Geocaching Podcasts and YouTubers

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I listen to several podcasts during the week on all kinds of topics. Listening certainly helps to pass the time in the carpool line or when I have to wash dishes. I was subscribed to several geocaching podcasts a few months ago, but over the summer I decided that I could only subscribe to one. It didn’t take too long for one podcast to rise to the top.

podcacher-headerPodcacher with Sonny and Sandy is my favorite geocaching podcast. They are informative and entertaining. Plus, Sandy offers a woman’s perspective on the activity. They include letters and messages from their listeners, highlighting geocaching milestones and cool stories.

Here’s what they say on their “About” page:

“The PodCacher Podcast was born in July 2005, as Sonny and Sandy started recording literally sitting on the couch and passing a microphone back and forth. They never dreamed it would grow to become the largest and most internationally-recognized audio show in the world about the quirky and fun outdoor hobby called Geocaching. PodCacher has been a featured podcast in Apple iTunes for the last 6+ years and has been nominated 4 times as a “Best Produced Podcast” by the Podcast Awards.”

Listening is great, but sometimes it’s fun to watch a cacher search for, find, or hide an interesting cache. That’s where YouTube comes in. There are 2 cachers in particular who make fun geocaching videos.

1. The Geocaching Doc

2. The Geocaching Vlogger

And there you have it! My favorite podcast and my favorite geocaching vloggers. If you know of others I may enjoy, let me know in the comments.

The Grid

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Each and every geocache has a rating associated with it. This rating is a most important tool for geocachers to use whenever they set out to find a cache. The rating MUST be read and understood prior to beginning the search. Boy! do we have some tales to tell because we didn’t take a look at the rating before we got out of the car.

The rating is based on two parameters: 1) the difficulty of the hide; and 2) the terrain one must tackle on the way to the cache. This rating is also known as a cache’s D/T.

The easiest of all caches is rated a 1/1. A cache rated 1/1 is one that a person in a wheelchair can access without any trouble. It is not difficult to find and the ground is completely flat and/or handicap accessible.

The most difficult of all caches is rated a 5/5. This is a cache that is very difficult to find and usually requires special equipment (boat, scuba gear, climbing gear, space shuttle (yes, there is a cache on the International Space Station), etc.) to access.

One of the challenges geocachers try to finish is called the Fizzy Challenge. This challenge entails filling in the D/T grid. A cacher who completes her D/T grid has found at least 1 geocache for each possible difficulty-terrain combination. There are 81 squares on the D/T grid.

The current state of my D/T grid

The current state of my D/T grid. I’ve found a lot of easy caches.

As you can see, I have 4 empty squares left to fill.

A few hours ago, however, I had 5 zeroes on my grid. I decided that I’d attempt to find a 1/4 cache this afternoon. The 1 means that it’s easy to find. The 4 means it is difficult to get to. Thanks to a change in the land over the years, I didn’t need a boat to access this cache. Today, there is a land bridge connecting the land and what used to be an island in Lake Harris.

Karl and I made the long drive out to Lake Harris. No people. No noise. Perfect conditions for a good make-out session.

Lake Harris

Lake Harris

Finding the cache was easy:  Geocache

The geocacher who hid this particular cache likes to hide caches with a joke. The name of the cache is “Who’da thunk uh dat?…Passport, eh?” And here’s the punchline: joke on the cache

I unrolled the log, left my mark, the log

and returned the cache to it’s container. That was that! Just 4 more caches to go, and I’ll have completed my first grid.

Yes, the challenge just continues with finding at least 2 caches for each D/T combination, then 3, then 4, and so on.

Birthday Cache

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DSC_2753When Abbey turned 10, our Aunt Terry had the fantastic idea of hiding Abbey’s gift like a multistage geocache. Prior to arriving at the party, Aunt Terry and Uncle Richard hid an item and a clue at stage 1. The final stage, the gift, was hidden in our backyard.

Abbey opened a card which she assumed would contain birthday cash. Instead, she found coordinates to stage 1 of her birthday cache.DSC_2781Abbey entered the coordinates into her dad’s smartphone and followed the gps to the end of our street where she found a camouflaged envelope containing more instructions and a key.

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She entered the next set of coordinates and followed the gps to the final stage of her birthday cache…DSC_2794

where she found a treasure chest which contained several items she LOVED.

DSC_2810Abbey still says that was her most favorite cache ever.

Hiding gifts is something we’ve done one other time. Karl and I hid the kids’ valentines in a nearby park this past Valentine’s Day. We got up early and snuck out of the house to hide their gifts without them knowing what we were up to. Then, later in the day, we pretended we were all going to go geocaching (as usual). It was a fun way to surprise them.

All About Geocaching Trackable Items

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The very first geocoin we ever found in a cache was Kiwi Fruit – New Zealand Geocoin:

kiwi geocoinWe had very little knowledge about trackables/travel tags/geocoins. The only thing we knew was that we were supposed to move it from one cache and put it in another cache, preferably in another city. Unfortunately, we made a mistake with this one.

When we got home that night, I had a message from Alabama’s #1-ranked geocacher (yes, there’s a ranking. He’s simply known as David; he joined geocaching.com when his name was still available as a profile name!) alerting me to the fact that we had incorrectly moved the coin (he knew because he placed that coin in the cache moments before we found it). He politely set me straight regarding trackables and how to manage them.

There are a few different types of trackable items in circulation: geocoins, travel bugs, travel tags, and travel fleas.

Geocoins
are special coins that are created by geocachers. Each one has a unique trackable code that allows the coin’s owner to keep track of the coin’s location. Geocoins are used to commemorate geocaching milestones, events, places, etc.

travel bug

an example of the travel bug tag that is attached to the traveling item

Travel Bugs
are items with an attached trackable metal tag which allows the trackable’s owner to keep track of it’s location.

Travel Tags
are trackable metal tags. They differ from travel bugs in that they they do not necessarily need to be attached to another item. They are already designed and/or packaged by theme. Many are smaller than travel bugs.

Travel Fleas
are the smallest travelers. Their owners attach them to other traveling items and send them along for the ride. Kind of like a hitchhiker. Or they can be left in a cache as a “calling card.” I haven’t seen many travel fleas. This video explains them well.

Whether it’s a coin, bug, or tag, when a geocacher sends out a trackable item, he usually does so with a goal in mind. For example, when we found Kiwi Coin, we used it’s unique ID to look up its goal: “to travel west to east and return to New Zealand.” It originated in Guam; we picked it up in Tuscaloosa and dropped it off in South Carolina; today, it is in Germany. It has traveled almost 32,000 miles!

Trackables are just one more way cachers have made this game more interesting.

Geocaching Misadventures

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Every perfect geocaching adventure deserves at least two geocaching misadventures. For us, misadventures include not having a necessary tool, getting wet, getting lost. I would say that we’ve experienced more times when we weren’t quite prepared for the cache than times we were prepared.

For instance, Karl has tipped his canoe every single time we’ve gone caching in canoes. Now, anytime we go canoeing, he tips himself for the heck of it. The last time we went out on canoes, the boys were goofing around and tipped themselves over in the middle of the lake. They had to swim their boat to shore, struggle to dump all the water out, and get back in. All while in the midst of a thunderstorm!

Another time, the kids went to stay with their grandparents while Karl and I spent our time finding a long trail of geocaches. We didn’t expect any of the caches along this trail to require any climbing. Maybe we approached the cache from the wrong direction. Who knows? Either way, Karl happened to have rope in the trunk and I decided to do a short, roadside rappel.  rappelcache

I was pretty scared, but Karl assured me that he had a firm hold. Apparently, he had a “firm hold” with just one hand because…HE TOOK A PICTURE! Good thing I didn’t know about this picture until I had climbed back up.

Other mishaps include those times we didn’t expect to get wet.

We set out one morning to attempt to be the first ones to find a few new caches hidden in a nearby park. All but one of the caches had been found by the time we made it to the park that afternoon. On our way to the final cache, we learned why it still had not been found. It was surrounded by water thanks to recent flash flooding. time flies

The same day we found the one mentioned above, we decided to go for one more that we knew required a watery trek. We were already wet, so why not? wet cache

Another time early in our caching days, we managed to get ourselves lost and wet. Well, we weren’t exactly lost; we just had a lot of trouble getting where we wanted to be. We had to cross a creek, but couldn’t find a good place to cross. We kept walking and walking and walking in an attempt to find a narrow passage. Finally, I said, “We keep getting farther and farther away from where we want to be. We’re crossing here.” The kids and I made it across without any problems. Karl, on the other hand, lost his balance on a rock, tried to steady himself with the small branch of a tree hanging low above his head, the branch broke, and he tumbled right into the creek. The only injuries were to his ego and to our lips from trying not to laugh too hard at his expense.

But the most epic misadventure happened when I had to walk through water. We could see the cache from the trail. The only problem was that the cache was surrounded by water because it resides on an island. I don’t know why we didn’t see this one coming; the cache is called “Callahan’s Island.”

Noah thought he could make the jump across the moat. We waited a good 15 minutes listening to his boasts as he attempted to conjure up the courage to jump.uncle rico Eventually, he admitted that the distance was too far for a jump and the water was deeper than he was willing to wade through. Hannah had packed a change of clothes, but the mid-March temps were too cold for her. So, this happened:islandcacheThat’s me signing the log. Yes, I got down to my skivvies and walked through the water on a couple of rocks and logs as I felt my way across the bottom of the creek. Good thing we were the only ones in the woods that day!