Friday, 20 September 2013

August Geocaching Highlights

As everyone knows, August was Groundspeak's "31 Days of Geocaching." Love it or hate, a record number (according to Groundspeak) of cachers were out geocaching each day of August. I've read and heard many opinions about the souvenirs, which seem to be a primary focus of discussion, but we shouldn't let that debate distract from the ultimate goal - which was to get out & go geocaching.

One thing we can all agree upon, is that it appears summer is now over.  So in remembrance of a fun summer of geocaching, as we head into the crisp and/or damp autumn caching season, here are some of our highlights of geocaching in August.

BCGA Cache Blitz 2013
This was our first year to participate in the BCGA Cache Blitz, and we had an absolute blast. Obviously, summer is "cache placing" season anyhow, but with the extra incentive of Blitz recognition we got out to some great geocaches. Check out the complete list of the Blitz results and useful "short-list" of some cool caches. We even placed a couple of our own for the Blitz; and amazingly, we wound up with the over-all Blitz-winning cache - Monkey Puzzle Tree!

We've never been to so many events in one month! We even got to help host one, which was an exciting first-time event for us. Special thanks go out to Catapult Jeff & Iron Maiden and goaliegirl38 for their tireless work in coming up with ideas for events and all the work that goes on in the background for them to be successful. We also attended a fun night out at the pub hosted by a visiting geocacher (geo-gas-head) from the UK. That event opened our eyes to the idea that you can plan events for when you are visiting different countries, and meet a ton of friendly geocachers who have the low-down on all the local caching.  As a side note, it was great to get a good chat in with tjguy98, and I certainly appreciated your feedback and insight into geocaching social media!

We Went Ape!
On our Geocaching HQ Block Party 2013 road-trip, we also went to the 2013 WSGA "Going Ape" event at Hyak, in Iron Horse State Park, WA. Donner and Manta Rayz came with us, and we met up & cached for the day with walkinbyfaith and l0cus.  Here's our video of that adventure - but beware, it's not for the faint of heart! In the middle of the 2 mile long tunnel we were attacked by the Fen Dweller!

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Lab Caches - FYI

There's been a lot of discussion - and frankly, a lot of confusion - around Groundspeak's ( introduction of Lab Cache type.  The Lab Cache type was introduced at this years Block Party (August 17th, Seattle WA) with a lot of fanfare but also a lot of confusion.

Prior to the event, Groundspeak let us all know that a "new cache type" was going to be introduced. Hey, they wanted to amp up the excitement and attendance for the Block Party, and that was successful. Subsequently, folks arrived, but then the confusion kicked in. Depending upon where you were when, and to whom you spoke, different messages (unofficial, of course) made their way around about what the deal was with Lab Caches.

Some more experienced 'cachers who'd attended the Block Party previously made assumptions (reasonable ones) based on their past experiences. New cachers tried to grasp the concept and got pieces of it. Other than the "keynote" at the event and a discussion forum posting, there was little official and consistent communication from Groundspeak on the topic.

For example; while at the event I recorded a LMGA episode on the Lab Caches to try and explain what I currently understood - by the time the video was in post production (1 week later) there was more information that I used to make some corrections in the video. Subsequent to that, deeper "research" into the Lab Caches has provided me enough information to write this blog entry - so the first thing to be cognizant of is that this is an evolving concept.

Here are three key things to help you understand Lab Caches.

1. This is a test - this is only a test. Lab Caches are, in essence, a real-world labratory to test out new ideas for geocache types; and the place(s) Groundspeak has decided to use for their "alpha testing" or lab work, are the Mega Events. This means that if you are jonesin' to get a Lab Caches icon in your profile, you'll need to attend a Mega that has announced it will host Lab Caches.

2. They count (sort of).  Lab Caches give you smilies, and count in your over-all cache finds, but
there's a catch, my statistically oriented friends - there are no logs on associated with these caches as they are intended as tests and aren't available after the events. Therefore applications like GSAK won't be able to add them from your "My Finds" pocket query, or from directly querying your account. The work around is to manually create the caches in your GSAK DB as waypoints, and set them to "found" on the date you found them/attended the Mega Event.

3. They're not my type.  Lab Caches aren't one specific type of cache; this is a category for Groundspeak to use to try out all kinds of different ideas (remember "Challenges?") for what might make a new cache type. So each event that has Lab Caches may have something completely different, and Groundspeak is really looking for your feedback on those caches. Attendees from the 2013 Block Party who tried out the "Adventures" Lab Caches were subsequently sent a link to a survey asking for our feedback on these.

As always, I'm really interested in your thoughts & opinions around Lab Caches, and geocaching topics in general, so feel free to post your comments to this blog or to the Lab Cache FYI video on our YouTube channel.

Cache safely, and cache often.