Friday, 24 April 2015

Mrs. LANMonkey on GeoGearHeads

Last night BOTH LANMonkeys were guests on the GeoGearHeads podcast with DarrylW4 and TheBadCop, to talk about caching by kayak. It was fantastic to have Mrs. LANMonkey come onto a podcast with me, and we had way too much fun.

Darryl & Chris make it easy and enjoyable to visit them on their podcast and the live viewers in the Google HangOut Q&A were awesome! We couldn't believe how many great questions and ideas they brought up to make your kayak geocaching experience better.

If you have the time to watch the live video feed you can check it our here


or better yet, subscribe to the GeoGearHeads podcast by going their website and hear every episode of this fun and informative podcast on tech, geo-location gaming, and enjoying the outdoors.

Thanks Darryl and Chris for letting us spend the evening with you, it was a blast!

Thursday, 23 April 2015

LANMonkey Visits the Lilypad

This Tuesday I had the exceptional opportunity to drive south to the Freemont neighborhood (also known to the locals as the "Centre of the Universe") and visit the good folks at Geocaching.com headquarters - or "the Lilypad" as it's called.

I arrived early and had some time to grab a quick lunch and stroll the neighbourhood - what a quirky place! We've been to two Block Parties and have had a "rushed group" tour of the area doing the GeoTour and lab caches before, but it's fun to check it out at a more relaxed pace. 

I was greeted immediately by smiles and a fun attitude from the moment I walked through the door until I left to make my way home. It's really clear that the people who work here love working here, and are really passionate about what they do. What a great office environment and team.

My guide was Eric Schudiske, the PR and Social Media Manager for Geocaching.com. Eric was kind enough to tour me around the office, make several introductions, and also set up an interview for me with Jayme - the User Insights Analyst from Geocaching.com. She has a fascinating role, and if you'd like to hear more about that, make sure you catch episode 92 of Caching in the Northwest when we'll play that interview on our podcast.

On the tour I got to see a number of the cool spaces set of for people to work, chill, recharge, and work some more on making the website and apps everything they can be. I also met the social media team and had a quick chat there. I found out where the Signalbrau flows from; the inspiration of my favourite Geocaching mascot variant! (mental note... need to order myself the Signalbrau shirt sometime...)

In checking out the development areas, I also met up with Moun10Bike, and he showed me the very first geocoin!



Eric & I spoke about a number of things including the reasoning behind two major recent cache guideline changes (minimum time for events and 1 year moratorium on challenge caches), the 15 Years of Geocaching celebrations, souvenirs, and a hint of what's to come in May, as well as a couple of topics near and dear to the hearts of Canadian geocachers as well as those planning to attend the MVG Summertime Winter Games event.

Before we were done I also spent a bit of time chatting with Bryan Roth, one of the founders of Geocaching.com. I've met Bryan in passing before but never had the chance for a bit of a chat. It was great to meet him and I must say I have an enormous amount of respect for the organizational culture he has built here.

If you want to check out the Lilypad yourself, follow this link to arrange a visit - they love having people come and see them and treat you like family when you're there. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and look forward to a future opportunity to come down and see the team there again.

Thanks Eric, Jayme, Bryan, Jon, and everyone else I'm forgetting to mention (so sorry!) for an amazing and fun visit. I'll be back!



Some more photos from my visit are below...
One of the cleanest server rooms I've seen in a long time.


"The Creek" one of the areas for lackeys to meet, chill, and plan.

Mobile development team - with a sense of humour!



Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Caching Cuba

Recently we returned from an amazing vacation in beautiful Cuba. We wanted to share with you how to maximize your geocaching enjoyment while still experiencing everything Cuba has to offer.
 
It has been a long time since we posted here last - our attention has been focused on the YouTube channel and we realize that only gives part of the story! So back to the blog.

With travel restrictions from the US to Cuba imminently lightening, we expect it will be a more popular "North American" destination soon. One of the most amazing things about Cuba is the simplicity of life while visiting there. Hopefully that doesn't change too much, although admittedly there are many people in the country who could benefit from an economic boon (such as increased tourism investment would bring).


Varadero is circled in red at the top of the map.

We stayed in the popular resort area of Varadero, the peninsula on the North-East of the island nation where the majority of the resorts are located. A quick look at the Geocaching map shows  a number of caches all along that strip. 

You can easily spend a day just grabbing the 20+ caches along the Varadero Peninsula. We'd suggest renting bicycles from your resort as most of these caches are placed along or proximate to the highway that runs the length of the peninsula. 

You can also take the 5 CUC ($5 US) "Hop-On, Hop-Off" tour buses that run the length of the highway, but they are about 30 minutes between each other and will not be efficient.

Along this stretch is an EarthCache we highly recommend, Cueva de Ambrosio (GC2DDG4). This cache was our 5,000th find milestone, but it was also amazing to explore. Also 5 CUC (you'll quickly find a theme in Cuba of 5 CUC).


Most importantly however, is plan some time to get away from the resorts and see the rest of Cuba. One easy way to do this is to take some of the excursions - I won't kid you, they aren't cheap (do your research ahead of time) but the country of Cuba is amazingly rich in history and natural beauty so it's worth the investment.

Some of the excursion we took while in Cuba & Geocaches found:

Cayo Blanco Catamaran Tour


Cayo Blanco (Traditional - GC30VV2)
Cayo Blanco Beach Erosion (Earthcache - GC3BCWP)

Jeep Safari



 

Cueva Saturno - Karst Cenote (Earthcache - GC5NDGX)

Bellamar Caves










Cuevas de Bellemar (Earthcache - GC26P9D)

La Habana




San Francisco de Asis, Habana (Earthcache - GC53KP8)

Most importantly - ENJOY YOURSELVES!

There were several more traditional and Earthcaches in Habana, but we couldn't get to many others due to a tight itinerary on our tour.

So hopefully this blog will help you plan an enjoyable, relaxing visit to Cuba, where you can also pick up a few geocaches and have fun - like we did in this video!

And remember to cache safely, and cache often!

The LANMonkeys

Friday, 15 August 2014

Hey Geocachers, it’s LANMonkey, I want to let you in on a little secret! Tomorrow we’ll be at the Geocaching Block Party along with the entire cast of Caching in the Northwest! If you’re going to be there, we really want you to come by and say "hi."


In addition, make sure to follow our upcoming episodes as we’re going to be spending the day getting exclusive interviews with Geoaching.com Lackeys and even a little tour of the changes to the offices at Geocaching.com. We’ll take you on some of the Geocaching Adventures available only at this event, and learn what the future holds for those much discussed “lab caches”, the GIFF event, and more.

If you're interested in what Geocaching Adventures (lab cache) caches will be at the Block Party this year, check this link.

So if you want to see more than just what happened, but get some inside scoop and meet the people behind this great hobby/sport of ours, keep your eyes on LANMonkey’s Geocaching Adventures, and your ears on Caching in the Northwest

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Geolocation Gaming Bonanza Day

A bonanza day for LANMonkey and geolocation games for certain! Today Piggy the Geohound (A.K.A. Jasper) took me to Delta Watershed Park to find a couple of Geocaching.com geocaches we hadn't found there yet.

After a quick 400+ metres through the interconnecting trails, we managed the finds for both those caches, and were off to a great start to our caching day.


Next up was to switch listing sites as OpenCaching.US has one of only three listed caches in the Lower Mainland in this very same park. So after WetCoaster's virtual we went, which we could be FTF on. After a minor struggle with coordinates our knowledge of the park and common sense took over and we headed straight for where GZ simply must be!


Arriving at ground zero we filled up with nice, fresh cold water and then searched a bit to find the information. At this point I learned a couple of interesting things about OpenCaching.




  •  First, I thought that C:Geo on my Blackberry would allow me to use OpenCaching.US as an alternate listing site but it's not an option - only OpenCaching.DE and OpenCaching.PL; I tried to connect to .DE on the chance that it's all the same data with simply different URLs, but I couldn't authenticate my OpenCaching.US account so I'm assuming that's a no. I'd be curious to hear from OpenCaching.US user or moderators if I'm off on the wrong tangent here?

  • Second, when completing a virtual on the OpenCaching listing service, you use the "keyword or phrase" that the C/O has you looking for at ground zero as the "password" you need to submit the log. So really, no need to submit an email to the C/O before logging your find. Fascinating. In fact, much more like the newer Geocaching Adventures Lab Caches from Geocaching.com as opposed to how the grandfathered virtual caches at GC.com work.
 With our first OpenCaching.US find ever under our belt, and a FTF on it to boot, we decided to check and see if there were any Munzees in the park - yup, two and neither far from where we were. "Well Piggy, let's get ourselves some Munzees."
We honestly don't play Munzee much so it was a great opportunity to get a couple of those found. So while we tracked down the Munzee locations, we took the opportunity to use Sighter and place four new sights in the park for the others in the Lower Mainland who've started playing that fun game.

Soon enough we had located those sneaky QR codes and had the first captures on those Munzees - Wow, FTFs in two different geolocation games on one day... sweet!

Time to head back to the car and head home. But wait! Just as we got to the car the phone buzzed a Geocaching.com alert for a newly published traditional cache in Crescent Beach. Well... it's not *that* far and Piggy and I do have the day off... why not? So in we hopped, loaded the coords in the GPSr and off to Crescent Beach.

When we arrived, we started searching and only moments later hear familiar voices on the other side of the hedge - it was Adroit Seeker and Rain Willowsnap, local cachers I'd crossed paths with earlier this morning. LOL. The three of us searched for a bit when Adroit Seeker came up with the find for a shared FTF. Nice!

After a brief but pleasant chat at ground zero, we all headed off, and Piggy and I headed home to go fire up that BBQ and cook some steak.

"3 FTFs in three different games, and four new sights uploaded. Piggy, do you feel like you earned some steak tonight?"



Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Frostier - An Epic FTF at 2408 metres

A couple of weeks ago we were camping in E.C. Manning Park and had a ton of excitement, so much so we wanted to make sure we shared it with you all. No, no bear encounters (this time) but not only did we get FTF on an entire geo-art series (The Twisted Chocolate Bar Series - GC574V2) but we managed a 22 km return hike to the summit of Frosty Mountain (2408 m elevation) and found a cache placed very nearly a year before that had yet to be found.

A big goal for the camping trip was to make the hike up to Frosty and try for the FTF on that cache, as we'd had our eyes on it for a while, but with a late melt this year we really weren't sure when we'd be able to get there. We hit the Frosty Loop Trail at 07:10.

There was certainly no shortage of snow, and we started hitting larger and larger patches of it as we were only about half-way to the summit from the trailhead. I was beginning to get a little dubious about what the conditions would be like for the final push to the summit, recalling that it is a very open summit - this photo here is the actual summit where the cache is.

But Mrs. LANMonkey was ever optimistic and onwards and upwards we trekked through the forests. At points we had some amazing aerial views of Lightning and Flash Lakes. Eventually we hit the wilderness campsite at the head of one of the tributaries into Frosty Creek. The camp was FULL of young hikers hanging out under a tarp as it was lightly drizzling by this point.

"Uh oh" we thought, "did they already go find the cache?"

We passed through the camp and kept heading up. By the time we reached the Larch Meadows the ground was completely covered by about 1 - 2 m of snow. It was warm out and the snow was soft in lots of spots so hiking was tough work! Next we searched for "Frosty Mountain Larches" (GCQXNX) and made a quick find of that cache.
The view was spectacular here as we were nearly standing at the top of a rainbow! Next it was the scramble up the last rocky parts to the summit itself, and the path was surprisingly clear of snow which was great since had it been covered in snow this would've been impassable without crampons and an ice-pick.

Right near the summit we found a little pocket of hardy alpine flowers - a neat little "surprise garden." Finally we had reached the summit, and then began our search for the cache...

...it wasn't too long at all before Mrs. LANMonkey had the cache in hand, and we suspensfully opened it to check the logbook for any other signatures.

And at 11:04 on 6/28/2014 we found "Frostier" (GC3M7D3) which had been placed 7/15/2013 and unfound until our climb & search! What an exciting adventure, and we've captured it all for you (including Mrs. LANMonkey's version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow") in episode 56 of LANMonkey's Geocaching Adventure.

If you'd like to follow our adventures regularly, eat lots of bran, then follow us on YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter (@LANMonkeyGC).

And remember to always cache safely, and cache often!

The LANMonkeys.






Friday, 9 May 2014

Backroads Mapbook Geotour Adventure

The silence has been deafening! But the LANMonkeys are back on the Interwebs after another brief hiatus. The good news is that we have been busy caching & filming so there's a bunch of great adventures coming, starting with our recent trip to the Interior of BC.

One of the goals of this trip was to collect the three Backroad Mapbook geotour caches for the Thompson Okanagan region, and the bonus cache north of Shuswap.

This was tied in with a MVGeocacher trip to Penticton BC where a group of us got together to walk a section of the Kettle Valley Railway trail in Naramata, and find the caches that make up the "Wine Glass" geoart. But more about that trip in a near-future blog entry. For this posting, we'll talk about our adventure in finding those BRMB caches.


The first one we found was west of Hedley, BC, on Old Hedley Road. As we pulled up to the logical place to park and hike to ground zero, we saw another car there and thought "perhaps other cachers?" Our thoughts were confirmed as we headed up the trail and met the nonchalant acting Maya Bee and Red Alert, just coming back from making that find themselves. We stopped for a brief chat, and knew we'd be seeing them the next day on the Wine Glass hike.

That was our Good Friday, and a really good Friday it was. The weather was beautiful, and we truly enjoyed the magnificence of God's creation along Hwy 3, as we made our way through Manning Park (with active snow at Allison Pass), stopped to cache in Princeton, stopped for more caching in and around Hedley then made our way (with several more caching stops) to Penticton for the evening.

Saturday, after a morning meet & greet event in Penticton, then the "Wine Glass" hike in Naramata, we headed off up the west side of Lake Okanagan stopping for only a couple of caches on our way to
the next cache in the series - BRMB - Thompson Okanagan  BC - On the Water (GC4KJQK) at the Everly Recreation Site.

On our way to that cache we passed a herd of Big Horn Sheep on the road - very cool!

After that steep little hike & find, we were off again to try and get to BRMB TOBC - 20th Anniversary Bonus Cache (GC4KKAA) on the north side of Shuswap Lake, past the little town of Celista, BC.

That's where we had one of the bigger adventures of the trip!

When we finally got to the trail head, we knew it wasn't long until dusk. So we armed ourselves with headlamps & flashlights, and off we went along the trail. Well, very quickly the trail disappeared on us. There's an exceptional amount of blowdown on the trail, and while our Northwest Trails actually did have the Onyx Falls Trail on it, it was a challenge to find that trail. So we kept trying to stay as close as we safely could to the trail as noted on the GPSr, and kept finding/losing the trail.

At one point, we ended up working our way through snow up to our hips (on April 20th), but pressed on regardless, with our daylight fading on us. By the time we got ourselves through the bush and to the last 100m, we faced a steep decent down what seemed about a 10m embankment. The top part was muddy and a bit slippery, but the last couple of metres was a sheet of ice! Surprise!

Safely at the bottom, we found that it was completely dark at this point. Using the cache hint, our geosenses, and the GPSr (which was wandering  bit in the deep tree cover along the creekside) Mrs. LANMonkey eventually made the find. At this point, we took a breather and recorded a bit of content for our vlog. Of course, we still had to get back to the truck, and it was completely dark now.

We made our way up the embankment, and bushwacked our way to where Northwest trails said there should be a trail. And what do you know, we found the trail. On our way back, we did lose it a couple of times, but actually found better luck following the trail out than in - I know, typical cachers!

Once back to the truck, we strapped in and headed our way back to Kamloops to spend the night before searching for the last of the BRMB caches for this trip, at Duffy Lake.

As we cleared Celista, the RCMP had a roadblock, and we had a nice chat with a constable who had been based in Walnut Grove (Langley, BC) not long ago. She had no problem with our story that we weren't drinking but actually heading out after finding a geocache. We looked pretty tired and "bushed." Literally!

The next morning, we headed nice and early west out of Kamloops, and followed the Duffy Lake FSR to Duffy Lake, hitting snow on the road for the last kilometre. Once at Duffy Lake, finding the final cache in the trio of Thompson Okanagan BRMB caches was pretty easy - at least compared to the previous day! That cache was well stocked with swag still!  We considered continuing west on the FSR but found it quickly impassable for anything except a quad or narrow 4x4, so back the way we came.

Well folks, thanks for sticking with me through that story. We sure hope you enjoy the video of the adventure, and trust me, there's lots more to come from that same Easter weekend adventure!

Cache safely, and cache often.
The LANMonkeys.