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Saturday, January 31, 2009

That Would Be A 81MM Mortar Carry Tube, Alex.

One of my recent GeoSnippits tutorial videos called "GeoSnippits Geocache Navigator Tutorial Part Two" had an unusual geocache of which I found. It was a large tube that was two feet long, three inches in diameter with a large cap on the top and a nice handle on the sides. After the video aired on You Tube I received several posts and emails asking what this strange tube was. Quite frankly I didn't know.

At first I looked over the internet, called several Army Surplus stores and still couldn't find an accurate photograph or name of the plastic object. Then today I stopped by my local Army Surplus store and there it was. The very item I was searching for. I again asked the store attendent what it was and they did not know but they said they had a few more in the corner and one had a label on it.

It said that it was a Cartridge for an 81MM Mortar M889. There was a bunch of category stuff most likely warehouse information but there it was. A transport cartridge for a mortar.
I purchased one for $7.00 and will most likely use it for a unique cache. Below are some shots to show you the inside and with the cap off.

Friday, January 30, 2009

I Have Got To Get Night Vision Goggles

Another glorious day in North Carolina. It was quite cool out and the air hung still and had that electric snap to it that immediately told you there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Yes I was on my way to work but I also was on a mission. A mission to get me an FTF (First To Find). Late last night a geocache that was sorta-kinda-mostly on my way to work had published. I thought to myself that no one would go for this this late and I would be able to swoop in first thing. Best laid plans...

As I drove to the geocache site with the idea of arriving with just enough morning daylight that I would not need a flashlight. The cache was in a wooded area but not too crazy that I needed extra equipment. Driving to where the coords said I would be closest was when I hit my first bump in the road, there was no where to park. Semi-busy street and no side streets for half a mile either way. Well that sucks. Then I noticed just up the street a bunch of construction workers parked on the road. Hmmm, I wonder. Rolling down my window I asked a kindly looking construction worker if I could park in front of the five or six trucks and cars. He said that it wouldn't be a problem because they had to work across the street at their work site. I thanked him and quickly parked.

The geocache was about 400 feet away down a steep ten foot slope from the sidewalk to the base of the hill. Not bad enough that I thought "no way" yet steep enough that if not careful I would have sounded something like a VW Bug rolling sideways down a ski slope. So I grabbed a tree here and pulled a branch there until safe on the woodsie floor. I used Geocache Navigator on my BlackBerry just to be sure if no one else may have found the cache yet. There was a log entry but the cacher stated a DNF! This surprised me that someone actually was here earlier than me but maybe it was too dark out at the time to find it. So I continued thinking the FTF was still there for the taking.

In short order I found the hiding spot which was a three foot high gnome hole embedded into a huge oak tree. I banged around the area enough to be sure that something besides Winnie the Pooh wasn't sleeping inside. Then carefully I pulled away the camouflage and saw the cache way in the back. There was enough wood in the hiding place that I could not see everything as clearly as I would like. Then taking a deep breath I reached in while chanting the mantra "Don't get bit.. Don't get bit.." Luck smiled upon me and I had the clean Lock 'n Lock box in my hand.

"Yes!", I said as I opened the lid.

I had read in the description that the FTF prize was a cool LED flashlight. I moved the rather large logbook that was sitting on top of everything out of the way and searched. Wait a minute.. Where was the flashlight? Oh NO!

Sure enough after opening the logbook there was one entry sitting there and quite obviously mocking me. A cacher who not only found the cache at one minute after midnight was kind enough to note it in the log. "$#&^!#$%!#$", says I. Signing the log I too noted my time of 7:24am and phrased "Missed it by that much". Oh well, you can't win them all.

So the moral of the story is kids... Be sure to hide away that extra cash in poker winnings 'cuz daddy's getting a pair of night vision goggles.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

HooHaa TB Race - EMC's Chocolate Chip Cookie Sighting

Something strange is happening near Mt. Rainier, Washington. No one is allowed near the area but it is reported of strange music echoing from the dense mountain forest It is said the HooHaa TB Racer EMC's Chocolate Chip Cookie may be involved. Details to be disclosed when available.

You can see all of Headhardhat's HooHaa TB Race Cartoons at the bottom right of his blog.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Nice Geocache Find in Gnome Hole

On lunch break in Henderson, NC. Found this little guy snug and happy in an ivy draped gnome hole. There is something a little scary about them. You never know what you are going to find be it a snake, geocache or a pot of gold.

In the south and other areas in the east coast homesteads kept their most prized gold and monies in gnome holes and other secret spots in the woods. Especially during war time. There have been reports of found treasure... Yarrr.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Geocache Navigator version 2.0.5 Review by HeadHardHat

In case you haven't noticed, I'm a bit obsessed when it comes to all things geocaching. No really, I am and one of the many things that pushes my geek button is all the gadgets, gizmos and applications out there designed to make my life as a geocacher easier. So when I found out about an application that works on my GPS enabled Blackberry phone and made specifically for geocaching I couldn't wait to see what it was all about. This review is going to give you an honest perspective from a true laymen who would be me. I will not pull any punches and will give you the straight facts as I see them. When you are done reading this and after seeing the application in action in my two videos you should have a great all around knowledge of how it works and how well it works. So lets begin.

Some First Time Thoughts Before We Start

For the record I own a BlackBerry Curve 8310 and my cell phone service provider is AT&T.

Before you even start with all of this, there are a few things you need to consider. Besides the obvious like do you have the correct phone and/or phone service for this application. The BIGGER question is do you have unlimited Internet access? If the answer is no, you need to adjust your phone plan. Geocache Navigator connects through your phone the same way your phone browser works. Which means you are pulling a boat load of information back and forth over the Internet. If you only have the five meg of data plan you are going to be hurting after a very short time. Don't say I didn't warn you... You can find out all the compatible phones and phone services for Geocache Navigator here. You can look if you want but come right back. We'll wait.

Getting Geocache Navigator On My BlackBerry

The process of getting the application onto my BlackBerry was quick, easy and painless. Hard to believe in this age of making things complicated the whole thing took a few minutes and it was up and running. You start off by going to http://www.geocachenavigator.com/ and purchase the usage fee of about $5.99US a month depending on your phone carrier. Once the formalities are done you will download the application directly onto your phone. It will need to know your Geocaching.com user id so it knows who you are. If you do not have one I highly recommend going to http://www.geocaching.com/ and sign yourself up first. Many geocachers already have an account so it should not be a big deal but I thought I would mention it.

Once you have Geocache Navigator installed and configured to you it is time to hit the trails. Again the whole process took me a matter of minutes to complete.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your GPSs

This type of paperless geocaching is very exciting to almost all of us. With this application you technically do not need maps, geocache listings, geocache pages, log books or any other pieces of paper. It is all done online and in real time. If you watch my GeoSnippits Tutorial Videos Part One and Part Two, you will see about 95% of all the functionality involved so I am just going to do a quick fly by here so you can get a good feel for the application.

When you start up Geocache Navigator you observe a simple menu which include inventive and easy ways of pulling up a nearby cache. Your top two choices are:
  • Quick Cache - Many times geocachers are out doing things of everyday life. Going to the store, taking the kids to practice, dropping your spouse to the gym or salon. It is then that you suddenly realize you have some time on your hands. Let's Go Geocaching! Quick Cache pulls up for you the ten nearest geocaches from where you are standing. Very handy and I personally use this functionality a lot.

  • Find Caches - Maybe you have a specific geocache you are looking for or of a specific type or size. Find Caches gives you the option just as if you were on Geocaching.com to select any cache anywhere. Depending on the query you choose up to 10 caches matching that search will become available.

Those two options are what you are going to use the most. Your other menu options are:

  • Settings - Which allows you some simple configurabilty for the application.
  • Enter Manually - Which allows you to put any legal coordinate into the device just like a standard GPS unit.
  • Getting Started - Want to learn some basics about geocaching in general. This pulls up all you will need to get you started. A great feature for beginners.
  • Quit - Takes you out of the application.
A Geocaching Opportunity

Lets take Geocache Navigator through the paces once so you can see it in action. So for the sake of argument we start with you dropping your significant other at an out of town location. Because you are not in your normal stomping grounds your regular GPS unit does not have any nearby geocache waypoints stored in it. Basically a big paper weight at this point but now you have Geocache Navigator on your phone. Woot, let's get some geocaches.

You start up the application which takes a minute or so for the GPS to kick in. This happens with any GPS unit out there. You click on Quick Caches and watch the application connect with Geocaching.com and pull up a list of nearby possible finds. Great there is a bunch within a couple of miles. You select one that looks good to you. Let's roll.

The first of four main tabs open up to you and the default is the Compass tab. Here you get a digital compass pointing you in the right direction. Followed by information like your current speed, heading, altitude and distance to cache. That's great but you need to drive the 1.56 miles to the cache and are not familiar with the area. No problem. Simply select the Map tab and you are greeted with a red arrow (you) and a red dot (the cache). By clicking the menu you have a choice of three different types of map backgrounds at your disposal.

They are:

  • Street Maps - Which when chosen works just like any map based GPS with all the current streets shown for you to get to the cache.
  • Topo Maps - This works just like the big boy GPS units and provide topographical information around you. If you are in any kind of changing terrain this is a godsend to let you know like if you are on the right side of the river, cliff, swamp, etc.
  • Aerial Photos - Ever want Google Earth in your pocket? Well essentially now you do and it does come in handy when trying to figure out a trail head or other key information that only a satellite photograph can provide.
HHH Note - If I had one suggestion for the maps it would be the ability to have the map center on me the user and have the map scroll underneath. It gets a bit tedious using the 2,4,6,8 buttons to scroll unless you start using it only a short distance from the cache.

Get Out And Start Walking
You are now close enough to the geocache so you park your automobile and check out exactly what you are looking for. Time for the real details and to get them you select the Details tab. Here you get all the description information just as if you were on Geocaching.com. Name of geocache, waypoint, coords, difficulty and all the details you need. If you get stuck there is even a menu option that will tell you a hint or you can browse through the recent logs. It's all there.

Now that you are properly educated about your cache you flip back to the Compass tab. The cache is about 120 feet away so it will quickly guide you in the right direction. When you finally get to about 35 feet away it's time for the Radar! Click the Radar tab and you see what looks like a big bullseye. There is a big red dot in the center (the cache) and a red arrow (you). The object is simple. Get the arrow to touch the dot. When you get there you are at ground zero and where the geocache is supposed to be. There is a handy-dandy readout that tells you exactly how far away you are from the geocache and it counts down quickly once you are heading in the right direction.

Found It !!!

Well now, aren't you the happy cacher? You found that large ammo box hidden so well in that big tree log. Never would have known if it wasn't for Geocache Navigator getting you there. The best is yet to come. After you sign your log book and put everything back in place you no longer have to write down what you just did. Simply click menu and you are presented with the choices of Mark as Found or Mark as Not Found. You of course choose Mark as Found and GeoCache Navigator logs on Geocaching.com an entry for that cache. You can go online later and fill in all the cool details but at least you don't have to worry about loosing your finds anymore.

That's it. Geocache Navigator has all the features a geocacher needs to get from point A to point B and then some. I found the combination of the BlackBerry phone and the application to be a really handy tool for some well needed occasions of geocaching. I do have a few things that I think you should consider before buying.
  1. There is a cost for using this application. Be it by month or year it can cost you some added expense. Not saying it's not worth the functionality but just to keep in mind.
  2. You need unlimited Internet access for this to work and not declare bankruptcy.
  3. You are taking a very expensive cell phone out into terrain that you have to be mindful of dropping into hard, wet, muddy surfaces. Standard GPS units usually can be dropped into water or onto rough surfaces and bounce right back. BlackBerrys - err, no. So if you mind having your $500 phone in the rain or something else bad happening. Watch where and when you use it for geocaching.
When it comes to pure functionality at a great price I say Geocache Navigator can give those big boy GPS units a run for their money. It is great for spur of the moment geocaching when standard GPS units do not have their coordinates loaded and ready to go. I found it very useful when FTF (First To Find) situations come up. Again new cache nearby, my regular GPS doesn't have the new coords because the cache just published. Boom it pulls it off of Geocaching.com and you are on your way to signing clean sheets. Fantastic.

This application is extremely easy to setup and use. If you are familiar with GPS units this will take zero learning curve. If you are not familiar with GPS units it will take you next to zero time in learning curve. My advice is if you take geocaching to the serious and/or obsessed level this is a must have. Your next big decision though will be going for that next geocache on the list or go back and pick up your significant other you left at the store? Hmmmm.

If you want to see Geocache Navigator in action I highly recommend you watch one of our GeoSnippits Tutorial where you will discover with HeadHardHat three different geocaches using this amazing application.

GeoSnippits Geocache Navigator Tutorial Part One

GeoSnippits Geocache Navigator Tutorial Part Two

You can also visit HeadHardHat's Geocaching Blog:
Geocache: I'm NOT Obsessed... Right?

and finally you can see all of the GeoSnippits Geocaching Tutorial Vidoes

GeoSnippits Geocaching Tutorial Videos Has New Home

That's right. I couldn't stand it anymore and I bought the domain http://www.geosnippits.com/. I really have been having a such a blast making these fun videos and the responses have been outstanding. In fact, I am having a hard time keeping up with the suggestions so getting the domain just made good sense.

Since I am still going to use YouTube as the focal video point. My You Tube Channel HeadHardHat's Geocaching Channel will remain the same but the new website is going to have so much more. Not only will there be all the great tutorial videos but there will be geocaching contests, challenges and content not shown for the general public. Kind of a secret stash of geocaching hints, tips and other goodies you can only find on GeoSnippits.com.

So bookmark the new URL and check back often for geocaching news, updates and the latest and greatest in geocaching tutorial videos.

Nano - Nano, Shuzbott and Stuff

For a quick lunch time grab this was a great day. One particular geocache on my way to work has plagued me for almost a year now. This little bugger geocache has caused me more Did Not Finds than a guy trying to seek Paris Hilton's virginity... Just popped in my head don't ask...

After way more attempts than I will ever admit I went out today during lunch and took another stab. Then as if by magic there it was, just sitting there. Now I know I have looked there before. I know I have and yet, BINGO - Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding, there it was. How weird is that? Could I have been so obsessed with trying to find this nano that my mind blocked it when I looked in that area? Dunno but it is signed, resealed and put back in place.

Really does make me think that some caches do have mini cloaking devices and only reveal themselves when they want. It would explain a lot...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Put This In Your Burrito And Smoke It!!!

Okay this story has nothing to do with geocaching but is a real keeper and one of which I will not forget in a long time. It started out so innocent where my wife, daughter and I were invited to a surprise birthday party for my neighbor and good friend Al. I feel truly blessed because I live in one of my neighborhood's cul-de-sacs. You know when the street suddenly ends and you do a quick circle around to head back from whence you came? Usually there are six or seven houses that follow next to each other all pointing to the center of the circle. Well all of those seven houses have fantastic neighbors and we get together for one heck of a lot of food, libations, poker and good old fashioned laugh till your jaw hurts fun.

As usual the party was going great and Al blew out his birthday candles (cannot disclose the amount but a fire extinguisher was nearby) on his birthday cake. Jokingly he exclaimed, "No Girl?", as if one could come out of the sheet cake, I mean really... But next thing we know Steve comes out of the room looking like Madonna on a bad hair day and put on a show that brought down the house. Everyone laughed so hard we couldn't stand it. Just shows how much fun we have when we get together. Great times.

After we settled down the food started appearing everywhere and we started digging in. The other cool thing about my neighbors is ALL of the wives can cook.. I mean cook with a capital "C". We were indulging in some home made Spanish-based cooking including burritos. I fill up my plate with all sorts of delights and I ask "where's the hot sauce?". Steve now de-boobittized agrees and we looked around. A bottle was placed in front of us by our friend Dick who happens to be quite the expert on home growing chilies and making of hot sauces.

"Do you like heat?", he says with a slight smile.

"Sure the hotter the better", echo Steve and myself.

"You sure?", repeats Dick. Now any normal person would have caught on right away and questioned the situation, but after a couple of cold ones and all the testosterone being tossed around we were ripe for catastrophe. "Try that" as he points to the small bottle before us.

It was called Black Mamba. The bottle was so tiny and the coloring of the sauce was not scary in appearance. Sure it had the words "Venomous Hot Sauce" and "Extreme Heat" on the label but that was just clever marketing.... Right?

Before I go any further let me tell you right off the bat that when the words "Extreme Heat" are on the label take heed. I mean seriously, take fricken heed. So being all macho and stuff, Steve and I pour this stuff on top of our burritos, give a salute to each other and dig in..... Nothing. Bit of smokey flavor and 30 more seconds later... nada.

We look at each other and then to Dick who is completely at a loss of words. Another 30 seconds go by and we take a few more bites. Not a dang, wait a minute... a slight tingle in the back of my throat starts ups. Kind of a feeling like you just swallowed smoke from a nearby campfire. More of an annoyance really, Hold on. A small ember of heat begins to form on the back of my tongue and it's hot like you tasted some fresh Wasabi at your nearby Sushi Bar. On a scale of 1 to 10 I would say it was at a solid 6 with just enough heat to.... Holy Cow! Somebody just fanned that little red ember into a white hot charcoal and it brought twelve of it's briquette buddies with him.

RED ALERT!!! In one swoop I apparently turned seven different shades of red, my eyes started popping out of my head, I involuntarily started tearing and my hands clenched so hard that it had bent the fork in my hand without realizing it. The experience can only be described as extreme searing white hot pain followed by a demanding that someone put me out of my misery before my tongue completely flame broils my Medula Umblingada!!!

That has been without a doubt the most unbearable pain I have ever had in my mouth without being physically set on fire. I could only imagine what was going through Steve's mind but since he no longer could talk and had tuned white as ghost I figured that he was fighting his own demons right now and apparently they were winning...

It took me about an hour before the "heat" settled down enough for me to actually go back and enjoy the rest of the party. It took a bit longer for Steve but at least he didn't go into antiphalactic shock through the process. I will not even go into the fun I had the day later but the intestinal distress among other flaming orifice was enough to remind me that I will never again partake in such searing activities... at least until next time.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Finally Another DNF Found

Phew, another DNF off my list today. Tried this one four times and a PAF to finally get it. It was a whole this or that side of the fence sort of thing. Doh, okay I thought the property was private...

This is a great example that the most direct path to a geocache is not necessarily the correct one. Let me divulge the meanings of my statement. The geocache shown above stated in the description that there was indeed patch of private property nearby and to beware. I parked about 100 feet from ground zero in what I ASSUMED to be the correct spot. Sure enough there was a wire fence near the cache site. With some heavy trees overhead and ground zero appearing to be only a few feet on the other side of the fence I ASSUMED it was just off a few feet and the micro I was looking for was somewhere on the fence itself.. Do you know the Benny Hill-ism about the word assume? That it can make an ASS out of U and ME.... Well...

I scoured the place and found nothing.. Few weeks later I repeated the perplexing ponderance. Another week again, the same thing. Put out the PAF in an email which was sent back to me and then months went by before I tried again. Only this time it was different and with the subtle hint (like - Hey HHH drive down a 1/4 of a mile and drive to this spot.. note lines and arrows) I parked on the correct spot and walked to ground zero.. yes, yes it was on the other side of the fence and still not on private property. After a quick walk and thrusting myself through some really rosebush thick Charlie Brown kite eating tree like thorn bushes I eventually made it to the cache and my prize. Hokey - Smokes...

So again a little hint from the HeadHardHat. If you are out and about geocaching and your GPS is not getting the job done no matter how hard you try. Come back around from a different angle. You will be surprised how the correct pathways will open up to you and your new found smiley...

That Time of Year To Cleanup Your Geocaches

Yeah the new year has come and I am noticing that several of my caches have shown to be needing repair. Either the log books have been wet due to the snow or rain, several have just plain come up missing or they just need a boost of new swag to fill them back up. Either way I feel it is just good policy to make sure your caches are in fine working order and worthy of a find to others.

Today I was at the outer ridge of my territory and had noticed a couple of caches that I was either told the velcro was worn or the host was recently hit by a car and I should check them out, that sort of stuff. So on my lunch hour I validated that two of them were indeed in place and people are just not finding them, one was several yards from where it should be and put back in place and one was just gone. Not sure if it was moved or taken, though it was in a very non-muggle area.

I replaced the missing cache and then topped it all off by stopping by my geocache hotel and filled what I could back up with swag. Love that dollar store. I guess I am going to have to go through my other 94 caches to see who needs what. It might take a while but if I can provide quality geocaches to the finders. I did my job right.

How is your caches?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Awesome Spun Cast Geocoin

If you are a regular reader of my blog you know how much I love geocoins. Getting one each month is just like having Christmas morning to me. When I know the time is near I restlessly wander to the mailbox the second I get home from work and this year, well Santa really delivered for December. Yeah I know it's now mid January but the coin was delayed until now and it was well worth the wait.

I have been a member of the GeoCoinClub for over almost a year now and the December 2008 coin was supposed to be a real first of a kind collectors piece. They were not kidding.

It is 9mm in thickness and made of pewter and red enamel. The 3D sides are edged in such a way to look like three circular saw blades stacked on each other. It feels awesome when you hold it and really is something to see.

Look below:

Here is a shot of the back:

Bring Us Your Geocaching Videos - New Geocaching Video Group

Hey all, HeadHardHat here...

We just started up a You Tube Video Group and all geocachers are welcome. Bring us your geocaching videos and link or upload them so other geocachers can enjoy them. This can be a really nice place to show off your stuff. No prereqs or judgements, good, bad and ugly we want them all!

Geocaching R US

Bring 'em on!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

GeoSnippits - EasyGPS Loading Geocache Waypoints Into Etrex GPS

I spend quite a bit of my forum time in the "Getting Started" threads. It allows me to help out newer geocachers with any questions that may come up. The idea to do my latest GeoSnippits video came from one of these threads. The geocacher wanted to know if there was an inexpensive yet easier way of loading .GPX files into their Etrex GPS. A little light bulb went off and I thought to myself, "I could do a tutorial on that one." Since I already owned an Etrex Vista already this would be a snap.

So I whipped it out (sorry, just saw Blazing Saddles last night) and took some good photos of the Garmin workhorse in many different stages of loading and unloading of geocache waypoints.

Then I remembered the geocacher wanting an inexpensive application to load waypoints into the Etrex. Normally I would use GSAK but there was another useful application that is also FREE. It's name is EasyGPX by Topografix and you can get a copy at http://www.easygps.com/. For an application with a free price tag it does the job and a bit more. So here was the perfect solution.

With all the pieces in place I commenced to doin' my video'n and voice-over'n then the next thing you know: Tada! GeoSnippits Tutorial:

You can see all my GeoSnippits Geocaching Video Tutorials either

or my new GeoSnippits Webpage: http://www.geosnippits.com/

If you have any comments or suggestions about GeoSnippits you can email me

Get The Latest From HeadHardHat's Blogs

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

Sunday, January 18, 2009

HooHaa TB Race Cartoon - Kiss My Cache Finds Nirvana in Oregon

HooHaa TB Racer "Kiss My Cache Peace Luv and Travel Bugs!" has taken a rather lengthy trip (pun intended) to a rather unexpected place - Portland, Oregon. This apparently has not even slowed her down because she is on the move again to unknown places. For the moment we join her in a backpack that is holding an unusual herbal substance and we ain't talking oregano.

You can find all the HooHaa TB Race Cartoons just below all the race statistics on HHH's blog.

Go here to see the entire series: http://headhardhat-geocache.blogspot.com/

Friday, January 16, 2009

Cheezed Me Right OFF

Yeah - Yeah, I know these things happen but this was a real first for me. One of my fave geocaches Kidz Mealz Toyz was officially muggled recently. It must have just happened because it was just found a couple of days ago.

Now don't get me wrong, I have around 100 geocaches out there and I have replaced a couple from controlled burnings and the occasional 35mm being broken or lost, no biggie. This one though was made specifically for kids. It is off a fairly travelled road with no side walks and is well hidden next to a large tree and covered by a flat rock, wood and nearby foliage.

The hide was a large lock 'n lock box filled with unopened kids meal toys from the local restaurants. I came by today for my once a month checkup and refill only to be surprised to see only the lid sitting perfectly upright in it's hiding spot but the rest was gone. I think the finder knew what they were doing because the words "Do Not Remove" was clearly on the cover.

Sure this happens and I will get over it. In fact it has already been replaced. Still cheezes me off what some people do just to be cruel.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Why DNFs Are So Important In GeoCaching

Yesterday was beautiful out with all that bright sunshine yet chilly temps. Here in Raleigh, NC we have had a week or so of cold and gloomy days. Not the norm and when I left from work to sparkling blue and that big bright shiny thing in the sky I just had to try for one geocache.

One in particular has been on my radar all last year. It was an exit further than I usually travel when going home and was next to a lake. "Why not?", I thought to myself. The sun this time of year is out just a tad longer so I would have plenty of time to find this regular sized cache.
I was rather giddy when I took my walking stick from my car trunk. This was a nice 300 foot walk in the woods and I could see the setting sun reflecting off the lake. At the very least I can get a couple of good photos. In no time I was at ground zero and poking everywhere with my walking stick. Then I poked some more, even more and more after that.... nothing. I spiralled out from GZ until I had about 45 feet all away around - nada. Checked every possible hole, log, hill, tree, bush and still nothing. With the sun now close to setting the wind had kicked up and it was getting dark. "Well shoot", guess it was time to call it a day.
I hate marking DNFs or "Did Not Finds" at Geocaching.com but I still do. Lets face it, nobody wants to say, "hey look at me, I failed!!!". Many geocachers do not log their missed finds for just that reason but that does not help anybody. I don't care how many finds you have or have not found. Nobody checks your stats that closely and then ridicules you because of them. In fact, DNFs have a very important purpose. I went back and checked the latest logs for the cache and sure enough there were half a dozen logged DNFs for the sight. Now if I had done that in the first place I wouldn't have even tried but this just goes to show you that this cache is either really buried somewhere or just plain gone. Having a bunch of DNF logs is a clue to the geocache owner that maybe they better check and see if it is still there, but they won't know that unless geocachers log their DNFs.
So that was what I did. I logged the DNF, uploaded a couple of my photos that I had taken and then flagged the cache for maintenance. This way I know the owner is aware of the possible condition of the cache. Hopefully I can find it after the all fixed is sounded.
See ya on the trails!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Stuck Between A Rock and a Soft Place

It's always the easy ones that drive me nutz. Here I am at a 2/2 geocache park and grab just a cuss'n and a swear'n. It started easy enough. A new geocache popped up on my radar just a few miles from where I work. Somebody had already picked up the FTF over the weekend so I wasn't in a major rush this time. This would be a terrific lunch break grab or so I thought.

The drive to the cache site area was quick and as I stepped out of the car the cooler air let me know that a cold front was making it's way into the Piedmont. Not a problem, though I almost had to zipper my coat, almost. Firing up my phone I went into Geocaching Navigator and started towards ground zero. I was at a treeline with the median of the road next to it. The cache appeared to be slightly to the left which meant walking into the woods instead of the nice cut grass. No problem it was only sprinkled with waist high briers. How bad could it be? By sixty feet in and within 10 feet of the cache my legs felt like I was the loser of a fourway bobcat fight. Either way I was near ground zero and THAT was when I did my fatal mistake. I saw a logical spot for the cache instead of verifying the coords on the GPS. Needless to say I spent the next 15 minutes swallowed by a huge holly tree (more tree than bush) getting scratched and torn up all over the place. Did I mention I was looking for a bison tube? Oh the fun of it all.

When I reached the 15 minute mark which meant I was no longer having any "fun". I decided to come in from another angle. This time I was out of the woods and onto the grass. Sure enough the GPS pointed this time more towards a huge boulder. Naw, couldn't be. I walk closer towards it with that sinking feeling that the brier patch drag through may not have been necessary. Sure enough... @!$%^!@^!@!!! Right smack in the upper middle of the boulder was a stone painted bison tube wedged in a hole. The whole thing should have taken a couple of minutes and have been a lot less painful. What can I say all part of the adventure of geocaching...

Oh and if you are wondering about what the soft place that was mentioned in the title? Have you looked at a photo of me lately?

GeoSnippits How To Cut and Paste HTML To Your Geocache Profile

One of the reasons I enjoy making GeoSnippits Video Tutorials is to help other fellow cachers. I am recieving an ever increasing flow of emails and posts filled with kind words and thanks. That really lets me know that I am giving back to the sport, game, obsession of geocaching. This tutorial comes from a couple of Geocaching forums I frequent and that has been asked several times. Hope it provides value and choices you may not have thought about.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

HooHaa TB Race: Tonka_Boy Bumped Out Of Third Place By Kiss My Cache

In a surprising move our very own HooHaa TB Race: Kiss My Cache's Peace Luv and Travel Bugs!, jumped from last place and zero miles to Third Place. The HooHaa TB Race is moving right along with no signs of stopping.

No comment from Tonka_Boy as yet but with all the ongoing and upcoming snow and bitterly freezing cold it might be spring till we see or hear anything from him.

You can keep track of all the HooHaa TB Racers at the bottom right of HeadHardHat's Blog: GeoCache: I'm NOT Obsessed... Right? . There are also other links to HHH's Weekly HooHaa TB Racer Cartoons.

HooHaa TB Race Cartoon - Hick's World Gets Schooled

Hick's World has been sitting in the hands of a geocacher for months now.

Finally this weekend he was dropped in a geocache in California and has over 500 miles under it's belt. The interesting thing is that the cache it was placed in was constructed by 32 6th graders.

Oh what interesting experiences must be awaiting Hick's World...

You can see all of HeadHardHat's HooHaa TB Race Cartoons at the bottom right of this blog or visiting here.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Good Example of a FTF Geocache

Don't know why but I am still a little cheesed about that disgusting FTF I endured the other day (Ickiest FTF Ever). I wasn't sure how much until my experience today.

I think I have mentioned it before but if not I have a nice Blackberry Curve for my personal cell phone and yes before you even say it, I'm addicted to it. Like big time addicted to the point where I fully understand why they call it "crackberry". This I guess would make me a crackberry-head of sorts. Anyways on my phone of wonders is the ability to receive email notices when they arrive. In which came an alert that a geocache just published and was only three miles from my home. Hokey Smokes gotta boogey! So I jump into my cachemobile with teeth clenched, hands on the wheel and barrel down the road at no more than the posted speed limit. Damn you moral conscience.

A few minutes later I arrived at the cache area. There was no one around so I was free to enjoy the hunt and take my time. It was quiet and even though the winter sun was fading I took out my Blackberry, fired up Geocache Navigator and there without me having to load it was all the geocache information. I didn't have to load it from my PC, nor did I have to put the coordinates manually into my GPS. Just turn it on and go. I really love technology when it works.

Fortunately for me the geocache was only about 100 feet or so from where I parked. I did not really need to use the compass feature and went straight to the radar. This is a much more accurate and visual way of seeing where you are and where the cache is. Basically follow an arrow until it is over the dot representing the geocache. Pretty simple.

Nestled in between a clump of small pine trees was small plastic container cammied brown. A pretty quick find all in all and the coords where pretty much dead on. Sometimes it can be as far as 30 feet away which gives you a more difficult find. Not this one though.

I opened up the cache and examined the swag inside. New geocaches tend to have better swag and this was no exception. It had several really nice pens of which I traded for one of my first aid kits. I then did my favorite thing for a FTF. I was the first to sign it.. Ahh, clean sheets, nothing quite like being the first to find a geocache. Good Times...

So why was this FTF so much better than my other one? There are several reasons. First this geocache was put in a safe spot in which I did not have to worry about hunters in the area. This was a clean, safe open area without the issues of broken glass, torn metal, empty propane tanks and oh yeah rotting deer carcasses. A much better experience for the cacher which makes better and more appreciative loggings at geocaching.com.

So as usual I'm not letting out the details about the cache itself but I did want to say thank you to the geocacher who hid this fine cache and hopefully others will follow their example of thinking more about where you place a cache and how it effects those who hunt them. Kuddos.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ickiest FTF Ever!

Found the geocache but I may be scarred for life. This FTF may have been left with good intentions but it is a nasty place to hide it. I am not getting into the gory details but if I say six mostly decomposed deer, sharp glass and metal everywhere. You get the idea.

Even my FTF geocaching nemisis gave up on it yesterday because of the smell. Just goes to show you that just because you can place a geocache does not mean that you should.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Geocaching TB Photograph To Make You Smile

One of the cooler things about having a Geocache Travel Bug is how geocachers love to photograph them. Sometimes you receive a shot that shows when a geocacher really gets it and puts that extra thought into the picture. It really can make you smile when they do. Here's a good example.

Meet my extra special "Bill Engvall" tribute travel bug. In one of his routines, Bill describes an unusual animal known as the "DorkFish" and he has a really strong appetite for one thing: corndogs.

Geocacher Coresrlooking took Dorkfish on a nice 556.4mile ride but before they let him go they fed him.. Yep the kids made sure he had a nice helping of corndogs... How cool is that?

Thanks guys Dorkfish really appreciated it and so do we...

You can keep up with Dorkfish as he continues his adventures by watching his travel bug page here:


New GeoSnippits Video: Make Your Own Geocache With PVC Pipe

Hey all,

Just wanted to let you know that my latest GeoSnippits video just went live on YouTube. It gives step by step instructions on how to make a very clever water pipe geocache out of PVC. You can see this two parter either by going here:

or you can see all my GeoSnippits tutorials on YouTube itself by going here:


FYI - GeoSnippits is a series of tutorial videos exploring all aspects of Geocaching. Hosted by HeadHardHat who gives you his perspective about this fun, adventurous game, sport, obsession.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Year GeoAchievements and GeoBlunders

With the holiday season come and gone it is time to sit back for a moment and reflect on our geocaching experiences over the last year. How better to accomplish a well rounded perspective I asked our fellow geocachers at NCGO and Geocaching.com what they thought were their greatest achievements and blunders for the year. The results were rather interesting.


In respect to geocaching achievements the number one remark was the very fact that they discovered the game, sport, obsession of geocaching itself. For the people who started caching in 2008 this was the end all, beat all, best thing that happened for them. Amazing is it not how finding Tupperware in the woods can effect so many in such a positive way.

Next, were the personal goals achieved. We know the numbers are not the main focus of geocaching for most but the milestones we shoot for sure have their purpose. "I reached my goal of ### this year," was a popular quote. Also was the significance of the difficulty of the finds as well. Even with all the chest pounding the underlining theme beside the fact that a goal was achieved was the further showing of how much fun geocachers were having while geocaching with other friends and family. "I was out with so-and-so" or "my family and I spent the whole day caching here" was stated right with the numbers and achievements. The combination of personal best with the camaraderie of others makes geocaching so exciting.


Wellllllll, as blunders go I didn't get any that were all that terrible. I know personally having a good set of batteries in your GPS is a good idea, especially when tromping in the woods and hills of West Virginia is a REALLY good idea. Not to mention a good compass as backup, but I digress. The blunders have really focused over a couple of key elements of which I would like to share my observations. Like:

Poke BEFORE you reach. If you are not sure what is in the immediate surrounding area of a geocache before grabbing it.. Poke it with something, you never know what may be sleeping next or under it... Also, remember your basic geostuff before heading to the cache site. One of the most frequent statements was that the geocacher forgot a basic "thing" after leaving the car. Be it a writing utensil (my favorite - DOH!), flashlight, tweezers, compass, travel bug, swag swap item, etc. always remember your basics BEFORE you have to walk back, err, twice.

How about the suggestion of a good lariat loop for your cell phone, GPS or any other expensive droppable you may take with you? Realizing the need of a safety loop should be BEFORE and not after it has plunged to the bottom of a stream, pond, lake or cliff.

The rest of the blunders mostly fell under the category of common sense and personal safety. DO remember to tell someone where you are going geocaching, especially if you are going alone. DO NOT forget to set your parking break while on a steep hill. DO write down your finds so you don't forget the last eight you just found. DO NOT walk waist deep in a lush green patch of plants and not know they are actually poison ivy..... That sort of stuff...

So you see it has been a pretty good year for many of us. With our glorious achievements and glorious failures it's all part of this game, sport, obsession that we love so much. May 2009 be just as glorious or better than last year. Cheers!

If you have a GeoAchievement or GeoBlunder you would like to share. Please be sure and post it to this article.

Special thanks again to the forums at NCGO and Geocaching.com, also especially to the following geocachers:

StumpWater, Fraygirls, SanityEndsHere, Farb, nittanydave, sumajman, JamGuys, Snoogans, SgtSue, andGuest, Dinoprophet, m.austin, Buggheart, WatchDog2020, The Hipster, Harry Dolphin, mfamilee, KJcachers, EWSmith, TotemLake, Kit Fox, wavector, ImaMystic, Bergie Bunch, JohnnyVegas

Friday, January 2, 2009

HooHaa TB Race - A New Leader, A New Cartoon

Well the HooHaa TB Race is heating up. Which is great because most of the racers are freezing in the northern states. Today TB Racer Easy Flyer jumped to the lead with 8007.1 miles.

With Gunny's Electric Bug and GeoCats Racer not far behind plus rumors of Just A Nut on it's way to Europe. This HooHaa Travel Bug Race is starting to really take off.

Paperless Geocaching: A Video Tutorial To Go Green

It was not all that long ago I started straightening some of my "paperwork" from geocaching. It was several months worth and even with that short amount of time I had a stack several reams thick of maps, geocache pages and CacheRaids. I quickly realized that if this continued the pile of paper and ink would be amazingly huge in even a year or two. Was there a better way?

Fortunately the answer is "yes".

Many of the newer GPS units are now allowing geocachers the ability to retrieve geocache information directly from geocaching.com. This means you can read all the information instantly right over the Internet. They also have the functionality to "log" your finds directly into geocaching.com which cuts down on a lot of unnecessarily paperwork as well. This is a tremendous surge in the right direction but not everybody can afford the high end GPSs that do this. It is also not the complete solution we need. Many geocachers like to keep personal notes about our caches that should not be included in a standard log. For example, I would note something like:

"Took me 15 minutes to find this small grey and green colored cami lock n lock box. It was extremely well hidden inside the far end of a log right next to a large bolder. You had to remove the bark on the left side to actually see the cache."

This kind of information would be saved in a personal log book and saved in case someone else called asking for help usually referred to as a Phone A Friend. If we want to keep paperless, where can we store that kind of information?

So here's the deal, you want to go paperless. Great but you are going to need a couple of things. Most are either fairly inexpensive or down right free. Let's make a list and I will explain as we go.

First, you need to get a $30.00 membership at Geocaching.com. Most geocachers have this anyways and you may already but it is necessary to get the Pocket Queries and the geocache information.

Next, you are going to need a PALM PDA (Personal Digital Assistant). In the tutorials I use a PALM TX but there are several versions to choose from. You can learn more at http://www.palm.com/.

The two other applications you are going to need is GSAK, which loads onto your PC and stores all the Pocket Query information http://www.gsak.net/. Then finally Cachemate which is an application that stays on your PALM PDA which you take with you while geocaching http://www.smittyware.com/palm/cachemate/.
Below is a tutorial using two YouTube videos in which I created. They are included in an ever growing series known as GeoSnippits which explores and teaches about Geocaching.

Part One:

The first video goes over the initial basics of how to get the needed information from Geocaching.com. Then to take that information, get it onto your PC and into an application known as GSAK (Geocaching Swiss Army Knife).

Part Two:

The second video shows you how to export all that nice information from GSAK and put it onto your Palm PDA. Then we take a quick look at an application on your Palm called Cachemate which you can now read. Bye - bye printed cache papers.

Well I hope you found this tutorial into paperless geocaching informative. It may look like a lot to setup but once done you will find geocaching a whole lot more enjoyable and less paper intensive. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to email me directly or contact me through my blogs or YouTube videos.
***HHH - Please note that this is the best way that I have found to accomplish Paperless Geocaching. This by no means says this is the only way of accomplishing it. Find what works best for you and go for it...



Thursday, January 1, 2009

HooHaa TB Racer Just A Nut Venturing "Across The Pond"

I really, really, really hope this is a good thing. I received an email from geocaching.com about my HooHaa TB Racer: Just A Nut and that it has just been picked up from it's frigid hidey hole somewhere in Maryland. At first I was greatly relieved because this particular cache was located next to Calvert Cliffs State Park, near Bertha, Maryland. The cache does not get visited all that much and when it was recently dropped off the last cacher before the last was from sometime in October.

"Great", I thought. It would most likely sit in it's frozen slumbers till spring. Now with the news that it was on the move again I was very pleased. Except for one little detail. The cacher that found it started.... today. Now it may be in very capable hands and I have nothing to worry about. The cacher's profile gives no information except that he or she really likes geocaching.

The log states "Wow..what a fun game...this will be taken across the pond...think I'll help this wee tike get a few miles...". So I am assuming they are not talking the Chesapeake Bay and actually in fact Europe. We shall see. The new geocacher used the word "wee" so maybe Scotland? Either way I know that "Nut" shall have a grand adventure and if it is indeed going overseas that it enjoys the trip.