Archive for In The Park

Geocaching in Los Angeles California – Urban Geocaching

shutterstock_78502579Image: Gerry Boughan / Shutterstock.com

I had my first urban geocaching experience last week!

First, I have to confess to a major geocaching/travel bug faux pas. Sadly I must admit to picking up a travel bug,¬†Mini LED Flashlight Travel Bug Dog Tag, in March from¬†Gargamel’s Realm and just dropping it last week (July)! I did go and post in the logs that I still had it and I would place it ASAP. The travel bug has a goal of reaching all 50 states and seemed to be stuck in the mid-west. I thought I would help it out and bring it to California! I dropped it in Follow the Yellow Brick Road on July 16th. (Narrowly forgetting to drop it, leaving only a few hours to find a cache large enough to drop it in!)

Urban geocaching is a different animal from the more traditional traipsing through the woods alone type of geocaching I’m used to. It comes with it’s own unique set of issues.

Muggles. This is the by far the biggest difference. They are EVERYWHERE! You simply cannot get away from them, so you must be extra stealthy. Timing your searching for moments when no one is around, and waiting patiently while people pass you by – all while trying not to attract too much attention and get the police involved.

The police and or security. You see, in the woods people stop to look at things, and sit down and enjoy the view, and wander off the trail to explore all the time. In the city someone standing on the side of the road near businesses is loitering, or worse. Someone digging through city bushes or business property is cause for alarm. Placing or digging out and then replacing plastic or AMMO containers (right!?) is definitely a reason to call the police in my opinion!

Cross walks, dead end streets and parking. Parking in Los Angeles is horrendous! Near this particular cache that I found there was literally no parking at all. You had to park down a residential side-street up to 2 blocks away and then travel to the cache. This I guess would be the equivalent to parking in a lot at a park and hiking through the woods to the cache. :) When you’re looking on a map and you can see your cache and you see all the streets leading to it and or nearby you cannot assume that the rout you think is going to get you there will. You can encounter high fences, tall hedges, and extended/strange property lines.

I was parked near the street in Culver City that I would need to travel on so that was not an issue for me. I was on what I think was the south eastern side of the street, and the cache was on the north western side. I looked right down the block and saw a major intersection with a cross walk way down. I looked left down the block and saw a light with a cross walk close-by. The cache looked to be about half way to the right, and there appeared to be a street right there – and maybe a crosswalk? NOPE. should have taken the close cross walk to the left!

Once I got across the street it became clear that I would be digging in the bushes on Sony property. I assume they have cameras all over, and I know for a fact that there is security at every gate and this cache was very close to a gate. I would have to determine if I could see the cache or if I would have to actually dig in the bushes for it.

Leaving out major details so as not to ruin the find for anyone else, I did find it without any issues – dropped the travel bug and replaced it without being arrested or alarming any muggles. :)

I prefer the woods by far – the reason I got involved in geocaching in the first place, but this was a great and unique experience. Share your story below about a unique geocaching environment you’ve explored!

Buying a Handheld GPS Device

For years I have been using an old handheld GPS device that I bought used from someone on E-Bay. It is a Magellan eXplorist 200.

magellan-200

It was very inexpensive, and it has a TON of features. The only catch is that it is 100000% user-not-friendly. It takes forever to input anything because all you have to work with is the little joystick in the center of the buttons. AND Most of the images on my buttons are worn off.

You can track-back, store waypoints, store GPS searches, save notes etc etc etc… all with that one little joystick. It’s horrible. I need a new one ASAP.

I keep shamelessly posting on twitter that I need a new device hoping some travel magazine or camping company will send me one to review! Alas, no luck so far.

I would really like a topographical map. I am in LA hiking quite a bit and it’s always nice to take elevation changes into consideration when you’re hiking in the mountains! In MN I can get away with an as-the-bird-flies GPS device, but not in LA!

I would also love to be able to send geocaches from geocaching.com or opencaching.com straight to my device.

I do use my smart phone for geocaching when I’m in the city, but as I get more and more into it – and write more stories – I find myself without service in the coolest spots. I always want to save some GPS coords for later, but many times I just let the opportunity go because it’s going to take me 15-20 minutes just to get them into the GPS device I have now.

I would love to hear any recommendations you guys have. I am probably looking in the $150-$200 range.

I plan to go shopping soon, and I will report back my findings. :)

Take care!

Sara

Out of Hibernation!

Here in MN things are slowly thawing and coming back to life. The trees are forming buds and soon (hopefully) we’ll have even more signs of Spring.

I went out to the woods to make my first video blog last week when it was nice (50*F to be exact!) Everything went really well despite having to film it with my phone. Video editing on the other hand…

STINKS!

I tried using the software VideoPad on two different computers to no avail. It stops and stutters and hangs so much it freezes my whole computer. (Even on one that is new. Plenty of space and a duo core processor…)

I tried one other program before calling it a day. I downloaded another only to find out that it can only edit .avi files. I converted my video to .avi and went to bed. That was a week ago now!

If anyone out there can help me with this video thing I would be so appreciative. I am really looking forward to having videos on the blog so you guys can get to know me and my kiddos. I will (eventually) have informative vlogs, funny vlogs, actual geocaching vlogs as well as story time for the free short stories that are available here.

How much fun will that be!!?? Now just to get some video editing software to cooperate with this dream. Grr….!

First Geocaching Vlog!!

Hey hey! This video was actually created about 2 weeks ago now! It took me a long time to find a video editing software that would run smoothly on my computer. I finally just ended up uninstalling a ton of programs that I don’t use anymore, uninstalling and reinstalling Windows Movie Maker and it runs very smoothly now! So happy!

I was going to make a different video to put up once I figured this whole editing thing out, but I have a good review of the MosquitoNo products, it was a beautiful day (and it is super cold here now) so I am just posting this “old” video.

I will be putting up different videos each week. Story time for some geocaching books short stories, more fairy houses, camping/hiking gear reviews, children’s literature book reviews, upcoming events etc… Lots of fun stuff! I am really looking forward to becoming more of the geocaching community. :)

So… Here it is!

Epic Roadtrip! + story simmering

I am in the process of planning a pretty awesome 10 day road trip mid-October.

I will be traveling the southwest and mid-west. Planned stops in Arizona, New Mexico, and possibly Colorado. And of course everything in between.

I will have an over abundance of opportunities to grab GPS points and create stories! So I am planning an overall short story to encompass the trip.

Tortoises.

Yes, I have decided on tortoises as the magical creature to take us on this epic adventure. They can time travel, after all. You didn’t know that? Well then I highly suggest you join me on this adventure and stay tuned for all the exciting things that await us!

Seattle Tomorrow!

I can’t believe that in a few short hours my mom, daughter, and I will be on a plane to Seattle, WA for the National Geocaching Day Block Party!

There are so many unknowns and so much out of my control that I am having a very hard time thinking realistically about this! I can’t picture it in my mind because I’ve never been there so it seems very surreal.

I have secured a booth spot in the vendor section. We will be booth number 8, and that is all I know about it. We are vendor booth #8. Amy Faulkner has been super helpful about getting us there, suggesting somewhere to rent a tent and also lodging. Thank you Amy!

We will “load in” Saturday morning. This means that I will roll my suitcase filled with branded key-chains, postcards, signage and other various booth things to booth #8, and hope and pray that our tent guy is there with some more guys to set our tent up for us. (I went with this company because they will set it up for us.) I have a receipt that says we paid for it, and I have spoken with “Jim” on the phone a few times. But that’s it. So! We hope for the best.

I have also written Dream 2, the second of three ultra short stories for this event. When we arrive tomorrow we will be heading straight for a park nearby (there are three in the area) to get GPS coordinates added to the story. I am actually just about to edit this story with my awesome editor, Matthew Karner, within minutes!

I hope the hotel we are at has printing or our next destination will be Kinkos to print off a bunch of these stories so people can go explore a park in Seattle and experience a geocache story while they are here this weekend.

If you’d like to download a copy of Dream and/or Dream 2 please sign up on the home page, or stop by our booth. I promise I will not share your information with anyone, and I won’t send you spam!

So! Come what may tomorrow we will be in Seattle getting GPS coordinates, printing stories and settling into our hotel. Saturday you can find us at vendor booth #8, or venturing around Groundspeak headquarters – look for the girls wearing “Fiction + Coordinates = GeocacheBooks.com” T-shirts!

I can’t wait to see the videos that fellow geocachers created for the first ever Geocaching International Film Festival!

And Sunday we sleep in! :)

Wish us luck! We are going on a great adventure. We hope to see you all there and please come talk to us – we’d love to meet you!

Geocaching Book Beta Testing

So the first book is completed to the point where I am going to have close friends and family start testing the coordinates!

I tried to get a bunch of people together the other day for a cookout at the park where the first geocaching book is set, but we got rained out. I was very disappointed. We’re going to try for a later date and see if people can actually program their GPS units and get to the places in the book.

I can’t wait for everyone to see how these books work and find the places where important things happen. I really want to watch some kids do it with their parents and see if they are as excited as my daughter was when she realized that our made up stories actually took place in a real park.

Just another step in this amazing process of publishing, and breaking ground for a new genre of books.

31 in 31 Geocaching Contest Day 2

Went to another part of Alimagnet Park today to make my day 2 find.

I played my first full round of disk golf, and found the geocache hidden near the tee box of hole (pin?) #9.

It was an easy find, and I didn’t do too bad at the disk golf either! I made par a handful of times and almost had a birdie – I botched the putt and I was standing 3 feet from it! I learned to always take that putt seriously even if it seems like a gimme!

This contest is very valuable to the geocaching community! It has made me look up more caches, and find ones with more active logs as well. You have to do your research if you are determined to make a find every single day. I have even set aside one that I know is super easy based on the logs so that if I miss a day or can’t make a find at least I have that one to fall back on!

If you are making finds for the 31 in 31 contest please let me know in the comments below!

Traditional Geocaches for the Ultra Short Story Dream

While I was editing Discovering Magic today I decided to go ahead and create some traditional caches for the stories.

I was trying to think of a way to be able to track how many people had downloaded and completed the stories when this very simple idea came to me. :)

Here are my supplies:

Geocache Cache Supplies

Creation of a traditional cache for geocaching.

Here are the three caches for the “ultra” short story Dream.

 

geocaches for the ultra short story Dream

geocaches for the ultra short story Dream

If you haven’t downloaded a copy of Dream yet you can get it HERE.

There are all kinds of goodies on that page as well. Photos of the places in the park that go with the story, and even a video. If you like it please leave a comment.

Thanks – Sara

 

Dream – An Ultra Short Story

The very first publication from Geocaching Books and Sara Murray is here!

I’ve crafted a very short story that I think you will really enjoy. You can get a glimpse into the Mythical Parks book series, and a feel for what Geocaching Books are like. Please post comments below and share if you enjoyed it.

We can be found on twitter @GeocacheBooks and on FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/GeocachingBooks

Here’s the download page with the story and lots of pictures and even a video!

http://geocachebooks.com/pubs/06182013dream.html

So excited for you all to get to experience these stories!

-Sara