First to Find

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Yesterday afternoon, the kids and I went out to see if we could find a couple of newly published caches. The D/T for this cache is 3.5/2. It took us about 15-20 minutes to drive to GZ. Then we had to climb uphill from the road to the treeline through some briars. The 2 rating on the terrain is fair, though; it wasn’t too difficult to get there. Then we had to figure out where to look first. Based on the name of the cache (the CO does not provide a hint), we settled on a particular tree. After a few minutes of searching, we found it. Noah took a picture:

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Can you see it? Let’s zoom in and highlight it…

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Isn’t it cute?! We earned the FTF.

First to find the cache

Then it was on to another difficult cache a little further up the road. The next one is rated 4/1.5. The only hint provided by the CO is that we do not need to go beyond the gate. When we reached GZ, nothing caught our attention. Lots of potential hiding places, nothing too remarkable. As I poked around a cedar tree, I noticed something hanging behind one of the hunting club signs.

“Noah, take a look at that…it probably isn’t the cache because it’s right out in the open, but it won’t hurt to look.”

He jumped up the hill and poked around the sign. Sure enough, it was the cache. Hidden in plain sight.

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The chain is what caught my eye. The screw and the chain look like they’ve been there for a while. But when Noah pulled on the screw head, the cache came out behind it. Another FTF!

Both were really creative hides.

The Golden Ammo Can

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Our local caching community is the Crimson Tide Cachers Association. Someone in CTCA will schedule an Event Cache for all kinds of reasons. We enjoy getting together for a little pep rally over lunch the Fridays before Bama’s home games. When life isn’t revolving around the local college football team, someone hosts the monthly CTCA Night Out or the CTCA Lunch. Mia87 hosts the Kaffeeklatsch where we drink coffee and talk. And yet another cacher will host the Caching Christmas Party.

In addition to the usual events, CTCA likes to celebrate its members geocaching achievements and milestones. The first major milestone is the geocacher’s 1000th find. Karl and I reached this one back in the spring.

Members of CTCA planned an event for us at the restaurant of our choice. Then, the local caching crew joined us for a meal and to shower us with geocaching goodies. They gave us new containers to hide and TOTT to find caches. They also gave us travel bugs to set loose. And all of those goodies were put into our golden ammo cans.

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Yes, the tradition is to gift the cacher with a gold spraypainted ammo can. Cool, huh? I assume other geocacher associations do something similar for their local cachers. (If you do something different, please share in the comments. I want to know about it!)

We have also celebrated 10,000 finds for other local cachers. I wonder if we’d celebrate for 5,000.

A new milestone is on the horizon for CTCA — number of hides. We’ve not celebrated this one before because no one else in our state has ever done it. One cacher in our group has hidden 1,000 geocaches! He’s everyone’s favorite because he keeps hiding interesting containers for us to find. Of course, his celebration will include a large golden ammo can filled with all kinds of geocaching goodness.

Geocaching Lingo & Shorthand

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I’m not sure if I’ve said this before, but when we started caching we really didn’t know anything about it. We had to learn as we cached. One of the things we had to learn was the geocaching lingo and abbreviations for phrases that we saw in many geocaches’ online logs. So, here’s a list of the most common abbreviations and shorthand phrases we geocachers use.

FTF – First-to-find. Use this when you are the first geocacher to find a new geocache.

“FTF with my favorite cacher, KesselRun!! We got the email alerting us to this new cache, so we jumped in the Cache Interceptor and hurried to GZ.”

GZ — Ground zero. The coordinates to which your GPS leads you. Hopeufully, the cache will be hidden there or very close to it.

“Made it to GZ. Searched for 30 minutes. Finally found the cache about 60 feet away.”

PAF – Phone-a-Friend. This is what you do when you need help finding a cache. Sometimes it’s good to mention in your online log that you had to PAF.

“After several minutes of searching, I decided to PAF.”

TFTF – Thanks for the find!

“Great hide. TFTF!”

TFTH – Thanks for the hide!

“Nice cache. TFTH!”

Muggles – Non-caching people. People who do not know anything about geocaching.

“Muggles on your 6. Act like you’re talking on your phone.”

Lampskirt – a cache hidden under a lampskirt

“While we’re in this parking lot, let’s see if there’s a lampskirt here.”

LPC – lamp post cache; a cache hidden under the skirt of a lamp post

“The thing I hate most about caching in town is all of the LPCs.”

BYOP – Bring your own pen. Usually found in cache descriptions.

“Cache is small. Logbook only. BYOP.”

DNF – Did not find.

“No luck finding this cache. Had to DNF it.”

Lock & Lock – a container with a lid that locks with a few snaps.

“You are seeking a small  lock & lock container.”

SWAG – Stuff we all get. Trade-able items found in geocaches.

“Awesome cache! Thanks for the SWAG.”

TNLN – Took nothing; left nothing.

“Had fun searching for the cache. Neat container with lots of SWAG, but I didn’t have anything to trade. TNLN. TFTF!”

TOTT – Tools of the trade. Refers to anything that geocachers typically use to open/extract/find geocaches.

“I had to use my favorite TOTT to get this one!”

OR in the cache description:

“Will need a TOTT to open this cache.”

So, that’s my list. What did I forget to mention???

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.