I have been thinking about the past decade of caching. Well, I can cheat and say almost 15 years. I found my first geocache when my kid was younger and playing soccer (football for all those not in the USA). My daughter wandered out to the corner of the field and when I went to find her I found an ammunition can. The Cache was Lehi Parks GCR0X6.
I had heard of caching for some time. Though I had not taken the time to actually get involved. I was a scoutmaster in the BSA and was scrambling to keep on top of everything. Well, after a bit I decided it would be smart to get a GPS. So off the the store I went.
I bought the worst GPS ever made. Literally the worst. I could not get it to run, it crashed constantly. I took it back to the store and paid more for a better model. It was crap as well, so back to the store. They had a policy that said I had to contact the maker to be fixed. So I was really pissed. I eventually badgered the guy until he let me switch to a Garmin.
Well, with that trusty old crappy GPS I did find a few caches. On May 4th in 2008 I stumbled upon Generic Cache GC17484 It was a two minute walk from my home. I looked twice, before I found the stupid thing. It was on a guardrail on a bridge over a creek. Wow, my eyes were opened.
I chose firennice as a handle from gaming. I started using the computer and internet back in the early 1990’s. It was a cool time, new tech every month. In that time period there were not really a lot of online gamers. I saw the origin of spamming at least in forums. There would be a discussion, and someone would say. “I like spam”. That was followed by a “I hate spam” and the boards discussion would devolve into that discussion. But I digress. I would try to grab firenice or fire-n-ice as a handle. There and on AOL. It was often taken, so I would add an extra n. It was never taken, so I grabbed it and rolled on. That became my geocaching handle.
I dove in really heavily that first year. I think I had well over 100 caches, and made a number of new friends. I remember attending my first event, and kind of sat in the back by a campfire. I had put out a series that was very well received by the local cachers, and it made me feel good to get the comments, and see the reactions.
I do remember getting home and my wife asked how it was. I remember saying that you had never seen so many OCD people gathered in one place at one time. It was really funny to her because she worked in the mental health industry.
Well. As this year rolls into my 11th year… whats up?
I have seen the rise of Earthcaches. they were around, but I feel like they came into their own later. I ran one mega event, attended a few others. I have many many coins. Had a few made. Hosted thirty events, and placed some 500 caches. I don’t look at my find count. I am behind on logging. I need to get back to that. So I really do not know how many I have.
My stat that I am the most proud of is the 1450 favorite points. I really try to pick and choose some of the locations. I think those are paying off as time goes by.
so thanks for everyone that has made this trip so great. I plan on more, perhaps a bit more picky than in times past, however I do plan on more. As I move closer to retirement and see kids slowly head out into the world.
Yep it is that time again. Spring is here, and it is time to get going. I was thinking it was time for me to give advice on getting an Earthcache published. I am surprised as I see there appears to be a number of people that just seem to struggle. Some sail through the process and others get bogged down in minutia They fall in a few categories.
GC5H550 Fin Erosion, Photo by geogriefer from geocaching website
The Historically Interesting
Remember Earthcaching is about the geologic world around you. It is not about the building, dam, fort, city hall, or the history of the ancient people that lived there. We are trying to teach about Geology Yes I know it is a little wider that just the science of geology, I will cover that in a minute. Unless I loose track and start rambling, which happens often.
As much as the building of the dam, the people it displaced, and the history may be interesting it cannot be the primary focus of the cache. If part of your Earthcache is on topic we may ask you to remove it. Some fight tooth and nail to keep it in, but it can't be the primary focus.
I can go here so no permission is needed
Wow this has been a huge fallacy for some time. This is primarily for the US Earthcaches. Differences in laws and land manager policies give other locations different opinions. Recently I asked the other US reviewers. Everyone was pretty much on the same page. You need permission, there can be some leeway for a road pullout, but if you place off road you will be asked for permission.
I have good relations as a reviewer for Earthcaches with many National Park Service, BLM, state parks and other agencies. I regularly get emails from a few of them. I have taken the time when traveling to greet them if they were in their offices. They are good people doing their job. If you want to make them mad, publish and lie about permission. That works for me as well. I have had a few people that apparently lied to me. I have contacted the email given and was told they never asked. On the flip side, a manager from Zion National park contacted me, upset they had not given permission, and was thinking about having a number archived. We pulled records with names and he left happy, after a good discourse. So mistakes do happen.
In another instance a cacher said there was no need for permission and pointed me to the BLM webpage. At the bottom is stated "please contact the BLM office to make sure the location is appropriate. I have had, and seen, a number turned down. For a number of reasons
Area is closed. Though no signage exists, it is a closed area.
People were gathering the material to be seen (archaeological, fossils, obsidian, etc) and they did not want to advertise.
A permit was needed, and contact with the managing agency. They wanted to make sure the site was not advertised.
Plants/animals were considered endangered.
In the end take the time. They can be a help to you as well.
Take a photo
Yep, not allowed. Since about 2011 a photo requirement is optional. It was not grandfathered. I hear that a lot. I have let a few cache owners know. Log disputes are up to someone else, HQ and the Geological Society, however if the requirements do not meet the guidelines I will go back and address it with the cache owner.
The terrible logging task
I will point to this in the Help Center
An EarthCache teaches an earth science lesson. The cache page must include logging tasks that help teach the same lesson. Remember that the EarthCache is based on the world around us, not on an informational sign at the EarthCache site. Geocachers must complete the tasks before they log the EarthCache as found.
What are good tasks? Tasks that ask people to interpret what they see. How did this form this way? I have one where people try to burn a piece of oil shale, I ask them what they see and learn. Others ask people to describe the formation, and why it formed like that.
What are bad tasks? Eleveation, measure the width of the river, or depth. Find a word on a sign, give me a diameter of the boulder. Remember we are here to teach.
Clastic Pebbele Dikes, photo by oxsling
The wrong earth science
Earth science is pretty broad. For the sake of the Geological Society of America, it means the hard earth, the physical part of our planet. Geology and its related fields.
I know it is sad. I have proposed a few times to people at Groundspeak to create a BioCache or something similar, however until then, we are stuck with using the GSA options.
What is not ok? Biology, ecology, geodesy, archaeology, oceonography, zoology..... I think you get the point.
Wayyyy to many
Once and a while something spreads. Bob places an Earthcache, and everyone copies it. You see a mirror of it all over. So many are limited. We can also see a time when things just are too problematic, they are not bad ideas, but really they are not doable. So what are these?
Building and decorative stones.
river gaging stations
Now an area may be saturated. Yellowstone is buried with caches on geysers. If there is nothing new to be taught, you may not be allowed to list a cache. Every reviewer will have his limits on how close you can have a cache to a similar one.
GC5FM6F, photo by utahsnowflake
What can I do?
Well first, remember it can be a long haul. I have had a few I have worked on for years. I need a bit more info. Many people take a few weeks to a few months to get it listed. I am always impressed with the people that do it on the first try. So do not be discouraged. Don't try and overwhelm the visitor either. This is not a doctorate thesis on geology. Pretend you are teaching a Jr High student.
Remember to take it a step at a time.
Do I meet the focus of the Earthcache program
Do I have the science to teach?
Do I have logging tasks that use what I teach?
Do I have permission?
Done. See how easy? Ok it is not that easy, but you know what I mean. Take it in steps.
There are hiders and there are hiders. There are those people that do amazing work have a great many fantastic caches that people tip their hats too. We all know there. There are a few in every area. Perhaps they specialize in the Earthcaches that are interesting, it may be the gadget caches that keep others entertained. Other cachers may place caches in locations that make others ooh and ahh at the scenic beauty. So now there is a reward for some of them.
First I had nothing to do with it
As a reviewer, we were not asked who, how, or what should be included in the algorithm. So don't contact any reviewer mad that you did not get one. We had no input. A small group of lackeys sat down and (I am sure) pounded out the thoughts of what should be included, and what should be weighted.
However, I know people will ask. Why was cacher X chosen, and not Y? Well, obviously the most good looking, smart, and happy cachers got chosen. So when you are asked, that is the answer that should be given. That seems simple enough. Well, I can't say that, because I do not know who was chosen. No one has even shared that with me. So once again, I am no help.
You got an email
So you will have received an email from HQ if you got it. Other than that, I don't know much. The caches are supposed to go out to the top hiders, not in your area, but worldwide. Some people you may have been sure to get one, may not have, and I am expecting people to be surprised at others. That seems to be how a computer will spit things out. Congrats enjoy the day, you have a while to use it and get it listed.
If you did not get an email
Not much you can do this time around. There will be a lot that does not get them, I have no great advice. Place better caches? Place some? Just enjoy the new ones? The cache pages are not adoptable, so I am assuming that some people will not even use the ones they have.
Far too often we never look at the photos that people place on your caches. You really never see them, you are not notified of them, and often they are kind of dumb. I have a ton of Earthcaches with dozens upon dozens of photos of someone holding their GPS. I don't ask them to take a photo of their GPS, or their forhead, or whatever, but I get them.
Once and a while you get some cool photos. Something that says. "thanks for bringing me here" Today I thought I would share some. I was going through them today. I wish there was a quick and nice button to hunt for photos on my caches alone. I tried to stick to no more than one per cache.
GC1CNE6 by Scipio43This is a little bit away from the cache, but a cool pictures
GC1CNEA by billdevCows out eating in the marsh
GC1EF22 by snownomiI loved this stamp he used. He passed away a year or more ago. I miss his smiling gace and logs.
GC1FQ25 by fam2goa picture from one of my Wherigo tours.
GC1TKKNSilverheelsA shot from an Earthcache. at Castle rock campground. I will be honest, I edited the photos rotation a bit.
GC1XPWP drgw3128Another shot from a Wherigo, of one of my Pirate containers for a geocachie. He was crazy enough to go hunt in the snow for it.
GC1XPYD Sierrawildflower & GeoHikerAnother ending to a Wherigo. You have to have treasure at the end of a pirates treasure hunt.
GC1XWTR zacknmomI placed a cache at a simple walk to overlook. It was when I took DK Titan out for a caching run. You walk over the hill top, some 30 yards from the road, and this is what you see.
GC2BV56 toja7A nice wade to get to the other side. They did not want to walk around.
GC2CPRQ cold1He always complains that I am out to kill him by placing caches. This was possibly the closest I came to doing it. Maybe next time.
GC2DG6M JacobBarlowAnother small hike. I think it was only a few hundred yards. See that point way over there. I place a cache on that point as well.
Hope you enjoyed them. I have another two groups of 10 with my favorite caching photos, on my caches to come.
I have not written in some time. I keep thinking of getting back into it. I felt this was the time.
A few months ago Prime Reviewer stepped away from reviewing suddenly. He was a private individual and he did not share a lot of info about his private life with the caching community, and other reviewers. I had reviewed Earthcacches in Texas for six years, so I had some communication with him.
He ran a number of websites that suddenly went dark (Evince and a few others). Many of us worried, I did not hear from him, and assumed that he was burned out and just wanted to get away. Then the word came that he had passed away. I was saddened, as many were, in his passing, then I wanted to take a moment to think of his contributions.
I don't know who took this photo, but it was being shared around facebook, and I wanted something here for him.
I think most do not realize what this man accomplished. He did not toot his own horn, or stand on a hill and pronounce it to the world. However, in my opinion, the work that he has done on behalf of caching is more prominent than anyone outside of Geocaching HQ.
Prime published a lot of caches. A lot, lots, tons, way more than tons. As far as I understand he published more as a reviewer in Texas than any other reviewer. I can't give numbers, but 10-12 times the numbers of most reviewers. He published more in some busy years than most reviewers ever publish.
He was also very active for 13 years in the reviewers forum. As far as I am aware of no one posted more of his opinions, helps, guides, advice, criticisms, and ideas. On the same scale as above. Most lurk and do not voice opinions, yet he was always in the thick of it.
Then were the little programs, helps, macros, and guides he published to help the reviewers (and players) help in the game. I do not know of more than one or two reviewers that do not use his programs. When I came on board in 2009 there was a list of a bunch for me to choose from, the reviewer that trained me spent hours helping get them set up and running correctly.
He worked tirelessly in Texas. His love for the game was seen by many. However I think few will ever see how much advice and help he gave the caching community. I will easily state that no one outside of Geocaching HQ did as much for caching as he did, but most will not see that. Your caches for the last decade or more, in England, Austrailia, Germany, USA, and especially in Texas were touched by this man.
I salute you Prime. Thank you for all you have given. See you on the other side.