Saturday, January 31, 2009
Friday, January 30, 2009
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.
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
You can see all of Headhardhat's HooHaa TB Race Cartoons at the bottom right of his blog.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
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
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- You need unlimited Internet access for this to work and not declare bankruptcy.
- 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
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.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
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
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...
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
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.
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
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:
Sunday, January 18, 2009
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
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
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?
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
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
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
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
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.
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:
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
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.
Friday, January 2, 2009
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.
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?
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).
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.