TravelFleas – Along for the ride


We here at the OCNA blog have been familiar with TravelFleas.com since shortly after their launch in July, 2012 (more on that later). Since this blog is only a few months old, we finally got around to conducting an interview with John from TravelFleas (both on the phone, and via email). And we are happy to announce that this Blog has a $10 TravelFleas.com gift certificate to give away! This contest will run for 14 days, including the day of this blog post. See the very bottom of this post to enter.

OCNA Blog: What are TravelFleas tags and how do you use them? 
John: TravelFleas tags are affordable small metal tags, personalized with your geocaching username that you either attach to a trackable to go “Along for the Ride” (they are not trackables themselves) or leave in a geocache as a signature item. TravelFleas tags are durable and will stand the test of time out in the elements of the geocaching world. The reason for the personalization is to let other geocachers know you are a part of the game.

OCNA Blog: Do you allow something other than a geocaching username on your TravelFleas tags?
John: Our TravelFleas tags accept up to 20 characters. If you want to put the name of your scout troop, geocaching club, flash mob, etc, anything you want as long as it does not exceed 20 characters.

OCNA Blog: How many people are behind TravelFleas?
John: This group of four motivated geocachers had a lighting bolt idea, and off they went.

OCNA Blog: How did your company come up with the idea for the TravelFleas themselves?
John: We were geocaching, picking up trackables, and noticing that personalization was either missing, or misguided. What really hit home was when we saw a trackable with a picture of a little girl attached. While geocachers are a really nice group of people, this is something that is still in the public eye, and could be tracked back to the originator. We felt a good safe thing to do would be to have your geocaching username attached to trackables. We got together one night, and through a lot of fun discussion, decided a “TravelFlea” should go on a trackable.

OCNA Blog: I personally discovered your product within weeks of your July, 2012 launch when you followed me on Twitter, and I followed back. I have not noticed any other Geocaching product hit the social media as hard as Travelfleas (Facebook, Twitter, Flikr and Pinterest). Do you feel this is important, and have you gotten good results from it?
John: We have found it is very important to get our name out there through social media. Social media is the modern form of advertising. Twitter has proven over and over to be the best advertising medium so far. I have been able to track a number of sales directly related to twitter follows and conversations.

OCNA Blog: You recently had a tent at GeoWoodstock in Florida, and have told me you were very happy with the results. Was that the first MEGA event in which you did this? Do you plan to attend more?
John: Last October we attended the Florida Finders Fest. We will attend more MEGA events, and will post to social media every time we plan on going to an event.

Travel Fleas spotted on a cave drawing

OCNA Blog: Who is the artist behind all those TravelFleas Anthology cartoons that you regularly post to social media? Note: readers can view them all on this page on Pinterest.com.

John: The anthology cartoons were developed as another way to express TravelFleas enjoyment of the geocaching world through an artist’s eye. We work together as a team to create and draw each cartoon.

OCNA Blog: In addition to the tags themselves, you also sell personalized Travelfleas license plates, and Travelfleas logbooks logbooks for logging the progress of your travelfleas. I’m sure you can’t talk specifics, but will we see more product offerings from TravelFleas.com in the future?
John: The necklaces we sold at GeoWoodstock were a hit. We value input from our customers. Ideas, comments and suggestions are always welcome though our web site or social media pages. We have more products coming in the future. You will have to check our web site often for updates.

OCNA Blog: I assume most of your orders come from the USA and Canada. Have you received orders from elsewhere in the world?
John: Along with The US and Canada, we have gotten a number of orders from the UK. We have also gotten orders from New Zealand, Australia, and Finland.

OCNA Blog: Where have TravelFleas been spotted?
John: Along with the countries we have sold TravelFleas tags to, spottings have occurred in Germany and France.

Great interview, thanks to John for that! Visit them at TravelFleas.com. And be sure to follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Flikr!


Mr.Yuck TravelFlea; click to enlarge

As you can see, the blogger has some TravelFleas! Here is one attached to an OpenCaching North America Moving Cache (yes, we still gleefully accept that cache type). And of course he choose color C-2, the “OpenCaching color”. You can order all one color, like I did, or in 12 packs, with one of each available color. Now for the contest! Where you can win a $10 Gift Certificate to TravelFleas.com, a contest that will begin with the publication of this blog post, and end on July 10th, 2013. Or alternatively, if you can’t wait, go to their website, and order some now! To enter, fill out the form below with your name (as it says, “Geonick” is fine), and a valid email address. We will never use your email address, and the Google Document storing all the entries will be deleted after the contest.  There are rules, of course, which appear below, in italicized text above the entry form.

Rules: To enter, provide your name and email address in the form below. One entry per person, and one entry per email address. There are no Geographical restrictions, contest is open to anyone in the world. The contest begins upon publication of this blog post on Thursday, June 27th, 2013, and ends at 7:00 PM Eastern Standard Time on July 10th, 2013. One winner will be chosen at random from the entries received. Winner will be notified via email, notification being sent from the email address opencachingnorthamerica at gmail.com (be sure to check your spam folders!), and must respond within 48 hours, or the prize will be forfeited, and another winner will be chosen. Once accepted, the prize will be delivered via email.


EDIT: Contest over, entry form removed. Thanks to all that entered!

Read More

The Cache Me If You Can! Geocaching Board Game

 
 


Above is the “Game Opening” video for the Geocaching board game Cache Me if You Can!, as being played by game designer and President of DPH Games Dan Hundycz (Geocaching.com username Zilt Pitorg), and developer Marty DeMarte (Geocaching.com username Allyn Birch), and also features several visits from Marvin the Tabby Cat! This video is actually one of five you can view on the game at the DPH Games YouTube Channel.

You may have seen this game advertised on Geocaching.com, beginning in May, 2013. We here at the blog saw those ads, and heard from a Geocacher that DPH Games had a tent set up at an outdoor festival in Corning, N.Y. during Memorial Day weekend. We contacted DPH Games requesting an interview, and happened to mention the blogger himself lives in New York State, about 135 miles away. It turns out Dan and Marty were about 80 miles closer to the blogger that day. One thing led to another, and we all met at a bar/restaurant in Clarence, N.Y. on June 2nd, 2013, where discussed the game for over an hour, and the blog procured a copy of the game for “testing” purposes.

Equipment Cards; start with 3, you can earn more

Why a Geocaching board game? Dan says “We saw that there wasn’t really a true geocaching board game out there. We wanted to make something that simulated the experience. We spent a significant amount of time at game conventions so that we would develop a solid game… not just a game to fill a void.”  Yes, but would a non-Geocacher understand this game? No problem “We have played this game with more board gamers than geocachers” said Dan. He certainly has the credentials to take on this project, saying “I have geocached since 2007, played board games my whole life, and created board games and simulations most of my adult life.”

Game Components:

“Caching Area” cards that players land on
  • 3 Game Boards
  • 104 Caching Area Cards
  • 12 Geocoin Cards
  • 28 Equipment Cards
  • 18 Event Cards
  • 6 Playing Piece Cards
  • 8 Character Description Cards
  • 4 Card Stands
  • Rules Card
  • Geocaching Glossary/FAQ
  • Endorphin Card
  • Cool Ammo Can like box

In addition to the Cool Ammo Can like box, the game is also available in a real .30 caliber ammo box! The Collectors edition, for $20 more. We here at the blog have seen one, it’s very nice, with Cache me if you can stickers that cover most of both sides of the box. All game components are made in America.

Geocoin Cards

How to play the game:
The still picture you see on the video at the top of this post will actually be very helpful to the reader for following along here! This will be a brief overview from the blogger, who has played the game three times thus far. The object of the game, as described on the rules card is to be the first player to earn 18 points, and points are earned by collecting Geocaches and Geocoins. You see three boards in the picture. There is a “town” board (bottom), and two “caching area” boards (top). Note that this is the optimum arrangement for a two player game, and the caching area boards can be set up in a multitude of arrangements. The town board has a Cafe, a Sporting goods store, a swag store, a hospital, and a Mega Event, as well as the trailheads to the caching area. Each player starts out with a playing piece, a GPS/Pen indicator card, a character card, and three 2-sided equipment cards, with only one of the two equipment options being chosen by the player (there are opportunities in the game to turn the card around and choose the other piece of equipment on the card). All players start at the Cafe. There are no dice, movement is up to three spaces on a trail, and one space inside the sporting goods store or hospital, or “off-trail” in the caching area. Additional equipment cards and “event cards” may be picked up in the sporting goods store. Note that event cards are things that happen, not Geocaching events. For example, if you drew the “I guess that’s not supposed to go in a parking meter?” card, you lose a Geocoin. You won’t need to visit the swag store or the hospital on the town board until after you enter the caching area. And believe me, you will get sent to the hospital.

Players then enter the caching area, only at designated trailheads. When a caching area card is landed on, it is flipped over. The cards contain caches (including legs of multi-caches), hazards, special actions and non-action cards. Cards may either be taken, or left in place (some have instructions to leave them in place). If taken, the card is replaced face down with another from the deck. Note there are 104 of them with the game, but the boards only hold 48. Certain caches can only be taken if you have the proper equipment card. For example, you need a flashlight to take a night cache. Hazards (and there are many) will generally send you to the hospital on the “town” board, although you may be immune to the hazard if you have the proper equipment card. If you lose your GPS Signal or pen, you will have to visit the swag store. There are also “free goodies”, for lack of a better term, at the Mega event in town. You of course have to go back out to the caching area if you have to go to town for any reason. Collect 18 points worth of caches and Geocoins, and you win! There is also suggestions for an “advanced victory condition” game on the rules card, and DPH Games has a Back into the woods expansion pack planned. Says Dan, “One of our goals is to create games that bring people together. Having a game that is interactive and very replayable does that. A board game creates an environment that the console game never will.”

Chacter Description Cards, 1 per player

We like to think that we don’t review Geocaching products at the OCNA blog, we just report on them. But I’ll tell you what, if this were a review, I’d give it an A+ for sure. I told Dan via email when I got around to playing it, it was “even more funner than I expected”, grammar aside. The 104 randomly placed caching area cards, and the ability to set the boards up in a variety of configurations make this game play different every single time. And his wanting to meet a blogger to discuss the game in person (even if it was “only” 50 miles away) really shows his dedication to making this game and his company succeed. Note on the main page of the DPH games website that they go out on tour with the game to game nights and Geocaching Events. For example, they will be at the Berkshire (Mass.) Geobash and the Midwest Geobash (Ohio) in July 2013. Note also per this page on their website that you can purchase Cache Me If You Can! directly from DPH games, or from Amazon.com or Puredesign.com. Also if you ever find yourself in Downtown Corning, N.Y., from the Market Street Apothecary gift shop. You can see it in person, and buy it, if you so choose, at a game night or Geocaching Mega event too, of course.

Read More

Update; 4.5lb Walleye Cache found!!

At 8:30 PM Eastern Standard time on Sunday, June 9th,2013, the above video was posted to the file sharing site wikisend.com by Geocaching.com account name Stormgren-X, featured in the last blog post for embarking on an epic eight day canoe journey to the world’s oldest unfound cache, 4.5lb Walleye. Well, as can be seen in the video, it was found! We at the blog have no issues with posting this video, as it was posted to a file sharing site. I’m sure we’re fine!  However, the official Blogger.com video player leaves a lot to be desired. You can download the video yourself from wikisend, but be advised it was taken with an Apple device, and is an .MOV file. You may not be able to view it on all video players. (Update 6/16/13, Stormgren-X does indeed not have a problem with it being posted here).

SPOT tracking near Ground Zero

The cache was found Saturday morning, June 8th. To the left is their time spent at Ground Zero per the tracking on their SPOT tracking device.  Click to enlarge. It’s pretty obvious the video started at track #35, after the cache was found. Total time on the ground in the area of the cache was 2 hours and 21 minutes, according to the SPOT device. Despite speculation by many of their “watchers” from around the world (including, umm, this blog), they were not able to convey their success or failure finding the cache with the SPOT device; it only had two previously set up custom messages. Basically one for experiencing good weather, and one for experiencing bad weather. We had to wait a day and a half until they arrived at their Hotel in Fort Albany, Ontario.

We will consider this our post for the week here at the Blog. We could use a little break! Finding guest  Bloggers was harder than we figured. If you’d like to write a guest post, please, by all means, contact us!

Sneak preview, we are in possession of a relatively new Geocaching related product, and are currently “testing” it for a scheduled blog post/interview for the middle of next week.

UPDATE 6/16/13: Stormgren-X has responded to this blogger, and will be interviewed on this amazing cache find at a later date!

Read More

Follow live tracking on a Canoe trip to the World’s oldest unfound cache!

On May 31st, one day before an epic two week wilderness Canoe voyage in Northern Ontario, Geocaching.com username Stormgren-X announced his intention (along with a friend) to be the first Geocacher to arrive and ground zero, and look for the world’s oldest unfound cache, 4.5lb Walleye, (placed June 23rd, 2001) in the Groundspeak forums. And with this announcement he also stated that he would be using a SPOT tracking device, and that you can track their progress online.When turned on, this device updates their location every 10 minutes.

Although we at Opencaching North America tweeted about this on Twitter, and posted about it on Google+, we did not plan on doing a blog post until after this cache attempt happened. But then we got to thinking why not get word out to as many people a couple days before they arrive at the cache site, and additionally, it’s going to be pretty hard to secure an interview with Stormgren-X when the trip is over! He is going to be inundated with requests for comments, not only by the Geocaching community, maybe even the mainstream media. And we’re quite certain that Latitude 47, The Geocaching.com offficial blog, is going to want to do a feature on the trip. After all, the 4.5lb Walleye cache is listed on their website only.

Stormgren-X and friend pushed off from N 50 05.251 W 084 09.920, on the Kabinakagami River, approximately 50 Km. Northwest of Hearst, Ontario, at 10:00 AM on Saturday, June 1st. Their destination is The Village of Fort Albany, Ontario on the Albany River, near it’s confluence with James Bay (of the Arctic Ocean), approximately 400 Km. away. They traveled north on the Kabinakagami, then the larger Kenogami River, before turning east on the even larger Albany River. Here is excellent blog post from a gentlemen from Hamilton, Ontario who took the same trip in 1983. The blog post itself was written in 2008, however. As far I can tell, they may have pushed off from the exact same spot.

The early stages of the 2013 trip were not without incident though. Stormgren-X did not say which particular SPOT device he owns, but it is one of the models that does allow him to insert short text messages with the device. Those of us following along on the website found a custom message, as they’re called, went out about 10:00 AM on Sunday June 2nd that they were experiencing bad weather. They set up a campsite for the whole day, and did not shove off again until Monday morning, June 3rd. A Canadian cacher closely following along and commenting to the Groundspeak forum thread found a video online suggesting that it snowed in Hearst, Ontario on Sunday. But they have had excellent weather since, and should continue to for the bulk of the trip.

Their “weather day off” was in the vicinity of the abandoned Hudson Bay Company settlement of Mammamattawa but you can see by clicking on that link that this settlement, at the confluence of four rivers, is still used by the Constance Lake First Nation (although not inhabited year-round). Despite this, there appears to be an unmanned weather station nearby, and you can look up the Mammamattawa Weather Forecast or alternatively, you can look up the Fort Albany Weather Forecast.

This Blog post was posted around 6:30 PM Eastern time on Wednesday, June 5th. By estimates of most Geocachers who are following along, they will reach the 4.5lb Walleye cache location Friday or Saturday. It does appear Stormgren-X does have the ability to send a message from the field whether the search is successful or not. He has stated that he will log a DNF if the cache is not present, he is not going to replace the container and claim a find. There has been much speculation over the years that the cache may have been washed away in the annual Spring floods, or eaten for dinner by a Black Bear or Moose! Lets hope that it’s still there. This Blog post will be updated when his success or failure is reported, and of course we hope to be one of the lucky ones to have a few words with him after the trip.

Read More