CacheCrazy.Com: March 2011

Thursday, March 31, 2011

NEPAG ???


By Big Al

Ever wonder what NEPAG stands for? Well read on to find out.






WELCOME TO THIRSTY THURSDAY!
Grab a cup of coffee or tea, sit back and learn what NEPAG is all about.

NORTHEAST PENNSYLVANIA GEOCACHERS (NEPAG)

I recently read an article that talked about how Geocaching.com got started. As I read that I thought to myself “why don’t I write an article about NEPAG," so I decided to go ahead with it. I’ve asked some folks who’ve been around for a while and here is how it all started.
When did the NEPAG get started? It was started in May of 2007 by Matcat, Hound (from Fox_and_the_Hound), Bottlecap, Olbluesguy, Got GPS?, and MtnDave. The Current administrators are Hound (from Fox_and_the_Hound, Walnuttripper, and Mrs. Whistler (from Whistler & Co.).

How many members are there right now? Currently there are 291 registered members with about 50 who visit regularly.

Who can submit posts and articles? Anyone who is a registered user can post to the forums. Likewise with articles, but articles must go through an administrator to get published on the homepage. So if you want to publish an article just right it and then send it to one of the Administrators for approval.

What is the goal or mission of NEPAG? The goal is to provide cachers in NEPA with a place to discuss caching in our area, and to discuss generalized Geocaching developments as they pertain to our particular part of the country. It also provides a way for members to ask questions and give advice or tips (though not tips on specific caches!), and through cache events, to provide a place for Geoachers to socialize and meet other cachers. We also host special events from time to time, like the Enjoy, Enjoy! series of caches, the Shotgun race event, a photo "cointest," the sale of NEPAG logo merchandise, and a contest specifically for new members.

Is there a cost to become a member, and if not then how do you pay for the web site? There is no cost to become a member. When we hold a raffle at an event, we use the money to pay for the website and domain name, to pay for the pavilion rental for the event (if applicable), and to purchase certain small items needed for the event itself when needed (charcoal, paper products, etc.). If we take in more than we need, we'll hold a drawing wherein all the raffle entries that didn't win are dumped in a container and one person wins a small amount of "cache cash." If we rent a pavilion for an event, such as at a state park, we put out a donations can which people can toss a dollar or two in, but they don't have to if they don't want to. When we have NEPAG merchandise for sale, we sometimes get a small profit, though the main aim there is to be sure we break even. So far, we have been able to pay for our small expenditures through event raffles and merchandise sales, so we have not felt a need to formalize membership by having dues.

Who designed the logo? It was designed by Fox-and-the-Hound. He came up with a representation of the state with beams that seem to draw you into the group. There were also many names for the group at first, but the final decision was made for it to be NEPAG, which is nice and short.

Wow, that is fantastic. Now you might say “Why join”? Well there are many good reasons to join. Events are held which allow members to get together and search for caches together, and it allows everyone to get to know the new members. It’s also a way for new members to get some answers to questions they may have about our sport, but really are not sure who to ask.

Speaking from personal experience this is a great organization. I really enjoyed getting to know a lot of the cachers whose names I always saw in the logs, but never knew who they were. The first event I attended was held at the Merli-Sarnoski Park and it was a great time. I met even more people who share the same obsession as me. We did a lot of eating, talking, exchanging info, caching, and picture taking. And as always there seems to be a contest of some sort for all to be involved with. This event really was fun and it gave us a taste for what NEPAG was all about, and it made me want to become more involved with the group so I made it a point to make sure we could attend the next event. The next event was held at the Lackawanna State Park. Our whole family went to this one. It gave us a chance to meet more of the members, share some cider and donuts, and even win a few prizes. We could not stay for any caches that day, but it was good to meet more members. We had lots of fun and we cannot wait for the next one to come to our area.

So if you have never checked out the NEPAG site then you need to do that right now. Don’t put it off until another day. Just click on the NEPAG logo below, check out the next event, sign up, and come out to meet some great people and have lots of fun. Who knows, you might even find some time to search out a few caches.

Thanks to all who contributed to this article.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dodger's Favorite Cache Logs

Ever had a crazy experience or had something really funny or strange go down while out caching? Ever wonder if anybody ever reads your cache log and hears about your wild adventures? Well, I do! From time to time, I’m going to use my Tuesday posting to feature some of my favorite geocaching logs. So keep watching – you might be surprised to see yourself featured here on Cache Crazy.

Today’s “Dodger’s Favorite Cache Logs” is from frenchfrynfrosty’s UP 25743 and was written by geocacher stellarscapes. This really cracked me up:

This cache was one of several finds today. We signed the log "Team TSG" which consisted of myself, TheJump, The Pirates of Wallenpaupack, and Gilwell1. As we were searching for this cache, I noticed a "Street Department" truck going by through the parking lot very slowly watching us. A few minutes later, a police car showed up. Luckily, we had already found the cache and had just rehid it. We explained to the officer about geocaching and he then walked over to the Street Department truck which had reappeared and explained it to him. After posing for a picture, we headed on to the next cache. Thanks for all the fun!

First and foremost, good for the street department workers for reporting suspicious activities and good for the police to follow up on it. That's what keeps our towns safe. Hats off to them, and I mean it.

For sure, though, there's nothing like a visit from the authorities when you think you're not causing any trouble. That certainly can be a surprise!

Thanks for reading “Dodger’s Favorite Cache Logs” and remember to share your experiences when you log your finds. Folks are reading!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Making Geocaching better one cache at a time

By: Bloodhounded

Notes from the author: You can make a big difference in the longevity of a cache and Geocaching in general.




When I first started geocaching I was enthusiastic to find as many caches as I could. Not that the numbers where really important but, I wanted to see all different types of caches and find what was out there. What I found was an eye opener and I knew right away that I needed to change the way I looked at caches and started to bring additional stuff with me in the field.

I found caches that were filled with water, smashed all over the place, completely missing, empty and basically done for with nothing but an “archiving” fate. If I archived every busted and soggy cache, I knew I would be limiting the opportunities. Instead, I decided to send emails to the cache owners (aka CO’s). Many got right back to me and promised to fix it however, others never responded. I knew I couldn’t just leave them like that for the next cacher so, I made it my mission to “rescue them” and that I did. It made me feel good that even though the cache didn’t have a responsible owner, it now had a safe and secure home. I know, I have problems. Mind you, these are not my hides.

On subsequent caching trips I went prepared with what I called my “Cache First Aid Kit”. It was assembled using the following items:

• A medium size Lock N Lock container (which I used to stuff everything else inside). The medium size is small enough to fit in a hip pack but large enough to sub for a damaged large container.

• (2) spiral notebooks (large cache logs)

• (2) small replacement logs

• (2) micro replacement logs

• (2) small plastic containers

• (4) sharpened pencils

• (1) roll of clear tape

• (2) ziplock sandwich bags

• (2) ziplock freezer bags

• (4) small ziplock bags

That sounds like a lot of stuff but it fits nicely in the container and I’m ready for any cache container s in the field no matter if they are minor or critical injuries. No cache dies on my watch!

As a CO, I really appreciate when someone goes out of their way to fix up one of my hides. I always add a comment of thanks to the log and make sure I send a Thank You email. Here are some signs that you might have to spring into action and break out the survival kit:

1. Check the logs of the last three cachers who found it last. Many will make mention of the log being wet or full, the container being cracked or something to that effect. I target these caches because to me it’s a twofold adventure, I get to find the cache and I get to fix it up too. For some strange reason, I find pleasure in that.

2. A cache that hasn’t been found in a long time is suspicious. Email the cache owner before you go and let them know you are prepared to do maintenance if needed. Sometimes they will email you back and tell you what it needs and offer additional support (cell number) to get field support if needed. The caches that haven’t been found in a long time are usually the ones that are a 3+ mile hike and you don’t want to come away without a smiley.

3. Great caches that just got a bad break. These are caches that are in a great location and get a lot of seeker traffic however no one has the stuff to fix them. The logs usually spell out what is needed.

4. If you come across a full log you can replace it with a new one BUT PLEASE, do not remove the original log. They are the history documented for all to see.

5. Don’t forget your swag bag! I have some “secondary” swag that I don’t mind parting with and some caches have nothing! So I dump some swag in there and it’s all set.

6. Some caches need a complete overhaul. You’ll find yourself basically doing everything because the cache is so badly damaged there is no hope for the container and its contents are gone.

By making a geocache fully functional, you are insuring that the cache will not be archived in the near future, adding to the longevity of the location and insuring that the next seeker has a positive geocaching experience. Who knows, it could be someone’s very first cache adventure (we all remember that one don’t we?) or some little kid who is all excited about the treasure.

By helping out the CO’s, they have more time to plan a cache and do additional hides. This insures the growth of the sport and keeps a smiley not only in your cache count but on the faces of everyone who participates in the adventure of geocaching.

Yes, you CAN make a difference, one cache at a time!

TEAM BLOODHOUNDED

Saturday, March 26, 2011

GUEST POST - Dave : smithie23

I would like you to meet our friend Dave from smithie23. I remember when Dave was on his first handfull of caches and now he has more finds than me. He is a great geocacher who hides as good as he finds and he's one hell of a writer too. So, go get that second cup of coffee and enjoy a special guest post.

WORKING HARD, OR HARDLY WORKING?

I often hear the phrase “the world is our game board” used when describing geocaching. It’s one of the beautiful things about our game/sport. You can play this game anywhere in the world (as long as you have permission, of course)! As with other areas in life, we sometimes focus too much on what, and specifically WHERE, we are accustomed to. The end result is we often miss out on things which are around us, because we choose not to take the time to expand our minds and horizons.


I often travel, as my job dictates. I make regular trips to south Florida and Arizona. In my limited downtime on these business trips, I’ve been able to get some caching in. I’ve found caching away from home to be particularly rewarding. It satisfies on two levels: I love to see new things, and I love finding new caches. (I love seeing a new state pop up on my stats page, but that’s another blog for another time!)

Most of my long distance caching is done on foot. A day or two before the trip, I’ll scout out my destination for caches, and run a pocket query for that area, limiting caches to 100 or so, of lower-rated terrain. By checking out the maps, I will usually target a cache or two, close to where I’m staying and/or working. Time is of the essence on these trips, so I’m primarily limited to an hour or so, and almost always in the morning. My goal is not about the numbers, but for the find. I’ve found geocaching can provide a bit of a local flair. I’ve seen containers used in Florida which would never last in the harsh winters of Pennsylvania. Lingo tends to vary by area, judging by logs I’ve read.

When Kevin (Bloodhounded) asked me to guest blog on cachecrazy.com, this was one topic I had in mind. As the situation prevented itself, I had to travel to Scottsdale, Arizona for a few days. I was last in Scottsdale in the fall of 2009, and posted a DNF for one of the coolest cache sites I’ve seen to date.

Arizona Falls (GCGEZR) eluded me on that trip. I searched for a good 30 minutes, but my schedule did not allot me for any more time, and I had to give up. As disappointed as I was for not finding the cache, I was brought to a great location. Ground zero is located at what appears to be a water treatment facility. On the property, there are several waterfalls. Waterfalls in the desert! Forget for a moment about the fact they are man-made. Waterfalls in the desert! It was a memory I took back to NEPA with me.

I was determined to find Arizona Falls this time. Ground zero was about a ¾-mile walk from where I was staying. A cool Arizona morning greeted me, and I was determined to not walk away empty handed this time. I approached the area, and utilizing the hint, I headed straight to where I believed the cache was. One careful swipe of my left hand, and there it was! How did I possibly miss it the last time? It didn’t matter, I had found it. I signed the logbook (which had just been replaced in the days leading up to my visit) and took a few minutes to gaze at the waterfalls, as I had done about a year and a half ago.

Arizona Falls was a great example of a well-placed micro. There was nothing overly clever about the container, or where it was placed. There didn’t need to be. It brought me to a place I may have, otherwise, never seen. As a bonus, it’s now both my southernmost and westernmost found cache. Sweet!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Can You Cope With A DNF?

Can You Cope With A DNF?


Tips and tricks for keeping your cool, on and off the field.

DctrSpott
  

We've all been there before. Out in the field for what seems like hours, with absolutely no luck. It sucks. But with these simple tricks, you can keep your cool and be an all star cacher.

First off, blame someone else. It's not your fault you can't make the find. It could be due to any of the following reasons:

-It was muggled.
-It was weather damaged.
-The CO hates you.
-The CO is a terrible hider.
-The difficulty rating was unfair.
...and many more.

Still, this is little condolence. You need to take action! While you could [log a DNF] , beware: this will lead everyone to believe you're a terrible cacher. Take these steps to ensure other cachers know how it went down:

-Mention what a terrible area for a hide it was. Bonus points if you reference other caches that have done it before.
-Couldn't find that 1/1? Make sure the CO knows what a poor job he did judging the difficulty.
-The longer you were there, the guiltier the CO will feel. Exaggeration is key here. Mention you spent over three hours there, and the CO may feel bad. Injure yourself? She's crying now. Throw in how you missed a daughter's dance recital or a relative's funeral, and now you know the CO won't be placing caches for years to come.
-Talk about your caching pedigree. You've found ten thousand caches, so one like this shouldn't be a hangup. You're not responsible for someone else's poor work.

Remember, the only way to follow up a stern repremanding DNF is by griping to the forums. The world needs to know just how bad this cache is!

Finally, there are things you can do to cope in the field:
-Have you made the area look completely overturned? If it doesn't look like a tornado hit, the next cacher will know you didn't really try. Throw stones, knock down trees, pull up plants.
-Out for a multi? Make sure to destroy every previous stage. Don't let others suffer how you have.
-Can't solve a field puzzle? Can't open a container? Completely destroy it. After all, if you can't open it, that was probably the CO's intention. Rocks, knives, submerge in a river, explosives. Nuke it from orbit: it's the only way to be sure.

So that's my advice! Hope it helps! I remember: when all else fails, you're probably just a failure.

It's nothing a beer or two won't fix.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Can You Hear the Music?


By: Big Al
When you're outside what do you listen to?






WELCOME TO THIRSTY THURSDAY!
Grab a cup of coffee, or tea, sit back and LISTEN carefully.

The other day my wife was reading a book on music and something she said really hit me. It was “Can you hear the music”? I began to think on this thought for a while and then I reflected on my hiking and caching experiences. Many times while out hiking or caching I see people coming along the trails and as I look at them I see that they have these things hanging out of their ears. Now I know they seem to be enjoying themselves as they beebop along, but are they really? It seems that everyone wants to hear the latest hits, or listen to the newest movies, but they are missing out on some of the greatest music ever created.
Of course the music I’m talking about is the symphony of the outdoors.
As you walk along the trails listen to the sounds of the creek as it meanders along, or the call of the Rose Breasted Grossbeak as he tries to attract a mate. Do you hear the coos of the Mourning Doves as they talk back and forth to each other? If you listen hard enough you can even hear the clatter of the squirrel’s claws as they run up and down the trees. I’m sure too that after they’ve seen you they’ll start announcing to everyone in the woods that you’re there. At least they always do this to me during deer season.



Then as you approach the top of the hill you’ll feel the gentle breeze as it whisps along your face and you can hear the trees begin to talk as they sway back and forth. Once in a while you might even hear the distant gobble of a wild turkey; gobble, gobble gobble.



When I am out in the woods I try to get the kids to listen for different sounds that they hear and see if they can identify them. Sometimes it’s fun just to sit for a bit and see how many different sounds you can hear. Like the little mouse who’s crawling through the leaves and sqeaking to his mate for her to follow him. And there are countless times I’ve heard the beating of the drums that start out slow and then becomes faster and faster. Then you realize it’s the Ruffed Grouse who’s beating his wings as he stands atop of an old log calling to any young lady passing by. If your quiet you might even hear his mate as she slips away from the nest trying to pull your attention away from where she has been sitting.
















What’s really neat is if you’re out first thing in the morning you’ll begin to hear those birds and animals as they wake up. Chick-a-dee, dee, dee. Chick-a-dee, dee, dee. Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo says the Great Horned Owl. Listen, was that a buck snorting at us? Then there is always the little peep, peep, peep, of the spring peepers as they tell us spring is hear to stay.

Isn’t this music more along the lines of what we need to hear? Everyday you can put those things in your ears and listen to your version of whatever.
For once, while your out in the woods, leave the mp3 player at home, leave the iPod in the car, and turn your cell phone to vibrate and listen for the greatest symphony you’ll ever hear. I’ll bet if your quiet you might even here the special call of the Geocacher. It goes something like this: Wooohoooo, First-to-Find. Yeah, baby. (Dancing usually follows.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY

T-SHIRT COLLECTION
Photo by: BlazerMan
Learn more about this photo

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring

I don’t think anybody’s going to argue with this – it’s been a brutal winter. Fun, no doubt. I had a ball skiing this year, both cross-country and downhill. It felt great to get on the slopes after a couple years away from it. The bitter cold weather made for comfortable, warm nights in front of the wood burner, and the snow on the landscape was beautiful. The kids got a chance to sled ride, and we took a few winter hikes to shake the dust off. The beauty of Pennsylvania is that we can experience all the seasons, and they all have something to offer. Winter happens to be one of them.

It has been long, though, and I suspect we’re all ready for sunny days and warmer nights. The cold and snow really held on this year, right to the very end. It’s time for Old Man Winter to call it a season, and it looks like Mother Nature finally told him to pack it up. It seemed he only got the message just this past Friday because that’s the day I got four solid signs that the seasons have changed. I saw the first robins of the year, caught the unmistakable call of the American Woodcock, spotted two gobblers strutting in a field, and heard the spring peepers for the first time. Of course, these are all harbingers of this new beginning we call spring.

Dan the Woodsman mentioned in his blog (http://www.projectexploreny.com/) that he marks his ‘official’ opening of spring when he sees robins for the first time of the year. In his case, that was March 14. I think many of us feel the same way. These familiar birds act as a sort of scout for us humans. Once we see the robins, we might just feel a little safer venturing outdoors. Friday was the 18th, so I was only a few days behind DTW. Anybody else mark the date when you first spot robins?

Since we’re talking birds, my favorite of them all is the American Woodcock. I’ve seen them as early as President’s Day some years, but I don’t consider it spring until the males begin their courtship flights. If you’ve never seen it, you must make the effort. Woodcock favor moist soils and early succession forests, especially birch and aspen. Visit such a habitat just before dark and listen for the unmistakable nasally “PEENT” call of the male. He’ll repeat this over and over from the forest floor until he begins an amazing flight skyward. You’ll hear the whistling of the wings as he spirals higher to a point where he is quite literally out of sight. Once the apex of his flight is reached, he’ll begin a much tighter spiral downward until he hits the earth in what looks like a spectacular crash. After a slight pause, you’ll hear the “PEENT” from his new location, and the process will start all over again. It’s quite the stunt so it’s no wonder the ladies are impressed. Woodcock habitat can sometimes be hard to find. If you are lucky enough to know of a good spot, let me throw in this little tip. Keep it a secret!

The bird talk continues with the gobble of the turkey. Seeing a gobbler in full strut is certainly one of the most beautiful spectacles in all of Penn’s Woods. Hearing them gobble is a music all of its own. Hunting the spring gobbler is one of the most fun, most frustrating tasks I choose to do. Turkeys certainly live by the “early to bed, early to rise” motto, so plan on getting up long before sunrise if you’re up for the challenge!

Speaking of music of the woods, I also mentioned that I heard the spring peepers on Friday. Like robins, the sound of this small frog is another mark of the change in seasons. Pleasant evenings on the porch, a favorite drink in hand, quietly humming a tune with the peepers playing rhythm…

Ah, but don’t get too comfortable! The old timers say that winter isn’t really over until the peepers freeze three times. What’s funny to me is that every year this seems to come true. Case in point, here’s the picture we woke up to yesterday morning…


Three times??? Well, that’s one down anyway! I guess we’ll have to deal with a few more cold nights, but the calendar and Mother Nature are telling us that spring is here. Enjoy it and all the seasons.

CACHE MAINTENANCE

Shifting gears just a bit to geocaching but also in the spring theme, the kids and I got out on Sunday to do a little maintenance on our “Re-Hidden Lehigh” cache. I was quite curious to see how all the stages held up through the winter. I am pleased to report that everything looks good and is awaiting the next group of adventure seekers.

Just to shamelessly plug the cache a little…

This is a challenging multicache to a lesser-known section of the Lehigh River. The original cache was called “Hidden Lehigh” and was placed by frenchfrynfrosty. Dodger Lizard Crew was fortunate to adopt the cache back in September 2010. For artistic license purposes, we changed up a few of the hides but overall it’s still in the spirit of the original. Many thanks go out to frenchfrynfrosty for placing the original “Hidden Lehigh” cache and for trusting it in the hands of DLC. We appreciate it!

Not nearly the photographer as some, I posted a couple pictures from our outing. Hope you like…

A vernal pool
Ice formation
Lehigh River swollen from recent rain and snow melt

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Has Sprung!!!!!!!!!!!!


By: Bloodhounded
Notes from author: Happy Spring! What an exciting time of year but, be ready and know your limits to insure a great time. 


Well, it’s finally here. The first official day of spring! And, our one month anniversary here at CacheCrazy.Com under our newly organized format and current Team! This is a great day indeed! I decided to add a spring type theme to the site. Thanks to all of our admin authors, guest authors and our readers for making the site a success! We're having a blast, I hope you are too and it never hurts to let us know how we are doing. Your opinion means a lot to us, hint, hint :)

With that said, today let’s look at preparation for the fair weather chaching season.
I know many hunters who go as far as to schedule stress tests right before deer season. They want to be sure that they are fit enough to endure the physically demanding hunt. Especially here in the North East where no matter where you hunt, you’re either on a mountain or you’re climbing one.

I think the same goes for Geocaching. Unless C&D’s are your thing, it’s likely you are about to get active again. This activity will mesh with other “spring” tasks as well. Not a bad idea to schedule that doctor’s appointment for your annual physical. After all, you have to do it sometime, right? Let your doctor know what level of activity you plan to do. Even a young cacher can benefit from the assurance of a medical professional.

Stretching (or warm up through gradual intensity), dressing appropriately and knowing your limits is what it’s all about. Nothing you can bring along on a geocache hunt will benefit you more than your good common sense. Use it. By summer you’ll likely be a mean, lean caching machine like Dodger. If not, no biggie but, know that heat stroke and dehydration are the two menaces that plague the cacher during the spring/summer. As if ticks weren't bad enough.
Speaking of which, remember we are humans in an insect’s world. Chances are pretty darn good you’ll be dealing with a bite of some kind. Be ready with some Benadryl, antiseptic and bug wipes. Don’t forget your shades and sunscreen or you’re in for bloodshot eyes as red as your new sun burn. Ouch!

$35.00 at Khol's is a great deal
I think no matter what time of the year we are caching the most deprived part of your body is your feet. Having the proper foot gear is so important. You don’t have to spend $100.00 on Keen’s to make your trip enjoyable. On the other hand please, leave the flip flops at home. It’s not a fashion show either so drop the ones that look good and go with the ones that feel good. There are many choices for different terrains at several price ranges to boot (no pun intended).

This is my trusty hiking staff
Finally, a suggestion from a cacher who uses one; use a walking stick of some sort. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy and a nice four foot piece of oak does nicely in a pinch. I use one for several reasons. First, I like the way it feels to hike with a stick. I enjoy mine because it has a shock absorbing system and I can change the tip to match the terrain. It has saved me a fall or two for sure. Great for water crossings too and when you have to rummage around the rocks and holes in the ground looking for that cache container, I feel more confident doing so with a stick.

If you are reading this and thinking “awe, screw that, I’m fine and ready right now” Don’t say I didn’t tell you so. Don’t let a great trip turn into a bad time by not thinking ahead. Geocaching is addictive and like everything addictive it’s done at times on a whim, in a hurry and without a lot of forethought. Make it your best trip ever and have fun!
Happy Spring!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

GUEST POST - Bill and Kathy : Over The Hill Gang

I would like to welcome Bill and Kathy from Over The Hill Gang to CacheCrazy.Com! These folks are well known in the caching communities of northeast Pennsylvania. As their story will tell, they have done it all and have a wonderful message for all of us. So, without any further ado, here's Kathy who authors this self reflection of her and Bill's geocaching team.
Thanks for your contribution,
Bloodhounded


Hello to all fellow geocachers!


My name is Kathy, the female half of Over_The_Hill_Gang. Bill and I started Geocaching four short years ago this month. Our first geocaches were found at Frances Slocum State Park. Unbeknownst to us at the time, we were being observed by a fellow cacher! He later told us at a CITO at Francis Walter Dam, that he knew we were newbies but he let us have our fun. Thanks Butcher63!

Things sure have changed in four years. When we started, we found quite a few ammo cans, TB’s and geocoins. We carried our own trade bag and had lots of fun trading items and reading the logbooks. Now we find mostly micros and Tupperware with logs only – no room to trade!

We have found them all – nanos, nanos in the woods, pill bottles, film canisters, bison tubes, decon containers, five gallon buckets and our favorites, UNIQUE containers.

Our Family Group Hunt GC1JEY6 KAPU
We have tried them all from 1/1 to 5/5. We would rather spend all day ( or all night! ) finding a twelve part mystery cache than finding fifty guardrail caches.
Geocaching is contagious, and we soon had our children and grandchildren, ages 3 – 13, hiking the trails with us. We also met our very good friends through this sport when we got an email from someone called pointme2, asking about a cache we had previously located! Someone asked our opinion. Wow, this was great!

We love to hike and explore and one day we decided to try a keoki_eme cache on Conservancy land in Mocanaqua. Well that did it, we were hooked, and we have found 34 of his 55 caches.

Family at Glen Lyon’s Jurassic Park ( THE ICE MINE )
It is not about the numbers for us, but the fun of locating them. It is about the challenge –the challenge of scouting the area, checking out the views and history, exploring the area, finding the cache, signing the log and then head home knowing that we DID IT! We really don’t like to ask for help and have been known to spend four hours looking for one stage of a multi. Yes, it was for a FTF and no we did not get it that day, but we did go back and complete it.

We placed our first cache in 2008 and now have thirty-four. A word to the wise, remember to do maintenance on your caches. Also, please log your DNF’s as that alerts the CO if the cache needs some TLC. We replace logs sheets on caches when we find them full and have occasionally replaced a broken container.

    Walker Hunter Family BIG BOULDER
  • Geocaching is a great “sport” because you can make it want you desire.

  • You are never too old.

  • Seek Caches while on your lunch hour.

  • Take the kids.

  • Take your four legged friends; they need the exercise as much as their owners.

  • Pack a snack, or a lunch.

  • Walk a tenth of a mile or walk ten miles, we have done them both.

  • Cache alone or with friends.

  • Attend an event.
But above all – HAVE FUN. You chose the time, place, and partners. Give it a try. We may meet you on the trail or at an event and we will be able to share our adventure stories!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bushwhackers Anonymous

Bushwhackers Anonymous



Learn to cope with your adventurous side.


DctrSpott



Hi, my name is DctrSpott, and I have a problem...

I just can't seem to stay on trails.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not dumb or anything. I can track trails pretty well, even in heavy underbrush or snow. Like my dog, I just seem to have an eye for it. I even enjoy walking trails: it gives me this feeling of connectedness with the past. Walking the same path many others have walked before, possibly hundreds of years early, is just pretty cool.

But I just can't stay on them. Sure, I usually start out well, find the trailhead and start walking. But the trail curves, and I wonder, "Hey, might it be faster to just keep going straight?" But maybe it's not just that. Sometimes, I just think I don't like the trails telling me what to do. I mean, who are they, right? I don't need them bossing me around and keeping me down. And let's be honest: I'm pretty smart. I can probably figure out a more direct way to my destination than whatever bozos were here before me. And besides, the GPS says it's only a couple hundred meters straight ahead.

It usually works out fine. And sometimes I stumble on some cool spots. But sometimes things get slightly... problematic.

Last week, I was down in Pennsylvania's State Game Land # 38, going after GC18EGW, Mountain Lake.  This multi involves reading a provided map to locate the penultimate stage.

Not quite... but close.
So, in usual fashion, I started off following what I thought was the trail shown on the map. Less than five minutes later, I found myself completely off the trail, thinking I could navigate to the stage much more directly than just following the trail, with only my handdrawn map as a guide. After an hour, I stumbled onto a stream, and was able to follow it to a trail. I laughed at my experience, eventually made the find, and swore to cast off my bushwhacker ways.

Less than 30 minutes later, on the way to another cache in the area, I stopped to read my GPS. "Looks like the cache is about 800 meters away, directly to my left, off the trail.... and over a lake." I was back to my old ways, off the trail, trying to circumnavigate the lake.

STOP! What did I just do?? Haven't I learned my lesson? I laughed again, and returned to the trail. By the way, I traveled 3 times as fast on the trail.

All in all, it turned out well. And hey, bushwhacking can be fun. But sometimes, it's best to just resist the urge, stick with the trail more traveled by, and just relax.

PS: Don't forget to tell me about your favorite Northeastern Pennsylvania caches.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Beech Blight Aphid?

By Big Al
This article is on the Beech Blight Aphid that I encountered last year at the PA Bow Hunter's Festival.


WELCOME TO THIRSTY THURSDAY!
Grab a cup of coffee or tea, sit back and learn a little about the Beech Blight Aphid.
If you tuned in last week and heard about the little bugs I found while camping at World’s End Stae Park, then I’m glad you’re back to find out more about them. A few days after talking to the Game Commission guys at the PA Bowhunters Festival a forester contacted me and asked me to send some pictures of the bugs, which I did. The next day I received a letter explaining what these bugs are. They are part of the woolly aphid group. I am including the article that was sent to me and a few pictures so you can recognize these little dancing pests. Although the article concerns Massachusetts they have been found here in PA as noted by me at World's End State Park.

The Beech Blight Aphid
(Grylloprociphilus imbricator (Fitch))





A somewhat uncommon pest for Massachusetts has become quite common this fall. It is a woolly aphid species known as the Beech Blight Aphid (Grylloprociphilus imbricator (Fitch)). Despite its natural range being from Maine to Florida, it is seldom seen here. When it does appear, however, it is usually in dramatic fashion. The aphid itself is a light bluish color but it amasses by the thousands on the twigs, small branches, and the undersides of foliage primarily of the American beech, Fagus grandifolia. Populations can become quite obvious as early as July but by September and October, they can be spectacular. Infested beech trees can appear to have their smaller branches and twigs covered with snow. In this regard, they look remarkably similar to colonies of the woolly alder aphid, which, as the name implies, is a pest of certain alders.








In addition to being occasionally abundant and showy, this species is capable of producing vast amounts of honeydew. This aphid excrement is plant sap that has gone through the insect=s body where certain amino acids and other nutrients having been extracted. The rest is then expelled as waste onto the branches, foliage, understory plants, and the ground below. Certain fungi known as the sooty molds then colonize this honeydew and turn the substrate black. Oftentimes, given large populations of aphids, this sooty mold can be very thick and almost tar-like. Sooty mold fungi do not penetrate the epidermis of plants; they only derive nutrient value from the sugars in the honeydew that is on the surface of the plants. However, because of the copious amounts of honeydew produced by this aphid, the production of sooty mold can become severe and spectacular in its own right.



Another characteristic of this aphid is that it will raise the posterior end of its body and sway when it is disturbed. This action produces a dance-like effect that occurs throughout the colony. This phenomenon has led some to refer to this species as the ABoogie-Woogie Aphid.@ It is a unique experience to see hundreds, if not thousands, of these perform this defensive, yet highly entertaining, behavior.
video

There is a lack of consensus as to the overall importance of this insect and its short or long-term effects on the health of the host plant. It has been speculated that heavy populations may kill smaller limbs of beech trees. Others suggest that smaller and/or distorted foliage may result from the feeding pressure imposed by this insect. Ultimately, there is no indication that this aphid causes any real serious harm beyond that of the vast amounts of aesthetically displeasing sooty mold. However, many of our trees have been experiencing drought stress and this may act as a compounding factor when coupled with exceedingly large populations of this aphid. Many different insects that have a piercing-sucking mouth type commonly attack American beech, which is a thin-barked tree. Other problem insects, such as oystershell scale and/or the beech tree scale may also be present, contributing more stress than individual trees may be able to withstand.
Effective treatments, if deemed necessary, include certain pyrethroid insecticides that have a quick "knockdown" effect, horticultural oil sprays (weather permitting), and insecticidal soap. Imidacloprid*, utilized as a systemic compound, is generally very effective against aphid species but now is not the time to administer this compound. Imidacloprid* requires many weeks from the time of application to the point where it is up into the stems and foliage where it can be ingested by feeding aphids. If chosen as a means for management next year, this product can be soil applied next spring once the soil temperatures are at or above 50 degrees F. and the soil is not water-saturated from spring rains and/or snow-melt.
It is known that several natural controls, in the form of parasites, do exist and will ultimately reduce population sizes. In general, Beech Blight Aphid (BBA) populations remain high for 2-3 years. By looking closely within the tightly packed colonies of this aphid, one may actually see the limited presence of these parasites now. Research has shown, however, that BBA at a certain stage of development will actually attack and attempt to kill beneficial insects within their colony. Eventually, though, the natural controls will be effective in greatly reducing the population numbers of this aphid species.
Ants are often associated with densely packed aphid colonies such as these. They are interested in obtaining the sugar-rich honeydew as a food source. In other aphid colonies, ants will actually protect aphids by working to drive away parasites and predators that want to feed on or parasitize the aphids. In the case of the BBA however, ants are usually not found intermingling within colonies of these densely packed aphids. The ants are able to harvest as much honeydew from the ground or other substrates due to the copious nature of BBA honeydew production.
Robert D. Childs
UMass Extension Entomologist - Landscape, Nursery and Urban Forestry

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

End of an Era

A Chapter in American history nears its finish...

Sunday, April 12, 1981. I was 7 years old. My Dad woke my brother and me up early that morning so we could witness a part of history. At 7:00 AM Eastern Standard Time, Space Shuttle Columbia – STS-1 – rocketed from the Kennedy Space Center launch pad, and American human space flight officially resumed after a six year hiatus. It was a mission of firsts. The first shuttle launch, yes, but also the first manned vehicle launched with this type of propulsion system, the first spacecraft to be landed like a conventional aircraft, and the first reusable orbiter. It was the birth of a 30-year program, immense national pride, and something I would later realize I had witnessed from its conception to its end.

So it was with some sadness last Wednesday that I watched Space Shuttle Discovery touch down for the very last time. Upside down and backwards relative to the Earth, her thrusters were fired to increase drag. Eventually gravity took over and the spacecraft dropped from orbit. At that point, she couldn’t have turned around even if she wanted. From 200-odd miles up and literally half the world away, Discovery began her descent to eastern Florida. An orbital velocity of 17,000 miles per hour. To zero. One last time.

The now-retired Discovery has flown more missions than any of the other shuttles and was used for many of NASA’s landmark moments. It was the ship used to launch the Hubble Telescope, and, of the five service missions to the Hubble, it was used for two of them. Because the Hubble orbits higher than the International Space Station, Discovery also holds the altitude record over any of the other shuttles, a mind-boggling 385 miles or so above the Earth. For comparison, the ISS orbits the Earth at an altitude anywhere between 173 and 286 miles with an average of 264 miles.

In my mind, the shuttle program has been a great success, but it hasn’t been without tragedy. The complexities and dangers of human space flight are very real. I mention the two shuttle disasters as a stark reminder of the risks these women and men take and to serve as a tribute to their dedication and their work.

I vividly remember January 28, 1986. The sixth grade teachers already knew the story. They scrambled to set up a television in the classroom as a bunch of confused students tried to decipher their concern. When the news came on the screen, we then learned what happened. As Space Shuttle Challenger launched on an unusually cold Florida day, a faulty O-ring was allowing hydrogen to escape. When the propulsion fuel ignited, Challenger and her crew were lost only 73 seconds into flight. It was a numbing experience to witness with my silent classmates. Our teachers stood stoically, trying to explain, trying to make sense. I’m sure it was especially surreal for them, as one of their colleagues and peers, a fellow teacher, was part of that crew. Later, President Reagan comforted a grieving nation with words that will always touch those that remember that day so well – “(They) waved goodbye and slipped the surly bonds of Earth to go touch the face of God.”

I vividly recall February 1, 2003. I was traveling that day and listening to the news on the radio. As Space Shuttle Columbia was reentering the Earth’s atmosphere, its frame melted away due to a missing heat shield tile. Columbia – the first shuttle ever in orbit – disintegrated. Her crew – so close to completing the journey – perished. President Bush explained it to the American people – “The same Creator who names the stars also knows the names of the seven souls we mourn today. The crew of the shuttle Columbia did not return safely to Earth; yet we can pray that all are safely home.”
I am not a rocket scientist, an astronomer, or a pilot, but I have always had more than just a passing interest in the Space Shuttle program. It was engrained in us. It was part of our lives. It played a role in our education. Until that April morning three decades ago, space travel was something I only ever saw in a movie or a beat up history book or a grainy old news clip. With the American space program now at a crossroads, this will likely be the case again for our youth well into the foreseeable future.

With that thought in mind, I want to encourage everyone to enjoy the shuttle program before it finally comes to an end. If you are standing in darkness and the orbiter is in sunlight, it is actually very easy to see with the naked eye. This is an excellent way to be a “part” of the mission. As you watch the sky, prepare yourself to be amazed. It is… well… it is out of this world. For viewing opportunities in your area, see the NASA website:
http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/index.html

There are two flights remaining. Space Shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to liftoff next month. Space Shuttle Atlantis will launch in June.

And that will be it.

17,000 mph to zero.

One last time.

Will you be watching?






"To the ship that has led the way time and time again, we say, 'Farewell Discovery.'”
- Mission Control commentator Josh Byerly
(http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/iotd.html)

Monday, March 14, 2011

The challenge to be understood


By: Bloodhounded
Happy Monday! That is an oxymoron!




 On Friday I had my annual performance evaluation. I did pretty well but like everyone, I have a few areas that need some work, I guess. I can deal with that. The problem is; I still get the impression that my supervisor (who is the Senior VP of Operations) still doesn’t completely understand what I do! At home my kids certainly don’t understand what I am doing and even with this blog, my wife knows it’s here but, really doesn’t follow it or understand why I’m up al night typing. My coworkers and I really don’t connect either and my friends wonder where I’ve been most of the time. Even the dogs treated me like I was a stranger this morning.

To top all of this off, my hobbies of raising mallard ducks, collecting trout stamps, sustaining marine aquaria, HTML code writing (learning), agricultural crop tender (soon to be) and geocaching. These seem to perplex most folks. I mean, have you ever tried to explain geocaching to someone who has never heard of it?

A true story:
The team and I were searching for a microcache on an urban memorial with a real cannon and many flags. We carefully worked our way through every inch of that place and while doing so a car pulled up to us and the guy inside said, “Can I help you guys out with something?” he said while wondering why we were combing the area. “We’re looking for a geocache” I told him. “Is that where you lost it?” he asked and I was just getting ready to break into my spiel but, instead just said “YES”. He drove off; we made the find and called it a day. I wasn’t exactly sure how to explain it in twenty words or less so decided to forfeit. He likely would have shaken his head “yes” but inside he would be thinking “huh???” Just add him to the list of the un-understandable.

As we go about our days in our personal and professional lives we often forget that we set the standards for ourselves and “expect others” to know what those values are. Then we have the tenacity to say “you don’t understand me”! DUH! Maybe I just wasn’t clear.

“Geocaching is a high tech treasure hunt using GPS technology, online services and hidden containers called caches that you find”. There. 20 words. Now do you understand?

Being a huge fan of the HR and motivational guru Mr. Stephen Covey, his principle of seeking first to understand, then to be understood comes to mind. As one of Covey's published "habits" of "Highly Effective People", this one tends to be the most challenging. Many of us (self included) live in a world of our own, sometimes thinking only of ourselves and how to "get ahead" in life without putting considerable thought into what value we bring to others. The challenge I face many times is patience and the genuine listening necessary to truly understand what that value looks like.

I must be grouchy today and should just have another coffee and be thankful for my valuable blessings. Compared to those poor people in Japan whose whole world is turned upside down, my problems seem very small, tiny in fact, nearly invisible. So, I’ll stop now and hope that you will join me in saying a prayer for all who have suffered an unfathomable, life changing, natural disaster and in the midst of all that they have lost; their only value of happiness is “life” itself. God bless them all, amen.
 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Chopper Command


Some time ago I came across one of those plug-in joysticks that has all of the 1980s Activision games on it. I was like, “Far out! Old-school Atari!” I decided to grab a sixer of colas, pop in some Greg Kihn Band tunes, and try to break a few of the high scores from back in the day. It didn’t take long for the mechanics to come back. The sound effects! The graphics! The nostalgia! The simplicity of one button! Oh man, this was going to be hours of fun…!

…But after I played for awhile, some disappointment started to set in. Perhaps it was because I don’t really dig video games or because I’d rather spend time outside or play with the kids. Perhaps I just have a short attention span. Perhaps I really wanted to read a book or shoot my bow or go fishing or geocaching…

…Or perhaps it was because I finally accepted the truth…

“Chopper Command” is actually pretty lame.

I walked away let down but wiser for the experience.

Maybe it’s not Chopper Command for you. Maybe it’s “The Phantom Menace” or a McDonald’s Shamrock Shake or a tube of Mighty Putty. Maybe it’s those boats that you have to paddle by using foot pedals…

Here’s where I’m going with this. You go after a few geocaches with high expectations. You’re baited in by the cache page description and the attributes and the high difficulty and terrain rating, but in the end you come away let down. For awhile, you may tell yourself that these hides were a ton of fun, but eventually you admit the truth. They were just so-so. A seventy percent, friends. Barely passing.

Now with the millions of geocaches world-wide, statistics tell us that a few duds are inevitable. And I don’t have any illusions of superiority. Maybe some folks consider DLC hides to be on the weak side. That’s fine. I can take that. Everybody has a different taste. But it’s something that preys on my mind – Is a DLC cache considered a full-blown “Chopper Command” by someone else? Now THAT just might bum me out.

So here is the challenge for all of us. Don’t let your caches be a Chopper Command. You find enough Chopper Command caches and it’s likely that someday you’ll wake up to discover that this hobby you once enjoyed is really quite dull. That horrible feeling is something I don’t want to experience or cause somebody else to experience. That’s not why we play this game.

In the end, all we can do is try, but try we must. Don’t put geocaches out there just for the sake of it. Give them a theme. Make them fun. Load them up with prizes. Take people to some place really cool. If other cachers criticize your hides, you can consider whether it’s worthwhile criticism or whether it just should be taken with a grain of salt. If the effort is there, at least you can say you gave it your best shot.

Let’s not be Chopper Command hiders.

By the way, I’d love to hear from folks on this. Is there something that just didn’t live up to the hype for you? Something you maybe had built up a little bit too much in your mind? Tell us about YOUR Chopper Command!

Now back to my game…


“I wonder if those trucks have nĂ¼vis in them?”

Monday, March 7, 2011

Last night I saw an Android while I was BlackBerry picking! Part 2 The iPhone

By: Bloodhounded
Yes, you heard me correctly, an Android! Also, an iPhone made a small appearance last week and I've been searching the net looking for information on picking a BlackBerry! I was talked to by a duffus, ridiculed by some rollypolly woman and nearly swindled by a swindler. No, this isn't Bloodhounded in Wonderland, it's cell phone shopping! My least favorite pastime.


I am buying a new cell phone and along with the many needs from this communication central, I need to know that I can at least cache paperless and possibly as effective in pin pointing GZ as with my GPSr. I'm looking at three "brands" of phones, the Android, iPhone and the BlackBerry (I wont get into model specific). Obviously, a good quality geocaching app is critical. I'll look at all three and share the results with you here at CacheCrazy.Com. Today we are going to look at the iPhone (and kinda where I'm leaning right now, maybe, Kinda maybe, I don't know!!!!)

If you have any thoughts please do share them with us by using the comments feature. I need all the help I can get with this selection.

Groundspeak's Geocaching iPhone Application

Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online.


Now you can geocache using your Apple iPhone and Groundspeak's Geocaching iPhone Application.

How It Works

The iPhone 3G, 3GS and 4G use a combination of GPS, Wi-Fi positioning and cell towers to determine your approximate location. Groundspeak's iPhone Application then queries the Geocaching.com database in real-time and provides a list of geocaches near you.

Available in English, Dutch, French, German and Japanese language versions.


Instant, direct access to Geocaching.com's database of worldwide geocaches


• Search by current location, address or GC code

• Filter your hides and finds from the Geocaching.com search results

• Access geocache details, including description, photo gallery, attributes, recent logs, hint and inventory

• Look up trackable item details, including item goals, while on the trail

• Save geocache listings, including maps and photos, for quick retrieval and offline use

• Log geocache finds and post notes in the field

• Download active pocket queries for use while outside of network coverage

• Submit Trackable logs

• Upload photos when you log a geocache

• View geocache web pages on geocaching.com without leaving the application using embedded web browser

Advanced navigation capabilities


• View nearby caches on the embedded map

• View cache size, terrain and difficulty rating directly from the map screen

• Navigate to geocaches with a simulated compass arrow (iPhone 3G, 3GS and 4G only) or directly from the map screen

• Add custom waypoints when navigating to multi-caches

• Switch between street, topographic, satellite and Google maps (different map types may have different functionality)

• Rotate map to match your heading (iPhone 3GS and 4G option only)

Supported Devices

Groundspeak's Geocaching Application is best supported by the iPhone 3G, 3GS or 4G, but is also compatible with the iPod Touch and 1st generation iPhones.


Please note: You will need Wi-Fi access for the application to work on the iPod Touch. Also, without GPS, compass navigation will not work on the 1st generation iPhone.

Author's notes: I will tell you that this is a slick phone. It has just about everything I need and now that Verizon is carrying it, the iPhone fits into my current plan. I was playing around with one that my friend has and it seemed real quick but cumbersome to navigate. I am sure like everything you just need to get use to it but even the owner called it "needy". Definitely a consideration as I continue to shop for a new cell. My plan runs out April 1st so I'll either be getting the Android, iPhone or BlackBerry so if you have any insight, please leave a comment.

NOTE: I need some extra help finding the best app for the BlackBerry. I just can't seem to find anything that comes close to the Android or the iPhone. I have found some more basic types of apps and that's not a bad thing. I just want to make sure I'm not missing anything with the BlackBerry. Your help is appreciated.
Bloodhounded

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