OCNA works with Patuxent Research Refuge to allow virtual caching

courtesy of Patuxent Research Refuge
Photo courtesy of Patuxent Research Refuge

OCNA’s longest tenured Admin, Dave Self AKA DudleyGrunt (hereafter referred to as Dave), recently worked with Amy Shoop, an interpretive Ranger at the Patuxent Research Refuge in Maryland, which is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to allow virtual Geocaching on the refuge. These are the first ever Geocaches at Patuxent, as best we can tell, including Earthcaches. We at OCNA are very excited with being given this opportunity! Dave was allowed to create 6 virtual caches (which are listed exclusively on our website) in one of the 3 sections of the Refuge.

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Sporadically featured OpenCaching Network cache: Der Laputische Gruß

The observant reader might note we’ve had a few Sporadically featured OCNA caches on the blog, but the title of this post references the OpenCaching Network. That is because this strange cache, although it’s posted coordinates are in the USA, is actually listed on sister site www.opencaching.de. We have mentioned in the past that Opencaching.de is by far the world’s second largest Geocaching listing site, and actually has listings in over 40 Countries, mainly placed by German cachers traveling abroad. There are currently 7 caches listed in the United States, including a virtual at Disneyland.

Gulliver and Laputa
19th Century depiction of Gulliver and Laputa

The cache name is in German, of course, and translates to “The Laputian Salute”. Laputa is a floating Island, approximately 4.5 miles in diameter, from the 1726 novel Gulliver’s Travels by Johnathan Swift. (The book is in the public domain, and the link takes you to a free downloads page). The residents of Laputa were gifted in Math, The Sciences and Music. They were a rather strange bunch, but you can read about that yourself, this is a Geocaching Blog, after all! This cache is actually a Locationless Cache, and one with a very strange logging requirement, where you have to figure out what a Laputian Salute is, and render the Salute to the last finder of the cache. You do this by projecting a Waypoint 2 miles and 500 Metres from your home coordinates in the direction of the last finder, going to that location, and rendering the salute, with photo proof, of course. Alternatively, (for privacy reasons, I imagine) you can project the waypoint from the nearest bakery to your home, of all places. Just when you thought this cache and the circumstances behind people finding it couldn’t get any stranger, it does…..

The cache was hidden on December 2, 2005, by OCDE username Laputischer Freiheitskämpfer, which translates to Laputian Freedom Fighters. This cache owner hid only this cache on OpenCaching.de, and found never found any. We can only speculate they were an experienced Geocacher who mainly used Geocaching.com, and posted their cache on OpenCaching.de because Geocaching.com hadn’t allowed locationless caches since early 2003. We mentioned the posted coordinates for the cache, were in the United States. The first cacher has to start somewhere, so the cache owner apparently thought it would be interesting if the first finder rendered the Laputian Salute outside The White House in Washington, D.C.!

The cache sat with no log entries for over 8 months until Batona, a well known user of Alternative Geocaching websites from New Jersey, saw the cache, and apparently rendered the Laputian Salute outside the White House. Google research shows him asking if anyone knew what a Laputian Salute was in a GPSGames.org forum, and being given a link to what it was by another poster to that forum (link is long since gone from the Internet). However, it appears he thought he still had to project a waypoint 2 miles and 500 Metres from home to claim the cache, so he only posted a note, not a find.

Locationless Geocache
DG rendering the salute

Fast forward 6 years to 2012, and the Der Laputische Gruß cache still hadn’t been logged as found. And with good reason, no one knew what a Laputian Salute was. Google was of no help. Batona chose to post his picture of his salute on his personal blog, which was long gone from the internet. The link he was given on the GPSgames.org forum in 2006 was dead, as was the link for “more information on the free republic of Laputa” that you can see on the cache page. By the way, we strongly discourage visiting that link, as the laputa.de domain is expired, and you’ll get pop-up ads in it’s place. Additionally, the cache owner probably hadn’t visited OpenCaching.de since shortly after the cache was listed, and could not be contacted. So along comes OCNA Admin Dudley Grunt, who saw the cache on our OCNA Cache Maps, as caches from other OpenCaching Nodes do show up on our maps. He proceed to “ask around Facebook” (not just amongst Geocachers) if anyone knew what a Laputian salute was. Eventually, he got what he felt was enough of consensus from different people on the matter, and he went out and rendered the salute and claimed FTF on July 27th, 2012. The cache has since been found a total of 4 times.

Certainly not a cache for everyone, as there are a number of cachers out there who don’t like “additional logging requirements” as they’re called. And Locationless caches are ancient history to the overwhelming majority of the Geocaching populace (unless you’re a regular user of fellow alternative Geocaching website Terracaching.com), as all existing ones on Geocaching.com were locked down forever on January 3rd, 2006. But if you’re looking for a unique Geocaching experience, you’ve found it with Der Laputische Gruß! Feel free to sign up for our sister site opencaching.de and give this one a try. Click the British flag at the top of their site for the English version.

Sporadically featured cache: OCNA’s oldest cache (sort of) – The Truth Is Out There

We have a very unique cache listing for this installment of the sporadically featured OCNA cache; this cache was originally placed in early March, 2001. Which was less than ten months after Geocaching was invented, and almost ten years before our website was launched! The cache is located in Charlotte, North Carolina, near the campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (parts of which can be seen in the upper right corner of the Google Sat View above). To find out more about this cache, and why it’s so old, you’ll have to read beyond this conveniently placed page break.

The cache in question, named The Truth Is Out There, was archived on Geocaching.com on August 12th, 2002, and never picked up by it’s owner. It is no longer eligible to be listed there, as there are not one, but two Geocaching.com caches within 528 feet of it’s location, as seen here in a nearby caches search. (By the way, we’d like to insert a plug here that we have only a “300 foot rule” on the OCNA website). It was found (more than 10 years after archival), left in place, cleaned up, and listed on our website by TermiteHunter, the 3rd most prolific cache hider on the OCNA website.

The path to the cache (with Blair Witch figures)

We wondered how TermiteHunter even knew about this archived cache, and why he suspected it might still be in the woods. He says “There had been some discussion in our local club, the Greater Charlotte Geocaching Club, (GCGC  Charlottegeocaching.com) about finding old caches from the early days of caching.  We had talked about the style of the Old Guard cachers especially in reference to NC’s oldest cache Octopus Garden and another, Lara’s Tomb.  While perusing the profiles of some of these original cachers in the area, I took note of their archived caches.  The Truth is Out There logs mentioned that the cache was chained to a tree.  There was no mention that it had disappeared or been removed before archival in fact it had been found by accident by another cacher after archival so I set out to find it.” The blogger doesn’t think this is too unusual, seeing as similar situations have been discussed on his own local forums. For example, many of us in my area speculate that The world’s 62nd placed cache, which is in our area, was never removed after archival. And I’m sure such conversations have taken place on local Geocaching forums all over the world.

This story gets even better though. Although The Truth Is Out There was originally placed as a traditional cache, it was adopted out to another cacher in January, 2002, and was changed to a multi cache, and the first leg was nowhere to be found! Says Termite Hunter “I thought that the cache may not be all that far from the starting point but all I had to go on was that it was chained to a tree.  I searched the area trees expecting that I could avoid the nearby path and low lands subject to flooding.  I spotted it from some distance away.  It was a thrill like finding my first cache.  This thing had been abandoned for years waiting to be found again.  I came prepared to clean it out if I should find it.  The cache is a tool box with a tray inside.  The contents of the tray were mostly ruined by ants that had made it their home and the bottom of the box was full of water and rotted goo.  I cleared it out and placed my new items and log in the tray.  I managed to salvage several old City of  Charlotte token coins that were around during the caches’ heyday.  I kept a few and gave a couple away when telling my story to Geofriends.”

The Cache (with more special effects)

The Blog has received permission from Geocaching.com username adventuretom to use the previous photo, and the one to the right for this post. Obviously, he’s fluent with photoshop, and there’s a Blair Witch Project thing going on, both in his find log photos, and on the original cache page. We didn’t ask. But as we said, Termite Hunter went out ten years and two months after the archival date and found this cache, cleaned it up, obtained coordinates, and decided to list it on OCNA with the same name, The Truth Is Out There. He tells us “I Joined Opencaching.us right after DudleyGrunt posted about it on the GCGC forum. I quickly went out and hid several caches on the site at my favorite park and have promoted OCus, now OCNA, at every opportunity. After finding The Truth is Out There I knew exactly where I would be listing it, hoping that giving others the chance to find such an old cache would be another way to promote OCNA.  The decision was really made for me since newer caches now occupied the .1 mile area around the cache and there was no way to move it being chained to a tree preventing submission of a new listing with Geocaching.com.”

It is important to note, that Termite Hunter posted a note on the original Geocaching.com listing saying the cache is still there and being cared for, and if the owner wants it back, he can reclaim it at any time. We at the Blog think this is a pretty darn good idea, reusing an abandoned container sitting out in the woods, what has become known in the Geocaching community as “Geotrash”; an abandoned container that has not been removed. We don’t see how anyone could have a problem with it. If you are a long time user of one of the alternative Geocaching websites, such as Terracaching.com here in the U.S., I’ll bet you’ve seen this happen before. If you have, feel free to comment on this post, we’re always looking for comments here at the OCNA Blog. Or you could even comment on our new Desert scene banner. Congratulations to Termite Hunter for being the owner (sort of) of the 3rd sporadically featured OCNA Cache. Great job!

Memorial Day (and GW) weekend in the USA

Memorial Day weekend is coming up in The USA, where OpenCaching North America is based. Since we have many readers (and even users) from outside the USA, our “Memorial Day” is celebrated the last Monday in May of each year, and is for honoring the Men and Women who died while in the service of our armed forces. Please, if you’re an American take some time to remember and honor these Men and Women in some way of your own choosing during the long holiday weekend. You can read about the long history of our Memorial Day (once known as Decoration day) in this Wikipedia article.

There is no denying that Memorial Day weekend has, over the years, increasingly become known as the traditional start of the Summer vacation season here. And for the relatively new hobby of Geocaching, it has become one of two weekends designated for the holding of the American phenomenon known as GeoWoodstock, an annual Geocaching (Mega) event. It can also be held the nearest weekend to our July 4th Holiday, known as Independence day. The choice of which weekend is up to the organizers of the event. The Florida Geocaching Association, host of this years event, has chosen Memorial Day weekend, as have the majority of the hosting organizations over the years.

We won’t get into the history of GeoWoodstock too much here, because who knows, we could think about it a few weeks out next year, and actually have an interview with it’s founder! And yes, it was founded by one guy, who held the first one June 21st, 2003, at a Boy Scout Camp in Louisville, Kentucky.

Geocachers Unlimited logo

All these years later, GeoWoodstock XI (that would be the 11th edition, if you’re not into Roman Numerals), is being held Saturday, May 25th, 2013 at the Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland, Florida. Now for some shameless self-promotion! Geocachers Unlimited is a loose organization of Geocachers who use alternative Geocaching websites in addition to Geocaching.com. They can be found on Google+ and Facebook. They will be hosting the event Geocachers Unlimited Meetup @ The Mega listed on our website, as well as on Gpsgames.org, Terracaching.com and Navicache.com. This is usually a short event (the Blogger himself attended one at GeoWoodstock IX), but there is nothing “flash mob” about it. Just a meetup, as the name suggests. You can expect to see some moving caches loggable on our website passed around, as well as meeting site admin Dudley Grunt. The time of this event is 12:00 Noon.

Are you one of the thousands of Geocachers from all over the world attending GeoWoodstock XI in Lakeland, Florida, USA this weekend? If so, feel free to comment to this blog post, and share your experiences!    

Useful GW links:

 OpenCaching.us related links:

    Sporadically featured OpenCachingNA Cache: A Virtual Made in the Mist

    Welcome to the first “Sporadically featured OCNA Cache”, a feature promised in the very first blog post. Above is a picture of Niagara Falls, more specifically, the American Falls, as taken by the blog author from the Maid of The Mist tour boat. If you’ve never been to Niagara Falls, you can read about the three waterfalls collectively known as Niagara Falls on Wikipedia. The task of visiting Niagara Falls from below, which can be accomplished only through one of four “paid” access options, is the object of the Virtual Cache A Virtual Made in the Mist, created on July 6th, 2011, by Opencaching North America Admin DudleyGrunt.

    Editors note: Like virtually (pun intended) all the “alternative” Geocaching websites, we at Opencaching North America list Virtual caches. But we always like to add the disclaimer that you should review the section on them in our terms of use first.

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    “Our” Opencaching vs Garmin’s Opencaching, a comparison of sorts


    Part two of two, You can find part one here. Since we at the world-wide Opencaching Network, which includes Opencaching North America, are often confused with Garmin’s Opencaching.com, I figured a blog post comparing the two listing services was in order early on in the history of this blog. This blog post is highly influenced by a post fellow OpencachingNA Admin Dudley Grunt made to his local Geocaching forum in July 2012, and he posted links to that post at the forums of all the U.S. based alternative Geocaching websites. I asked him if he wanted to come on and do a guest post, but he was OK with my using it as reference material, and I promised to not to plagiarize it too much!!

     Garmin: Like Groundspeak, the Garmin site is run by a corporation with relatively significant money to  invest in the site.
     OCNA:  The site is funded and run on a fully volunteer basis, essentially, as a not-for-profit entity. We pay for our three domain names and web hosting (at the well-known website host Rackspace.com) out of our pockets.

     Cross Listing:
     Garmin: Strongly encouraged. With a few mouse clicks, you can import thousands of hides or finds. Often runs contests encouraging listing caches on their website. There is no direct way to tell whether or not a cache is cross listed, and no way to filter for unique hides to their site in searches.
     OCNA: Permitted, but unique hides are preferred. The very first page in the cache submission process contains text that informs the hider that we accept cross listings, but prefer unique caches. The cache submission page contains fields to link to sites the cache may be cross listed on. We have a special attribute “OC.US ONLY” available for caches that ARE unique to the site. It is possible to filter searches to show only the unique hides via our “advanced search”.Currently, about 55% of our listings have the “OCUS ONLY” attribute, and we believe approximately 75% of the listings are unique.

     Garmin: None, per se. They have “Peer Reviewing”. The site members vote up or down on caches. The blog author has not participated in this, but from reading their forums, it seems to be often problematic.
     OCNA: Caches reviewed by three site admins (Mr.Yuck, DudleyGrunt, NativTxn), who treat our guidelines AS guidelines and can work with individual caches/cachers to approve things that might not be 100% within the listed guidelines. Caches are generally reviewed & published the same day. Since the blog author, Mr.Yuck, is a newbie admin, he has not reviewed any caches to date.

     Cache Types:
     Garmin: Traditional, Multi, Puzzle, Virtual.
     OCNA: Traditional, Multi, Puzzle, Virtual also. But we also list Moving, Webcam, BIT Caches, Events, MP3, Guest book and Unknown (a catch all).

     Membership Fees:
     Both sites are completely free, with all features available to all users.

     Rating of caches by users:
     Garmin: Finders can give caches a rating based on “Awesomeness”. Garmin uses a sliding scale from 1.0 to 5.0 (in 0.1 increments – that’s 49 possibilities for each).
     OCNA: Cache finders can rate each cache on a 5 point scale and can give a “Recommendation” to 1 out of every 10 caches they find (this is similar to, but predates Groundpeak’s “Favorite Points”).