.  I’ve noticed that some folks will put a couple of drops of glue on one end of their whizbang, on the bottle threads, so it only opens at one end. This is especially helpful if you’re running a small wire thru one end to anchor it to something.  Having it only unscrew on one end makes it easier to keep it all together.  That’s just personal preference as well, so just do what works for you based on where you plan to hide the cache.

Now, you can clamp the two glued caps together to let the glue set.  Depending on what you use, you might not have to clamp it, but I usually do, more out of habit than anything else.  It just seems that they get a better seal they’re clamped, even for a little while. One of the first ones that I didn’t clamp migrated just a little after I glued it and left it, so that when I returned a couple hours later to check it, I was surprised to find a very offset cache.  Now I just clamp them to keep the halves from wandering until the glue sets.

Once the glue is set, you can congratulate yourself on making your very first whizbang.  Now is the time to paint them, if you so desire.  I usually go with shades of brown, green, or black, or even all three for better camouflage. Sometimes I leave them unpainted, but not often. It just looks more finished to me, but again, that’s just my preference.  That’s one of the nice things about making your own…you can do whatever pleases you.

After the paint has dried, just add a log, and find the perfect place to hide it.  Congratulations!

Feel free to tell me about other homemade caches you’ve seen.  I’ll be sharing some others that I’ve been working on soon. There are step by step photo instructions in the snapshot here for those of you (like me) who do better with visual guides. Enjoy, and get caching.

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GeoWoodstock X: 10th Anniversary back where it all began

May 30, 2012 at 5:46 am (Geocaching) (, , , )

Us with Signal

I began geocaching on August 6, 2010. My misadventure started in a wooded area just a few blocks from our house. We were looking for the ubiquitous “ammo can in the woods”.  Little did I know at the time how difficult that would prove to be to a total newcomer to the game.  I won’t bore you with all the details, except to say that I chose badly for my first attempt.  I spent about an hour in a dense wooded area, trees so thick it seemed to be nearing sunset by mid-afternoon. Also, if you know anything about the South, you’ll know that August in the woods is not exactly a pleasant walk in the park. There were several contributing factors: actual temperature greater than 100ºF, humidity greater than 65%, no trails, mosquitoes so thick, they looked like dark, hovering clouds, a few sightings of slithery things, and too many spiders to mention.  Then, there were the souvenirs: the ticks. There were dozens of ticks. Even three days later, I was still finding a wayward tick that had climbed from my hiking shoes or my cap or somewhere. Oh, and I didn’t find the cache. Yet.

I deepened my resolve, did a little bit of reading about searching for ones first cache, then set my sights on more realistic beginning caches. My first find was at the site of a small electrical transformer. There was a fence around the transformer, and the corners of the fence had those silver dome-shaped caps like you see on playgrounds and athletic fields. I lifted one of the caps, looked under it, and found my first cache: a film canister had been attached to the cap with velcro. Inside the canister was the cache log. I signed it, then logged my find online when I got home.  I was hooked.  Incidentally, ten days after my initial attempt, I went back to the woods and found the ammo can.

For a bit of background, geocaching began on May 3, 2000, when a cache was hidden in the hills outside Portland, Oregon.  This occurred the day after selective availability was turned off, which allowed civilians to make use of satellites that had previously only been used by the military, NASA, and others with specific needs. In one day, GPS devices were suddenly ten times more accurate.  A paint bucket filled with rewards was hidden and those finding it signed the log.  Within a few days, several people had found it, and geocaching was born. Fast-forward a decade, and after hearing about the sport for some time, decided to give it a go myself. 

I’m happy to report that, after my first minor misstep, the rest of my caching attempts were much more successful. I’ve found some incredibly creative caches over the past couple of years.  Some of the more memorable ones include a tiny tube glued to a penny and buried into the ground (so unless you picked up the penny, you would miss the cache), a tiny canister the size of an acorn, stuffed into one of a bunch of grapes and hidden in wisteria covering an arbor, and a large rectangular box that appeared to be a university study of a bat house — it was pure genius!

After going to an Earth Day event at a local park, we found out about an upcoming event, GeoWoodstock X.  It was to be a celebration of the tenth anniversary of the sport of geocaching. The event was to be held in Louisville, Kentucky, where the first GeoWoodstock event was held ten years prior. This day-long event cache, with workshops, music, and other caching-related activities, has become the world’s largest geocaching-related event.  We decided to go, and, in spite of the over-100ºF temperatures while we were there, we had a great time.  We saw a large number of creative caches, learned a lot about the sport, and met some great folks.

If you’ve never gone geocaching, try it.  The really great thing about it is that it can be done anywhere, city or country, urban or rural. All you need is a GPS unit, either a standalone version or a smartphone with a GPS using a geocaching app. I generally use my iPhone 4S running the official Geocaching app, but I also have a Magellan Explorist GC that I’m learning to use.  We came home energized, ready to put into practice all we had learned at the event. I have even started making some creative caches of my own that I plan to hide soon, but that is another story. To learn more about geocaching, go to www.geocaching.com

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