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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