Monday, June 30, 2014

Badges and Belts, Oh My!

As several new cachers have joined, I thought I’d share this bit of information.  Did you know you are earning badges and belts as well as souvenirs when you cache? 

You can access them many ways. I use  It’s free (though they have a paid version, too).  Once you access the website, click the Authenticate button in the upper-right corner so the site can access your stats.

After you authenticate, you will find several really cool features including the Profile Stats (found under the Profile menu option). 

When the Profile Stats page opens, you will see tabs that include Finds, Milestones, FTF*, Hides, Maps, BadgeGen, and Souvenirs.  On the BadgeGen tab, you can hover over each badge (see attached image) to see how many qualifying caches you have found and how many more you need to level-up!  You can also click for Badge and Belt detail at the bottom of the page.

*Just a quick note because this always comes up…. For some of you, why is the FTF tab blank?  Because you have to code your FTF logs so the Live API will pick them up and add them to your statistics.  In the body of your Found It log, enter one of the following (these are the more common examples): {*FTF*} {FTF} (FTF) [FTF]

Sometimes I find works better in Chrome versus Internet Explorer.  I find this to be especially true using the Discover feature under the Tools menu option. 

Also, if you are a GSAK user, you can pull your BadgeGen stats via a macro.  There are pluses and minuses of each.  Running BadgeGen from Project-GC uses the LiveAPI so it’s always includes your latest data.  However, if you are not a paid member, the latest data can be almost a week old (free members get updated weekly).  To run the BadgeGen.gsk macro in GSAK, you will need to create a “My Finds” database first.  However, you will need to manually keep your “My Finds” updated. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

In Need of an Adventure

Hidden In Plain Sight!

Oh, very excited about a discovery I just made.

I’ve always wished there was a way you could privately add a spoiler photo to a log.  I don’t want to spoil it for anyone else, but, when a cache is super special, I’d like to add a picture of it so I can look back at it and remember it.  It would also be helpful when someone reaches out to me for a hint – if a picture was attached, I could easily remember the hide.

Here’s an example.  The cache is called Sign Post – you can clearly see the centrifuge tube drilled into the poll (and there are a lot of poles on this corner but this is the only wooden one).  I don’t want anyone else to see it and ruin the fun.  However, after 4,000+ finds, when I see the picture saved to the Cloud, I forgot which cache it belonged to.

So, what is my discovery?  I have a trackable that VISITS every cache I do.  I started attaching my “spoiler” pictures on its trackable log.  The pictures do not appear on the original cache page, but I can see them when I scroll through my TB logs.  Cool!  Hidden in plain sight!

I don’t advocate this for every cache – way to labor intensive, but I love being able to do this for the special ones.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Hider's First Attempt

I was so excited to see a new cache publish near home. Since Vante moved to Traverse City, my cache-a-day options have been limited.

I checked the map and saw it was in a nearby community garden. Hmmmm.... Unbeknown to this new cache hider, this garden has had a history of controversy. The next door neighbor kept stealing the last cache hidden there. Also, since the cache was continually muggled, some of our geo-friends kept mangling the landscaping looking for it. That just escalated the friction.

Wandered over today for the grab - I thought I'd better get it while it's here. I had heard that this one was "well hidden" so it shouldn't disappear. Upon finding it, I realized the new cache broke two cardinal rules:

1. It's BURIED under a paving stone. That wasn't a naturally-occurring hole. And I can just imagine new cachers mangling this flower bed, looking for it (HINT: It's under the paver with the X scratched into it).

2. It was hidden in a glass Ball jar. If the contents don't mold from the condensation, it may shatter during a winter freeze.

All-in-all, it is a pretty little site, and the local cachers have been very supportive of these new hiders. I hope these hiders have learned from this first attempt and add some more to our community.

Namesake Cache: Elisa

This past Spring Team *Aardvark created a series of caches named for the local female members of our cadre. As the cache is a bit distant, I didn't have a chance until yesterday to make the grab.

As we pulled up to the likely LPC, I mentioned to my boyfriend, TaGeez, that the prior logs mentioned the cache being 30 feet off.

His reply? "That's fitting as you're a little off." I made him pay for that one ((grin))

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Free Log Sheets

I've been hiding up a storm lately - I had three new caches publish on Monday, and I realized it was time to prep a few more containers.

If you are looking for a good source for free, printable log sheets, stop over at TechBlazer's site.  He's created a nice assortment of sheets ranging from nano to 2.5", color or black & white, FTF or refill.

Happy hiding!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Love My Lithiums!

We're ready for another season caching the Huron Metroparks! My lithiums are in!


I almost gave up GPSr Geocaching as my units (Garmin Oregon 450T and Magellan Explorist GC) just ate batteries. Then I invested in lithiums: Energizer AA Ultimate Lithiums. Instead of replacing Alkalines every 1.5 outings, I would go many, many excursions before needing to replace them.

Good to know:

  • They hold power up to 20 years (in storage) and perform in extreme temperatures [-40° to 140°F]
  • They do cost more, but I really feel that overall I saved money as I wasn't changing them as often.
  • If you are concerned about expense, go ahead and use your Alkalines or rechargeables. Just make sure you keep an extra set of lithiums in case of emergency. The power doesn't drain over time (so they are fully charged if/when you need them) and are life saving when dealing with a -26° Michigan Winter.
  • How to store them? Mentioned in an earlier post about performs. Lightweight, sturdy and waterproof. I store mine in pairs.
  • When you do use them, remember to go into your GPSr unit's setting and change the battery type for optimal performance.
  • What's the difference between Energizer Ultimate and Advanced Lithiums? Ultimate lasts longer and are more powerful. Ultimates are recommended for GPSr units per the Energizer site and packaging.

Now, I'm not the expert and end-all-be-all, but I know these work for me. Give it a try and see if you notice a difference.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Heidelberg Project

I was feeling a little lost this morning.  Most of my family was out of town for a relative's graduation, and my Sweetie was with his kids for Father's Day.

A gorgeous day.... unsettled feet.... the need to get out to explore.

I started at Farwell field.  3 caches in a very urban neighborhood.  Practically had the park to myself (except for the funny RC Flyer that buzzed me after the first cache).  The CO, Lando 313, has a talent of selecting the most obvious hide spots but with the best camouflage. It was a fabulous walk!

I grabbed a few Made In Detroit caches, but it wasn't feeding the soul so I headed down to the Heidelberg Project.  Started in 1986, the Heidelberg Project is an outdoor urban art exhibit.

Heidelberg Project: Make da Time GC2GAB4

I spent a peaceful morning wandering around the art exhibits.  Blue sky, lush grass, bright colors.  Breeze rifling through the tree branches. And I had it all to myself!

{GHQ} Heidelberg Redux GC2GA9Y

And the topper?  There's two caches hidden amongst the exhibits! One at each end of Heidelberg Street. So much fun!

I ended the day with:
  • 12 Detroit caches
  • 1 RC flyer
  • 1 art tour
  • 1 SQ

Monday, June 9, 2014

With Friends Like These..... (a funny story)

Well, here’s a funny story.

Last month TaGeez and I had the pleasure of traveling to Traverse City and taking a boat over to Power Island.  We were there to grab 4 special caches including Power Island GC35, one of the oldest active caches in the world!

scrapcat and TaGeez with Power Island GC35

It was at that cache that TaGeez lost his hat.  (sigh)  It was a special hat…. His trademark hat. 

TaGeez with his hat
But time got away from us so he left it behind.  We even added a little RIP message in our logs.

This week…. Our friends, theGrundalows and afishoutofwater, went to Power Island and found it. 

Source: afishoutofwater

 Right next to the Power Island cache.

Source: afishoutofwater

Now they’re holding it for ransom!

Source: afishoutofwater

To be continued..... :)


Update: After uploading this blog post, Ben of theGrundalows shared this picture!  I love it!

Yep, that's TaGeez's hat on the Power Island cache!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Metroparking on Memorial Day

We've had a bit of a family crisis to deal with.... all is well in the end.  But as a result, I never posted my pictures from our recent MGA 2014 adventure.  Members of Team Free Range Lobsters (Myself, SnakeyLicks, WikidKriket, Fiona-the-wonder-geo-pup and 3inaTree) explored Lower Huron, Willow and Oakwood Metroparks.

First stop: Lower Huron Metropark

Unsuspecting fools.... 

... because the skeeters were waiting!  Rained for several days
before and the cache was in a natural marshland. Ugh.
Willow Metropark:

Fiona for the find!
Actually, Jeremy was signing as she was looking.

A lot less marshland = happier cachers!

In the middle of Willow Metropark is
Huron Township Cemetery.
Fitting to visit on Memorial Day

Lovely old cemetery - stones dating back to the Civil War
Oakwoods Metropark:

Time for our hot dog lunch!
Fiona is rewarded for being a good pup-pup

Visiting Hawkeye at the Nature Center

Pilgrimage to Squirrel Nutkins GC363
Michigan's 6th oldest active cache
Cemetery Hopping.

That area of Southeastern Michigan is brimming with historic, well-maintained cemeteries.  So, on the way down and back, I stopped off at a few.

SQ - Happy Hunting Grounds GCRFTC

Near SQ-Mother's Day Cache GC2VQR1

Circa 1810 GC1PH79
This last stop was quite fascinating.  It was my last stop of the day.  It's a cemetery (established 1842) that currently resides in the middle of several fenced in parking lots/storage yards and bordered by the highway.  The only way to it is to lightly-trespass by parking in a junk lot full of abandoned cars and walk down this blocked off paved road to the cemetery on the hill.  Weird!  Cool!

Down the Lane #21 - Clark Cemetery GC2RWY2
Blue check is the parking
Although I missed my partner-in-cache (TaGeez was home sick), it was a beautiful (if stifling hot) day.  Totals for the day included:

  • 3 MGA14 caches
  • 7 cemetery caches
  • 1 historic cache with a deceased raccoon hanging nearby
Looking forward to our next excursion!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Chirp! Chirp! Chirp!

A friend reached out to the community looking for a Chirp-enabled GPSr.  He will be in Traverse City this weekend, and he wants to try his first Chirp cache.
Garmin Chirps are little black units (smaller than a pager) that emit a short-range signal.  In this area, you will most likely find them as part of a multi-cache.  If you walk within range of the Chirp with a Chirp-enabled GPSr, a window appears on your screen stating there is a Chirp nearby and asking if you’d like to read the message.  The message will include further instructions or coordinates to the next stage/final. 

So far I’ve only completed 3 Chirp caches – my favorite being My Little Birdie Told Me…. Chirp, Chirp GC2THHW located in Bicentennial Park in Farmington, MI.

You might see one or more of these
Geocaching Attributes on the cache page

The Chirp costs about $24 and has a replaceable battery that lasts, on average, a year or so.  I don’t think they’re popular due to the expense of the unit (sucks if it gets muggled) and that most Cachers use smartphones now (there’s no app for that!).  However, they are a hoot to do! 

SPOILER ALERT! Clatmandu wears a Chirp on his lanyard.  The message says to find Clat and do the chicken dance for him!  Dancers earn his path tag!  Yes, during our first Midwest Geobash, my family fell prey to the lure of “the shiny” and earned our tag in front of hundreds of other Cachers outside the scavenger hunt arena!

I also have one.  It’s attached to the Team Free Range Lobsters banner, telling all and asunder to stop by to visit our banner as it’s trackable!

I’m intrigued with the use of new technology as part of the geocaching game.  We have some pretty creative minds in the area.  In addition to the Chirps and Wherigos, we also have:

NFC POC GC4MF1Y – Uses the Droid NFC technology in a multi-cache on campus

Agent K vs League of Villainous Evildoers GC2XCP0 – Uses a webpage accessed via your smartphone for a super spy game of hot-and-cold.

Can You Follow My Lead GC4XTAC – Uses an iPhone app called Klikaklu.  In the mall, you are given images and you have to find where in the mall the pictures were taken from.  Once you snap a picture, matching the original image, the app cycles to the next image.  Eventually, you are led to ground zero of the final container.

On a serious note, I have heard other Caches complain that this use of technology is unfair to those that don’t own Garmins or smart phones or the right smart phone.  Bullshit.  It’s a community game.  Make a friend and go caching with them.  I don’t own a Droid so we gathered a group of friends and followed Ben & Amanda of theGrundalows around the OCC campus to try out the NFC technology – so cool!  One of my favorite geocaching memories!

I have spoken… Chirp! Chirp! Chirp!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Mosquito Twister?

You’ve heard of “tornado”?  And “sharknado”?  But how about a “mosquito twister”?  Yeppers, a photographer in Portugal captured a funnel cloud of mosquitoes!  She hurriedly packed her things and raced to her car…. only to be surrounded by them!

Click here for images:

I must admit…. I thought the family suffered on Memorial Day in the Metroparks (it had rained for several days before), but we were lucky. We only had a few bites. 

Thanks to my sister, WikidKriket, we know to keep Witch Hazel nearby for bite relief.  When I get bit, I welt up quickly.  Rubbing Witch Hazel on the area sooths the bite and the welt diminishes almost immediately.  We even found these handy “hazelet” pads for our packs!

I’ll share our Memorial Day Metropark pictures soon!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

A Note About Nanos

I stopped by and made this grab this morning. I was thrilled to see the cache log in such good shape.
The reason being is the past finders knew to replace the log into the cap of the nano (it's thinner) before screw on the body. Woot! Good tip!