Saturday, 3 February 2018

Top 3 Things You Need to Know About Snowshoes

It's the perfect time of year to get out snowshoeing - heading out for a geocaching adventure, or just enjoying the beauty of winter.

But if you've never been before, or maybe you have been but you've got some questions, what do you need to know?

Here's the top three things you need to know about snowshoes - watch the video and get all top three in less than 3 minutes!

But for the recap of the video, here's what you need to know:

1. Anatomy of the Snowshoe

The modern snowshoe consists of 4 parts. 

The Frame - this is the structure of the snowshoe, usually made of a light sturdy metal in generally oval in shape.
The Webbing - keeps the snowshoe "aloft" in the snow and keeps you from sinking. Generally made from a vinyl-like fabric, but sometimes made from hard plastics or various other materials.
The Bindings - the bindings are how your feet stay in the shoes! There are various different binding system in modern snowshoes but they usually consist of a series of straps that hold the toes and top of your foot into the "toe" of the show, and a second elastic/rubber strap that holds your heel into the show.
The Crampons - without these metal teeth on the bottom of your shoes, you'd just slide around on the snow. Crampons provide traction and come in a variety of sizes and arrangements.

2. How Do I Put Them On?

In simplest terms, this breaks down to 
  • determine left vs right (often noted on the bindings)
  • loosen the bindings
  • slide your foot in
  • tighten the bindings
It's really that simple! The video walks you through the steps, so it's much easier than me trying to explain it - just watch and learn.

Note that the binding systems vary between manufacturers and models, so it's often best to get the person selling or renting you the show to show you how to secure the bindings properly.

3. Do I Need Poles?

I strongly recommend poles. If you are new to snowshoeing you may need the extra balance help. If you are experienced, they are handy for tackling hills. 

Getting collapsible snowshoe or hiking poles (make SURE they have snow baskets) is best so that when you don't need them, you can collapse them and store them in your pack.

Want to Know More?

So there you go - the top three things you need to know about snowshoes. 

Of course, there's many other things that are important to know, and for way more detail, check out our recent episode of Caching in the Northwest where we breakdown snowshoeing in more detail.

And most importantly, remember to "cache safely, and cache often!"

Jay Kennedy is better known as LANMonkey on geocaching podcasts and videos, and presents regularly on outdoors topics.
Follow LANMonkeyGC on Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope for weekly photos and video of our awesome adventures. Check out LANMonkey on YouTube for regular videos with great tips, adventure recaps, and product reviews.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Three Quick Tips to be Tsunami-Safe When Geocaching

Hey Geocachers, 

So we had a "near miss event" overnight in the Northwest - a tsunami warning from the 7.9 Magnitude earthquake off the coast of Alaska. Great news is that all regions I've heard about were not hit by a tsunami of any significant size.

So after a collective sigh of relief, I thought it would be handy to share a bit of insight into what tsunamis are, why it's something to keep in mind in the coastal Northwest (and really, any coastal area), and what geocachers should know about tsunamis.

A tsunami is not the same as a tidal wave. A tsunami is a series of large waves, triggered by some sort of under-water seismic event such as an earthquake, volcano, etc. The key points here are that it can be a series of waves - not a single large rogue wave - which can significantly impact low-lying coastal areas, and that they are triggered by some sort of seismic event, most of which are monitored by government facilities.

This is really good news, because in *most* cases it means that in the event of a potential tsunami, there will likely be an hour or more warning that it is coming - that of course depends on where the seismic activity occurred relative to where you are at the time.

Further, here's some interesting facts about tsunamis borrowed from the Government of Canada's "Get Prepared" emergency awareness website:

  • Tsunamis are a series of large waves caused by events such as submarine earthquakeslandslidesvolcanic eruptions, and less commonly, meteoric impacts. Tsunamis can also occur in large lakes.
  • They can occur with little warning in the ocean and in lakes.
  • A tsunami can be triggered by a large, high energy, but relatively short duration disturbance of the sea floor. Such waves can travel across the ocean at high speed (800 km/h, the speed of a jet plane).
  • As the tsunami waves approach the shoreline and water depth shallows, the wave speed slows, but wave height will increase as wave length decreases. In 20 m of water, wave speed will be 50 km/h.
  • Tsunamis can occur as individual or multiple waves following each other by minutes and even hours.
  • Tsunamis can grow to 60 or more metres in height (the size of a ten-story building).
So with the events of this morning, and the knowledge that this seismic activity is monitored by US and Canadian governments, it's helpful to know that when you are geocaching in low lying coastal areas - or along river/water systems  connected to the oceans - to have your mobile phone configured to receive any alerts of this nature. 

In the US, many states subscribe to the emergency broadcast alerts via the Commercial Mobile Alert System and can send messages directly to your mobile phone over most mobility networks. While this may result in the occasional erroneous incoming ballistic missile false alarm, it will give you a head's up of an incoming tsunami or other significant natural disaster.

Here in Canada however, our CRTC has not permitted this "push" technology yet. Therefore, to be notified of tsunamis while out geocaching in coastal Canada, it is important to subscribe to a service such as the Emergency Info BC Twitter account. In April 2018 the BC Government is committed to having a text service available as a component of the BC Emergency Alert system, which will most certainly be helpful.

So as a geocacher, what can you do to be tsunami-prepared? There's really three simple things to do:

  1. Understand what areas may be tsunami susceptible when you are out caching.
  2. Watch for "tsunami evacuation route" signs to know which direction to head should there be an alert.
  3. Subscribe to any emergency broadcast services available, and keep an ear open for tsunami alert sirens if you are ear-shot of such notification systems.

Most of all, we hope that you all cache safely, and cache often!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

3 Easy Tips to Get the Most of Geocaching Friend League

So has been successful in launching the 2017 Summer challenges; the Mary Hyde Pirate-themed adventure, and leveraging that to move their game platform to an increased state of social media impact. 

That's where Friend League comes into play. By now I'll assume everyone has heard of Friend League, but perhaps we don't all know how to get the most from it. So let me provide you with 3 quick and easy tips to help you get the most out of it this summer.

Tip 1 - Get Rewarded Quickly 
It is apparent that the goals for achieving points in Friend League will likely change weekly, much like they have for past summer souvenir earning programs. 

But right now, the best strategy seems to be to build a team of at least 10 friends and monitor social media for early posts from, Geocaching bloggers, or podcasters for early tips on what the following weeks' point strategy will be. 

It does seem that the points earning period will always include a weekend so that is also helpful to make sure you can earn the minimum points required. 

Tip 2 - Make Friends Responsibly
Since you really shouldn't need more than 10 active geocaching friends to gain your souvenirs there's no need to reach out to people you don't know with undefined friend requests. So what am I asking you to do here?

When you send your friend request, by default it will say "I'd like to become friends on" 

Consider adding a bit of your own text here, ideally how do you know the person? When did you last meet? Why do you want to be friends?

In a recent Twitter survey I conducted, about 70% of Geocachers asked said they would not accept a friend request from someone they don't know. So let's respect each other and take the extra two minutes when sending a friend request to make it meaningful.

Tip 3 - Everything is Awesome When You're Part of a Team 
Remember that officially the only thing you are working towards as a League is to earn the souvenirs. Unlike "Clans" in other geolocation gaming, you aren't competing against each other within the group or against other groups for redeemable prizes. 

One of the things I think is trying to avoid is the aggressiveness that comes into play due to competitiveness to earn in-game credits. This is not the case in Friend Leagues; you are only collaborating within your league so that you all get the souvenir available that period. And that souvenir is available to each as long as you gain the minimum points required.

So tune in to the bloggers, vloggers, and podcasters for fast updates, focus on building a team of friends you know, and leverage teamwork, collaboration, and fun, rather than competing against each other to get the most out of this summer's Mary Hyde geocaching adventure.

But most importantly remember to cache safely, and cache often! 
The LANMonkeys.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Planning a "Mary Hyde" Geocaching Event

Happy Summer Geocachers!

As our first official blog post of the summer, we wanted to check in and see who all was onboard for pirate adventures this summer? 

We assume by now you've seen the Geocaching(r) blog post about "The Lost Treasure of Mary Hyde" so you'll have some context about what we're discussing here!

Our good friends at Geocaching HQ have devised another fun summer activity for us all to participate in. So of course, the question becomes "will there be an event near me so I can get this souvenir and/or earn whatever rewards come of this?"

I took a look and there were no events near us, so we decided to host one ourselves. If it's of some help in your planning, here's some insight to our event.

Through an almost unbelievable coincidence, mere days after a mysterious letter in a bottle showed up near Geocaching HQ, a letter in a disappointingly empty rum bottle showed up near LANMonkey Studios. 

Here's the letter we found after thoroughly checking the bottle for rum.

So with some mad Google skills we determined that "15 score years" would be 300 years. And would you believe, 300 years from the date the letter was written turns out to be the weekend for "The Lost Treasure of Mary Hyde" souvenir events?

Given that information, we had now figured out that it was imperative we create an event at the given coordinates, and make sure all local Geocachers have the opportunity to break the curse!

If you'd like to see more about our event, make sure you check out GC77NRK 

And for some more ideas, take a look at these:

Need a Pirate Hat?

Download this image and print it on 11x17 for a large size, and legal size for the tots. Thanks to Chris of the Northwest from our Caching in the Northwest podcast for the design!

 Look to the bottom of this article for the full-size version to download!

How About Aome Piratey Games?  

Consider getting your scurvy attendees to walk the plank for a prize? Blindfold them, and they have to keep their feet within the sidewalk chalk "plank" you sketch on the ground. 

Pirates are often found around water - if you have the time, tools, and supplies you could put together a "portable water cache" - you know, the ones with the PVC pipe with various holes drilled in the sides? Of course your event would need to be near a source of free water, but it's another idea.

What are your ideas?
Share them with us, we'd love to hear what you are planning or what you did once the date for the event passes.

But most of all, have fun out there and cache safely, and cache often!
The LANMonkeys

Full Size CNW Pirate Hat image below:

Monday, 29 May 2017

Teaser - New Puzzles Series

 Spoiler alert! New LANMonkey puzzle cache series is coming soon to Metro Vancouver. 

We promise variety, creative hides, and challenging puzzles. But to give you a leg up, here's some images that will be used in one of the puzzles.

 In the meantime, make sure that you get out and cache safely, and cache often!


Wednesday, 5 April 2017

New Geotour in the Northwest

City of Richmond Announces New Geotour!

Word is out - on the City of Richmond website, as well as the BCGA and MetroVan Geocacher's social media channels. The City of Richmond, in partnership with the Government of Canada, is launching a brand new Geotour on May 6, 2017.

The Canada 150 Geotour will feature 17 traditional caches, 2 multis, and 1 earthcache. The geocaches will have fun, creative hides at each of the 19 physical cache locations, many courtesy of local geocachers layzee_bones and GeoNavPros.  

If finding 20 great geocaches isn't reward enough, be one of the first 150 geocachers to collect all 20 clues  and you will be rewarded with a limited edition trackable geocoin!

For more information about the Canada150 Geotour, and getting started with geocaching in general, click here to listen to yours truly talking to Janice & Cory about it on Roundhouse Radio this past Monday.
The launch of this fantastic new geotour will take place during the 3rd Annual Richmond Geocaching Extravaganza. Make sure you sign up for this event by logging your "will attend" on the event page

If you've never attended a geocaching event, download the official app for your phone, create your free account, and come out to the Richmond Nature Park between 11:00am and 3:00pm Saturday May 6 2017 to have some local experts help you learn all about it in a family friendly environment.

For more in-depth information about the Geotour and geocaching in the City of Richmond, check out the April 6th episode of the Caching in the Northwest podcast.

And remember to always cache safely, and cache often!
The LANMonkeys.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Geocaching #GeekoftheWeek - gslink

Thanks for your patience everyone!

And now LANMonkey's Geocaching Adventures proudly presents the next Geocaching #GeekoftheWeek - gslink!

gslink - also known to listeners of the Geocache Talk podcast as Gary Slinkard - has over 160 geocaches placed, and over 1,000 found. Most notably in the Texas Geocaching community, Gary annually hosts "The Great Hunt of Hunt County" geocaching event.

Most recently, Gary has joined the ranks of Geocaching authors with the publishing of his book "Hide & Seek: Life Lessons of a Geocacher." Follow the link to check out more about his book on Amazon; available in ebook and printed copy.

Gary has worked in IT for over 25 years and lives in Greenville, Texas which is just an hour east of Dallas. He grew up in San Antonio Texas and anyone who's heard him on the weekly Geocache Talk podcast Sunday evenings can attest to the fact he is indeed a Texan!

Gary loves to travel and will often be found on a #GeocacheRoadTrip with his wife of 28 years, "SlinkyMama."  Combined with his Geocaching activities, Gary has also been participating in Weight Watchers for the past two years and has lost 100 lbs!

However, even more importantly than their accomplishments in Geocaching, writing, and podcasting, gslink and SlinkyMama are the proud parents of three sons; Joshua and Caleb who are 27 and Nathan who is 21.

You can catch Gary every week on the Geocache Talk podcast and watch him live on YouTube Sunday evenings at 6:00pm. 

Do you know someone who deserves being recognized as a Geocaching #GeekoftheWeek? Let us know by commenting on this post or tweeting your nominee to @LANMonkeyGC #GeekoftheWeek