You may have noticed that we do a lot of spontaneous caching using our smart phones. It was not always so easy before GPS enabled smart phones, Geocaching apps and Google Maps. My wife and I found our first cache on March 1, 2005 – GCG81W, Thar’s Gold in Them Thar Hills! – now archived. It was great. We went to GC.com and looked up the local caches. We then printed out the cache page on good old fashioned paper and manually punched in the coordinates into our “black and white” Garmin eTrex Vista.
We headed out after work and starting homing towards the GZ. We finally came up with the find an hour later… after driving around the block multiple times and wandering around the area scratching our heads trying to figure out where the GZ was without tromping through people’s back yards! Shortly after that, we purchased a topo map and a Thomas Brothers Guide road map and we would plan out the best road route to get into the GZ. A lot of bush whacking occurred in those early days :) We started printing out the cache descriptions and then upgraded to making cut-and-paste books of the caches we where going to find that day/weekend along with a road map that was marked with the approximate cache locations. A lot of pre-planning went into it a caching weekend! It was time consuming, but fun fun fun!
We had a great time caching “old school” style. I remember our trip to New Zealand where we actually had geocaching software on my wife’s laptop into which we plugged our Garmin thereby enabling us to have a base map on the computer with all the caches pre-loaded along with our position from the GPSr! It was like heaven. We cached around New Zealand for a couple of weeks and even managed to grab two FTF’s!
Fast forward to today. Google maps, download cables, smart phones… it is a whole new world of caching; and I love it. I have with me at all times my smart phone (a curse sometimes), my Garmin CXS 60 (yes, I retired the eTrex), and four spare AA batteries. I use both devices together frequently; the phone for the cache details and logging the find and the Garmin for a more precise location.
I think the BIGGEST advantage of the smart phone is spontaneity. With a live map to point you to the nearest cache, it is hard to resist a random cache run when you are out & about and find that you have a few extra minutes to spare. I happened to be in Texas on a business trip and after having a delicious lunch I wanted to grab a few caches (funny how food and caching seems to occur in sequence a lot with us). I whipped out the smart phone and saw the little ghost symbol of a virtual cache nearby (GC9383). Since there are not a whole lot of these floating around, I decided to check it out. It ended up my timing what perfect and I had a fantastic cache adventure to log that I otherwise would have never done without my smart phone (see GC9383 find log 3/21/2013 by skydive121).
So, to wrap up my rambling for today and spare your weary eyes, geocaching is a fun game that can be a pre-planned and cleverly thought out event or it can be a last minute off the cuff adventure – the great thing is the end result is the same either way – FUN!
Of course, no post is complete without an actual cache, so here you go (and yes this one was a spontaneous find as well)!
SPOILER ALERT: Cache location and container revealed below!
Great urban hide. I noticed the cache while waiting in line at a nearby warehouse store. Made my purchases and then the quick find! TFTC – this one gets a Favorite Point!