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Beware the Tall Grasses! Or, Death of a Battery

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This geocacher reached GZ happy, healthy, and totally tick-free.

 

MailerImage_06022014_SafetyTips_vFINAL_BLOG“Hey there Southern Hemisphere! This is the Northern Hemisphere calling. How’re things? It’s about the third week of May, and…well, we’d like our summer back.”  Depending on what part of the world you’re in, the latitudinal phone call that happens around the fifth month of the year signals the start to another summer of geocaching. The longer days, the warmer air, the leafier hiding spots…It’s a season so ideal for geocaching it’s hard to imagine spending your time doing anything else.

Though not to the degree of winter, even summer can have the pesky habit of preventing you from getting to GZ and finding a cache safely, effectively, and enjoyably. We’ve got some tips that will get you from working at cross-purposes with summer to working in tandem with it. (Assuming that is a thing.)

1) Make peace with your battery

Remember how we mentioned those longer summer days? They’re very good for longer sojourns into the wild, increasing your per-day find count…and draining your phone battery. Consider borrowing or purchasing a portable charger similar to this one available in Geocaching Shop, or this one on Amazon, to keep your phone from puttering to a halt at exactly the wrong moment. Compatibility with several types of devices is an especially useful trait when you’re geocaching with a group.

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” -John Steinbeck
“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” -John Steinbeck

2) Ticks are not your friends

Bees, mosquitoes, thistles, and poison ivy are common culprits of summertime discomfort, but ticks should equally be on your radar. Although only a few of the many species of ticks found around the world can bite and transmit diseases to humans, those that do can really ruin your day. Here are some tips to avoid them:

    • Check out a tick distribution map for your area, like this one for Europe and this one for the United States.
    • To be extra vigilant, invest in a bottle of tick repellent.
    • Since it’s not always possible to avoid the high grass or bushes when you’re searching for that cache, dress with ticks in mind. Geocaching HQ’er Heather suggests, “Tuck your pants into your socks to keep the ticks from crawling up your legs. You’ll look really cool, and you’ll be tick-safe.”
    • Conduct a tick-check of yourself, your gear, and your pets after coming back inside.
    • Tick-removal is an art. Know the correct technique.

3) Sunscreen is king

The sun’s rays may have a pleasing effect on the hue of your skin or the shade of your hair, but don’t make that a reason to forget the sunscreen on your geocaching adventure. Even if in the end you DNF, always protect yourself with SPF, preferably 15 or higher.

What tips do you have for ensuring an excellent summer geocaching experience?

 

 

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The 4 Most Common Geocache Hiding Mistakes

Make your geocache smile... 4 things to avoid when hiding a geocache
Make your geocache smile… 4 things to avoid when hiding a geocache

(Cough Cough) Hello class, and welcome to a quick installment of the 4 most Common Geocache Hiding Mistakes. Why read on? It’s like knowing the four common routes where there’s a bridge out, or heavy road construction, or a locust migration. These are all mistakes a new hider doesn’t have to make. Let’s learn together and if at any point you’d like to know more, check out the Hiding Overview for all you need to know.

Here are the four guidelines that potential cache owners most commonly overlook:

1) Choose an Appropriate Location

Think like a non-geocacher and ask yourself, “Self, am I placing this geocache somewhere where it could be mistaken for something dangerous?” Also ask yourself if geocache hunting behavior (i.e. looking through bushes) might draw attention in sensitive areas, like schools. And make sure you know whether or not geocaches are allowed in that location. Some areas require a permit, are private property, or don’t allow geocaching altogether. Ask a land manager or owner for permission when needed.

2) Consider Proximity to Other Geocaches

Geocaches must be at least 1/10 mile or 528 feet (161 meters) apart. Check the area for other geocaches before settling on a spot. There’s a great new planning map tool to help you, with red circles showing places that are already blocked by another geocache. It won’t tell you about secret locations, but it will catch a lot of the locations that have already been taken.

3) Avoid Commercialization/Agendas

Geocaches cannot be commercial or used to publicize an agenda. Sometimes people get tripped up by the commercial guideline unintentionally. There are lots of platforms that you can use to get the word out about your important cause or a business that you really (really) like, but geocaches are not an appropriate platform for that.

4) Don’t Damage Property

Telephone poles and stop signs seem like they are public property because they are so familiar, but they are the property of the city or utility company. Don’t damage things in the environment. Screwing or drilling into a live tree creates an pathway for insects and disease. Never bury a geocache, even partway. If you have to make a hole in the ground, it’s not OK.

 

Follow these four tips and you’ll avoid many of the common hurdles geocache hiders face. And while this is the end of this blog post, it’s not the end of what you need to know. Check out the Hiding Overview before placing a geocache and avoid these pitfalls and create smiles like the one below!

This is the "OMG" look we're aiming for.
This is the “OMG” look we’re aiming for.
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Lab Cache Evolution: STEMLandia Adventure!

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Panoramic of the Arboretum
STEMLandia Geocoin
STEMLandia Geocoin

STEMLandia in the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University in Boston taps into the power of the Lab Cache Geocaching Adventure experience to reveal a world of nature and education. Thanks to HQ’s partnership with EdGE at TERC, this is the next evolution of Lab Caches. Premium Members around the world tested Lab Caches during I <3 Geocaching in February.

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STEMLandia challenges geocachers to find 10 creatively hidden lab caches. It’s not your typical adventure. Geocachers must explore the Arboretum grounds using Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) skills to unlock the finds. Those who participate may be eligible to receive a fancy, limited edition Geocoin. The First to Find geocacher wrote, “Great series! Well thought out with some  tricky hides.”

The STEMLandia adventure runs through the end of May 2014. It is open to all geocachers and is most appropriate for youth ages 12 and up, as well as adults. Other adventures are on the horizon and you can help. Submit ideas for a future Lab Cache series.

Geo-Knot and Brumble! the First to Find for most of the geocaches
Geo-Knot and Bumble! the First to Find for most of the geocaches

 

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Geocaching.com and Geocaching App Downtime on Tuesday, April 8

MailerImage_040714_Maintainence_vFINAL_mailerGeocaching.com and the Geocaching apps will be temporarily offline on April 8. We’re adding horsepower and beefing-up* Geocaching.com and our apps. They’ll both be much more stable after the upgrade. The site outage is expected to run about six hours starting at about 2pm PDT (convert to your local time here).

Yeah, you read that right. Apologies, six hours is a little bit of time right? So, during that time you have a two-part assignment, if you choose to accept it. Step 1: Load up your Pocket Queries and offline lists so you can still go geocaching. Step 2: Use that time to get inspired to “make” an amazing geocache. Check out this blog post with all you need to know.

*technical jargon

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Geocache Hider: Tips to Level Up Your Geocache

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Revisit Your Geocaches, Leave Them Feeling New

 

Let’s paint a mental picture: on cold, dark, rainy, frost-bitten, locust-infested nights—and all other nights—your geocache waits, hoping for intrepid explorers to sign the logbook. But if your geocache is lonelier than you expected, it might ultimately be waiting for a very special someone: you. Geocaches don’t just require maintenance; some may need some more tender loving care. If your geocache isn’t getting the “Found it!” after “Found it!” logs you think it deserves, there are options to help up the find count.

  • Rewrite the description: Be creative, add some humor, local insight and upload a few pictures to the geocache page.
  • If you’re not fundamentally changing the experience, choosing a sturdier container or adding a splash of personality to your geocache will help cultivate Favorite Points and lead more people to your adventure.
  • Double-check your coordinates. People might be trying to find your geocache, but are led astray.
  • Did you choose a container size on your geocache page? If the container is listed as “size not chosen” it might discourage people from searching for your geocache.
  • Get advice from a notable geocache maker in your neighborhood, attend a Maker Madness event to up-level your geocaching hiding game.
  • And if you’re not interested in maintaining the geocache anymore, it’s okay to archive your geocache and open up the location to other hiders, or even adopt it out to another geocacher.  ​

What advice would you offer to new geocache hiders? Share your maker advice in comments below or on the Geocaching Facebook page.