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The Rat

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  1. I don't have a smart phone so I still use my Garmin 60Cx. My geobuddy usually uses a smart phone now and there is no doubt in my mind that my Garmin is much more accurate on the coordinates. He has the advantage of being able to read cache pages and logs out in the field while I have to print out anything like that if I want it, but to me that's part of the fun of geocaching - the advance planning. I've used the dichotomy of geocaching by phone vs. handheld in two of my Cliff Knowles Mysteries: Cached Out and Behead Me. Unlike me, Cliff has finally (in A Will to Die) joined the modern world and now caches with his phone.

  2. I remember when those were introduced. It was fun when the owner retrieved the camera and posted the photos in the cache gallery. That was where I first learned the faces of people I'd encountered only through logs or caches they'd hidden. I agree that they should be placed in caches that are relatively remote (and maybe PMO) to avoid muggles. I also agree that there should be good light wherever it is. Those old photos were usually very dark. Maybe post instructions on the cache page or in the cache telling people to move into the nearby clearing, etc.

  3. There is no question that the geocaching of today is not the same sport as the geocaching of 2002 when I started. It's not as much fun for me now, but that doesn't make it "dead." Part of the change is the fact that it's no longer new. That's natural for any activity; after a while the novelty wears off. A lot of it is the change in technology. The advent of smart phones made it much more accessible, which is good for many, but had the downside for others of making too easy, i.e. allowing a lot of people to try it without really familiarizing themselves with the rules and expectations of the community. All those complaints are well documented elsewhere in the forums. I liken it to climbing Mt. Everest. Those who did it in the earliest days no doubt got much of their joy from being among the first, early pioneers, and from feeling part of an elite group. When it became an industry of sort with expert Sherpa guides, assigned camps and ascent order, and fancy mountaineering equipment, that "specialness" left, at least for many. I went out today and found several caches. I can't say they were bad hides, but they were all things I'd seen many times and in several cases were right where I had found previous caches, or very near. For a brand new cacher they probably would have been as fun as they were for me in 2002.

  4. I just read a review of Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman. I haven't read it, but the review says it is based on geocaching and involves a 12-year-old heroine solving mysteries and ciphers around San Francisco. It gets good reviews and is primarily aimed at pre-teens. I don't know if the author is a geocacher.

  5. I've seen a whole menagerie of wildlife while caching - deer, coyotes, rattlesnakes, vultures, turkeys, skunks, jack rabbits, cottontail bunnies, quail, hawks, eagles, and many more. The only time I was attacked I was running, not geocaching, but it was on a trail where I have gone caching many times. It was a bobcat, aka a wildcat, and it was on the Wildcat Loop trail, appropriately. It wasn't big enough to do me any serious harm, but it sure startled me. I was running downhill rather fast (I was a lot younger) and expected it to run off as I got close. Instead, it leapt at me, claws extended. I happened to be in the perfect stride so that I could just extend my foot right at its face and made solid contact right between the eyes, sending it flying. It never even scratched me. It threw me off my pace and I staggered to keep my footing afterward, and came to a stop bent over. When I looked back it was still there and looked like it wanted to take another run at me. I looked for a rock or stick, but didn't see anything except the loose dirt and pebbles on the trail, so I scooped up a handful of that and threw it at the cat, causing it to run off. It certainly got my heart rate up.

  6. This is now out. There are three geocaching scenes in it, all in San Diego.
    Coming soon:AWTD_med.jpg
    Read and finished it while I was on vacation! A nice gripping story and page turner!TFTB!


    Thank you fuzziebear3. I inadvertently failed to enroll it in Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime at the time of publication, but I have now fixed that so members of those groups can borrow it for free.

  7. Recently my Garmin GPSmap 60Cx suffered a leaking battery (with a 3-week old battery!) The gunk got all over one terminal and despite a lot of cleaning it wouldn't come on, at least not at first. I almost put it into the recycling bin, but I decided to give it another try and with a lot of cleaning, scraping, and blowing, was able to get the terminal area clean enough so that the device would come back on. However, it wasn't reliable. It would keep going blank, obviously losing the electrical connection and GPS lock. This happened perhaps a dozen times while I was geocaching the first time I tried and of course that was very annoying. It would work fine when connected to my desktop computer, since the USB connection supplied power, and I had no trouble transferring data to and from GSAK, cache pages, etc., but trying to use it in the field was difficult. With continued usage and more cleaning it has mostly fixed itself. It stayed on for hours today, although it did die once. I found a solution for that, though. I used a PowerAdd device that I had been given a couple of years ago and never found a use for. It's the one marked as a "Pliot" X8 (should be Pilot) on the linked web page. It's small and light enough to carry in my geocaching bag. It's a bit clunky to carry both the Garmin and the PowerAdd in my hands at the same time and the USB cord limits where I can move the Garmin if the PowerAdd is in my bag, but I found it was easy enough to do. It's a lot cheaper than buying a new Garmin and in any event I love the 60Cx and don't think it's available any more. As I mentioned, the Garmin stayed on for hours today and maybe it's finally cured, but if you encounter this same problem, consider the PowerAdd or a similar device.

  8. I don't like either the old or the new search, but between the two, I dislike the new one more. I always use Boulter's Geocaching Quick Search site. It's simple and intuitive and fast. It's not fancy looking and may not have all the power of the filtered new search (or it may - I don't know because I've never been able to figure out how to use the new search) but I've always been able to find what I want with it.

  9. Knowing what he owned is crucial -- even within Garmin models, there's a bit preference difference between 'button' units and 'touchscreen' units. Need some help here.

    I agree 100%. I'm terrible with touchscreens. I don't even have a smartphone because I can't use them. I only work with a button unit. My long-time favorite is my Garmin 60Cx (which you can see on the cover of Cached Out) but they may not be available now. Mine just had a battery leakage emergency (with a battery only 3 weeks old). I almost threw it out when I couldn't get it to come on after cleaning it out thoroughly and loading new batteries, but I kept cleaning again and again, and it is working now sporadically. Ironically, I pulled out my even older Magellan SporTrak Pro, which I had kept as a backup and loaned to others when introducing someone new, but it, too had a battery leakage which has totally ruined the inside. I realized that I hadn't used it in over a year, maybe over two years. I shouldn't have left batteries in it.

  10. I've been challenged several times. Twice that I remember by security guards and at least once by police. One of the challenges by a guard happened to be on a public transit agency property where I had previously served as an attorney. I was able to ask him about the current security director and union issues I was familiar with, so we were good buddies by the end. For another guard at corporate property a similar thing happened when I told him I had served as a corporate security director and asked him which of several security companies he worked for and the current pay rate. Two policemen challenged me and my fellow geocacher when we were at a the edge of a fenced property that jutted out into the Alameda, Ca. estuary. That was considered the boundary of the Oakland Airport property, even though there was water between the pier there and the airport. We never crossed or climbed the fence or did anything illegal, but we were there a long time on a DNF. I showed them my ID as a retired FBI agent and again we were good buddies by the end. They hadn't heard of geocaching so we explained it to them.

  11. I've only done two or three night caches. The first one was quite the adventure. We had to hike a long way on trails but in fairly rough terrain and the final location was quite a bit off trail. When we got there, we were visited by a very large skunk. I've seen or smelled little ones in my neighborhood, since I live near a creek, but this one was maybe 15 pounds. At least that's my estimate. Fortunately we never got close enough to get an accurate assessment.

  12. This thread is rather silly but strangely entertaining, and perhaps that was the OP's original intent. I took the term professional to be tongue-in-cheek, not literal and not sarcastic. As for getting paid, some might call me a professional geocacher since I write books containing geocaching and many of the buyers are geocachers. However, many others buy them, too, and what little money I make from it is for the books, or, arguably, the writing, not for geocaching. You wouldn't call Rex Stout a professional orchid grower because his main character is one, nor Sir Arthur Conan Doyle a professional violinist because Sherlock Holmes plays one. I wouldn't even call the people at Groundspeak professional geocachers, even though they make a living from the activity. There are probably a few there whose duties include placing, maintaining, or finding some geocaches (including events), but I doubt any of them are paid to do only that or even mainly that. Even those folks are professional marketers, researchers, user experience experts, etc. who geocache as part of those duties.

  13. I haven't noticed this trend, if it is indeed a trend. This may be because most of the caches I find are hidden by long-time, serious cachers who know the guidelines and follow them. I have noticed a somewhat related trend, though, of people describing things inaccurately, notably on cache pages and in logs, but everywhere generally. I attribute this to bad trends in our educational system. Grammar and vocabulary, outlining sentences, parts of speech, etc. are not taught, or are taught badly now. Case in point: I heard a high school English teacher (35-ish) say "Me and my friend went to the mall." A failure to understand concepts like subject, predicate, and case is one reason Americans are so bad at learning foreign languages, I think. But as it relates to geocaching, the main problem I've found is that hints are so often misleading (unintentionally) and thus actually make it harder for the educated cacher. One example seared in my memory is a TB hotel I drove 40 miles to use and DNFed because the hint said it was 6 feet from concrete. There was an object that met the physical description but was one inch from concrete so I didn't search it. I spent 45 minutes there and gave up, relying on the CO meaning what he said. It turned out the CO meant it was within six feet of concrete instead of six feet from concrete. Another example is my cache Word Police Quiz. It's found a lot less often now than it was the first two years, probably because people don't spell as well now. I've noticed that when people do find it now, a higher percentage than before have to email me for help because they can't solve it, even though anyone can get 100% simply by using a dictionary or any search engine. I don't remember who said it first here, but it's hopeless to get people to use words correctly now. Deal with it.

  14. I'm not opposed to the concept of a smart phone, I just don't own one because I can't figure out any use for one. I bought my first GPSr before there was such a thing as a smartphone and my current (3rd) GPSr before smartphones were GPS-enabled. So to answer the OP's question, a smartphone won't replace a GPSr for me until one is invented that can do anything useful. To be fair, I've never used the Groundspeak app. Maybe it works well. I can certainly see the advantage of having access to cache information directly from the cache page when out in the field, so Internet connectivity is a good thing. I have to use paper most of the time, but I once did a product test on an Android tablet device for a major company in my area (rhymes with bugle) and downloaded the c:geo app. The tablet was only wi-fi, not Internet connected in the field. I tried to use it geocaching and relied on being able to pull up previously downloaded cache information in the app, but it turned out the screen couldn't be read in the sun, even when I tried to shade it with my body and even after I drove to a coffee shop and tried to read it, it turned out the font was too small and blocky for me to read even with my reading glasses (and couldn't be expanded in that app) so it turned out to be useless., I used it to connect to geocaching.com on the coffee shop wi-fi and read logs, etc. that would have helped me at the cache site. I never went back, though, so even that was useless. My experience with that device tells me that smartphones will never replace a GPSr for me, but I'm sure for those people who already have a smartphone, one would be good enough to serve.

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