Friday, May 22, 2015

Looking back at ~ The Best Guest Blogs Ever - The Perils of a Geocaching Pensioner

The email came like one hundred others from BigAl, only this one was different. "You have to take a look at this blog" he said. Little did I know that today I would call her my friend too. Thanks BigAl, you have a nose for talent.
Boy, do I have a surprise for you!  She comes to us from across the pond and sports a great blog named The Ramblings of a Mad Pensioner . Her humor and style of writing is just excellent and I know you're going to love this three part series. Today, tomorrow and Monday to be exact, I bring to you:

 The Perils of a Geocaching Pensioner

 So, strap on your helmet, grab a first aid kit (you're gonna need it) and meet my new friend, Heather aka Lady-Magpie.

Before I start - What is Geocaching?

Well it's an outdoor activity in which the participants use a (GPS) receiver to hide and seek containers, called "geocaches" or "caches", anywhere in the world. A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook. Larger containers such as plastic storage containers (tupperware or similar) or ammo boxes can also contain items for trading, usually toys or trinkets of little value. Once you've found it you sign the log and come back and write a note on the computer of your experiences, in my case usually amusing.
**                    **                   **                 **                     **            

Well if your going to get active in retirement why not do it in a big way, Geocaching has brought me to several new places, Berkeley Hospital, Locking Hill Surgery and my Sisters first aid cabinet, to just mention a few.

I was introduced to Geocaching thanks to a chance word from my Niece, that looks interesting I thought  I just have to use my computer, purchase a hand held GPS and find some good walking boots, what on earth could go wrong. Didn't General Montgomery say that the first day he landed in North Africa to take on Field Marshal Erwin Rommel Afrika Korps.

Accident No. 1

Educated and armed with a proper GPS that I had programmed with the correct co-ordinance, I made for a location in a lane near J12 of the M5. Arriving my GPS directed me towards a field entrance with high hawthorn bushes either side, checking the clue it just said "under a rock". Searching everywhere around the bushes I notice that a ditch extended from a culvert and there was a rock in the bottom. Now for the clumsy bit, stepping into the ditch I found it was deeper than the length of my leg sending me upside down into a stinging nettle patch under a thorn bush. I laid there for a few seconds in a similar position to a dead fly on a window ledge with legs and arms in the air, each movement gave me more painful stings and I had to use the thorn bushes to pull myself out. Once back on Terra-fir-ma I came to two conclusions, first why would they hide a cache in the bottom of a ditch that could fill with water, secondly, with my arms swelling and scratched, why was I wearing a short sleeve shirt for this sport. Yes I found a film canister under a rock that I was stood on above the ditch so after signing the log I retreated to a nearby garden center car park to lick my wounds.

Accident No. 2

A few months in and my confidence showed no bounds as I set off for Uley Bury, a 2500 year old Iron Age Fort. Off I walked around the top rim until I was directed to an overgrown path down the steep side of the Bury. After a short search I found the Tupperware box hidden under logs by a tree on the steepest part of the slope, so after completing the log signing I turned to go back down the slope using a branch above me to steady my descent. I now realise that a small twig verses a large lady just doesn't work as with the sound of a loud snap I was sent face first down the slope doing an impression of Tom Daly diving off the top diving board at the Olympics. I wasn't certain whether I was alive or dead for some time and wondered if I would be found in such a remote area, fortunately I came round to my senses and after finding that all I had broken was a tree branch and my pride I made my way back to sanctuary of Harris my Yaris about a mile away.

Accident No. 3 - Major

There had been a few minor incidence such as leaping backwards over a stile to avoiding some very frisky horses near Oakridge and getting jammed in a kissing gate in Avening, but nothing came near to the moment I needed help in December 2009. I was bored at home and although it was very cold and drizzling I set off for a large orchard near Cam & Dursley. Within  50yds of my walk I had to turn down a slope when my left leg slipped forward and my right leg went backwards underneath me. I never knew that my heel could touch the back of my head, perhaps I should have taken up yoga, as I felt a terrific tearing sensation in my right thigh.

I landed in a small water and mud filled gully by a bush and knew I was in trouble needing the emergency services and maybe due to my weight "Sparrows Crane Hire". Fortunately I had charged my mobile and after the 999 call I was put through to the ambulance service where the fun started. Firstly they must have been in Outer Mongolia having never heard of the towns and village where I was, couldn't locate the road where I was parked and told me to stay by my phone and they would ring back, I wasn't actually thinking of going anywhere else at the time.They said that a paramedic was trying to find me, I had a brainwave and using my GPS I gave them the exact position where I was. The next comment was unbelievable, "Sorry we can't use that, do you know the postcode?", I.was in the middle of the countryside for gods sake.

It took 2 hours to locate me, find a spare ambulance and take me to Berkeley Hospital where, after the ambulance crew had left, decided I shouldn't have been taken there in the first place. To be fair to the staff they were brilliant and after 6 hours of tests and x-rays it was found that I had no broken bones but torn the ligaments in my right thigh.

The farce of the hospital and the journey home is another very funny story to be told later, needless to say that my family went berserk regarding pensioners and going out, but I haven't taken up card making or knitting yet. 10 months on and I have completed almost another 100 caches abet with a very wonky leg.

To be continued, be warned.

Stay tuned guys because it picks right up tomorrow! See you then....
See this post at The Ramblings of a Mad Pensioner  

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Why Not Wednesday ~ What is Geocaching?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Looking back at ~ The Best Guest Blogs Ever - Ann from ayrbrain's and My Corner of Scotland

I would like to introduce you to Ann aka ayrbrain's.
As a follower of CacheCrazy.Com and offerering excellent comments to the blog, I asked her to write a short bio and get her feet wet in guest blogging. I was excited when she agreed! CacheCrazy.Com has a strong international following with over 40% of our total readers coming from overseas (thanks to Google analytics). Ann is one of them coming to us from Scotland and she even has her own blog named "My Corner of Scotland". Her stories are light hearted and fun so go check it out for yourself but first, let me hand it over to Ann to tell you the rest.....

 Ann aka ayrbrain's, On Geocaching Adventures

I have been geocaching for just over a year and enjoy it so much as it has taken us to places even in our own home town that we didn't even know were there.  I love finding unusual ones, one close by to our house has caused such tearing out of hair and many laughs even with hints. It is over a small walk-over bridge, the cacher has used fishing wire to dangle the tiny container over the edge at the side of the river. It cannot be seen from under the bridge or from the top of the bridge as it is so well camouflaged, after we eventually found it, I posted my find on the site saying we were throwing a party to celebrate and popping champagne corks, then I got a message almost straight away from someone who was trying to find it at that moment, so there I was at home, emailing him exactly where to stand etc, it still took a while for him to find it.

Another one is in a beautiful park where we have done numerous caches, we had to find the first part where the clue was "Another Brick In The Wall", I stood and looked at a house brick which was in amongst ivy in a low wall and even though I picked it up I did not look at it all the way around, lo and behold the next co-ords were on a piece of metal fastened to the underside of the brick, I have learnt to look at things differently, if it looks like it couldn't possibly be what I am looking for, then it possibly is!

In Australia we met up with a fellow cacher which was interesting, so over a bite of lunch he said he would take us along to one that had totally alluded us, we had looked and looked and being not too many places it could be hidden, we decided to give up.  But Spindoctor took us along to help, there it was over the edge of the harbour wall where we would never have thought of looking.   We had a great holiday in Australia where my husband's sister lives.  I got a new GPS for my Christmas but I was allowed to take it with me on holiday before Christmas,  this one is so much better than my last one which was secondhand but has served me well on my geocaching trips.  This new one is so accurate and I am able to upload all the information direct from the site to the GPS which is great.

So armed with the new GPS we ventured out in Sydney to see how many we could find.  One of the bridges at Darling Harbour opens up to allow boats to pass under, so we found ourselves at this bridge to try and locate the cache.  There is a small control room and this is where the magnetic cache is located, muggle centre but good fun with hubby keeping watch for me to retrieve and replace the  cache. 

My first ever walk in TB hotel in Sydney was good fun, although we did it the long way around as the GPS was all over the place, we were just about to give up on this one when I suggested taking another road, where eventually we found the building, which turned out to be only 2blocks from our hotel in Sydney! This turned out to be a community centre with a very comfortable sofa and a extra large cache container to look through, so comfortable to sit on and write the log, beats sitting on a fallen tree   I had looked online at these caches before leaving Scotland for our trip, and never thought we would managed to find them or meet up with fellow cachers.

We had a trip to Canada in June, so I thought we could find at least one cache as that would be a first overseas cache for us. We had been given a TB by someone who had picked it up at a London airport cache and they didn't know until they were back in Scotland that it wanted to get to Canada, so by a chance meeting with this cacher he dropped the TB and I took it, so it eventually travelled to Canada with us.  We went to Stanley Park and found the TB hotel where we were able to drop the TB. We only managed 2or3 in Canada due to time.

The ones here at home have caused much laughter and such good fun to do as well.  Another favourite one was in a tree way up high (20ft), we eventually spotted it but how to get it down? The cacher had tacked tiny loops into the trunk and weaved the fishing wire through the loops which was in turn attached to a 35mm film canister. The end of the wire was wound around a tiny piece of wood and balanced in a small branch.  So we had to wind it down which was sore on the neck as we were looking up all the time, and then to wind it back up took forever! But a good laugh and fun.  I think it is very clever folk can think of these ingenious caches. Fishing wire is a very popular material here, it is almost invisible to the naked eye.

Just before we left for our Australian trip, we had been out to the large park a couple of miles from our house to find a cache, we must have passed this one a number of times whilst doing other caches not realising there was one hidden here.The container was an ammo tin underneath a wooden style, the container was nailed to a plank of wood which in turn was nailed to the underneath of the style, so without geocaching we would never have know it was there. Very very clever, and on reading previous logs we realised other geocachers had struggled to open the container once they had extracted it from under the style where you needed to lie on the ground to get to the plank of wood and the container, again this gave us a good laugh.

I have 3 caches of my own hidden, these are very easy but I plan on putting another out after seeing all the ideas I have seen in geocaching.  A fun sport, we are out getting fresh air and exercise, having a laugh and sometimes to find another cacher when you arrive is a bonus.  So far I have met maybe 4 or 5 folk when out and about. The latest being a lady who was at the same cache as we had arrived at in Gretna Green Scotland.  We all found it together then we went in her car to the next one, so I now keep in touch with this lady through this great fun activity.  I find it addictive, fun and I have learnt how to use and understand a GPS. This all started with friends of ours who have been cachers for years, when they showed us a few years back how geocaching works when we all spent a few days together in York, England.

Thanks for sharing some of your adventures with us Ann, we hope you keep on writing about all the fun here at CacheCrazy.Com.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Looking back at ~ The Best Guest Blogs Ever - Big_Dog1970- A Stick Can Be Your Best Friend

I’ve been caching for about two years now and I have found that no tool has been more accessible and useful along the trail then a simple wooden stick.
One thing about a stick is that you can find one anywhere trees are near.  Sticks can have dozens of uses in all kinds of situations.

I’m going to just dream up a caching run here just to give some examples of how much help a simple stick can be to you while out geocaching.  Let’s say a group of us are going to look for a cache that will require a fairly long hike in the woods. We head into the woods along with my furry four-legged son, Shadow. It’s one of those trails with a lot of rocks and exposed tree roots to stumble on, so after a while we start getting a little tired. Well, we’re not going to just give up now, so we each find a good strong walking stick to help us along.

A walking stick can help you keep your balance and take some of the strain off of your feet and ankles.  Now we can continue on to the cache.

As we approach ground zero we start thinking that this looks like it could be prime snake territory.
We then use our walking sticks to probe the trail in front of us, assuring the path is safe as we continue forward. We reach GZ and it’s at the base of a rocky hill side with lots of holes where the cash can be hidden.

Teddy Roosevelt would approve.
Now we don’t want to just reach into a dark hole in the rocks with our hands. You never know what nasty critters may be hiding in there, so we poke around in there with a stick. If the cache is in there you can usually tell by the sound it makes as you tap it. If there is some kind of critter it will either run away, bite at the stick, hiss, growl, etc. Bottom line is most wild animals will alert you of there presence somehow as long as you alert them of yours first. In most cases you can even use the stick to push or pull the container out of the hole.  A minute or two into the search we find the cache.  After some back patting and high-fiving we sign the log, trade our swag, take some pictures, and put the cache back.

We know there are a few caches in a park near by where people can picnic and let there dogs run and play, so we decide to go there to have lunch and then look for more caches. I forgot to bring any toys for Shadow to play with so I gave him a stick and he was as happy as a little kid in a toy store.

After lunch we resume the search. The next cache is a smaller container placed in a hard to reach location. We quickly spot the cache but none of us are able to get a hand on it. We use some imagination and construct a primitive grabbing tool out of a stick. We retrieve the cache, sign the log, and use the stick to put it back.

Now you may be thinking “What about all of those urban micro caches out there?'  Why would you need a stick to find a magnetic hide-a-key on a guard rail or to lift up a light skirt?  Well here’s a true story I want to share with you about such urban micro caches.

Last year I went caching with some friends of mine in the Stroudsburg area. I could not believe how many micro caches were around there. I don’t recall how many light skirts I lifted that day but I do remember one particular cache we rolled up on. It was a quick cache and dash in a parking lot. Ground zero was just as we suspected a light pole.  I hopped out of the car, went straight to the light post and lifted up the skirt to realize one of my biggest fears just became a reality. A swarm of wasps flew out after me.  Luckily I somehow managed to get away and back into the car without getting stung. “Phew! That was close.” I decided that the wasps can keep that one and logged it as found but couldn’t sign log due to wasps. I also logged a maintenance note letting the CO and anyone else know about the problem.  Since that day when ever I approach that type of cache I’ll have a stick handy.  The first thing I do is bang on the skirt with the stick a couple of times and if there are bees in there they will quickly make there presence known. Since the stick allows me to be a couple feet away I can get a little bit of a head start if they come after me.

Next just to be sure it’s safe; I use the stick to lift the skirt up. If nothing flies out it’s a good sign there are probably no aggressive bees under there but that doesn’t always mean there isn’t a nest. I have seen small nests of yellow paper wasps where the wasps will cling to the nest as if they don’t want to abandon it.

With that in mind I will use a stick to feel around under the light skirt instead of using my hands. That way if there is such a nest I won’t find out the hard way by putting my hand on it and taking a hit.

Poke that bad boy with a stick!

Sticks are used in many different ways in geocaching and I have one more funny story for you.  Earlier this summer on one extremely hot day I went caching in my local area.  The one particular cache I went to find just so happens to be owned by one of the guys involved with and is one of my favorite caches thus far.  It’s located in a public park that is always busy with people.  As I was entering the parking lot my GPS pointed out the general area right near by.  After circling the lot about five times I finally found a parking spot which just my luck happened to be the furthest spot away from the cache.  I locked up the car and made the trek across the parking lot to a grassy area bordered on one side by a tall chain link fence. I managed to close in to within about a six foot radius of GZ. There are a lot of trees, ivy, and high grass along the fence so I picked up a stick that was just laying there near the fence and used it to probe around. After spending about twenty minutes searching for this thing I needed to take a break. I tossed the stick back where I found it and went over to some large rocks near by to sit in the shade. While I rested I gave my good friend Dave (AKA Smithie23) a call to ask for a hint. Now Dave and I won’t just give it away, after all that just spoils the fun. He gave me a fairly cryptic clue to think about. When I figured out his clue I started laughing hysterically. Dave asked me what was so funny and I said “hold on I have to check this out”. With Dave still on the phone I walked over and picked up the same stick that I was using for 20 minutes to probe around looking for the cache and sure enough there it was. The stick was the cache. I took it back to the shady rock to sit down and sign the log. I could not believe I spent all of that time looking for the very thing I was holding in my hand the whole time. After taking some much deserved razzing from Dave I put the stick back where I found it and decided to just call it a day. I was beaten down by the heat, the razzing from Dave, but most of all I was beaten down by that extremely clever cache created by an evil genius.

See you out on the trail and always remember to cache stealthy and carry a stick.

I hope you enjoyed my stories.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Why Not Wednesday ~ Hiding a Geocache


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