VfAk48LJJrNcB1QnPEmU1bJ7a18 Geocache on: 2012


Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Need to Geocache - Suffering withdrawal!

Well, this fall has not been kind to our geocaching stats. First we all got terrible colds just when the weather turned cold so we were not feeling up to venturing outside. Then, the coughing caused back spasms for me and I was unable to walk, let alone drive. And finally, a few weeks ago I had surgery on my mouth which sapped the remaining energy I had in reserve. This all happened just as I took on a new position at school with more hours and responsibilities. So, geocaching had to take a backseat until I could get all our family routines back in order.

I started tonight with a bedtime walk for our dog Scooby. She was beside herself with excitement when she realized my intentions. We kept it short due to the temperature (-18 C) but it was exciting enough when we kept losing the ball in the snow. Scooby came home happy and tired.

Now I need to get our Christmas decorations up and some cards sent out. The littlest goat and I are heading to Vancouver for Christmas and I am hoping to do at least one cache while we are there just to get us going again.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

International Earth Cache Day

Today was International Earth Cache Day so, despite feeling lousy with a cold, I organized a quick single-stop geocaching trip for my family. There was an easy Earth cache located in a neighbourhood near us, so easy that we could see it as we drove up. Erratic Behaviour in Edgemont (GC1Q1KY) is one of several Glacial erratics that can be found in Calgary.

An erratic is a large rock that was deposited on top of a glacier as it moved past mountains. As the glacier melted or receded the rock was left behind, often miles from the mountain from which it originated. In Alberta we have a strip about 640 kilometres wide that runs from the Athabasca River Valley to the southern end of the province which contains thousands of rocks from tiny pebbles to large boulders left behind by a receding glacier. These rocks are thought to have originated from near Mount Edith Cavell in Jasper National Park.

 Another famous erratic that is the largest known glacial erratic in the world is found in Okotoks, just south of Calgary. Big Rock is a 15,000 ton quartzite boulder and is also an earthcache known as Where the Beer Got It's Name (GC2388). (The Big Rock Brewery in Alberta took its name from this rock.) 

To log an earth cache as found, instead of finding a hidden container,  you need to e-mail the cache owner the answers to questions they have posted in the description of the cache. Usually these questions help confirm that you were present at the cache site. For instance, the owner of an erratic cache might ask you to estimate the size of the rock or identify what minerals are in the rock.

Did you take part in International Earth cache Day? What interesting earth cache did you discover?


Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Geocaching in the Valley Ridge area of Calgary

I know I promised stories of the rest of our summer trip but I am interrupting the summer stories for a more current geocache adventure we recently went on.
As newish Calgarians, transplanted here 5 years ago from Vancouver, we are still getting to know Calgary and the surrounding area. We are always surprised and delighted to find a new hiking or walking park and finding the Valley Ridge trails was just that sort of place. Only about a 10 minute drive from our house, there is a small gravel parking lot with walking trails leading first to a play park and then to the woods.

 We skipped the play park on the way in as our dog was too excited and wanted to get on the trails. So we headed first for Creepy Ol' Tree cache (GCY1PG) in a southerly direction on a narrow trail with a steep slope down to a creek on our right and an uphill rise to our left. Scooby Doo was thrilled to be along on this adventure and was barreling up and down the hills and into the creek and back to us again. We were enjoying the walk, the trees, the birds and the lure of a new cache.

The littlest goat was holding the Garmin GPS and kept her eye on the compass, letting us know when it was time to veer off the trail and up the hill. It was a quick find to grab the cache and sign the log. Then we left a travel coin to continue its journey.

The next cache in this direction was going to be across the creek so we decided to head back toward the beginning of the trail and take the other trail paralleling the river to look for another cache. (GC1XYK1) For Brinleigh, kiddie cache #3 the cache hiding spot was marked quite well for kids to spot it and our little goat did just that. She was happy to make the find on her own and hide it well after. Since she was still in a good caching mood we decided to go for one more. (GC103TB) Howler was next down this trail and we were enjoying the fall colours and the river views so much that we were at it before we knew it. A little scrambling around just off the trail and we had this one in hand too.

There are several more caches in this area and we are definitely planning to return for more. But for today this was just the right amount of caching. Now it was time to stop at the park and let the littlest goat check out the playground equipment.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Watery caches and Rats

This is part two of our return trip from Vancouver to Calgary and when we left off we were in Merritt for the night.
After a quick complimentary breakfast at the motel, we checked the GPS and determined that there were two nearby caches that we wanted to try to find before leaving Merritt. The second one hinted that water would be required to obtain the log book so we made sure to fill a bottle for that purpose before setting out.

But first a simple drive up cache that proved to be literally a drive-up for us! The name of the cache was Refuel and the GPS was taking us to the parking lot of a grocery chain store so I drove my truck in and parked without watching the GPS. It was quite surprising then when the littlest goat turned on the GPS and discovered we had parked directly beside the cache. She hopped out of the truck, lifted up the object she thought was covering the cache and pulled out a RAT! Thank goodness it was a rubber rat container for the cache!

We always enjoy caches that are a little out of the ordinary, ones that the cache owner has taken some time to plan either a cool container or an interesting place to visit. The next cache we looked for was just that sort of cache. The container itself was fairly easy to find. But to get the log book out you needed to pour around 500 mL of water into the outer container to make the log container float to the top so you could grab it. Nice work! And a physics lesson built in!

After two successful cache discoveries, it was time to start driving again, heading North toward Kamloops. Allen kept checking the GPS for caches near the highway and eventually we came across a cluster of three that were off a small side logging road and located near a lake.

Aptly named Helmer Lake cache, Helmer Lake 2 and Helmer Lake 3, the first one took us to the remains of an old log cabin. And when we got out of the truck we saw the lake. A beautiful calm lake surrounded by trees with a handful of people camping around this hidden gem.   

 The other two caches were not far from the first and were quick pick-ups for us. We sat here and ate some sandwiches and enjoyed the view before getting back on the highway.

More cache stories tomorrow. Some rock scrambling, a coffin, and a rare bird sighting. Stay tuned!!

Monday, 3 September 2012

The Vancouver trip Part 2 - The Return

For our return trip to Calgary we allotted 4 days although many people do it in one long day and I usually do it in two. My husband flew out just for the road trip home and we wanted to take our time, visit points of interest and geocache along the way.

Our first stop was at Bridal Falls Golf Course for lunch with our friend who owns the course. The restaurant in the clubhouse serves amazing food. We started with a mango butternut squash soup that was just spicy enough to be flavourful but not enough to burn your tongue. Then we had salads accompanied by garlic toast drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette. I chose the green salad which had morsels of figs and feta cheese tossed in and was delicious. Alana and I shared a slice of lemon tart afterwards which was just the right finish for the meal. I highly recommend this restaurant as a lunch stop even if you don't golf but since this is a geocaching blog let me get back on track.

There were two caches within a short distance of the golf course. The nearest was Welcome to Bridal Falls (GC1H34K) which was at the end of a field just past the driving range and a quick, easy find. The second cache we went after was a BC Parks 100 cache called Bridal Veil Provincial Park (GC2Y1GD). This one took us into the woods of the Provincial Park where we did some stream hopping before finding the cache. We made it a lot harder than it was partly because the trees made it difficult for the GPS to pick up satellites. Eventually the old goat realized we were off track and doubled back to make the find.
The next destination on our "Stop and See One Day" list was the Othello Tunnels along the Coquihalla river. This is a series of no longer used railway tunnels that have become a pathway into history.

 The Kettle Valley Railway ran through these 5 tunnels built by Andrew McCullough in 1914. The tunnels are connected by trestles which have been converted to walkways. The views of the river from the path were beautiful and the tunnels were very cool to walk through.

 At the end of the tunnels and quite a good walk past the gate we located the hint that let us know we were nearing the cache. After some scrambling up and down rocks we finally found the cache.
Although we were deep in bear country we managed to complete this adventure without running into any grizzlies and that was a relief to me!

By the time we got back to my truck it was getting quite late so we had to make time to get to the town of Merritt for the night. I'll fill in the rest of our trip soon! If you get a chance to go to the Othello tunnels or if you are heading down the Coquihalla, this is a nice place to take a walk, stretch your legs and enjoy the views!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Summer trip to Vancouver and a little caching

I had hoped to reach 300 cache finds by the end of the summer (I know, its not about the numbers!!) but our recent trip to Vancouver and back  has blown that goal out of the water! We may be heading for 400 before the end of the year!!

My Mom came to Calgary for a visit at the beginning of August, flying out here on the 8th and spending a week joining in on our activities. Then my daughter and I packed up the truck and drove her back to Vancouver and stayed for our own visit. While we were in Vancouver we went to White Rock beach for an afternoon of playing in the sand, collecting pretty rocks (not to keep) and visiting with friends.

Imagine our surprise to find out that there was an earth cache just metres away from where we sat?! So we walked over to the White Rock (GCP6M8) and took photos of it and logged our find!

Like many Earthcaches, this is a glacial erratic that was left behind when the glaciers receded from this area. It has been painted white to aid in navigation as it can be seen for a long way out to sea and from satellite photos. Finding an Earthcaches always brings a geology/ecology/earth science lesson with it and makes geocaching that much more interesting. Usually to log an earth cache you need to answer some questions about what you see and take a photo of the cache to prove you were there since there isn't a log book.

The next day we went with some friends to the PNE (Pacific National Exhibition) for the day. We had two 8 year old girls along and spent most of our time following them from ride to ride as they tested their mettle on swinging, sliding, twisting, turning contraptions! By the smiles and shrieks, fun was the order of the day! After a quick bite for dinner, I explained geocaching to everyone and then we set off to find the one cache that is hidden on the PNE grounds. (GC3APCA) Hastings Park Cache is located in a nice treed area with several walkways surrounding a pond. The reeds of the pond hid a few ducks and a heron the day we were there and we could hear a frog as well. It is a welcome respite from the noise of the fair grounds and offers time for digestion before heading back to the rides.

Our next adventure was more laid back as we went to visit my sister in North Vancouver for lunch and a few caches. She is a new cacher and had dropped off a travel coin in a cache and then had decided she'd like me to pick it up and take it on our trip back to Calgary. However when we visited the cache, the coin had been taken but not logged. We are hoping the previous cachers were just inexperienced with geocoins and will log it soon, but there is always the chance that they have decided the coin is something they want to keep. Unfortunately, this happens frequently to geocoins and travel bugs and is one of the drawbacks in letting go of these objects. They may be taken by collectors or muggled by non-geocachers.

In my next post I'll tell you all about the caches we found on our drive home from Vancouver including cache #300!! Keep reading!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Scouting for a campground near Bragg Creek

On Sunday our little family took a drive to look for some potential campgrounds for future camping trips. We have lived in Calgary for five years but have not gone camping in the area, so we wanted to see what sort of sites are available. Our target area was south of Bragg Creek off of Highway 66, following the Elbow River. And since we were going for a drive, I thought we might as well pick up a few caches just for fun!

Our first stop was in the Redwood Meadows neighbourhood on Highway 22 before Bragg Creek.  To protect the townsite from the Elbow River floods a berm was built which makes a great walking path and happens to lead to two caches. The first one we sought out was On the way to Grandma's House (GC189XA). For a regular sized cache it was hidden in an unusual place but we made the find and headed off to Sherpa's Cache (GC17CF5). As we approached the trail head for this one, I glanced into the forest on our left and saw a beautiful buck laying beneath a tree enjoying the cool cover of the trees on this hot day. He was undisturbed by our presence and continued to rest as we passed by. The search for this cache was trickier and involved scrambling over rocks until the old Goat spotted the container. Inside the ammo can we discovered a travel geocoin ( SW#3's Shamrock) that we picked up to move along. When I entered the coin tracking number to log our find, I discovered that it had travelled to Europe, Eastern Canada, Hawaii and the southern USA and had ended up back at a cache just hundreds of meters from its origin!

Since we were so close to the Elbow River and it was a very hot day we went down to the edge of the river and dipped our hands and cooled off for a few minutes before continuing our journey.

We drove right past Bragg Creek as the line of traffic coming in and out was not inviting and continued on to Kananaskis Country on Highway 66. We stopped for a quick micro called Kananaskis Country Cache (GC12C97) right at the big sign for Kananaskis Country. The littlest goat jumped out of the car, walked over to GZ and plucked the cache from its hiding spot! She is getting to be an amazing cacher.

Just a few hundred metres away was the first campsite we wanted to check out and at the beginning of the path down to it, was another cache called Gooseberry (GCQM20). This one took a bit of walking around in the trees as the GPS couldn't get good satellite signals but eventually we found the spot and earned another smiley.

We checked out the campsites at McLean Creek and decided those would be the ones we try out when we get a chance to camp. Then there was just time for cooling off in the creek before heading back toward Calgary.

We made one final stop just before reaching the Trans-Canada highway and that was at a cache called Wolf Kubs Kache (GC3FK11) hidden by the Strathmore scouts. Parking near this cache was not allowed so the old goat and the littlest goat waited in the car while I made the trek to GZ to try my luck. This cache was easy to locate but hard to pick up. I had to use all my arm strength to retrieve it from its hiding spot and then repeat the process to replace it in the same spot! Should have sent in the old goat!

We are getting in more caching this summer by blending it in with other activities and taking opportunities to do quick ones when we can. They often bring us to places we never knew existed or ones that we have been meaning to get to but haven't taken the time. Where are you exploring this summer while you geocache?

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Addicting More People to Geocaching

I received an e-mail request this week from a friend whose son is in school with my daughter. She and her family have been wondering about geocaching and asked if I would take them out for a beginner's lesson. So yesterday morning we piled our three kids into her vehicle with the two of us and set out for Baker Park on the Bow River in Calgary. I had my iPhone with the geocaching app and my Garmin Oregon 200 to show them both options when they start out.

We began with the Dollhouse cache (GC1RT7C) to get the kids excited because I knew it had recently been found and was supposed to have good swag in it. This one took a bit of looking and then was found where we didn't expect it. The kids found it easy to follow the compass on the Garmin so I let them carry that one and worked off the iPhone with my girlfriend. The three kids took turns holding the GPS and telling the others which way to go. We followed along making sure they didn't get too far off course but they did very well. And we had our first smiley for the day.

The next cache we aimed for was Baker's Bark (GC1EV27) which was a different kind of 'micro in a tree'. No trades here, just signed the log and off we went to search for I Do (GCXJTA). This is a very beautiful area right down by the river with bright beds of flowers surrounding a stone wall. We watched a few young men leaping into the chilly waters across the river and a Zodiak float by with two life-jacketed paddlers aboard.

 The search was briefly interrupted by the appearance of two snakes who may have been guarding the cache and who caused all the children to leap upon the stone wall and scream! Luckily my friend and I were not deterred and continued to peer under rocks and into nooks and crannies. Unfortunately, no cache was unearthed and we had to leave this one for another day.

We moved on to look for one of the Calgary Parks caches called, of course, Baker Park (GC299K3). This was when I saw the change in my friend from 'interested observer' to 'addicted cacher' as she made her first unassisted find. Her face lit up and she got excited and declared herself hooked! I always love that moment!

Our last cache of the day, Baker's Hedge (GC1EV1Z) was also exciting for her young daughter when she made her own first find. We told ourselves it was because she was closest to the ground but really we all had our backs turned when she said ' Oh I found one." And honestly I didn't really think she had found one, but there it was! So much for me showing her how its done!!

After such a good day of caching I am sure we will be going out as a group again before too long. And we have another girlfriend with kids who we'll have to take out and addict!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Never JUST a rock!

My sister flew out from Vancouver for a visit last week while her kids were away on other travel adventures. Since she was curious about geocaching and had never been, we decided to take her out one day to Nosehill Park with our dog, Scooby Doo, and my daughter and just try one or two caches.

Our first destination was the infamous Your Mother was a Hamster (GC2TQZX) which makes me giggle every time I read it. Monty Python is everywhere! It was a very buggy day but the dog was very excited to get out and the littlest goat was happy to show her Aunty Otter our family hobby so off we went. As a fellow Vancouver expat, I wasn't surprised that my sister found the park very different from parks back home with so few trees and so much long grass. We laughed at the dog leaping up to see through the grass as she chased her ball. And before we knew it we were at the cache. It was really an easy find and a very cute container, well worth the walk. Just after we rehid the container we turned to see two beautiful stags watching us from the other side of the gulley. They kept their eyes on us as we back-tracked to the off-leash area and our next cache.

We were curious to see what the next cache would look like as it was a puzzle cache with an odd description. The Lockbox (GC3GMD0) was actually a two-part cache. You had to find the container first and then find a separate cache with the combination to the lock which was on the container. Took a bit of looking and lots of slapping at mosquitoes but eventually we found both parts and signed the log. I think maybe this one should be listed as a multi instead of a puzzle.

That was enough buggy adventures to give my sister a taste for geocaching but not wear her out on her first day. But the next night I was telling Otter about some caches I had been unable to find and she got excited and wanted to go take a look. It was already evening so we took flashlights and headed off to the first location. I won't tell you the name of this cache as I am going to spoil the container type by saying it was a micro hidden in a small rock which was blended into the actual rock base of a structure. We were feeling around the area looking for anything that might be hiding a tiny cache when my sister pulled a rock out of the wall, said "Its just a rock" and replaced it. I turned to her and said "What? Wait a minute..." and sure enough the bison tube was stuck inside the back of that very rock. For the rest of the night I kept saying "It's never JUST a rock!"
We went on to find two more caches that had been eluding me, including a creative micro in a tree called Nutz (GC2TROG).

Two days later we made a trip to the south for an appointment and took a few minutes to find the cache hidden in the Signal Hill branch of the Calgary Public Library. This was also creative and fun and we even had some help from the librarians who caught on what we were up to. We made two more finds that day and had my sister well and truly hooked on caching by the time we sent her home.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Just Do It!

Lately I have been trying to get my family out for more caching together. Although we always enjoy our caching adventures, it is still hard to motivate them to just get out the door. So a couple weeks ago I asked my daughter if we could try to do one cache a day for a week. And it worked. As long as she knew there was no pressure to get a long list of caches checked off, she was willing to jump up and go. And I made sure to choose cache locations that included a park with swings, or an easy drive-up find, or one we could bring a friend to. So we completed the week with eight caches found and a new outlook on caching. If you are trying to motivate others to go along with you or you are trying to motivate yourself off the couch or away from the computer, just set small goals and have fun on the way. As they say, its not the destination that is important but the journey.

Today the skies were dark grey with thunder and rain about to spill down any minute. But knowing that in Calgary, the clouds could just as easily blow away altogether, I rallied the family out of the basement and into the car for a quick drive to Nosehill Park. There were three caches fairly close to a parking lot (within 600m) and I thought we would start with the easiest one and if it went well try another. I gave my daughter our Oregon 200 GPS and I used the iPhone app from Geocaching.com to navigate our way to Bushdee (GC21RWH). Our chocolate lab Scooby Doo was thrilled to be along on this adventure and she bounced along the trail chasing the ball we were throwing for her. The trees and the gully we were walking in gave the iPhone a bit of satellite trouble but the Garmin had no problem and the cache was soon in hand. The littlest cacher was still happy so we continued up the hill to find Beating Around the Bush (GC1B5GZ). We had looked for this one before but were unable to find it due to the snow cover on the ground. So we were very happy when the oldest goat came up with the goods and we checked off another find. The littlest goat got her hair tangled in a tree and ended up with a sappy knot but it didn't dampen her spirits so off we went for a third search. I didn't really think we would be able to find this one, DUCKY TAPE ROCKS!!! (GC3NZ8G) as it was listed as a 5 for difficulty (on a  scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being easiest) and a 3.5 for terrain. We had to do a bit of bushwhacking off the trails and a bit of back-tracking while we looked for a good way down into a gully. The hint indicated that the cache container was going to be a fake rock so we checked a few rocks without success. And then the oldest goat found a rock that rattled and that made three happy faces for the day! And not a drop of rain.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Caching in the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

As a family, we enjoy birdwatching and any chance to see wildlife up close, so a day of geocaching in the Bird Sanctuary is three kinds of fun! Family time, geocaching, and wildlife viewing all at the same time.

There is a very creative puzzle cache called IBS: Gnome's Animal Lodge at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. The cache container itself is out in plain sight right at the entrance to the Sanctuary but in order to open the cache you need to walk around the trails and collect answers to questions on the cache page. This gets you visiting every part of the park and gives you a chance to view different songbirds, waterfowl, deer, muskrats, beavers, weasels, owls, and other creatures if you are lucky. There is a second cache called the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary Cache which gets you to do the same thing but the Final cache is off site. We collected all the answers for that one as we went around but didn't pick up the last cache as we were ready to go home by then.

As we walked we had amazing encounters with deer today. My daughter was thrilled when a young deer appeared beside her eating leaves that grow along the walkway. Alana held very still and watched with a huge smile on her face and then talked about it for the rest of the day. That is an experience she won't soon forget!

We also saw evidence of beavers hard at work.

The park looks completely different than when we have seen it in the fall, especially with the Bow River running high from the summer rains. The views along the river were beautiful as usual.
There were portions of the trails that were closed due to flooding but this would be temporary. Don't let it dissuade you from visiting the Sanctuary.

There is a third cache in the park commemorating the Colonel James Walker Historical Site. This is a regular cache with a container full of swag to trade.

Even if you haven't been bitten by the geocaching bug, there is lots to see at Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and it is well worth a visit any time of year.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Canada Day Caching

Yes, we finally got out to do some more caching!
Had a fun day in typical Calgary weather. Hot and sunny when we set out, black clouds swept in with a few thunder claps and a big downpour, then hot and sunny again. Took a day to introduce more friends to geocaching and we now have more caching buddies to go out with. The tiniest cacher (at 1 1/2 years) caught on quickly and was checking behind every bench after seeing us pull one nano out from behind a park bench.
We planned our cache adventure to start with a cache that the kids could trade swag in and out of, then a couple of micros for the grown ups and finally a cache at a play park for the kids to have some swing time. Luckily we had good luck and found 4/4 today and the kids enjoyed all of it, even the rainshower.

We did have to place a note on one cache that needed maintenance. The lid of the cache had a hole in it and the cache was filled with water when we discovered it. The pencil was wet and the paper was unusable. This is the sort of thing you need to let cache owners know about so that they can clean it up and repair the damage and get their cache up and running again.
Another thing to mention is that the regular size cache had a theme of 'Round' objects so my daughter took a yoyo and replaced it with a bouncy ball. It is nice to keep to a theme when trading if at all possible.

It was a fun way to spend Canada Day away from the crowds, but still outdoors and with friends. What did you do for Canada Day?

Thursday, 14 June 2012

TomTom's Map Paradise Project

TomTom's Map Paradise Project 
Looks like another great way to use your GPS skills and have a great vacation! Plus there are probably some caches to find too!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012


Well it was a great day of geocaching on Saturday! We did 21 caches in just under 12 hours including a couple that were not part of the CCARS12 new releases. We met up at Carburn Park in the Southeast where we spent about 90 minutes doing a trash pickup (also known as a CITO or Cache In Trash Out). If you are ever looking for a park for a family outing this is a nice destination. There are lots of picnic tables, a pond with ducks in it, a river to walk along or wade in and some nice caches to hunt down. We thoroughly enjoyed our walk along the riverbank looking for garbage and were quite impressed not to find all that much to pick up. We found our first cache in the park and, because it was not a CCARS12 cache we were able to look for it before the noon opening of the event.

We did several caches in the south of Calgary in areas I had never been before and this reminded us how caching can take you to places you might have missed even in your own city. And it is certainly a great way to get to know a city you have just moved to.

We looked for a cache called Pirates of the Elbow Treasure Chest and were rewarded with these amazing views. This was just South of the Glenmore Athletic Park and North of the Glenmore Reservoir. There were some steep climbs involved in finding this treasure chest but we came up with the goods and the kids enjoyed their loot!

Just West of this cache is the Weaselhead Natural Area and we saw herons, geese and a few deer down on the flats as we looked for a Murder in the Park cache and Rowlf the Dog cache.

One of our favourite caches of the day was called Go Fish and required us to actually fish the cache out of its hiding spot. Even the grown ups enjoyed this and we had to use our ingenuity to create a fishing device from what we had with us.

Did any of you take part in CCARS12? Have you done Caching events in other cities? Let me know what your favourite events have been. I'll share more of our big cache day later this week.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

CCARS12 puzzle caches

If you are taking part in the CCARS event this weekend in Calgary now is the time to try to solve as many of the puzzles related to the puzzle caches as you can. The puzzle cache descriptions and puzzles were posted earlier this week to give everyone a chance to solve them ahead of finding the actual cache.

I have only solved and found a few puzzle caches in my history of geo-caching as I am not sure how to approach some of the more complex puzzles. I think we need to ask for a class in puzzle solving for the next how-to class in geocaching. I'm sure I would not be the only one learning something there.

For a look at some of the puzzle caches ready to solve go here. Good luck!! And see you on Saturday!!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

CCARS12 Geocaching Event

Getting excited about the upcoming weekend of geocaching on May 26th and 27th in Calgary! We will be starting with a Cache In Trash Out (CITO) gathering where we find some caches and pick up garbage in a local park at the same time. This is the traditional way to start a CCARS event and we always get a good turnout with lots of enthusiastic hands filling up bags of trash.

CCARS stands for Calgary Cache and Release Spring event. Cachers from Calgary and the surrounding area are madly working on creating new caches to hide for this weekend event. The caches must fall into certain categories and will be judged by those who find them. Awards will be given for the best caches in each category and for over-all favourites. This is a fun event and a great way to meet other cachers and to increase your list of found caches.

For more information on the kick-off event go here. There will also be a midnight gathering on the Saturday night for anyone who is interested in doing some night-caching or just celebrating their successes of the day. Go here for more info. And finally there will be a wrap-up gathering where the awards will be handed out and stories told of amazing finds and amusing searches. Go here for more info on the location and time of the wrap-up.

I'm hoping to cache with a few friends who have just started geocaching and have not yet taken part in any events. If you are interested in joining us please leave a message here in the comment section. Would love to have you along!

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Spring into geocaching

We have been having some nicer weather in Calgary this week and I have managed to get out twice to grab a few caches. Adding some smiley faces to our 'found' list felt great after a slow winter with not much geocaching going on.

On Friday I just had time for one hunt and combined it with a walk for our chocolate lab. I had tried to find this multi-cache before and had found the first stage but did not know how to attempt the second stage. After reading a little tutorial on projecting a waypoint with your Garmin GPS I managed to complete the second stage of the cache hunt and found the final container. And Scooby got a great walk when I went a kilometer in the wrong direction before realizing what I'd done!
There are many of these rocks walls (pictured behind Scooby) in Calgary and frequently the cache you are looking for will be hidden in one of the spaces between rocks. The only problem is being brave enough to stick your hand in and retrieve the cache or move the smaller rocks to see if the cache is behind them. I am quite certain one day something will bite me when I reach in so I am very careful!
The final cache for this multi-cache was in a recess between some rocks (not shown above) but I had a view of the cache container before reaching in. I had to be quite stealthy because there were several muggles (non-geocachers) nearby but I managed to sign and replace the cache quickly.

Today while my daughter was at a birthday party, I talked the old goat into doing a few caches in a nearby neighbourhood. We found two small caches and a micro cache before heading back to pick up our daughter. The micro cache was down in a ravine near a footbridge and we were surprised to see that there was still lots of ice and snow in the creek there. Luckily the cache was not under the bridge and we did not have to test the ice or get wet. We did have to disturb a spider from the cache and I was grateful the littlest cacher was not with us as she would have screamed and ran!

I am looking forward to doing more caching as the weather continues to improve. Even if I have to sneak them in one search at a time!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

How to Hide a Cache

Just a reminder that if you want to learn how to hide a cache that is a bit different (non-traditional) there is a class this Saturday afternoon at the CNIB building in Calgary. This will help you learn how to make puzzle caches, multi-caches, and hides that are not your everyday lock'n'lock under a tree! And these skills will help with the upcoming CCARS event in May.
For more information on the Saturday class click here.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Location, Location, Location

The amazing, relaxing time we had in Cuba was diminished slightly for me because of a poorly placed cache. When we planned our trip to Cayo Coco, Cuba for Spring Break, I was very excited to find out that there was a cache hidden just beyond our resort and would be within walking distance for the three of us. This would be our very first time geocaching outside of Canada! I eagerly printed descriptions and photographs of the area (no GPS allowed in Cuba) and checked to make sure the latest logs confirmed the cache was found recently. I took along a travel bug to leave in the cache and made sure I had a pencil and extra notepaper just in case.

On our second day in Cuba I convinced my daughter and husband to accompany me on my quest for the cache. We had a beautiful walk along the warm beach, put our sandals back on and started searching the area where the cache had been placed. There were plenty of muggles (non-geocachers) and a couple of tourists taking photographs, but no cache. We searched and searched and turned over rocks, and crawled around in the sand, but nothing was found. The area really looked like there had been recent demolition.

In a fit of desperation, I e-mailed the cache owner and asked him to check the cache and let me know if it was still there but he e-mailed back and said he could not get there until the next week. He also said that because of the busyness of the area and the fact that Cubans are keen to pick up anything outsiders leave behind, this cache was often missing and that I should just leave another container and some paper where the cache should have been. I am afraid the owner of that cache has missed the purpose of the game. Or at least the rules. If you cannot find a cache you do not just make another to leave in it's place. There is a chance we were looking in the wrong place or that the cache was really well camouflaged and we just could not see it. But if the cache is in a place where it keeps getting destroyed or taken, then a new hiding place should be found so those looking for the cache are not disappointed and the owner does not need to keep replacing it.

So we returned to Canada with colour in our faces, relaxed and renewed spirits but no out-of-country finds. Maybe this summer we'll go caching in the states.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Geocaching at Nose Hill Park

I had a day to myself while my daughter is at Brownie camp and I decided to combine a dog walk and some geocaching this afternoon. Took Scoobydoo and her frisbee to Nose Hill Park where the air was cold but didn't stop lots of people from being out enjoying the spring day. Unfortunately we only found two caches before my free Geocaching app for iPhone lost its satellite feed and wouldn't come back. I did get a photo of one cache container which is a large plastic tube (about 16") containing lots of good swag for trading. Since our grass and plants still don't realize spring is here, the cache was covered very neatly with sticks which actually made it stand out quite well. In a couple months this will be well hidden by longer grasses and undergrowth.

Tomorrow I am still hoping to attend the workshop on how to hide a cache as my family is anxious to do a good job on our first hide. I'll post anything interesting I learn!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Geocaching 201 this weekend

There will be a special workshop this Sunday afternoon in Calgary where you can learn everything from how to choose a good container to where is the best place to hide that container. The workshop will be held at the CNIB building in the Northeast from 2pm until 4pm and there will be an indoor presentation and then an outdoor demonstration. Everyone is welcome including children. For more information or to confirm your attendance please click here.
I am hoping to look for a few caches tomorrow so I can post about them on my blog. Please keep checking back! And if you decide to go to the workshop please say hello if you see me there!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Winter geocaching

One thing we have not done enough of is winter caching in the snow. We find it very frustrating to have to poke around in the snow with no idea if we are even near the right tree/bush/rock. We have had some luck and I'm sure with practice it gets easier but for now we are waiting for better weather to do more geocaching. The snow has been coming down on and off for a few days and today it was pretty steady and cold. At the first sign of sunny skies I will be setting out to get some photos of different cache containers to give you an idea of what you are looking for.
In the meantime, it would be great to get some feedback about my website, or questions on anything you'd like to know about geocaching,  or requests for more information on any aspect of this hobby.

And in three weeks, we'll be attempting to find the lone geocache in Cayo Coco, Cuba!! Can't wait to leave the snow behind and hit the beach!!

Friday, 24 February 2012

Sunny Sunday geocaching

We got the jump on Family Day and spent our Sunday together geocaching in local neighbourhoods last weekend. The littlest goat decided she only wanted to do 3 caches, but after each one she said, "Well, just one more!" until we had done 6 caches and run out of steam. When we could not find the seventh cache we decided that was a good time to return home and relax!
We planned the searches to start with a large ammo can that had been found recently and was listed as a 1 in difficulty and 1 in terrain (5 being the hardest, 1 the easiest) so that our daughter would not get frustrated early. It turned out to be easy enough that she spotted the container first and was able to retrieve it herself. It had been placed by a Pathfinders group and had been well maintained.
On the way to what was going to be our second search I noticed a listing for a micro cache on the way. A micro is usually quite small (not as small as a nano!) and difficult to find although this one was listed as a 1 for terrain and 1 for difficulty. Turns out the terrain was definitely easy, even in the snow, but the difficult was more of a 2 since it was green and hidden in a tree. The old goat and I jumped out and took about 10 minutes to find this one while the littlest goat stayed in the warm car reading a book.
Our third search offered a walk in the aspen woods of an off-leash park. It was rated a 1.5 and 1.5 and we found the terrain a bit tricky due to ice but the cache relatively simple to locate. 

We decided to drive to a neighbourhood where we had never geocached before for our last three caches and found ourselves in MacEwen near Nosehill Park. This area has beautiful views of Calgary and is worth a visit. Only four geocaches hidden here and we found three out of the four. Not a bad day for winter caching in a cold climate!
In my next post I'll talk about cache containers a bit more. There are some really clever hides out there and I'm always curious to see what people will think of next. If you are a geocacher, post a photo of your favourite cache container!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Geocaching 101

If you are in Calgary and want to learn more about geocaching, there is a group gathering next weekend to teach the basics. It will be family-friendly, done in teams and you will get your first smiley for sure just for attending. See the geocaching website or click here and join the fun! Be sure to dress for the weather!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Travel Bugs and tracking codes

There is another fun element to geocaching that add to the educational angle as well. Travel bugs are small trinkets or pre-made tags that travel from cache to cache via the cachers who find them. They each have their own mission, whether it is to arrive at a destination cache or to travel around the world or even to race other travel bugs to a certain city, and they are aided in their travels by us geocachers. In order to keep track of the bugs, they are given unique codes that must be registered on-line before beginning their treks. Then, when a geocacher finds a bug in a cache, he/she enters the tag code on www.geocaching.com which will show where the bug has travelled from and what its destination or mission is.

Our family has three plastic goat figurines that we have attached travel bug tags to (because our team name is 3billygoats) and these have all travelled in different directions, one down to New York city after a stop in Hawaii, one has become lost in the Czech Republic, and one is currently wintering in North Dakota after a long stay in Manitoba. This adds an opportunity for a geography lesson for interested kids.

If you do decide to pick up a travel bug, it is a courtesy to make sure you move it on fairly quickly instead of keeping it at home for an extended period. We have lost a few that we have to assume have been either kept by an uncharitable person, or have been lost when a cache has been muggled (destroyed by vandals). We are always sad to lose one of our bugs but we hope that the majority of cachers understand that the fun is in keeping the bugs moving.
Have you found any unusual bugs? Tell me about the most interesting bug you have helped along.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

What's in Your Swag Bag?

Whenever we head out for a day of geocaching we carry along a small bag that contains a few essentials. Besides our GPS receiver we carry
  • extra batteries (in case our GPS is low or a cache requires batteries)
  • a couple of small sharpened pencils (to sign logs or replace missing pencils in caches)
  • a pen
  • extra note paper (for full or missing log books or to solve puzzles or write down clues)
  • a whistle (in case our daughter, who carries the bag, gets lost)
  • swag to trade (more on that below)
  • muggle cards (non-geocachers are called muggles, and these cards explain what we are doing)
  • any travel bugs we need to move on (more on travel bugs in a later post)
The swag is usually a collection of things my daughter would like to find in a cache such as special pencils, erasers, bouncy balls, hacky sacks, key chains, Canadian souvenirs, cool fridge magnets, compact mirrors, and tattoos.

When we find a cache, my daughter (littlest goat) and husband (old goat) look through the trades in the cache while I sign our team name and date in the log book. If there is something the little goat would like to take from the cache, she then chooses something equally good or better to place in the cache. We have found some caches containing garbage, broken toys, spoiled stickers and unpolished rocks and these containers get cleaned out and a few pieces of our swag left inside. Food is never left in a cache as animals can smell it and will destroy a container trying to get at the food. All swag should be child-safe as much as possible as this is a family friendly game. After trading, we place the log book back in the cache and put the cache back exactly where we picked it up so the next person can find it. And make note of which cache we found so we can record it later.

As with any outdoor activity, dress for the weather, bring water and snacks, respect private property, and if you go alone, tell someone where you are going. And have fun!!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Names and Logging finds

When you join geocaching.com (either the free option or the premium membership) you need a name for yourself or your team. This name will not only be the one you use to log into the site but it will be the name you sign in the log books at each cache.
My family goes by the name 3billygoats which is a play on our last name. When I am logging our finds on geocaching.com, I refer to my husband as the 'old' goat and my daughter as the littlest goat. We also released three plastic model goats as travel bugs so if you see one of them in a cache, let me know! (more on travel bugs later)

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Quick cache find

Yesterday my daughter and I went out to find a geocache in our own neighbourhood. I had seen the listing on geocaching.com but, knowing it wasn't a difficult one, I wanted to wait for a day when we could do it together. Alana took the lead with the GPS receiver with a reminder to let it orient itself after she was out of the truck. Then she led us to the right tree and I spotted the container. It was a winter friendly hide (not buried under snow) and a good size container holding lots of swag for trading. We signed the log book, replaced the treasure with swag of our own and replaced the container where we found it. Then I remembered I had planned to photograph the container for my blog so we took it back out, moved to a spot that would not offer spoilers and took the photographs. You must remember when caching, that you don't want to give away the location of the cache to the next cacher or anyone checking the logs on-line, so don't put the actual hiding place in your photographs and be careful what you say when you enter your comments on-line. These unwanted hints are called 'spoilers' for a reason! If you want to make a comment that may give away hints there is a feature on the website that will encript your log so that only someone who wants hints can read it.