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   PastimesGeocaching


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From: Road Walker2/27/2009 8:33:35 AM
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Modern day scavenger hunters

By DIANE WETZEL
Published: Sunday, February 22, 2009 4:15 AM CST
The North Platte Telegraph

There is no known cure for the geocaching travel bug. All that can be done is to treat the symptoms. Symptoms include coveting your friend's new top-of-the line Global Positioning Systems and doing the Drunken Bee Dance.

Around 40 geocachers from across the state came to North Platte on Saturday, armed with their global positioning systems and crock-pots of their favorite chili for the annual West Central Nebraska Geocachers annual chili feed.

Geocaching is the 21st Century's equivalent of a scavenger hunt, where cachers use their GPS units to find hidden treasure.

Lisa Brauer became involved in geocaching through her daughter.

"It's a mixture of technology and creativity," Brauer said. "It's something different and a lot of fun."

Geocaching, which began when Dave Ulmer placed the first cache near Portland, Ore. on May 3, 2000, is global in scope. There are more than 800,000 active geocaches around the world, and 148 of those are in the North Platte area code.

"We've sent travel bugs and cache items to Antarctica and South Africa," said Cathy Weaver, founder of WCNG.

Weaver, University of Nebraska's Lincoln/McPherson County Extension Assistant, teaches classes in GPS and is an avid geocacher.

"As I got more and more into it, I started groups here and it took off like crazy," Weaver said. "There are a lot of us and we love it."

At Saturday's event, seven geocachers were presented with gold ammo boxes for logging 1,000 geocache finds. Bob Wilkinson was one of the recipients. Wilkinson and his wife Lynda have been geocaching together for five years.

"I had knee surgery in 2001 and couldn't work for a while," Wilkinson said. "A friend took me out geocaching with him one day and I thought it was a lot of fun. Now every place we go, we go geocaching."

Lyn Peters was presented with a special "geocoin" at Saturday's gathering for being the newest geocacher in the group. Peters went on her first geocaching hunt one week ago.

"I'm giving the coin to my son-in-law to take to Saudi Arabia with him," Peters said. "He will put it in a cache there and I can watch it travel around the world."

Most geocoins or travel bugs are marked with a serial number so they can be tracked.

A series of satellites orbiting the earth broadcast their position and GPS receivers triangulate those positions. Entering the coordinates of a cache into the GPS, cachers know how far away the cache is and what direction they need to go to find it.

Coordinates for caches are listed on geocaching Internet sites like www.geocaching.com.

Oh, and the Drunken Bee Dance? That's geocaching speak for the movements a geocacher makes while trying to follow the arrow on their GPS while searching for ground zero. Ground zero, often referred to as "GZ" is the point when the GPS says the geocacher has arrived at the cache.

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From: Road Walker2/28/2009 11:08:43 AM
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Just placed my first Geocache... link to the geocache (assuming it is approved by geocaching.com).

geocaching.com

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From: Road Walker4/5/2009 11:03:48 AM
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If anyone ever wanted to try geocaching, the iPhone app was just updated and it is phenomenal. It is now the best app I have an shows the capability of the iPhone better than any other.

Normally to geocache you need to look up the 'hides' on a computer at geocaching.com then print them. You then take the paper and your GPS (probably cost you $120) and refer back and forth. Lots on money and time.

With the iPhone you search for geocaches near you and it gives you a list. Or you can see them on a map as points around your present location. When you select one it draws a map to that location; when you get close you change to compass mode and it brings you to within ~5-15 feet. You can read the description and the hint and the recent logs on the iPhone.

Seriously better than anything ever for geocaching. Not a little better, a whole LOT better. The only compromise is that a dedicated GPS will get you a little closer and some work better with tree cover.

The app is $9.99, and worth every cent if you want to give geocaching a try one afternoon. Some people get seriously addicted to geocaching, some do it once in a while (me), and some think it's really, really stupid. To each his own.

But the iPhone was made for geocaching and geocaching was made for the iPhone. GPS, Internet, and maps all combine for a great experience well very executed by whoever wrote the app.

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From: Road Walker9/18/2009 8:41:04 AM
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Villages couples complete geocaching odyssey, taking them through all 50 states

By AZIA LI FORREST, DAILY SUN

Sunday, September 13, 2009 9:39 AM EDT

THE VILLAGES — Jim and Sally Smith traveled all over the country for about six weeks, seeking “Cache Across America” treasures.

Of course, the trip wasn’t primarily about the caches of small, inexpensive tokens, it was more about the excursion itself and the sights the Smiths saw along the way.

“It’s the journey,” Sally said.

The couple started out in Florida in May, eventually arriving in Anchorage, Alaska.

They then flew to Seattle and on to Nevada, looking for a specific geocache in all 50 states they visited.

Each cache contained a three-digit code; when they had all 50 codes, Jim and Sally could use a formula to determine the latitude and longitude of the final cache in Washington, D.C.




The couple will head to the nation’s capital at the end of September to

complete their odyssey.

Each state’s cache highlighted a clue of significance to that state.

“It’s very well thought out,” Sally said.

The Smiths didn’t drive or fly just anywhere, they said.

“We made a specific trip and made it our own,” Jim said.

The couple visited the 50 states in four trips — stopping to spend time with family and friends along the way.

In Hawaii, for example, they spent a week visiting friends while locating the cache in Honolulu.

No trip, including this one, is without a few bumps in the road.

In fact, they drove all the way to Texas only to be unable to locate the cache in the Lone Star State.

“We talked to the cache owner, describing where we were,” Jim said. “He said that’s where it was supposed to be.”

Wildlife preserves, Walt Disney’s childhood home in Missouri, and Natchitoches, La., where the 1989 film “Steel Magnolias” was filmed, were only a few of the sights they saw.

“Our daughter taught school there, so it was the perfect ending to our trip,” Jim said.

And the Village of Woodbury couple were not the only Villages residents daring enough to undertake the adventure.

Villagers Roger and Felicia Kuehne of the Village of Santo Domingo, finished the challenge just ahead of their friends the Smiths.

Like the Smiths, it took the Kuehnes about six weeks — and about 16,000 miles — to make it to Washington, D.C. but each had his or her favorite stops. Felicia loved South Dakota for its Terry Redlin Museum.

“His paintings are amazing,” she said.

For Roger, it was Montana — where hiking opportunities abound.

“It had a beautiful canyon and the Missouri River,” he said.

Although each couple knew the other was undertaking the challenge, there was no rivalry involved — even of a friendly nature. And even though the final “prize” may be only a smiley face on Geocaching.com or a token, both couples say the trip was worth it.

Another highlight, Jim said, was bonding with Sally.

“Sometimes, in The Villages, you get so busy,” he said. “It’s nice to spend a few weeks just spending time with your wife.”

For more information on geocaching, visit Geocaching.com.

Azia Li Forrest is a reporter with the Daily Sun. She can be reached at 753-1119, ext. 9069, or azia.forrest@thevillagesmedia.com.

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From: Road Walker2/1/2010 6:24:43 AM
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Just placed my 3rd hide... no FTF at this point but I'm sure that will happen by noon today!

geocaching.com

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From: Road Walker12/10/2010 9:40:57 AM
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Modern Treasure Hunts for the Whole Family
By DAVE CALDWELL
nytimes.com

NOT long after Morgan Lawless, now 13, took up geocaching last year, he asked his mother, Lisa, if she could drive him to a cache near their home in Mamaroneck, N.Y., and let him seek hidden treasure by following Google maps on his iPad Touch.

They found themselves in the parking lot of a suburban shopping center that she says she had probably been to hundreds of times. But the hunt did not end there. They walked around a bush to pinpoint the cache, and there, much to her surprise, was an 18th-century graveyard.

Then there was the time Morgan searched for a cache near Rye Playland, also in Westchester County. They wandered off the grounds of that amusement park and found a bird sanctuary, with egrets and roaming deer and a panorama of Long Island Sound.

“We never would have found the place if it weren’t for geocaching,” said Ms. Lawless, whose son has since acquired a more accurate global positioning system device to pursue his hobby.

It is a hobby that has developed only since May 2000, when President Bill Clinton announced that GPS technology, developed for the Department of Defense, would be available to the public, partly to pinpoint emergency locations. Almost immediately, geocaching sprang up as a high-tech treasure hunt among a few enthusiasts in search of not-very-valuable trinkets and more precious bragging rights.

It’s evolved since into a family- and budget-friendly adventure, a chance for Mom and Dad to do something with their children before being officially declared “uncool.” And the only equipment needed is something most parents and kids already have, a smartphone. GPS applications are available for about $10 for iPhones, BlackBerrys and Androids, enticing more people to try the hobby.

Such affordable technology, along with the growing number of “stashes” to find — 21,000 within 100 miles of Times Square — has made geocaching easier for Morgan Lawless and other youngsters. Most caches contain souvenir coins or trinkets of small value, like a toy plastic animal, and are placed by those already involved in geocaching.

Morgan remembers finding his first prize, which turned out to be not a prize but a bag filled with trash. He was disappointed, but not deterred. Now, he said, “my favorite part is probably being on the hunt — searching it and finding it.” In the year he has been participating, he figures he has found 150 caches and even come up with a few of his own.

“It’s become a very family-oriented, safe game,” said John Pritchard, an assistant principal at Grover Cleveland High School in Queens, who has been geocaching since 2003. That’s when he looked for a cache in Brooklyn as a way to help students prepare for the Science Olympiad.

He said the activity was particularly accessible in New York City, where it can easily be undertaken year round: a searcher just needs a GPS unit and a MetroCard, he said with a laugh. Additionally, the caches are easier to find in the fall and winter when there’s less foliage and fewer competing hunters.

“It’s really easy to get into,” said Brett Rogers, a financier who lives on the Upper West Side and has involved two of his three children. “Most children get the concepts almost immediately; you can hand them a GPS receiver, or a GPS cellphone, with a map, and they know what to do.”

Though adventurers can take part on their own through Web sites like geocaching.com, where stashes and coordinates are posted, formal events are also held by groups like the Metro New York Geocaching Society, and this year the Boy Scouts of America added a geocaching merit badge.

On a crisp, cool autumn Sunday morning, a geocaching event at West Hills County Park, in Suffolk County on Long Island, drew Morgan; his 10-year-old sister, Samantha; their parents; and about 100 other cachers, as they are known. The size of the group surprised the organizer, Marilyn MacGown of the New York society, who had expected about a third as many. They were all trying to discover the whereabouts of 15 caches.

Sean Murray and his 10-year-old son, Jack, from Manorville, N.Y., arrived for their very first geocache hunt armed with a smart phone and an iPad. Morgan, meanwhile, was using a more sophisticated $300 GPS unit.

“You can use an iPad or an iPhone, but it just doesn’t have the accuracy of a GPS device,” Morgan’s father, David, said. “But it is a good start.”

After they were given the coordinates, the rookie Murrays had trouble getting their bearings. To the rescue came the Lawlesses, patiently providing a tutorial that would result in Jack’s finding his first cache.

They entered the coordinates of the nearest and easiest cache. The group crossed a picket fence and came upon a trail used only minutes before by riders on horseback. (Nonplayers in the vicinity are called “muddles.”) Jack Murray suddenly stopped.

Caches are hidden, though not buried, and include at least one clue and sometimes more. The hint this time was “Triple.”

With only a little prompting, Jack found a tree just off the trail with three trunks. He searched the bottom of the tree and found a small plastic sandwich bag under some twigs. Inside were a few trinkets and a small paper logbook, which he signed (although many geocachers enter their finds on geocaching.com, which keeps statistics). If a cacher likes the trinket, he can take it and replace it with something else.

Jack’s prize was a silver plastic skull-and-crossbones ring. He held onto it and put a dollar bill, folded origami-style into a star, in the bag instead. Smiling, they moved on to the next cache.

The activity is as intense as the cacher makes it. Ms. MacGown, organizer of the Long Island hunt, has found 7,000 caches. Mr. Pritchard goes to events mostly to socialize. Mr. Rogers, the financier, likes coming up with more complex “puzzle” caches, but he also carries small toys, buttons and foreign coins because making trades is a big part of the fun for his children.

Morgan, meanwhile, has become more involved. He has his own cacher name, buzzy_cacher, and has been devising his own hunts, one with a James Bond theme and the latest one related to “Mission: Impossible.” And what did he want for Hanukkah? Geocaching gear, of course.

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