Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Is it Friday Yet ?

I REALLY need to go geocaching ! It has been too long. We had two weekends of bad weather and this last weekend, I was too busy to cache. I am really looking forward to getting out this weekend and doing some caching. It will be good for my soul. Work has been hell lately and I need a break so regardless of the weather, I will find some caches this weekend.

On a completely different note, I ran across this survey on another blogger's website and had to take it. Needless to say, I scored well.

I am nerdier than 98% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Oh well, I always knew I was a nerd, so I'm not surprised.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Helmut Mueller

I just wanted to share a post I made to the gc.com forums tonight. it is one of the hardest post I have ever had to make. It concerns the death of a fellow geocacher:

Although I frequent the forums, I somehow missed that this had happened. When I read the first post, I was at a loss for words and nearly in tears even though I never had the pleasure of meeting this man and his family.

Even though I never met Helmut, I joined gc.com about the same time that he did and I have read his post for years and viewed the photos he posted in his gallery. I felt as though I knew him and I felt as though I knew his family. I took the time tonight to read each and every response in this thread and I now feel that I can talk about this. It is truly amazing how easy it is to become familiar with someone (and even feel close to them) via the internet. This has caused me to think back on everyone who I have met through the internet and even back to those from the BBS days and remember the impact that people have had on my life through computer communication. There are so many people that have been part of my life that I have never had the chance to shake their hand or share a laugh with. I am saddened by this but at the same time, I know that my life has been unmeasurably enriched because of their presence in my life even though it was not a physical presence. I am a better person because of people like Helmut.

To Ashley and Family- please know that your father touched many people. The number can never be measured because so many people have come and gone through gc.com, but I know if they spent anytime in the forums, they were impacted in some way by Helmut's post. Even if it was just learning something from what he posted, we were impacted. Please take strength from knowing how important he was to the geocaching community.

As I turn 40 in a couple of weeks. Helmut will definitely be on me mind. I am so fortunate to still have my father in my life. I grieve at your loss. There are no words that can make this any easier for you.

Friday, February 24, 2006


A fellow blogger recently emailed me about a website that I was not aware existed. THat may seem trivial, but I pride myself on researching my hobbies, so I'm a little suprised that this one was missed by me. Head over to Adventures in Geocaching and read about the website here. I have just glanced over the site and I'm very impressed so far !

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Lookin' Good

This weekend is shaping up to be a good weather weekend for some geocaching. I think we are going to be able to get Team ARC out in some fashion this weekend. At a minimum, Mike and I should be able to cache. I'm ready after having miserable weather for two weekends straight! Actually, I love winter weather and I'm not really complaining, but I would have liked to have geocached, as well. This last weekend was impossible. It snowed and sleeted about 3 inched Saturday and Sunday. I know some cachers that would have got out in that, but I'm not one of them :D

We are supposed to be in the mid-50's all weekend, so hopefully, we will get some geocaches unter out belts this weekend. I will update everyone on what we do. I'm going to do my best not to forget my camera this time !

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Paperless Geocaching Premium Style

Earlier, I told you how to do paperless geocaching for free. It is relatively simple but it has a lot of steps involved. Since it was a little cumbersome, I decided to poney up some money and try to make paperless caching a little less painless. I have to tell you, it is well worth the money if you have it !

First, let me say there are several ways to go about paperless caching. It will mostly be a matter of taste and a matter of how much you can or want to spend. I will admit, I haven't bought some of the programs I would still like to try to make things even easier, but, the system I'm now using is much better than the free system.

You will need to accomplish several things before you can use this system.

1. You will need a Premium Membership at geocaching.com ($30)
2. Next you will need a program called GSAK. (I have not registered GSAK yet, but will soon be doing so) ($15)
3. You need a program to get your cache pages to you Palm device. I use Plucker Desktop. (Free)
4. You will need a program to read you files once they are on you Palm. I use Plucker. (Free)
5. As an alternative to Plucker and Plucker Desktop, you can use CacheMate. ($8)

Once you have you premium membership, install GSAK, install Plucker Desktop and place Plucker on your PDA, you are ready for paperless caching ! The first thing you will need to do is set up a pocket query at geocaching.com. There are lots of articles on how to do that so I won't bore you here. Once this is done, the PQ will be delivered to you email address. Be sure to have your PQ sent to you in zip format. Once it arrives, you will want to fire up GSAK. Open the zip file containing your PQ. Depending on how you set up you PQ, you will have 2-3 files included. You will need to drag and drop the larger gpx file into the open GSAK window. GSAK will offer you some options on importing the file but I just use the default options. At this point, you PQ will be imported and you are ready to play !

Next you will need to export the waypoints to your GPS. How you accomplish this will greatly depend on what GPS unit you own. I have a Lowance H2O which does not connect directly to my computer, but uses a SD card. I export my waypoints using the Lowrance usr format. I then copy the usr file to my SD card, place the card back in my GPS and load the data. GSAK will export directly to many GPS units. Once this is done, you have accomplished loading the caches into you GPS.

Next, you need to get the cache page that contain the cache information into your PDA. Since I am using the Plucker method, I use GSAK to export my loaded caches to html format. Once this export is completed, I open Plucked Desktop, create a channel called "Caches", and update the channel by pointing PDesktop to the files that GSAK just exported in html format. (Once the channel is created, you only have to update the channel in the future.) Now that this step is complete, the next time you sync your PDA, "Caches" will be placed on the PDA. You can then open Plucker on you PDA, select "Caches" and all of your cache information is located there. GSAK creates a "start" page that allows you to search for caches in many different ways. You can even customize that page.

I cannot say enough good about GSAK. It is truly an all-in-one tool that is highly customizable. I am only beginning to learn some of the many functions of the program. You can pretty much use it in default mode, but you would be missing out on so much functionality ! It is wonderful for searching for particular caches using the filter. If you just wanted to go looking for caches with travel bugs one day, you can set up the filter and do your exports and only caches with travel bugs will be shown. You can use this filter in more ways than I can sit her and list. I highly recommend spending some time at the GSAK website linked above just reading over the features, forums, and FAQs.

That pretty much summerizes my venture into the premium version of paperless geocaching. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or email me and I will try to help out or at least point you to where you can get a correct answer.

Now, if the weather would just change, I could go caching ! We have been getting snow, sleet, and freezing rain for two days now. Not the best weekend I've ever experienced :D I really don't mind the snow, but the freezing rain and wind chills in the single digits is a bit much for me to go geocaching !

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Paperless Caching

Well, I have been playing with some of the paperless caching options available for those willing to spend a few buck and I have been very impressed with the options available. First and foremost, as a Lowrance user, I would like to recommend GSAK as an option. With my Lowrance H2O, Palm TX, and GSAK, and a geocaching.com Premium membership, I can do everything I need to do for paperless caching in style. I must say, it is worth the extra $s to do it this way. I will write a full review on the system that I have settled with this weekend.


Just a bit of....

a test to see if a new add-on works :D

Sunday, February 12, 2006

No Geocaching this Weekend...

I was feeling a bit under the weather and it was COLD and windy. Actually, it was more windy than cold but the combination was miserable. Needless to say, I stayed in and tried to get well.

I did work on some geocaching related stuff, though. I finally came up with a signature item. Basically, it is a refridgerator magnet. Some time ago, I bought some printable magnetic sheets for some project. I never used it but I found them while digging through a filing cabinet this weekend. I pulled a couple out and placed them in my printer. I opened up Word and selected the template for the Avery business cards and went to work. The end result was a signature item that I will leave in caches that I find. I have found quite a few sig items, but I have never seen anything like these, so hopefully, people will like them. I've attached a photo of them appropriately placed on my fridge.

My other weekend indoor project was to develope a CD to leave in caches. There was a spirited debate on the geocaching.com forums about this idea. Many stated that they would not pick up a CD at a cache for fear of getting a computer virus. I was one of the people that thought it was an excellent idea. Almost everyone, including myself, have virus scanners and I feel that the risk is minimal coming from a fellow cacher. My CD has some freeware and shareware included that I downloaded from reputable sites and it also contains several hundred photos that I have personally taken. People can use the photos for any personal use as long as they don't try to profit from them. I love photography and I enjoy sharing my photos. I did run a scan on the disk with my updated virus scanner to make sure that it was virus free. I also printed my email address on the CD just in case someone had a problem with the CD or it's contents.

The last thing I did this weekend was make a bunch of small return address labels to use when logging finds. I'd seen this a couple of times in logs I've come across and wanted to give it a go. I printed up labels for myself, Mike, and Robert. Hope everyone else had a great weekend !!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Colder than....

a well digger's...well, you know the rest of the saying. That would be the best way to describe today's weather ! The team had discussed getting out around 1300 today and doing a little caching followed by a round or two of pool. I don't know about you, but it was blowing snow, the temp was hovering around freezing and the wind was howling resulting in a windchill around 20 degrees. Yeah, I know, I see the discussions and photos of people caching in the snow and nasty weather. Truthfully, had I not felt like I was coming down with some type if intestinal virus, I probably would have given it a try.

So, since I'm not out caching today, I will write about last weeks geocaching adventure. Sorry this is late. I had to be in Baltimore for a meeting Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I figured I would write about it from the hotel. Hah ! Little did I know that my meetings essentially were from about 0730 until 2300 (at least one night it was). The other days were very long and all I wanted to do once I got to my room was shower and crash.

Back to last weeks adventure :). Mike and I were the only participants as Robert was grouting the floor at the YMCA, thanks to his wife offering up his service for free. I have to tell you, Robert truly is a jack of all trades. We've worked together about 10 years. Currently he is not in my department, but I depend on his expertise and knowledge more than I would like to admit. He is truly and asset to our company. Since Robert was tied up, Mike and met at his house and left from there. I'm really getting into the paperless caching. I showed up with my swag, GPSr, and PDA and we were ready to go. Mike has not had a GPS yet and doesn't want to mess with navigating, so we usually end up taking his very comfortable Suburban. As you will note from my above statement about my equipment, you will see that I once again forgot my dang camera !! Mike brought his, but I'm not sure how many shots he got.

We headed towards Glenpool as we had not cached there before. There are not a lot of caches there, but we figured we might as well get them out of the way. Our first hit was "Used to be Posey". This was located just outside the parameter of a cemetary. This is near a town called Twin Mounds that was formerly Posey. It came to be in the late 1800s. We quickly located the cache, made our trades, and signed the log book. Apparently, we were not quick enough. This cache is out in the booneys and a local farmer got suspicious of our activity and approached us as we were getting ready to leave. It was somewhat of an uncomfortable conversation as he was not getting our explination of Geocaching and we did not have a flyer with us. I think he final decided that we were not doing anything malicious and let us go un-shot. (Think I will print one of those flyers right now).

Next we headed towards "Oil and Gas", this is a historical marker honoring the oil and gas industry in the area. Glenpool is named for a large oilfield find. In fact, there is a move about the oilfield called "Glenpool". This was a micro hidden close by so we just signed the log and left.

Next, we headed towards Sapulpa which is just down the road a bit. Not much on traditional caches, but they had a couple of virtuals we wanted to see. Our first cache was "Chief". This was a virtual cache that I don't want to say a lot about because it is really special and you need to just go see it. It is a virtual but I never knew it existed. Mike has lived in this area all his life and he never knew about it. It was an honor to visit this cache. If you would like details about the cache, you can email me, but I would hate to spoil the surprise for anyone else. If you are ever in this area, this is a must do cache!

We then headed for the "Sapulpa Trolley and Rail" cache. It was another historic type virtual that was very enjoyable. Apparently, at some time in the history of Sapulpa, they had a trolley system and this virtual consist of a restored trolley. Again, it is worth the visit if you are into history ! We went from here to "Rock Creek Bridge". This was a neat old bridge that was paved with bricks. No telling how old it is but it was old enough that I was a bit uncomfortable driving across it because it was quite a ways down. Turned out that the cache was not on the side of the railroad track that the bridge is on, so we had to back track a bit. Once we got on the right side of the tracks, it was an easy find. About two tens of a mile away was another virtual called "Two For One". Bet you can't guess why it was named that ! Okay, my guess is that it is only two tenths of a mile from another cache, but I could be wrong. We actually saw this on when we backtracked for the last cache.

After hitting all the caches in Sapulpa, we decided to try our luck in downtown Tulsa. This was interesting. First, we headed for "Talahassee, OK" cache. Yes, this is in downtown Tulsa. We were very confused when we first arrived as the GPSr seemed to indicate the cache was in the pparking lot of some condos. Again, this was a virtual. After some mild confusion, we discovered a very small park on the corner of the condo complex. There are a couple of questions you have to answer to get credit for the cache, but the location has great historical significance. I never knew that this would be such an educational hobby!

Next up was a traditional geocache called "Off the Beaten Path". This one was along a jogging trail near the downtown area that I did not know existed. We were able to quickly find the cache undetected and make our trades. We ended up finding several more caches by the end of the day totaling twelve caches. A new daily record for me. We found "Center of the Universe", "Zink Park Cache Returns", "Parkwest Nature Trail", and I did maintenence on my cache, "Polecat Creek Cache". We had a blast as usual and found lots of caches. Now, if I can get to feeling better, we will try to get out and cache again tomorrow !

Oh, while I was in Baltimore, of course, I had to lay claim to at least one cache ! I found "Heart of the Arts". It was a short walk from where we we staying and I can now claim that I am a multi-state cacher :)


Sunday, February 05, 2006

Cool, Windy Day...

Mike and I were the only Team ARC participants to cache today. It was cool and windy, but we located 12 caches. Not too shabby. I'll post about it sometime this week. I have to pack tonight for an early morning departure for Baltimore.