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If you started over...


Drafin
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If you had the opportunity to turn back time to the point that you started what would you change?

 

Would you have bought a different first GPS? Would you have bought different software? Would you have started out with easier/harder caches? Different hiking shoes? Different cache buddy? Logged in locations differently?

 

Basically what would you change that you learned over time that can keep a newb (such as myself and others) from making those same mistakes?

 

Thanks in advance,

Drafin

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Two things for me: One would be I should have gone paperless from the start. I wasted so much time my first few times out printing cache pages and then shuffling through them trying to find the info I wanted. The second was starting I should have started with the premium membership. $3 a month is so little money and the amount of information you can obtain from pocket queries and route searches makes it well worth it, not to mention the GPX files are a must as they get a lot more information onto your GPSr.

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I'd have gotten a 60csx from the start. I love my little venture cx but there's times it annoys the hell out of me in the bush. I've had some dnfs just because I couldn't get anywhere near the cache site without either losing reception or it just refusing to show me any updated information.

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What a thought provoking thread!

 

Only been caching for two months. I think i would have bought a Garmin instead of Magellan. Their CS is absolutely horrible. (From my own experience.)

 

I would have stopped looking under the bench for that darned micro with two DNF's and looked other places around for a magnet to attach to...

 

I would have attached the magnets on the inside of our cache the first time, instead of after the original design failed.

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I probably would have started by reading my unit's owners manual first. The first few times out I didn't know about the navigation screen and tried to find caches by matching coordinates. Not a easy way to do it.

 

Next I would have bought a GPS with more map memory off the bat. I started with a Legend but within a year I had upgraded to a Vista.

 

I would have started loading waypoints directly to my unit earlier. For the first year I was happy manually keying in the coordinates, until I learned about EasyGPS. Makes things much easier. And on the same note I would have started using pocket queries earlier. I was a charter member, but didn't start using PQs for

at least a year after I became a member.

 

And most important, I would have went paperless earlier. I used to print out pages of caches I wanted to do. If I traveled to a new area I would print a pages from a dozen or so caches. Soon I had stacks of caches pages all over the place. On my desk in work, in the back seat of my car, in the trunk, in my pack, on my coffee table, in my file cabinet, you name it. Three years later I'm still finding them. Having Cachemate on my PDA makes life sooooo much easier.

 

From a hiding perspective, I would have went to ammo boxes and Lock n Locks earlier. I started with dollar store plastic containers that were a maintenance nightmare and eventually had to replace them all with ammo boxes.

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I am not sure I could/would change all that much. Maybe I would have planted more caches back in those early days. It took 7 weeks for my first hide to get a find. Would have been nice to get a few more out to try and get more locals involved sooner.

 

Maybe have held a few more events.

 

Thats about it.

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If you had the opportunity to turn back time to the point that you started what would you change?

 

I think I would have been better about documenting my finds. I'd have included the time and what number find that was for me in each of the logs.

 

I also wish I'd been better about photographing the caches I've found.

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I first joined Geocaching.com last summer. But just started to get involved 2 months ago. That's when I wish I got started in the winter when there wasn't all this over growth hiding the caches :D At least that's what I was mumbling under my breath with i walk up to a area that's covered in very leafy vines and other plant life :P

 

Anyway that's half the fun :(

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I'm happy with how things went in the beginning. I hit a bunch of caches early on that were a lot of fun.

 

If I could change one thing I would have liked to have started about 4 months earlier. I had traveled to at least five states during that time for work and vacation, the month I started caching I changed job duties and stopped traveling.

 

After day's work, alone in a strange city, caching would have been the perfect diversion.

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Go paperless, get premium membership! take the time to learn some secondary software (GSAK) it's worth the savings in driving and getting to caches you're going to enjoy. Hide quality containers.

 

Much of what I would change has to do with how the site has changed. Not that useful to you. I should have offered to adopt Renegade Knight's Locationless the instant he offered. I should have gotten my Virtual in the Chassahowitzka Nat'l Wildlife Refuge written up and reviewed while there was still a virtual option. I should have hustled even harder after the Locationless caches while they were around.

I did okay on my first gpsr purchase (Merigold) - maps and memory, not so well on the second. Already was using Expert GPS, so the downloading and mapping stuff went pretty easy.

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I don't think I'd change anything. I wish I had started sooner but then I did start within a week of hearing about geocaching. I wish geocaching had been around when my kids were young. I think it would have been a great family activity.

 

Oh, one piece of advice: Don't geocache in the dark while wearing worn out Birkenstocks. It can be hazardous to your toes. :anitongue:

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I wouldn't have gone after crappy micros in the middle of some godforsaken forest.

 

Other than that, I wouldn't change anything. Geocaching is about as flexible a "sport" or hobby as you could possibly ask for. You can do as little or as much as you like and unless things like FTF's and stats make you drool ...then it's like asking someone "hey when you first started hiking or skiing what would you have changed?"

 

It's just supposed to be a fun little hobby. Like all hobbies, some people go nuts with it.

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I'm still fairly new at this as well (first find Jan. 2, 2007) and I can't really think of anything I would do differently.

 

I can tell you some things I'm glad I did do:

 

Researched the forums heavily before buying a GPSr. A Garmin 60CSx which will be my companion for a very long time (until Garmin builds something hotter! :laughing: )

 

Went paperless from the very beginning. I think I used printouts the very first day... truth be told, I can't remember ever caching with paper! Luckily it was time for me to upgrade my cel phone so I bought a Palm Treo and have been completely thrilled with it.

 

Do 90% of my caching with a really good buddy! Some of the best adventures we've had since we were kids!

 

Waited until I'd found my first 100 before hiding one. Ok, ok... I started thinking about hiding one right after I found #100, it just took me until #150 to actually do it! :anitongue:

 

Attended my first event after only a month of caching. Despite some of the things you'll see posted in the forums about events, they have greatly improved the fun I find in caching. When you read the logs and know the folks doing the logging, it just really makes it more fun. I've also met some wonderful and friendly folks! :laughing:

 

The best advice I can give you... Don't wait!Get out there and get caching!

 

Driver Carries Cache

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Gotten an autorouting gps sooner, its a big help having maps on the gps. Especially when it can pick out a route for you :anitongue:.

 

Also I probably would go to events eariler, I didn't make much effort to attend the first couple local events.

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I would have found caches differently. I started out by finding all the caches in my zip code. If I had all day Saturday to cache I would clean out the home front. Now I have a giant doughnut hole in the middle of the map. I wish I would have driven and hour away cached and saved the close ones for days when I only had a short amount of time.

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I think I would have been better about documenting my finds. I'd have included the time and what number find that was for me in each of the logs.

 

I also wish I'd been better about photographing the caches I've found.

 

Just started out but i think this sounds good to me, by the way nice Topic! thanks

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I would have looked at Stayfloopy's logs and tried to follow these characteristics:

1) always write a unique, detailed log.

2) always take some pics at every cache.

And I would have tried NOT to follow this one:

1) Trails? Heck, just park as close as you can and go striaght for it!

 

Oh, yeah, and I would have gotten some mapping software before I went to Boston for a 3 month job. Those roads are the worst!

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Well it seems to this point I have avoided all the pitfalls that everyone has posted except the paperless thing.

 

Can someone suggest a fairly inexpensive pda to go paperless? I don't want to grab an ebay pda only to find that it does not run the software i would need to get to go paperless.

 

Just got my 60Cx and already wish I had gotten the CSx so thats my little add in to what I would change.

 

Drafin

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Well it seems to this point I have avoided all the pitfalls that everyone has posted except the paperless thing.

 

Can someone suggest a fairly inexpensive pda to go paperless? I don't want to grab an ebay pda only to find that it does not run the software i would need to get to go paperless.

 

Just got my 60Cx and already wish I had gotten the CSx so thats my little add in to what I would change.

 

Drafin

 

Well after reading the forums for a while i bought us a Garmin 60csx right off the bat. the only thing i did take time in getting was the PDA I bought a Palm M500 off ebay and it works great! i just wish i would have bought a better one as i really like the thing.

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When I started in 2002 there was not a lot of GPS's to choose from, and the only auto routing unit that was being used to the GPSV by Garmin. I chose the Magellan SporTrak Pro for my first unit and still do not regret it. I upgraded to a Garmin 60CS as soon as they came out. With Renegade Knights help I went paperless as soon as I could. I guess there are only 2 things that I would change.

 

I would have worked harder at geocaching from the beginning instead of ignoring the sport as long as I did.

 

The other thing is I wish that I had gotten a certain virtual approved without getting permission from the National Park Service instead of waiting and having another cacher place the virtual without permission resulting in my cache being archived.

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I wish I would have started with this user name.

 

Also,I should've started this when I first learned about it,instead of waiting till I was at home.Now I'm stuck in an area with only 4 caches.Where I was before there was like 10+.

 

I REALLY wish I would've set my GPS II to WGS84 map datum instead of trying to be mr.smart guy.That cost me a few finds.Easy ones too.

 

Aside from that,nothing else.

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I REALLY wish I would've set my GPS II to WGS84 map datum.

 

Same here. Those first few finds were really hard with the wrong map datum. I also wish I'd discovered the forums sooner, because they've been incredibly helpful and entertaining.

I'm not sorry I bought a cheap Explorist 100, because we didn't know if we'd like geocaching and I would have hated to waste a lot of money on a better unit if we quit after the first few caches. A simple unit also helped us learn our way around the sport without getting too confused by the technology.

I'm glad we eventually went paperless, but I don't regret the first year when we still printed the cache pages. In fact, I kind of miss the paper, and sometimes still print out the page instead of getting out the pda.

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Besides going paperless sooner.....

I would have researched the caches I was going to find to make sure the last few people found them before I started to look for them. Usually if there are three DNF in a row, it's not there. Of course, you have to judge the difficulty also. Could have saved a lot of time just quickly checking to see if the last couple of people found them.

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Along that line, I went "paperless" right away because I already had a Palm M500 . . . however, I didn't understand the concept of "stale data." :laughing:

 

I had the waypoint in my GPSr, and the cache description in my Palm, but did not have fresh data. :laughing:

 

I wasted a lot of time lookng for caches that had been Disabled or Archived weeks before . . . :laughing:

Edited by Miragee
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Well it seems to this point I have avoided all the pitfalls that everyone has posted except the paperless thing.

 

Can someone suggest a fairly inexpensive pda to go paperless? I don't want to grab an ebay pda only to find that it does not run the software i would need to get to go paperless.

 

Just got my 60Cx and already wish I had gotten the CSx so thats my little add in to what I would change.

 

Drafin

I got a Palm Zire 72 on EBay for $135.00... not sure if I got a good deal. I had never bought anything on Ebay before and knew nothing about PDAs, I just sort of placed a bid for the heck of it, and WHAM!... it was mine. Works fantastic for caching, nice big color screen with a camera. Love paperless caching. I still have a huge stack of printed cache pages that I'm trying to recycle as scratch paper.

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I'm fairly new - since December 06, but I probably wouldn't change much except for maybe get a better unit after this season and I do plan to try harder to convince my husband that this is something he'd totally be in to (he hasn't even gone out once with me yet).

 

When I do something, I usually go over the top. I started out like this:

 

-My GPSr is an etrex Venture CX (got it as a gift for Christmas from hubby);

-Bought TOPO preprogrammed data card for the unit within the next 2 days;

-Joined Geocaching.com as a premium member so I could use the pq's

(although I didn't quite know what they were yet);

-I started paperless after only 2 weeks

(Palm Z22 does the trick - oh then I learned what a pocket query was);

-Great caching partners and keep adding more - Miko the geodog is always with me

(I usually have with me either my closest friend, my son, and other friends or family)

-My hiking boots were already worn in (Merrell Chameleon Stretch - actually my 3rd pair);

-I even bought the geocaching for idiots book, however, I never opened it.

(I think its under the drivers seat of my car)

-I just recently started purchasing geocoins of my own to pass on;

 

In a nutshell, I'm very happy with how it's going! :D

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I don't know that I would change much.

 

Definitely would have went paperless much earlier. I went one and a half years before finally getting a Palm Z22, and that has definitely been a great addition. Especially since we didn't really print the papers out either, we just used the GPS and hoped we could remember enough information to find the cache.

 

Would have taken many more pictures. Got off to a good start with that one, but then it just kind quit happening. Have so many pictures of our early geocaching experiences, and so few of the later ones.

 

Would have just avoided one of the other local geocachers all together to start with, he almost ruined the sport for us. He still finds little ways to get on my nerves now, but I finally learned to ignore him, and geocaching is starting to be fun again.

 

Other than that, I'm glad I have always had a friend along to geocache with, to celebrate the finds, and join in the aggrevation of DNF's. We've always just took our time, and found geocaches at our own slow pace, and kept a few to go look for on the really slow boring days around home. It's definitely been great to do on some of our vacations as well, you don't quite get to see a town, not until you've geocached in all it's secret spots.

Edited by Braff-n-MandaRue
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I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who has contributed to this thread. As a "just starting out" cacher (haven't even started yet!), I have found everyone's "if" comments to be most helpful as I begin the steps down the road to a fun addiction!

 

After reading what you had to say, I have taken the following steps to hopefully start well right off the bat:

  • My Garmin 60CSX is arriving this week - many of you seem to have wished you had a better unit when you started.
  • I have dug out the old Axim X5 and will be purchasing and familiarizing myself with the applicable software for going paperless - another common "if I started over" topic.
  • Will be signing up for the premium membership ASAP.
  • I have begun assembling a small pack to hold my digital camera and other essentials (bug spray, flashlight, plastic bags for CITO, etc.) I wouldn't have thought of bringing the camera right away and I sure I would have missed out on some interesting photo opportunities.

Weather (and UPS) permitting, I hope to find #1 this weekend sometime.

 

See you on (and off) the trails!

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Yep I'd like to add the same feelings as above... I went out "papered" this weekend and found my first two caches. One was a micro and one was standard.

 

This post's responses helped me in a lot of decisions...

 

Thanks to you all.

 

And ain't that first find a hoot no matter how easy it is? :)

 

Drafin

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Since you decided to use an Axim, I would highly reccomend a program called GPXView It is not being updated much recently, but it does not need to be. Download the GPX files directly from Geocaching.com and you see the cache pages pretty much as you would on-line (minus most of the graphic overhead).

 

http://www.strandberg.org/gpxview

 

That URL will lead you to the program. There are other programs that you can use, but this one is easy, and does a good job with the basics. I also highly recommend GSAK . Clyde has done a GREAT job, and keeps adding new features (I probably use only 10% of its capabilities). Most often now, I take my laptop with me. and get all the info from GSAK, and take my Axim out only if I go for an extended hike to a cache.

 

Good luck. and just take time to enjoy the Adventures

 

Gary and Mary

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I'm pretty satisfied, so far. However, I would definitely find some local cachers to go out with, since it's a lot harder to just say "I can't find this stupid *$^@! thing. Movin' on. Darn game!" when somebody else is there looking with you.

I can't complain about my GPSr, since it was a gift, and I do find caches with it; though I will be upgrading this summer, though I probably would have gotten the cable for the one I have. It's a pain in the butt trying to input a bunch of waypoints on my eTrex by thumb.

I already had a PDA, so going paperless was pretty quick. I also jumped on the premium bandwagon pretty quick.

I probably would have started taking my camera with me much sooner. I already take a bunch of pictures, but I just wasn't taking it with me caching. Now, I've got it with me almost always. A side benefit - it cuts down on the odd looks from muggles (unless I'm looking for LPC's).

The big two I'd change? I would have been much more actively hunting early. I was pretty casual the first couple months about hunting. Not that it's all that bad, since I cache solo, and at a pace I'm fairly comfortable with. I'd also done events sooner. I've been to one event, so far, and it was pretty cool.

Aside from those few little things, I'm pretty happy.

Edited by PJPeters
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What would I do different if I could start over???

 

1. Start several years earlier! I wish I had known about geocaching years ago when I could afford to travel more.

 

2. Bought a good new GPSr right from the beginning. Tried to start with an old Magellan 2000 which just wasn't accurate enough. Bought my eXplorist 100 several months later and love it! It's a really good basic unit.

 

3. Discovered the forums earlier. I have found a wealth of good information from reading the various forums.

 

4. Pick my current username first. I was lucky in that I was able to change my first username before the system lockdown.

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A few things, first would be to start with a GPS with autorouting and features that you can use for something other than geocaching. Some don't need it, I went without it for a long time but now that I have it I use it to look up addresses and its estimated time to arrival is sooo much more accurate than google or mapquest...

 

I now have a geocoin that I take with me and drop n grab to track my miles. Its something that I like but I didn't get until 25+ finds. That was a LOT of backlogging to get it up to date!

 

Accept it that in the long run the numbers don't matter. I now average only 1 or 2 caches a week, but they are on hikes and the like. Those will be the caches that you remember and that friends will actually be interested in hearing, not the 1 of 23 you cache n dashed in a single day 6 months ago...

 

Things that I wouldn't change... my geoname. I like what I picked (:

 

Also the fact that I brought a camera with me right from the start. I now have a digital SLR with a 4Gig memory card that has its own backpack along with the rest of my SWAG.

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I think we started out our Geocaching experiance perfectly. We bought the Garmin 60CSX right off the bat, we always bring the camera and take 30+ pics per cache. We bought a smaller car with better gas mileage so we can get down those narrow okinawa roads. We use google earth to plot our which areas we will head to so we can plan our day out. GSAK is awesome, and I am still trying to talk my friends who love to manually enter the coords in to use it. We have camelbacks, and have little cache kits all made up. Of course, we have only been caching for a little over a month, but what i am most glad about is the fact that we prioritize on having fun instead of the amount of caches we can get. I have seen people in a rat race to compete, and it takes all the fun out of the game. Stop and smell the flowers! Look in a tide pool, or discover a new cave......

My only regret is not knowing about this 3 years ago when we first got to Okinawa, because we have seen things thanks to caching that we would never had ever seen. :ph34r:

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Amazingly, we did a lot of things *right* from the start!

 

About the only thing I would have changed would have been to go ahead and drive 20 - 30 minutes away, on those days where we had plenty of time for caching, rather than focusing on "clearing" all of the nearby caches. We've done a masterful job of clearing the close ones now and don't have any targets for quick caching trips (when we might only have time for a quick grab). Yeah, it's hard to ignore those nearby ones that "throb" on your map, almost shouting, "Find me! Find me!", but it's really nice to have them available for quickies!

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Gotten an autorouting gps sooner, it's a big help having maps on the gps. Especially when it can pick out a route for you :ph34r:.

 

Also I probably would go to events earlier, I didn't make much effort to attend the first couple local events.

Same as above. First GPSr didn't connect with the PC. Second connects and does autorouting, but has a monochrome screen. I should have spent the money to get color. It took me two years to go paperless, wish I did that from the start because those last 5 logs would have been helpful. Related to that, I don't think I got a premium membership until I had been caching for a year. I tried to get into the game on the cheap, making things a little more difficult. Also, there was an event right around the time I started caching. I didn't go because I thought I was too new.

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Amazingly, we did a lot of things *right* from the start!

 

About the only thing I would have changed would have been to go ahead and drive 20 - 30 minutes away, on those days where we had plenty of time for caching, rather than focusing on "clearing" all of the nearby caches. We've done a masterful job of clearing the close ones now and don't have any targets for quick caching trips (when we might only have time for a quick grab). Yeah, it's hard to ignore those nearby ones that "throb" on your map, almost shouting, "Find me! Find me!", but it's really nice to have them available for quickies!

This is some advice I've been seeing here in this thread.I find it in my best intrests to follow it as it makes sense! :ph34r:

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I now have a geocoin that I take with me and drop n grab to track my miles. Its something that I like but I didn't get until 25+ finds. That was a LOT of backlogging to get it up to date!

 

B)B)

 

Now THAT is a very cool idea.

 

I might just have to steal that...if it's cool with you. :ph34r:

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Like others have said I would have taken more pictures, although I don't take many now. I went paperless pretty early on with a Kyocera Smartphone.

On thing I would change is I should have stayed a volunteer reviewer. It generally was fun and I loved seeing what was going on geocaching-wise around the state. I got to know a great number of cachers too. If only they'd take me back. :blink:

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HOLY MACKEREL - CacheMate is AWESOME!!!! Thanks for the tip, I've been using MobileReader, which sucks for searching and isn't that easy to read. CacheMate is SO much better, plus the Took/Left log is REALLY handy- well worth the $8 registration!!!

 

Greg

 

I probably would have started by reading my unit's owners manual first. The first few times out I didn't know about the navigation screen and tried to find caches by matching coordinates. Not a easy way to do it.

 

Next I would have bought a GPS with more map memory off the bat. I started with a Legend but within a year I had upgraded to a Vista.

 

I would have started loading waypoints directly to my unit earlier. For the first year I was happy manually keying in the coordinates, until I learned about EasyGPS. Makes things much easier. And on the same note I would have started using pocket queries earlier. I was a charter member, but didn't start using PQs for

at least a year after I became a member.

 

And most important, I would have went paperless earlier. I used to print out pages of caches I wanted to do. If I traveled to a new area I would print a pages from a dozen or so caches. Soon I had stacks of caches pages all over the place. On my desk in work, in the back seat of my car, in the trunk, in my pack, on my coffee table, in my file cabinet, you name it. Three years later I'm still finding them. Having Cachemate on my PDA makes life sooooo much easier.

 

From a hiding perspective, I would have went to ammo boxes and Lock n Locks earlier. I started with dollar store plastic containers that were a maintenance nightmare and eventually had to replace them all with ammo boxes.

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If I could do it all again, I'd actually go after more of the caches I planned for. For instance, on a vacation trip I took to England, I pre-planned several caches I intended to hit. Once I got there, I didn't end up going after any of them. It also happens more often than not in my local area. I download all of the caches in an area prior to going there hiking and exploring, but when I get to the area, I often walk right by a cache, see it on the GPS screen, but don't bother looking for some reason. It would be okay I suppose, but then again, looking back over your finds from years ago helps bring back memories of the adventure you had at that time.

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