Monday, December 7, 2009

B.C.G.A. Bingo

Well the past couple of weeks have been busy for me in terms of geocaching. The British Columbia Geocaching Association (BCGA) launched the first ever Bingo game in which each member was able to download their own personal bingo card but instead of numbers being shown there was nothing but question marks.

Throughout the week the BCGA web team pressed the “magic button” and depending on what your bingo card numbers would have been behind the question marks, specific geocaching task would be revealed. The goal was simple….complete a single line and declare BINGO on the BCGA forums.

So on Tuesday I downloaded my card and right off the bat I had two squares revealing tasks and that got me excited. Just before bedtime another two squares showed themselves on my card so I thought what the heck lets give it a try. I completed some search queries on and located geocaches near my home location that I haven’t found before and that met the requirements.

Before I went to bed near midnight, I had strategically made a route that I would search the following morning at daybreak.The next morning the rains had stopped and out the door I went at 07:00 on my quest to find 1) Discover a BCGA coin in a cache, 2) a Regular cache, 3) a cache with the word “Cache” in the listing name and 4) a cache with a difficulty / terrain ratings of 2/2. By doing my homework the night before I was able to find the four caches I needed for the bingo game as well as another along the way and still be back at home by 08:30 in time for work.

On Wednesday night another cache revealed it’s self so once again I searched for a cache that met the requirements and out the door I went again the following morning. This time it was find a cache that was a “Traditional cache” which I found on the way to work. After dinner that night another square revealed itself and this time I took RVTraveller with me as my taxi driver and found a cache that began with the letter “F”. This is funny because the cache I found earlier in the day also began with the letter “F” but you couldn’t use one cache find more than once.

Now it’s Thursday night and I’ve had about 8 hours sleep over two days because all I could think about was this stupid game of bingo. I am also now full of cold and have a bad cough but the cool thing was that I now only needed one square to complete a full line. Then next morning I wake up real early and to my surprise the last square that I need to complete a line has revealed itself and it’s a doozy of a task. Find a Multi-Cache with 3 or more stages!

So I pull out my geocaching folder, which has puzzles and mutli-caches that are in various stages of completion and staring me in the face is one called Venus Rising. This is a 5 stage, multi-cache that I started over a year and a half ago slowly building locations of each stage until I could find the final. I actually had tried to find the final two weeks earlier in a torrential downpour and gave up and now as my luck would have it there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

I woke RVTraveller and off we went with both GPS’rs smoking the trail. At 07:45 I located the final of the multi-cache and having a bit of fun with the logbook I signed and dabbed it with a bingo dabber! Now the question was…would I be the first to post BINGO. On the way back home I logged the cache at on my Blackberry but couldn’t access the BCGA forum with it.

It was a anxious 10 minute drive home where I posted the cache find on my bingo card and then went to the BINGO forum. Nobody had posted anything so at about 08:05 on Friday November 27 Gecko Cacher became the winner of the BCGA Bingo game #1.

For my efforts the BGCA sent me a pair of rare 2008 BCGA Geocoins, which are amazing along with a BCGA pin. Game #2 is now underway and even though I am not getting the luck of the bingo draw this time around it still is a lot of fun to check your card and head out the door geocaching at all hours of the day!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Night Geocaching, Not Just For Owls!

This past week RVTraveller and I managed to do two night geocaches here in Victoria with a couple groups of geocachers from around the area. What is a night geocache you say? Well simply it is a series of puzzles or multiple geocaches that lead to a final location and which are typically found by locating glowing reflectors in the darkness.

Generally speaking the geocache owner provides a set of GPS coordinates that take you to a starting point (usually in a park) and from there your eyes become the only real geosense that will lead you to the treasure. Using a flashlight (LED preferred) you search the darkness for a series of reflectors that show you the way while sometimes trying to deceive you in pointing you down a wrong trail. One of the reflectors that geocachers like are called FireTacks as they can be seen from a distance if you are at the correct angle to the reflector. They stand out in the darkness much like cat’s eyes but in the daylight they blend into the surrounding flora. This is a sample of what a FireTack kit looks like in the daytime and what they look like in the darkness.

A night geocache can be very elaborate like the one we completed last night, which had 8 stages around Victoria and took 3 hrs and 45 minutes to complete. This particular night cache (CSI Victoria, GC202AR) had a theme of the hit television series CSI Las Vegas and knowing the characters was a plus for RVTraveller and I as we watch it all the time. It was murder “who done it” that was based upon an episode of the TV show and at each stage various clues and coordinates where gathered until you were able to reach the final crime scene. This geocache is probably the best one I have ever done simply for how complex it was and the fact it was done at night!

Although night geocaches can be done by an individual its best to do them with another geocacher or with a group of geocachers just in case you hurt yourself or get lost in the dark. Geocaching with a group also provides a feeling of “safety in numbers” as you might cross paths with animals such as deer, racoons etc. In most cases the "wild things" hear you and see your flashlight first and you don’t see them at all.

Here’s a picture of a group of night geocachers following the trail on their way to the destination.

Until next time…..


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Lounging Lizard

I know what you are thinking....."not another blog from that guy again"  LOL  Well this is something completely different from my usual R/C related blogs from the past.  This blog is my Geocaching adventures under the username of Gecko Cacher or "Geck" as RVTraveller calls me.

For those who have no idea what Geocaching is all about it simply is a game of hunting for hidden treasures "caches" worldwide using a GPS. Currently there are 935,939 caches located around the world and most of you probably have one very near to where you live and yet you don’t know it exists!

Geocaching started on May 3, 2000 the day after the US Government stopped selective availability of the Global Positioning Satellites. One such GPS user, Dave Ulmer, a computer consultant, wanted to test the accuracy of the GPS system by hiding a navigational target in the woods. He called the idea the "Great American GPS Stash Hunt" and posted it in an Internet GPS users' group. The idea was simple: Hide a container out in the woods and note the coordinates with a GPS unit.

The finder would then have to locate the container with only the use of his or her GPS receiver. The rules for the finder were simple: "Take some stuff, leave some stuff." On May 3rd he placed his own container, a black bucket, in the woods near Beaver Creek, Oregon, near Portland. Along with a logbook and pencil, he left various prize items including videos, books, software, and a slingshot. He shared the waypoint of his "stash" with the online community on sci.geo.satellite-nav:

N 45° 17.460 W 122° 24.800

And the rest is history! Geocaching has become a fantastic hobby, a great way to meet people, see unbelievable sights (even in your own neighbourhood) and to some an obsession. For more about Geocaching please visit the website. You never know….you just might get hooked yourself!

My GPS - Garmin Vista C

Yesterday I received my recently exchanged Garmin Vista C GPS after the screen on my original GPS became too scratched to see the display properly. Here you can see that the GPS has locked onto 12 satellites and is ready for action.

GPS units specifically used for Geocaching can be purchased anywhere from $100 to $700 depending on what features you would like to have like mapping capability, removable data storage cards, camera etc. However you don’t need a top end GPS to get started. In fact RVTraveller (my Geowife) and I started with a marine GPS that we have for our boat and simply plotted the Geocache coordinates (from manually into the GPS. This way we got to experience Geocaching without spending any money at all!

Anyway that’s all for now. I hope you will check out my blog from time to time, as there will be great Geocaching adventures posted on a regular basis.