A favorite quote:

Make play a high priority in your life for if you die tomorrow no one can play for you, but someone can and will do your work for you!!!" Ken Beebe (Dr. Play)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fathers Day in Photos… And all about Geocaching!

The boy has graduated from point and shoots.
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Here is the shot he took
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We started our day by doing some shopping. I needed some parts for my awesome Nitro Truck, so We ended up at PM Hobby Craft. There was a demo days for some rock crawler RC trucks and they let Andrew drive one. He was grins from ear to ear. When we checked out they were giving away free t-shirts and hats to all the Dads! Yay!

A couple more stops and we were headed out of town trying to chase the few blue patches of sky we could see. The end goal of the day was to find a nice spot for a picnic. We were a few miles out of the city and as soon as I turned on the Geocaching app, we had quite a few treasures to search for in close proximity. We started with a success.

The first score is deep in those bushes. It’s always an adventure…
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We like all kinds of caches from long hikes to roadside attractions. This rock was significant for some reason, and a good place for a quick roadside find!
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The best part about Geocaching, aside from the quality time with my family, is we don’t have to be anywhere in particular. The playing field is ‘Anywhere in the world!’ So, we spent the day chasing the the sun. Anywhere we could spot a patch of blue sky was the direction we would go. Cool huh?
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Think he enjoys this?
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We struck out here, but the scenery was worth it! 
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He found one. It’s a very convincing fake rock! You can actually buy containers from www.geocaching.com that are pretty unique. We have found fake sprinkler heads, fake bolts in a park bench and all manners of cache containers. Pretty cool. The more obvious the location, the more camouflaged the container typically.
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Andrew and I walked up to the top of this big hill and looked around. We started back down and all of a sudden he heads back up to the top and says, ‘come take a picture of me daddy!’

Ok!… wow!  Probably in the top 5 awesome pictures I have taken of him…
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So. Geocaching. Are you curious? I found out about this hobby by reading camping blogs a few years ago. Basically it’s a high tech treasure hunt. Users of the website www.geocaching.com register a user name, then look up local caches. More on that in a bit.

Where do the caches come from? Anyone, really. I could place a cache somewhere. The stipulation is it should be close enough to your area that you can maintain it if it gets ‘compromised’ somehow. It could get waterlogged, or accidentally damaged, most of the time, people who find the cache will report it on their log report online that it is in disrepair. Caches can range in size from just big enough to hold a tiny little piece of paper to print your name on (bring your own pen), to very large storage bins, full of all sorts of stuff. The stuff in the larger containers usually contain items for trading. Cachers will drop a trinket or toy into the cache and remove another one of equal or greater value. We let Andrew do most of the trading. At some finds it’s a very important decision as what to pick. His favourite yesterday was this: A tiny little frog eraser. It really amazes me the items he takes, as it usually bypasses the bounty of toy cars and mini hockey sticks, instead choosing really unique items…

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To the right in this photo, in the trees is a film case cache.
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The next best part of Geocaching is where it takes us. We have seen more awesome parts of our province in the last 2 years, than we have in the previous 10, and that is saying a lot. Not to mention all the historical areas we are educated about through our awesome hobby.
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This is a map from the Geocaching website of the area we explored yesterday. It is about 40 miles wide by 25 mile high. Not too big an area, however you get the idea of how many caches are available to be found. You could spend weeks searching in just this little area North of Calgary and still not get to them all. Every little dot on the map you see is another cache, there are literally hundreds to choose from. The red circles are the ones we found or attempted to find. The photo above and below the map were taken at the circles at the top of the page. There are almost 1.5 million Caches placed around the world, and over 5 million registered cachers…

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This young group of longhorn steer snuck up on us while we searched for another cache. They seemed very curious but friendly.
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Now, we use the Iphone app, just because it is the easiest for us. It is less accurate than say, a Garmin device as the Iphone uses a ‘software compass’ which means you have to be moving to get an accurate reading. A garmin device uses a hardware compass and will give an accurate reading even if you are standing still, which is better for stopping and gathering your bearings when in thick brush or tough terrain. The Iphone uses the geocaching website for all it’s data, so no need to preload any maps or caches, while a regular GPS needs to be loaded with info from your computer prior to setting out. When we started out with this hobby, we used the FR305 running GPS. It was very accurate and worked like a charm. The only drawback is you don’t have a choice of map views, or additional info that the Iphone provides (such as hints that sometimes are needed for a successful find. Hints we have appreciated like ‘Look up’…). We are going to start using both. The Iphone for all the general info, and the FR305 for the accurate and final approach at the cache site. If you have a GPS device, you can check it’s geocaching rating here.

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Here are the links to the reviews of some of the popular running GPS devices

Garmin FR305
Garmin FR310XT
Garmin FR201
Garmin FR405

And your vehicle GPS device can be used as well! TomTom!

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And then of course there are the Devices that are MEANT for this type of outdoor pursuit. This is the most popular Geocaching device on the market today. I will have one like this, one day…. one day.

Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx

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All in all, it’s an incredibly fun hobby that anyone, of any fitness can partake in! What are you waiting for? Get out there!

And if you want to know more - Here is the full story straight from the website… (there is SO much more to this hobby that we don’t even scratch the surface, what with multi caches and travelbugs…. and on and on!

The Game

What is geocaching?

Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.

How is the game played?

At its simplest level, geocaching requires these 8 steps:

  1. Register for a free Basic Membership.
  2. Visit the "Hide & Seek a Cache" page.
  3. Enter your postal code and click "search."
  4. Choose any geocache from the list and click on its name.
  5. Enter the coordinates of the geocache into your GPS Device.
  6. Use your GPS device to assist you in finding the hidden geocache.
  7. Sign the logbook and return the geocache to its original location.
  8. Share your geocaching stories and photos online.

There are many other levels to the game. Keep reading the guide to learn more!

What are the rules of geocaching?

  1. If you take something from the geocache (or "cache"), leave something of equal or greater value.
  2. Write about your find in the cache logbook.
  3. Log your experience at www.geocaching.com.

What do I need to go geocaching?

The only necessities are a GPS device or a GPS-enabled mobile phone so that you can navigate to the cache, and a Geocaching.com Membership.

Where are geocaches located?

Geocaches can be found all over the world. It is common for geocachers to hide caches in locations that are important to them, reflecting a special interest or skill of the cache owner. These locations can be quite diverse. They may be at your local park, at the end of a long hike, underwater or on the side of a city street.

Are there different types of geocaches?

Yes. There are currently over a dozen "cache types" in geocaching, with each cache type being a different variation of the game. See the full list of Geocache Types.

How did geocaching start?

It's a very cool story, actually. So cool that it deserves its own page.

Ok, what else. Oh yeah, the K-100 relay on Saturday. Should be fun. And I took this photo in our backyard today, beautiful Solstice sun, while POURING rain!

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2 comments:

Sue and Doug said...

welcome back to your blog, Neil!..great photos of the clouds, sky and the fields!..geocaching is a great hobby!!!

Rod and Loyce Ivers said...

Andrew is sure growing up fast!!