Jangie is our geocaching name, a combination of our team members, Jon and Angie. We are North Dakota geocachers that love to explore the prairie. We aim to share our perspectives and tips to enhance your geocaching experience.
Thousands (millions!?) of trackables are racing around the globe with missions compelling them to continue traveling, collecting pictures, being discovered, and sharing stories. But why do some trackables last for years in the wild, while others don’t make it past their first drop? Well, when I received a good handful of those Magic: The Gathering trackables in their last promotion only a few months previously to this post (Race of the Rivals | Magic: The Gathering), I decided to attempt a bit of an experiment.
A Brief Backstory
Geocaching, HQ so kindly named me a geocaching influencer and sent me a package containing 12 Ixalan trackables (3 of each rival team). I gave away 8 across multiple channels, but kept 4 to activate myself and release into the wild. However, I wanted these trackables to help me decipher the mysterious question I asked above. Why do some traveling game pieces succeed and why do others fail?
I don’t expect to solve this conundrum with only 4 trackables, but I thought it would perhaps gain me a little insight into how to keep TBs moving. To keep a constant, I attached the same hitchhiker to each – a “Create Your Own Magic” charm. I then chose only two variations for mission goals either A) I’m on a race! Please help me travel between caches with a D/T of 2 or higher. OR B) I’m on a race! Please help me travel between caches. Then, I attached a ThanksForTheHide’s mission tag to 2 trackables, 1 per goal.
Into the Wild We Go
Once I had my trackables assembled, I set out for geocaches that fit their goals. First, I found a higher D/T to drop the first couple, driving across a frozen lake instead of taking a hike. Then, I placed the other pair at a unique location, an older cache that gets a lot of traffic that coincidently had Magic cards in it! None have moved yet, but once the snow starts to melt, they’re sure to see some action.
Want to join in this race? Send me a picture of your Ixalan trackable including your hitchhiker and the reference code, and then I’ll add your TB to the list below. If at least 15 people submit their code, I’ll give out a little prize to the owner whose trackable gets the most mileage by 11/1/18! Around that date, I will write a post about what I’ve learned.
What advice do you have to help a trackable fulfill its mission? Where has your Ixalan TB traveled? What has your furthest traveled trackable had as a mission and hitchhiker?
Imagine if you could print your dream geocache designs, complex puzzle boxes, adorable cache guardians, and evil hides in plain sight. You don’t have to imagine, because it’s happening now and spreading to GZ’s everywhere. 3D printers are changing the construction of containers, and, some believe, elevating our game.
In this post, I hope to inform you on 3D printing, share my experience with these geocaches, and report back on an interview I had with Lampay, a French geocacher and an expert with the 3D printer. Plus, I’m giving away a geocaching goodie package that includes an acorn container, so stay until the end (wink wink)!
What is 3D Printing?
Before we jump into the amazing geocache containers being created, let’s back up to the process and potential for 3D printing applications. The definition of 3D printing is “a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file” (3dprinting.com). Creating a 3D printed object involves adding a layer of material upon a layer of material until the object is completed, starting from a digital design to a physical copy. Many materials, such as various metals and plastic, can be used to print. The most common applications include prosthetics, rapid prototyping, small-scale manufacturing, architectural models, dentistry, and machinery parts. Projections for the 3D printing world (in dollars and wide-spread use) show it entwining in our everyday lives and transforming many industries in the near future.
3D Printed Geocaches in ND
Social media guided me to 3D printed geocaches and helped me bring them to my nano piece of the geocaching game board, western North Dakota. I first learned about the possibly of printing containers when I started watching Geocacher Owain, a geo-vlogger from England, on YouTube. He held a contest on his channel, and I won a 3D printed geocache (here’s one video showcasing a few of his creations: “3D Printing Geocaches – Pokéball Containers”). His containers were the only ones I had seen of these type until I traveled over the state border to Montana, where a local cacher hid a 3D printed cryptex. I posted a picture of this find online, and to my luck, Lampay, a French geocacher, so kindly said he’d mail me a couple cryptex containers. He answered a few questions concerning 3D printed containers, as well as sent me a couple videos of the containers he printed.
The link below is the video, showing the creation of the outer shell of the cryptex containers he mailed me; the picture is of the completed container. He was able to choose the colors and print my name on the front.
Once I received these two cryptex caches, I made sure to publish one, and by this time, I had received another one as a gift from the geocacher that had printed the container over in Montana, so I placed that one too.
After getting my hands on three different 3D printed geocaches, I began searching the web for more of these nifty, sturdy contraptions. No, not the 3D printers, which run from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to buy, but rather, already-made geocache containers. I went over to Etsy and began shopping, running across some cute acorns and a rather unique sign top cache on Itz-A-Thing 3D Printing and Design’s store. After buying a couple items, I asked Lampay a few more questions.
An Interview with Lampay
Lampay is lucky enough to be so compassionate about his work that it blends into his play. He works as a “CGI (digitial special effects) business, so [he] does 3D printing every day.” Since consumer printers became more accessible, he feels like he is “only limited by one thing: [his] imagination.” He went on to list his printed caches, many themed containers such as Doctor Who’s Tardis, a heart-shaped Valentine’s Day box with FTF, STF, and TTF award tokens (GC7J7K9), and most recently, a Minauttor multi-cache where the final is a bull’s head.
Photo Credit: Lampay
His wide-range of containers made me wonder if you had to be an advanced special effects genius to create these objects, so I asked if people could find 3D printed geocache files somewhere on the web or if they needed to be able to create their own. Lampay gave me this site: www.thingiverse.com, where creators share their files with others. Lampay has uploaded two geocache designs; the previous link directs you to his profile. He uses others’ designs or else modifies them to fit his needs.
Lampay is an obvious backer of printed containers, owning 25 published listings, but does he often find 3D printed caches in the wild? Interesting enough, no, he hasn’t. He did say that he’s “on a French Facebook group that only talks about 3D printing in geocaching. So I hope to see [some] soon in his outings.” I decided to take polls on both my Twitter and Instagram accounts, and the majority of people who answered have not found a 3D printed container either.
And since Lampay does have so many out on the game board, I was curious as to how they hold up. He explained how the materials can be adapted to the placement area (aka you could use metal filament if wanting to hide a cache on a metal structure). He’s looking out for the environment and prefers to use “PLA that does not generate toxic fumes and that in the long run is biodegradable;” however, he said PLA is highly heat sensitive, so if the temperature is over 50̊C (122̊F), it may melt a little. As a CO, he receives many nice messages about his containers, plus cachers ask where he bought them (which is quite the compliment on his handywork!). He doesn’t know about any direct sales channels, so maybe we have a niche waiting to be filled in the geocaching world.
To celebrate Valentine’s Day, I’m sharing my love of geocaching by giving away a prize package to one lucky geocacher that includes a 3D printed acorn geocache and everything else in the picture above this paragraph (and described in the box below). Follow the directions below to enter into the giveaway. I’m trying something new (Gleam) that is easier for me to operate and gives you more ways to enter (aka a better chance to win!); please let me know if you have any questions. I’ll be choosing and announcing one winner on Friday, February 23rd, 2018. I also gave away a package to one of my patrons on Patreon; check out my @GeoJangie Patron Club page for more information. Good luck to all those who enter!
Geocaching brings us to many places, places we’ve visited hundreds of times and places we need coordinates, a good map, and some luck while turning down deserted roads for the first time. North Dakota’s vast acreage covers many forgotten towns and buildings, ravaged by the wind, sun, and reckless explorers. We would never stumble upon these ghost towns and homesteads unless we were in search of a cache, and I’ve decided to share a bit of history of each abandoned location we come across (from 2018 and on) in a new category here on my blog: Ghost Towns and Homesteads. Come on a tour into the past with us and help keep these lost places alive. First stop – Wabek, North Dakota.
Wabek was founded in 1914 as a settlement along the railroad, a reason for many small towns in North Dakota to be formed in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. From the remains, we can see that a saloon, post office, school, and a few houses made up the town during its peak, which came in 1930, noting 46 people in their census and a radio station. The saloon remained open until 2003, at least, when it hosted a few fundraisers, including a “Bachelorette Auction” and poker tournament. Even though the doors are not open for customers and a bartender doesn’t occupy the bar top, people still seem to enjoy a beverage or two in the unstable structure.
We turned off ND-23 and I immediately saw our beacon – the tall, white lettering beckoned us: SALOON. I had the J take pictures of me in the old local hangout’s doorway. Then, I began to poke around. The door was wide open, welcoming potential customers, it seemed. We’ve stepped into many abandoned structures in our quests, but this one seemed to have quite a few fixtures stored inside its leaning walls. Of course, mostly everything was busted: ceiling fans’ arms lay on the ground, scattered beer bottle glass hid in the torn carpet, cracked furniture occupied the corners, garbage from regulars resided along the bar.
After a few minutes inside the saloon, I pulled up my Cachly app and realized the geocache was closer to the road. Once I found the right perspective, the cute container was easy to find. By this time, my hands weren’t working too nimbly, due to the below freezing temperature (about 13̊F), so I took the container back to the truck and the J used a tweezers to remove the log, sign our name, and pop the sheet back in the cache. My hands were by the heaters the whole time. I then went back out, replaced the container, and took another picture. Cute bird, right?!
We left Wabek the same way we came, over the Soo Line Railroad and back onto the highway. On our way home, along 1804, we chased the sunset until darkness fell and the flares were the only lights that illuminated the prairie, frozen for the season.
What ghost towns have you visited because of geocaches? Do you prefer these lost places or well-occupied locations?
Bundling up my daughter, we traveled across the vast town of Williston, ND to a coffee shop, housing sweet smells and comfy chairs. The 2018 Australia Day weekend finally arrived for geocachers internationally to celebrate Signal the Frog’s travels. This Geocaching, HQ mascot succeeded again in tempting souvenir seekers to log “will attend” and “attended” logs, as well as teach us about a country and holiday. I’d like to share my event’s proceedings, the quiz I prepared and my thoughts in this blog post.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…
Preparing for an event is always the trickiest part in my mind. Where do you want to hold it? What do you want to do? Should there be prizes? I knew we had to meet indoors, since the weather around these parts is too unpredictable – 30 minutes in negative temperatures just doesn’t sound extremely fun, especially if people are driving a ways in their vehicles only to be standing out in the freezing tundra. So I chose the only location that really made sense, Mega-a-Latte, a brick and mortar coffee shop that has a large area where we could rearrange chairs to fit our group size, plus I didn’t have to call for reservations.
Next, I wanted to bring a little “Australian” treat to the gathering, which led me to many Amazon searches. Kangaroo jerky? Boomerangs? Keychains? Thongs (aka flip flops to us American folk)? Finally, I landed on Australian-style licorice, cherry and huckleberry. If no one ate it, it’s my mom’s favorite candy. I also bought a kangaroo to use as a hitchhiker for one of my new trackables I received over Christmas. “Hop to Australia” will hopefully make its way to Australia, bouncing along to a cache in the bush.
Lastly, a prize. I knew I wanted to have a quiz about Australia (you can find this quiz and the answers following this post). That’s the awesome part about the whole event weekend – learning about a new holiday and country, and a quick multiple-question quiz would require me to research information and perhaps start a conversation about this holiday’s history at the event. And with any geo-pop quiz, a geocoin and pathtag make the surprise test so much more enjoyable, right? During the holiday deals, I bought a few geocoins that caught my eye, including the one I gave away at this event – a quarter geocoin bought at GeoSwag.com. I almost bought an official Australia Day coin on geocaching.com, but I figured if a person really wanted to collect it, they would buy it for themselves. Hopefully everyone got one that wanted one; the dog tag version seemed to sell quickly!
Iced vanilla Chai teas are my favorite, while my sister went for a red bull zinger. What’s your favorite coffee shop drink? @GeoJangie Patron Club Members were able to discover this TB before I sent it into the wild!
The Coffee and Chat
Gratefully, on the day of the event, my sister was in town and said she’d come and help with my little cacher, since the J was gone coaching basketball. She made it explicitly clear that she did not want to talk, but she’d be more than willing to play with my squish on the indoor playground equipment, even more so when I said I’d pay for her drink. I’m not sure why she didn’t want to hang out with us cachers. I thought maybe she could learn a thing or two from us and our hobby, but she didn’t want to chance it I guess haha!
I arrived a few minutes early, organized tables, set up my sign, and soon the other cachers began to arrive. In all, we had 7 people from Montana, plus me from North Dakota at the event. These Montana cachers came from Scobey, MT and Sidney, MT; they joked that it may have been more fitting to host an Australia event in Sidney, but at least we had a bit of Sidney at the event. We chatted for about an hour and took the quiz, before dispersing back into the snowy landscape. I had made an announcement on the page that I thought it would be fun to take a picture of us all wearing thongs in the snow (instead of the sandy, warm beaches currently found in Australia), but no one else shared my views – I don’t blame them, it was cold! – so I was alone in my flip-flop photo. I’m still gathering the nerve to ask to take a group picture at events, but hey, we gathered and left our virtual signatures online, and that’s what’s important.
As a bonus, one of the cachers from Sidney kindly brought me a 3D printed container to hide here in town. He has begun hiding the sturdy puzzle boxes there, owning 4 3D printers and fiddling with them in his free time. The week after the event, I made sure to have all my family members attempt to open the contraption, and then I hid it at my favorite park.
Following the Event
Overall, I’d say the event was a success. We met, geo-chatted, swapped trackables, earned a souvenir, learned about Australia, and tried some new licorice (p.s. I had a lot left over for my mom). Plus, I received a new geocache container, a pretty awesome gift!
Do you want to learn more about Australia Day from 3 Australian geocachers? Well, lucky you! I’m super excited to announce that I’m the new blog manager over at Geocache Talk, and on the first Friday of every month I will be publishing a new post. This Friday’s article will be about the interviews I had with these 3 cachers and their perspectives’ on this holiday. If you’re interested, keep an eye on the Geocache Talk blog. Read my first post, “Dear Geocache Talk Blog Reader,” to learn more about how you can share your story there too.
How did your Australia Day weekend go? What is your favorite part about Signal traveling the world?
As a North Dakota resident for most of my life, I can confidently say that winter is not the most comfortable season to enjoy the great outdoors here in the northern United States. We’ve had warnings this past month to not stay outside for more than ten minutes, due to such a high risk of frostbite. So, if you’re wondering to yourself, What can I do to scratch my geocaching itch without entering the frozen tundra? keep reading; I have a list of 11 geo-related activities that might help.
Of course, I had to mention it! Winter can be a great time to go geocaching; check out my blog post 5 Perks of Winter Caching to read my argument for this case. Remember to stay safe, be prepared, and dress in layers. Here’s a picture of me jumping with a geocache on a frozen lake. The temperature was a balmy -13̊ F. By going in winter, this D2.5/T3 became an easy D1.5/T1.5 I’d say. You can also stick to indoor EventCaches, chatting with geocachers while earning a smiliey too.
I’ve heard winter is prime time for puzzle solvers in my state. If you know where you are headed for this year’s vacations, why not search for some puzzles and solve them now. Need some help? This book, How to Puzzle Cache, on Amazon has received some stellar reviews, holding a 5 star rating.
Listen to Podcasts
In the past year, I’ve become a podcast junkie. Whether I’m driving, running, or doing chores in the house, there’s a good chance I’ll be listening to a geocache podcast. You can even interact in podcast chat rooms, like Geocache Talk’s on Sunday nights, enjoying an international convo live in your own recliner.
Watch YouTube Videos and Periscopes
Watch someone else brave the elements or show off their sunny surroundings! I screenshot one of the Geocaching Vlogger’s recent episodes (Huge Box of Gadget Geocaches) where he’s displaying the -14̊ F temp before he intricately opens multiple gadget caches. He doesn’t even complain about cold fingers, but I’m sure they were tingling for a while after this find! People around the world continue to the geocache throughout the year, and many of them vlog. It’s 50̊ F somewhere.
Create Personal Swag
DIY some swag. Search Pinterest for inspiration, use #geoswag on IG to see other cachers’ creations and finds, or perhaps fill up on your current item of choice. Before pathtags, I was into making keychains – charms, glass beads, fishing line, and keyrings make simple, yet fun swag.
Play Geocaching Games
Cache Me If You Can! is thee geocaching board game. I’ve debated ordering this for my family to play, but we are still mastering Pandemic and Ticket to Ride, and I’m guessing this one is a little more difficult to decipher from what I’ve heard. However, with no competitors, this is the game to get the whole family or geocaching gang together at the table.
Participate in #USGeocachingHour
Every Monday night, geocachers meet on Twitter for an hour. Why not pop in and check this fun chat out? Social media presents a great way to live through other cachers, whether on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. Follow a geocacher as they discover new locations, uncover new hides, and find new treasure. You might learn something that will help you once the snow thaws or become inspired to get outside.
Read Geocaching Books and Blogs
Start a new book or subscribe to a new blog (have you entered your email and subscribed to this blog yet?). Find a novel you can’t put down, an author that tempts you to lie down on the coach, curl up under your softest blanket, brew a hot cup of coffee, and disappear into a story. Here’s my current geocaching-related book collection. I’m always looking for book or blog recommendations. I’ve written a few reviews of these books, which I’ll continue to add over time; you can find them here: Book Reviews.
Organize Your Geocoin and Tag Collections
Currently, I keep my tags in individual baggies or their original plastic bags, since I’ve seen them rub together and lose their coloring over time. One day, I hope to buy a Wooden Coins Ammo Box display or maybe I’ll go the binder route. For my geocoins, I keep them in a business card leather book holder with their codes and missions described on cardstock. Take your extra time inside to meander through your collection, either to re-organize or remember the tale behind each piece.
Design a New Coin or Tag
Aw yes! Perhaps you plan to treat yourself to a new personal shiny this year. What a perfect time to sit and brainstorm the design! For my next pathtag, I plan to use another one of my photos as inspiration. Here is one of the current front-runners. I also have an idea for a geocoin, but until the funds appear, it will continue as an idea. We can always dream, can’t we?
Plan Your Next Adventure
Where will the warmer weather take you? Will you use this time to construct new hides? What missions will you give those unactivated trackables? How will you accomplish the next challenge cache?
Chances are, this list can be applied to any season when you have some down time. My suggestion for you is to invest in some heavy duty boots and tackle those island or kayak caches!
What do you do in the winter as a geocacher? Do you have any other indoor geo-related activities I missed? Please let me know!
Welcome 2018! Nice to meet you! I’m excited for where this year will take my geocaching team. Also, after writing down my 2017’s Geo-Resolutions, I enjoyed using my list as a reference throughout the year, motivating me to complete my goals. It was the first year I ever wrote down resolutions, and it really worked! I completed all of my personal geocaching challenges. So, once the J and I sat down and discussed our upcoming year, I finalized my 2018 geo-resolutions, and boy am I excited to embark on these proposed adventures!
Jangie’s 2018 Geo-Resolutions
Celebrate 1000 Finds!
How do you choose the 1000th cache? The J and I are considering either going on a memorable hike or traveling to Grand Forks, North Dakota (where we started geocaching) and finding a high-favorited geocache there or maybe something else will pop up. At the publication of this post, we are at 974 finds, so we will have to decide soon!
Host 4 Events
Events have quickly become one of my more favorite cache types. They give cachers a reason to get together and chat about the game, plus sometimes we get a cool virtual souvenir. I hosted 1 event in 2016, 2 in 2017, and this year, I plan to host 4. I’m going to kick off this resolution with Australia Day. Woot!
Photo Credit: www.geocaching.com
Place an EarthCache
My corner of the state has very few EarthCaches, and I’d love to highlight a unique geological aspect of my area. I have a few locations in mind, including buttes, rivers, and lakes. I’m hoping everything goes smoothly, since I’ve heard the process may take a while to successfully complete. Fingers crossed!
Attend the ND Caching and Camping Event
From June 22nd – June 24th at Icelandic State Park the NDGCA is hosting an epic event. We have yet to travel to this annual event held at different state parks, but this year, I’m determined to attend, either with the J or my sister. I’m excited to hang out with cachers, find geocaches, visit a beautiful location, tent, and all the other awesome stuff that will happen! And I know there will be a lot of awesome stuff.
Write 2-4 Blog Posts Per Month AND Begin a Novel
This blog has become a part of my routine, and I love it! I’m going to continue to write 2 to 4 posts a month, PLUS I’ll be starting a fictional geocaching novel that I’ve been brainstorming and outlining for the last few months. If everything goes smoothly, the goal is to publish this novel in 2019.
As far as big life events and resolutions, I’ll be continuing on to try to lose weight, 20lbs to be exact. I weighed 135lbs before getting pregnant and 168lbs after giving birth to my daughter, currently I weigh 157lbs. I lost about 10lbs last year, which is a good start. We will continue to save money too. For trips, we want to go hiking more, camp at least one night as a family at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and take a couple trips, even if they’re spontaneous and short.
How did you celebrate the first day of 2018? What resolutions have you set for yourself this year? How did you do on your 2017 resolutions?