Blog Template Musings about Geocaching: 2006-08-20

Musings about Geocaching

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Cache #1900 was a Multi in beautiful Balboa Park

A Geocaching friend, "lostguy", had a rare weekday off. It was wonderful to join him on a day of caching. Since it was going to be way too hot for any hiking, we headed to Balboa Park where I planned to get one of the Multi-caches there as my 1900th cache.

We started out both "Katy-did" and "Exciting Balboa Park" on the west side of the Laurel Street bridge near this great statue of Kate Sessions, who was instrumental in getting the park established back in the 1800's.

After crossing over the bridge, we walked all over the park. I revisted my Waymark for "El Cid on Horseback" to take a better picture of this incredible bronze statue.

As we walked around the Park, "lostguy" did all the math for the two Multis, and for that, I was appreciative. He put the waypoints for "Exciting Balboa Park" in his GPSr, and I put the waypoints for "Katy-did" in my GPSr, so we wouldn't have to backtrack as we looked for the waypoints and all the other caches in the park I had already found.

It was fun to watch "lostguy" search for the caches when I knew where they were. I didn't let him struggle too long at the tricky Pathfinder & Snoopy caches and would offer some "Hot/Cold" hints if he needed them. In the park, because of all the trees, the GPSr reception can be erratic.

On our way to the Traditional cache near the Marston House, I saw this cute little guy.

At the very end of the day, we revisited the "Yellow Bird" Puzzle cache because I really thought "lostguy" would enjoy the way Snake & Rooster used something in the park to make a fun cache for us.

I enjoyed the log he posted for that one:
3:50pm. Out caching w/Miragee today and all day she talked about how she wanted me to visit this puzzle cache because it was such a cute idea and fun. I resisted right up until the end. Once she had my arm wrenched up way behind my back, I relented and attempted this cache. Thanks for your creativity and to Miragee for her insistence. My arm will eventually return to it's normal range of motion.

I guess he really didn't want to go to that cache . . .

The cache that turned out to be #1900 for me was Gecko Dad's "Katy-did." Gecko Dad has been caching for several years and all the caches he has placed are well-thought-out and often physically challenging, such as those I found on Bell Bluff.

I had a great time and before the day was over, we had walked more than four miles. This is what our tracks looked like after all our walking around that portion of the huge city park:

Monday, August 21, 2006

A new cacher here sure knows how to put on an Event

Sunday afternoon I drove into La Mesa to the Coffee Cache and Dash Event put on by redstareg, who is a new cacher. I met him the night we hiked up El Cajon mountain, and then had a great time with him and GoBolts! in San Diego about 10 days ago. I knew he was a nice guy, but didn't know he had such great organizational skills.

The Event was held at a little coffee shop on La Mesa Blvd and our group packed the place, the outside patio, and the sidewalk area, until many of us headed off in search of some caches located nearby. It was a competion to see who could get to a final cache first, and second, and third.

The team of GoBolts!, Duncan!, Chuy!, and Tigger's Mango was first and SlabyFam, rscaensd and PassingWind were in the Second to Find group. The prizes, which included a FTF of $60 cash, a FTF Certificate, and a Geocaching T-shirt, STF of $20 cash, a One-Year subscription to Backpacker Magazine, and a T-shirt, and TTF of $20 cash and a T-shirt were definitely worth compteting for, but our group which included "lostguy", duganrm, The Fat Cats, Blonds Run Amuck, and Let's Look Over Thayer, as well as others at different times, was just out for a stroll through town.

The entire Event experience was really fun. My congratulations to redstareg for doing such a great job, as well as to Robyn of Team Reid who also helped on the scene.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

After the Event, I teamed up with duganrm again (he likes the fact that my GPSr can auto-route us through town to the urban caches while his can't . . . ). We caught up with Devhead and The Dillon Gang and found a few caches together. Then Devhead left and once again it was duganrm, The Dillon Gang, and me. We cleaned up some of my DNFs from the other day, caches I wouldn't have returned to on my own, and took The Dillon Gang to the neat Pathfinder and Snoopy caches in Briercrest Park. I think one of those was his 2000th cache.

Before the night was over, I had accrued 20 more "smilies" and was only six away from my 1900-cache Milestone. Who said numbers don't matter . . .

Sunday, August 20, 2006

A little update to my rudimentary GSAK tutorial

I created this little tutorial several months ago, but thought I would put it back near the "top" of the blog in case others will find it useful.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

When I downloaded and installed GSAK (Geocaching Swiss Army Knife) to my PC last year, I'll be the very first to admit I was stumped. I had never worked with a database program before, so when I clicked the icon for the "Filter" on the Toolbar

I was overwhelmed with all the options:

Some kind people in the GSAK thread in the Groundspeak Forums helped me as I learned to set different kinds of filters. These same people have moved over to the Technical Support Forum Clyde set up on his own site. They are very willing to help new people grasp the power of this great program.

So, after opening a new Pocket Query of 500 caches in GSAK, the first filter I use is a default filter that finds all the caches with two DNFs by the last cachers.

If I have time, I look at the list and check out the caches on the website. If I don't have time, I just right click and from that menu, choose to delete all the waypoints in that filter.

I don't want to spend time looking for a cache two or more cachers 
haven't been able to find . . . but that's just me . . .

After that, I choose a center point for that day's adventure. If I am heading for a specific cache, I'll use that one as the center point.

Since my Vista C has a 500-waypoint limit, I have to do a distance filter because I have more than 1000 caches in my Default GSAK database.

A good distance for my area might be a circle of 15 miles. That will reduce the number of caches in my list to a number well under 500, so I can Delete, by Icon, the "Geocaches" and "Geocaches Found" from the GPSr (but keep other waypoints on it that I want, such as my "Home", the endpoint for a Multi I haven't had a chance to finish, or a Puzzle cache location I might need) before sending the new cache waypoints to it.

At this point, if I have time and want to see where the waypoints are in Mapsource, I use the File/Export/Mapsource menu to Export those waypoints in the Mapsource .gdb format.

After I have filtered the caches to an under-500-waypoint list, and looked at them on the map, if I added that step, I select the GPS menu item and choose "Send waypoints."

I use GSAK's "Smart Name" feature to give me the Name and Size of the cache, along with the Type, the Difficulty and Terrain:

%smart=6 %con1%typ1%dif1%ter1

In the "Waypoint Description" blank of that "Send to GPSr" dialogue box, I also use special tags to get a portion of the cache name as well as a portion of the hint:

%Name=10 %hint

Once the waypoints have been sent to the GPSr, I use the File/Export menu to create a .pdb file for my Palm M500.

After opening my Palm Software and making sure the file I just created is ready to be installed to the card on my Palm, I HotSync the Palm.

To simplify these previous tasks, I finally customized my toolbar in GSAK to put the icons for Cachemate, Mapsource, .gpx files, and GPSr functions on it so I don't have to navigate the menu.

GSAK is a very sophisticated, complicated program that can do much more than I have learned to do with it. There are power users out there who have created Macros that can do what I do manually. However, even this way, it doesn't take very long. I can be ready to go on my caching adventure, with up-to-date information for the caches in the area I am heading towards, fewer than five minutes after new, 500-cache PQs arrive in my InBox.

Forty-one caches in one day . . . Wheeuu!

The Dillon Gang was nearing his 2000 Cache Milestone, so he wanted to find a lot of caches in one day. We started out in Balboa Park to do a wonderfully-fun Puzzle cache, "Yellow Bird" by Snake and Rooster, which incorporates objects in that part of the park, such as this panel.

After we found that cache, we went on to another Multi on the Frisbee Golf course. I'm not sure we were supposed to be there, as non-players, and we had to dodge Frisbees as we walked around the busy course. I was sure glad The Dillon Gang had played before because he knew the general direction of the different waypoints.

From there, we headed south to new territory. Most of the caches the three of us found during the rest of the day were forgettable micros, except for one particularly bad one we wish we could forget.

I had a lot of fun however, and all those caches sure got me closer to another Milestone quickly . . .

After duganrm and I dropped The Dillon Gang off, we checked on a cache of mine which had gone missing. Richard was kind to donate a magnetic keyholder and a blank log, so I was able to replace it. From there, we saw the trail for The Dillon Gang's "River Walk" cache and that was a perfect cache to do at the end of a mostly-driving day. It was a nice walk along a quiet trail that parallels the San Diego River.

Just as the sun was going down, duganrm and I made it to a cache he had been wanting to find for a while. It features something I can waymark as a "Ginormous Everyday Object."

As usual, when I am with duganrm, we continue caching long into the night. After getting some Mexican food at a little place in the Clairemont area, we cached all the way back to La Mesa. The last caches of the day were two more great ones by Pathfinder and Snoopy. We had a hard time finding the last, well-cammoed container, but duganrm wouldn't give up until he found it.

It was a great day, and it was nice to end it by finding mostly caches that took us to worthwhile locations where we saw new things as well as great creativity in cache hides and cammo techniques.


Web Counters
Office Max Coupon