Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Why Not Wednesday ~ The Trouble with Trackables

DctrSpott and Boltzmann the geodog 
I've got a beef.

Anyone who has been caching for more than a week has surely run across some sort of trackable, usually a geocoin or a travel bug. I remember my first geocoin run in: I was thrilled by the shiny, round object, originating from France, and having made it all the way to Bloodhounded's Grace Chapel Cache. Since then, trackables might be my FAVORITE part of geocaching: I bought several, have tried to retrieve them from wherever possible, and even brought some caching around the world. I giddily brought half a dozen to California with me in March, and had brought 3 others to Jamaica with me almost a year ago. I still check them from time to time, my favorite made it's way to Germany and is now traveling back to the states.

So, I bought several trackables, and even was gifted some, and thought I'd enjoy monitoring their progress around the world. Out of 6 trackables, 4 have since completely disappear, and one is sitting in a disabled cache, each having traveled less than 100 km before doing so! Imagine my frustration. One lucky coin made it's way to Cachepalooza 5, and is now floating around Germany, having traveled over 10000 km. So, I suppose there is that.

Trackable woes have been a problem for cachers since before I even entered the game. The main three causes are muggled caches disappearing, taking their contents with them, new cachers not understanding how trackables work, and older cachers retiring from the game, taking their trackable inventory with them. People have griped and tried for a while to combat these three problems, with little success. The forums even have a trackable ambassador, who threatens trackable hoarders with the banhammer. The problem here is that the trackables are disappearing because the player leaves the game... threats of being banned from the game don't really have much effect on those who no longer want to play.

I have a couple techniques to try to prevent trackables from going missingTry to place trackables in premium caches. It seems unfair, to bias the paying players. But, at the same time, it makes sense: cachers who pay to play know how the game works. Those who pay their annual dues aren't likely to drop out, and they've probably been around the block a bit. All in all, premium caches are a safe bet. This being said, most of us won't wait to find a premium cache to drop a TB, and it's going to be difficult to find a premium that matches the trackables desired destination. Still, premiums are a safe bet.

Similarly, I try to make sure my trackables always end up in higher-difficultly caches. There is a tradeoff here: higher difficultly caches have lower visit rates. This being said, the visitors to these caches tend to be more seasoned; it's rarely the n00bs that venture out to grab that 10-mile hike cache. I find this preferable: I'd rather see my trackable hit infrequently, but stay in the game for a long time, then to get a couple hits and then disappear in the span of a few weeks. I imagine many cachers share this sentiment. Remember, geocaching is a long game, played on the scale of months and years, not that of days and weeks.

On that note, I also like to bring the value back in trackables. Just like the topic of "quality caches" that often comes up on cachecrazy, I like trackables to be something you earn, something worth the difficulty of venturing out and grabbing that challenging cache. By making trackables not a commonplace toy that shows up in every cache, but travelers that only grace the highest quality of cache, they'll remain an interesting, high quality, and (hopefully best of all) a permanent and non-disappearing part of the game.

But, off my soapbox. What is your opinion on trackables? Have any cool experiences? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Save Your Pennies TB

This is one of the craziest stories I have ever heard! Kim bring you the whole story from her post on February 11th, 2012 on the one and only Snug Harbor Bay! You're going to love this....... 

My "Save Your Pennies" TB is charging across Europe and it's really fun to watch it move from country to country.

This TB has an interesting history so far.  We initially released this TB on Jan. 14, 2010 in cache GC22W1P. A week later, on Jan. 22, 2010, we were caching and found GC15CW9.  Imagine our surprise when we opened the cache and found our own TB?  We snatched it up, travelled around with it and then dropped it into another cache on Feb. 17, 2010.   From there, it got passed from cacher to cache until August 11, 2010 when it got dropped into GC1FAQE in Wisconsin. 

Then it disappeared.  We didn't hear another thing about this TB for over 5 months.  On Jan. 15, 2011 we were at a Geocaching breakfast event  GC2FJGY which was back in Illinois.  I was picking through the TB's on the TB table and I almost fell off my chair when I saw my "Save Your Pennies" TB.  How the heck did it get there?  We took a picture with it and then placed it back on the TB table for it to continue on its journey.

It got picked up by another cacher and traveled around Illinois again until June 6, 2011, when it was placed into another event cache, GC2QDDM.  There it was picked up by cacher Dutchlandian, who was headed to the Netherlands.  On June 15, 2011, my TB landed at GC2NQH0 in The Netherlands.

Since then, it's traveled with various geocachers to Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, France, back to Belgium, and Hungary.  For over a month now a caching team by the name of Paleoteam has been caching in Belgium, Germany, France, and now Hungary.  They have been kindly dipping it into many caches along the way.  The latest was GC3C873 and Paleoteam was the FTF (first to find) on the cache.  I bet they loved that!

So far my TB has traveled over 7700 miles and is getting a wild tour of Europe.  I love going to some of the cache pages that it's visited and reading about places I'll probably never get to see in person.  It's kind of fun to think about all these great geocachers who are taking the time to move my little TB all over the place. 

Here's a couple of the pictures that have been posted for my TB...

I hope this little TB keeps travelling around and visiting all kinds of neat places.  What a fun journey.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Geocaching Road Trip! With Miragee......Let's go!

The decision to make the trip to Lakewood was made very quickly, with little lead time. However, I downloaded Pocket Queries for several areas across Arizona, Southern Utah, and Southwestern Colorado, as well as a circle centered in Lakewood. So, with GSAK on my laptop all loaded with fresh data, I was ready to go . . . just as soon as I got new tires. My old ones were measuring in the red when the man from Discount Tire checked them for me.

When I went down to have the tires checked that Thursday afternoon, I filled the tank. Now, on my way out of town, I was shocked to see that in less than 12 hours, gas had gone up another ten cents. I sure hoped gas would be less expensive along the way, and I was very, very grateful my sister was going to help me pay for the gas.

The reason for the trip was to help my mother clean and organize her apartment. She is 90 years old now. As I drove down I-8, I was very lost in thought about her future -- and my own -- when a car passed me on the left. An arm was waving a GPSr out the window of the vehicle as it went by.

I shook myself of of my thought daze and caught up to the vehicle to see that the arm belonged to $kimmer. She was with The Vulture and said the Splashes were up ahead. They were on their way to "Dateland," the first cache I had planned on stopping for.

We pulled into the parking at the famous Date Shake Shop and proceeded to tell the people sitting near the cache location we were on a "Scavenger Hunt" as we looked for the micro. Splashman made the grab and my name was added to the logbook.

From there, the five of us headed down the highway where we found two more caches. At the last one, Splashman pulled into the third parking spot from the end, The Vulture pulled into the next one, and almost simultaneously, I pulled into the last spot. It was precision parking at its best.

After finding that cache, we parted company. They were headed up to Phoenix for a weekend of caching. I was headed somewhere to camp for the night.

As usual, I hadn't planned where I would spend the night -- I'm almost incapable of planning, except when it comes to the preparation necessary for Geocaching -- so I didn't know where I was going. Fortunately, I found some BLM land not too far from the road to Mobile and set up my tent there where I saw a nice Arizona sunset.

The next morning I headed northeast. Once again I really didn't know exactly which highway I wanted to take, so I just followed the GPSr arrow to a couple of cache sites. The first two I tried to find . . . I couldn't, so I went in a Goodwill store and got a "treasure" there before finally hitting the highway again.
The road climbed up past Saguaro cactus and finally into Pinyon and Junipers, the habitat Edward Abbey referred to as the "pygmy forest," and finally up into cool, wonderful pines. I found a few caches in the "Rim Country" where there were signs warning about elk crossing the highway. I didn't see any elk, but late in the day, and I headed towards Canyon de Chelly National Park, I saw a mountain lion run across the road and up the steep embankment. That was exciting!

I loved the town of Holbrook, AZ, and even turned around and drove back over the bridge to take a picture of an amazing sculture at the entrance to the town.

I also took a picture of this great mural.

From Holbrook, I headed to the "Painted Desert" Virtual cache where I tried to photograph the amazing landscape.

I got to a campsite at dusk, which was the same time I found my campsite the night before. In the sheltered area of the campground, the wind was calm, so I set up my tent and went to sleep beneath tall cottonwood trees that were just beginning to show new spring leaves.

This post was written by Miragee from her personal blog Musing About Geocaching. You'll find a lot of great articles and awesome adventures there. Karen is a regular contributor to CacheCrazy.Com.

Thank you!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Confessions Of An FTF Hound - By: Smithie23

Back in September 2009 I was new to Geocaching. It had been less than two months since I logged my first cache, and I was learning the ropes, in regards to receiving mobile and e-mail notifications on things such as new caches, caches found, etc. I would read countless articles, on the Groundspeak forums, about cachers and their adventures. Some were claiming a milestone FTF (maybe 50, 100 or even more) while others had multiple FTF’s in one day. I didn’t think much of it. Big deal, you were first.

One Friday night, I received a text alert. The Enjoy, Enjoy Northeast Pennsylvania series had been published. For those unfamiliar with the series, NEPAG published a themed series of caches in honor of Manny Gordon, who recently passed away. There was to be a cache placed in each county as a tribute. It’s a great series, and I recommend checking it out. Anyways, I saw the Luzerne County cache was placed in theNescopeck State Park, a 20 minute drive from home. I decided to head out the next morning and try for the FTF.

The hike to the cache was not unlike others I had made, but as I approached GZ, say in the last 1500 feet or so, a different sense of excitement started to kick in. Maybe the FTF Hounds on the Groundspeak forums are right. Maybe there is something to being first. I found the cache after a little bit of searching, as I was only using myHTC smart phone at the time- it wouldn’t be until shortly after I found this one that my Delorme PN-40 arrived. There was only one thing left after actually finding the cache. Had anyone logged the cache prior to me? To my delight, there it was, an empty logsheet! FTF success!

Photo by Stellascapes
Since then, I’ve logged twelve more FTF’s. Most I’ve acquired by luck. I’ve been in the right place at the right time. I’ve only had one or two where I said to myself “No one has found this one yet?” I can credit a lot of that luck to having a job which has liberal policies regarding work hours and lunchtime. I can also take several different routes to work, which allows me to cover more ground.

I primarily cache Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The NEPA FTF hounds and the Sussex County FTF Hounds each have their own redeeming qualities. A lot of the newly published caches in NEPA are found AND logged before one can even say “Honey, I have to run to the store quick.” The new caches in New Jersey can go either way. Some could sit for two to three days before being found. Others are found quickly, but logged a day, or even two, after the fact.

Photo by Stellarscapes
My favorite FTF, to date, isGC2BT8Y- I DOUBLE DOG DARE YOU! This was a group FTF, and was quite the adventure.

In any event, I find an added excitement to the game, when hunting down an FTF. Not that I’ve done it before, but I would imagine it’s a similar feeling to powercaching. Not only are you trying to make the find, but you get that feeling your back is against the wall, that you’re trying to beat the clock. 

"If you ain't first, you're last!"
All things considered, and almost two years later, here is my take on the FTF debate:                                 

• Geocaching is what you make of it. There are many, many different aspects to it, and most, if not all, are very subjective. The FTF hunt is no different.

• There are caches out there with thousands of logs-but someone had to have the first one.

• Want to meet a fellow geocacher? Hunt down an FTF. On several of my FTF’s I met up with a fellow cacher, either going to or coming from the cache site, or stumbled upon him/her while on the hunt. (BTW, always offer to share in the FTF, especially if you’re about to make the find. The other guy will appreciate it. Remember, no one really keeps track of this stuff.)

• Wanting to claim every FTF is a major sign of being obsessed with Geocaching. Seek help immediately, or just go find the cache.

Photo by Shoob & Sheeb

Sounds to me like smithie23 is CACHE CRAZY! 
Photo by Shoob & Sheeb
Thanks for sharing an aspect of the game that many of us consider a treat but few of us actually set out to "get it"! Well, maybe more of us than we would like to admit. Are you an FTF HOUND?

Thursday, July 17, 2014



Grab a cup of coffee, or tea, sit back and let the
scratching begin; or not.

Ever have one of those caching trips where you approach the cache just to find out that there are these little vines with pretty little leaves  surrounding GZ? You know the kind I'm talking about right? You don't? Well let me explain.

The old saying of "leaves of three leave them be" is very true. The leaves I'm talking about are Poison Ivy leaves. This plant grows on a vine and always has three leaves in a clump. It can grow very low to the ground, or it can grow right up the side of a tree.

Poison ivy is dangerous all year long so don't think that just because it's winter-time you're safe because you're not. All it takes is one little touch and you can contract the itchies.

We were in Ohio visiting my sister when we came across a cache that was located in a little woods. The cache page said there was "Some" poison ivy nearby, but what we found was poison ivy everywhere at GZ.  I was able to get in and get it, but it was a little scary. We found lots of caches that trip and they were all around poison ivy. We finally decided that the Ohio State plant should
be poison ivy. Be sure when you're out caching that you check out the attributes listed on the cache page. I have actually contacted some COs and told them they need to update their pages and include the poison ivy icon. The last thing you want is for one of your young ones to get into it unexpectedly.

There is another vine that is similar to poison ivy. It is not poisonous, but it can be mildly irritating to some people.  It has 5 leaves that are green and it is called Virginia Creeper.

               It grows on the ground

              And it grows on trees

Virginia Creeper (Left) Poison Ivy (Right)

So what do you do if you get the sap (urushiol) from a poison ivy plant on yourself? The first thing to do is "Don't panic". You will live through it. If you are allergic to it, and most people are, you will get a red rash wherever you got the sap. Here are some suggestions, from Dr. Greene, if you do get it on yourself:

Here are some tips for treating poison ivy, oak, and sumac rashes:
  • Try using a towel or washcloth soaked in either plain tap water or Burow's Solution (an astringent solution -- you can make it yourself using Domeboro tablets or powder packets available over-the-counter). This can help relieve the intense itching and remove dry crust that has formed as a result of the rash.
  • A fan blowing over the cool compress will diminish some of the heat of the itching and help to dry up some of the ooze coming from the rash. As the skin is cooling, the blood vessels compress and that cuts down on the itching and the new ooze.
  • Some dermatologists recommend rubbing an ice cube gently over the rash several times a day, then letting the skin air-dry.
  • Soaking in a tub, particularly using an oatmeal bath such as Aveeno, can also be very soothing to the itch. Be sure the bath is cool or lukewarm -- but not hot -- as heat tends to make the rash even more inflamed.
  • After the cooling treatment (using any of the forms mentioned above), coat the rash with a shake lotion such as calamine. This continues to relieve the itching and helps to dry up the blisters.
  • Be sure to check the expiration date on an old calamine bottle in your medicine cabinet, since it may not be effective after the expiration date. Be sure the shake lotion does not contain benzocaine, zirconium, or a topical antihistamine, such as Benadryl. These can actually make the rash worse by producing their own allergic reactions when applied to already sensitive skin.
  • Applying hydrocortisone or another topical corticosteroid will help suppress the itching and give temporary relief, but does little to hasten the drying up of the rash.
  • Taking an oral antihistamine, such as Benadryl, can help with the itching quite a bit, although it does not speed up resolution of the rash. Taking Benadryl at nighttime will make most people drowsy and help them sleep through the night without itching.
  • Don't use Benadryl cream or spray topically, because this can cause its own skin reaction.
  • In severe cases of poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac, it is a good idea to see a doctor. Sometimes large blisters need to be drained, and sometimes an oral steroid such as prednisone may be useful. Occasionally, even a steroid injection is needed.
  • Systemic steroids produce rapid resolution of both the itching and the rash. If they are needed, a gradually tapering dosage over about 12 days should be given. The dosage needs to be tapered to avoid side effects after discontinuing use, and the entire course should be taken since stopping earlier may result in a rebound rash as bad as the original.
Author and Review InfoAlan Greene, MD, FAAP

If you're out caching please be careful of this poisonous plant. The last thing you want to do is spend the rest of your day itching because you were not careful. Let's have a safe and non irritating summer. 


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