CacheCrazy.Com: March 2014

Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday Morning Adventures with MrsMamaHen.com ~ The Otters

Conni's back with another great post on Monday mornings. Let's join her and understand the furry isn't always the king fisherman.


While I was standing in one particular place there in Valdez, looking at eagles, some movement in the corner of my eye caught my attention.


Peek-a-boo, I see you!



Here was another mama and her babies, making a feast of the salmon!


They were so fun to watch!






Hey Mom! Watcha got?






After a while, another car stopped along the road...right where they were. Mama didn't care for how close these particular humans were getting.


So she grabbed one more fish.


And high-tailed it up to cover.


How adorable was that?
See this post on Conn's blog MrsMamaHen.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Guide to Geocaching Completely Offline with Android

Welcome back! You may be asking yourself, "Why on earth would I need to cache offline with my Android smartphone? I have enough data that I don't need to worry about it." Well, I'll tell you. In fact, I can list several reasons offline caching may make sense to you.
2013-09-26 23.10.01
c:geo - a free geocaching app for Android
Back in 2012, my family was invited to spend Thanksgiving with some extended family in upstate New York. It was a great area, but so remote that it was about 30 minutes of driving PAST where we lost cell phone coverage. This wasn't a problem, though, because I was prepared with oodles of caches to find, stored in my phone. (And yes, I did have my Garmin Oregon 450 for backup. I love that thing, but there are some things that are easier to do on my phone.)
So caching we went. Ladyiredhat and I took my uncle and cousins to some local caches. (Side note: Ladyiredhat had an Android phone, too, but wasn't set up for heavy offline caching at that point. I was able to transfer the cache list and offline maps from my phone to hers using Bluetooth, but that is covered in our advanced class.)
You may find yourself in several scenarios in which you could benefit from offline caching on your phone:

  1. You have a limited data plan, especially if it is towards the end of the month and you tend to go over your limit.
  2. You are going to be someplace where cell coverage may not…err…cover. This seems to be more common where hiking is more prevalent.
  3. You like the organization of having everything laid out and planned before you go caching.
  4. You want to use your smartphone for keeping track of your finds in the field, but want to write more detailed logs at home later.
If any of these, or other, reasons seem to apply to you, then you may be in luck. You only need a few things:
  1. An Android-based smartphone with a GPS chip and some space (hopefully you picked up on this from the title of this article)
  2. The geocaching app c:geo - free on the Google Play store
  3. Offline OpenStreetMaps for your region (state, country, etc., more on this later)
  4. Optional: the send2cgeo plugin, free from the developers of c:geo (Note: this only works with Chrome and Firefox web browsers)

Getting Set Up
You're still with us? Great! We have a little bit of prep work before you're ready to head off and cache disconnected from the cellular infrastructure. If you haven't already, head over to Google Play and install c:geo. After it is installed, you will want to go into the settings (press the menu button from the main c:geo screen, then press "Settings") and configure a few things, especially your Geocaching.com username and password. You might want to check the Units of Measurement while you're here…I forget sometimes and end up not realizing I'm in meters instead of feet.
Next, get your offline OpenStreetMaps. Browse to your continent, country, and state or province, if applicable. You may choose to get multiple areas you cache in. For example, I cache in Pennsylvania and New Jersey regularly, and also Deleware, Maryland, and New York occasionally, so I grabbed all five of them. Each state ranges in size, depending on the land area of the state, so those of you in Texas and California have a little bulkier download at 100+ MBs.
image
Select your state or country from OpenStreetMaps
Each state will me a .map file named for the state, e.g., "pennsylvania.map". Copy these files to the /.cgeo/ folder on the SD card in your phone. c:geo should create this folder for you when you run it, so if you don't see it, check the internal storage. Now, when you go to the map view in c:geo and press the Menu button, you will have choices for "State name: (Offline)" for each state you stored as an offline file. If you also use mapping app Locus, you may wish to store your maps in the /Locus/mapsVector/ folder instead, then tell c:geo to look in that folder so the maps will be available to both programs and only stored once. This setting is in c:geo under Settings –> Map.
mapsVector
You can select a folder other than the default /.cgeo/
The next step is optional, but great to have especially for urban and suburban caches (but less helpful in forests, though.) You will probably want to enable Static Maps. Static maps are just that – static snap shots of Google maps zoomed to the closest two levels in (satellite view) then the next four levels out (map view.) These are very helpful to see what landmarks might be near, and how to get to the cache. They don't use any data, once downloaded, though they do take up some space on your phone. Turn this on in c:geo under Settings –> Offline Data. Static Maps (WP) will also store static maps for any waypoints available on the cache listing (parking, trailheads, etc.)
staticmaps
Enabling Static Maps
Let's Get Some Caches Up In Here!
Wait, you got maps, what more do you need? Oh, right, geocaches. Yeah, let's take care of that. There are a few ways to get geocaches from geocaching.com into c:geo.
Method 1 (premium members only):

  1. Run a pocket query (PQ) with the caches you wish to store
  2. Extract the PQ zip file to /GPX/ on your SD card
  3. In c:geo, go to the Stored caches list of your choice
  4. Go to Menu -> Import GPX
This will take a while, but you'll end up with all of those caches in your c:geo list. Note that PQs only contain the last 5 logs, so only the last 5 will show up in c:geo using this method.
Method 2:
In c:geo, search by GC code one at a time. This gets all past logs in, but obviously is very tedious and slow. c:geo also has the ability to add caches by QR code, but it requires a barcode scanner to be installed on the phone and a QR extension for geocaching.com to be installed in your browser, so I am not going to cover it here.
Method 3:
My preferred way is send2cgeo because after setting it up, it is the easiest and fastest. It takes minimal setup, and saves TONS of time.

  1. First, head over to send2.cgeo.org. You will need to either use Google Chrome or use Mozilla Firefox with the free Greasemonkey extension installed.
  2. Go to the script install page and click the "Start greasemonkey script installation!" link (even if you are using Chrome.)
  3. Next, on your phone, go to Settings by hitting the Menu button and touching Settings.
  4. In Settings, under Services –> Send to c:geo press Request Registration.
  5. Your phone will give you a PIN number you will need to enter on the send2cgeo website when you click the "Add a device …" link at the bottom right of the page.

Your phone and browser will now be connected. (Note that if you get a new phone, a new computer, or clear out the cookies in your browser, you will need to repeat the send2cgeo process from the above paragraph.) Now, when you are browsing geocaching.com, you will see "Send to c:geo" buttons in several places, such as the top of cache listing pages (near the Send to My GPS button), on the popup box showing caches in the map view, and a few other places.

  1. Now, on your phone, start up c:geo, open your cache list from Stored Caches, press Menu and Import from Web. Over the next few minutes (depending how many caches you sent), the cache listings, logs, waypoints, notes, and static satellite maps for caches you have "Sent to c:geo" will be stored on your phone.

At this point, you can go completely off the grid and start caching completely offline! All the maps, including the maps for driving and getting TO Ground Zero, and the satellite maps for seeing landmarks and precisely where the cache is located, are stored on your phone, along with the cache description, hints, personal notes, waypoints, all logs, and trackable information. Whew!
Getting Your Finds Back to Geocaching.com
So you have a phone, dozens of offline caches and maps, and a whole big area to explore and in which you can find geocaches…but now what? As you find each geocache, you can record your progress so you don't have to remember it all later. If you are on the cache listing in c:geo, hit Menu, then Log Visit offline and select Found it, Didn't find it, Write note, etc. as appropriate. If you go to the bottom and touch Log Visit, you will go to a screen where you can also enter textual notes that will show up later (e.g., dropped travel bug, log was wet, etc.) I usually use just the Found it (or Didn't find it) buttons except where I want to remind myself to include something in my found it log.
SelectLogOffline
Long-press the cache on a list, or Menu from the cache listing,
then select Manage and Log Visit Offline
SelectOfflineLogType
Next, select the offline log type to record
(hopefully a "Found it" log!)
c:geo is great about keeping track of exactly when you logged each offline visit, so later they show up in the exact order you found them. For some people, this may not matter, for others, logging a cache out of order could mean life or death! (or at least feel like it.) Each cache listing that has an offline log in c:geo will have an orange bar next to the cache listing in lists, and will have a little orange face for that cache in the map view (happy or sad, depending on the log type.)
When you get back to civilization (aka data coverage), you can upload your caches to geocaching.com as field notes.

  1. Open c:geo and go to the list containing the caches you want to upload.
  2. Press the Menu button, then Manage, Export, and Field Notes.
  3. Make sure the box labeled "Upload to geocaching.com" is checked, then press Export.
  4. Like magic, c:geo will send your field notes to geocaching.com.

Now, you can log in to geocaching.com, go to your field notes page, and you will see a list of all the caches you logged offline in order that you found them.You go right to a new log for that cache (with any notes you recorded earlier) in one click. Type out your desired log text, (you WILL take the time to write a decent log, RIGHT?) select any trackables you want to have visited or dropped at that cache, and submit the log. You will get a link to go right back to your field notes page, and you can wash, rinse, and repeat this process until you have logged all of your finds.
image
Your field notes list (well, this is MY field notes list,
but you get the idea)
Wrapping Up
So that's pretty much it! You now know how to use your Android phone to find caches completely offline, with no Wi-Fi or data connection, record your finds (or DNFs), upload to geocaching.com, and log your finds in more detail later! Let us know how it worked out for you, or if you have any technical questions, in the comments!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

WHY NOT WEDNESDAY ~ The Other Side of Geocaching According to Hedge

HOPE FOR GEOCACHING.....NOT!
This is from "Hedge's Ramblinz" August 13, 2008. Enjoy!


I see the problem. There's not a defined goal to geocaching. Is this a competitive pursuit, or non-competitive? What's a "good" cache? Everyone knows how to start caching, but no one knows when they're finished.

I think some rules are in place on GC.com that steer cachers toward the wrong conclusions.

People get smileys for finds, and no smileys for placing, so implication #1:
Finding caches is a greater priority than placing caches.
Just look at who the heroes are. Everyone knows who the TeamAlamos and EMCs are, many cachers probably even know approximately how many finds the Finders have. But, does anyone have any idea who's the cacher with the most caches placed? How many caches does the leading Place-r have? Who cares? No one gets smileys for placing.

One Smiley for One Find. Implication #2:
Go after only the easiest caches.
How can you boost the numbers? Power cache the nearest, most accessible, easiest finds you can. Park and Grabs flourish. Hikes, Puzzles and Multis languish. When someone logs their copy/paste of all the caches they bagged on their powercaching excursion, what's your reaction?

...whose goal this weekend was to set our own personal best records. Our attempt was power cache 200 caches in 1 day -SO- we recorded our visits on the log as T200 to expedite our quest. We exceeded our goal! ~~
My# from this adventure= 251 caches in 1 day (Sat. in 17 hrs) / and 422 caches for the weekend.


Do you think that they're superhuman? Or that they bypassed the area's good caches to bag all the dreck? I feel pity, not awe.

Here's an issue: The star system for difficulty rating is veneer only. Ratings are totally subjective to the hider. Not to mention that one cache hider's 2 star is another's 4 star. That, and the question's always so easy when you know the answer. The hiders usually rate the harder ones too easy, since it's hidden just Right There, why can't ppl see it? And the easier ones? The skirt lifters still get two stars, don't ask me why.

Why can't the finders rate the difficulty after they've found it? Consensus wins the day.

Hey, while they're at it, they can rate the quality of the placement. Let the placer get some pointage for extending himself. Otherwise, a smiley a placement turns into another skirt lifter parade, polluting the supply like the demand's already been poisoned.

Anyway, I like the Terracaching rating system. I think it's underused there. The ratings make the multiple points per find/placement possible on that site, but I don't think ppl rate regularly. Don't ask me why.

I conclude that rating's the only ray of sunshiny hope for caching. Until there's a definitive gameplay goal, variable scoring for caches, some reward for placing (better) caches, and ratings for difficulty and quality, caching is gonna continue to serve the lowest common denominator.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday Morning Adventures with MrsMamaHen.com ~ The Sea Lions

I guess all great things must come to an end. I want to thank Conni for contributing this adventure series and I hope we see more from MrsMamaHen.com soon! But, it's not over yet, check this out!

The first night that we were down in Valdez, after I saw that amazing mama bear and her 4 cubs...and while the menfolk were doing their first stint of salmon fishing, I kept seeing these strange shapes out in the water. I could tell they were some kind of animal because they were moving, but I couldn't quite tell what exactly they were.




Well the next night, I definitely got my answer!


Sea lions!!! I heard them before I saw them...the roaring and carrying on. At first I wondered if it was the mama grizzly again, but when I walked around the rocky hill, I saw these. The "Big Daddy" and his crew. There's no doubt why they call them sea lions, because they actuallysound like a lion!

The sea lions would dive down, snatch a salmon, and come back up, ripping off the heads and slinging the fish bodies. The gulls would swoop down and eat the pieces of fish that the sea lions tossed.


The fish were cornered against the shore at the mouth of the stream and gate. If you look carefully, you can see the wall of fish trying to get away from the sea lions.




When they had had their fill, the "big daddy" would swim out to a certain point, and sit there and roar. Then one by one, all the other sea lions would go out to meet him. 


And then the little seals would come in and have their go at the salmon.


See this post at Conni's blog MrsMamaHen.com

Monday, March 17, 2014

Monday Morning Adventures with MrsMamaHen.com

Boy, do I have a treat for you! Our friend Conni from MrsMamaHen.com and her family went on this awesome salmon fishing trip to Valdez, Alaska USA. While they were fishing, having some great family fun and adventure she was photographing and blogging the whole trip on her blog at MrsMamaHen.com.
Join Conni every Monday for the next five Monday's to take a peek into the wilderness, the wildlife and the adventure as we travel to Valdez through her camera and her words. Let's get started right away!

This past weekend, we headed out on a fishing trip in Valdez, way down at the coast. My husband went to Valdez for a charter boat fishing trip, but this was my first time down. The area we were going to be fishing, was near a hatchery where gazillions of baby salmon are released every year. And of course, every year, gazillions more want to come home to spawn. Outside the hatchery, you can see a "gate" that keeps the salmon from entering the stream into the hatchery. That doesn't stop them from trying to get in!




Check out this humpy!


The male pinks are called "humpies" because of the prominent hump on their backs.

The salmon were so thick, it seemed you could practically walk across the water on the backs of salmon and never get wet.


Can you see the fish fever taking effect?


Seeing as tide was out, the boys decided to give it a go...even though they hadn't planned on fishing til the next day.


You'll notice that water is finding its way around their feet. When they went out, it was gravel. Tide was coming back in and they didn't even notice. Finally it reached my husband's knees, and he had salmon swimming all around him!


Jack caught the first salmon of the trip...his first salmon ever.


The next day was spent almost completely fishing...at least for the guys. I was too enamored with the wildlife and scenery, taking tons of pictures. But I did join in later on.






That's our neighbor there in the gray.






So later that day, when they did their second round of fishing..stopping for dinner & a nap, and to clean their so-far catch...I decided to go ahead and join in. It was getting too dark to take pictures anyways. Ahem.

This is my first salmon, and one of Jack's many. We tried to catch females, and would release most of the males. The females, though smaller, have more meat on them.


Of course this was my biggest catch. It was a male, but I had to keep this one!


Joshua and one of his catches.


At the end of the day, the guys had to haul this back up the slick rocks to the truck...and then fillet them all! They were up until around 1 am cleaning fish, exhausted and loving every minute of it.

We plan to make another trip down in a few weeks when the silvers are coming through!

We weren't the only ones fishing, though. Humans weren't the only ones scooping up the fish for our bellies. I have many varieties to share with you...the first coming up shortly!

Come back next Monday to see her surprise and enjoy the adventure!

Thanks Conni!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Geocaching with Miragee ~ Two "Historic Caches" go into the "Found" column

Late Thursday afternoon, Chuy! posted in San Diego Event Forum that he was headed north to find the Calaveras Lake caches. He said it would be about a seven-mile hike, and since I had walked five miles on each of the last two days, I wondered if I would be too tired. However, I didn't think the terrain was too tough, so I sent him an email, and then called and left a message.

I set my alarm for 5:30 in the morning and went to bed early . . . 

In the morning, I gave myself about 45 minutes to get to Chuy!'s house and that was just about the right amount of time to get there on time. It was a pleasant surprise to see map4navigation there. He had decided at the last minute to sign on for the adventure. I had not cached with him for a long time.

We loaded our stuff into Chuy!'s truck and set off up the 67 and from there, followed a complicated route. It was a good thing Chuy! knew his way to the area, because I had no idea where we were going . . . and it was a long drive. I was very thankful he wanted to head up that way. With the price of gas at $4.35 a gallon, my driving is going to be even more limited now.

We started out on the trail, going in the opposite direction from the way Princess Toadstool and I walked when we were in the area in 2005. It was a hazy day, so I didn't take too many pictures. I had to stop when I saw this flower carpet at the base of the extinct volcano.



At that point, we were headed up to the top of the of the rocky mound that is a unique geologic formation in that part of San Diego County. 



Once we got on the top, we searched for the Geocache for quite a while. I meandered over to the location of the Terracache and found it easily. Unfortunately, the container had leaked during this past winter, so the inside was wet and rusty. The logbook was protected by the ziplock bag, so that was a good thing.

We finally located the Geocache about 37' away from GZ and headed back down the trail on our way to a couple of caches, not realizing we would get to climb almost all the way to the top again after circling around the west side of the volcano.



We followed the meandering trails, backtracking once to pick up one of the "Historic Caches" we came all this way to find.



We walked past these amazing, huge thistle plants a couple of times during our wanderings.






Here is the Profile of our adventure. The spikes in the track are because I kept the GPS unit on my belt during our hike.



We ended the day at a great English Pub that has a cache in the front planter. That was a cache I DNF'd along with a large group of other cachers back in 2006. It was good to move that one to the "Found" column, and great to enjoy a good dinner with my caching companions.

I really had a great day finding the most caches I have found in one day in more than a year.

By the time I got back to Lakeside, I was really tired. I hoped the plans for Saturday did not involve a strenuous hike, but after talking to Auld Pro, found out that was not to be the case . . . 

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...