CacheCrazy.Com: February 2012

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Morgan's Happy Hunting!

All right, everybody. See if you can follow this timeline. It’s brought to you courtesy of ebjazzz and his Morgan’s Happy Hunting geocache. It’s a dandy. The timeline is made up of logbook entries, emails, personal conversation, and me filling in the blanks as I imagined them.

Have fun!

November 30, 2011 5:30 PM

Kevin:

Came home from work, grabbed the mail and the first stage of the cache! I'm already excited! Problem is, I'm out early in the morning and crazy busy all day. Don't think I'll be the FTF but THANKS for putting a new cache in our playground! I'll find this one with the family and the dog!

December 1, 2011 6:00 AM

Dan:

Up bright and early and I’m capturing the first stage of the cache. Right on! What’s with that clue? Oh, I see it now! Smart you are! But where’s the cache? I’ll have to find it later…

December 1, 2011 11:49 AM 

Dave:

Kevin, I saw your note about stage one. I grabbed stage one this morning, and it lead me back towards the dam, at the edge of a treeline... The coordinates I jotted down were N xx xx.xxx W xxx xx.xxx. Does any of this sound familiar? I'm going to check it out again in a little while, after I get back from Allentown…

December 1, 2011 2:33 PM 

Kevin:

Yes, it appeared to be that way. The coords you wrote are the same I have. I didn't even try to find stage two but from what ebjazzz says, there should be TWO caches there. A letter box cache that he found and stage two to his cache? Let me know. I won’t be home until after 9:00 PM and back out on business all day tomorrow so I'm out until Saturday at least (even though it's nearly at me front door). Good luck, it is a 3/3 sooooooooo, we'll see…

December 1, 2011 1:00 PM 

Dave:

Where’s this Stage Two hide? And who’s this dude that keeps staring at me?

December 1, 2011 1:00 PM

Dan:

I’m blowing off work early to go deer hunting. Maybe I can snag this cache, at least Stage One. Who’s this champ over there in the grass? What are you doing over there? Sigh. All right. I’m going to go grab my gear. Better keep my eye on this bird. He’s right at the end of my driveway…

December 1, 2011 1:15 PM

Dave:

Man, this is a tough hide. At least that guy over there took off…

December 1, 2011 1:30 PM 

Dan:

That guy’s still up there, eh? I better go see what’s going on. Probably some kid that’s lookin’ to take a baseball bat to my mailbox. Little bastard. All right… Oh, too late… there he goes… Good.

December 1, 2011 1:31 PM 

Dave:

Yes! There it is! Stage Two in-hand! See you later, Mr. Mayor-of-the-Neighborhood. Yeah, you, pal! Bastard…

December 1, 2011 1:35 PM 

Dan:

All right, now that Mr. Country Sight-Seer is gone, back to Stage One... Oh, geez, here it is. Why didn’t I see this earlier in the morning? No matter, got it now… What? You gotta be kidding me? The Final coordinates are right there at the end of my driveway? Geez, that was probably a geocacher… that was probably Smithie! Well… Let’s go get it anyway…

…THIS is where the Final is? What’s with that hint? Something’s wrong here. This isn’t making sense… I’m off my game today… I guess I’ll go deer hunting and worry about this later.

December 1, 2011 8:26 PM

Dave:

Found it!

That was a hell of a cache. I thought stage two was one of the tougher hides I've ever found... then I got to stage three. The help ebjazzz gave me was "focus on the coords, not on the rocks. The stage is hidden in plain sight." Damn skippy! The stage one hint made no sense to me (not that it was needed) and the whole thing about finding the letterbox at stage two still baffles me.

December 2, 2011 7:52 AM

Dan:

Wait, so this is a three stage cache? That makes more sense!

EBJazzz incorrectly called what he found a letterbox hybrid and assumed it was a geocache. It is actually an official Letterbox! Neat!

Knowing that and assuming he botched the crds, I was all pumped to go and find this cache using the Letterbox map! I was going to try it tonight if time allowed. That would have been one hell of a score.

The Stage Two hint is "It's a rocky situation". The closest rocks are way off the coordinates. Does he really mean that for Stage Two or is that the Final hint? That isn't making sense to me (yet). I thought Stage Two was the Final so I was looking for a regular size container. That's why I thought he botched the crds. GZ is in the grass. Then I'm thinking "rocky situation" as in unstable. Then I'm thinking "rocky" as in Rocky. And the letterbox is absolutely not at what he calls stage two. The map clearly shows that.

But knowing it's a three stager now makes a little more sense. I was looking for the wrong type of thing at Stage Two.

You know what - I'm still going to skip the mysterious Stage Two and try to find it using the letterbox map. That'd be a cool challenge.

December 2, 2011 8:21 AM

Dan:

Oops. I may have made a critical error…

On the cache page, for the hint “it’s a rocky situation”, does it say Part Two or Part Three? I may have misread it and just assumed, since it was listed second, that it was for Part Two. That would have been my mistake. No matter, I was well out of daylight and wouldn’t have gone for it anyway.

December 2, 2011 9:00 AM 

Kevin:

This is getting very interesting…

December 2, 2011 9:24 AM

Dave:

"It's a rocky situation" is the hint for the final, which is applicable. The cache is actually four stages. I'm still baffled about the letterbox. If he discovered a letterbox when placing stage two, he ventured over the property line. I emailed ebjazzz yesterday from stage two, and he said it is indeed there, to focus on the coordinates and not the rocks, and that the stage is hidden in plain sight. He was dead on with that advice. In actuality, I believe he was going to place the stage where he ended up finding the letterbox (beyond the property line) then decided against it and placed it somewhere else. Or, perhaps, he mixed up stage two and the stage four final. I can definitely see someone placing a letterbox where the final was hidden. Moreso than at stage two.

Kevin, yep, I was pacing that 500' stretch of land for a good part of the afternoon. In fact you probably spotted me, as I was emailing you from the site. I saw a car pull up to stage one and a man got out, presumably looking for the stage. I was going to walk down to "double check the coordinates" and see who it was, but I was hellbent on finding the stage. The car vanished before I got a chance, so either they came up empty handed, or found it and were waiting to come back.

December 2, 2011 10:00 AM

Dan:

No, that was I, Dan, that spotted you! And I was the man that stopped at stage 1… But I DID NOT find it… I got scared off by YOU prowling around! I had no clue that the next stage was right there. I figured “you” would start getting all suspicious. Since “you” kept looking over my way, I just scrammed before I would have to answer questions to some stranger. With hunting season and all, you never know who’s around. Later I concluded that “you” must have been my neighbor walking his dog around, but, then, I couldn’t figure out why he (you) was being so squirrely. I found Stage One later that night. Too funny!!

A FOUR stager! Cool!

December 5, 2011 3:00 PM 

Dan:

Well, at least I know what this guy is up to… “Did you find it?” Ha, ha… He knows what I’m talking about… Wonder who that was… I’ll keep my eye on the logs…

December 18, 2011 3:00 PM

Dan:

I found the letterbox! Neato! But I’ll never find the Final without the coordinates. Too many hiding spots. Better play it properly…

…Finally…

smithie23



Premium Member

Found it

12/01/2011

FTF @ 15:45. This was one of the best caches I've done in quite some time! I'm glad I have little hair, because I'd surely have been pulling it out while trying to find some of these stages. They were tough, tough hides! The view at the final was nothing short of amazing. I was sure to grab plenty pictures, for my own personal collection.

As for the cache itself, it was well stocked with plenty of swag. I took nothing, and left the Fulton Missouri Hawthorn Geocoin. Thanks for a fun afternoon!

Team LPD



Premium Member

Found it

12/05/2011

Well, since the deer were not cooperating today, I figured I would try and finish this cache while in the area.

Was scratching my head for several minutes while trying to find Stage #2, but geosenses kicked in and I found it. While entering the info for Stage #3, a guy pulled up by my truck and said, "did you find it?". I gave him a thumbs up! Don't know who he was, but he was obviously a geocacher.

Stage #3 had me aggitated! I spent 20 minutes looking for this one because I didn't know what I was looking for. I wasn't sure if this was the final or if I was looking for another stage. Just as I was about to give up, I found the little bugger!

Found the final without any problems. As I was hunting I didn't have anything with me to trade, so I just signed the log.

TFTC
Steve / Team LPD

Bloodhounded



Premium Member

Found it

12/30/2011

It all started one day when I was alerted to a new cache quite literally at my front door. That evening I came home from work, grabbed the mail and the first stage of this cache and called it a day. Afterwards I saw that others were logging it and learned a trick or two from the logs and some conversations between a few of us who have either found it or where setting their sights on it.

Fast forward one month that passed by so fast it was a blur. I had to get this one done and it was going to be my 200th cache, or else! Seeing an opportunity, I enlisted my friend, neighbor and fellow colleague at our blog cachecrazy.com, Dodger from team DLC. We both had stage one, I did not have stage two which Dodger had but would not even squeak out a single hint! That was cool though because in several minutes of searching, I used my “hiders’ senses” (which at times are stronger than geosenses) and bam, there it was.

Dodger Lizard Crew



Premium Member

Found it

12/30/2011

It took me almost a full month to finish this one. Found Stage 1 right when it came out... Found Stage 2 a couple days later... Drove by while Team LPD was searching the one day (yep, that was me ...)

Bloodhounded gave a call and said let's finish this one up. So off we went. We were seriously hung on Stage 3. After AN HOUR, we finally went to the bullpen. Just before the hints came in, though, we spotted the container, thus making it a "clean" find. For the record, we both had it off GZ by about 30, 35 feet.

We made the jaunt the rest of the way where Bloodhounded came up with the find (a milestone for them - glad to be a part of it). Took nothing, signed and stamped log.

Thanks for the fun, close-to-home multi (my personal favorite type of cache), my friend!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Do You Know WHERIGO? - - - - The Series - Part I

What is Wherigo? Wherigo is a GPS-based adventure that overlays a game, tour, puzzle, interactive fiction, or some combination of each onto a real, physical location. Users download a file, called a “cartridge” and load it into a Wherigo player on their device of choice. It was created by Groundspeak, parent company of Geocaching.com around 2001, and you can sign in to Wherigo.com with your Geocaching.com username and password. It initially seemed to have some momentum going, garnering support from both Groundspeak and Garmin, but then both companies put it on the back burner. While Wherigo applications and cartridges are still available, neither company has done much in the past few years to advance it.

However, an active community of Wherigo developers and players still exists. Groundspeak maintains several forums dedicated to development and playing, and both have active participants and moderators willing to provide help, support, and advice. Though Groundspeak is no longer creating Wherigo applications for newer devices (their last officially supported device is PocketPC,) open source communities have popped up and created OpenWIG, a Wherigo application for other platforms that can play Groundspeak Wherigo cartridges. This is the core of the Android WhereYouGo application as well as several other platforms. Another company developed a Wherigo app for iOS, originally called PiGo, which was purchased by Groundspeak and renamed Wherigo (iTunes Store) though they oddly make no mention of this at Wherigo.com and the Wherigo FAQ still says you can’t use an iPhone to play.

While related to geocaching, Wherigo cartridges may or may not be related to one or more specific geocaches or even to geocaching at all! They can stand alone for self-guided tours of an area, puzzles or games, telling a story, or something else completely. Most Wherigo cartridges are location-specific: you need to be in a certain place on Earth to play them. Some, though, are “Play Anywhere” which means you can start playing it at your current location and the game will play out relative to your starting position. Often you will see requirements for these, such as “You’ll need an area 300 feet north by 200 feet east of your starting location to play.”


My first foray into Wherigo development has resulted in Wherigo: Excavation in Sellersville. I won’t give the ending away, but it is a combination of interactive fiction and some puzzle solving to virtually dig up James Memorial Park in Sellersville,Pennsylvania, USA. I have set it up so that you, the Player, follow a (mostly) paved trail through the park, picking up virtual items in one area, using them in another area, and uncovering secrets. Ultimately you will uncover the last item which tells you the final coordinates to the geocache somewhere in the park. You generally won’t need to backtrack unless you miss something or use something the wrong way. If you get it mostly right, you’ll end up walking about a mile round-trip.

Wherigo Player Tutorial
Groundspeak also has a list of Play Anywhere cartridges on Wherigo.com, can be started anywhere given certain starting criteria (often a specified size of open space.) A nice, short starter cartridge is the  Wherigo Player Tutorial, which will only take you about 15 minutes to complete and is a great introduction to experiencing Wherigo cartridges. Another fun one is PA Slides and Ladders (PA for Play Anywhere, not Pennsylvania,) which lets as many people who want (and each have a Wherigo-capable device) to play a real-life version of Chutes and Ladders on a real field. Each person takes their “turn” and the cartridge tells them what number they rolled, where to go, and if that spot contains a chute or ladder that moves them further up or down the board. The first person to get to the end wins. Of course, a casual observer would wonder why these people are wandering around a field in a grid, looking at their phones, but that’s just part of the fun.

For those who are interested, my cartridge is open source (creative commons) and anyone is allowed to download, review, and modify the source code for any non-commercial use. With the number of zones I have (10) it really wouldn’t work out as a Play Anywhere cartridge, but it should be pretty easy for someone to remap the zones to some other place, change the title screen and final coordinates, and be good to go with their own Wherigo cartridge. Of course, some will be more interested in creating their own from scratch, but this may be a helpful interim step.

The next post in this series will tackle why I decided to create a Wherigo cartridge, what tools and resources are available to people who want to start and create their own Wherigo cartridge, and the process I followed getting from start to finish and some bumps I faced along the way. Having done one, I also have ideas for more and have already begun development on my second cartridge.

                                              



Meet the author: George aka ggggeo2 - He's a geocacher and Wherigo extraordinaire from Southeast, Pennsylvania USA. He came to us through our Be A Guest Blogger link and he and I hit it off right away in email. He's got a couple of great kids and he still enjoys playing just like the rest of us. I look forward to the continuation of  the "Do You Know Wherigo?" series as we all learn a different way to play our game. Thanks George!
Bloodhounded 



                                                                                                                
Go Right to Part II HERE

Saturday, February 25, 2012

"Excerpts From ErikaJean.com" Crater Of Diamonds

Another awesome post from the series "Excerpts from ErikaJean.com" Crater Of Diamonds, enjoy!


Theresa, my westbound road trip buddy - suggested that we visit the Crater of Diamonds State Park while driving through Arkansas. It was a little out of the way, but when she mentioned the possibility of finding a diamond - I was definitely game! It just so happened there was an Earth Cache there and a couple traditionals on the way.

This is one micro we grabbed. It was a film canister hidden in a Magnolia tree in the center of town.

Micro



Magnolia


The next one we got was behind a house/ business under a tree. I believe it was a bed-and-breakfast but I honestly can't remember... and I didn't take a picture!

When we got into the park we went after the next cache. It was a large ammo box, chained to the roots of the tree. Odd, but I guess it prevents someone from walking off with it!

Chained

Considering people don't hide caches back the way they found them, the chain was probably a good idea. As you can see it was pretty visible.

The Crate of Diamonds State Park is is the world's only diamond-bearing site open to the public. Which means there is a big plowed field - that cost six bucks to enter.

The Field

You can bring your own searching tools, buy some there, or rent theirs and dig all day. We each bought a small hand tool and dug for about an hour. I think Theresa could have dug all day - but I was overheating! I kept anything that was shiny or white - while Theresa kept rocks she wanted to know the names of. She found some pretty neat looking ones, but most of them were Jasper. I had picked up a lot of Quartz and Calcite.

For the Earth Cache we had to snap a picture with our GPS while digging, and answer a question that required us to do some sign reading.

Theresa Stabbing the Earth

Me and My GPS

Disappointed we didn't find any diamonds, we got back on the road and headed for a geocache to brighten our spirits. We ended up at a cemetery - which may seem a bit ironic... but now that Igeocache and often visit cemeteries, I've gotten quite used to the setting. It was a very peaceful place on a back road. Roy Cemetery was situated on top a a hill and was a rather cute little cemetery.

Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas




Here is the cache.


From here.... we took a $hitload of gravel roads back to the highway.

P.S. - GPS companies - please make gravel roads a different color or something so I can AVOID them!

What is Geocaching? Click here for a little explanation!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Have A Heart: The Story of Why I Cache (Part II)

Last week, I presented part one of a three-part series on one of my major motivators for geocaching.  Part One glimpse into my early years, leading up to a life-changing event, which occurred in 2003.  Today, I offer a candid look into one of the scariest days of my life.

"Heartburn.  Really bad heartburn."  I muttered these words to myself as I stood in my bathroom, facing myself in the mirror.  Certain foods and beverages are a case of instant heartburn for me.  Pepperoni, sausage, beer, just to name a few.  It came as no surprise to me, as I stood there fumbling for the bottle of antacid tablets in the middle of the night, that I had ended up in this predicament.  Beer and pepperoni pizza were on the menu the night before.  Way to go, Dave!  I popped a few tablets and went back to bed, certain I'd wake up feeling like new man.

I fell asleep, only to wake a few hours later.  My heartburn seemed to be worse.  Oddly, though, at the same time I had an aching pain in my arms.  I thought, perhaps, in my incessant tossing and turning, I'd laid on my arms and they became sore.  I did a few stretches, and at the same time sipped on a glass of cold water.  My forehead was abnormally warm.  Something wasn't right here.  There's no way this is just heartburn.  In that instant I thought of my father and brothers, and their history of heart problems.  "Surely I'm too young for all that, right?  I'm only 26, and stuff like that is years off."  All these rationalizations seemed to be nonsense, as the pains just didn't want to go away.  In the interests of being safe, rather than sorry, I drive myself to the hospital.

Move over, Larry Bird!


I arrived at the emergency room of the Chester County Hospital around 5:30 am that Sunday morning.  Fortunately, I was the only person needing to be seen, and after being assessed by the triage nurse, I was whisked right back to a bed.  The nurses ran the vitals, then a doctor promptly saw me.  I explained what was going on.  Of course, by the time I see the doctor, the pain has gone away and I feel fine.  The verdict?  A bad case of indigestion.  "Here, take this, and if the pain returns, come on back" says the doctor.  Sounds good to me!  I get dressed, gather my belongings, and proceed to see the nurse, as she is about to discharge me.  No less than five minutes later, the doctor returns to the nurses station and says "where do you think you're going?" Sitting there a bit confused, I remind him he just gave the OK to discharge me.  "You may want to go back in there. Your blood work came back, and you, my friend, had a heart attack."  I was in amazement.  Here I am, 26 years old, and I'm officially a statistic.

Words can't describe the outstanding job the Chester County Hospital, it's nurses and doctors did in the process of my treatment and recovery.  I had a cardiac catheterization the next day, received a stent, and got a good days sleep, thanks to some pretty powerful drugs.  I spent five days in the hospital, six weeks in cardiac rehab, and was on the shelf for a good three months.


Would you believe there are six future heart attacks in this picture?



My cardiologist attributed my heart attack to several factors.  A poor diet was a major culprit, as well as stress and genetic disposition.  At the time I was working in the construction industry, and as such, received a good bit of cardiovascular exercise.  Walking the plant on a daily basis, as well as repetitive lifting of moderate weight, were helping me stay fit.  However, things change in time.  Factors unrelated to my health issues led me to return to Northeast PA and a change of employment.  I found myself in the wonderful world of customer service.  I traded in my construction boots for a pair of loafers.  My earplugs were replaced by a headset, attached to a constantly ringing phone.  No exercise in this field, my friend.

Over the next few years, I tried keeping active.  I belonged to gyms here and there, but always found myself going more and more infrequently as time went on.  I found gyms to be a waste of money.  I didn't have the space in my small house for exercise equipment.

Surely there had to be some activity out there which I could do at my own pace, which was inexpensive, and would hold my interest to keep me in it for the long run.

Anyone see where I'm going with this?


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Guess What Time Of Year It Is?

WELCOME TO THIRSTY THURSDAY!!!!

Grab a cup of coffee, or tea, sit back and get that fire going.

When my son Levi  and my daughter Katy's birthdays roll around they are excited about having cake and ice cream, as well as receiving some birthday gifts. Even though I am excited for them there is something else that I get excited about. MAPLE SUGARING TIME.

That's right. It's time to make maple syrup. I usually try and start putting out my spiles (taps) around their birthdays, which are the 19th and 20th of February. For the last two years I was not able to tap any trees due to my heart surgeries and some other health issues. This year would be different though. I am healthy and ready to tap some trees.

I set out by cleaning my 55 gallon plastic barrels and getting the hoses ready. Even though I cleaned the barrels the last time I used them I like to have them extra clean. Then I took them out to the trees that are in our front yard. These trees have always yielded a fair amount of sap for us. These trees are sugar maple trees and they are really huge. I usually put about 2 to 3 taps on each one. This year I decided to only put 2 taps per tree.

The next step is to actually drill the holes for the taps. I use my electric drill to so this. Sometimes I have to use my old handheld drill if my batteries run dry. I drill up at an angle and then "tap" the tap into the tree. I then attach my hoses and run them to the barrels. I have the barrels sitting on blocks or stumps of wood. I need to get them up off of the ground so I can get a pitcher underneath of the faucet I have attached to the bottom of the barrel. This makes for easy emptying of the barrels.

                My tools of the trade

             Plastic tubing, spiles (taps), and a tee connector

Once this is done all I need is some warm days and a little sunshine. For a good run you want days that are above freezing and nights that dip down below 32 degrees. This way the sap stops flowing at night and then as the sun heats up the trees the sap begins to flow. When I am drilling the holes I have to have everything ready because the sap will usually start to flow immediately. It's nice to hear the "drip", "drip", "drip" into the barrel. Sometimes it's more like "gush" on a good day.


                       This is my kind of stethoscope. Dr. I hear dripping in my ears.



With this setup I can allow the barrels to collect all week long and then focus on boiling the sap down on the weekend. Last week I built my little maple forge to boil the sap down on. It is the first time I have done it this way. A friend told me how to build it so I wanted to try it. I bight some cinder blocks and some stove pipe. I lined the blocks up in a U shape and made two rows of them. Then I added some sand to the bottom to protect the driveway. Next I added the stove pipe and it was done. Now to start boiling it down.

                        The secured stove pipe


With it ready to go I put it to the test on Friday night. I had about 8 1/2 gallons of sap collected. Now I normally would not boil that little down, but I wanted to give it a test run. Here's how it looked.

                A nice fire going and it is starting to boil.

What a beautiful fire and look at that head of steam coming off.

                         We're rolling now folks.

The pan on the left is on the back of the forge. The one on the right is near the front. I fill the back one and as it boils down I move it to the front. I keep doing this until I have used up all of my collected sap. This is actually the last of it. Once it gets down to just one pan all I have to do is finish it off. For this test I did not finish it outside. I took it inside and finished it on the stove where I had better control since I had so little sap to go.

I ended up with a small pan on the stove in the house. As it began to boil down into syrup I started boiling my jars I store it in. I also boil the lids and get all of my stuff ready. To test it to see if it is totally done I use an old fashioned method. I dip a spatula into the syrup and lift it out slowly. If the syrup drips off of the end of it it's not ready. I keep on boiling it down. As it boils down I keep dipping the spatula in and lifting it out. When I lift it out and the syrup slides off of the end in a sheet I know it is done. Then I filter it and begin bottling it.

Now I will admit that I have to do several taste tests to make sure it is just about right, and then finally done. I begin pouring it into the hot bottles and putting the lids on. Some of the bottles I use are old Cracker Barrel bottles. These make nice little gifts to give away. I also use different sizes of other glass bottles. Once I have a jar filled up I put the lid on and then lay it on it's side. I leave it that way until it is totally cool. When they are totally cool I stand them upright. They are then sealed and ready to be labeled.

I sure hope this year gives us a good yield. We have done as little as 2 gallons and as much as 6 gallons. Each year produces a different amount, and the color changes during the season. You can go from Amber, which is almost clear, to a dark, which is, well dark.

The bottle on the left is a dark amber and the right is light amber. The one on the right is from this year's first batch, and the one on the left is from the end of the year the last time we tapped.


The three bottles to the left of the dark one are what my 8 1/2 gallons produced. Well minus the other two small bottles I gave my son and a bottle I gave my mother-in-law. It totaled about a pint and a half.

The sap to syrup ratio is anywhere from 40 to 50 gallons of sap for just one gallon of syrup. That's why the real stuff is so expensive. Yes that is a lot of hard work, but for such a sweet reward it's worth it. Oh, I forgot to mention how good it is. So I'll just tell you; IT IS SOOOOOOOO GOOD!!!!  Honey, where are the pancakes? I'm getting hungry.

PS. Did I mention that there is a leap day event coming up and there are going to be door prizes? Guess what I'm giving away?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Why Not Wednesday - Give me back my Google Maps!

Welcome, reader and contributor George aka ggggeo2, thank you! This is a cool work around that let's you get back your Google Maps and you saw it first here at CacheCrazy.Com!
Tell all your friends and copy the link to everyone (we're pretty sure it works)!

Nothing says “I love you” like taking away someone’s Google Maps. You may have noticed that on this past Valentine’s Day, Groundspreak had scheduled maintenance which removed Google road, satellite, and hybrid maps from the list of available maps on the “search with maps” area. Several other cosmetic and functional changes were made as well; the full list can be found on Groundspeak’s discussion forums.
If you want to know why, read the next section. If you don’t care and just want your Google Maps back, skip ahead to Bring Back My Maps.

What Happened
At the end of 2011, Google announced a change to its terms of service and pricing for access to its Maps API (Application Programming Interface.) Formerly free, in 2012 that price would increase to $4 per 1,000 loads above 25,000 a day. This would only affect a very small portion of Maps API users. Groundspeak was one of them, using on average about 2,000,000 map views a day. At Google’s new pricing this is about $7,900 PER DAY (about 263 annual subscriptions at $30 per year.)
Groundspeak decided to replace Google Maps with OpenStreetMap (OSM), a mapping site that is freely editable in the same way that someone could go onto Wikipedia and edit the content of an article there. The current quality OSM in the United States is not on par with Google Maps, but that doesn’t need to be a permanent problem.

Why OpenStreetMap is Awesome
Being editable, users can add places, roads, parks, trails, and all other sorts of things to the maps. I have personally added several parks and trails to OSM, and those edits now show up for everyone on Geocaching.com. Here is one example of a park and walking paths I’ve added in Doylestown, PA. I also added parking areas, playgrounds, and restrooms where I knew them to be. Still more can be done there, but now we have the power to do so. Any other geocacher has the ability to go in and edit my work or build on top of it. Whereas Google lets you upload a GPX track and share it, OSM lets you upload a GPX file and trace it, and make that a trail that everyone in the world can see!

Bring Back My Maps
Not convinced, huh? That’s OK; Google Maps are really good, and the satellite view currently available on Geocaching.com is working sporadically at best as of this writing. So how do you get your Google Maps back? Three simple steps will do it for you. First, get the latest version of the free Mozilla Firefox web browser if you don’t already have it. Firefox is an alternate web browser, similar to Internet Explorer or Safari that comes pre-installed with Windows or Mac OS X, respectively. Second, install the Greasemonkey Add-on to Firefox. Third, install the “Geocaching.com extra map layers” user script into Greasemonkey. Load your Geocaching maps page and you will now see it is set back to Google as the default maps service, with a bunch of other services in the list.

First step: Get Firefox. Go to GetFirefox.com and click the big green button to start downloading the installer for the latest version of Firefox (currently 10.0.2.) Next, you’ll need to run the installer, from wherever you downloaded it. 

GetFirefox.com



You’ll need to answer a few general installer-type questions during the install, which should only take a couple minutes. Then, Firefox will ask you if you want to import your bookmarks from Internet Explorer and set Firefox as your default web browser; I’ll leave those choices up to you as you will still be able to use it for Geocaching with Google Maps either way.
Second Step: From inside of Firefox, you will need to go to the Greasemonkey Add-on page and install the Greasemonkey add-on. Click the “+ Add to Firefox” button in the middle of the screen, and then a little window will pop-up with a 3-5 second count-down timer asking if you are sure you want to install this Add-on. Yes, you do, so click “Install Now.”



Click "Install Now"


Third Step: Now that Greasemonkey is installed, you have one thing left to do: Install the “Geocaching.com extra map layers” user script. Click the “Install” button in the upper right, and you will be prompted to install this user script after a brief, 3-5 second delay. Again, yes, you do want to install this so click “Install”.


Click “Install”

And that’s it! You should now be able to go the a Geocaching map page in Firefox, and when you load it up you should see your old, familiar Google Maps instead of MapQuest. If you click in the Layers box in the upper right you should now see a big list of items instead of just the ones that were there.

Wheeee! New map choices!

Summary
Congratulations, you have your Google Maps back! Be forewarned that Groundspeak and/or Google may shut this off in the future, but at least for now you can have your Geocaching and Google Maps too. Some of the new features carry over like the new, faster pop-up cache bubbles and the new, translucent side bar. Some things are still missing, like the scale that tells you what kind of distance you are looking at. Enjoy your Google maps again and let us know how it worked out for you in the comments.




Tuesday, February 21, 2012

One Year Anniversary of CacheCrazy.Com!

Today is a big day. I mean big, big, big DAY! Today, February 21, in 2011, we started CacheCrazy.Com in its current format, “the blog”. Yes, one year ago today we posted our first post as CacheCrazy.Com the geocaching and outdoor enthusiast blog. But, do you know the full history of CacheCrazy.Com? Let me tell you, it’s quite a story and I’m sorry but it’s a bit long.

Ever since my Commodore Amegia 1000 in 1985, I have loved PC’s. I probably should have pursued it as a career because I enjoyed programming and building games and I was pretty good at it. This eventually carried over to the Dot Com era (when I made my fortune, lol) and I, like many others, were exploring the new Internet and building websites. It was fun and I did some pretty cool stuff. So, when I started geocaching in February of 2009, I also built a website, Teambloodhounded.com was the URL. It contained some geocache ideas, stats and articles that had to do with the game. I had to email all my friends the link because otherwise no one knew where it was or that it even existed and many weren’t impressed.


I realized I was REALLY into Geocaching and I wrote in an email to someone that I felt like I was “cache crazy”. One day I searched cachecrazy and nothing really came up. Then I checked on the URL and it was available. I bought the URL in the early spring of 2009 for $12.95US. I started a website on WIX that was somewhat interactive. It had a lot of pictures and some pretty cool posts. I’m sure Erika Jean remembers when I asked to post her “Back Yard Cache” on my site. She and I emailed back and forth a few times and I started to read at her blog ErikaJean.com. It wasn’t long before I was inspired by her excellent work and started a blog of my own. I would start CacheCrazy.Com in May of 2009. Four months later, I had a whopping 320 page views and I was on cloud nine. People where actually reading my work and it seems like many of them liked it!

I wrote like crazy! I posted like a mad man, I was cachecrazy and within four weeks although I was up over 500 page views for the month, I was burnt out! It was tough keeping up with the blog. I noticed right away that when I stopped posting regularly, I was losing my audience. By December of 2010 I had 58 page views for the month. A few diehards hung in there but basically, I could not keep up the intensity that was needed to be a really successful blog and me being an over achiever, I wanted nothing less. In January of the New Year 2011, I knew what I had to do. It was going to take more than just me. It was going to take an alliance of authors who where dedicated to posting. In my mind it was going to take an army of authors!

I reached out to a handful of geocachers who I knew where great people with multiple interests and great writing skills.  My initial thought was to ask three people to post one day per week, the same day every week and for a three month term. I wanted it to remain fun and manageable. We would post something different every day of the week except Sunday. I guess I should have gotten into sales because the first three people I asked said, YES! Dan (Dodger) would post on Tuesday’s, Wednesday we would post a picture or video from the Internet, Thursday’s would be Rob (BigAl437), Friday would be Justin (DctrSpott) and on the weekends,  I prayed we would eventually have some guest posts. Oh yes, and my day was Monday.




With nothing more than a bunch of guys just having fun, we wrote and posted about ourselves in the days leading up to the Big Day. February 21, 2011 we would kick it off. To the liking of 750 page views we found a reward we weren’t expecting, we found that people actually loved CacheCrazy.Com and wanted to be a part of it. Emails came pouring in from friends, comments from folks we didn’t even know, new relationships were made and the blog was rocketing to over 2,000 page views in the month of March 2011! I remember thinking, 2,000 page views was just blowing my mind. I never expected that!


Through the summer of 2011 we enjoyed sharing with the world our geocaching excursions, fishing, camping, hunting, family fun and you name it. The blog was taking on a life of its own. It was more than just a “blog” to us, it was our world exposed to the whole world and people relating to it in a way that fueled our desire to continue to write and keep it going. I asked many to guest blog and many asked me. The core authors set the tone and the guest bloggers chimed in to create music to all our ears. Now mind you, we do no advertising, sell nothing and do not have any ecommerce or sponsors so, blogs like that usually hit a certain level of an audience and just kind of stay there. Not CacheCrazy.Com, by November of 2011 we hit our all time high page views of over 10,000! Double Digits! Can you believe that?

Soon the Honorary Author program rolled out along with the CacheCrazy.Com Facebook page, Google+ page and our icon was developed with our RSS feed. We are all friends an I started joking about our World Corporate Headquarters where you can find, "The Authors Lounge", "The Library" and of course a few recipes were prepared in our "Test Kitchen".  I related to all of the authors as if we were having a business meeting at times, with quarterly information, idea sharing, e-meetings and an exchange of friendship that grew stronger and stronger. Many of our Honorary Authors have their own blogs but somehow felt that they wanted to also be a part of the CacheCrazy TEAM. It’s “our blog”, I never refer to it as mine.


Last month my friends, we had nearly 12,000 page views in 30 days and we are on pace to break that yet again! But, the blog to us is measured in much more than page views. It’s measured in enjoyment and satisfaction of knowing that we are international contributors to the game of geocaching and all things outdoors. It’s knowing that thousands of people start their day by reading our writings and relating to us in a way that you can only understand if you are a part of it and many people from all over the world are. They read CacheCrazy.Com every day because every day there is something amazing to see and read. Wonderful stories of days afield with family and friends enjoying the ultimate treasure and pursuit of happiness, fitness and a sense of wellness. Even if you can’t get outside today, you can still take part in an adventure at CacheCrazy.Com. We have continued our commitment to post every day thanks to many who work hard to keep you, our cherished readers, engaged and coming back for more.

Today I would like to thank them in this post so it becomes part of the history of this blog years from now and still growing strong.

·         Erika Jean at ErikaJean.com – for the inspiration and continued friendship and support. If I hadn’t met you, CacheCrazy.Com would not be what it became today. Your contributions to our blog have made it special to me, like going full circle. Thank you!
·         Dan aka Dodger – Our CEO, Admin Author and very good friend and neighbor. You’re the man! That’s all I can say!
·         Rob aka BigAl437 – Our COO, Admin Author and close friend. No one starts my day off like you do. I love your work.
·         Justin aka DctrSpott – Our CFO, Admin Author and close friend. You have always been the prodigal child of CacheCrazy.Com and you will always be (that’s a complement)
·         Dave aka smithie23 – Our CFO in training, newest Admin Author and close friend. I always look forward to Fridays for a different reason these days. You’re awesome.
·         Kim aka bugleann's - Honorary Author and close friend. You are an inspiration and a source of positive energy for me, thanks so much.
·         Beth aka TheDunsilFamily - Honorary Author and close friend. Right from the beginning you believed, thanks! 
·         Dave aka debaere - Honorary Author and close friend. When I die, I want to come back as you, you're awesome!
·         Heather aka Lady_Magpie - Honorary Author and new friend. Your light hearted humor is such a welcome addition and I just love your work! Thank you!
·         Dan aka Geo_Trucker - Contributor and good friend. You are the inspiration of change, if you don't like the way it is, just change it! It's never too late......
·         All of our Guest Bloggers - All of the excellent work that you have brought to CacheCrazy.Com is appreciated and enjoyed by thousands! You are the glue that holds us together. Thank you all for your contributions and the part you play in the blog.
·         And All of our readers all over the world, wherever you are, thank you so much for spending your valuable time in life with us. You are CacheCrazy.Com!

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