Updates to The Blog

We didn’t get an interview done this week, but we like to do at least one written (as opposed to media) blog post a week, so we’ll give you some updates on some goings on with the design of this blog. You’ll notice a new “woods” banner on top of the blog. You may have noticed we had a Desert scene banner up there for a few weeks. These are just two of five blog banners we have right now, and you can see them on the OCNA Blog board on our Pinterest page.

Those five blog banners, and of course the OCNA logo that is on them, were designed by our Graphic Arist extraordinaire, Patrick Williams. Patrick has done a lot of work for us in the last few months, including designing our soon to be for sale OCNA Pathtags (hopefully on the market in about two more weeks). We couldn’t be happier with his work, and highly recommend him. Most importantly, he is very reasonable! If any readers need any graphic arts work, we have plenty of examples on our website and this blog, and he himself has other samples of his work. Feel free to contact us through the Contact us/Our Team link on the new navigation bar near the top of this blog.

The navigation bar itself is also a new design tweak. We think it looks pretty good, although we like the design of our blog sidebar as well. After six months, we feel we’ve tweaked this blog design pretty well for a Blogger.com blog, and we’re very happy with the visual presentation. Because let’s face it, most serious bloggers use WordPress! It’s almost not even evident we use Blogger.com, as we have a custom domain name. Well, we just happened to have our own Geocaching website and domain name before we started the blog, so why not use it on Blogger.com too?

The slideshow of photos uploaded to our website on the sidebar (about halfway down the page) made it’s debut several months ago, but it really had the same 30 or so pictures for that whole time. We’ve saved the 15 best or so from the original thirty, and have added approximately fifty more. Our users have uploaded just under 1,000 photos to our website in our slightly more than three years of existence, so we have plenty of content for that slideshow. Remember though, we are a volunteer run and funded Geocaching website, we have a 100 Kb limit for each photo, and you have to resize them yourself before posting them. We present the same slideshow on the sidebar below as a 500 x 500 pixel embed into this blog post for your viewing pleasure.

Created with flickr slideshow.

We have the questions for two blog interviews out there, and we are very near to posting the content of our 2nd guest blogger. To refresh your memory, he is a Geocaching Vlogger, although we haven’t announced who he is yet. And don’t forget that you can catch the archived HikerJamz Geocaching Talk Show here tomorrow, shortly after the live broadcast. See you soon!

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!

Happy Birthday to us, Happy Birthday to us..

We at OpenCaching North America turn three years old on Sunday, August 18th, 2013, as our official public launch was on that date in 2010. Although we were founded as OpenCaching.us, which is still our primary domain name. We re-branded ourselves as OpenCaching North America in 2011, after “merging” our site with the then new domain name owner of OpenCaching.ca (more on that later) and purchasing the name OpenCaching.mx. Go ahead and try those two, they work also. Since this is the first anniversary date since the Blog was founded, we figured a little history on our founding/about us post was in order. It’s also interesting to note that Geocaching.com has arbitrarily assigned the third Saturday in August as International Geocaching Day. So, (and the Blogger had to do a little math here) our anniversary can never fall more than 3 days from International Geocaching Day. As a matter of fact, the 2nd annual IGD fell on August 18th itself.

We were founded by Jerry, AKA RVRoadTrip (that’s a link to his personal website). We did not want to pester him for this blog post though, as he is recovering from a July 16th Motorcycle accident. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers, and wish him a speedy recovery! However, most of our history is well documented in the “announcements” section of our forums, and we were able to contact Paul, AKA Lord Darcy (link is to his Google+ page) from our sister site www.opencaching.org.uk to fill in the holes on the founding of our site.

Original Opencaching.us logo

It has already been documented on this Blog that the world wide Opencaching Network was founded by “some guy named Hank” in 2004, and his dream became reality with the launch of Opencaching.de in 2005. It is also well documented throughout the network that if you have the ability, time and resources to open your own National OpenCaching node, contact someone about doing so. Jerry did just that, contacting Paul from Opencaching.org.uk, seeing as that was the only English language node. Paul even had the original inquiry from Jerry in his email archive; it was dated July 25th, 2010. Paul had launched Opencaching.org.uk on August 17th 2009, after painstakingly translating Opencaching.pl (Poland) to English.

This is not to say that Opencaching.us wouldn’t have been possible without Paul’s translation work, I suppose Jerry could have done it. But it sure made things a lot easier! Say’s Paul “I had been translating the pages for a couple of months previous to this date. translate.google.com (Polish to English) got some pretty heavy duty use during this time.” In fact this made things so easy, that Opencaching.us was launched just 3 1/2 weeks after Jerry’s original inquiry email. And it was “up an running” even sooner, as can be seen from the 45 or so people on our members list in our forums who were invited to join before August 18th. We very much appreciate the work of Paul and Waldemar (Username SP2ONG) from Opencaching.pl in getting the site up and running so quickly.

 It is documented in an August 24th, 2011 post to the Announcements section of our forums that our username Coffee Peddlers (George) obtained the domain name Opencaching.ca (it was registered by someone else, but never used), and came on board with his domain name in hand to become the new lead Admin. Two days later, the purchase of the domain name Opencaching.mx was announced, as well as the rebranding as OpenCaching North America, which is where we are today.

The OCNA website is hosted by Rackspace.com in their Chicago Data Center. A single server hosts our website and fourms, and an image is taken every night at Midnight, Chicago time. Of course an image can be taken on demand before we do any tinkering on it! This server runs Apache web server software on the Ubuntu Operating system (a Unix-like, Linux-based operating system). As previously mentioned, it is, in layman’s terms, Opencaching.pl translated to English, and was written in PHP by the OCPL development team. Many of these PHP files have commented text (that only a person with Server access can see) that release them under a GNU General Public License in 2004 and 2005 by the mysterious Hank, founder of the Opencaching concept.

Oh, and we just thought we’d mention, we are not affiliated with The Garmin Opencaching website!

Happy 4th of July, and some odds and ends

Happy 4th!

Happy 4th of July! Enjoy this public domain fireworks picture, as we’re all about public domain things at OCNA, be it the Leatherman Variant Logo, The Geoachers’ Creed, or our own new logo. Mr.Yuck had a really, really bad day on Tuesday, July 2nd, with two separate really annoying things happening, so we’ll just wish you all a great holiday, and blog about a few assorted odd’s and ends here. We have completed our interview with Stormgren-X, he of the epic 9 day canoe trip to be the first to find the (then) world’s oldest unfound cache, 4.5lb Walleye. We had and planned to post that this week, but we’ll put that one off for a week.

New OCNA Logo

Speaking of our new logo at OpenCaching North America, we have shared that on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook, but we’ve never mentioned it here on the blog. Of course you’ve seen it for a couple weeks on the banner on the top of this blog. This is the “unlettered” version, without the text OpenCaching North America. We are very close to finalizing that design. First up? OCNA Pathtags! We will not be selling them ourselves though, they will be available through a little-known and little-used fundraiser program for Geocaching Organizations through coinsand pins.com. Don’t worry though, we will not be “raising funds”. The proceeds, if you want to call them that, are payable only in pathtags cash, so whenever we earn enough, we will just buy more of our own pathtags, and distribute them to promote our website. Next we will probably try OpenCaching North America T-shirts. We would most likely set the commission at zero to keep the cost to a bare minimum, and no money would be made there, either. It’s all about promoting Opencaching North America!

After a slow start, the Travelfleas.com gift certificate contest is going very well; we have many entries. Maybe this blog really does have 500 readers a week, like the Blogger.com statistics tell us! Since you now have a less than 1 in 25 chance of winning, and probably even worse odds by the time the winner is drawn, feel free to go to their website and buy your own. Remember, the contest ends at 7:00 PM Eastern Standard Time, on Wednesday, July 10th. Remember to check your “spam”, or “junk” folder should you be the lucky winner, because as previously mentioned, you will be contacted from a Gmail account, more specifically Opencachingnorthamerica at that domain. We will do a short blog post announcing the winner. Be sure to check back for that post next week (assuming the winner responds quickly), and also the interview with Stormgren-X.

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:

    The Public Domain Geocaching Logo (and a blog redesign)

    This is the first in a two part series on “things in the public domain hammered out by the community in Geocaching forums.” No, really it is. Any guesses on what the next topic will be? Anyways, the proper name for the symbol above is the Leatherman Variant of the Public Domain Geocaching Logo. That name sounds a little long, and a little complex, but it’s easily explained. Public domain means people are free to copy and alter the logo as they wish, Leatherman is the Geocaching.com username of the Geocacher who designed it, and it’s a “variant” as it was one of several designs submitted. Submitted to whom, you ask? To a forum thread in the Groundspeak forums in October, 2002, that’s who. This thread appears to have been started because a lone Geocacher and a whole Statewide Geocaching organization were using the official trademarked Geocaching.com logo to put on their signature items, and were making alterations to that logo. Groundspeak decided that legally, they could not allow these alterations.

    Downloadable versions of the Leatherman Variant can be viewed on this website created by a participant in that 2002 thread. Obviously it was generally agreed upon to be the “best” logo submitted. You also see something called the “Gustaf Variant”. This variant has fallen into disuse, if it ever even was widely used, which I personally don’t believe it was. It should be rather obvious that our Opencaching.us logo uses the Leatherman variant “G”. The Leatherman variant with the yellow sun behind it was originally designed by our German friends at Opencaching.de and is used throughout the worldwide Opencaching network. Although we at Opencaching.us are actually in the process of changing ours to a yellow outline of North America, rather than the Sun. Where else have you seen the Leatherman variant? How about this blog last week? You can see it on the top of any page on Cacheface.com! Personally, the blogger prefers what is known as the “Sissy-n-CR clean version”, which you can see as a repeated pattern as the background image of his personal Twitter account.

    Note that the creator of that Groundspeak forum thread identifies himself as a corporate attorney in the first post of the thread. Nice to have an attorney who is a Geocacher around to give birth to such an idea. There is a usage and trademark information page regarding the official Geocaching.com logo. Note that it says those “terms constitute a legal agreement”. Groundspeak does not generally go after people who have used it for small numbers of signature swag or personal clothing items, but believe me, I’ve seen several violations over the years, be it in caches in the field, or at events. You should really be using the public domain Geocaching logo for your personal signature and clothing items. There is also some “legalspeak” on the bottom of the main page for the public domain logo, although it doesn’t go as far to say it constitutes a legal agreement, nor it is a Creative Commons License.

    This was announced over the weekend on our Twitter and Google+ accounts, but you may have noticed this blog has been redesigned! We tried to use “our colors” as seen on our website The colors were eyeballed though, couldn’t find the exact hexidecimal color codes on the server (yet, at least). We think it looks a lot better, especially the boxes in the sidebar. Feel free to contact us or post a comment on your own personal thoughts though. We also added the slide show widget to the sidebar. It currently contains 23 photos uploaded to our website. You may spot fellow OCNA Admin Dudley Grunt in a couple of them. You also may spot the blogger standing at the high point of Indiana in there too. These photos will be updated/changed on what we will refer to as a “regular basis”. In general, we reserve the right to add/subtract widgets to the sidebar on a whim.

    Any graphic arts wizards out there who would like to design a nice header for the top of the blog with a background image? (and sharper text?) We actually threw that one together in Microsoft Paint, and it could use some improvement. The OCUS logo is transparent. Please contact us regarding that matter, if you can help!