How to Geocache Without A GPS

DH geocached without a GPS for the first time the other day.  Not on purpose, mind you...

New geocache popped up late in the evening just as DH was driving home.  I saw it and printed off the page, entered the coordinates into the GPS, called him to let him know and I left everything on the counter for him so when he got home, he could run back out.

DH gets home, does a few things, then leaves.  About 10 min later I get a call from him.  I'm thinking, "He found it ALREADY?"   But no.  It's DH calling to tell me HE FORGOT THE GPS.


Well, being the good support crew that I am, I tell him to hold on while I look at the Google Geocaching map.  I bring it up and switch to satellite view.  Turns out we were in luck.  The geocache was in a park and ride and I could zoom in very close on the satellite map and I could at least tell him about where to look.  So he gets to the park and ride, and I'm like, "Ok, count over 9 parking spaces, and head into the woods pretty much starting from between parking spots 9 and 10."  Believe it or not, after a few minutes of searching, he found it!  And got the FTF!!

I would not normally recommend this method of geocaching, but as you can see, it CAN be done!  :-)

Can You Spot the Geocache in this Picture?

Contents of a Typical Geocache

Some time ago a bunch of geocaches along or near the Appalachian Trail were archived.  One of them was ours, and DH went out a couple of weeks ago and retrieved it.  It was fun to open it up and see what was in there, as well as read the comments in the log book.  I would say these are fairly typical contents of a geocache of this size (ammo can).  In fact, I think the "swag" that was in it was pretty good.  Some geocaches are just full of junk.  We try to visit our own now and then and "freshen" them if they need it.  (That's what happens if people don't trade equally or up.)   
DH and I agreed that the best item that was in here, which is hard to see because of the glare of the light, is the "I Fart in Your General Direction" button from the Monty Python Broadway show "Spamalot".  :-D

Broke our "Personal Best" Record

We did some geocaching over the Columbus Day weekend.  Ok, a lot!  We had our personal "best day" with 21 finds.  There's a running joke with geocachers - they say, "It's not about the numbers".  Meaning, it's not about how many geocaches you find, it's supposed to be about the fun and the adventure of it.  But, everybody knows that, at least once in awhile, it IS about the numbers!  :-)  And this was such a day.  The day started out with an FTF attempt (first to find) of a newly published geocache, but alas, we were STF instead (second to find).  But that was ok, because since we were going to be doing a "numbers run", it would still add to our daily total.

If you're going to do a "numbers run", the best thing to do is find easy, quick "cache and dash" geocaches.  While we did do a bunch like this, we also did do some that involved some hiking.  One was hidden near the ruins of an old estate, which was really cool.


Another geocache took us to a hydro-electric plant that was built on an historic waterfall that had not only lovely grounds to walk on (open to the public), but there were some really awesome geological formations easily seen in the rock outcrops as well.  (I'm sorry I didn't take a picture of it.)

There was a geocache here, too - pretty fun, huh?

Probably the two most notable points in the day (besides when we broke our old "caches found in a day" record) were when I found the first stage of a multi - notable because the cache container was designed to look like dog poo!  Very clever geocache container!  The second notable point was at the end of the day it had gotten dark, and we were geocaching in a city.  (The places we were geocaching were public places that were open 24/7, just so you know we weren't doing anything crazy or illegal.)  At a small park where there was a geocache, DH found a man's wallet!  No cash in it, but the license and credit cards were all there, so he called the police who came and got it.  The police even knew what geocaching was, so we didn't have to explain what we were doing, which was nice!

So all in all, a very fun day.

A few weeks back most of the geocaches that were on or near the Appalachian Trail were archived and one of them was ours.  DH went out and retrieved it and it was fun to look through the contents.  In my next post I have a photo of the contents, if you are curious what one might find in a typical geocache.  Stay tuned.

Event Geocache

Another type of geocache is an "Event Cache".  An event geocache is posted on like a regular geocache, but it's a meet-up of some type.  Some "Event" geocaches can be as small as a few geocachers meeting at a local diner on a specific date and time just to have a bite together and swap stories, or it can be on as grand of a scale as a whole weekend event with people camping over, activities, t-shirts, cookouts, games, etc.  Here is a picture from a fun "Event" geocache we attended over the summer called Tri-State Treasures Two (you can see the actual geocache page here and read more about it if you want) to give you an idea of how many people attended.

At larger events the person who organizes it usually hides some new geocaches and the coordinates are released first to those attending the event before it gets published to, so there's the fun of finding new caches as well.  Usually at any event, big or small, people bring travel bugs and geocoins to trade and "discover " (you take down the number and log it as "discovered" but you do not actually take the item).  At the Tri-State Treasures Two event there were probably about 30 travel bugs brought for "discovery" and trade. At this event there was also a raffle with many prizes like t-shirts, ammo boxes, geocoins, etc.  There was also a ton of food.  It was a lot of fun!  (Kudos to CaptainMath for a great event.)

Event caches are a great way to meet other geocachers in the area and ask questions, swap stories, and just to put faces to the names.  Geocachers tend to be fun, friendly people, so if you're thinking of attending an event but are afraid to go because you don't know anyone, you should go for it!

Here's an event geocache that is coming up for people in the southern NY - western CT - northern NJ area that you can check out.  It's put on by a well known Hudson Valley geocacher - MSTzilla.  It's called the 2008 Mid-Hudson picnic - it's waypoint is GC1GXEA and it's here.  It's sure to be a lot of fun, and it's at a park with a great playground so it'll be fun for the kids too.  A lot of families geocache, so usually all these events are very family-friendly.  MSTzilla mentions that he had geocoins minted for this event that will likely be given out as prizes or released - so if in your geocaching travels you ever pick up one a coin that says, "2008 Mid Hudson Picnic", think of me!  :-)

Bison Tube Geocache

Here's an example of a somewhat common geocache container - it's called a bison tube.  This sort of geocache is usually hidden by hanging it off something (note the "key ring" loop at the top).  We have occasionally found these hidden hung from branches near the trunk of small pine trees or bushes (though they can certainly be hidden other ways as well).  They blend in really well and can be quite a tough find!  In this picture, the bison tube is (obviously) open (to close it you would screw the two pieces together) and you can see how small the log is - it's all rolled up so it can fit inside.  This is an example of a geocache where you have to bring your own pen or pencil to sign the log.

This is a different geocache, and the container in this photo is not exactly a bison tube (it was a somewhat unique container), but this photo shows how a geocache might be hidden "inside" a tree on a branch, or I think this one may have been hanging from a small hook:
(Sorry for the crummy flash pic - we literally found this one in the very last moments of daylight.  To grab this geocache you literally had to go under the branches and sort of into the middle of the tree to get it, though it doesn't really show it that well in this photo.  You can imagine in a forest how tough something like this might be to find.  It was truly nothing short of a miracle that we found this one practically in the dark as well!  Our geocaching "luck" was with us that day!)

Funny Travel Bug we Picked up in Lake George

We were up in the Lake George area for the weekend and picked up this very unique travel bug!

Why It's Important To Log Your DNFs (Did Not Finds)

Some people are very reluctant to log a DNF (Did Not Find) when they don't find a geocache.  For some people it's an ego thing - they just don't want any of those "sad faces" in their account - they don't want to suffer the embarrassment of admitting they couldn't find a geocache.  For others, it may be that they tell themselves they'll go again another day and try to find it, and they never get around to finding it and never log the DNF. 
Well, embarrassing or not, or whether you plan to try to find the geocache again another day, you should still log your DNF because this is the only way the geocache owner will find out there may be a problem with their geocache!  Sometimes you can't find a geocache because it's not there - sometimes geocaches mysteriously disappear, or sometimes they get "muggled" (non-geocachers find it and trash it or take it).  And other geocachers will continue to waste their time and energy trying to find caches that are not there unless people log their DNFs so that the geocache owner will realize there is a problem and go out and check on their geocache and either come back to the cache page and note that the geocache IS still there and it's just a tough hide, or they can disable the listing if the geocache is missing until they have a chance to replace it.

So please, don't be embarrassed if you don't find a geocache - it's happened to the best of us, believe me (in fact right now there's a geocache we've been to TWICE and still haven't found it - we did confirm though that it IS still there - we just can't seem to find it!).  And hey, it might not even be there to be found, in which case the geocache owner will appreciate knowing there may be a problem and if they see another DNF or two come in, they'll know they need to go out and check on it. 

I hope you never have any DNFs, but if you do, please log it.  As a geocache owner, I thank you!