I guess it has to be expected this time of year, if you venture anywhere off road it's going to be a mud bath. So where did we decide to go? Yes, the middle of a huge field!
It was such a lovely day yesterday, bright, sunny (freezing) and I just couldn't resist getting out in the fresh air. Not only that I had a scarecrow TB that really needs a new home. This cache wasn't far from home, nice easy parking nearby, just a muddy trek across the field. But we still failed :-( I'm not sure if it was the mud or the cold that got to us, but we gave up soon after the GPS gave up. One minute it was working fine and telling us we were pretty close, then it just went awry and we lost our little flag on the screen which tells us where to go. We knew that if we rummaged for a while in the hedgerow we'd find the cache, but as the kids slowly began to resemble mud monsters, and my fingers felt like they were going to drop off we decided to call it off and headed off to the hot dog stand for some nice warm sustenance.
Back home we checked the google map and could see the marker box right next to where we were looking....if only we'd looked a little longer!
Not sure what to do now. The cold weather doesn't put me off, but mud and kids...well, I was going to say don't mix, but in fact they mix a little too well! So maybe we'll stick to the occasional easy find, perhaps drive bys or cache and dashes.
As for the poor scarecrow, I think I might pop him into one of our own caches, at least then someone else may pick him up and move him on.

We decided we'd waited long enough and despite the rainy weather we set out to find another cache. I'd picked one close to the roadside, rain I can deal with but not so much wallowing in mud. This one looked out over the motorway which kept the geokids interested for all of 5 minutes.
With the kids moaning (older one was complaining her legs were aching even though we'd not quite covered 100m, younger one kept running off in the wrong direction) the GPS changing it's mind every 10 seconds and the rain getting heavier I decided to take the kids and sit in the car.
I told Graham where I believed the cache to be and he went off alone to search. I don't think it took him 5 minutes to find it!
We put in our lucky sheep travel bug and took out a scarecrow tb.
That gives us a total of 17 finds now.

Oh dear! Three weeks since our last entry and we haven't found a cache since then. We've been a bit tied up with other stuff and illness so we just haven't had the chance.
Today we visited one of our own caches which had accumulated a selection of travel bugs and coins and took one to move on. This gave me the idea to update this blog with a list of our travel bugs activities which is slightly more exciting than our geocaches adventures at the moment.

I'll start with our own, and the first was a traka bulldog geocoin. This was placed in our first cache Ansculf's Other Castle So far it's been moved four times and is currently 19 miles away from it's starting point and has travelled a total of 39 miles.

The second was a travel pirate geocoin which we placed in a nearby cache. This has also been moved four times but is currently 53 miles away from it's starting point and has travelled a total of 127 miles.

Our third is Pirate Bob a travel bug. This one has only been moved once but started off on a day trip to the seaside. It has travelled 72 miles from it's starting point.

We picked up Sue's Ferrari travel bug when we dropped off our Pirate coin and swapped it for a Russian geocoin later. The Russian coin was dropped off on our last outing.

Today we picked up Satu the Lucy Sheep from one of our own caches. I hope this gives us the inspiration to get back out there soon to drop it off somewhere else.

I'm now going to log our own coins and the distance they have travelled and update them as they move on.

  1. Travel Pirate Geocoin 127 miles
  2. Pirate Bob TB 72 miles
  3. Trakabulldog 39 miles

This week we decided to have a go at finding a couple of geocaches in a park near to our friends house. The first one was a pretty easy find, the GPS took us right there and the clue told us where to look. It was a nice big box full of goodies, but I was disappointed because it should have contained a geocoin from South Africa and I wanted to see it. Someone had been there earlier on in the same day but they reported not seeing the geocoin either, very strange.

The second was a bit of a walk away but what we hadn't realise was it that the walk was uphill. The geokids soon got tired and moany but cheered when we got to the top and discovered a playground. The problem was, we were running out of time because we had to be somewhere else and the geokids wanted to play in the playground not hunt for the cache. Also the GPS started acting a little crazy because of the tree cover so we couldn't pinpoint the exact location. Another problem was the amount of muggles around, it had turned out quite a pleasant day and the park was really busy. So sadly we had to admit defeat on this one, but we hope to have another crack at it sometime soon. (Maybe parking the car at the top of the hill so we don't have to walk up next time)

Here is the cap'n and the geokids in a spot near to where we found the first cache.

On Friday we had a day trip to Weston-Super-Mare. Of course I researched some geocaches before we went. There were four altogether but in the end we only managed to look for two.

The first was a really easy one. We'd decided to stop for a coffee and to let the geokids play on the beach. I set up the GPS and there was the first geocache just 16ft away, across the road. I sent Graham over to retrieve it and he bough it back for us to rummage through. I was most disappointed that the travel bug was missing, it was a voodoo doll and I'd really wanted to swap that. Still, I decided it was a good place for our travel bug, Pirate Bob, to start his journey so he got left behind.

Later in the day we visited a part of Weston I'd not been to before in search of another cache. It was a lovely garden park that had been built on the land of the former pavilion. The GPS said we were close but we searched and searched and just couldn't find it. We were a little disappointed but we'd had a lovely day and couldn't feeling pleased that we'd actually ended up in this place.

We didn't bother with the other two. Once would not load on the GPS at all, and the other was a nano in an area we didn't go and didn't think it was worth the diversion. I do wish I'd researched the service stations though because there was one at the station we'd stopped at on the way home.

Sometimes when you look for a cache and you don't find it you just have to go back and have another go. This one we'd tried previously in our early days of geocaching, and although we'd found 3 that day the fourth one proved just a little too tricky. http://findingboxes.blogspot.com/2009/08/no-rain-more-gain.html

So we went back taking re-enforcements in the form of Graham's dad and brother. We got really close with the GPS (which we are getting to understand better, for instance we know how to set i on walking now, and how to check were we are by co-ordinates if the map is letting us down.) But still it didn't seem right. This was a tricky find but the place we were all looking was just a bit too easy, so Graham moved further down a little and it wasn't long before he was calling "I found it"

It feels good to find a difficult cache, and even better when you had so much trouble trying to find it before.

Yesterday we decided to look for a couple of caching which were on our route home from our regular cemetery visit. The first was a puzzle cache and I'd managed to solve it on Saturday evening to get the right co-ordinates. The find was pretty easy, in a tree in the corner of a field, but there was a football game really close and we had to be careful they didn't see what we were up to. Cue the blackberries and the geo kids for cover. I really must remember to take a paper bag out with me, there's nearly always blackberries to pick :-) Graham snatched the cache which contained only a log book, so we signed it and were on our way.

The next cache was near a pond in a park. We drove past this place every week but with the high hedgerow all around we had no idea what it was like. We were pleasantly surprised, the place is beautiful. The duck pond was lovely and the kids were playing with the ducks, we will definitely have to come back here with some bread. There were quite a few muggles around so we had a game of hide and seek which gave me and Graham the chance to go into the trees and search for the cache. Graham soon found it and we signed the log book before taking the kids to play in the playground. The parkland was also home to a lovely pavilion, they even have kiddie activities so I will most definitely be making a return visit. The beauty of it is that it is only 1.5 miles from home! Sometimes it's more than the caches to be found.

Today we decided we'd go back to one of our previous 'not founds' at a local park. It was well hidden in a wooded area of the park and Graham had searched for it before with no luck. This time the GPS seemed to know what it was doing and took us to a spot were we began searching but yet again our search was fruitless. The GPS seemed to be changing it's mind every two minute, first it was to the right, then behind us, then in front. We knew it was close but I think the amount of trees was affecting the signal. So Graham used his noggin' (not something he's always renowned for ;-) and thought about where he would hide the cache, and lo and behold he found it!! This one was full of goodies so we did a couple of swaps before re hiding and taking the kids to the playground.

It was a nice sunny day so we couldn't resist the chance to go for a nice walk, not a day for cache and dashes! Our chosen venue, the local Country Park.

So co-ords set off we went. When we got there the place was covered by the police with a helicopter overhead...ohhh drama! Someone on the run. I dont' know if they got away but we still set off in a different direction and didn't see anyone suspicious in the woods.

I think we are definately getting the hang of walking with our GPS now, I didn't even have to check the compass on it, we were taken straight to the flag and the cache.

It was a lovely spot and we sat on the twigs around the find while we shifted through the booty. I decided to leave behind Sue's Ferrari and take a lovely Russian coin from Moscow. I'm thinking of dropping it off in Weston-Super-Mare next week.

On the walk back, which was a bit quieter as the helicopter and police had gone, we stopped to look at the horses.

We also bought a new dog tag trackable and I made a couple of pirates from 'shrinkies' to put on it. Not sure where we will put it yet but we've logged it and called it Pirate Bob.

This is what it says on the log:

Current GOAL:

I've lost me vessal and need to get off this ere land.

Can ye give me a helpin' hand.

Just keep me movin' any way ya can

An I will be a happy man!

About this item:

Say hello to Pirate Bob and his mate.....please keep us moving!

Yesterday we hid our second cache. The cache itself has been ready for a while and we knew whereabouts we wanted to hide it. We decided that from now on we'd try and stick to a pirate theme seeing as we are the city pirates so the name we chose was Be Ye Land Lovers.
So here is a piccie of our cache before we took it out:

log book
pirate pencil
pirate eraser
pirate keyring
pirate badge
crystal quartz
first to find certificate

So off we went to our chosen area, a local park. The idea was to hide the cache in the park itself but it was very well maintained and we worried that wherever we hid it there was a chance of it being discovered or moved by the park's gardeners. Then we walked to the far side and Graham was telling me that it used to be a canal but it is now dried up. This area wasn't maintained and was much more overgrown and better for hiding things. Also it seemed to fit in well with the name we'd chosen, i.e a dried up canal for the land lovers.

Walked back through the park to the beginning of the canal pathway and then walked the length trying to find somewhere suitable. There were a couple of places near the beginning that seemed good but way to easy, more like a cache and dash - a cache you can find without effort. So we ventured further along and found a great hiding place. Then we hit another snag, the GPS just couldn't pick up a signal as there were too many trees. We walked along a little further and discovered a way out if we climbed up a bank. So up we went and out onto a path were there was less tree coverage. We got our signal and then ventured back in, deciding to stay near the path so we could get the correct co-ordinates.

Our final hiding place was a tree on an embankment. It involved a little climbing but not too difficult that I couldn't do it with Leila (aged 2yrs) in tow. There are several routes you can take to get to the cache, the one along the path that we took, along the path the opposite way (which ironically leads to our first hide) from the park either crossing a bridge or by climbing down into the dried canal, or even from the road (Shhh don't tell anyone but this route could actually be a cache and dash, park up jump out and find) It's quite well hidden though.

Now we just have to wait for the cache to go live on http://www.geocaching.com/and see how long it takes for someone to find it.

Here is a couple more pics from the area.

This week I've been experiences a drawback to my new hobby. On our last expedition I got myself bitten by horseflies on both elbows and one ankle. I had an allergic reaction and suffered greatly most of the week. My elbows were swollen and painful and because of my ankle I couldn't wear my shoes. I'm not going to let it put me off though. I'll just be more careful and maybe see if I can't find some suitable insect repellant.

We've been working on our new cache. It's already filled with booty and we know whereabouts we want to hide it. We just need to get out there now, and I can't wait. I do photo's and stuff when we hide it but it probably won't be for a few days as we are going to be busy with parties and carnivals.

Today I did my usual trip to the cemetary to take some flowers to the family grave and as it was such a nice day we decided to go for a cache that was just at the back of the cemetary. It was a puzzle cache but I'd already worked out the puzzle and the co-ordinates so off we went. It was nice walk and the cache was found pretty quickly but the log book was soaked through. After the find we had the urge to do more so we decided to go for another not too far away. I know I'm sad, but I look up interesting caches and save all the details on the GPS just in case I feel like finding one when I'm out.
After a short drive we parked up and immediately set out on the wrong path. The GPS kept failing us saying it couldn't give us a route and I knew something was wrong because the description had said it was a mown path and this was a concrete one. So we headed back and there, not fifty feet away was another path, this time a mown one. The GPS was still giving us hassle so I worked from following the co-ordinates like a compass. This was the first time I did this and although it was a little more difficult we did find the cache (well, Graham did) and it was jam packed full of goodies. We finally go to drop off our Pirate travel bug and picked up in it's place a Ferrari TB. Reading on the website the Ferrari wants to travel to Norfolk, and there was me thinking I could drop it off in Dorset in a few weeks time. I will have to try and swap it for another now.

Also, a couple of days ago we went back to look for a cache we'd tried to find a few weeks ago at a nearby church. The first time we'd tried was when I realised that I had to convert co-ordinates to work on my GPS, I still haven't figured out how to do this and rely on the website to do it for me. So, all clues solved and co-ordinates converted we were all set for it this time. Graham found the cache and we swapped a couple of little things. It's so much nicer to find caches with goodies in.

So that takes us up to 10 finds now. I think we should get around to hiding some more of our own soon.

There are different types of caches to find out there. I don't just mean different sizes (which of course there are, ranging from nano to large) but with different ways of finding them. Apart from a regular cache there are also multi-caches and mystery caches (there are others but more about them later...one step at a time).
The multi caches involve visiting more than one location (or one set of co-ordinates) to find the cache and mystery caches can only be found when you've solved a puzzle or two to get the co-ordinates.
The cache we found the other day at Bournville involved answering a couple of questions before getting the co-ords but it was pretty easy. Today we tackled a harder one, difficulty rating 3/5. For some reason Graham had focused on this one, which was called 'Pull up (if I pull up)' right at the beginning but I insisted we gained a little more confidence before trying something as difficult. All the clues where in the listing but it took a while for it to sink in. The main clue is the title, which is a palindrome. The co-odinates where also palindrome. Anyway, last night I worked it out and we punched in the co-ordinates to google and then the GPS. We knew whereabouts to head in the car (thanks to google) then we had a walk along the canal before a scramble up the bank. Graham found the cache quite quickly and it was a nice big one. WE signed the log book, took a spinning top and left a cd. Then we discovered a way back to the car which did not involve scrambling back down to the canal (Great).

So now we've chalked up 7 finds and I think we may be getting the hang of it now.

Yesterday we decided to go and look for a cache in nearby Bournville, where they make Cadbury's chocolate...yum! We had to solve a puzzle to get the co-ordinates but it was quite easy (and it involved a bar of chocolate so no complaining there.) I had a pretty good idea where to start and believed it would be a nice easy one (it should have been) so we could go looking for answers to clues to a harder cache after we'd found it.
WE are still having a few problems with our GPS, it doesn't like directing offroad,so when we were around the right area we starting looking for the clue instead, which was a number. Then I spotted that the trees had numbers so off we went chasing trees. We ended up on a wild goose chase, seeing some lovely views on the way, but getting further and further away from the cache. In the end we had to give up and come home to pick up the geokid from school.
I realised where we were going wrong and we went back today for another try. We started looking in the same place we started yesterday before we go distracted and found the hiding place within 5 minutes. The cache was hidden at the bottom of a large tree under some sticks. As I moved the sticks I saw something move, I was afraid it might be a spider but soon realised it was a frog, and it was sitting right on top of the cache. So the kids played with the frog for a bit while I signed the log book and swapped a craft peg for a keyring.
Graham had lost interest in the cache and the frog because the find was right next to a cricked ground and there was a match in play.
A little later we went to look for another cache nearby in a place called Austin Village. It's an interesting place because the homes there are cedarwood bungalows which were imported from the USA. Unfortunately we couldn't even look for the hiding place as there were too many muggles around and they wouldn't budge. They were about 4 feet away from where we wanted to look so no chance of not being seen. So that's one for another day.

Today we hid our very first cache. The location had already been decided and we'd had a look around to find a suitable hiding place.

We put together our little Cache

we filled it with goodies such as a pirate badge, a pirate eraser, a pirate pencil, a trakabull geocoin and the obligatory logbook. We used a small lockable plastic food container which we hope will be waterproof. The logbook is waterproof anyway.
We will be able to track the whereabouts of the geocoin on the website. I'm hoping it has a long and happy journey.
Then we set off on foot (yes we chose somewhere very local) to hide our cache. The chosen hiding place was at the back of some castle ruins so we are hoping that whoever comes to seek it will enjoy viewing the castle. We placed it so that if the castle is closed (which it is a lot as it is seasonal and only open at weekends) then they can still get a good view by taking the walk to find the cache just outside the perimeter fence.
This is our cache in it's hiding place.......

can you see it?
We have updated the geocache website with our listing and when it's approved we will be waiting to see if anyone finds it. I'll let you know what happens.

EDIT: Cache was found 12 hours after the listing went live!

I thought that seeing as I was attracting a few who were interested in Geocaching but had not actually tried it yet that now would be a good time to give a step-by-step guide to finding a cache.
Of course the obvious place to start is by signing up to the site Geocaching.com. This is were you will find all you need to know about geocaches. It's free to sign up and use but memberships are also very cheap and give you those extra little bonus'
So first you need to decide on where you are going to go looking. This might be close to home or maybe somewhere you want to go and visit, or if you really don't know you can just browse the geomaps.

I'm going to take our trip to Stourport as an example. I'd decided that's where I was going so I took a look on the geomaps to see what caches where hidden there.

It's not too clear on this map but you can see some markings on the river near the top
which look like boxes - these are geocaches. There is also one on the yellow road in the middle and one on a white road right to the left (this one has a smiley face on it as we already found it.) If you would like to see the map in more detail click here.

When you see a cache you might like to try you can click on the map and a box will pop up with some details.You get the name of the cache and it's number, the name of the person who hid it, how difficult it is to find in star ratings, the date it was hidden and it's size.

You can then click the name of the box and you will get a page of details about the cache and some further clues on how to find it. You also get some links that will help you download the information to your GPS or mobile phone if you have the right equipment and software. You will also get at the bottom of the page a list of logs created by all the geocachers who have previously found the cache.

Again, I'm sorry the picture is not too clear, if you would like to see the actual page then
From this page you gleam all the information you need to find your cache including the most important co-ordinates for your GPS. The co-ordinates for this particular one are
N 52° 20.415
W 002° 17.359
Before setting off I like to take a look at the co-ordinates on Google maps, there is a link on the information page that will take you straight there.

From this you can get some idea of what the location looks like and look for landmarks that will help know you are in the right place. Even with your GPS and all this information you are still left with some hunting to find the hiding place. This one, for example was hidden in a small hollow in a tree trunk and had been covered with a stone.
Most descriptions let you know what you are looking for, in this case a small plastic box, and what is in the cache i.e. log book, geocoins, swaps etc. But as we've already noticed caches can be very different, from teeny tiny little magnetic capsules with just a log book which a rolled up tiny piece of paper, 35ml camera film containers with little coins/swaps, magnetic key hiding boxes to a range of sizes of plastic boxes (tupperware).

The plan for today was to go to the Licky Hills and look for 3 or 4 caches, but when I got up this morning I fancied something different. So I planned a trip to Stourport-on -Severn instead. I thought it would be nicer to go to the river and I knew there would be lots for the girls to do.

I looked up 3 geocaches but as there was a lot of walking involved I decided that if we just found 1 I'd be happy. We decided our first stop when we arrived would be to find a cache which was hidden in a field. We got to the co-ordinates and looked for about 20 minutes before Graham finally spotted it. It was the biggest cache we've found so far and had lots of little things in. We took a Eeyore keyring and left a badge and eraser (both pirates) and signed the log book.

Then we focused our attention on the girls and spent the rest of the day on the fair, in a restaurant, in the park and in the paddling pool. I think they had a good time :-)

Just before leaving for home we were tempted to go and look for another cache which I knew wasn't too far from the car park I'd chosen, but I didnt' know exactly how far away it was and we were all pretty worn out so we I didn't even check the GPS and instead we came home.

Back home and on the computer I realised that the cache location was indeed very close to the carpark, it was probably less than a 5 minute walk! Oh well, I'll remember for next time.

This is the view from where we found the geocache

This is Graham sorting through the stash in the cache

We were not going geocaching today, we have a busy day planned for tomorrow so we thought we'd get some stuff done that we normally do on a Saturday. One of these chores involved a trip to a local shopping centre. Just behind the centre is a park, the one were we first went looking for geocaches but had no luck. I knew we had been really close with the one and just wanted to have one more quick look.

I knew it was in a group of conifer trees and whereabouts in the park. There were quite a few muggles about so to avoid looking suspicious looking through the trees we turned it into a game with the girls. Eventually Graham spotted a piece of bark which looked loose and told me to look underneath it... and there it was, another find!!

We bought some boxes today to make our own caches, we've also shopped on the internet for some things to put in. I'll do photo's before we hide them. We've bought a couple of Geocoins for tracking, hopefully they will move around a lot and we'll be able to see where they end up.

In contrast to yesterday's constant downpour (apparently the tail end of a hurricane) today was lovely and sunny. I spent last night preparing my next lot of caches I wanted to find. Not only was everything logged on my GPS I had printed hard copies for back-up. I'd decided on starting with a couple of real easy ones followed by a couple of slightly harder ones. The idea was to build up some confidence that we could actually do this and make sure we didn't get too disappointed, and then give us something to get our teeth into with added scenery.

So with a fully charged GPS off we went. The first was in the local country park. There are 5 hidden there altogether but this was a real easy one just by one of the entrance gates. The co-ords were spot on and after a little search we managed to find our first 'nasty nano' and boy was it tiny!! It was the size of a thumbnail and magnetized. It was stuck on the underside of a gate hinge and very easy to miss if you were not looking for it. After unscrewing we found a long strip of paper for a log book which we signed, dated and returned. Then it was off to no2.

Our second was one of a series of 6 all to do with unfortunate street names. Each one gives a clue towards a final bonus cache. I aim to do them all but as they are all over the place I won't be doing them together. I knew this road very well, so knew it was very long. The cache was hidden behind a street sign so the GPS was very handy as it took us to the right one. Well, there was a sign on either side of the street and Graham jumped out and immediately looked behind the one. I looked at both and thought that if I was hiding a cache then I definitely choose the other one so I went and looked there. Gray came over to help and we eventually found a well hidden film case. Inside, as well as the log book, was a magnet, a coin and a clue. It was big enough for us to leave one of our calling cards inside :-)

So that was the easy peasy ones taken care of, now it was back to the country park for number 3. We had a good idea where to look and even though it was another 'nasty nano' I spotted it quite quickly....but as it was sunny the place was crowded with muggles, in particular one woman who seemed to be watching our every move. We sat on a bench nearby the hiding place and waited. The girls were happy chasing butterflies in the wildflower garden. When I felt the coast was clear enough I went over and grabbed the cache and took it back to the bench. Then we had to wait again until we could put it back. So although this was a relatively easy find, it was the taking and placing that we found difficult.

Three down and one to go. The next was in a park and I knew it was going to be tricky. The GPS worked well in taking us to the right place but it was right in the middle of a wood and we just couldn't find the camouflaged cache. We spent over an hour looking and when the girls got fed up of picking raspberries I took them to the park while Graham carried on searching. In the end we had to give this one up for now. We will go back though, I know we were so close, we just couldn't see it.

So three out of four on a nice sunny day and we are happy City Pirates today :-)

It's forecast sunshine for the weekend so I've got a trip to the Licky Hills planned. There are 6 in the area but I'm planning on looking for just 3 or maybe 4.

Here's a couple of pics of the girls today.

We couldn't wait to get out geocaching again today. My eldest daughter decided she wanted to join us to so now we are truly an official family group. We've called ourselves the CityPirates.

We decided we'd try a find at a local and very lovely church cemetary. It is situated near a resevoir which is so beautiful it's hard to believe it's a resevoir, and the church is right in the middle of a group of fields. Sometimes it's hard to believe this wonderful countryside is so close by our home in the middle of the city. The cache was a slightly more difficult one 1.5/1.5 four part multi cache. You what? I hear you say. In layman terms, you have to solve a four part puzzle to get the co-ordinates for the final hiding place. First we needed to complete the date that the British defeated the Spanish Armada. This was relevent because one of the bells at the church was installed in the same year and is called the Armada Bell. The second part required finding out the dates the church was built, the third to find the date of birth of a Joshua ling and the fourth to find the final hiding place.

Gray didnt' want to work out the clues he just wanted to go looking! I worked out as much as I could at home then found Joshua Lings birthdate, but when I put the co-ordinates into my GPS they wouldn't work as they were in the wrong format. On the geocaching site you can reformat the co-ords, but I don't have a clue how to reformat them myself. So minus the co-ords we had a good hunt around but no find. :-( We are determined to try this one again though.

The next was nearby at the reservoir, a nice easy one in the bluebell woods.....or so we thought. The co-ordinates were pre-set and already reformatted and there on the screen was the little flag. The rain was getting heavier and it was pretty muddy but off we set. Just as we were getting close the GPS died of a flat battery. It should have still been an easy find but there are an awful lot of trees, and clusters of trees and without knowing exactly which cluster we needed to look in we were in for a long search. In the end the rain got the better of us and that's another one we have to go back for.

Tip of the day: Make sure your GPS is fully charged before you go out Geocaching

Sad though it is not to achieve a find it's still a fun way to get out of the house and get a bit of fresh air and exercise. And today we've had fun thinking up a name and logo for our geocaching family group. This is the logo as designed by my daughter.

I'm going to use this post to explain some geocaching terms and then if I use them in later posts I can link to this so you can see what I mean.

Just a couple to start with, more later.....

Traditional Cache This is one of several cache types. This is the original cache type consisting, at a bare minimum, a container and a logbook. Normally you will find a clear container or ammo box containing items for trade. Smaller containers, called micro caches are usually too small to contain anything except for a logbook. The coordinates listed on the traditional cache page are the exact location for the cache.

Muggle A non-geocacher. Based on "Muggle" from the Harry Potter series, which is a non-magical person. Usually this term is used after a non geocacher looks puzzled after befriending a geocacher searching for a cache, or when a non-geocacher accidentally finds a cache. Geomuggles are mostly harmless.

Geocoin Geocoins work similarly to Groundspeak Travel Bugs® in that they are trackable and can travel the world, picking up stories from geocache to geocache. Geocoins are often created as signature items by geocachers and can also be used as collectibles.

Travel Bug®
A Groundspeak Travel Bug is a trackable tag that you attach to an item. This allows you to track your item on Geocaching.com. The item becomes a hitchhiker that is carried from cache to cache (or person to person) in the real world and you can follow its progress online. Learn more at http://www.geocaching.com/track/faq.aspx.

Right, I researched the site geocaching.com and I found 3 caches were hidden in a park near me. I entered the co-ordinates into my GPS. I tried the instant download programs but neither of them would work with my Binatone. I may have to research that further, but putting the co-ordinates manually wasn't too taxing. I made a few notes on where the caches could be found, i.e, two were hidden in trees (1 high, 1 low) and one on the ground. Then just for a back-up I did the same for a cache hidden at a local railway station. This was described as a Cache and Dash so should be easy to find.

So off we went to the park....and down came the rain. Still, nothing was going to stop us now! At least the park was pretty empty (it's normally really busy). To keep the cache's safe you are supposed to be wary of other people around (mugglers) and be stealthy. I think we need to practice that a little more. So GPS in hand off we trotted following a little pin on the screen. There was also a flag on the screen but we decided it was the pin we needed to find....mmmm, its' good to know your equipment, we later found out it was the flag. Anyway, we got pretty close to two of the caches but just couldn't find them. A little further research when we got home made us realise that the one was very close to where we were looking but we on the wrong side of the path. The other one we can't understand why we didn't find it and the third, well we just couldnt' get close, I must have got the co-ordinates wrong. So we learnt a lesson, research, research, research. You think it would be easy to locate a particular tree in a park if you had the co-ordinates, well, think again. The rain got worse and I'm sad to say we gave up in the park. That's nothing to be ashamed of, a lot of caches take more than one visit to find (maybe not 1/1 caches but hey, we are newbies at this)

So, I decided we should try the station. From my research I knew it was in the carpark, by something yellow. I also knew which part of the massively huge carpark we needed to head to. It was in this car park that we realised it was the flag we had to follow, doh! A quick search of the area and whoo hoo! I found a magnetic key box. I opened it and there inside was an official geocache log sheet. I signed it with my username and the date and jotted down that it was my very first find. Then I hid it again. It sounds a little crazy now but it was very exciting at the time. Back home I logged my find on the site. Now I really have the bug and I'm sure it won't be long before I'm off out looking for my next find.

Hello, welcome to my shiny new blog which I have set up to accomodate my latest hobby, Geocaching. It's all pretty new to me so I'll take you on my learning experience from the very start.
You can find out all you really need to know about Geocaching here http://www.geocaching.com/

Description from homepage of above site:

Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment.

So today I decided to try and locate a geocache or two. First I checked out the site for caches near me. To do this you go to 'hide and seek a cache', then under the 'seek' section go to 'by country' and scroll down to your country. In my case, United Kingdom. Then you can choose your state/province, in my case, West Midlands. Then, hey presto, you get a list of all the caches hidden in that area. Now, if you want to start a little closer to home you can click 'new search' and pop in your postcode.

Then it's a case of picking which cache or caches you want to go and look for. They all have a rating in two parts. The first is for 'difficulty' the second is for 'terrain' and both are scores out of 5. So, 1/1 would be the easiest and 5/5 the hardest. It's best to start with 1/1

Before you go out looking you need to note the co-ordinates of the cache. You can download these straight to your GPS but as mine is not so up to date I had to add them manually. If you don't know your way around your GPS device very well, then now is the time to learn. I thought it would be easy but I had to really mess around with all the settings to get mine to work properly. It kept sending me back to the main roads!

It's also advisable to get as much information about the cache as you can. If you are new then you will definately want all the clues and have a good look at the maps. It looks easy but it's not. I'll explain all in my next post, my first adventure.