Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Fiddlesticks... one more to go!

Gosh Darn it!

As most of you are aware... Nana & I took a rather circular route around the state of Virginia last week.  The reasons for the trip were:
1) Find a cache in the 5 remaining Counties we had in Virginia
2) Find a cache in the 1 remaining Independent City we had in Virginia
3) Find the one cache we had on our list that would complete our D/T Grid
4) Have fun!!!
near the Rotunda
Well, 3 out of 4 ain't to bad!!!
D/T Grid is now full!!!
The problem was - we thought we went 4 for 4 until we got home and looked closely.
Complete EXCEPT for Charlottesville
Apparently, the entire campus of UVA is in the County of Albemarle, not in the city of Charlottesville as I thought.  Granted, if we had slowed down a little and went for that "one more cache" instead of rushing to stay ahead of Tropical Depression Bonnie... well then.... but that didn't happen.

Oh well, now we have another reason to go back to the lovely city of Charlottesville!!!

Trip Recap - Day One

We won't go over EVERY cache we found on the trip but some of the highlights of the trip were:

1 - Westmoreland State Park - there were three caches here that we found (GC3P17R, GC6DB5M and GC5NZ5T) and the scenery was beautiful.  The rangers and staff were very friendly and helpful but I guess the major surprise was the gift shop.  I have seen all sorts of walking sticks on sale at events, stores and shops before but the gift shop at Westmoreland State Park had some wooden walking sticks at some unbelievable prices.  No, I am not talking about the expandable walking sticks you can buy at Walmart or other places, I am talking about solid wooden carved walking sticks!!!  YES, I did buy one and thought about buying several!   

2 - I always love finding caches that offer a Benchmark at the same time so just let me mention GC1BD9K - Two Fer - a quick find cache that offers a Benchmark and a regular size cache.

3 - The Winner of the "Coveted" SNAP!!! Cache of the Day on Friday was a historic area cache called Stonewall... Mulberry's Revenge.  We always love the historical caches and this one was a great cache too.

4 - An Earth Cache right on the banks of the Rappahannock River was the next jewel we found.  GCZH2W - The Falls of the Rappahannock - what could be better, a nice walk, great scenery, several Waymarks and an Earth Cache all in about an hour of your time!!!

5 - If you are in the area south of Culpeper, Virginia - make sure your caching list contains this cute little quick find:  GC3AT7G - SB: Quit Whining - a really quick find that will let you stretch your legs and get a find at the same time.

Trip Recap - Day Two

1 - After blowing our chance to find a cache in Charlottesville we did manage to grab 3 caches on the campus of UVA (GCJ0KP, GCH50T and GCROOJ) we made our way over to an area just south of tow.  There, on a huge hill/small mountain was a cache we needed.  Getting this one cache would complete our D/T grid!!!  The problem was, once again, failure to properly plan for the difficulty and terrain of the target cache.  Nana and I DID make the find.  But by the end, it was all we could do to get our sorry, very very very tired bodies, back down to the SNAP!!!-mobile.  Yes, we took water but not enough.  We failed to take the towel to keep the sweat out of our eyes, we failed to take the cooling rags for the back of our necks, we failed to take snacks to keep our energy up.  But - like I said - we DID make the find!!!  If you are going to go for GC2MT7F - A Well Rounded Caching Day Challenge, you get to the parking area and see that small number indicated on your GPS for distance to the cache and figure - "Easy - I got this" - WRONG!!!  That may be a very small distance away, but you didn't count on a very steep, switchback trail, that seems to go up and up and up and up without an end.  Take our advice, take water, fresh legs, snacks, towels, more water, and an oxygen tank with you - you might just need all of it!  We gave it a favorite point in the end - but it was a hard find!!!

2 - An out of the way cache that is worth the visit - GC45QN3 - SBC Sweet Views - located on the grounds of Sweet Briar College, this remote cache is worth your visit

3 - Another winner of the "Coveted" SNAP!!! Cache of the Day Award, a very quick find right off a busy highway - GC5JKJ7 - Dreamland.

Tropical Storm Bonnie kinda cut our trip down by a day but we still had fun and managed to get 3 of the 4 goals for the trip completed.

Till next time!!!
Stay Safe & Keep Caching!!!

Suffolk Nana & Papa - - - or just plain ol' - - - -  SNAP!!!  

Monday, May 23, 2016

Logs, Updates and Last weeks finds


 If you ever want to bring a really big smile to my face - - - all you really have to do is write a unique or even humorous log on one of our caches!!!

Here are 3 different logs we received last week:

Found It


Got It
As a cache owner who has over 170 active caches, I rely on logs to let me know if there is a problem with any of our caches.  That being said, I really enjoy reading logs which have some meat in them.  Let us know how your day went.  Are there any geocaches you did that day that you recommend (favorite points)?  Did you find a particular interesting location?  Or, do you have a interesting or funny thing that happened to you that day?

I know there are other cache owners who love reading interesting and amusing logs as much as we do!!  Also, if we are really stuck on a particular cache, we will read recent logs to see if they contain anything that could help us out! 

Don't be afraid to log a DNF - there is information that can be learned from them also.


When you are on the home page for this blog, look to the right side - listed there are some pages you can get to by clicking.  The 2nd page listed is "14th ANNUAL GCHR PICNIC Information ".  If you go to that page you will see a list of other pages available.  I have been working on updating each of those pages.  Please feel free to check them out and let us know if there is anything else you are interested in.


Spent a few days doing maintenance on some of our caches and even grabbed a cache while out there: 
 GC3D89X - Cross Breeze - wish I had done this one in the winter time!

On Thursday (5/19) the rain decided to take a break for most of the day so alara and I teamed up once again and headed to North Carolina for some country caching! (in alphabetical order)

GC5WBCC - 3 Red Diamonds - quick P&G.

GC5WF0J - 3 Red Diamonds #2 - another quick P&G.

GC5NPKC - 67 NC CWGT Blount Bridgers House - love this historical series.

GC45RGJ - Army Men Rock - another quick P&G.

GC2YHY1 - Astoria Road's Forgotten Cemetery - we love cemeteries and it was sad to see this place in such a state of disrepair - awarded a favorite point because of the history here.

GC56Z39 - First Ladies:  Ida McKinley - another quick P&G.

GC4TYB9 - MagicRodes:  Windsor's First - I had DNF'd this one years ago and was very delighted to make the find quickly!!!

GC6FZGY - Martin County Geocaching Trail #10

GC6FZD9 - Martin County Geocaching Trail #5

GC6FZDM - Martin County Geocaching Trail #6

GC6FZE3 - Martin County Geocaching Trail #7 - we finished up this great series put out by the County.  Loved the series and we have already received an e-mail from the county stating our prize package is on the way.  A very simple series, once you make the first find and know what you are looking for.  My only comment would be that the coordinates are not always accurate so, once you know what you are looking for, expand your search area until you make the find.  I went back and gave all 10 geocaches in the series each their own favorite point mainly because 1) I love it when local officials (city, county, state) take advantage of the tourism they can bring in with geocaching and 2) there is history in this series!

GCWJQ0 - Moratoc Park - took us 4 tries here over many years but, armed with a good hint, we made the find!

GC11Z21 - Road to Nowhere - quick P&G - watch out for the ANTS!!!

GC1HM75 - Road to Nowhere #2 - another quick P&G

GC5XAHJ - Ruby Wednesday - not where we expected it - quick P&G

GC3CGX6 - The Odors of Astoria - laughed when we realized what the name was referring to!

GC1HKE8 - We're gonna need a bigger cache... - another favorite point awarded, this time for the pun.

GC46JZF - Wings of Hope 19 - this one gave us problems - it should have been a quick P&G.

Only 5 counties and one city left - gonna work on this soon!!!
Till next time!!!
Stay Safe & Keep Caching!!!

Suffolk Nana & Papa - - - or just plain ol' - - - -  SNAP!!!  

Monday, May 16, 2016

Last Week's Recap plus some notes

Last Week's Geocaching

(May 9 thru 15)

We basically only cached on two days last week but... On Thursday the 12th, we hosted our 50th event!  It was just a quick AACC event.  So for those of you that do not already know: Way back in August of 2013, Geocaching.com awarded souvenirs for everyday in August (that year) for which you either attended an event OR found a geocache.  I came up with the idea!  Since most cachers were busy during the weekdays doing that thing called WORK!  Why not hold a fast meet n greet, just to allow those few dedicated individuals to get their souvenir by pulling into a random parking lot on their commute home and attending, even if for just a minute or two, a very short event.  These quick events were called AACC events which stood for August Afternoon Commuters Club.  At the end of the month, the attendees voted to continue the events but not everyday.  Since August of 2013 we have held these events sometimes on an every 2 week schedule and sometimes on a monthly basis. Recently, we have been asked to increase the frequency of the events so they are now on a every 3 week basis and they are now called All-Year Afternoon Commuters Club events!!!
Would you believe there is a cache in there???
On Saturday the 14th, we joined up with alara to tackle a list of North-East North Carolina Geocaches.  alara is one of the geocaching gurus that first taught us this great hobby so, yes - it is partially his fault you are reading this!!!

We managed to wipe out 37 of the 59 caches on the list knocking them off in quick order.  This list consisted of numerous caches but the main reason I mention it is the 3 interesting series of caches we had on the list.
  1. Generals in Gray - these 13 geocaches (so far) detail information about different Generals during the Civil War.  They were hidden by  Civil War buff tpd2100.  The hides are very basic park n grabs and he promises more caches are to come.
  2. Martin County Geocaching Trail - hidden by townofwilliamston.  You collect a coin at each of the hides and once complete present the coins to the Martin County Tourism Development Authority.  They will then, once verified, present you with a prize pack.
  3. The NC CWGT series.  This state wide series consists of 150 Geocaches which have been hidden along the highways and by-ways of North Carolina.  This series is one of our favorites because of all the historic places it takes you.  
All three of these series are well worth your time.

A Couple of Notes

  1. If you were a member of the Facebook page called SNAP!!!-land Geo-Art (Grafitti) - the page name has been changed to SNAP!!! Geocaching.  This Facebook group will now have information not only of our geo-art but also all active SNAP!!! geocaches.  Don't worry, you can still find the cheat sheet for the geo-art in the files section of the group.  If you are not a member of that Facebook group - and want to be - Click here to go to the page.  
  2. I have started to update older pages and publish newer pages with tons of information of concerning the 14th Anniversary GCHR picnic.  If you look to the right side at the top of the page, the second page listed there (the first being Home") will be a page containing all sorts of links for information on this year's picnic.  Each one of the links is being updated but you can still access the entire page - you will see notes letting you know which links have been updated.
That's all for now - headed back down to North Carolina in a couple of days to finish up one or more of the series!!!

Till next time!!!
Stay Safe & Keep Caching!!!

Suffolk Nana & Papa - - - or just plain ol' - - - -  SNAP!!!  

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Update on this blog and the near future

I have been working on some of the background pages associated with this blog and thought the time was right to bring you up to date on what is happening.

First of all:

Yes, September 3rd is a few months away - but we want to be ready!!! Have you been to the Picnic Registration site? The Picnic Facebook Page?

If you are on the main page of this blog and look to the right, the 2nd page listed there should be my page for this year's picnic.  Clicking on that will take you to where I have all sorts of information for you about the Mega Event.  I will be working on updating this page and all the linked pages several days a week until it is complete.

NEW SNAP!!! Caches

Here is the updated status of the new SNAP!!! (post-retirement) caches:

  • April's HARD cache: GC6BBVV - Nana thinks Papa Has SNAPPED!!! has been found 3 times with 3 favorite points!!!  Beware, the difficulty on this one is set at "4" and that is for the puzzle!
  • April's easy cache: GC6G5BZ - Take the High Road with SNAP!!! has been found 9 times with 3 favorite points.  It is a 1/1 cache (yes - it is wheelchair accessible) and has a tremendous view!!!
  • May's easy cache:  This will be a LARGE cache and I am basically waiting for the rain to stop and thinking of adding a twist by making it a "SMART" phone cache.
  • May's HARD cache.  Thinking of doing something along the lines of a "SMART" phone cache but not sure yet.

Need some input from the bicyclists in the group

The new SNAP!!! 4X4 finally got it's hitch installed and I am dusting off the old bike carrier.  Now, I need a good recommendation for a bike.  I am not going with a "no speed" beach cruiser but I do not need to be a speed demon either.  Most of the riding I do is on "Rails to Trails" but some of them are dirt.  I am also interested in biking False Cape so I need a bike that can handle the sand.  Please keep in mind, I am no spring chicken either.  Oh, and I weigh just over 200 pounds and need to carry water with me... and I may be retired but I ain't rich!  ANYWAY...

Which Bike would you recommend for me?    

That's it for now - think we will hit some of the caches in North Carolina this weekend.

Till next time!!!
Stay Safe & Keep Caching!!!

Suffolk Nana & Papa - - - or just plain ol' - - - -  SNAP!!!  

Monday, May 2, 2016

GPS Accuracy - or - Why are these coordinates not correct???

Here are some fun facts about the GPS Satellite Constellation (the GPS system we use).

The Air Force manages the constellation to ensure the availability of at least 24 GPS satellites, 95% of the time. For the past several years, the Air Force has been flying 31 operational GPS satellites, plus 3-5 decommissioned satellites ("residuals") that can be reactivated if needed.

  • The United States government currently claims 4 meter accuracy for civilian GPS. Mind you, that's the minimum. Some devices/locations reliably can get 3 meter accuracy.  4 meters is about 12 feet - so the best you can get is about a 24 foot diameter circle.
  • The first GPS satellite was launched in 1978.
  • A full constellation of 24 satellites was achieved in 1994.
  • Each satellite is built to last about 10 years. Replacements are constantly being built and launched into orbit.
  • A GPS satellite weighs approximately 2,000 pounds and is about 17 feet across with the solar panels extended.
  • Transmitter power is only 50 Watts or less.

Most geocachers have run into either a geocache whose coordinates are less than desirable.  The worst coordinates for a geocache I ever attempted to find were more than 2 miles off.  Oh, and we got FTF (via a hint from the CO).

All sorts of things can throw off coordinates including clouds, weather, trees, buildings, and sometimes just the minerals in or on the ground at the ground zero.  We have a LARGE geocache hidden in a giant stack of granite blocks.  We get plenty of DNF logs!  Good luck getting a decent lock there - plenty of bounce.

Another factor in accuracy is time.  Here is an example of GPS accuracy from a handheld GPS (Garmin Oregon). The first image was taken 1 minute after the GPS was switched on , the middle image is after 2 minute and the last image is after 3 minutes. You can see on the GPS screen that more satellites are being received as time goes on (the green bars) and the Location coordinates are slowly changing as the accuracy begins to come down to the final 9 feet. The final Location coordinates are N51°35.203' W4°19.501' which can be considered quite accurate.

So, knowing all this - how do we get more accurate coordinates for a cache.

When placing a cache you need to record the coordinates from the GPS or phone and make sure they are as accurate as possible. This ensures people looking for your cache will have the best possible chance of being close to it. If you don't record the coordinates properly and people look for your cache on a day when accuracy isn't that good they could be many yards or meters (or sometimes miles) from the cache. The following steps will help you get the best coordinates you can.
  1. At the cache location, hold your GPS or phone so it has a clear view of the sky – or as clear of any obstructions such as trees or buildings as you can. You can place it down on the ground or on a convenient post or just hold it in your hand. It's recommended you need to leave it like this for at least 10 minutes. If you've just switched it on or it's been in your rucksack or a pocket you may need to leave it a bit longer. This ensures it has a chance to pick up the signal from as many satellites as possible.
  2. Check the accuracy figure shown on the screen (see the images for examples). It will slowly decrease as the GPS picks up more satellites but will eventually stop and that indicates the best accuracy you will get at this time. Wait until the accuracy figure has stopped and drops no more
  3. Record these coordinates either by writing them down or marking them as a waypoint.  Note: The Geocaching® apps show your current location while navigating to any geocache using the compass feature.  I would also recommend, if using this method, to revisit the same site several times (hours apart) to get multiple readings (see manual waypoint averaging below). 
Waypoint Averaging
Another way of making sure the coordinates are good is to take several different readings at the cache and then average them. To be really accurate you should do this over several days because on any particular day your GPS may not be able to pick up as many satellites as on other days which will affect accuracy. You can average waypoints manually or use the averaging feature of your GPS if it has one (not all of them do but the manual method works with any GPS or phone).

Manual Waypoint Averaging (handheld GPS or phone)
Record the coordinates at the cache location using step 1 to 3 above. Then walk about 30 or 40 feet (10 to 13 meters) away from the cache, turn and then walk back to the cache waiting about a minute at the site before recording the coordinates. Do this a second, third, fourth and even fifth time from different directions. You will find you have a slightly different coordinates each time. You can now 'average' these coordinates to get the best possible ones. This is how it's done.  I recommend waiting hours not minutes between readings as you will be syncing with different satellites.
Let's say your five separate readings are these:
N51° 42.634' W4°19.915'
N51° 42.636' W4°19.917'
N51° 42.637' W4°19.917'
N51° 42.633' W4°19.915'
N51° 42.634' W4°19.919'
Take the last part of the N to give you five numbers like this, 634, 636, 637, 633 and 634. Add them together to give a total of 3174. Divide this by the number of readings (5) to give you 634.8 or rounded up, 635.
Now do the same with the last part of the W which gives you 915, 917, 917, 915, 919. Added together this is 4583. Divide by 5 again to give you 916.6 or rounded up to 917. Your best coordinates are therefore N51° 42.635' W4°19.917'

GPS Averaging Feature (handheld GPS only)
If your GPS has the feature to average waypoints then use that. It will be an option in the menu. From the averaging screen you create a new waypoint and press Start. The GPS will then start recording the coordinates for a period of time. When it's finished you can either use that value or continue the averaging by repeating the process. Please refer to your GPS manual for more details.
Two last Tips:
1.  Keep your GPS calibrated.  This will definitely help with coordinates.
2.  Remember the +/-     If I hide a cache and have +/- 10 feet on my coordinates (a 20' circle) but my GPS is off to the east - then you come along and let's assume you have +/- 10 feet but you are off to the west -  this means we just enlarged that 20' circle to a 40' circle.

Have patience - sometimes it is best to stop looking at your GPS and use what we call "geo-sense".  Look around and ask yourself - Where would you hide it?  Believe it or not - it works quite well.

I compiled this information from numerous sites including Geocaching.com.  Remember, even geocaching.com states your coordinates SHOULD be as accurate as possible.

Till next time!!!
Stay Safe & Keep Caching!!!

Suffolk Nana & Papa - - - or just plain ol' - - - -  SNAP!!!