Life as a Geocacher

Caching and Reviewing

This is made up of stories from my caching and my reviewing.  It is a collection of those along with comments and thoughts.  Photos, and maps of some adventures and lists of some of the oldest caches.

Filtering by Tag: Geocaching

UTAG Event and Cache Day

Prologue

I received an phone call earlier in the week from Peanuts Parents.  He was wondering if I would go out to the event with him this last weekend with him.

Friday night. - The Drive

Well after a quick review of things with my wife, I got the green light.  So Friday night we headed south to Kanosh.  He has a little cabin there. 

The drive was a long one, about two hours.  Ok well it was not really long, but it was long enough for me.  I am not big on many hours in the car.  The plus is that I was able to grab caches on the way south. Normally that is a no no.  Kids are not fond of stopping for a lot of caches.  We took the time to find a mystery cache in Nephi, then stopping in Fillmore to grab another cache.

When we got to Kanosh, Utah just as it was just getting dark.  He showed me around the area, inside and out.  There is a great view of Utah's West desert with various cinder cones and old extinct volcanoes.

PeanutsParents had a ton of caches. And I do mean a ton.  So we spent a good part of the night talking and putting together many of the containers for his cache run.

Sunrise over Utah's west desert. Saturday Morning

The next morning is when the adventure began.  We left early in the morning. About 7:00 AM if my mind is correct. Things are fuzzy for me early in the morning.  We packed things up, and got everything ready.  Neither of us wanted to sleep too long.

There are no stores in Kanosh.  So food is what be had brought with us.  Well, that was some Jolly Ranchers and a few V8's.  what more could you ask for.

Our drive began and we stopped for one or two caches that Peanuts had never grabbed before even though he was nearby.  He had left them for the perfect moment. Now.

Then our drive included him placing a number of caches.  So as we headed into town and he took me to a few caches, we started to see many of the nice caches that I had never been to. 

Then off into the desert.

The desert west of Kanosh is pretty sparse.  This year as you walk around there are a number of desert flowers blooming, and a little green.  It has been pretty wet (for a desert) this year.

We headed to a string of caches that had been placed earlier this year down a little dirt road. Well that is where things got strange.  The road was no more than a few car tracks into the desert.  We needed to go three miles.  So off we went in our truck.  (Bad Idea #1) Those car tracks dwindled until we were on a ATV trail.  That was getting a little nerve wracking.  Then it turned into a cow trail only a few hundred yards from where we were going.  Then little by little a few tracks joined ours. (We did get the caches)

I am not sure that was the wisest choice, but it was not our last dumb one.

The race to the event.The roadless road.

We headed off to the event so we would not be late.  The event was about 30-40 miles to the north. Well we were heading west.  In the desert.  At one point we had a choice.  Head south, 8 miles to the road, or take a dirt road to the north. 

Well I voted for north.  It seemed logical, we were going that way.

Bad idea #2 - Eventually the road got nasty.  very nasty.  In fact it was not there.  You could see remains. It had been a road where they placed a power-line up out in the desert.  in the 70's.  but not much of one now.

I admitted that I had made a bad decision. Peanuts decided perhaps we would drive on. (Bad Idea #3).  So off we went.  I snapped a pic out the window.  You can see where the road was, but not much of a road, and few have traveled it in years.

Happily we reached the rail line and there was an option to go North or South (there was a road there).  Well once again, why go south to reach or destination in the North. (Bad Idea #4).  It was 7 miles.  but the roads were even worse.  I wish I had taken a photo or video.  Eventually the road turned into a two-track trail, then a single track. We could see where the road had been. It would have been in the 50's.  We traveled wash outs and horrible ledges. And eventually it faded to a cow trail.  Eventually as we came within a mile the road started to appear again. People had traveled it from the other end anyway.

We got to the event an hour late.  Oh yea... did I forget to mention we had a flat?  When we finally hit the highway we found out that we had a flat.  The tire was so hot I could hardly touch it. Same with the lug nuts.  Ahhh life int he desert.   Welll not many were at the event, but it was nice anyway.

Hunting for the benchmark.Drive home

The drive home was an afternoon with benchmarks.  Peanuts was putting caches near them.  We actually found three that were placed by other cachers doing the same thing.  So we were pre publishing ftfs on them.   Ahhh the joy of people with the same ideas.

We had fun hunting for them on the way.  Especially the ones buried, that we actually had to find. 

Benchmarks can be way off anyway.  A hundred feet or more. If you can find the sign marking them you may be in luck.  But even then they are buried in the sand in the desert.  So we had to work to drag them out.

That was the afternoon drive home.  We found another 10 benchmarks, making for about 20 benchmarks on the day, with about 50 caches. Plus Peanuts placed another 25-30.  So it was a long fun day.  We were tired when we made it back home.

Spider Mountain and Geoaching Update

I could not figure out what to write about today.  I was really stumped.  I have been thinking for a few days of things that I should write about, but a trip Saturday fixed one thing that I had to write about.  Spider Mountain.

Actually Spider mountain in known locally as West Mountain, but after my trip this last weekend I decided that I had to change the name.

I had driven up there earlier this year. to grab a muli and I placed one high on the hills.  The road is rough, actually a few of my friends told me it was really really rough.  So I now throw out this disclaimer.  If you are from southern Utah and/or have done any amount of 4x4ing it is not really rough, however if you drive your high clearance vehicle around town all the time, then you are pretty much screwed and in for a rough ride.

We headed up and get some of the 8-10 new caches that were placed.  I should have known that there was trouble ahead when I saw the following cache titles.

Road to Spiderland

Turn Back, Spiders Ahead

Lions, Tigers and Spiders

Spiderbush!

Spiderrocks

A Spiderfull view of South Utah Valley

Arachnophobia

I really should have looked forward to more.  It was pretty creepy.  I was thinking a few spiders on a bush here and there but this was something different.  As you went higher in altitude there were more and more. 

Every tuft of grass and every sagebrush had spiders.  The pictures that I took had a ton of spiders. Actually I counted 109 originally, since then I have located another half dozen in the pictures.

It was pretty nasty.  The weather turned bad and I had to turn around and head back home.  It was pretty nasty.  It is not often that you get to see spiders in biblical plague numbers. The entire trip was something that gave me shivers.  They became so thick that I had to use a pair of sticks that I had in the back of my truck.  With one I had to clear the webs in front of me.  When I found the cache I used the pair of sticks to poke it out.

It was odd that the hardest one to get was the one the easiest to see.  I pulled up to a stop and could see it up a hill about 100' away. It was hanging on a pipe/fence.  The issue was that the cache was through a hill of spiders.  It was difficult to see how I could make it there.  There were spiders scattered everywhere. I used one stick to knock the 4' tall grass.  Unfortunately the spiders held on tight enough that I could not get them off.  I would have to hit it like a baseball and send it flying.

When I got there the spider was hanging on the bottom of it.  Seeing as how these containers are large in diameter.  uggg.   I was not able to grab them all, a storm was rolling in.  So I will have to go back and see spiders.

Geocaching Update

Tuesday was the update to geocaching.com.  There were a number of changes to the system.

First and formost was the annoucement of the first software that is running the public API.  Cachesense for the Blackberry is the first program that is complete and ready for the public use.  About 35 others are out there being worked on.

What other things came out today?

  • Added some new attributes. Seasonal Access, Teamwork Required, Tourist Friendly, Tree Climbing and Front Yard (private residence).
  • Increased total number of assignable cache attributes from 10 to 15
  • Added an option in search results to highlight "beginner caches" (low difficulty/traditional type/recently found etc.)
  • Added Twitter and Facebook sharing options to cache log pages, visit your profile or geocaching.com/my/sharing.aspx to connect your accounts
  • Added special Block Party icon for annual Groundspeak headquarters event

So there is a lot ongoing, and more to come.

 

 

A new ape geocache?

As a follow up to my last note I point people to Jeremy Irish's facebook status.

He had a few interesting posts.

FOX passed on an official Project APE promotion for Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but we're going to do something cool without them. Expect a blog post next week or so about it.

and

It was pretty much a free promotion, like before, though they did donate props from the movie in the first promo. No money exchanged hands, though.

and

...Also keep in mind there were APE caches outside of the US the first time, including one in the UK.

No, we won't be bringing back the original archived APE caches. That doesn't mean we won't have new ones, however. Details are still being worked out.


More to come..stay tuned on the geocaching blogs.  That is cool news.


opencaching vs opencaching

Well we are over two months in, and I have my predictions.  I have written a few times about opencaching.com but not the opencaching.us site.

.com or .us what opencaching site has the longest legs?

Let me jump back to a few months ago.  The opencaching.com site was launched.  I thought this was a horrible name first of all.  Using one that belonged to someone else.  I had heard a while before that it was coming out and had been watching its home screen.  Though I do not do much of anything with the other sites I was, like many of you, curious to see what it was like.

I was nervous.  There was a large company whose profit is in the Billions, with thousands of employees, that could come after geocaching full boar.  With resources that would dwarf that of the little 40 person (just a guess there) groundspeak.  What would the future hold, how would it evolve.  I thought the original Opencaching sites were doomed.

Birth of .com

Well the first week of December it exploded onto the scene.  It was in the news, all the blogs, podcasts, and other sites rushed to find out what the new and most interesting thing.  Many went over right away and cross listed some or all of their caches on the other site. 

But in all that there were issues. Few cache types, nothing really new, the site was riddled with bugs. People seemed to jump on, look around and leave.  Many tried to reserve names, only to find out they were taken, or Opencaching.com would not allow some characters, or spaces in names.

I was randomly assigned a different name., even though i asked for a specific name.  Apparently the original was taken in the Garmin system.   Then in the forums it defaulted to my real name.  Oooops.

January

by the end of December 7ish thousand caches were listed.  A good number, a number showing real growth and real potential.  Except for one thing.

There were no new caches.  Well there were.  A friend going through the caches located only showed a small percentage of original caches.  And that number has not changed.

I am betting that you are not aware that apparently there are more caches on Opencaching.us (500+) than there are original caches on all of Garmin's site (about 400ish).  It is tricky how Garmin numbers its caches, but caches that are imported are given similar numbers, and if I just enter a cache, I get a unique number.  I do not know how many opencaching.us caches are unique (flaw in my system).

that would mean they are about even, except many of Garmin's unique caches, were caches that were just entered in, without a corresponding GC code, which there is.  So there are actually fewer than their numbering system shows.

Growing?

Both sites are growing.  Still the Garmin site is getting more unique caches each week than the .us site.  But there are more than just that site.   Skimming over all the caching sites I am seeing some 300ish new caches this month on opencaching sites.  Garmin's site? about 40-50 new unique caches.

Many that were disgruntled, banned, or otherwise annoyed seemed to have found a home there.  I know some that are annoyed that their forums are a never ending geocaching.com bashing session.  I drop on in and read once and a while.  Being a moderator in geocaching.com forums I see a some abusive behavior.  It can get ugly at times.

 

The chart above shows the Google Insight chart for the past 90 days.   One is sorted with three of the Opencaching sites lumped together, (US, Germany, and Poland).  The other line is the one for Garmins opencaching.com.  You can see the spike when it came out.  Then it fades away.  Why is that significant?  Well no one is searching for it.

Loss of Sales

Another interesting thought. Looking at Its Not About the Numbers Blog he mentioned that 90% of those taking his survey are Garmin users. Of those nearly half expect say they will not be buying garmin next time.  That is horrific for Garmin. 

Garmin makes a lot of money on GPS units. Sales have been dropping, that means profits as well.  Are they loosing money?  Nope, but that does not bolster confidence that they are alienating their customer base.

Future

What does the future hold?  Wow. My prediction?

Well Garmins mess.

Garmin is a publicly held company.  They never put their heart into it or they would not have released a product that was still deep in Alpha testing.  Make no mistake, it was not in Beta testing.  I have been a part of Beta testing over the years, this was not ready to be seen the first few weeks.

They have to show a profit, and a market. They appear to not have either, and in fact have alienated their market.  Do I think that 50% of Garmin users will leave?  Nope.  but 25% is a big blow. 

When someone goes to geocaching they need to see something new.  They want the new caches. Not going to another site to see the same thing. Navicache, Terracache, and Opencaching sites all have something special, rugged caches, unique types of caches, scoring methods, or something.  Garmin has created a poor window with 1 in 20 being unique, and you cannot tell what caches are unique, unless you decode their numbering system in GSAK and wade through the numbers.

So Garmin will trudge along.  The war was lost in December.  I think if a finished product had came out many would have jumped ship.  It may just sit as a side project to keep some Garmin VP from loosing face, just pushing along, but it is in all essence doomed. Garmin has to pay for it, advertisers may not appear in force (why would competitors spend money there instead of Garmin).

opencaching sites.

They are pulling along.  I think they are far more successful than the other sites Navicache, Terracache, and their future is brighter.  The cache owners of those sites will hang on.  The costs are not high there, no overwhelming programming costs.  You many not see a lot of new widgets on the cache pages, but the sites run, and they experiment with cache types.  Drawing people in.  They are devoted and keep the sites alive.

Winner - the original opencaching sites

Looser - Garmin

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