Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Joy is in the Journey

At one time I hated to drive any long distance with our young children in the van. I would attack the journey, considering every vehicle I passed a personal conquest on the way to our destination. The problem was that I was the only one who took the conquest serious. My actual foes were the passengers in my own vehicle. One of our kids would say “I need a drink”, while another would say “I need to go pee” or even worse - the dreaded “number two”, and because four of our five kids are girls, the bush on the side of the road was usually NOT AN OPTION. The first 100 miles of a trip would take the same length of time as the last 250. One time I figured out that we actually had an average of one stop every ten miles.
Now our older kids (the first batch) have matured and grown, but the younger kids (9 & 11) are worse on my patience. They have learned the best ways to push my buttons from the older group and then came up with some of their own. Tricks like saying, “I think I am going to be sick” just moments before they threw up. The actual throwing up part only happened on occasion, it was a tactical move on their part (I am sure of it). The message was that they were serious and this could be the time that the whole back seat would be covered, if I didn’t take action. It happened often enough that I was not able to gamble with the results. I needed to take action NOW!!!
This battle took place for many years - until I discovered Geocaching. Now when they need to take a break I check the GPS for the nearest cache. I drop them off to get drinks, and let them have their potty break. Instead of watching all the vehicles drive by and of fuming about my position in the race, and complaining about excessive pit stops I get another caching experience in a foreign land. Geocaching maintains sanity. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Geocaching with kids

Taking the kids Geocaching always adds to the adventure but there are some things to do to make it successful.
Plan ahead: when choosing what types of caches to include in the pocket query decide what your kid’s abilities are
Types of cache
  I haven’t found
  Are not on my ignore list
  Is enabled
  Found in the last 7 days
  Have travel bugs
Attributes to include
Recommended for kids
Public restrooms nearby
Attributes to exclude
Dangerous area
Dangerous animals
Poison plants
The problem with a pocket query with these strict criteria is I only ended up with five in a 100 mile area. When I took travel bugs off the results went up to 17 when I took off the nearby public restrooms the results jumped to 122. I did not plan on taking the kids far so I put the search to 30 miles I came up with 23. Once you have a good list like this hit the blue ribbon on the top of the menu, this will put the caches with the most favorite votes at the top. Make a note of these and be sure to visit these caches.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hazards of Geocaching: Know when to move on

Electrical hazards: Be careful around the Lamp Post Cache (LPC) or high voltage boxes. This may be the time to just Move On because even though electricity is our friend- it can kill in large doses. It’s also a good idea to keep an ear out for the buzzing of an electrified fence.

Cell phones should be part of the equipment that is taken when caching alone. Sometimes it is difficult to keep a good signal. My wife worries that I will fall and break a leg and I won’t be able to get help out of a bad situation. Stay in touch and always let someone know where you are going and when you plan on returning. I break this rule all the time. I know it is pretty dumb and will probably bite me in the butt one day.

Recognize your limits and constantly evaluate your situation. Always consider temperature, darkness, weather, time and distance. If the situation is not safe at the time, like there is a swarm of bee’s just inches away from the cache, walk or run away and come back another day, it should still be there later. If you're allergic to bee stings, take your epi-pen. If you can learn when to move on you can save yourself loads of trouble

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Hazards of Geocaching Prepared Clothing

Clothing: The right clothing, whether we are dressing for the heat or the cold is vital. Gloves, sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots, long pants are just a start. The important thing is to think about where you are going and be prepared.
Younger Geocachers should dress in bright colors, so they can be seen easier. A number of years ago our scout troop had bright orange camo hats with our logo silk screened on the front. As a leader I could sit up on a hillside over the scout camp and account for every one of our scouts because the orange stood out like a sore thumb. A whistle on a cord around their neck is also a good idea and could save a child’s life. Kids are so easy to lose track of. It’s always good to stack the deck in your favor.
Sunscreen and a hat: protecting yourself from sunburn is essential in having a good time while Geocaching. The thing is you don’t realize there is a problem till it’s too late and you’re sun burned. “OUCH!”

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Hazards of Geocaching (Weather)

Weather: It is a good idea to check the weather conditions before you head out; it is often said if you don’t like the weather in Utah wait ten minutes cause it will change. This isn’t always true but it could happen when you’re not prepared and cause some real problems. Whether hot or cold, wet or dry, every weather condition offers unique challenges when Geocaching especially when you are miles away from civilization. The important thing is to be prepared, so check the current and future weather conditions before you plan your geocache outing. Be aware there could be rain, thunderstorms, snow, extreme heat, etc. the best thing is to plan and pack accordingly. Or even decide to stay local and postpone the excursion for another day.  
Rain: if there is a possibility for rain pack a plastic rain poncho it is best if it has a hood. You can get a cheap one that is compact and just throw it in your day pack. When wet the possibility hypothermia goes up drastically and a poncho or waterproof clothing can prevent this. If the rain is heavy go to higher ground away from streambeds and gullies this is an attempt to avoid flash floods. Stay on the trail, and find your way back as quickly as possible. However, if the rain is too thick to continue on the trail, take shelter under a hollow log or a rock overhang until the downpour lets up.
Lightning storms may accompany rain and can turn tragic this last year two scouts were hit while at summer camp one ended up fatal. Being in a high open area is a huge no!! no!! It is best to find a low area with a dense thicket of small trees. The feeling of static like your hair is standing on end is an indication that lightning is about to strike. If you feel this sensation get as low as you can, Squat, put your hands over your ears, and put your head between your knees, and make yourself as small as possible.  
Snow: Winter caching is not for me, I have no desire to get out into the snow. For those crazy cachers out there you should bring extra clothing and also dress in layers. For sudden heavy snow conditions (blizzard) try and reach a lower elevation as quickly as possible, but do it safely. Keep as dry as you can and stay warm.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Hazards of Geocaching (Dehydration)

Drink plenty of water! Utah is a desert and water is a must. But in other areas of the world that are not as dry it is still important to have water. Signs that you are starting to become dehydrated are: headache, muscle cramps, blurry vision, dizziness, and fainting. If you experience any of these symptoms, you need to start drinking large amounts of water it is also a good idea to carry along some electrolyte single packets. Dehydration is a serious thing and is easy to avoid with planning. 
WARNING – WARNING! Natural sources of water are not always safe to drink so it is best to pack your own water or buy a filter. Bacterial parasites inhabit most streams in the mountains. If you run out and don't have a filter boiling stream water for at least 3-5 minutes is the most reliable way to treat in a pinch. The result of drinking untreated water is not desirable. (Ewww…)