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Archive for the ‘Geocaching’

Getting ready to Go And Get ‘Em

October 28, 2011 @ 14:30 By: gordon Category: Geocaching

Go And Get ‘Em 16 (GC3486K) starts at 6pm this evening and runs straight through to 6pm tomorrow evening. For those not in the know, the Go And Get ‘Em geocaching events are held about once a year in Ottawa at around this time of the year. Basically, local cachers hide geocaches specifically for the event and a couple of days before the event, they are published on the geocaching.com website. At 6pm on the Friday of the event, people start looking for them. Afterwards, we meet up for dinner on Saturday and visit with each other. There’s usually a table with prizes and everyone gets to vote for their favourite caches.

I’ve been to most of the Go And Get ‘Em events and even made some special geocoins with another geocacher for past event, which you can read about here, here and here. But, it’s a lot of work producing and selling them, so we haven’t done them for a while. Maybe in a couple of years to commemorate the 20th edition.

So, with about three and a half hours to go, I’m starting to champ at the bit in terms of leaving work, grabbing my geocaching bag, meeting up with Nikon-Guy and another cacher for several hours of caching. I’m not sure how late we’ll be out, but I don’t think we’re going to cache straight through the 24 hours, unlike a couple of cachers I know.

See you on the trail!

Blogging burnout

May 13, 2011 @ 12:46 By: gordon Category: Geocaching, Meta, Out and about

I just looked at my blog and realized that it’s been a month since my last post. I think this is the longest break I’ve taken from blogging and given that it came not too long after having blogged most of the days in the previous month it might be safe to say that I suffered a bit of blogging burnout.

It’s not like I haven’t been up to anything. There have been lots of blog-worthy things in the last month, such as chasing an amateur radio weather balloon a couple of weeks ago and successfully recovering it from the St. Lawrence River (see Bob’s write-up and a mention on the LASA blog, too), the start of the 2011 dragonboating season earlier this week, and, of course, the recent federal election. But when push came to shove writing about these seemed too much like work. I may yet write about the balloon chase because there were a lot of lessons learned and I’ll probably mention dragonboating at some point, but it’s unlikely I’ll write about the election.

During the haitus I had a blog entry on geocaching published on the Local Tourist Ottawa blog, but even they had to chase after me for a two-sentence bio blurb. (Sorry Jessey and Amy!) I’m very happy with the way the entry turned out, so I may write some future content and see if they’ll publish it.

The arrival of the nice weather (finally!) has spurred on my interest to be outdoors, so I’ve been getting out to go geocaching more frequently. So far this year I’ve logged 65 finds, compared to 86 finds in 2010.

A recent edition of the Podcacher podcast talked about caching burnout. For myself, geocaching isn’t about the numbers, but there are a lot of cachers for whom it is. They have to hit that next milestone or do a 1000+ cache power trail or fill in the holes in their geocaching calendar (days of the year they’ve found a cache), all of which are excellent ways to burn yourself out because you’ll eventually find yourself caching to hit some artificial goal rather than caching to have fun. I think blogging can suffer from a similar thing where you find yourself blogging to ensure the calendar doesn’t have a gap or because you’re trying to increase your readership.

Neither of these are particularly important to me. If the little calendar on the left has a gap in it, that’s ok. If I don’t have as many readers as my friends who blog, that’s ok, too. While I am always happy to see an increase in the number of hits, ultimately I’m writing my blog for myself. I’m not using it as a revenue generation stream (if I was then there would be ads everywhere) so if only a handful of people read it, that’s ok.

But if you want to tell all your friends about my blog, I’m ok with that, too! 🙂

Pine Grove forest

January 30, 2011 @ 20:51 By: gordon Category: Geocaching, Out and about, Photography

While  out doing some snowshoeing and geocaching in Pine Grove forest this afternoon I looked back along the trail and saw this scene.


Chasing an FTF

January 28, 2011 @ 00:35 By: gordon Category: Geocaching

IMG_3854I checked my email when I got home after work and noticed that a new geocache notification for Navan road’s secret stash (GC2MYZ8) by Team Matassa had arrived about half an hour earlier. Given the fact that there are some geocachers in Ottawa who don’t hesitate in dropping everything when a new cache is published, I figured that by the time I could get to it one of them would already have logged it.

When I checked up on it an hour later to see who had claimed the FTF I was surprised to see that it still hadn’t been logged. So, I loaded it on my GPS, grabbed my geocaching backpack and headed out to see if I could find it.

Arriving at the trailhead, I noticed several sets of footprints in the snow leading in the general direction of the cache. As I closed in on the cache, the footprints lead off in a different direction.



2010: The year in review

January 04, 2011 @ 16:49 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, General, Geocaching, Meta, Travelling

So, 2010 was another busy year.


Apparently, I posted 103 blog entries in 2010.

2010 opened with the brief reappearance of the illegal radio station Jayhaed Saadé was operating out of his family’s hotel. After ignoring several cease-and-desist orders from Industry Canada, the RCMP and Industry Canada finally showed up and forcibly removed an estimated $80 000 worth of broadcast equipment. He hasn’t been heard on the air since.

I wrote about reality television shows that were on the air at the time. Of the shows that I liked at the time, I still watch most of them from time to time.

February saw a couple of posts related to the Olympic games and one about excessive amounts of salt being used outside a building in my neighbourhood. As it turns out, this building spent the summer having massive amounts of work to deal with leaks done on it. I bet that the damage from the salt didn’t help the situation.

March saw a number of posts about the Gatineau Park Ecosystem Conservation Plan that was announced by the National Capital Commission. In a nutshell, the plan describes how the NCC intends on managing Gatineau Park. Unfortunately, because of its approach of conversation conservation before recreation, many users have been adversely impacted by it including the climbing and geocaching communities. The climbing community, in particular, mounted a comprehensive campaign over the next few months that included a climbing management plan based on best practices used at other managed sites around the world. Unfortunately, the NCC chose not to accept this proposal and went ahead with closures based on the poor science in the GPECP. The Climbers’ Access Coalition was able to negotiate a few additional routes beyond those initially offered by the NCC, but in general the climbing community is incredibly frustrated and disappointed in the National Capital Commission.

I also looked at the enforcement statistics for Ottawa’s Idling Control By-law. It turns out that the number of warnings dropped by almost half between the first and second years it was in effect.

While most of my posts in April had to do with the GPECP, I did write about correcting colours of photographs taken at night and also a walk I took along the Rideau Canal.

May saw just three posts, including one about a very closed minded individual and another related to the overreaction by a geocaching reviewer to the GPECP.

June saw several posts including some about the earthquake that hit Ottawa and what not to do in an earthquake, and a short photowalk (actually photoride) I took.

In July I posted pictures from the B-52s concert at Bluesfest, talked about graffiti, and posted the first entry about my trip to the UK.

All of my posts in August were about my trip to Scotland and England, including seeing Hadrian’s Wall. I tried to blog the whole trip, but the blogging got in the way of enjoying the trip, so I only ended up blogging the first part.

September saw me write about, among other things,  camping in my new tent, and the problems with different CAPTCHAs.

Ottawa’s municipal election in October led to a couple of posts about voting. It also saw a post about World Statistics Day, in addition to a few other topics.

November saw an entry about poppies, another about lamp post caches and a suggestion for a new home for the Canada Science and Technology Museum.

I wrote a number of entries about the weather in December, fur coats and giving away a car.


Being an even-numbered year, I didn’t make that many trips (in odd-numbered years I tend to make a number of trips for work), but I did get down to Toronto several times, including twice in the fall and I made a trip to Scotland and England where I did some geocaching, camping and visiting with friends. I also popped across the border into New York state to do some camping and geocaching.


It was another busy year at work. I spent most of the last part of the year analysing the results of survey I manage and working on the report that’s going to be released in a couple of months. (That’s probably one reason I didn’t do as much blogging in the fall.)


Fortunately, 2010 wasn’t just about working. Once again, I steered for the Algonquin College Singapore Slings at the Ottawa Dragonboat Festival and the Fall 400 in Carleton Place.

I logged 86 geocaches in 2010, with about a third of them while I was in the UK, including cache number 500 (Barts Road (GC2AF63)) and the Mega Scotland 2010 event cache (GC1XDQ0) in Perth, Scotland. I met a lot of really nice people at the event and I’m thinking about returning to the UK for the Mega Wales 2011 (GC2921G) event in July.

As I mentioned earlier, I went to the B-52s concert at Bluesfest. I have been a big fan of theirs for years, so it was a real treat to see them on-stage again.

I also got out golfing a number of times, though not as many times as I’d have liked. Because the weather in early-April was so mild, I was able to take my dad golfing for his birthday on the second of April.

I did some camping this year, both in Scotland and England and in northern New York state. It had been several years since I last went camping and I think I’ve been bitten by the camping bug again. Having purchased a new tent while I was in the UK and a new sleeping bag and other gear from MEC, I’m looking forward to doing more camping next summer.

Looking ahead to 2011

So, what’s in store for 2011? Good question!

I’ve already committed to steering for the Algonquin College Singapore Slings and we’re thinking about going to some other races besides the ones in Ottawa and Carleton Place, so I’m looking forward to that.

It looks like I’m going to be going to be escaping to Florida for a week or so in March – a healthy dose of sunshine will be nice!

There’s another geocaching megaevent in Wales (GC2921G) at the end of July that I’m thinking about attending. I haven’t been to Wales, yet, and it would be nice to see some of the people I met last summer at the event in Scotland. Time will tell whether that’s going to happen!

The severe restrictions imposed by the NCC on climbing in Gatineau Park has made it more necessary to know how to lead climb, so I’m hoping to find a course/instructor to learn this style of climbing.

So, what are you looking forward to in 2011?

Disabling geocaches for the winter

December 08, 2010 @ 01:11 By: gordon Category: Geocaching

imageA local cacher recently disabled all of his geocaches because it’s winter causing a number of geocachers questioning why the owner did this, particularly as some of the caches are not prone to being buried in the snow. Someone who asked the cache owner about it reported back that they prefer to disable their caches in the winter and  commented that they have also received some not-so-diplomatic emails from cachers not happy about their disabling of their geocaches. (Seriously? What’s with that?)

Naturally, this has made me think about the caches I own. Most of my caches are not winter-friendly, so I disable them once the snow falls and wait until spring arrives to re-enable them. I do this because the containers are plastic Lock-n-Locks, which tend to become brittle in the extreme cold common to Canadian winters. As well, the trails left by people walking up to the caches might attract other people to dig around, possibly damaging the container.

Most cachers probably respect a cache owner’s disabling of a cache and seek out other caches that aren’t disabled, but there are some cachers who are not deterred by a cache being disabled by its owner. Personally, I do not look for caches that are flagged as being disabled because that’s a conscious decision on the part of an owner. It doesn’t matter why the cache has been disabled – if it’s disabled, I leave it alone.

So this begs the question: Should people who actively seek out a disabled cache be allowed to log it?

I don’t think they should because they’re not respecting the rules (or at least the spirit) of the game.

Cache owners can delete logs posted for their caches, but I couldn’t find anything that talked one way or the other about deleting logs for disabled.

What do you think? Should people be allowed to keep finds they log for caches that have been disabled by the owner?

Lamp post caches revisited

November 04, 2010 @ 12:06 By: gordon Category: Geocaching

A couple of days ago Groundspeak, the company that runs geocaching.com, stirred the pot in the lamp post cache (LPC) debate on Facebook by posting an entry on their blog about a geocacher who leaves little dioramas in their LPCs. IWillFindIt!! thinks that when you lift the metal skirt at the bottom of a lamp post is like raising the curtain on a stage, so her nearly twenty or so LPC geocaches have little scenes like the one in the picture to the right.

The problem is that while Groundspeak does acknowledge that there is controversy surrounding lamp post caches, they do not mention any of the problems with these geocaches, specifically that many (most?) lamp post caches are placed on private property without the landowner’s permission (a big geocaching no-no) and that sometimes there’s more than just bolts at the base of a lamp post. Bees and wasps have been known to take up residence in these spaces, which can be surprising indeed, but the bigger problem is that most lamp posts also contain electrical wires, which can hurt, or even kill, people if they’re damaged.

I’ve written about the problem with lamp post caches before, and I’ve even written about why I archived a cache I had hidden in the base of a light post at a park-and-ride before I realized the problems with the location.

It’s too bad that Groundspeak doesn’t do more to limit these geocaches. Ideally, geocache reviewers – trusted geocachers who approve geocaches – would challenge cache owners to prove they had permission from the landowner when reviewing a potential new geocache. While confirming that you have “adequate permission” to place a geocache is part of the new cache submission process, I suspect that many cache owners put a tick in the box because they can’t submit it otherwise, just like many people click “I agree” when installing a new piece of software. (You really should read all that fine print because it can contain clauses like agreeing to give your immortal soul to a video game store.)

As a geocacher, I generally avoid seeking these geocaches. A couple of months ago while I was out geocaching with another geocacher we came across a geocache hidden in the base of a lamp post at the edge of a baseball diamond (GC1FRVV). While the geocache was tucked just out of side under the flange at the bottom of the post, the container was made out of an electrical junction box – a terrible container because it encourages geocachers to poke at electrical junction boxes in places where there are high-voltage cables. I submitted a “needs archived” log for the cache because the owner hadn’t addressed any of the previous “needs maintenance” logs and also because of the choice of container. A reviewer looked at the situation and archived the geocache.

Groundspeak really shouldn’t be promoting this type of cache – they should be discouraging them. If they are going to post articles to their blog about LPCs, they should present both sides of the debate.