.GPX file of all active OCNA Caches

As many of our regular users know, our site had a major meltdown in November, 2016. Although the site was restored to 98% capability within a couple of days, a few bugs remained, and still do to this day. (Don’t worry, latest and greatest Opencaching code coming real, real soon!!!). What we consider the two major remaining bugs are the inability to see page 2 and above of any search for caches, and the inability to download that entire first page of results that you can see as a .gpx file. (caches can still be downloaded one at a time from a cache page). Our move to the new Opencaching.pl code is taking a little longer than expected, so one of our loyal long time users wondered if he might get a .gpx file of all active OCNA caches, since there are only about 1,800 of them. The answer is, yes, there was a back door way to do it! Without getting into full detail, the following was needed to get this done:

  • A current version of GSAK (Geocaching Swiss Army Knife).
  • A .csv file containing a list of only current OCNA Waypoint names (i.e. OUxxxx). This was provided by OCNA, our database can be and was converted to .csv in one click.
  • An API Key from the Opencaching API, OKAPI. This is a free and open API, anyone can request a key.
  • The GSAK Macro GpxOpenRefreshCaches.gsk.

Let that macro work it’s magic, and voila! Our user had his very own .gpx file of all active OCNA caches. It is available for download here, and is dated 23 March 2017. It is 12 MB unzipped, so that link is to the 2 MB zipped version. This .gpx is a thing of beauty too, even contains pictures uploaded to cache pages, should your device support them. They definitely show in GSAK or EasyGPS. Should we find our migration to the new Opencaching.pl code still taking longer than we hope, we will update it every few weeks, and post that info to the main page of our site.

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Children’s book “The Birthday Cache”; exclusive sneak peak, and giveaway!

Today, we have a guest post from Teacher and Author Amanda Zeiba, and are presenting a sneak peak of the entire first chapter of her new book “The Birthday Cache”, which is on sale now! She has graciously allowed us to give away a copy of the book. Simply post a comment to the post for a chance to win. Seeing as the OCNA blogger is going in for surgery the day after this post, we will leave this contest open for two full weeks; the comments will be assigned a number 1 thru X, and the winner will be chosen on Tuesday, January 31st via a random.org drawing. NOTE: We totally blew the date on that (now corrected); but we will therefore extend the contest until Friday, Feburary 3rd, 2017.

 

Do you love geocaching? Love reading? Have a young reader/cacher in your life? Looking for a good book to read as a family? If you said yes to any of these questions, The Birthday Cache, the first book in a new geocaching adventures series, is for you!

 
While twelve year old Mason Miles and his parents love their nomadic lifestyle living and working across the nation in their RV, his twin sister Molly is craving a normal life and scheming to put an stop to their endless road trip. For their twelfth birthday the twins open a GPS receiver and fall in love with the sport of geocaching. When they stumble upon a mysterious puzzle cache will their travels become interesting enough to change Molly’s mind?
 
The first chapter is written below. Give it a read, then respond in the comment section for a chance to win your very own copy. Gotta have it right now? The book is available in paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon. Just click here: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Amanda+Zieba and scroll to find your preferred version.

Author Bio:

Amanda Zieba is a full time teacher, a wife and mother always, and a writer any minute she can squeeze in. She is the author of numerous children’s books and one adult novella.

In addition to writing, she loves visiting schools and facilitating writer’s workshops for young writers.

Diet Pepsi and Cherry PopTarts fuel her beautifully manicured fingers to fly across the page in an effort to share her stories with you. You can find her online at www.amandazieba.com

tbc


Chapter 1

Molly stomped through the woods clutching a brand new GPS receiver in her hand. Following the path highlighted on the screen only occupied part of her brain. The rest was busy listing complaints.

Complaints about their life on the road. Complaints about the lack of privacy for a twelve-year-old girl inside an RV. Complaints about missing her grandparents, friends, dance classes, and a thousand other things in Boston. But her biggest complaints were about her birthday.

I wish I was celebrating my birthday with my BEST FRIEND. But noooo, instead I am walking through the middle of the woods, for FUN. I’d rather be with Gabby, eating ice cream or going to the mall, or doing ANYTHING else NORMAL!

Molly paused, looking left and then right. Frustrated with every part of the adventure, she sighed loudly and mentally gave up.

“Here.” Molly shoved the GPSr into her twin brother’s hands. It’s a better present for him than me anyway. She folded her arms across her chest and dragged her feet, letting Mason take the lead. Their parents walked behind them, sandwiching Molly between them and her obnoxiously happy brother Mason.

“Some happy birthday this is,” she muttered.

“What’s that, Mol’ Doll?” her dad asked.

“Nothing.” She spoke a little louder than she meant to, causing a nearby bird to cry out and fly away.

The foursome wove through the trees, doing their best to follow the directions displayed on the GPSr. Mom snapped pictures with the camera that was permanently attached to her hand.

Mason rattled off facts he had learned from the Internet about geocaching. “The GPS receivers use a series of twenty-four low-orbiting satellites to help geocachers find what they are looking for. At first it was only used for military stuff, but in 2000, they started allowing civilians to use it too.”

Molly rolled her eyes, but continued to follow her know-it-all brother. He was always spouting annoying facts. Finally they reached the spot they had been searching for. When they discovered that it wasn’t a traditional cache, Molly’s annoyance grew.

Instead of unclasping the hinges of an old ammo can or prying the cover off a film canister, they stood huddled around a square sign. It read: Original Stash, the first geocache placed here, May 3, 2000.  N 45° 17.460 W° 122 24.800.

A traditional cache was a hidden container that held something you could take with you as a souvenir. Once you picked out an item, you replaced it with one of your own. They’d collected all kinds of things from caches: coins, keychains, and magnets. Here they were stuck with no treasure to find or trade, just a plaque to look at.

Dad pulled his phone out of his pocket and began putting his writer’s research skills to work. “It says here that the original cache was a five-gallon bucket containing all sorts of things—a little money, a book, a cassette tape. Lots of people came here to find it. Unfortunately, a road crew’s lawn mower destroyed it by accident.”

“Bummer,” Mom said.

“Definitely. Instead, they put in this plaque to mark the spot of the first geocache ever. It is called a virtual cache. No treasures, only a location to find.”

“Virtually lame,” Molly said, and then guiltily shrugged when she realized she’d said it out loud.

“Check this out,” Dad said. He continued to read from his phone. “Geocaching urban legend says that if you place your GPSr on top of the plaque, it will grant you   extra-long battery life and super-good satellite reception.”

“Well, we can’t miss out on that!” Mason said and put the GPSr on top of the plaque.

“Do we pray to the GPS gods or do a rain dance or something?” Mom asked.

“Nope. It should be good,” Dad said.

“Great. Can we go back to the RV now?” Molly asked.

“You guys can hang around a bit,” Mom said. “Molly and I will walk back.”

Without saying goodbye, Molly turned around and began walking back to their home on wheels. Mom gave Dad a weak smile and then turned to follow her daughter. They walked in silence for a bit before Mom said, “I’m sorry you don’t like your gift. You guys seemed to really like geocaching last summer when Dad had to try it out for the Outdoor Explorer Magazine article he wrote. We thought you’d be excited to do more of it this summer.”

“The present is great, Mom. It’s just that the only place I want to be exploring is Boston. I know you and Dad work well this way, writing and taking pictures all over the place. But this whole wandering nomad lifestyle is getting old. I want to have a regular home, with regular friends and a regular school. That would be the best birthday present ever.”

Molly’s mother grimaced but said, “Let’s get through the summer, and then we’ll think about regular school again in the fall, okay?”

“Really? You’re not just saying that?” Molly asked, stopping to look at her mother.

“I really mean it,” her mother said and gave Molly’s hand a quick squeeze.

Maybe Gabby’s plan isn’t totally hopeless, Molly thought. She almost told her mother the plan she’d worked so hard on right then and there. She opened her mouth but then closed it when she saw her mother was already several feet down the trail. Molly shrugged. She’d tell her parents the plan later.

For the rest of the way back to the RV, Molly walked instead of stomped.

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The GC Doc and the oldest (and first) cache in Minnesota

docAward winning Vlogger The Geocaching Doc recently found the oldest and first Geocache in his home State of Minnesota, GC9FF, Alvin’s Phone Line (Placed 11/5/2000), and posted the video to his account on December 10th, 2016. Here is a link to the video, as the latest video from the Geocaching Doc to the right of this post obviously updates to his latest video when he posts a new one. With him in the screen shot is a new face on the Geocaching Vlogging scene, SoDakZak. As you can see, he can be zany, shown taking the “wear orange to this cache” warning on the cache page to the extreme. Here is the link to SoDakZak’s YouTube Channel. They made a great video together, check it out, whether it still appears on our sidebar when you see this post, or you have to use the direct link above. We’d  also like to point out, because we do not believe we ever have, that you can watch the Doc’s videos in full screen mode on this blog; you don’t have to watch them 4″ x 2″! See the red circled rectangular box in the screen shot above? Click that to go to full screen mode, and hit escape on your keyboard to exit full screen mode.

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OpenCaching News

Things have been a little slow at this blog lately, but we do have a couple of recent developments pertaining to the OpenCaching Network, and more specifically, the native English speaking OpenCaching community!

ocukbannerOpenCaching in The U.K. is back, in the event you knew it was briefly missing in the first place. In early October, the original opencaching.org.uk site (which was also reachable at opencaching.uk) disappeared. But within a couple weeks, a new OpenCaching team had a new site under construction at opencache.uk, and it officially launched on November 15th, 2016. Click their banner to go there, and there is a “latest news” item telling the story in more detail, which will remain on their main page until December 15th. Note also the opencaching.org.uk and opencaching.uk links above will also get you to the new OpenCache UK site.

website-downWe first noticed early Friday Morning, November 18th that the Opencaching.us site had major issues. Our OpenCaching Network API (OKAPI) was down. This means c:geo and all OC compatible smartphone apps were down. Our cache maps were broken; our “statistics” pages (reachable from the left hand side bar on our site) were a mess. Many pages and functions still “worked” but had php error messages (sometimes hundreds) on the top of the page before the content. Being all volunteer, it took us a good 48 hours to get most of these problems fixed, not including a temporary relapse a few days later. The only known issue on our site as of the date of this post is that page 2 and above of any type of search on our site is still broken. We resolve to fix this last issue as soon as possible.

keep-calm-new-website-coming-soon-12What happened? We’re heavily leaning towards our hosting company updating cpanel, which, according to wikipedia, “is a Linux-based web hosting control panel that provides a graphical interface and automation tools designed to simplify the process of hosting a web site.” Early in this snafu, we were considering updating to the latest and greatest version of the Opencaching.pl (Poland) code base immediately, but we managed to diagnose and fix the problem relatively quickly (which we could have never done without the help and guidance of Andrei from opencaching.ro). so we are going to stick with our late Winter/early Spring 2017 target for that major project. Want a sneak peak? Why not create an account at opencaching.pl, and click on the little Union Jack flag in the extreme upper right hand corner of the site (i.e., translate most of the site to English). And good news there, the OpenCache.uk team and the OCNA webmaster have very recently “improved” all the English translations for the opencaching.pl code.

UPDATE: Shortly after this article was posted, it was brought to our attention that whole pages of downloads do not work (you can still download caches one at a time), and many, but not all U.S. Zip Code searches don’t work. We apologize for this oversight, and are still working on those issues.

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An interview with Jesenia (of Team Minions J&D), Winner of the SCOTTeVEST Featherweight Vest

On August 15th, when we announced that Jesenia of Team Minions J&D, a cacher from Naguabo, Puerto Rico, was the winner of a SCOTTeVEST Featherweight Vest, we hinted in that post that we had a funny feeling we’d be hearing from her again. That is because at the time, she agreed to do a little interview with us after trying out the vest! We finally got around to sending some questions, and she was more than happy to answer them, and include some outstanding Geocaching pictures as well.

OpenCaching: How did you hear about Geocaching, and when did you start? 
roo
With Skippy The Kangaroo in Australia

Jesenia: We love to travel around the world, so last year we moved to Australia for four months and while doing some Couchsurfing (staying with locals that offer their home to travelers through a website called Couchsurfing.com), we met this amazing Aussie family that were Geocaching addicts. When they first told us about this hobby they were super excited and kept telling us all about the game. And I was like “cool, it is like treasure hunting, this must be fun!”.  It was our first time hearing the word Geocaching and they took us around Queensland to do our first caches. I remember we visited Coombabah Lake Lands where we saw a huge family of kangaroos living happily in the wild. We even got so close to them that we got some pretty neat kangaroo selfies plus some dangerous ones with poisonous snakes. During our first geocaching trip, we did so many and enjoyed it a lot. But the process of logging all the caches afterward was a bit confusing and overwhelmed us at first since we had so many to log during our first day Geocaching. We only did geocaching in Australia while we were with our friends. Then we forgot about it for a while, we kept on traveling and then we moved to Hawaii. And suddenly one day we remembered, “oh, it could be fun to do some geocaching every time we go out for a hike“. We love hiking so we started to do geocaching again, but from time to time. Now that we are back in our island Puerto Rico, I want to see where geocaching takes us. We have discovered so many beautiful places we did not know existed until now.

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5th Anniversary Pathtag contest winners announced!


We have the winners of our 4th ever Pathtag contest, which was billed as “Win some OCNA 5th Anniversary Pathtags part Deux”. All winners responded within about 12 hours of being notified via email on Thursday night, September 29th. As always, we used the website Random.org to choose the winner(s). We were inspired to do so by drawings in the past conducted by The Outdoor Blogger Network, which we used to be a member of. Unfortunately, that network no longer exists. You put in a Min. number on the True Random Number Generator (and our Google Docs entry forms start at 2), with a Max. of the number of the last entry on the form, and you simply hit “Generate”.

Our Grand Prize winner, of five of our Pathtags was Tad AKA tubatad, a Geocacher from Des Moines. Washington State, that is, not Iowa.The 2nd prize winner, of three Pathtags, was Paul AKA Kingbee, a Geocacher from Bloomfield, New Mexico. The 3rd prize winner, of two Pathtags was Jason, AKA Bon Echo, a Geocacher from Hamilton, Ontario. Congratulations to all three of them!! Thanks to all who entered the contest as well.

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