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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Just Ducky

Miss Geoness reaches high to get a ducky cache out of a tree. Geocaching in Cary, NC today.

Well it was a rather cool day out today with 40 mile an hour winds and the wind chills in the teens. We picked up a few quick caches before calling it quits. Miss Geoness tends to get Broncitis and I did not want to push it. Was fun and more walks on the gazzilion green ways in the Cary, North Carolina area. Good times on the last day of 2008.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

HooHaa TB Race - Electric Bug Shoots Like A Rocket To First Place - Cartoon

HooHaa TB Racer Electric Bug shoots off like a rocket for a 6000 plus miles jump to first place. After spending the last couple of months in Japan, EB is now in the States and we will see how he fairs here.

Wishing everyone a very healthy and happy 2009!!!
You can see all of the HooHaa TB Race Cartoons and the current race standing at the bottom right of this blog.
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GeoCache: I'm NOT Obsessed... Right?
HeadHardHat's Ingenious Cache Inventor

Friday, December 26, 2008

HooHaa TB Race - The Little Cap That Could

Gunny's Electric Bug only had a smidgen over two miles to show it's efforts in the HooHaa TB Race. HeadHardHat had shown it as a host of different types of "caps" in many of the HooHaa Cartoons shown weekly and Gunny has taken it all in stride. (The photo above shows EB as a Stayples Easy Button)

Now Gunny has his moment to do some serious "Nanner-Nanner" to the rest of the Travel Bug Racers with it's latest move from Japan to TwentyNine Pines, California. This gives Electric Bug a grand total of 6517.7 miles and first place of the HooHaa race.

Congrats to Gunny and his missile based Electric Bug.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

#400 For HeadHardHat

Miss Geoness and I in high winds were making an attempt of showing 400 in finger sign. Great Christmas Eve Day geocaching.

Only had a few moments to go out for some quick park and grabs. It was about 68 out but very windy. Had fun using the Geocaching Navigator application on my Blackberry. It was spot on for all of the caches which I found quite nice to use. I still don't like using my phone for a GPS device for geocaching because it simply is not durable for weather, dirt and being dropped. On the other hand for those times that you are out of your expected caching area and want to have instant access to geocaching information this is the way to go. I will be putting out a full review of Geocaching Navigator soon.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

GeoSnippits - Update About My Latest Geocaching Tutorial Videos

(This video is Part One of Paperless Geocaching)

Been a while since I updated my latest geocaching tutorial videos known as GeoSnippits.
Most recent deal with the following:

  • Logging Geocoins and Travel Bugs on Geocaching.com
  • Moving Digital Photographs From Your Camera To The Computer (digital card reader)
  • Paperless Geocaching (Part 1 and Part 2)

You can go to my blogs or You Tube Channel to see all of them. http://www.youtube.com/user/headhardhat

Oh and I just recieved permission from Google to do tutorials on enhancing digital photographs with Picasa3.

These will be out soon.

All for now... -HHH

Friday, December 19, 2008

HooHaa TB Race - Easy Rider Takes The Lead In A Big Way!!

There's a new sheriff in town and he goes by the name of Easy Rider. TripCyclone's eagle based travel bug has landed in Hawaii. His current mileage is now 3848.3 miles and Easy Rider is quite happy to be in such a tropical place after just being in Missouri where they just had how many inches of snow?

You can follow all the HooHaa TB Racing stats in the bottom right of this blog.

First Cache With Geocaching Navigator

Tried out the Blackberry Geocache Navigator. Not bad for a phone app.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

HooHaa TB Race - Post Your Holiday Wishes Here

Well I just couldn't wait until Friday to put this weeks HooHaa TB Race Cartoon. I originally wanted to see how well I could make a northern light background. Next thing I know I had added all the components and racers. Finished up some lighting techniques I know and ta-da!

I would like to take this time to wish each and everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and every other holiday blessings out there. Feel free to leave your holiday wishes and post for all to see!

See you next year everyone.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

GeoSnippits Video: Tutorial About Digital Cameras and SD Cards

Here is the latest and greatest GeoSnippits tutorial video out on You Tube. Host HeadHardHat shows you an alternative way of getting your digital photographs out of your camera and onto your computer.

The GeoSnippits series is an ever growing collection of videos designed to help Geocachers and people who are interested in GPS and digital devices learn more through example. You can see the latest video by clicking below or you can enter headhardhat or geosnippits in You Tube's search field.

Monday, December 15, 2008

All HooHaa TB Racers Are Now Out The Gate!!!

Well it only took two months but all of the world famous HooHaa TB Racers are out of the starting gate and into the race. Gunny's Electric Bug was discovered half a dozen times this weekend after being placed at an event in Japan. Hopefully he can now start cranking those miles out.

Current Rankings for the top three racers are:

2nd Just A Nut 212 miles

All of your favorite HooHaa TB stats and information is available at the bottom right of this blog.

Check back often to see our weekly cartoons, current standings and root for who you think will win this year long race.

Friday, December 12, 2008

HooHaa Cartoon: Week 8 - It's Cold as Shell Out!

Geocaching Online's HooHaa TB Racer "GoGo T. Urtle finds itself in a tupperware jar buried in the snows of Nova Scotia, Canada. It might be a very long winter stay.

Be sure to see all the HooHaa TB Race Cartoons down in the lower right of this blog. Come back often and see HeadHardHat's weekly additon to the series.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Geocaching Wishes and Holiday GPSs To You

Dear Santa,

I have been extra good this year. Like every time I find a new geocache I re-hid it just as good or better than I found it. I tell my loved ones where I am before going deep into an isolated terrain by myself. There is something special that touches my heart when I trade items by replacing the item taken with something just as good or better. Finally I will help travel bugs and geocoins with their goals even if I don't have one to trade. I have been oh so very good this year Santa, will you fulfill my geocaching wishes?
Santa wanted to be sure that he was getting exactly what geocachers want for this year so he went to two geocaching forums and asked flat out. What geocaching thing-a-ma-bob do you want from Santa? Below is the top ten from dozens of responses. Now sure, jet packs, helicopters and tree climbing monkeys are all well and good, but, c'mon, let's get real here.
Counting down from 10 to number 1:
#10 - Palm PDA
Many geocachers want to go green when it comes to geocaching. Not just because it saves trees by not printing out all our geocache information and maps but the ease of having all the information you need right in the palm of your hand makes this a nice gift. Figure about $300.00 for a Palm TX.
#9 - Travel Bug Tags
These specially marked travel bug tags holds a unique ID number which makes every travel bug special. Every travel bug that is registered on geocaching.com receives it's own web page not only giving a full description and goal of the TB but maps showing where it has been as it goes from one cache to the next. Every request used words like loads, bunches and tons to describe how many would be great to be found under the tree or stocking. Average price for a travel bug is about $5.00 each.
#8 - Cache Mobiles
Be it Jeeps, Humvee or Hummers many geocachers would love a vehicle that will get them from here to the most remote caches on the planet. This pricey request would set back Santa some serious reindeer feed but it is on the minds of many geocachers this year. A 2008 Wrangler could set you back around 20K for starts. Better be extra good for one of these.
P.S. most cachers also requested an gas pump with endless fuel as well.
#7 - Digital Camera
I wrote an article just a few weeks ago about deciding on what kind of camera to buy for geocaching. You can find it here and it looks like a great article to read with all the requests for digital cameras this year. We geocachers love to take all sorts of photos of all the interesting places we have been, cool things we have seen and all the other geocaching things we do. Nothing tells a better story than a good digital picture. Digital cameras have come down in price quite a bit and you can get a great low to mid grade digital camera for about $150.00.
#6 - Hiking Boots
Okay you have me here. I too want a good, comfortable, well rounded hiking boot. When geocachers go out into the wild there is every kind of terrain imaginable. We are talking trails, woods, swamps, streams, deserts, mountains, the list goes on and on. That kind of terrain also entails potential dangers like snakes and other critters not to mention the wear and tear of all the hiking. So a good pair of hiking boots is just the ticket for the outdoor enthusiast in all of us.
Good boots can range from $150 and up. This is an item you may want to take your gift recipient with you when buying.
#5 - Buckets of Geocoins
This was stated over and over even when something else was also requested. Many geocachers just love geocoins. Like travel bugs, geocoins have a unique id number that can be registered on geocaching.com and you also receive a special web page to promote each coin. I don't know what it is that draws geocachers to geocoins, maybe it's because of the pirate booty feel of it when you hold them. Sometimes it is the special memory or place it represents. All I know is there are a whole lot of personal geocoin collections where they never see the wild except when taken in quantity to a nearby geocaching event. The average geocoin will cost around $10.00 each. Like any collectible it is up to the holder how much it is worth to them. These make great stocking stuffers or that special accent on any geocachers present.
#4 - Global Positioning Systems or GPS
The following three countdown items on every geocachers list all pertain to basically the same thing but there were such drastic demand for certain types of GPS units I broke them down by popularity. This countdown item is for all geocachers out there that want a GPS unit but do not know which GPS unit they want. To help you out I wrote an article a few weeks ago about which brand of GPS unit was found to be best this year. Coincidentally, the request for GPSs matched these results as well. You can read my article by clicking here. GPS units by far are the backbone to geocaching as we know it and whether we say it or not this is the gizmo we want most!
#3 - Delorme PN-XX GPS
If you go to the article stated in #4 you can read all about the Delorme series of GPS units. They have only really been making handheld units for little over the year but they have the potential of becoming the king of GPSs. This may not quite be their year but that does not stop the mainstream of geocachers out there wanting them big time. The price of a Delorme PN series can fetch you anywhere around $500.00. Be sure to read that article I put out before investing that kind of dough. You will be glad you did. Read it here.
#2 - Garmin GPS (any series)
No sense of denying it. Garmin is the king of handheld GPS units. Be it the high end flash of the Colorado, the complete and reliable workhorse 60CSx or the low end but highly used Etrex series you really can't go wrong with a Garmin. Of all the GPS units requested this year Garmin beat all the other brands combined. You can get a low end Etrex for under $100.00 and up through the high end Colorado and Oregons around $550.00.
#1 - Time
Funny how these surveys and polls turn out some times. It wasn't the flashiest gizmo or the most expensive thing-a-ma-bob that almost all geocachers asked for. Nope it was to have more time doing geocaching. We live in this always connected, hyper fast, must do more with less society and what we all crave is that blissful few moments of quiet. Sitting next to an ammo box or Lock and Lock box for a quick moment of bliss. Signing a log and rummaging through trade items, travel bugs and the rare geocoin. Noticing the wind as it gently raises the leaves or parts the clouds to expose that valley below. No it's not all the cool toys we love to play with, but the extra time to go out and do what we enjoy the most. Thank you Santa we would just love to have some of that wrapped with a bow as well.
Thanks to everyone from the forums of the NCGO and Geocaching.com. As usual you are the best for finding out what geocachers really know and think.

It's The CRINKLESCHNOTZ 5000. Order now.

Hey anybody can do a GOOD holiday gift list, but what about the BAD geocachers out there?

Read on...
Just in time for the Holidays and brought to you by the same disgruntled elves that created the Double-Hangover-Flingy-Doo. We give you this season’s greatest GPS gadget the CRINKLESCHNOTZ 5000.

This is the gift giving present every geocacher is going to want under their tree. Just look at these amazing features:

Ultra Sensitive Digital Compass – which automatically points to the nearest face level spider web or impenetrable briar patch.

Extra Long Lasting Battery Lifespan – guaranteed to work right up to the point where you either are 75 feet from a cache or half of a mile out into the woods.

Super Clear Audio Alert System – It won’t play your favorite MP3 tracks but it is loud as all get out when it belts out “Flight of the Bumblebee” any time you are near a muggle prown geocache.

Moisture Activated Notification - Never worry about getting your CRINKLESCHNOTZ 5000 wet. The MAN automatically jolts the user with a tazer force bolt of electricity whenever directly above any water source.

Secure Anti Theft Functions – Don’t worry about ever having your CRINKLESCHNOTZ 5000 getting stolen. Simply place it on the ground and a cloaking shield envelopes the GPS with invisibility and then randomly moves up to 45 feet in any direction.

So order now while we still have the amazing CRINKLESCHNOTZ 5000 in stock. They are going fast.

Dial 1-800-353-8447 that’s 1-800-ELF-THIS.
Do it now.

All offers are final and price is adjustable to whatever the hell we feel like asking for at the time of the order… Don’t like it? Elf This!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A True Christmas Holiday Oxymoronism

Was in a local grocery store today and spotted this particular holiday libation.

Yes, before my very eyes was a container of holiday cheer filled with liquid and written on the container were the words "Southern Comfort". My first knee jerk reaction was "Oh, I have got to get me some of this!"

At closer inspection of the label was a different reaction closer to "WTF?", followed by, "Who the heck would do this?" It's a cruel and awful trick somewhere to the level of the Grinch.

Click the photo above to see what I mean....

Let Me Count The Ways

Oh little silver bison tube in the grape vine. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways................... One.

My eyes are not as young as they used to was so finding bison tubes is not much fun for me. My goal is to reach 400 and I am only three away so I endure when needed. Luckily in December the vines are dormant even though in this case it didn"t matter much. Fun fun fun.

Finally Found Over The Hill

It only took four tries to find this cache in a briar patch. Yeppers, think of a small hillside covered with 25% Kudzu and 75% briars. On the first three attempts I scratched up my arms and legs that took a couple of weeks to heal. This time it was personal and I bound and determined to find this prickly pest.

Armed with my walking poker and heavy gloves I poked and prodded for a good five minutes before finding success. Ahh, sweet success... It is so nice taking this one off of my list.

Monday, December 8, 2008

JUST A NUT Back in the HooHaa TB Race and in 2nd Place!

The mystery is a sol-ved. Just A Nut a racer in the Great HooHaa TB Race was officially missing for several weeks now.

In my recent article Have You Seen This Nut??? a full investigation by the GeoPolice was undertaken. There were very little clues except for one lead. It turns out that the lead was good and Just A Nut has been found. In fact, the big lug has been placed in a cache near Crofton, Maryland. This gives Just A Nut 212 Miles and a firm second place in the race.

You can follow all the HooHaa Travel Bug Racers by watching our score board at the bottom of this blog.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Great Day of Caching in Cary, North Carolina

It was a spectacular day geocaching in Cary, North Carolina today. If you caught my earlier posts from my phone you can see that I was out with Daughter Geoness working on our latest milestones. I want to reach over the 400 mark by the end of the year and Miss Geoness wants to get her first 200 geocaches found so she can officially be ranked in the state. In case you didn't know it, a geocacher can be ranked by State, Country and the World if you so desire but you have to have at least 200 caches minimum. The website for you to check your ranking is here.

Anyhoo, it was quite crisp out. We have been in a cold snap for a few weeks now and today's high was only around 45 degrees. The sun was out in force and we had a few moments of some gusty wind but with us tramping around in the woods seemed to cut that down quite a bit. Today we visited several parks and greenways. The micros were kept at a minimum and so only a couple of skirt hides were found. The majority ended up being small and regulars in the woods. Where we like to hike the most anyways.

All total we found 16 finds and three DNFs. Even managed to see an assortment of squirrels, rabbits and birds today. I know I will be sleeping like a baby with all that fresh air. Miss Geoness is already catching Zzzzzzs. The best thing out of it all was we had a great time and had fun hunting caches together.

Miss Geoness In Deep While Caching

Miss Geoness out caching with dad Headhardhat today in Cary, NC. It was a chilly day in the Peidmont today. Sunny with a high around 43 and some bone chilling winds. Fortunately that was intermit. Pictured above Miss Geoness emergece from an evergreen with the cache in her hand.

Finding Cary, NC Hides

Skirt hide in parking lot. I don't like finding a ton of these but every once in a while...

Ahhh Tupperware in Da Woods

Can you think of a better way to be using a billion dollar satellite system? This is bliss for a geocacher. Miss Geoness and Dad Headhardhat out in the woods finding geocaches on a nice crisp Fall day in Cary, North Carolina. Featured above Miss Geoness goes through a regular sized cache. We ended up trading some objects and left one of my signature first aid kits and traded some travel bugs as well.

Cache found Cary, NC

First find of the day.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

HooHaa TB Race Cartoon - Week Seven - Just A Nut is Missing!

The HooHaa Travel Bug Racers received shocking news this week.

Just A Nut, a late bloomer in this race has officially gone missing. You can read all about it in this post here. In this week's cartoon Gunny's TB Electric Bug meets up with an old friend. The setting takes place in an ammo box somewhere in Japan.

You can visit all the weekly HooHaa Travel Bug Race Cartoons created by HeadHardHat found at the bottom right of his blog: GeoCache: I'm NOT Obsessed... Right?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Which Brand of Handheld GPS is Best, a Real Boxing Barnburner

Lets get ready to rumble!

You can feel the tension in the crowd of this jam packed arena which extends from the rafters all the way down to the center ring. This epic match that has been building for years with the outcome determining the best brand for handheld GPS units. GPS which stands for Global Positioning System is a fancy way of saying, “You Are Here” on a map that exists in the GPS handheld device itself. When you move, the pointer keeps track of where you are and the map underneath digitally moves when you do. That way you can always know exactly where you are on the planet. Now back to the match as the units get ready to show their stuff.

The announcer grabs the mike hanging ring center.

“In this corner, wearing black with blue trim. We give you brand Magellan.”

Magellan is a very popular brand that has been around as other companies since 1994 and did not take it's current name until around 2001. It is extremely well known and boasts the creation of the first commercial handheld GPS receiver.

“In the opposite corner wearing black with white and blue trim. We give you brand Garmin.” The favorite for this evening Garmin has it's origins around 1989 and sold it's first panel mounted GPS for around $2500.00. How things have changed. When discussions turn to GPS devices you will most likely hear the brands of Magellan and Garmin.

“Finally in corner three (hey, it's my article and I want three opponents) wearing blue with white trim. We give you brand Delorme.” Now the possible underdog in this fight has it's roots going all the way back to 1976. Though the majority of it's efforts appear to be more into digital map making rather than the hardware making of GPS units. It's first handheld did not come to market until 2007.

The referee walks up to the three bruisers of the GPS world to set up the match and give the rules.

“Okay we want a clean fight. There is to be no smoke and mirrors on functionality which means what we see is what you've got. No promises of premier Customer Support that actually wouldn't know a way point from a sundial. Finally, In case of a low battery or memory card full condition go to your respective corners and wait for further instruction.” .
Now you can see on their displays that Garmin and Magellan have been around for quite some time and this is not their first time in the ring. Delorme on the other hand is trying to remain calm but you can see his pointer is shaking a bit. Lets find out how the new kid stands up to the top two GPS titan brands. The match begins..

All boxing puns aside, all the information today was provided by experienced Geocachers who take their caching equipment very seriously. Geocachers not only look for the accuracy, dependability and durability of their GPS units but also it's ease of use in the field and more importantly how it interacts with computers and third party software that load all that information in and out of the GPS. You can have the most impressive handheld in the world but if you always have to manually insert multiple waypoints, what good is it? I correlated all of the data from two of my favorite Geocaching site forums. Also included was a question poll asking straight out which brand was best.

Here is what I found out:

Magellan has it's Triton Series of handhelds which range from $129.00 to $500.00 depending on the unit of choice. Surprising to me I found Magellan to be the least liked and had the most defectors from the once very popular brand. The customer support was commented as not being up to par and lacking. Initially they had a very good string of constant upgrades and improvements but over time has dwindled. Several posts voiced their disappointment by stating the Triton Series was not ready to go out into the wild but Magellan decided to sell them anyways. This created a host of very unhappy customers. Out of the three brands discussed here I have to say Magellan is buns up on the canvas this year.

Delorme even though initially thought to be the underdog of the match is showing some true grit. I noticed a growing want to convert over to the PN series but there are some major hurdles keeping them from doing it. The PN-20 and PN-40 range from $250.00 to +$500.00 in price which makes them on the high end of the scale. Let me say right from the start that Delorme is the king of high density and amazingly crisp maps. You can't own 44% of the CD mapping market and not be very good at what you do. One cacher zoomed into a geocache on the map and saw by the placement that it was under a lamp pole; it's that clear. On the flip side the biggest drawback is the learning curve to get the GPS unit itself working. Over a period of three days I personally have seen three very experienced cachers almost in tears trying to get their individual units running as expected. Now Delorme's customer support is being very responsive but since they have only had these devices out on the market for only a year they appear to be scrambling to flesh out all the bugs. I also read several comments that the Delormes were off on accuracy about 30 feet on a consistent basis. It does not sound like much but if you are out trying to find a pinky sized bison tube in a pine tree you want to be sure you are actually looking in the right pine tree. Final note, kudos for the paperless features of the PN series there were many positive comments for that. So what do you end up with? A brilliantly crisp set of graphic and aerial image maps in a unit that has a very high learning curve attached and very low compatibility with existing computer applications which is responsible for loading key information into the unit itself. Looks like for this year at least Delorme has the makings of a top notch GPS handheld but it has some serious issues to address before they will draw a good user base.

According to our user poll Garmin is three out of four the most used GPS unit out in the wild. The pricing spreads nicely across the board and depending on your budget you should be able to find a good one in your price range. For example the Etrex series which is several years dated is still a very common site on the trail. But if you want to experience the true workhorse of GPS handhelds you have to own the 60CSX. It has great accuracy, durability, reliability and compatibility which will fill almost every need you will ever have. The interesting issue with the 60CSX is it too is dated and Garmin is trying to push the fancy new bells and whistles of the higher end units. Unfortunately in this case newer does not constitute better. Case and point Garmin's Colorado which being a high end price tag item has been consistently been compared to, well, doggie-poop. Big steaming piles of poop, in fact I could not find a single compliment in any of the posts. My advice, stay away from this one. The Oregon had many nice statements about the touchscreen, the screen size and the paperless functionality. The drawbacks was the dimness of the screen when outside and the lack of being able to customize it like some of Garmin's older models. So is the grief of making it your own worth the large price tag?

Well the ring judges have sent in their tallies and the winner of this match and the best brand for this year is Garmin. I will be very excited to see next year if some of the lesser known brands can be good enough to enter the ring or will the powerhouse brands of this year get their acts together and put them down for the ten count.

How's es hängend, Peter?

Where In The World Is Pete The Parrot?

Pete my party animal of a travel bug has landed in Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany. After flying north 848 miles from Islas Baleares, Spain. My blue feathered buddy is spending the holidays in the area around Essen.
So far Pete has travelled 9878.4 miles and is not showing any signs of stopping.
You can follow Pete the Parrot by watching his travel bug page here : http://www.geocaching.com/track/details.aspx?id=1484152

Monday, December 1, 2008


Just A Nut is MISSING.
(GeoPolice Photo used for identification)

The HooHaa Travel Bug Racer was off to a slow start in the Great HooHaa TB Race GeoChallenge but never failed to bust a nut. Even after many weeks of sitting at the starting line Nut passed the time with fellow TB Racer Gunny's Electric Bug. Their humorous banter that of epic slapdownmanship.

After regailing once again about being part of an actual racing car Nut decided to spend some time in the neighborhood Travel Bug Hotel in Oxford, North Carolina before trying once again to get on the road with the HooHaa Race. That was when everything apparently happened.

I found out about it after I received an email from a fellow geocacher who read about my travel bug racer not moving and wanted to take it to Pennsylvania. Much to his dismay the hexagonal traveller was no where to be found within the cache.

I visited the well known travel bug hotel and confirmed that Just A Nut was indeed gone. So since it was past the normal 48 hour wait period. We called in the authorities; the GeoPolice.

After a thorough investigation and about ten minutes of effort it was concluded that there is not enough evidence to conclude a conclusion.

Even with nearby witnesses who wish not to comment at this time (damn you SpongeBob) the authorities could only speculate the approximate location of Just A Nut before being taken.

The logbook was dry, well kept and even though many people had signed it, no clues to the disappearance had shown inside. There is though one lead of which the GeoPolice are following at this time but refuse to comment about.
I currently am at a total loss and can only hope that Just A Nut will be found soon. Was the travel bug muggled? TB Napped and to be held for ransom? Only time will tell, for now I can only hope it will be dropped soon... Into another cache that is...
Stay Tuned...

Friday, November 28, 2008

HooHaa TB Racer Cartoon - Week 6

This week's episode has "Quilt" sitting in a Lock 'N Lock box somewhere in New Jersey. P.J. originated the HooHaa Race and has travelled over 100 miles so far.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

GeoSnippits - Logging GeoCoins and TBs Tutorial

The latest and greatest GeoSnippits episode is now out on You Tube.

I frequently get asked by newer Geocaching members how Geocoins and Travel bugs work. Where do you log them, who own's them after you find them and other interesting questions. I try to answer these questions in my GeoSnippits video.

You can see this video and all the rest of the GeoSnippits tutorials on my You Tube Channel. Go to You Tube and put headhardhat or GeoSnippits in the search or click below. Much more videos to come so check back often.

Get The Latest From HeadHardHat's Blogs

GeoCache: I'm NOT Obsessed... Right?
HeadHardHat's Ingenious Cache Inventor

Monday, November 24, 2008

What Can A GPS Do For Me?

We all hate the feeling of driving for an extended period of time in any given direction that we are not entirely sure is the right way. Not completely lost and yet not exactly sure either can create a very uncomfortable feeling. Especially when driving alone this can be down right scary depending on your situation or location. For me I would normally have three different maps and directions with me so I can feel fairly secure where I was going but throw in an unexpected detour and that panic feeling can set in quick. Good Times? I think not. For some asking directions is not a problem, for others it is a matter of pride. We won't even bring up when your spouse or significant other is beside you....yikes.

Fortunately those aggravating days are now a thing of the past for both passengers and the driver. Modern necessity has provided us with GPS devices to help us on our way. GPS stands for Global Positioning System which is nothing more than a bunch of satellites in orbit around our planet that send down a signal for a GPS device to read and understand. The device usually has a map of which you can tell where you are. Then the device reads the signal from the satellites and figures out exactly where you are on the map. It can be so accurate that the difference is only a few feet. So as you move to where ever you want to go from one place to another it will show your exact position on the map.

People often ask me if someone else can “see” where they are because of the GPS and my answer is no. The majority of GPS devices are receiver only which means they get the signal from the satellites but do not transmit a signal. So big brother is not watching over you. There are however transmitters for sale that do send a signal out for just that purpose but again you have to special order it. In fact for GeoCachers, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts that type of locator can be a real life saver. One of our biggest fears is to be off trail in a woods or mountain terrain and have something bad happen. How would people know where you are? So one person's big brother is anothers angel from above.

Now that we are starting to realize that having a GPS device is a pretty good thing lets dig a little deeper and ask ourselves, “What can a GPS do for me?
Let's keep with the basics in this article. There are many different functions that are available to just about everybody but if you do not know how they can be helpful to you what good are they?

Let's look at the initial usability.
  • General Location and Searches
  • Walking/Biking/Hiking
  • Geocaching/Advanced Outdoors Activities
  • Driving in a Car/Boat/Plane
Keep in mind that many modern GPS devices can have multiple functions that overlaps so some may be good for more than just the functions described below.

General Location and Searches – Now a days many phones come with GPS technology built right in and there are several FREE applications that can fill your needs without costing you a dime. What? Free? Did I mention that those satellites I talked about before have been payed by you – Joe Taxpayer? Yeppers, the US government has been using it for years but gave permission to you and me back in the early 2000s. So the cost of using those satellites is nadda, nothing, zippo. So if your GPS phone can run applications like Google Maps, Y! Maps and other freebies it costs you nothing to use the GPS functions.

Getting back to the point. Why would a phone GPS be good for you? If you are driving around town and suddenly need to find the closest gas station, fast food, or shopping center then this is the gadget for you. The device will tell you where you are and all you have to do is search for the place you want to go. It will not only give you multiple choices to decide from but how far away it is and step by step directions to get there. This is great if you need this convenience only once in a while. If you are constantly needing guidance to go from one spot to another there are better options.

Walking/Biking/Hiking – If you are the type of individual who likes to take walks in the park or do light biking or hiking on trails then you might be interested in a GPS watch. Why? I know from past experience that on many park trails they criss cross all over the place and even though you are in a relatively save environment it is sometimes easy to get turned around. There are quite a few GPS watches that track your path as you go. Then the pointer shows where you are on that route. When going back to your car or starting point you simply look down at your watch to see if you turn left, right or go straight. There are no complex maps per say but having your exact route shown in some form can be a great comfort. On the more advanced GPS devices this “tracking” ability is built right in but if you want something portable and it fills your needs this is the way to go.

Geocaching/Advanced Outdoors Activities – Without getting too technical I want to break the following GPS usability into two types. They are almost identical except for How and Where you use them. If you really like the outdoors and enjoy boating on lake, biking, hiking the woods, climbing mountain trails or into geocaching then a more rugged hand held GPS is for you. You want to use a hand held because it is just that, something you want to hold in your hand and can easily go in a pocket or backpack when not used. They are all very portable and many models out today are waterproof, durable and have a good antenna when under trees or hilly areas. Just an FYI to remember, good clear line of site to the sky gives you the best satellite receptions. Many times tree cover, tall buildings or hilly ares can give GPS interference and should be a factor when deciding what GPS is best for you. That will be another future article I promise.

Driving in a Car/Boat/Plane – As stated above the next type of GPS has many of the same functionality that you can find in the hand held models. Many come with very in depth maps and nice useful extras. These bad boys can stick to your dashboard, windshield or now a days fit right into the dashboard of your car. They are not waterproof nor drop proof but they have much larger screen displays which is great when driving. A car mounted GPS usually has large fully utilized maps and their POI or “Point Of Interest” selections are much more vast. This means you have more choices of stores, parks, cool places, addresses, etc. to choose from. The more modern GPS units now receive real time information like current traffic conditions and accident reports. Want to know which station has the cheapest gas, no problem. Need the fastest route to the hospital, can do. Mounted GPS devices are true powerhouses but should be in-car only.

Yes, yes I know what you are thinking. In my day people could go from sea to shining sea without all these new fangled gadgets. Couldn't agree with you more and we still can. We don't necessarily need to have mobile phones, computers, and GPS devices to get from point A to B, but let me ask you this. Doesn't the piece of mind of having the ability to know exactly where you are and how to get to any other destination bring you a sense of better security? I know for me I am no longer limited to my own reservations of driving somewhere. I now have a new freedom of saying “Lets go!”, no matter where I am and I no longer have to ask strangers for directions. That makes it worth it in my book.

Friday, November 21, 2008

HooHaa TB Race Cartoon - Week Five

Yes the latest and greatest in the HooHaa TB Race Cartoon Series.

This episode puts Gunny's Electric Bug and HeadHardHat's Just a Nut in an ammo box waiting to actually start the Race. Nerves are really starting to twitch now that Easy Flyer is on it's way.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

That Will Be Two FTFs This Morning Thank You

Well lessee here, we start off with a beautiful crisp fall day in Oxford, North Carolina. I am about four miles from work and currently have a huge smile on my face. How come? Clean Sheets!

No I am not talking about the kind you pull over your head when the alarm goes off. Though that is always nice, no, I am talking about geocache log sheets. When no one has found the cache and you are the First To Find it. We call them FTFs and for some it is better than a cup of coffee from the excitement they generate.
For me it is the anticipation of the hunt and the possible reward that gets me going. When a new cache is published it is common knowledge and everyone knows it. The early bird really gets the worm in this case. It all depends on who is closest and has the most ambition. For many FTFs are a badge of honor which allows bragging rights. I am definitely one of those cachers. Some try to pooh-pooh FTFs and say they do not mean anything but for me it is all part of the game and I like winning! I have talked to many a cacher who has driven 50-60 miles for a FTF. Of course that was before the gasoline prices went through the roof, but that is another post.

Anyhoo, I was not only able to get one FTF today but two. This double burst of geocaching goodness were nice finds in semi wooded areas. Both were relatively close to the road and did not require too much bushwacking which was great. I did have to go to work afterwards. Both were small sized and nicely placed. I don't want to give too many details because there are readers that will be finding these caches soon enough. I don't want to spoil their fun. Good Luck all and it is so nice to see even more caches being placed in the Oxford area. I know they keep me hopping.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

HooHaa TB Race Update: P.J.'s Quilt Covers Second Place

Well in a surprising change of pace our very own P.J. who came up with the HooHaa Travel Bug Race has now moved into second place. Apparently some action was required after recent rumors that the soft and cuddly "Quilt" just wasn't made of the right fluff. This left him in stitches and forced the move to sew up this race. We will have to wait a see if Quilt can continue to move it's fat quarters at a winning pace.

For all the information about the HooHaa TB Race including the latest standings, race cartoons and more, hurry on down to the bottom right of this blog.

Monday, November 17, 2008

GeoSnippits Mystery - Puzzle Cache Footnotes

(Mutant Mantis TB Sighting)

I had such a good time yesterday shooting and editing my latest GeoSnippits episode about Mystery and Puzzle caches. One of the first realizations while putting it together was the amount of information available to create it. When you start out thinking "wow, how am I going to fill out five minutes on this?"and end up with "wow, how can I do this in only ten minutes?"

I started out by doing some research and asking information from the people who know, geocachers. One of the first things I wanted to know was how much geocachers liked or disliked mystery caches. The results were rather interesting:

  • 28% Felt that they would go out of their way to find a mystery/puzzle cache
  • 10% Like mystery/puzzle caches as much as traditional caches
  • 55% Thought that they would do a few mystery/puzzle caches a year
  • 07% Completely ignore mystery/puzzle caches as too much effort

This meant that over half of the geocachers polled would go for a mystery/puzzle cache but only a few times a year. This would explain why the amount of traffic for that type of cache is reduced when you check out the logs. In fact on both forums a rather heated debate ensued.

On one side are the geocachers that love mystery/puzzle caches. They live to unpuzzle the puzzles and will put in whatever time and effort to do so. Quite a few posts told of how they use these type caches on rainy days to fill the time and as the number of resolutions pile up enough they will then go out and well, resolve them.

The other side of the coin was actually the most vocal but according to the above statistics is the smaller percentile, go figure. One post after another describes how mystery/puzzle caches are not even part of the equation. They are ignored as if plagued and to be avoided at all cost. Many have stated the amount of time and effort is too much for a smiley. Who wants to spend the wasted time figuring out math problems, solving letter sequences or heaven forbid decode a double super secret handshake message. Nay they say.... Nay!

If the coin somehow landed on it side it would represent the geocacher who sits on the fence when it comes to mystery caches. To peak their interest into actually going out and resolving a cache requires a special balance. The puzzle cannot be too difficult to resolve and yet have enough of a challenge to make it interesting. Too complicated - forget it, takes too long - nope, down right evil - there's plenty of traditionals out there to find. Though if you can manage a good combination of interest, placement and a feeling of "a game in the game" geocachers will beat down the door to figure it out.

It really is a shame that I ran out of time so quick but the show must go on. I am glad to be able to put out this footnote. I personally want to thank all the people who contributed to either the forum discussions and the poll (NCGO and Geocaching.com). It is greatly appreciated.

You can see my GeoSnippits episodes by going to YouTube and putting GeoSnippits or Headhardhat in the search field.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

GeoSnippits - Geocaching For Mystery - Puzzle Caches

The latest in the GeoSnippits Series is on YouTube. This episode of GeoSnippits hosted by HeadHardHat gives you four caches in one. We take a road trip to find out about Mystery and Puzzle geocaches. Our first adventure takes you to two traditional caches which give you the complete coordinates to the secret mystery cache. Then on to an unusual puzzle cache indeed. Follow HeadHardHat as he gives useful information to all about the game, hobby, obsession of geocaching.

If you would like to see more about Geocaching and all the GeoSnippits episodes, please go here: YouTube GeoSnippits Channel

Saturday, November 15, 2008

HooHaa TB Race Cartoon - Week Four

It looks like all this time stuck at the Starting Line is beginning to take it's toll on the HooHaa TB Racers. Heck poor Gunny's TB was discovered yesterday. That means someone picked it up, marked down the number and put it back in it's hidey hole. I would be a bit frustrated too... Sorry Gunny.

Buying A Camera For A Twelve Year Old Girl

My daughter Geoness by far is the better half of our Geocaching team. When we are out on the trail we have a serious competition for who finds the cache first. You see, that gives the winner instant bragging rights and the honor of signing the logbook first. She's currently twelve and has no problem telling people that she is a “pre-teen”. I still am not sure if that is to show the importance of her age or is a subliminal warning of her possible moods and just to deal with it. Ahhh, teenagers.

One of her joys while caching is to photograph our outdoor adventures. Sometimes it is to document an event we attended and others to take good photos for my blogs. Over time I have noticed that photography has really become a hobby for her and she has asked for a camera of her own when Christmas comes around. Personally, I couldn’t think of a better way of encouraging her new love for the lens.

With that being said, I sat down and considered what would the best camera be for her. There were several key factors I would like to share so let’s start with the basics.

Budget - My budget is the first consideration. I would love to say that I could drop $500 into a child’s hands and say “here go for it”, ummm, not happening. I would say something closer to $100 for a good camera would be more my speed and if I can get it on sale, all the better. Let’s face it with the economy the way it is I can use all the help I can get.

Next, Usability – No gizmo of any kind is worth the amount of wasted time it takes for the user to figure out how use it. In other words if you are getting frustrated just trying to turn the dang thing on you may have purchased something that will most likely be going back to the store or collecting dust in a corner somewhere. It’s for a twelve year old girl that wouldn’t know an F-Stop if it came up and said “hi”. So Point and Shoot is the way to go which means everything is as automatic as possible. Now the worse she is going to have to worry about is getting the camera strap caught in the shot.

Finally, Durability – When you Geocache you are outside. As in outdoors where there are ponds, lakes, streams, mud and rain. My daughter tries her best to not bang around the equipment but I have caught her many times unknowingly swinging the camera by the strap. Electronics and sudden jolts do not go well together and come to think of it, neither does moisture. So whatever I decide on has to be resistant to wetness and some attempt at surviving a drop or six.

As for the rest of the considerations like extra features of the camera itself; they are pretty much secondary. With a lower end camera the best you are going to get is a modest megapixel strength which is the overall clarity of the picture itself, a fair flash and a standard battery. Drop in a 2 gig memory card and the battery is going to run out before you run out of memory. The average would be about 160 photos which should be more than enough for a day’s worth of geocaching.

I can also see a big benefit for getting a digital camera is there is no film. So Geoness can make all the not-so-good shots she wants. It doesn’t cost anything like the old 35mm days when you bought 24 exposures per roll and you get what you get. Now all you do is hook up the USB cable to the computer, download them and you’re done. It’s that easy.

So even though I have not figured out exactly which camera I am going to get, I think this will be the best game plan to my final conclusion. After considering my budget, camera usability, durability and I am sure the color will have something to do with it. It should be a pretty quick decision and she will be out in the woods taking photos for our next computer background or blog article in no time.

WITW Is Pete The Parrot: ¿Cómo es el tiempo Pete?

Well Pete is a much happier and warmer Parrot. He is a bit tired after travelling from Sweden but the warm sunshine from Islas Baleares, Spain is putting him in much more of a party animal spirit. This very cool travel bug has now gone over the 9000 mile mark and still going strong. Let's see how much party action he can get into before moving on to his next destination.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's A Mystery I Tell Ya - A Real Puzzler

My next GeoSnippits episode came in as a suggestion from one of our regular subscribers. It describes Mystery/Puzzle caches and how the Geocaching community feels about them. Let me tell you if anything it opened up a broad spectrum of conversation on two of my favorite forums. I also posted a poll and you may be surprised as to the results.

The episode will actually take you on a three stage mystery series and will also show a couple other puzzle caches along the way. It should be packed with helpful information for all.

If the weather holds out I should have it shot by the end of the weekend then edited and on YouTube shortly after. Keep an eye on my blog and or my Geocaching Channel on YouTube. Just put in headhardhat and subscribe to get all the upcoming episodes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Darkness Is Interfering With My Cache Time

When I started caching in the early month's of this year the days were getting longer. Even though I did not have a whole lot of time in the morning there was always time in the evening to hit a few quick caches before the sun dipped below the horizon. Now after Daylight Savings Time has kicked in I go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. How does one find our weekday smileys? Sure the first thing that comes to mind is caching during our lunch hours. That's all fine and good when you have caches available but I cleared out all the caches near work months ago. Now What?

Night Caching? I have hunted in the dark before and quite frankly I have a lot to learn. First if it is an urban cache I really feel uncomfortable using a flashlight. That whole burglar thing just doesn't feel right. Sure I have my geocaching speech for the boys in blue but why put myself in that position? There is always hunting in the woods but again, you never know who or what you can run into after dark. What do you think?

Now with winter approaching the weather is becoming a factor. Sure in the Piedmont of North Carolina I do not need my parka and knee high boots but we do get ice storms. It may not be blizzard weather here but it is a factor. All in all it looks like for the next few months I will be doing the majority of my caching on the holidays and weekends.

If you have suggestions for winter and night time caches, send them in. We will post for all to see.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Day Full of Caching and Natural Beauty

This was a fun day.

I was able to spend several hours with my daughter geocaching and we were able to take some pretty nice photos during our adventures.

We started out with a preplanned CacheRaid of about thirty caches to try and find. With the majority of them in the Cary, NC area I figured they would most likely be micros and skirt hides. Not exactly what I would consider a day full of fun but maybe we could go for a personal best in total finds for the day. Boy was I in for a treat. What Daughter Geoness and I ended up doing is a lot of walks in the woods and on some down right scenic greenways. All in all, we hiked through three different parks, around several lakes and on some of the above stated greenways. The sun was out and temps in the mid 60s. You could not ask for better weather with the smells of Fall and sound of the leaves under your feet was quite invigorating. As we went we must have put at least five or six miles under our belt today. During one of our strolls off trail I found it quite humorous when we came up to a large log and I stopped both of us. Looking over at my daughter I asked, "What do we do now?" There would be this heavy sign, "I know dad, bang your stick on the log. Step on the log. Look around, THEN walk over." We are in snake country and it was important to me for Geoness to know the rules of the woods. We have not seen many snakes yet but I don't want to take chances with safety. A geocaching friend of ours was bitten by a copperhead this year and I do not want us to duplicate his accident. So I do what my dad did with me and teach the ways of the woods.

By the time we were finished only two caches were micros and the majority were of the regular size. Which meant a lot of tupperware, lock 'n lock and our personal favorite ammo boxes. We traded items in many of them where Geoness would get a trinket or bauble and I gave some of my signature first aid kits. I never seem to get any goodies anymore which is no big deal but the look on my daughter's eyes as she plunges into a cache is priceless.

The totals for today were a respectable eleven finds and two DNFs (Did Not Find). One of said DNFs I read later was because the previous cacher dropped said cache down a large hole... Ahhh well, them's the breaks. To sum up we made many a memory and laughed all afternoon. You really can't beat that type of family fun and we can't wait for next weekend to do it again.

Below are some of the more nature like photos we took today. I hope you enjoy them and come back real soon for more of our tales of geocaching.

Visit This Photo Album Here:

Sweet Roses in November

While geocaching in Cary, North Carolina on one the many greenways and these were right there for the smelling. Did I mention that it is November?

Walking the Trails in Crabtree Park

Another phone post from my Blackberry.

Having fun walking the nature trails in Crabtree Park, Cary, NC. Found this cache in a gnome hole at the base of an old oak tree. Nice half mile walk. The real funny part was the initial choice of direction when we started. Geoness said left and I said go right and off we went.. Sure enough our half mile hike in the woods would have only been about 15o feet if we went left first. We both laughed when we realized it but then agreed that the hike was so very nice.

Cache raid in Cary, NC

Sending in this post from my blackberry.

Having a great Fall day geocaching with daughter Geoness. Three for three so far. Did a lot more walking in wooded areas than I originally thought. Wonder if that will continue all day.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

HooHaa TB Race Cartoon - Week Three

Well some are out of the starting gate, some are stuck in the gate and some are starting to kick some geocaching you know what. This week's cartoon focuses on the current leader and a new TB racer that just joined our ranks. Enjoy..

You can see all of HHH's TB cartoons in the lower right section of the blog.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

HooHaa TB Race Late Entry Joins The Fun

We have a late entry in the world famous HooHaa TB Race. The owner TripCyclone has joined our gaggle of merry travellers in what should be the smackdown of smackdown travel bug races. Even with the handicap of starting two weeks late in the race. Trip's TB "Easy Flyer" still has a chance to converse with my TB "Just a Nut" and GolfGunny's "Electric Bug" because we haven't been able to get out of the starting gate yet... It's bad enough that Go_Man's "GoGo T.Urtle" left yesterday. Sheez! Guess I am going to have to put up a flare or something... Ah well all part of the fun.

Plenty of smackdown to come for the next year. Check out all the HooHaa TB Race stats in the bottom right of my blog.

To get all the juicy blow by blow coverage be sure to RSS subscribe to this "Obsessed" blog or get our posts via email! Either way we have you covered.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fall Colors Finally Start Popping

It is the first week in November and just now the Fall colors are starting to really pop. This photo was taken in Oxford, NC from the parking lot where I work. The colors seem much more subdued this year. Last year with the severity of the drought and lack of wind caused a spectacular three week color fest. This year is nothing to sneeze at either.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I CAN Therefore I VOTE....

I am not going to get up onto my soapbox except for one thing...

If you are an American citizen get out there and be heard - VOTE. It is a gift, a privilege, given to us by those who served, fought and died for this country and it's people. Don't waste a chance to be part of history. This is a " I remember when " moment, be a part of it!


Monday, November 3, 2008

Mission: Geocache Adoption Cleanup - Durham, NC

I just couldn't stand it anymore, this was something I just had to get done. Earlier in the year I adopted a host of geocaches, over 60 if I remember correctly. A little at a time I have visited each of those caches and cleaned, restocked or down right replaced them. It was a mission of love for the sport, hobby, obsession of geocaching. I am a believer that the cache owner is responsible for the continual condition of a cache. Those words for many are controversial but I do not care. For many believe it is up to the geocaching community to keep trade items stocked and caches in good shape. Though that is a really great concept we all know it is not enough and I will add trade items to empty caches regardless if they are mine or not. So people should not be surprised if I take a sense of pride by keeping my caches stocked. Did I mention I have about 100 of them? No I am not rich nor can I afford loads of goodies but the Dollar Store is my friend and I do fill them with trading items when I can. Sue me for caring... but I digress. So where was I? Oh yes, my mission to update my caches in Durham, NC.

I took Daughter Geoness with me on one of the prettiest fall days I have seen so far. The sun was out and not a cloud in the sky. The temps were in the low to mid 70s and if we were not at peak when it came to the Autumn leaves we were darn close. I was really looking forward to this time with my daughter. Some times it really is not about the numbers. If we found five or fifty caches the time together talking and walking down wooded paths is priceless to me. She isn't going to stay 12 forever and before she runs off with some gooey eyed or is that doughy eyed dude I am getting my quality time in... There I go digressing again.. Mission, focus on mission...

The forty-five minute drive to Durham was very scenic and before we knew it the game was a foot. We started out of the gate in pretty good shape and was able to find our first three caches in great condition. On number four we searched for about ten minutes and by prereading the logs I already knew that the cache was most likely gone. This one was a micro and I found a devious spot to put the replacement. The coords were the same so this one was an easy fix. Moving on to the next cache I was amazed by the size and condition of the container. It was huge and in great shape from what I could see. Geoness was so proud to find it and gleefully signed the log first which is the rule we have between us. The one who find it gets bragging and signing rights and we both love a little competition when it comes to caching.

The day continued and we ended up replacing three more caches but had an absolute riot finding and logging the rest. Once the main objective was complete it was time to do some cache raids. As usual we started out with the goal of cleaning out Durham but once we started walking the trails we just gabbed and took our time. There was one park which was full of color and falling leaves. That and a rather large dinosaur. Yup a bronto from what I figured. Standing right there watching people as they walked by. I thought it quite curious as Geoness and I walked and there coming out of the trees was Big B. Without missing a beat I tell my daughter oh look a dinosaur and she goes, "yeah Dad, saw it about half a mile back." I have to get my glasses checked cuz it startled the beejeepers out of me.

Well as with many Autumn days this one went way too quickly and the sun was making a hasty retreat which made it time to head home. During the ride back we recollected the places and things we had seen during the day and it brought a smile to my face. Daughter Geoness must have seen me grinning and asked why I was smiling. "Just enjoying the company", I said, but I digress.

Here are some of our fall color photos of the day. Most Daughter Geoness took.