January 1st, 2007

geocaching

Caches found!

Every "how-to" on geocaching has some words on finding the actual cache when you get to the waypoint (or, in the case of a multi-cache, the last waypoint). And all the ones I read tell you to "think like a geocacher". That is about as helpful as putting someone in the pilot's seat of a Boeing 747 and telling him to "think like a commercial airline pilot" -- if you don't know how a pilot thinks, you still don't know what to do!
We had walked three caches, and three times we came up empty. Clearly, we don't know how a geocacher looks at the landscape -- and so we don't know where to look! Once you have done a few caches, it becomes easier, because you can build a mental model of what other geocachers do.

We spent New Year's Even with babarage, gertvr and xaviar_nl, as is traditional. We convened in Tilburg, because it was babarage's turn to function as host -- she had bought a new house the past year, after all. (It's a good thing we never buy a house in the same year!)

They had gotten interested by our talk of geocaching, and we had selected a relatively short multi-cache (GCT514, Wolterbeekstraat) to do. At around 15:00 we were in position, and we started our walk.
It was a good thing we had these three extra pairs of eyes with us, because they found clues that we otherwise would have missed. Everyone had great fun -- it's nice to walk around outside with a goal.

And... we found the cache! We used our personal stamp (made from our super-deformed portraits) to sign the logbook. And there was a rather diverse mix of goodies...

That morning, we had gone through our stashes of trinkets, to select some stuff to exchange in the caches. I had found a plain whistle, but also klik's scouting whistle -- which had been declared strictly off-limits for exchanging in a cache. On the way to Tilburg, we talked about her time with the scouts, and she told me about the significance of the whistle and the cord it was on.
So imagine our surprise when we found a scout's whistle plus cord in the cache! We took it with us and we left a trinket of our own.

People had been warmed up now, and I was prepared for that. I had printed out the coordinates of a traditional cache very close to the Wolterbeekstraat: GCZ0AJ, someone's fishing spot. We went there (after a slight navigational mishap), and while we were seeking in the bushes, gertvr found the cache within a minute!
We also found our first ever TravelBug there, NinjaChop -- it had just been dropped off that day. We left it there, though -- it's not likely that it would get closer to Japan by being taken to Nijmegen.

And so, we now have more of an idea of what geocachers think like, thanks to the sharp eyes of babarage, gertvr and xaviar_nl! We resolved to do a cache together now and then, and I'm certainly looking forward to that!

Also, I have placed the geocaching.com stats banner in my profile. In the unlikely event you want to keep up with our finds, you can look there. Click on the banner to get to our profile page, where you can read all of our logs (most of which are in Dutch, because most are Dutch caches).
geocaching

Caching

At TOJ, "caching" meant "webserver-side caching of dynamically generated content". But these days, when I write "caching", I mean geocaching.

The weather was pretty bad today, but we decided to venture out for a cache none the less. The second-closest cache to our home was GCRQCE, which was previously the end-point of a series of eight mico-caches. They are now all independent (and one has vanished), but the endpoint has a clue as to where the final cache is.
At first, we thought the weather would be too bad to venture out, but after some deliberation we wanted to go anyway. We hopped in the car and quickly found the location of the micro-cache. The micro-cache (a photo-film container) contained a hint as to where the cache itself lay -- and it was a good thing we had our compass with us!

We had to do down the dike towards the river -- and we both slipped on the muddy path, almost at the same exact time... Well, no use getting upset about it, so we trodded onwards, while behind us a car stopped. A group of kids piled out of the car, looking for something... Hmmm...
And sure enough, while we were making our way towards the place where the final cache was supposed to be, we saw them follow us. Eventually they caught up with us. As was expected, they were fellow geocachers. We chatted a bit and searched for the cache together, and a member of the other team found the cache.

They had quite a few travel bugs, and we grabbed one that wants to visit castles and other fortifications -- there is a ringfort on the Waal close to this cache, and we have a 'Geodate' with a friend who is fascinated by maps to do that one in two weeks.

We walked back together, and we spotted a pair of people with a GPS unit walking in the direction of the cache... Sure enough, they logged the cache 40 minutes after we did. Quite a busy spot!