Saturday, August 6, 2016

How to Solve The Geocaching August Souvenir Puzzle #1

In August 2016, Geocaching is doing a series of souvenirs based on "missions" premium members receive as puzzles the week before the mission.  Non premium members just receive the answer the weekend of the mission.  

The first puzzle was VERY simple, so simple that many were overthinking it.

The bottom of the first plate gives you the hint to solve this - "A six is G"

A= 6 letters after A = ABCDEFG
C= 2 letters after C = CDE
N= 1 letter after N = NO

Continuing with the next 3 plates until you have the code to type into the page linked in the email, where the mission was revealed.  The answer had to be entered completely in lower case, I think that may have been more confusing than the actual puzzle. :-)

On the 3rd plate, for W6 - you go back to the start of the alphabet.  So it was WXYZABC

If you completed the mission, finding a cache with more than 10 favorite points that week-end, you received this souvenir:

For us, this meant traveling a bit, since we've found all the caches less than 40 minutes from our home.  We found a cache that fit the requirements, and it was a nice large ammo can in a driveway.  That inspired this post  - There are Better Caches Than an Ammo Can In A Driveway -

Saturday, July 30, 2016

There Are Better Caches Than An Ammo Can In A Driveway

This weekend, to complete the first Geocaching Mission Assignment for 2016, we needed to visit a cache with 10 favorite points.  Since we've found all the caches in our area, this meant at least a 40 minute drive, but we found a cache with 28 favorites and made the trip.

It was an ammo can in a driveway.  A very nice ammo can.  It was under a very nice tree.  But it was an ammo can in a driveway.  In a crowded residential area.  You could spot the cache when you got out of the vehicle.  28 favorite points.  

So with that experience in mind, here are some of my all time favorite caches.  My favorite in this general area has only 19 favorite points, which makes me so sad when you remember that an ammo can in a driveway somehow merited 28.

My favorite caches are usually favorites for one of 3 reasons. 1. It took me to an awesome location. 2. It was a creative container.  Or 3, it was a gadget cache.  I so love gadget caches.

These are not really in any order, after my #1 favorite. I'm sure it's nowhere near a comprehensive list.  But if you are looking for some great options this week-end, you can do a bit better than an ammo can in a driveway.

Mr Data Goes Caching (Only 19 favorites??  That's so wrong)
My absolute favorite cache in "our area" (it's about an hour away from us, in Berwick PA  It;s worth the drive, and there are tons of other great caches nearby.)
This is not a get out of your car and grab it geocache.  You'll have to work for this one. But it is so much fun!  Stage one involves putting a pvc pipe puzzle together to get the coord for stage 2.  Each stage is creative like that.  It's truly awesome!  You'll have to walk (or bike) a little bit to get to the final, but it's on a bike path, it's not a difficult walk.

Bases Loaded  (Currently only 21 favorite points)
The town of Williamsport is known for the Little League World Series, even though the actual games are held across the river in South Williamsport.  Still, this intersection in Williamsport is just really cool.  They not only have baseball players on bases at each corner, but the crosswalks are even all green to form the baseball diamond.  Then, as if the location for this cache was enough to earn favorite points, the actual cache is a really creative hide a short distance away.  Well done.  Very well done.

OutBreak (Currently just FIVE favorite points.  Pitiful)
  Located kind of between Milton and Danville.
Now this cache is a bit of a challenge.  It's a puzzle cache.  And a Night cache.  But it has a story line, a mystery with clues to discover, and gadgets.  It's seriously awesome.  It is not simple.  It does involve walking in the woods, in the dark to gather clues.  It's so much fun - especially in a group - it's truly sad that so few people have made the attempt to find it.

Rinse Please (this has a respectable 32 favorite points)
Danville Pa
This is a gadget cache.  It's right in a parking lot, but SO well camoed that seasoned geocachers have struggled to find it.  And then there's the fun of retrieving it.  It's really fun, and SO well done.

The Widow Smith (Currently 9 favorites)
White Deer PA
Here it's not the cache, so much as the history lesson that goes with it.  I love caches that teach the history of the area!

Falling Water (currently 8 favorites)
near Sunbury PA
Such a beautiful spot!  A place I probably would have never seen if not for geocaching.

Old Trolls (10 favorites)
Milton PA
This isn't anything too spectacular, just a quick find in a great container.  You won't have to solve a puzzle, or walk more than 10 steps even.  It's just a great theme, and a great container.

Flea Market Find (28 favorites currently)
Lewisburg PA
Another super simple find - drive right up to it practically.  But such a great container!

Betwixt & Between 6 & 5 (49 favorite points)
Danville Pa
If you really feel the need to find a cache in someones front yard, this is one of the best ever.  Super creative gadget cache, with tree cover as you make the find.

Not Another Lamp Post (86 favorites)
Danville PA
For those of us who bemoan the prevalence of lampskirt geocaches, this is just fun.  Unique.  And not nearly as difficult as WVTim's Under The Lampost cache in West Virginia - although that's another great lamp post spoof cache.

Birds Eye View Over Hess (15 favorites)
Danville Pa
Pretty spot, on a great trail (easy trail) and a creative container.

Milton Historical Society Wherigo (3 favorites. Just 3.  )
Milton Pa
Now this is a bit trickier - not everyone is set up to do wherigos.  We used the Where You Go app for android, and this was just a REALLY well done wherigo, based on the walking tour in Milton.  

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Battle Ship Wherigo (Geocaching)

This was by far the most unique, and probably the most frustrating, wherigo that I have ever done.  We spent a good hour or more walking around an empty grass field playing virtual battleship.  

From the cache description:
"You must sink all battleships before your ammo runs out. To start the game, stand in the middle of the field and select the "Start Game" item.

The ships will be hidden from view until you damage one. To shoot where you are standing, select the caliber shell from your inventory and click the "Fire!" button. All ships within the shell's area of effect will be damaged.

To win the game, you must sink all five ships before your ammunition runs out."

The location takes you to an empty field, bordered by trees, across from a very popular lake with busy walking trails.  Even though this is a VERY popular area, we had the patch of grass to ourselves.

You cannot save this game.  And when you restart the game, the locations will not be exactly the same - so just because you sunk a ship from one spot, does not mean you will sink the same ship in a new game, from the same spot.

You start by firing ammo, blindly.  When you hit something, you will then be shown how close the ships in that group are, so you can sink all of them.

You have a limited amount of ammo.  My strategy, after the first practice game, was to shoot fairly large ammo in any direction to locate the ships, then use smaller ammo to sink them.

Dan and I were both playing simultaneously on two different phones - two separate games.  We'd mark the areas we found ships with our shoes, camera, key fob...  because even though the locations were not the same, the general area would often get us close to something.  It took me two games to actually get the hang of it, and it was on the 3rd game that I finally won.

Then in an extra frustrating ending - the actual final for the geocache is pretty far away!  As if we hadn't already spent the entire day walking... 

But all in all we really loved this.  So much so that Dan is hoping the owner will share the cartridge so we can recreate it here in PA.

We both played on Android Phones   - Me on a Note 5, Dan on a Turbo II.  We both use the Where You Go App for Wherigos -

Visiting Geocaching HQ, & The Fremont Geocaches

We were able to visit Geocaching Headquarters, and complete the HQ geotour, while in Washington this year. Each of these geocaches is well thought out, and well done.  This is all urban caching, but geocaching is so common and familiar in this area that muggles are not really a problem.  The first cache we did was so obvious, it was near impossible to show any true stealth.  But like the WVTim caches in West Virginia, it just wasn't really necessary to hide what we were doing.

The passport for the caches can be found here:
We did not have the passport with us, and we didn't have access to a printer.  Neither did another group we ran into several times that day.  That was no problem, we both used paper we had with us and groundspeak had no trouble accepting that from us.
The caches are all pretty close together.  But the hills are pretty steep in this area - and it's a pretty good hike from Under Aurora to Troll Droppings.  The biggest issue in Fremont is parking.  We found a parking garage right down the road from headquarters.  It is not what we think of as a parking garage - it's just one floor, and only had about 20 spots.  The really awesome thing was that it was not only cheap, but we could monitor the time left, and add time, from our phones.
"In 1991, Fremont Scientists, after a careful, considered study of these affect, while at a local alehouse, with barely a slur or stumble, determined the Center of the Universe to be at the intersection of N Fremont Ave and 35th St N – with the reasoning that this local can neither be proven, nor disproven!" -

This is a REALLY well done, variety of caches.  Nothing as fancy as the WVTim caches in West Virginia, but there's a puzzle cache, a gadget cache, a multi stage, creative containers, and they take you to some interesting sights.  You'll see the fremont troll, the statue of lenin (I REALLY recommend the gyros at the shop behind the statue!  They were fabulous!) the rocket, the sign stating that Fremont is the center of the universe, a nice view of the waterfront, hedges trimmed into dinosaur shapes, 

I've uploaded all of our photos from the Fremont area of Seattle here.  There may be some cache spoilers.



Many of the caches are multi staged, and there's a LOT to see.  Add in the heat, and the hills, and it took us over 3 hours to log them all.  We attempted the wherigo while finding them, but it was too confusing to do both at the same time.  We ended up feeling a bit rushed as it was.

Originally we had a tour scheduled, but our travel plans changed, so we did the drop in hours at headquarters instead.  We arrived at 4:20, giving us 40 minutes to explore headquarters.  Again, I felt rushed.  I'd recommend arriving right at 4 and giving yourself the full hour there.   Everything you need to know about visiting HQ can be found here:

There's a travel but you can pose in, a photo booth with props, the geocache which is full of containers of travel bugs.  There's a project ape cache box, and all sorts of other memorabilia, in addition to the shopping area.  There's a LOT packed into that little lobby.

The "Been there, logged that" t-shirt can only be purchased at headquarters.  We also purchased the trackable coin for completing the HQ tour.

After visiting headquarters, we went back to the lenin statue to have gyros  - they were amazing!  Spicier than any I've had here in PA.  Our hotel was in the Southern part of Seattle, and Fremont is northern seattle.  I wanted to see the sunset and Kerry park was recommended as a good place to do so, so we wanted to stay in the area.

After dinner we headed over to the lake (where there is plenty of parking) and did the Seattle You Sank My Battleship Wherigo.  This took us a couple of hours.  It's the most unique wherigo I've ever done, and I've written about it separately here:

Before going to Kerry Park for the sunset, we made a quick stop to do one of the totally tubular caches,  


Then on to Kerry Park, where there is an easy virtual.  This is really not a great place to see the sunset, but it's a terrific view of the skyline, and the sunset reflects off of the buildings, which is what makes it so popular.

This was my facebook status at days end:
Yesterday we were in the Fremont area of Seattle. Artsy, dogs in every store, more bike racks than parking spaces, home to Google & geocaching headquarters. It's really a fun area. The statues are all decorated. If its your friends birthday, its perfectly acceptable, even expected, to dress up a staue & add a happy birthday sign. (Google "fremont interurban") Driving is interesting though... parking on both sides of the street (rarely a space to be found open) leaves ONE narrow lane for driving. But the streets are not one way. Intersections, and there are MANY, do not have stop signs. Many narrow streets have huge circular flower beds in the center of the intersection, sort of like an artsy traffic circle that no one appears to know how to navigate around. The parking "garage" (one level - about 20 spaces total) was awesome - you pay with your phone, & get a countdown on your phone of how much time is left with the option to add more. There's a huge lake on the outskirts where I think every person living here goes after work to run, Rollerblade, kayak.... and almost everyone had a dog along. Even with that many people, there was no trash. Everything was in good shape, and I never felt crowded or uncomfortable along the path. There was even a blue heron within feet of me - also unbothered by the crowds running, walking, biking, and rollerblading past. (Bikes & pedestrians have designated lanes, and people appeared to really follow the rules). It was a really fun day, and completely not what I expected from Seattle. I suspect today will be slightly more typical big city, we're down in the "heart" of the city today.

Totals for the day:
4 geocaches on our way to Seattle (2 regulars, 1 earth cache, 1 puzzle cache)
9 HQ Geotour Caches (1 letterbox, 2 multis, 2 puzzles, 4 regulars)
1 HQ geocache - the HQ geocache is a special icon, it's own type of cache
1 wherigo (battleship)
1 gadget (regular) near the zoo

17 really diverse and awesome geocaches.  Amazing views, fun puzzles, fun games, great sights.  It was an amazing day!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Finding a Chirp Geocache On Android

The chirp cache we found is called Birdy, in Spokane WA.

We had never found a chirp cache before, so while my husband got the gps ready, I did a quick search for a phone app. I found this :

All I had to do was open the app & choose "turn chip searching on".

Walk to the coords, and a screen popped up with the final coords.

Very fast.  Very easy.  Super simple.

Our gps didn't pick it up.  It might have if we hung around - but we didn't since my phone did it so quickly.