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Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Alaskan Caching Cruise - Day 5: Glacier Bay

Well this took a little longer to get posted, but here we are.

OK, back to the adventure. Departing our most northern port of call in Skagway, we next headed further north into Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. As we first made our way into the park the clouds and fog were thick and we were quite concerned we'd not see some of the amazing sights we were hoping for.

Never-minding the weather, like a true Canadian, I bundled up after breakfast and went out on the lower bow viewing area to enjoy the salt air on my face and the beauty of the North.

As we continued northward, naturalists from the US Parks Service on board the ship (live, from the Crow's Nest coffee lounge) began sharing stories of the area, local heritage, and wildlife.

We passed grey whales, puffins, and increasing chunks of ice as the bay and fjords slowly narrowed on our way to Margerie Glacier.

At first the glaciers we could see (Reid, Lamplaugh) seemed quite distant from the boat, but were still spectacular to view. Would this be as close as we'll get to the glaciers here? We had hoped to get up close to Johns Hopkins Glacier but had been told that due to seal calving season we couldn't enter the fjord.

The ship took a slow and steady pace continuing northwards, and the weather continued to get better and better, and the views increasingly beautiful.

And soon we were able to take in the sight of the Johns Hopkins Glacier dipping into the Pacific - even from a distance a spectacular sight that brought a hush to the outside of the ship - all you could hear were shutters snapping and admirers whispering to each other.

The striped colours created by rock stripped from the mountains moved along in this glacier brought so many of the earthcaches (glacial erratics, anyone?) I've worked through before to life in a vivid and unforgettable way.

And onwards yet we cruised past more amazing glacial sights as us lucky passengers were held spellbound by these arctic wonders.

And soon we had arrived at our final stop; our most northerly waypoint of the cruise, Margerie Glacier. Extending through both Canada and the US into the icy waters of Glacier Bay, this was not only an amazing place to stop, but the ship was able to actually get very close to the glacier.

We stayed here for about an hour at this point. The sun was out in full, and many were debating whether to grab lunch, or just stand on the deck in amazement. Well, Mrs. LANMonkey and two of her new Geocaching friends decided the best option was to quickly go back to the cabins, and then return ready to complete the Earthcache here.

Oh, did I mention they were working on the Earthcache from the hot tub?

Now THAT'S cruise-ship geocaching in style!

So after enjoying ourselves at Marjorie Glacier, it was time for lunch as our ship began it's way back south. South, and eventually home, but not before one last Alaskan port of call.

Next stop?


Thanks for reading our blog, and stay tuned as the adventures continue!

Cache safely, and cache often.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

#WhosTheBear - 2016 Lackey Geocoin Contest

#WhosTheBear @LANMonkey 2016 Lackey GeoCoin Contest!

We have a new mascot in the LANMonkey studios, and he’s looking to make you a deal; If you can share a winning name for him on social media* (Twitter/Facebook) he’ll get you the 2016 Lackey Geocoin courtesy of Worldcaching.

Have you seen the 2016 Lackey Coin? Would you like to have your very own?
Help us name the bear in LANMonkey studios and you could be the winner of a 2016 Lackey Coin thanks to Worldcaching.

Share your suggestion for the name of the bear on Twitter or Facebook but be sure to use the hashtag #WhosTheBear and include @LANMonkeyGC through the month of October.

Mrs. LANMonkey and I will go through all the entries on Monday, October 31st and share the winner on our YouTube channel, this blog, and the Caching in the Northwest podcast Nov 3rd.

Remember! To be entered you need to send your suggestions via Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #WhosTheBear and include @LANMonkeyGC - we are looking forward to your creative suggestions, and announcing a winner of that super cool geocoin thanks to contest sponsors Worldcaching.

*Please note we are allowing as many entries as you'd like to post, noting the character limit to Twitter.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Alaskan Caching Cruise - Day 4: All Aboard!

Having enjoyed our brief visit to the Yukon town of Carcross, it was almost time to climb aboard the White Pass & Yukon Railway train and head back to Skagway.

But before we get to that, a little bit of trivia for you. The town of Carcross was originally called "Cariboo Crossing" but because too many other towns were similarly named the residents elected to rename their community since the name confusion seemed to result in a lot of lost mail on it's way to them. 

One of the (many) great stories from this cruise was hearing from cacher IndigoDave from Ontario about how he and his new bride spent a summer in the 70's working in Whitehorse - and that Dave's job was as brakeman on the White Pass & Yukon Railway! So not only did he have experience with this line, but he was allowed to ride the engine all the way from Carcross to Bennet, BC. 

To hear that full story from IndigoDave himself, take a listen to this episode of the Caching in the Northwest podcast where we played the audio interview I conducted with Dave. Get it? Conducted? Train pun. Dave would appreciate that.

Well, at this point it was time to board the train, and as we got underway to our first stop of Bennett and rolled along the narrow gauge railway along the iconic mountain and lake scenery of the north, there were opportunities for the classic "comin' 'round the corner" train shots and many other amazing photos by all aboard.

We even had the opportunity to complete another Earthcache from aboard the train which was pretty amazing.

Soon enough we had arrived at the stop of Bennett BC - last stop before crossing the international border back into the USA, but more importantly from a historic standpoint, Bennett marks the NW end of the famous Chilkoot Trail - the only passage available through the mountains to Gold Rush prospectors.

Prospectors would need to amass one tonne of supplies here, as inspected by the North West Mounted Police (predecessors of the famous RCMP), to ensure they had enough supplies to last a full winter in the harsh conditions of the Yukon.

We toured what remains of the gold rush tent-town along the shores of the lake, then headed back to our train for the final and amazingly scenic ride back into Skagway.

If you ever find yourself in Skagway - geocaching or not - we highly recommend the White Pass and Yukon Railway experience from Carcross to Skagway.

Having completed some more touring about the town and a few more geocache finds, we headed back aboard ship. Tonight our ship pulls out and heads for Glacier Bay - tune in for the next blog highlighting that amazing part of our trip.   

Friday, 23 September 2016

The GPSr versus Smartphone Geocaching Debate

Have you ever wondered:

  • Are GPSrs or Smartphones the better tool for Geocaching?
  • Do Geocaching podcasters know anything about the technology they use?
  • Are Canadians better debaters than Americans?

Well wonder no longer!

Last week Scott Berks of the "What's Up Internet" and "Geocaching Podcast" shows battled it out with yours truly (so for the record, that's LANMonkey of "Caching in the Northwest" and I'm always right) to debate which device is superior for the purposes of Geocaching.

We had the debate live on the Geogearheads podcast. If you don't regularly listen to that podcast you probably should - it's on my "must listen" rotation. 

And yeah, (spoiler alert) I won the debate. But in the end, the reality and main point is that both devices have their important uses and your best case scenario is to go geocaching with a GPSr AND a Smartphone.

So tell us what YOU think  - tweet or FB your opinion with #GPSvsPhone

But if you are curious what our key arguments were, and how Canada once again triumphed in the international forum, take a listen to the whole podcast!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Alaskan Caching Cruise - Day 4: Skagway, Yukon Ho!

So day 4 of our Alaskan Cruise on The Neiuw Amsterdam rolled around bringing us to a slightly overcast Skagway, AK.

We had a big trip planned for today, but we wouldn't head out on it right away - first some geocaching in the picturesque northern town, which is the Gateway to the Yukon.

So why is Skagway the Gateway to the Yukon? Well that's because this is the port where miners came ashore after a long steamship ride north and tackled the  Chilkoot Trail over the mountain passes and into the Yukon. And you can still hike that trail today if you are up for it - more on that a bit later.

Our first stop was an amazing virtual cache  at the Camp Skagway building with our new caching friend WestCoastNavigator. Inside we chatted with the fellow at the desk who was very accustomed to geocachers but also had time to share some of the amazing history of the building and the organization it represents.

Moving on, we found a traditional cache at a collection of abandoned rail cars from the White Pass & Yukon line - the rail line built at the tail end of the Gold Rush to help move prospectors & supplies to the Yukon, and gold back to the coast. 

Not long after being built, the rail line instead became the supply line for all sorts of commodities between Skagway and Whitehorse for many years until it more recently became a tourist attraction, and no longer runs all the way to Whitehorse.

I still laugh at how long it took us to find this cache, but I'm going to claim that I was too fascinated by the old rail cars and the great photo opportunities in the area and wasn't really focused on searching. 

Well that's my story anyhow, and I'm sticking to it. I hope you enjoy a few of the photos I took as much as we enjoyed exploring the area.

Next up we headed back through town to meet up with the rest of our excursion crew for a bus ride to Carcross, YT. That's right, back into Canada for us! Yay!

Luckily, we had yet another cool bus driver who made great time to our destination despite some pretty inclement weather on the highway through the mountain pass, and was able to get us to the Carcross Desert. An amazing spot, and home to another great Earthcache.

Yeah, that's right - a desert in the Yukon Territory. Crazy right? 

After a brief stop to visit and explore the Carcross Desert, we were headed (by way of another Earthcache at Emerald Lake) to the town of Carcross, and the rail station where we'd board the train to take us along the original narrow gauge railway back to Skagway, AK.

So it was "All aboard!" as we got settled in for the ride, and continued our adventure by way of Bennet, British Columbia, and the North end of the famous Chilkoot Trail.


Tuesday, 13 September 2016

The Alaskan Caching Cruise - Days 2 & 3

Welcome to our first full day at sea! Day 2 of the Alaskan Geocaching cruise started off with us learning the ropes of the breakfast buffet, and then joining the entire group for a meet & greet in the Crowsnest.

It was pretty distracting to look out the panoramic windows as we cruised along the north coast of BC to sights like these...

 Which frankly are pretty spectacular in person, and maybe don't translate as well to an image on a blog... However, the rest of the group on  board was a fun and interesting bunch with some cool stories such as:

  • The person who placed the first geocache in Canada
  • A couple on their honeymoon who had shared their proposal at the mainstage of a Mega event
  • A cacher who had previously worked as the brakeman on the train we'd be taking as an excursion later in the cruise (spoiler alert)

Later Chris from the Landsharkz held a seminar for the group on how to take ideal vacation photos. Lots of great tips that likely helped all of us take better photos this cruise.

Then dinner. Then bed. Then breakfast. Then Juneau.

Welcome to Juneau!

Although slightly overcast, it was still a great visit in Juneau. Of course we were excited to get ashore and find some geocaches, but knowing that our primary excursion here was a trip to Mendenhall Glacier, and that we had a number of Earthcaches lined up... well, that was good news!

 We enjoyed the visit to the glacier, the park, and some wildlife (a trio of bears feeding on spawning salmon, then we got as close as we dared to a porcupine) and learned all about the park and the glaciers from the rangers who were very patient with us geocachers. I think it always helps to show a little interest in learning something beyond the required answers for the earthcaches.

Oh, and the Mendenhall Glacier earthcache was find #9,000 for the LANMonkeys. So we achieved the souvenir for Alaska, and then our personal caching milestone!

A great time with a bunch of great new friends in the park, then we caught the bus back from the park to Juneau (and I should mention our bus driver was an absolute hoot).

Back in Juneau we then took the tram up Mount Roberts for some amazing views down over the city of Juneau, and then a nice loop hike where we met up with some other caching friends from the cruise and picked up some caches with amazing views. So glad we have lots of favourite points to award!

 After taking in the amazing panoramic views we made our way back down, toured the town (finding a few more geocaches, of course) including a fun group find at an iconic statue near the wharfs. 

Thanks once again to Chris from Landsharkz for taking so many great photos of the trip, including this one of RCA777 trying to figure out *how* Mrs. LANMonkey got that geocache out of *that* part of the dog statue...

And finally, after some more exploring and caching and even a stop for some local chocolate treats, it was back to the ship for dinner and another night's rest before the next adventure in Skagway!

But that story will have to wait for another day (or so)...

Monday, 12 September 2016

The Alaskan Geocaching Cruise - Day 1

Let us tell you a story about five passengers who set sail that day... oh wait, wrong story.  

How about the one where 54 geocachers set sail for Alaska & the Yukon in August 2016? Yeah, we'll tell you that one.

It starts in the departing port city of Vancouver. Lucky for us, it's our hometown, making the start of this adventure pretty easy.

So how did 54 geocachers come to be on the same cruise? Well that's thanks to the Landsharkz who organized the cruise and drew the geocachers from across Canada and the US to come together for this amazing adventure.

 So day 1 we got ourselves onto the ship and learned a lot about boarding and navigating your way about a cruise ship - did we mention this was our first cruise? Well now we have. And with that we were on-board the Holland America Neiuw Amsterdam and ready to head North!

So farewell Vancouver, we are adventure bound North by Northwest. 

We enjoyed discovering some of the amazing amenities of the ship that we made good use of throughout the rest of the cruise, including the library and coffee shop on the top deck where we spent some evenings reading, relaxing, and enjoying the company of several of our co-cruisers.

So day one ended with a nice dinner, then we rested as we prepared for our first full day at sea, a chance to meet all the geocachers on-board, and more exploring the ship and admiring the amazing scenery of Northern Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlottes/Haida Gwai.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Win a Geocoin/Trackable Tag from

It's contest time again! So Geocachers, how would you like to win these for your collection? 

Our friends at Landsharkz have generously donated a set of the geocoin and trackable tag created for their 2016 Alaskan Geocaching Cruise Adventure, and you could be the new owner!

This contest is super-easy to be entered into, and we'd love to see you be able to show off your new trackables, so don't delay!

Here's what you need to do:

Make sure you send your email BEFORE 9:00pm Pacific on Wednesday Sept 21 and your name may be announced as the winner by the Landsharkz when they join us on the Caching in the Northwest podcast Thursday, September 22 at 9:00pm Pacific.

So that's it - email a correct answer and your name to ASAP and you are automatically entered!

Good luck you guys, we're looking forward to hearing from you.

And remember, whether you are entering geocoin contests or moving trackables; to cache safely, and cache often!

The LANMonkeys

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Travelling and Caching 1 - #Top20Caches

Wow, an amazing weekend here in Beautiful British Columbia, and now a week so warm you'd think it's summer already. So on that note, let's talk a bit about summer geocaching plans!

We are really curious to hear from YOU, amazing geocachers and explorers, as to how you would geocache and explore when you go to a new town or city.

So on that note, our first question for you is:

When visiting a new town or city, what are the "top twenty" geocaches you try and find?

  • Top 20 favourited caches?
  • Top 20 high-terrain caches?
  • Top twenty caches to complete a challenge (and what challenge)?
  • Top twenty puzzle caches?

Let us know by replying to this post, or sharing your thoughts on our Facebook page linked to this post. Heck, if you don't need many characters, share in on our Twitter feed as #Top20Caches

We're really looking forward to hearing your feedback on this topic and others as we get into the summer and prime Geocaching season!

And remember, wherever you are looking for a #Top20Caches, to "Cache Safely, and Cache Often!"

The LANMonkeys

Sunday, 27 March 2016

The 2016 Great Podcast TB Race!

In case you hadn't heard yet - and are interested in podcasters getting competitive and trash-talking each other (well, I don't know about that) - my friend and fellow Geocaching podcaster has accepted my challenge for an "across the continent" TB race, and we will be updating race progress each week on our respective podcasts.

Michael Miller of the Cache and Release podcast handed me a pretty fancy trackable to bring back to Vancouver, BC and I left my trackable with him when we recently visited Orlando, Florida. 

We each dropped them off in a cache and they are on a mission to get "back home" but it's not just about which one gets home first. We've devised a point system where there are 5 points for being the first TB back home, but an additional point for each state or province visited, plus a point for every photo someone takes with the TB. 

 For more info on the TB race and just some general fun in Disney World's EPCOT Canada Pavilion, check out this video

To hear the latest updates on the race, you can also tune in to the Caching in the Northwest podcast.

And most of all, remember to always "cache safely, and cache often!"

- The LANMonkeys

Monday, 11 January 2016

"The Rules"

Hi Geocachers!

This week's Podcacher podcast featured a snippet of "The Rules of Geocaching" as defined by the LANMonkeys.

A while ago we started building a set of rules to optimal geocaching, and every once in a while we add to them. Since they got a little plug on Podcacher (thanks Sonny, Sandy, and Sean!) we thought we'd share them with you all.

#1 Cache safely, and cache often.
 Our geocaching motto, and just a good concise rule.

#2 Always carry two pens and some paper.
 One pen is never enough. You lose it and you're hosed. If it stops writing, you're hosed. And make one a sharpie.

#3 Always carry a knife. In fact, carry two knives. You’re gonna want a knife.
I can think of fewer things more useful to have than a knife. One can be a Swiss Army knife or Leatherman, and the other a good survival or hunting knife. So one is practical and can serve as many TOTTs, and the other can help you fend off wild beasts or FTF competitors.

#4 Don’t be the last person at an event (unless you want all the left-over TBs).
Stay and help cleanup, make sure you spend time socializing and meeting new cachers, but please - PLEASE - don't be the last person there or you WILL go home with the 10-pin bowling ball or 6 foot stuffed hot pepper trackable.

#5 Don’t walk and read an electronic device at the same time.
Unless you are OK with concussions. Then, by all means.

#6 “Poke it with a stick” - thanks HeadHardHat, this is always good advice.
OK, yeah. We stole this one. But seriously, do you want to put your hand in THERE?!
#7 Tell everyone to stay hydrated repeatedly.
So yes, Mr. LANMonkey does tend to go on about staying hydrated. But it's important people! Bring fluids, stop for drink breaks, and stay hydrated. Often. And safely.

#8 Tell someone where you are going, when you are coming back, and make sure they care.
Always a good practice to make sure someone knows where you are going, and when you'll be back. But what if they don't care? That doesn't help at all

#9 Take more pictures than you think you need.
It's free right, so why not? And everyone else will wait around happily while you take photos of the TB you are dropping off in different poses around the cache, various angles of the view past the trees, and - hey! Did you see that squirrel? It's TOTALLY different than the other one! Get a picture, quick!
#10 Always bring a compass.
Your phone has a compass? Your GPS has a compass? Great. Bring an actual compass. Don't argue with me. Just do it.

#11 Bring more batteries than you think you need.
Double A's, external phone chargers, those are ideal. Motorcycle batteries are great too, but tend to be a bit on the heavy side. But you can't beat the 12V and deep cycle

#12 Read the signs. Heed the signs. Take pictures of the signs. Signs.
 Earthcache interpretive signs. Plaques for the virtuals. Poison Oak. Cliff ahead. Don't feed the ducks. All extremely important signage.

#13 Don’t throw down. You don’t want to be “that Geocacher.”
'Nuff said.

#14 Never take directions from someone on a ride-on mower.
 Seriously. One time we rescued a family from the top of a long hike up a hill who had taken the wrong way based on information they had been provided by a "local" they met at the bottom of the hill on their ride-on mower. And thus was born rule #14.

So that's it. 14 rules so far.

We're open to adding to the rules and are really curious if you have any we haven't though of yet. 

So what rules would you agree with, disagree with, or add? 

In the meantime, don't forget rule #1!
"Cache safely, and cache often!"