I’m currently in Altus, Oklahoma, co-facilitating one of our Celebrate Oklahoma Voices workshops for educators at Western Oklahoma State College for a couple of days. This evening after another great dinner at the Backdoor Steak House in Blair (just a few miles north of Altus – I reviewed the restaurant on our team blog “Good Oklahoma Eats”) I ventured out for my second geocaching outing. It was amazing to see how many geocaches there are in and around Altus listed on geocaching.com– this may not be a lot by some urban standards, but I thought the number was pretty impressive:

Geocaches in Altus, Oklahoma 5-28-2008

Before it got too dark, I searched for three caches and ended up finding one. This reminded me of hunting trips I went on with my dad growing up, where sometimes we’d get birds and sometimes we didn’t. At least I found one! Unlike my first geocaching outing, I took a more “purist” approach and didn’t read any of the website hints or tips– I just synced the coordinates to my GPS unit and went hunting. Perhaps I should have read the hints in hindsight… The cellular EDGE coverage was too poor at the locations to bring up the geocaching website on my iPhone, but it was fun to get out and walk a bit in some areas of Altus I probably wouldn’t have explored otherwise. I also followed the “cache in, trash out” geocaching ethic, so none of my “attempted finds” were entirely fruitless. It was actually cool to watch the C-17s shooting touch and gos nearby at Altus AFB – I spent a good deal of my childhood growing up around Air Force bases, and it’s always cool to be around aircraft and Air Force people.

It may have just been me or my GPS unit, but several of the geocaching coordinates I was using seemed to just get me “in the area” of the cache, not exactly in the location of the cache itself. Perhaps this is normal? I need to remember to bring some “geocaching swag” to exchange next time– I remembered to bring my GPS on this trip, but not any trinkets to leave behind.

I’ve done a bit of perusing on geocaching websites lately, seeing what is available and might be worth buying and using. The metal geocaching coins are very cool collectors items, but fairly expensive at around $10 each. Tonight I found a company which will create single color wooden nickels for a reasonable fee, and this looks like a neat idea for a unique item to leave in geocaches. I could design a custom logo with my kids and get some of the nickels printed… I might include my blog address on them too for fun.

I’m hoping to do more geocaching in upcoming weeks in both Kansas and New Mexico. Before the New Mexico trip, I’m hoping to figure out how to download GPX bookmark list files I create on geocaching.com onto my Garmin GPS unit from my Mac. The Garmin Communicator Plugin makes it easy to send geocache coordinates to my Garmin GPS one at a time, but I’d like to be able to send an entire list of bookmarked caches at once.

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On this day..

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  • Diane Main

    I always tell my students that the coordinates and GPS will get you to within ten to thirty feet of the hide. After that, it’s just you and your five senses. With experience, you begin to think like a geocacher. “Where would I hide it around here?” “THAT is a perfect spot for a hide!” Go for eye level, then look high and look low. A few tools might help also: small mirror, flashlight, even a headlamp type.

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