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    You know.. I love sharing and hearing stories.  I love to sit and hear the stories from peoples caching.  So after all the time involved I thought I would share some of what I am experiencing with those around me.

    Friday
    Sep262014

    How To Get Your EarthCache Permission.

    Sadly this seems to be one of the hardest things that people go though when they are submitting an EarthCache.  The rules of when permission is needed can be different in different countries.  In general you should plan on it, especially if you leave tht paved roads that have a lot of access.

    Why?

    I hear this a lot.  It comes in a few different forms.  Why do I need permission?  It is public land why should I get permission?  Those seem to be the most prevalent.

    First, lands may be public, but they still have a land manager.  They have specific tasks.  Protect the park, create tourism, explain the area to guests, keep the area pristine;  these are all examples of some of the things they have to do.  Usually by law or rules from their bosses. So they review what goes on in their area of responsibility.

    Over the four years I have been looking at EarthCaches i have seen a few reasons for denial.

    Sensitive ecological area - Plants, animals, areas that may receive damage from people moving on them.  They may be tasked with saving an endangered animal,  dropping an EarthCache that drags visitors into some nesting ground does not help.  A few caves have been declared off limits to protect local bat populations.

    Historical Sites - Many sites are protected by obscurity.  They do not publish where native American artifacts are located.  You may not even know they are there, but they do not want people poking around that area.  Of course if they had more money they could do something, but lacking that they just try and keep people away.

    Culturally Significant - The one that comes to mind is Rainbow Bridge National Monument.  Every year I get a submission for that monument.  It is sacred to the Native Americans.  As such the park does not advertise or push the monument much.  A discussion with the park management told me that they had no intention to approve anything there because of the sacred nature to the native Americans in the area. 

    Protect the local minerals/fossils.  A few sites have been denied for this reason.  Dinosaur bones in the desert are left alone.  Letting people know about the site can cause people to gather them up when they visit.  I have seen this for sites in national parks where obsidian or petrified wood is located.  Rangers do not want these to walk away.  It happens.  A national park  Fossil Cycan National Monument was one.  Everyone pilfered the park, and it was removed.  

     

    Here is my step by step process.

    Find the topic.

    1. Write up basic information.
    2. Find out about other caches/EarthCaches in the area.
    3. Contact park educational outreach with the information info.
    4. Get Permission.

    Know who to ask. 

    Many parks and properties have a number of employees, a

    nd each one has  their own duties and responsibilities.  Going to the wrong one can cause you unneeded grief, or can just piss someone off.  Some cachers have been very rude.   I have spoken with over two dozen land managers, and with managers of over 15 National Parks.  Most have the same issues, and concerns.

    If you walk in and demand to see the park manager you may find success or miserable failure.  Remember these people are working, their jobs have seen a hu

    ge increase in workload in the last few years.  Budget cuts and hiring freezes have wrecked havoc on many land managers.   

    Some parks are huge.  They manage a large number of employees and contractors that come into the parks.  Interrupting  their important work  of hiring, repairing, dealing with problems, animals and people to deal with permission for an EarthCache and annoy them.  

    If you walk in and talk to the National Park Ranger over enforcement you may get a completely different answer and reception that the ranger over education.  One is trying to determine if you are violating any laws, if this is prone to cause problems, or cause damage.  The other will look at this as a way to educate visitors about the park, and about the content.

    Do your research to answer questions.  

    These are the most common questions that I see:

    Where is it?  I am shocked that many do not know how to read coordinates.  The simplest way I have found is to find it on Google maps, drop a pin, then there is a link to your little map.  Give them as much info as you can.

    What are you teaching?  Simple, give them a copy.  They may ask for corrections, or you to change some information.

    Is it near a road or trail?  Many parks are worried about damage. Take a moment to let them know how far from the trail, and what trail.

    How many visitors do you expect?  This is usually pretty simple.  I find the caches nearby, or EarthCaches, and can tell them.   "Cache X is a mile away, it gets about 15 visitors a year"  This usually relieves the worry that you are setting up a site with 1000 new people showing up and tearing the area apart.

    The contact

    If you are nearby try make an appointment or go in person.  Talking with someone, if you are not interrupting or causing problems,  goes a long ways.  Be ready for a long wait if you are only doing the email thing.  Remember that if you send an email you might be buried.  Questions will be slow to come by.  Sometimes it works well, other times expect something slow.  Consider the phone, but be respectful.

     

    Hopefully these help just a little.

    Monday
    Sep152014

    One Million

    Congrats to the one millionth cache published in the US.  Daddy's fishing Hole.  A cache placed by a newer cacher that looks interesting.

    It is interesting to think that it was only a few years ago that the one millions cache was published worldwide.  i do not know the numbers of caches that were outside the USA but it is interesting to think about. 

    There are 1 million in the United States and that means another one and a half million outside the United States.

     

    Sunday
    Aug242014

    The 7 Souvenirs of August

    It has been a while since I wrote anything.  As i am home sick, enjoying the view out the window i thought i would take the time to type out a few rambling words.

    I was happy to see there was not a return of last Augusts 30 days of geocaching.  I despise streaks.  I did 100 days and it seemed to suck the life out of the game for me.  Some people love it, DrJay and his 2750 days in a row loves it. That would send me over the edge.  Of course it may have driven him crazy a few times, and it takes some planning on his part.  However, this part of the game is not something that I have ever enjoyed.

    So this month when they announced the 7 Souvenirs of August I got exited.  I have saved some caches that are nearby so that I could grab something like this, busy day challenges, or something similar. 

    This meant that I could pick the caches I wanted to grab.   I had a daughter get married earlier in the month, and a week long scout camp, so I missed a number of events people needed to be first in line to complete them all.

    Well I went to an event Saturday thrown by a young man at a nearby park.  What was different about it was the logs of people that will attend.  The area I am in is notorious for the fact that most of the cachers do not log will attends.  So people have no idea who will show up.  Howver I saw a number of people I had never heard of log that they would attend.

    When the time for the event came I drove over a few minutes late.  When I got there I could see a crowd.  I saw two familiar faces that I spoke to for a minute before i headed over to the group.  Then there was only a face or two that I recognized.   I think there was about 30 cachers at the event maybe a little more.

    I gave a call out at one time, and asked how many had attended the event in the past.  Only 10 or so raised their hands.   I found that interesting that the majority of people were there to complete their 7 souvineers and broke with their caching solo routines to join the bigger crowd.

    Personally I think this is a great thing.  It is nice to see new faces, hopefully this was repeated far and wide and everyone saw a number of new cachers appear in their midsts and they will join us going to other events in the future.

    Happy caching.... See you on the trail

    Sunday
    May112014

    Thanks for the Favorite points

    I had a few discussions this last week with people about favoriting caches.  You know, selecting the little ribbon to give to a cache that you really enjoy.  There are a number that do not take the time. That is kind of funny seeing as how many people will not hesitate to share a page, or hit "like" on facebook.  Those same people have never given a favorite point on caching.

    What is it?

    Well lets first just say what it is. Every 10 caches that you find you can mark a favorite.  Simple, and there is not much more to go into detail about. This is a reward for cachers that place them, it also lets people hunt for caches that have favorites so they know the cache they are hunting for may be above average. That may be more important if the cacher is traveling through.

    How do you choose? 

    That is up to you, everyone has a different rule.  I seem to have given a high percentage to caches that are Earthcaches, Virtuals, or wherigos.  Then a number that are larger containers seem to fall in the mix.

    It is actually the hardest to go back.   I jumped in and went through cache types.  The ones that I might only have a hundred or less to go through.  Then jumped into GSAK and sorted out the larger caches.  They tended to be high on my list.

    Great container, great cache, great location, are all a few of the  reasons that I gave them favorites.

    Begging for the favorite.

    This was a killer for me.  I had one that may have been on my list, and a got an email that was kind of snotty, saying that I should really take the time to favorite his cache.  I did not get around to it for a bit, and I got another email saying something along the lines of "everyone else has favorited the cache I should as well."  and "If I did not favorite the cache they would not favorite mine" 

    I sent an nice email back and said I never give favorites to people who beg for the point, so stop bothering me.  They lost the point with their pestering.

    A thank you from a cache owner.

    For me I say thanks.  Nothing makes me happier than looking at my list of caches and knowing that someone really enjoyed it.  For whatever reason.  I have had them favorited because of location, type, even that it was a milestone for them.Yet I still feel like someone gave me a pat on the back when someone gave me a point.

     

    Sunday
    Mar022014

    The Smaller Caching Comminity

    Some general thoughts on caching. This time frame can really be different based on different places, based on the cachers and the caches that are there.

    The first few years.

    I have had some discussions with cachers about "the good old days".  They discussed that they ran around the state finding caches.  Even a few that traveled farther.  There were few caches then, and to actually keep interest in caching meant that you had to travel far.

    Mega Events?  What mega events.  It was hard to get 500+ cachers together in an area, there were not that many in some areas, so people had to travel.  In fact events were few and far between.  Cachers planned long trips to make some of the few mega events that were around. 

    Events? I just checked in Utah.  There were six events in 2001, 11 in 2002, 14 in 2003, 28 in 2003. 

    In otherwords the caching community was smaller, in order to participate you traveled and visited with the other people.  You had to, If you wanted to find 1000 caches it was a lot of work.  Power trails were non existant, cities and rural roads did not have a lot of caches to grab.  I was thinking that when i started people were bragging about getting 100 in a day, it was hard, and took a ton of planning.

    Evolution

    I am primarily thinking of the 2009-2010 time frame here in Utah.  We had a few big events, Utah Association of Geocachers still had good attendance, that drew people from around the state every spring and fall. 

    Caches were scattered about, but the numbers were far less. In Utah there were 14,000 caches.  You could stay in your region and gather caches.  Rural areas started to see more and more

    With events things were changing again.  2009 showed 93 events, 2010 was at 150.  The numbers climbed dramatically.

    Mega events were appearing in more and more locations.  You did not have to plan a trip to one of the few.  Why?  Because there were double the number from the years before.

    Today

    Events hit a high in 2012 at nearly 174, and in 2013 were still about 150 events.

    Mega Events?  They are everywhere.  Ok maybe not everywhere.  There are currenly 16 on the map for North America.   There are 20 in Europe

    Caches in Utah are approaching 30,000.  You most likely would not need to leave your county for many.  If you live in Washington,  Iron county, or along the Wasatch front there are so many you would not have to go far.  I was just thinking I rarely cache farther than 5 miles away.  There are enough to keep me busy.  I do like to take trips into the hills to grab them, but not as often as I used to.

    Results

    I think geocaching dropped from States, to regions to counties to communities.  Many people rarely leave those areas.   Why travel to get one of the events, when there are so many  nearby.  We have seen a change.

    If I made a list of Mega events, I would pick the closest.  Not necessarily Geowoodstock. Times have changed.  Statewide caching groups have slid into smaller regional or city groups.  That is not necessarily bad, just different.

    Some will aways miss the friends from around the state, or region that gathered to share stories.  I think the stories are still there, just in a different form.  I don't think of the caches that were the big adventures.  I remember reading about the cache at the bottom of the Great Salt Lake, or the Wreck of the Hesperis. We all thought of going after those, or a few on the peaks.  Now things have changed.  No one knows about them anymore.  People talk about the great caches in the areas, but not about those in wider regions.

    I had a cacher contact me (actually this has happened a few times) and complain how things are not as cool as it was.  Yet some of the coolest caches in the state were popping up in their backyard.  They were not even aware.  They just looked at the older caches, and wondered why so few were going after them.

    Challenge

    So I leave you with a challenge.  It is not to go back to the old days, or even do something in another county or state.  It is simple, I challenge you to make it better.  Make your event better, make your cache better.

    Take the time to see something new, and share it with others.  I think the future of caching is your comminities.  Take what we have and add to it.  Perhaps it is archiving an old cache to add something special.  A cache type that most never see, a challenge that people can find and talk about.

    Make what you have just a little better so everyone can smile at what they find.