Locationless Caches

Locationless?  How can a cache not have a location?  I had heard of these, but never really looked into them until "The Bad Cop" asked his Geocaching Question of the Day about them back on December 12.

A locationless cache is kind of like a virtual cache.  There is no physical cache to find and sign a log.  These are also called reverse caches.  Instead of the cache owner giving you the coordinates for you to find ONE location, you are given an object to find and YOU must supply the coordinates (and usually a picture).  For instance, you might be asked to find a statue that looks like a real person on a sidewalk.  Most of these cache owners will only allow one specific location to be used once, meaning that you and your caching buddy can't log the same statue. Also, you can normally only log a find on a cache once.  It wouldn't be any fun if you logged every statue in town and ruined it for everyone else, right?

LCs were banned on geocaching.com before I got into caching, but there are plenty on terracaching.com.  These have basically been re-introduced to geocaching.com in the way of World-wide Challenges.  The nice thing about the LCs on terracaching.com is that the person who owns the cache still maintains ownership of it and has the right to delete bogus logs and can edit it if need be.

I have found a few of these and I have ideas of where to look for others. While these can be fun to do, I personally have a hard time searching through the hundreds that are listed on terracaching.com.  (A site overhaul is coming soon.)  In the meantime have been "pinning" the ones I'm interested in onto a Board on Pinterest for quick and easy reference.  Feel free to repin these onto your own boards.

I even posted my own LC the other day called "I've Been Everywhere (Texas)".  If you live in Texas or are visiting our great state, be sure to check this one out as you travel to various cities.  I will try to cross out the ones in the song that get used.  Each cacher can log it once and each city/town can only be logged once.

Some of the LCs ask for the Google Street View pictures to log a find.  That's ok if they ask for that, but I personally feel like I should go to the location if I am going to log it.  But hey...that's me. I don't want to get into armchair logging. As with most other areas of geocaching, you play the game like you want.  There are very few set-in-stone rules.

1000 Finds!

I was in the middle of this work week and looked at the calendar.  I was suprised to see that I had a mostly open weekend and I was lacking about 15 caches from getting 1000 finds.  Friday morning, I made a reservation for a motel in San Antonio.  By 3 pm, I left work, filled up the GeoMobile and headed home to pick up my son and pack (the later only took a few minutes) and we were on the road by 4:30.  We stopped to pick up one cache on the way (and a new county) and grabbed a bite to eat.  After we found the motel and checked in, we didn't feel like venturing out at night by ourselves, so we stayed in.  Colton's idea of a good vacation is a TV with Cartoon Network and a remote.  The King bed was an added bonus.  I set up the laptop and did recon work for Saturday's caching.

Saturday morning, we got up and hit the Continental Breakfast.  MMM!  Waffles!  We walked down toward the Riverwalk and picked up about 5 more caches and had a nice walk.  There were lots of joggers out at 9 am down there.  Other than that, it was pretty quiet and peaceful. FYI...If you want to ride the river taxis, bring cache (I mean cash). We went back to the room to log the caches and then check out. They let us leave the car there, so we just walked the 3 blocks or so to the Alamo.  


There was lots of activity going on down at Alamo Plaza.  Information booths and demonstrations were going on about early settlers to this Country (State).  We took the customary "standing in front of the Alamo" tourist photos and then turned around to get the Webcam cache.  After several minutes, we had a usable picture saved.  We looked for a traditional cache near there with no luck. Tooooo many muggles for a good search.  We walked up and down the Alamo Plaza looking at the attractions and Colton was just dying to go to the Ripley's Believe It or Not gift shop.  

Then, we attempted our first Where I Go cache.  It was a trip around the original property lines of the Alamo.  We did quite a bit of walking, but it was worth it for the history lesson to see some of the property line plaques that we would have never seen (or paid attention to) otherwise.  My Droid worked pretty well for this.  There were a couple places where I had a hard time reaching the target spot since the signal was bouncing around quite a bit between the buildings, but we finally got them all and found the cache. It was even big enough to leave a geocoin that I've been carrying around.  A short run through the Alamo gift shop and we were whipped.

Back to the motel to get the car and get out of there.  I had a couple of caches in mind, so we headed north on Broadway.  Grabbed a traditional and a virtual and then "lunch".  Was it really 3:30 pm????  My watch stopped at 11:30 am.  We were just a couple of blocks from the San Antonio Botanical Gardens, so we picked up 4 more quick caches there.  Then we drove around the corner to the Wooden Nickel Museum and picked up FIND #1000!  It was a virtual listed on Opencaching.US by DudleyGrunt and is called "Don't Take Any...(Wooden Nickels)".  We were also FTF on it - bonus!  The museum itself was closed, but we got our pictures by the World's Largest Wooden Nickel - both sides.  

That's 975 on geocaching.com, 24 on opencaching.US and 1 on terracaching.com.

My other target for the day would be 1001 - Barney Smith's Toilet Seat Museum. Colton said, "A WHAT museum?!".  If you are ever in San Antonio, this is a MUST DO Virtual cache and it's not far from the Wooden Nickel Museum.  (Calling ahead is advised - the number is on the cache page.)  We spent quite a bit of time taking in all the artwork and signatures on the 1000 seats created by this 90-year-old man and listening to his stories about many of them. There are 5 seats dedicated to geocachers and we added our names and signature items.  I copied down the tracking numbers from Travel Bugs and Geocoins that are permanently attached for discovery.  After signing the Geocaching Seat #5 and the Aggie seats and leaving Colt's Pathtag, my SigMarx and our wooden nickel, we said our goodbyes and hit the road. Colt even had to admit that this was "Cool".

We made a stop off  Loop 1604 to pick up a couple more Opencaching.US (Opencaching North America) caches, but my battery was dying and we only got to get one.  6:00 pm and it's time to head for Snook.  One more cache near a pit stop on the way and we were done for the day.  It was a long one, but well worth it!  I'm glad my son and I got to spend some quality time together.

More pictures can be seen at https://picasaweb.google.com/denise.vajdak/SanAntonio102211?authuser=0&feat=directlink.

Texas Parks Geocache Challenge - Central Region

jjball (Jenny & Jim) and I decided to try our hand at the Central Texas region of the TXGCC.  We started out about 9:30ish from Snook with pocket queries and passports in hand and headed to the Lake Somerville parks (Birch Creek and Nails Creek). We ran into a couple of cachers on the trail at Nails Creek.


Then we made the trip to each of the following Parks:
Monument Hill / Kreische Brewery - the site of the "Black Bean Incident"
Palmetto - got up close to a doe and her little fawn. I love palmettos!
Lockhart - nice golf course
McKinney Falls - not much water her in these drought conditions. Caught up with nanblocker on this one.
Pedernales Falls  - awesome area. Got there as the sun was low in the sky.


It was getting late and we had more ground to cover, so we had to pass the turn off to the Salt Lick in Dripping Springs - TWICE!  We sure wish we had time to stop in. 


By they time we made the return trip toward Bastrop and Buescher, it was too late and the parks were about to close.  We were able to squeeze in two Earthcaches - Pilot Knob, a Central Texas Volcano and Pedernales Falls.  I love Earthcaches!


NativTxn / Dixie - jjball (1/2 of it) / Lacey
Sunday after church, we headed back out to pick up the remaining two parks, with our two GeoDogs in tow. The winding drive between the two parks was worth the little extra time.  Our Passports are filled out and waiting in the Bastrop post office.  Over 500 miles combined and a really good time.  


Now that the first weekend is over, we'll try another region, but we'll take the camper and go 1/2 way one day, stop, camp, and continue the following day so we have more time to look around.

We saw some beautiful parks, interesting wildlife and flora and even a couple of cachers-in-the-wild.   Between the 3 of us, we dropped off travel bugs, geokrets, pathtags and wooden nickels. Somewhere along the way, Jenny & Jim got their 500th find.  Whoop!



I am going to have to go back and hit some of those parks for camping trips now that I've scouted them out.  More pictures from this adventure can be seen on my Facebook profile.

Thanks to the TPWD for putting together this challenge and again bringing me to places I have yet to make it to.

BUSY Week

The weekend of June 18 began Saturday by walking the trails at Birch Creek State Park in the morning to check my cache out there and to confirm coordinates of the cache for the upcoming Texas Parks Geocache Challenge starting on June 25.  Do you know how hard it is to find a cache and NOT be able to sign the log - especially on a blank log?!  My cousin and friends were having their family reunion at the Lake in the same park, so I got to go get some good fried catfish and fixin's for lunch.  That worked out well!  Then there was the Texas Outdoor Family event at Lake Somerville and I helped with the Geocaching portion of it from 1-4 pm.  It was hot, but we had 2 groups that we showed the basics to and we helped them find a few "demo" caches and a couple of real ones.

Sunday was our Vajdak Family Reunion for the lunch meal and we also had a Silent/Live Auction to help raise money for the Reunion account.  It went well!  The food was prepared by my cousins, Pat & Rob Collins, owners of Texas Country Catering and several of my uncles and cousins.  M-M-M!  They know BBQ!!!  We have over 50 items for the silent and live auction part and raised over $1000.  Immediately after we left there, we went  home and unloaded reunion stuff and loaded up the Church Camp gear.  Johnny came over to house and dog-sit and I showed  him where everything was and then we headed out for Buda, TX.

Camp was great, but it's a lot of work.  I run around all day taking pictures of everything and everyone and then upload them to the computer to show random pix before events in the Chapel.  I also write up the words to the songs that will be used in the morning and evening singing times.  When I get a chance, I start uploading the pix to the Camp's Facebook page.  With a few pictures from other staff, we ended up with around 2000 photos!

A typical day at camp:
7:00 am Staff Meeting
7:30 am Flagpole/Personal Morning Devotions
8:00 am Breakfast, then cabin clean up
9:00 am Morning Sing Time
9:30 am Morning Lessons (we went around and did Cabin Inspections during this time)
11:00 am Morning Games
12:00 pm Lunch

1:00 pm  A rotation between Chill/Creek Activities/Canteen/Craft (Campers were split into 4 groups)
     Creek time activities were Canoing/Kayaking, Zip Line and Rock Climbing (all on separate days)
3:40 pm Afternoon Games
5:00 pm Free Time
6:00 pm Supper
7:00 pm Evening Sing and Lessons
8:00 pm Snack
8:15 pm Skits
9:00 pm Evening Surprise
10:00 pm Evening Devotions in the Cabins
After that, many staff members stayed up late talking about the day's activities and what's coming up the next day.

This was a great group of around 80 campers.  Over the week, they collectively learned 3867 Bible verses!  We played games, had wonderful food and learned alot.

After the closing ceremony on Saturday, we finished loading up everything and headed to Austin's Mueller Park for the 2010 Austin Geocaching Awards event.  It was windy, but nice in the park.  After that, we drove straight home and CRASHED!  I was glad to see my dog, my showerhead and my own bed.

IAAP Texas-Louisiana Division Meeting

The IAAP Texas-Louisiana Division Meeting and Conference was held at the Crowne Plaza Greenspoint in Houston, Texas this year.  We haven't had rain in months, but I had to drive through it the whole way to Houston.  I didn't like driving in it with lots of traffic on the road, but I didn't want to complain since we NEEDED it so badly.  Along the way, we were able to pick up a virtual cache that didn't require us to get out of the truck.

Once we got to the hotel, the computers were down and we had to check in with them taking our information and writing it on paper.  The manager had to let us in the room since they couldn't make new keys at that time.  Since it was taking a while to get us all logged in, they brought out complementary glasses of champagne.  No complaints there! :)  The room was nice and spacious.  We went down to check in for the weekend and get our goody bags and binders with schedules and conference info.

Other Aggieland Chapter members came in a little later and after everyone was settled and we were able to get room keys, we headed toward The Woodlands and went to Joe's Crab Shack for supper. We all got a Shark Bite to start the meal.  $8.99?!  Wow!  I'll check prices first next time.

Friday morning, we got up and tried to get breakfast.  The little restaurant in the hotel was so slow that we didn't have time.  We didn't even get coffee!  The line was too long at the Starbucks counter and was moving slower than molasses in winter time.  We thought there'd be coffee in the hospitality suite or the meeting room. No luck there, either.  We will plan better for tomorrow!

Seminars for Friday:

  • Why Isn't Everybody Like Me? - Pamela C. Grant, MSOE
  • Using Digital Images in MS Word and PowerPoint, Office 2007 Interface - Jewel M. London, Master Instructor
  • Networking Luncheon
  • Time/Resource Management Technology: Make it Work for You - Kim Fox-Marchettie, PHR
The luncheon was entertaining and we got the opportunity to meet members from other chapters.  I love the theme of "What's in your toolkit?".  There were soft-sided tool kits on each table with signs for decorations. The signs were changed out for each day's events.  The vendor booths and Ways and Means booths were open most of the day and we had a chance to browse, shop and buy raffle tickets.  There was a Mexican Fiesta that night, but I didn't buy the tickets for that.

Several of us went to The Cheesecake Factory for supper that night.  No Penny or Sheldon in sight.  The food was good and we were stuffed, but we just HAD to get a piece of cheesecake to split between us.  Some of the Capital Chapter (Austin) folks joined us on this trip. The restaurant next door is P.F.Chang's and they have HUGE statues of horses out front. The area down by The  Woodlands Mall was nice and it would have been cool to walk around down there or ride on the water taxi.  We hit one cache while we were down there and introduced our friend, Mindy, to geocaching. It was a nano.  I think we've hooked another one! ;)  We stopped at a convenience store on the way home to get breakfast items for the morning. You have to wonder about the area when the clerk is behind bullet-proof glass and he slides the bag to you through a little slot so you can bag your own items. We didn't stay long.

Saturday:

Sunday:

More pictures from the trip can be found on my Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1884978536421.2104664.1600123642

Weekend of April 29

The weekend started with a Fish Fry at our church, Hope Evangelical Free Church.  We had quite a few folks show up and it was a nice treat.  The kids played disc golf (we brought Colton's basket) in the yard, played basketball and played on an X-box.  The adults visited and some played 42 or Chicken Foot.  There was some cackling going on, that's for sure!  Some of the men fried the fish, french fries and hush puppies.  The ladies prepared the drinks and we had LOTS of sides and desserts.  There's no such thing as a "light" meal at our church!

Saturday morning, I got up and headed toward Birch Creek Park on Lake Somerville for the Brazos Valley Geocachers' CITO (Cache In Trash Out) at our Apopt-a-Highway spot.  Erin (flower71) was in charge of this one and she brought kolaches out.  I still had some water bottles left from our first CITO that was donated by Lampo's Water & Coffee.

We started at 9:30ish with only 5 people picking up trash. Shortly after we got started, 2 of our friends from Austin showed up.  A little later, we added a family of 4.  It took us 2 1/2 hours and we picked up 15 bags of trash.  We were pleasantly surprised there was not more.  It still amazes me that the IDIOTS who smoke still think it's okay to use the highways as their personal ashtray - especially in this extreme drought that we have been in.  One tiny spark and the roadway and nearby trees, houses, businesses and such would quickly ignite. We gathered all the bags at our start point and took a group photo.

After we were done, we headed to the Buffalo Bar & Grill for lunch.  I love it that they serve breakfast at any time of day.  The pancakes are huge, just ask Erin!  We had door prizes for everyone.  Most of them were donated by GxProxy. A couple were donated by Dale (zzypdale) and myself.  The younger cachers REALLY enjoyed the whistles.  Thanks, Frozen Buns...we think. :)

After lunch, some of us headed to Nails Creek State Park to try to find a couple of caches.  We went to the main office to check in.  I love my Parks Pass!  Then we drove down to Newman's Bottom to park and begin quite a long walk to find the first cache, Live Oak on a Sandhill.  I LOVE gnarly trees like this (and ammo cans)!  They have such character.  The jump family headed out and flower71 and I decided to press on to another one near Flag Pond.  Cell reception is HORRIBLE out here.  We tried a couple of trails to get near GZ and then...my battery died.  AARRGGHHH!  We were close, but the brush was VERY thick and we weren't exactly sure where it was, so we sat down at a picnic table for a quick break and then headed back toward the truck. We racked up a LOT of steps today. I should have brought my pedometer for the day. We were surprised to see the nice, clean outhouse on the trail, little trails that led to campsites with log benches, a picnic table out in the middle of nowhere and more.  These trails are really nice and for those of you with horses, this is a great trail system.

Sunday after church, we picked up some To-Go plates from one of the BBQ fundraisers in Snook and took it to my parents' house along with another couple of church members. The afternoon was spent pulling a few weeds in the flower beds, putting a couple more plants in the ground, watering everything and working on the church's website and  Facebook page. It was a nice day just relaxing with my boy and my dog for a while and watching the hummingbirds in the yard.

Easter Weekend

Friday

I had the day off, but Colton had to go to school, so we got up at our regular time. After I dropped him off, I took Dixie and we headed to town to find a couple of caches.  There was one that had posted overnight and I was hoping to get an FTF on it. It was in the Veterans Park and it was a well-camouflaged ammo can called Jump: Veterans Ivy Box by cacher Jump1175.  I was REALLY hoping he didn't mean POISON ivy!  I found the box and a clean log! <insert angel sounds here> Signed the log and traded out some swag.  Then we headed over to Lick Creek Park to find his first cache, Jump first cache.  2TF on that one.  Another nice ammo box! I left my coin purse GeoKret trackables there.  I like the GeoKrets.  You can make anything a trackable and you don't have to buy the travel tag or coin.  You just print the label and attach it to your item for free.  I'm so glad to have another good cache hider in our midst.  I also picked up a couple of caches in the Pebble Creek subdivision while I was in the area.

Then I headed home for lunch.  After lunch, I headed over to Discount Trees of Brenham to pick up a couple of plants for our Native Plant Society of Texas (NPSOT) plant swap on Saturday (plus one for myself). While I was there, I talked to John (one of the owners) and he let me place a cache there. It is posted on Opencaching.us and Geocaching.com. I then turned up FM 390 and headed toward FM 50.  I stopped at the historical marker for Mound Hill School and created a virtual cache on Opencaching.us.  I stopped at the Old Baylor ruins, but my GPS was WAY off and there was no way to get an accurate reading on anything around there.  I'll try again soon.  I then made a stop at the Antique Rose Emporium for a couple of more plants (that I ended up keeping for my yard). I was told there were a couple of Letterboxes out there, so I'll have to look those up too.

When I got back home, I did some things around the house and then we got ready for Good Friday Communion Service at church. When I got home I made the Black Bean and Corn Salsa for Saturday's outing.

Saturday

Colt and I got up and got ready for the Plant Swap and Garden Tour.  I dug up a couple of Hardy Gladiola bulbs/plants and a couple of Manfredas to add to the plants that I purchased.  We made it out to Kathy Hall's place in Bluebonnet Hills just outside of Brenham for our Plant Swap, Tour and Lunch.  Her property is set up like a prairie and we walked around the area looking at trees and wildflowers.  If we had received our normal rainfall for this time of year, it would have been just gorgeous.  We had LOTS of plants to swap and I ended up taking home quite a few.  Kathy let me place a cache on the fenceline at the edge of her property and I called it Serendipity, since that's what they call their place.  It is on Opencaching.us and Geocaching.com.  We went down the road to Russell and Bobby Doty's place and toured their yard, then the last stop was the Clapp's place.  I love their furry-footed chickens!  All of these places were nice and I'm so glad that they volunteered to have us out to browse around.

On the way home, Colton and I stopped by Peppermint, another cache in Brenham that I hadn't gotten yet. Then we hit Wal-mart for new shoes for him, Easter candy and such.  Then home.  I borrowed Daddy's Z-trac mower and mowed my yard.  It's close to an acre and that mower makes short work of it. Mowing in dry conditions and high winds is NOT fun.  I felt like I had been sand-blasted.  I filled the hummingbird feeders and hit the shower.  Colton filled eggs for the Egg Hunt at church on Sunday.

Sunday

Christ is Risen!  Easter Sunrise Service at 7:00 am followed by a breakfast.  There was soooooo much food! After that, the older kids and some parents hid the eggs for the younger kids.  It's always so much fun to watch. We went home to change and rode with my brother.  He and I did some work in my yard - pulling weeds, weed-eating and planting a few of my new plants from the nurseries and plant swap. Thanks for the help, Scott!  Then we went to my cousin's house for lunch. It's always good to have the family gather and just sit, relax and chat. After lunch, we just went home to veg for a while. Later in the afternoon, I took Colton into town to go see Rio 3D.  We stopped at All signs point to this new cache on the way in.  I filled in 2 more days on the 366-day calendar this weekend.  The movie was really cute and we both enjoyed it.  It was a busy, but enjoyable weekend.

Popcorn Shirts

I will be placing an order this evening.  If you would like any of the clothing, please let me know by 6:00 pm today.  Many of the styles are 20% off right now.

I will need to know the style, sleeve or skirt length, pattern color and size.  Most fit either S-XL or XL-3X.

There are also Children's Popcorn Shirts and accessories.

To browse our selections, check out my website at http://magicscarf.com/mixitup.

A Nice Afternoon

When I got home from work on this Friday afternoon, I went over to my parents house and my Daddy went out to the shop with me and helped me replace my rear tires on the truck. My son came out to help (involuntarily), and he was not happy at first, but after a bit, he actually enjoyed using the air wrench and adding air and checking the pressure. I had gotten these tires only 25,000 miles ago and the back tires were about worn out already.  I could have gotten new ones, but it would have cost too much for now. NOT happy with these tires.  Luckily, I have a friend that had a friend that had tires the same size that have barely been used for le$$. I feel safer driving on these now.

After we were done, I went back over to the house and sat in my yard watching the hummingbirds and sipping on a cold adult beverage. I saw a couple of the birds when I got home, so I filled 3 feeders and sat back to collect my reward. There were at least 5 that I could verify at once. These tiny flying jewels just amaze me at how they can fly in all directions. The male Ruby Throated Hummingbirds' throats just glow when the sun hits them just right. They were so focused on the feeders, that they didn't seem to mind that I was sitting only about 4' from the feeder filming and taking pictures with my Droid. In the picture to the left, there is a male and female in the foreground and there's a bird on the feeder in the Silk Tree (Click on the picture to see a larger view). There's also a little male sitting on the branch just below the clear bottle on the bottle tree. There was a couple of times, they buzzed right over the top of my head.  For tiny little things, they sure are vocal with their clicks and whistles.

This little handful of birds are the first-comers of the year. Soon, there should be even more.  Now...if the strong winds will quit, the feeders won't get blown around so much and some of the nectar won't spill. If you check out my little YouTube video, you'll see one hummer for most of the video. Towards the end, you'll see 3 or 4 more in the background and flying through the frame.
 

The hummingbirds always seem to be the last birds in the yard for the evening. Earlier, there were a couple of pairs of Cardinals who were flying around the yard between the trees and rose bushes. The "Papa" stood out like a Christmas ornament when it landed in the Montezuma Cypress tree in the back yard. Later, I walked back across the pasture and went to Mom & Daddy's house.  A pair of wrens have made a nest in one of her old hanging baskets in her garden shed out back and the eggs have hatched. They sure don't like it when the cats come into the yard. Fussy little things! Mom & I both keep checking our Bluebird houses, but nothing yet. My bluebirds hatched two clutches of 6 eggs each last year in the house closest to the road.

My April 12 of 12

Just another day in my busy calendar.

  • Went to work
  • Worked on budget for FY12
  • Went to lunch
  • Found a geocache
  • Got gas - OUCH!
  • Got WWFM door prizes in
  • Watered plants/walked around the yard
  • Played with my boy and my dog
  • Supper
  • Went to a Women's Missionary meeting at church

Visit my Facebook album for April's pictures.

Walk Across Texas

I work at the City of Bryan in the IT Department and we had a team again for the Walk Across Texas 8-week program called the "Bryan Rebooters".  Collectively, we had 1744.44 miles, which is 2x across Texas and then some.  I'm very proud of my co-workers for joining in this program and for doing so well.  Many thanks to my team mates Kara Daniel, Kurt Gammage, Dale & Kristen Kubenka, David Parker, Gus Roman and Matt Scoggins.  As of right now (and there may be teams that have yet to add final week's mileages), we are in 19th place out of 155 teams.  Out of 5 City of Bryan teams, we are in 1st place by several hundred miles.

Geocaching - Cheap Hobby or Not?

Geocaching is a great hobby/game/sport that people of any age can participate in.  It's a high-tech scavenger hunt played all over the world.  But, does high-tech need to have a high-price? Not necessarily.  I know some people's eyes may glaze over at the thought of buying a GPS, buying and sending out expensive geocoins, purchasing pathtags, wooden nickels or other signature items.  These are all fun, but not required. There are some necessities like internet access and a sense of adventure.  Beyond that, there are many ways to cut costs.

You will need an account at geocaching.com or opencaching.us or other listing service(s).  You can do basic searches and get info on the caches for free at geocaching.com, which is probably the most popular listing site.  If you want to run pocket queries and set up alerts when new caches are published, then you will need to spend $30 for an annual Premium membership. (About 6 meals at McDonald's).  At opencaching.us, there is no premium membership - everything is free.

Most cachers will need/want a GPSr eventually.  You can get a dedicated unit or you may use a smartphone.  If you are looking for a dedicated unit, look in the geocaching forums for used items.  If you know of anyone that is upgrading to a newer/more powerful unit, you can find a good deal on their old units. I personally began using my Motorola Droid to find caches and I'm still using it over 750 finds later.  This is my personal opinion - and nothing more - but I think the Droid has a better GPS than the iPhone.  If you've already got a smartphone with data plan, you really have all you need.  If you're really on a tight budget and can't afford either of these, you can also print out the cache pages with detailed maps, descriptions and hints and search using that.  Or, for even more fun, find a friend that has a device and go with them.  "Park and Grabs" can easily be found using a printed map.

For the smartphones, there are numerous apps that you can get.  Geocaching.com has their own app that has a one-time cost of $9.99 and is available for Android and iPhone platforms.  It allows you to hunt for caches where you are without having to worry about downloading the pocket queries.  It's great for on-a-whim caching. You do have the capability to load specific queries and/or routes as well.  Want to save $10?  Try c:geo (my personal favorite).  It's free and allows you to find caches without loading queries as well.  It also has the capability to do live searches using the map, which I find handy as I am driving along a route. It will also let you visit/drop trackables in the field so you don't have to do a "Note" later. It seems to have better search options as well.  Both of these only work with geocaching.com listings.  If you want to find opencaching.us caches as well, you can try GeoBeagle or Columbus. Again, these are free apps.  GeoBeagle will require you to download queries from either or both listing services.  There are plenty others, as well as apps for Blackberry, but these are ones that I've tried and are familiar with.  Check the Market or App Store or check with other cachers in your area to see what they like best.

There are a couple of other free Android apps that I recommend in addition to the hunting apps.  GPS Status & Toolbox is a good Radar application that gives you lots of information besides just the location/direction of the cache.  For hiding caches, GPS Averaging is a must.  It allows you take multiple readings of the GPS coordinates of the location and then you can send it to a note app, email, Facebook and more.

Let's talk trackables.  There are all shapes and sizes of geocoins out there and they vary in price from about $6 for micro coins to $15 (or more).  For a little less, you can get travel tags, which look more like a keychain. They are just as trackable and are easily attached to an item.  If you want to make an item that you already have into a trackable, you can do that for free at geokrety.org. You can even make yourself trackable.  Just create (register) a new geokret and print a label. One option is to print it out with a QR Code so that you can scan them with a smartphone. They work the same as geocaching.com trackables in that you log it when you pick it up and you log it where you drop it. If you're dropping it in an opencaching.us cache, all you need is the OU number on the cache.  For geocaching.com caches, you will need the GC number AND the GPS coordinates. They can be used in caches from other sites as well.

What all do you NEED to carry when caching?  Just a pen or pencil. No matter what the size container or what the descriptions say, ALWAYS carry a writing utensil. If you're hunting micros, there's no room for anything else anyway.  If you're hunting larger caches,  you can hit the Dollar stores for cheap SWAG - bags of plastic army men, plastic animals, bouncy balls, little sets of colorful erasers, etc.  Do you have kids?  Check their rooms.  There's normally balls, little cars, small dolls, etc. laying around that they don't play with anymore.  If you go to conferences/trade shows at work or on your own, many have LOTS of swag and they're glad for you to take it.  Don't want to spend money on signature items? Print up some "business cards" with your trail name, tag line, etc through one of the free offers from VistaPrint.  Once you order from them, you'll get emails with offers for free items all the time. Keychains, pens, hats, t-shirts, magnets (also make great signature items to add to ammo cans), mugs.  Many of these are great items to use as door prizes at events.

Which leads me to another item.  Many local geocaching events have little or no charge to attend. Find a group and go hang out, make new friends and have fun. If there's not a group near you - start one!  Caching with others can be fun.  At today's gas prices, it's good to have a friend or two go on a cache run and split the fuel cost.  Need some exercise?  Find a trail to walk or ride a bike.  Sometimes it's better to have more sets of eyes looking or more brains working on a puzzle.

If you're wanting to hide caches, you don't have to spend money buying ammo cans or Lock & Lock containers.  You can use pharmacy pill bottles, aspirin bottles, film canisters (ask your local film processors for their throw-aways), etc.  If you use any containers that once held food or anything scented, thoroughly wash it several times to get rid of any scent.  A hungry squirrel can demolish a peanut butter jar in a matter of seconds.

This hobby is fun and can even be good for you.  It can cost as much or as little as you make it.  Go hit the trails and HaPpY CaChInG!

Cachers of the Round Table-Responsible Geocaching

This month's Cachers of the Round Table Episode 35 has some really great tips and guidelines for being a responsible finder and hider of caches. I personally think every geocacher - new and/or experienced - should listen to this. Great show guys (and gal)!  Listen at their site.

This podcast is a group effort of different geocachers from other podcasts who get together once a month to discuss a variety of topics. It is normally aired on the first Thursday of the month.

From their site:

Join Art (Centennial State Geocaching), DarrylW4 (Cache-A-Maniacs), Firefly03(Cache-A-Maniacs), and xpunkx (Geocaching Podcast) for a discussion on the geocaching in a responsible manner. Geocaching picks are available at the follow links:

Weekend Events

This past weekend was busy, but we had fun and it was rewarding.  Friday was my Aunt's last day in town and my brother and his roommate came out. We all went to College Station to go to Fish Daddy's to eat. When we got there, there were tons of people waiting to be seated inside and out, so we decided to try a less crowded place in Bryan. We ended up at Cotton Patch Cafe and we were seated right away. I think everyone got something different. The food was really good and we had a good time visiting with each other.

Saturday morning, we got up and headed to our church for a workday. There was a list of chores and tasks to be accomplished and everyone headed in different directions.  I worked with Connie and Betty most of the time trying to organize lots of books, Bibles and pamphlets into a Library. Daddy left around 11 am to go get my Aunt and take her to the Austin airport for her flight back to California.  The Youth Group was providing the lunch. The kids seasoned,  prepared and cooked the hamburgers and chopped the veggies and did the whole thing (with a little supervision). They even made strawberry shortcake. Yummy!  For once, all the kids stayed back and let the adults go first in line. It was great! They really did a good job and we're all proud of them. After lunch, Colton and I went into town to run errands and get his hair cut.  The stylist I normally use was busy, so we did our errands. We got some mulch for my front flower bed, hit Hobby Lobby, then went by the grocery to pick up items for breakfast for Sunday School (we take turns bringing it). The stylist was still tied up, so we went home and I plugged in my trimmer to charge and decided to just cut his hair on my own. A nap was in order first and then I went to pull weeds and put down the new mulch.  Looks MUCH better.

Birthday boy and Grandpa
Sunday morning, I got up and made Orange Danish rolls, Cinnamon Rolls and Piglets in a blanket (Little Smokies wrapped with part of a Crescent Roll). I enjoy our women's Sunday school class. We laugh and learn at the same time and everyone has a chance to participate. Our study right now is on Miracles and it's an interesting study. After church, Colton had a couple of friends (and some of the adults) go with us to eat at Genghis Grill (or what we call the Mongolian Grill). His birthday choice!  The kids love that place. They get to pick out what they like - which usually ends up being all meat and little or no veggies. Then we headed over with the kids to Southern Oaks Park to play a couple of rounds of Disc Golf and have cookie cake. My Daddy even played the first round with them. After we took Colton's cousin home, we went to my parents' house and tried figuring out a game my brother suggested for Colton.  It's called The Settlers of Catan. It was pretty involved, but we had fun playing anyway. Daddy won! We didn't get any caches this weekend, but it was a good one anyway.

Geocaching Anniversary #1

As of today, I have been geocaching for one year!  I started this hobby last year with my son, StAggie99, and we found Downtown Snook, a little film canister that had been right there in my little hometown for over 2 years.  I have since adopted it from the owners who have moved out of state.

This morning, I picked up my 44th FTF on a cache called Trash to Cache and received a nice FTF geocoin that I will put in my next hide.

Over this past year, I have logged the following:

NameCount
Total Caches Found*750
 Traditional Cache683
 Multi-cache7
 Virtual Cache21
 Letterbox Hybrid1
 All Event Cache Types20
 Event Cache18
 Cache In Trash Out Event2
 Unknown Cache15
 Earthcache3
 NGS Benchmarks9


Benchmarks don't count in the total. Dang it! :(  I love the virtuals and I'm so disappointed in Groundspeak on dragging their feet bringing them back.  On the bright side, I have found Opencaching.US and they allow virtuals, webcams, guest books and other items that Geocaching.com does not.  There are not as many OCUS caches since it's fairly new, but I hope it catches on as I enjoy doing both.  I have found a few actual Letteboxes outside of the Hybrid listed above and I really enjoy them. I wish there were more Letterbox Hybirds out there because I really enjoy finding the stamps and creating a journal of ones that I have found. I have hidden a few of these myself and I hope others will follow suit.

Over this past year, I have met several wonderful people that I consider to be good friends now that I would have probably never met otherwise. I really look forward to our Brazos Valley Geocacher get togethers and CITO events. It's always nice when my son joins me on the hunt and we get to take our dog with us. I enjoy the family time outdoors.  I have had fun doing the "Park N Grabs", but I really enjoy the ones that involve hiking or biking on trails out in nature. When I can combine geocaching and camping, I'm very happy. I had a blast at my first Texas Challenge just a couple of weeks ago in Huntsville, although I think I overdid it on one of the bike runs to pick up one of the evil hides afterwards.

I look forward to a new year and new adventures and new YAPIDKAs!

Learn OneNote Conference 2018 Kicks Off

The Learn OneNote Conference officially starts today. I'm so excited to be a part of this 3rd Annual event!  If you haven't signed u...